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Lock Poker’s Malaise Deepens as Cashouts Cancelled, P2P Transfers Rendered Worthless

lock-poker-logoDire times are at hand at Lock Poker, co-flagship site on the struggling Revolution Poker Network.  The latest crisis follows a spate of withdrawal cancellations and the mysterious installation of a new rule preventing any funds received via P2P (player-to-player) transfer to be cashed out from the site.  This strange new rule was also applied retroactively, meaning Lock has effectively seized many hundreds of thousands of dollars of player money currently on the site.

The changes and unexpected cancellations come amid unending and inexorable cashout delays at Lock, which have stretched to nearly five months for US-based players and are exceeding two months for rest-of-world ROW players.

While withdrawals for Americans are slow across many networks and sites, few others approach the times seen for Lock, and the two-months-plus delays for international (non-US) players remain inexplicable.

The new changes came to light only in the last week, after numerous players received e-mails that their pending withdrawals had been cancelled.  Many of those withdrawals had been pending for months, and many were for the maximum withdrawal amount — $10,000 — allowed by Lock.  The net effect was to knock several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of withdrawal requests right out of Lock’s payment queue.

As pretense Lock, via its forum spokesman, Shane Bridges, claimed that the site was being victimized by an organized ring of players who were “posing as affiliates”, and then using that affiliate status to beg special favors from Lock and beg their way to the front of the line of processing.  Bridges claimed that these same buyers were manipulating the price of Lock dollars on the secondary markets, intentionally driving the price lower so the dollars could then be bought cheap, then cashed out from Lock.

The whole story as Lock and Bridges are trying to sell it makes little sense.  Lock bankrolls have been steadily sinking in secondary-market value for some time, and were at about fifty cents on the dollar before the latest fiasco.  Players wanting to cash out quick (instead of waiting four months or longer), could find a reputable buyer, get half of their money, and let that buyer worry about Lock’s lengthy delays for withdrawals.

Except Lock suddenly doesn’t like that, without a logical explanation as to why.  Moving a to-be-withdrawn amount from one the balance of one withdrawing player to another makes no difference at all… unless Lock simply doesn’t have the money.

Bridges and Lock also claimed that regular players were being damaged by these pretend-affiliates jumping ahead in the payout queue.  But wait: Isn’t it Lock’s own responsibility and choice to have jumped some of these payouts up the line?  And exactly how would replacing twenty $500 withdrawals with a single one of $10,000 slow down the process?  It should speed it up instead.

Then there’s this nonsense about the “posing as affiliates”.  Are we really supposed to believe that Lock doesn’t know who its own affiliates are?  That’s just ludicrous.

The stunner in it all came when protesting players contacted Lock about the cancelled withdrawals and were told that amounts received by them via player-to-player transfer could never withdrawn.  This was also applied retroactively to the cancelled withdrawals, and in many cases used as the pretense for the cancellation.

Bridges even had the gall to claim that the unannounced change was in accordance with Lock’ TOS.  It certainly was not, and the problem is clearly seen in this e-mail, posted by one of the impacted players:

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“As such, your withdrawal has been rejected due to our strict policy of not allowing the withdrawal of transferred funds.”  Except the paragraph above that, which the CR person quoted, says nothing of the sort.  It says transaction limits can be placed, or privileges cancelled, but it says nothing about cancellations of the withdrawals themselves.  This is what is known in the old Encyclopaedia Brittanica as “making shit up.”

Lock even had a well-publicized policy of requiring a 1:1 wagering play-through requirement on transfers, to prevent people from transferring and immediately cashing out.  Lock charged a 15% penalty on withdrawal not meeting that requirement, but now that secondary prices have dropped well below that margin, Lock no longer wants to honor its own rules.

The Lock insanity continued when Bridges dared to explain that by disincentivizing potential buyers of Lock dollars, the long-term effect would be to make the secondary-market price go up.  Bridges’ wise understanding of economic principles has been demonstrated by the current asking price of Lock dollars moving from .50/$1.00 to .38/$1.00 (and sinking fast) in just the past few days.

There’s a reason the guy’s a PR flak, y’know.  In a different era, he’d be selling life insurance… door to door.

It all spells a big mess for Lock, with no easy resolution in sight.  In conjunction with the latest developments, the overall picture of Lock as a cash-strapped site with its player reserves likely not reserved at all, as happened with Full Tilt in 2011.

Lock’s history isn’t that great to begin with.  The site was booted off multiple networks, usually for pirating players from competing skins.  A similar situation developed at Lock’s prior home, the Merge Network, with Lock leaving or being booted from Merge, and buying its way into a share of the Cake Poker Network.  The Cake-Lock configuration was renamed Revolution, where Lock remains to this day.

Neither Cake nor Lock was blessed with deep pockets, however, and despite the success of a few independent skins at Revolution, it’s been tough times for players there ever since.  Just a couple of months back, Lock instituted its Fair Play Technology, ring-fencing its own players from what it claimed where the same type of aggressive player-poaching tactics that Lock itself employed at Merge.

Overall, and no doubt connected to both Lock’s cashout problems and the ring-fencing of its players, the traffic numbers at Lock have been in a freefall.  Traffic-tracking site PokerScout shows an apparent drop on the Revolution Network of 35-40% over just the past three months.  It’s a safe bet that the traffic drop at Lock itself has been at an even higher rate.

If Lock indeed spent its players’ money and did not segregate funds, then with few deposits coming and rake dropping daily, the protracted withdrawals evidenced recently would be a very logical result.  Lock claims to have the player funds segregated, but has not offered any independent evidence to date, and in the wake of the Full Tilt fiasco, players and industry watchers are far less trusting.

Few rosy reports regarding Lock exist.  One of the harshest stories to date comes from CalvinAyre.com, the mouthpiece site for Bodog/Bovada affairs.  CA writer Peter Amsel declared that Lock itself just might be preparing to cut and run, based on the evidence and on Lock’s dismal track record.  CalvinAyre and Bodog have had a running feud with Lock and its chief executives for quite some time, and this just adds fuel to the fire.

Another post of interest, from Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles at the PokerFraudAlert forums, claims an unnamed source as declaring that Lock’s reserves were stored in Cyprian banks, and were largely wiped out in the Cyprus banking crisis of 2012.  That rumor remains unsubstantiated, but represents another possible explanation for Lock’s increasing woes.

One thing is clear: There’s something very wrong at Lock these days, and its players are being unfairly impacted and victimized.  It’s not a site that any responsible affiliate should be driving players to visit, until such time as the current problems are addressed, all pending withdrawals are processed, and a coherent transfer policy (or abolition of P2P transfers from this date forward) is declared.  For the moment, it’s deposit there at your own risk.

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