MLM-Themed Jaopoker Possibly Closes Shop, Player Balances Likely Gone
Jao Poker (or Jaopoker), the start-up online poker room that attempted to cultivate a player base via a multi-level-marketing (MLM) recruitment strategy rather than more traditional approaches, has gone offline, according to e-mails and text messages recently sent to its players. The messages, one of which we’ll recreate in text format below, for preservation, left players’ balances in limbo. Should Jaopoker’s offline hiatus become permanent, it increases the already high likelihood to a virtual certainty that the site’s players will have serious challenges in recovering their balances.
It’s also important to note that while the Jao Poker skin, the branded gaming engine, appears to have been taken offline, the jaopoker.com domain remains active, including both calls to deposit and referrals to another poker site, 64Spades, that appears to be owned by the same small group of people behind Jao. That does support the “down for maintenance” hypothesis, at least to some extent.
However, it could also paint a picture of the owners perhaps trying to bury Jao in the wake of the horrible publicity for the site generated by alleged brand ambassador Tam Nguyen, who’s also intrinsically involved with this latest mess.
Last time we checked, it was Nguyen’s ham-handed scorching via social-media of players and possible business associates alike threw an an unwanted, cold spotlight onto Jaopoker’s operations and questionable business plan. In one sense, folding Jaopoker might have made sense, if it wasn’t for all those player balances that are now… at the very best… in limbo. About a month ago, in fact, Jaopoker (via Nguyen) announced that it would be abandoning that weird MLM structure and converting to a more traditional affiliate model.
But, closure… maybe. Here’s the text of one message sent out in recent days to Jaopoker players, all misspellings accurately copied forward:
We are sad to tell you all that Jaopoker has closed,
If we have any update on jaopoker and members poker balances we will let you know in the community poker chat
We are currently moving poker games to 64spades.com
Please use Our Bonus Code: [hell no, that’s not being shown – author]
to access Our Private Games
I want to thank you all for the great times we had over at Jaopoker and we will rebuild once [again].
Regards Samoachic, Drushbag and CGCatDaddy.
Figuring out exactly who is behind Jaopoker is an inexact science. “Drushbag” appears to be the online handle of a man named Larry Druschel, who has few or no online trails connecting to poker or gambling outside the Jaopoker sphere. That, though, includes at least two other small, unregulated sites, GuruPoker and the aforementioned 64Spades site, plus one forum / podcast site, AceHighRadio.
“Samoachic” is somewhat easier to link to an Australian player named Belinda Dwyer, whose online Google+ page shows her working at gurupoker since 2014. This significantly increases the chances that Druschel is also an Australian player.
As for “CGCatDaddy”, that links to an Ohio-based poker affiliate operator (for lack of a better term) named Chris George. It’s not one of the more well-known poker players by the same name, but this Chris George is also well connected to all the sites mentioned above.
Then there’s Tam Nguyen, the on-again-off-again frontman, “ambassador”, and maybe-part-owner of the site. It was Nguyen who released the news that Jaopoker was closing, but since then he’s issued posts that claim the site is just “down for maintenance.” This writer notes that other sites in online poker’s past have also been “down for maintenance,” only to never go live again, but Nguyen has also issued a short video on Facebook, claiming that, yes, mistakes have been made.
Whatever. Either way, it’s another laughable Nguyen moment regarding this weird and shaky poker startup, which we first looked at in a feature called “The Curious Case of Jao Poker.” If in fact Jaopoker is indeed still going to be run, then Nguyen’s announcement of the site closing up shop is, well, probably about the worst online-poker ambassador gaffe of all time.
And that’s the best-case scenario for Jaopoker’s customers.
Ah, well, sometimes we all need some comic relief. The weird little Jaopoker saga has provided that, and who knows? Maybe there’ll be yet another newsy and entertaining twist.