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Bodog, PokerScout Renew Feud over Guesstimated Traffic Numbers

The three-year-old brouhaha between the largest US-facing offshore poker network, Bodog, and player-traffic monitoring site PokerScout has renewed itself this week, with both sides in the feud exchanging potshots over PokerScout’s continuing publication of “estimated” numbers for the grey-market site.

bovada-poker-iconBodog’s insistence that PokerScout has no business guesstimating traffic numbers for Bodog and its autonomous US-facing skin, Bovada, continues to run headlong into PokerScout’s determination to claim to be the go-to source in the industry for traffic numbers.  That conflict remains unresolved and leads to the question of whether the sites themselves should be able to choose whether or not to be tracked.

The latest salvo trade started on Sunday with the issuance of a press release from Bodog, which was printed in its entirety yesterday at Bodog mouthpiece site CalvinAyre.com:

BODOG QUESTIONS THE POINT OF POKERSCOUT’S ESTIMATED DATA

SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

Bodog questions the point of PokerScout’s estimated dataPokerScout relies wholly on accurate data so why would they carry data from companies they cannot measure? Carrying figures for Bodog simply undermines the credibility of their product as there is no way of estimating player numbers with anonymous tables.

Apart from the fact that this is confidential and proprietary information, carrying figures for companies like Bodog, surely, simply undermines their own business model.

Bodog once again ask that PokerScout remove statistics that are patently untrue unless, of course, they subscribe to the ethos of Vic Reeves that; “88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot.”

PokerScout claim they; “…actively track over 98% of all online poker traffic, and provides estimated liquidity statistics for the rest.” Why? It would be more sensible to publish only information they know is real rather than muddy their authority with absurd guesstimations?

CA also took to social media to advance the argument, as follows, linking to the above:

Bodog questions the point of PokerScout’s estimated data

PokerScout, meanwhile, was busy returning the volley at Bodog in this series of Twitter posts:

Bodog recently rose to 5th place, which may be why they again want to be removed from our rankings

Bodog is concerned about attention from DoJ. Understandable, but DoJ is probably smart enough to pick targets without our help.

We think public & industry want complete coverage of online poker, not just sites that opt in. Don’t you?

Of course, there’s a lot more to the story.  As with many secondary service outlets, monetizing one’s products is an ongoing priority, and that concept plays into the feud as well.  Almost three years ago to the day, CalvinAyre.com published a claim that PokerScout and its founder, Dan Stewart, had demanded $1 million in exchange for being removed from the PokerScout site.

In this story, CalvinAyre.com and Bodog alleged the following:

Bodog approached Dan Stewart to be removed from the listings. Dan Stewart thought about the request and offered to take Bodog off his site BUT only if they paid Stewart a seven figure extortion payment.

This is an old school extortion racket by Stewart. He steals your data and uses it against your better interests in a money making scheme and if you don’t like it he needs over a million dollars to make your problem go away.

It’s like a bootlegger telling Steven Spielberg that he’ll stop selling illegal DVDs but only after Spielberg agreed to pay for the DVDs plus a big premium.

Bodog refused to make the extortion payment Stewart requested as they know he is taking their data without implicit permission and directly profiting from it.

Stewart issued a terse and general denial via Twitter back at that time, stating, “More lies coming from the Bodog mouthpiece. What a surprise. So disappointing.”  Both sides declined to offer convincing evidence.  CalvinAyre, which to its unfortunate discredit has occasionally distributed bombast and disinformation, declined to publish any purportedly incriminating e-mails, while Stewart’s denial failed to be specific about any of the alleged lies, technically leaving open the question of whether he did in fact ask for compensation in exchange for removal.  Bodog’s move to its Anonymous Player Model at about the same time further hindered the efforts of third-party tracking and data-scraping sites.

Soon enough, the PokerScout listings for Bodog and a handful of other sites were adjusted to show as “estimates”.  A separate statement on the PokerScout site made in the midst of the 2011 hubbub addressed the Bodog claims as follows:

“Our current traffic readings for Bodog are projections based on a combination of available data and known traffic patterns. While this data is more volatile than before, we believe it to be accurate on average. If it becomes necessary, we will simply publish estimates of Bodog’s traffic as we do for some other untracked sites.”

Meanwhile, Bodog and CalvinAyre.com kept tossing out the claims of extortion, even as they admitted that part of their reason for not wanting to be tracked on any third-party site was its desire, as with all remaining, US-facing sites in the wake of 2011’s Black Friday, to not draw undue attention.  Given Bodog founder Calvin Ayre’s prominent thumb-nosing of the US Department of Justice — the company once even printed up decks of playing cards with the Forbes Magazine “Catch Me If You Can” cover of Calvin Ayre as its back design (your vaunted scribe has a deck) — that seemed an effort in closing a barn door long after the livestock had left.

The attacks continued, as did Bodog’s claims of extortion.  This, from another CalvinAyre.com piece:

It shouldn’t surprise any of you that we’re not fans of Dan Stewart, his site PokerScout.com and their business model of exploiting poker operator’s data without permission for profit. This dislike existed even before his extortion attempt of our friends over at Bodog Poker.

Dan’s business model involves pilfering a poker operator’s proprietary data and profiting on it without permission. Even if he doesn’t have accurate data, he’ll still post and profit from the inaccurate and fictional numbers. Guys like this aren’t good for the gambling industry and as the largest gaming-industry news site, we have a responsibility to callout those we believe are hurting the industry we love.

Even though we’re not fans of Stewart, we want to present the facts, give you our opinions and we’ll offer the other side a chance to respond so our readers can form their own opinions.

These days, PokerScout has adjusted their data-collection practices somewhat, to the point that much of the data they provide is done so with the knowledge and consent of the sites.  That applies to most of the sites, however, not all of them.  PokerScout currently lists as “estimated” its data for 24 of the 73 sites it currently claims to track, even if many of the estimated sites are for very small, marginal networks.  Bodog is the largest such site (according to PokerScout’s estimates), for which actual player data is unavailable or is inferred from secondary tracking/scraping methods.

It’s unlikely that the battle between the two sides will end amicably, any time soon.  Bodog continues as perhaps the globe’s most prominent grey-market online poker operator and has amassed a solid track record of good consumer relations, despite only serving four countries at last count.  It’s perhaps Bodog’s anonymous-player model that is the largest roadblock.  After all, third-party data-sifting sites are by definition diametrically opposed to such a network approach.

 

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