SealWithClubs, Take Two
When we last checked in on the new Bitcoin-operated online poker site, SealsWithClubs, it was in connection with the reappearance on one Russell “Dutch” Boyd, who claimed in a resume to be a lead programmer for the site, working on its rollout earlier this year.
That post was one of the most widely read in the Flushdraw blog’s young history, and since I know Bitcoin boss Bryan Micon personally, I wasn’t too surprised too find a couple of Thanksgiving-morning text messages on my phone from Micon in regards to the SWC piece. Add in a handful of Twitter posts and e-mails, and I guess Micon was a bit concerned.
It turns out that Micon directly disputes the resume specific in question, as originally listed by Boyd. Here are the relevant Tweets that Micon sent me:
So, Micon has stated that Boyd might have padded his resume a tad, there, and in one of his phone texts, Micon also asserted that Dutch might not have done all of the work he was originally supposed to have been done.
Before this post veers into a different direction, let’s post that old Dutch Boyd resume here for the public record:
Lord, that’s an awful resume. Here’s a kid who was brilliant enough to go to college at 12 and graduate from law school at 18, and yet his resume is about being a poker pro and being a media star, founding a site (PokerSpot) that was the first significant failure in online poker history, and now programming for a site that’s using a currency (Bitcoins) which — rightly or wrongly — are coming under increased governmental scrutiny for their usage in various illegal enterprises.
And all that, and I haven’t even touched on that resume’s single funniest line: “Extensive experience with internet domain names, including… IP disputes.” (Emphasis mine.) Last time I checked, the IP disputes Boyd was involved in were those at issue when 2+2 boss Mason Malmuth sued Boyd for cybersquatting, Boyd having registered a bunch of domains not too dissimilar to twoplustwo.com in an attempt to make a few bucks off of Internet traffic.
So, according to Micon, the resume entry dealing with SealsWithClubs is another fudged tale. Sure, I can buy that.
But that still begs the greater issue. Despite the fact that at least two old “Crew” friends of Dutch’s, Joe Bartholdi and Scott Fischman, have also been rumored to be part of the SealsWithClubs site, you have to know where to draw the line between friendship and business. The way that PokerSite imploded a decade ago suggests that anyone letting Boyd near the back end of a poker site just out to have their heads examined.
Worse, SealsWithClubs revels in its cutting-edge approach; this ain’t your grandmother’s online poker site. As FD supreme potentate Paudie wryly noted following the publication of our first FD piece, the T&C of SealsWithClubs ought to scare off more players than it appeals to.
A few points, excerpted from the SWC FAQ page:
What poker software do you use? Is it safe? We use Poker Mavens by Briggs Softworks. There are no known security flaws. However, it has not been used for very much serious play and it is conceivable that with a larger incentive to crack the software some will be found….. If you decide to play at SealsWithClubs, understand you are accepting the risks associated with playing on Poker Mavens software.
How do I know my opponents aren’t cheating? You don’t know that, they might be cheating you – SealsWithClubs is the wild, wild west of online poker rooms. Management reserves the right to handle cheating and collusion in whatever way they see fit. If you are uncomfortable with anonymous ring games remember we offer heads up tables.
Chat: Chat is uncensored, and not necessarily in English.
Whether they are actually cheating or not is almost irrelevant; in legal terms, SWC is virtually defining itself as having the privilege to cheat, even though they profess elsewhere that they will take steps to crack down on cheaters.
While there’s probably a good chunk of the above that’s just Micon being Micon, the greater point is that the FAQ still does nothing to engender a sense of trustworthiness to new site visitors. Frankly, it’s goddamn stupid.
Then there’s Bitcoins themselves, a topic which we touched on lightly last time and may well devote a full piece or series to at some point in the future. The Wiki page on Bitcoins is a good starting place, though it’s also worth noting that there’s a bit of a fallout between Wiki and Bitcoin users, since Wiki will not accept Bitcoins as a form for donations, since they are neither issued nor backed by any formal national government.
What Bitcoins have been tied to (along with several other “virtual” digital currencies) are some of the darkest corners of the web, used a medium to pay for some of the worst things imaginable, from drugs to child porn, trafficked internationally and communicated via encrypted postings and e-mails in back channels of something often called the hidden Internet.
Bitcoins aren’t the reason for those other criminal behaviors, but as medium of exchange that also challenges traditional governments’ assumption that they and they only get to define what currency is and how it works, it’s not hard to figure out that the backlash and efforts to stomp out Bitcoins and their ilk will only increase in the future.
Some would argue that by their very nature, Bitcoins can’t be stomped out. I’m not so sure; chop enough tentacles off a squid and the thing will ooze to death. I think that at the very best, any investment in Bitcoins for the purpose of playing poker ought to be caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware”).
That has nothing to do with whether or not SWC is a good poker site, but it has a ton do with whether SWC is viable as a long-term business. I’m pretty sure that Micon would argue that yes, yes it is. As for me, I’d just as soon watch and see how it all plays out.
|@Haley_Hintze So we are clear @DutchBoyd was never lead programmer for @SealsWithClubs and only worked briefly on the project ~5 months ago