WSOP Nevada Brings Fraud Procedures into Question with Re-investigation

wsopcom-logoThe WSOP brand is trusted around the world where it comes to poker, but that image has been put into question by recent discussions about how cheating is investigated on the WSOP Nevada site.

It seems that reports of collusion at Sit & Gos on the WSOP Nevada online client, and the following apparent lack of action and information, have created rumblings in the poker community. It seems these rumblings have caused the WSOP Nevada online team to re-evaluate a decision in at least one of these cases this week.

The discussion was started on an internet forum after WSOP Head of Online Poker, Bill Rini, had held an “Office Hours” session in the Sponsored WSOP Support forum on Two Plus Two. During this session he had apparently deleted questions he didn’t want to deal with, and repeatedly ignored a user’s request for more information on a cheating complaint he had raised. 2+2 User “psasjc” had apparently provided evidence of 5 colluders some time ago, and had yet to receive any response form support regarding the resolution. The issue appears have run a fairly lengthy course, and over several of Bill’s “Office Hours” threads on 2+2. One of the key points was, what happened to the money that the players has lost to the colluders? Once this question was asked of Bill on more than one occasion, he became more evasive, and on at least one occasion, rude.

Users were left to discuss how protected they were while playing at WSOP given the Head of Online Poker seemed to be so disinterested in player protection. This kind of attitude has particular significance right now with the Sheldon Adelson campaign against all forms of online gambling.

Since this happened back in late April, the WSOP Support forums have been given an “reboot,” with all the previous threads being deleted. Going forward, all account based enquiries would need to be sent via customer services, while other more general enquiries would be serviced through the 2+2 forum.

Bill himself would still be providing his “Office Hours” threads to answer questions in a form of an “Ask Me Anything” (as long as it’s not account specific).

Following on from this, and the thread about the collusion gaining attention, the owner of the forum, and the actual original poster of the thread originally to raise this issue, had a conversation with the WSOP Director of Media relations, Seth Palansky.

According to “Dan Druff” of pokerfraudalert.comPalansky admitted that there have been issues with the Customer Support, and this customer support was outsourced, with only a few WSOP Support staff actually in the US. The “reboot” of the 2+2 forum is how that resource is now going to be used, and will not be deleting it even with the confusion it appeared to causing. He was also told that the confusion was mainly due to player needing another contact avenue as the WSOP Support email was so poor in responding.

The big stuff soon followed, and Palansky confirmed that does not, and will not keep money confiscated from player caught cheating, but that the distribution of the money depends on specific state law, and can change based on circumstances. All of these issues are required to be handled on a case by case basis.

More information came to light where “psasjc” made more information about what had been provided to him as part of the WSOP Support investigation. He was advised that he had actually achieved a profit in playing the cheating accounts, which “psasj” disputed as he only remembered only playing three SnGs with them, not cashing in any of them. He asked for the support team to confirm the dates and times he had played against these accounts in the past if that was not correct. He didn’t have a response to this until last Monday, when an email signed by Bill Rini was sent to “psasjc’s” email account.

The body of the email was as follows:

“Dear XXX,

We recently re-investigated the play of the players you reported and we have determined that their actions may have resulted in a loss to you of $X. We will be crediting your account in this amount.
Additionally, due to any inconvenience we may have caused you, we would also like to offer you $X as a goodwill gesture for your troubles and for bringing this matter to our attention. This will also be credited to your account.
Both credits should show up in your account within 72 hours.
Thank you for your patience in this matter and we hope to see you at the tables soon.

Bill Rini
Head of Online Poker”

Bill Rini (c) Twitter

Bill Rini (c) Twitter

So, after this case was “re-investigated” by WSOP support, “psasjc” was refunded for his losses due to cheating, and a gesture of goodwill for reporting this issue. I have discussed this with several people, and this could very easily be described as an attempt to buy off a complainant after he had made enough waves to be taken seriously. It could also be an honest re-evaluation of the evidence by a review process, or “psasjc’s” continuing complaint had pushed this to a more senior analyst who was able to see the cheating. I doubt we’ll ever really know, but the appearance right now seems to be that is doing it’s best to smooth over this issue with lost of good PR.

What this does bring into question is the Nevada regulatory framework. How have they been involved in this, and why did this case take so much effort to be resolved? relative inexperience with high volume online poker traffic may also be at fault here. If anti cheating algorithms aren’t in place to analyse data from the play on the site, finding many forms of cheating is almost impossible. Players who are willing to do what “psasjc” did are few and far between. The Nevada State Gaming Control Board needs to be the advocate for a fair game, and this case may be best resolved by an independent enquiry into the original claims of cheating, and the procedures in dealing with it. Otherwise, the current appearance of a cover up may haunt the business for years, and provide more ammunition to anti-online gambling advocates such as Sheldon Adelson.


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