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Lock Poker v. Revolution Gaming: When Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

(The opinions expressed are those of FlushDraw’s contributing editor, Haley Hintze, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FlushDraw and its ownership.)

ScreenHunter_12 Oct. 31 12.31The ugly internal warfare between Lock Poker and its former network home, the Revolution Poker Network, shows consumers the very worst in an online-poker business conflagration — a situation where neither side can be trusted.

On the one side, players see the ongoing disaster at Lock Poker — a room that is setting unofficial records in the way of not paying the withdrawal requests of its players.  While there has been a bit of good news this month regarding Lock cashouts (about two dozen players have reported receiving paper cheques after processing waits from Lock of between 6 and 10 months), the queue of players awaiting said cashouts continues to grow.

In addition, online payment processor Skrill’s recent announcement that it will no longer accept deposits on behalf of Lock — though it will continue to process cashouts for players, as long as Lock provides the funds to do so — is about as clear an indication as players need that the Lock money conduit has been a one-way street, and that no other firm wants to be associated with it.

Lock’s corporate proclamations over the past year-plus have ranged from unbelievable to farcical, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a separate value in maintaining a track record of what the company claims.  That’s why FlushDraw published a statement from Lock Poker’s PR head, Shane Bridges, in which Bridges claimed that there had been a misappropriation of misuse of player funds.

Bridges blamed the people at Revolution Gaming, but the story really wasn’t who was responsible for the alleged misappropriation of funds, but rather, that someone at Lock or Revolution was alleging that problems with player funds had occurred.  The earlier FlushDraw piece made clear to parse that this was what Bridges was claiming — rather than that what he was claiming was actually true — and also made clear that even if the claims were true, it hardly mitigated all the other Lock disasters of recent months.

For instance, this quote makes clear that Lock remains answerable:

“Lock’s departure from Revolution stands separate from Lock’s own failure to pay an immense backlog of worldwide player withdrawal requests, though the fingerpointing as to who’s to blame between Lock and Revolution continues unabated on both sides.”

Yet all of Lock’s sins don’t make Revolution’s recent actions excusable.  Lock and Revolution split in a nasty manner a few weeks ago, and Lock is attempting to continue as a standalone network.  Revolution quickly responded by launching Pure Poker, a Revolution-affiliated skin which debuted by attempting to hijack Lock players who logged into the network via the old Lock client, following Lock’s abrupt departure.

Revolution and Pure claimed to be able to transfer players over and reinstate their existing Lock balances, but that was a lie; instead, Revolution and Pure have instituted a sticky-bonus offer (it can’t be cashed out) that begins at $50 per player and actually has nothing to do with the Lock player balances that Revolution Gaming never maintained.  Debuting a new skin by lying to one’s prospective customers is a pretty crappy way of getting the ball rolling, and we called them out on it their previous piece.

Revolution Gaming and Pure Poker didn’t much care for that.

About a week ago, FlushDraw received a faceless attack letter purportedly from PurePoker in response to that earlier piece, claiming that Bridges’ statements were full of lies and that the story’s examination of Revolution’s background and interrelated business-shell entities was poorly researched, in fact “pretty embarrassing.”

The letter came from the anonymous account “[email protected]” and also claimed that yours truly had failed to reach out to PurePoker get both sides of the story, though that wasn’t quite true; I had planned to do an immediate follow-up, but came down with the flu and was bedridden for a few days.

Nonetheless, I followed up, explained the situation and offered a venue to address Bridges’ claims, with the caveat that I would not accept anonymous, faceless statements — a Pure Poker or Revolution Gaming official had to be willing to identify himself and speak on the record.

The supposed Pure Poker rep summarily declined the offer.

I’ll also reassert here that all the research done showing the PurePoker is a new “front” skin for Revolution Gaming itself remains on very secure ground.  The widest separation possible is that Pure Poker might be a false-front shell similar to that created by Stuart Gordon and Blanca Gaming in regards to Absolute Poker, and seemingly for much the same reason — to disabuse the public of the notion that the network itself is pulling the strings.

The point of this isn’t to compare Revolution Gaming to Absolute Poker, by the way, but just to note that Pure Poker isn’t anything real or independent at all.  The Revolution Gaming Network has gone out of its way to keep itself hidden from public view, and that alone should at least be of concern to consumers, who have a basic right to know and evaluate who they’re doing business with.

As of our earlier stories, all of these entities were known to be affiliated with Revolution Gaming: IAA Services, Ltd., BTG Global N.V., BTG Gaming, Zagox Management, Juicy Stakes Games LTD, RSPCasino.com (the casino front of Red Star Poker), Pure Poker and others.  Another name to add to that is the Safari Casino Group, which maintains a half dozen or so dubious sportsbetting sites, most of which get a lousy D+ rating at SportsBookReview.com.

One actually gets the feeling that Safari came first, and the Revolution Network is the later offshoot that just happened to gain steam at a moment when US online-poker players were looking for alternatives; Revolution may have gained market share through no particular skill or trustworthiness of its own.

In addition, Revolution officials have a long history of never responding to media requests for information.  Given how anonymous and secretive the network wants to be, it’s something of a departure from established form for pokerfuse to have published a rebuttal based on unverifiable and anonymous statements.  We don’t necessarily publish our sources, but we also don’t serve as a conduit for faceless attacks.

As for the erstwhile “[email protected],” whose first name might be Mark, his parting statement was, “I have been around a long time and am aware that most times it is better to say nothing at all.”  Which is true enough, but then it also behooves one to not send blind-attack e-mails while representing a company that wants to stay in the shadows.

Shane Bridges’ and Lock’s statements generally aren’t believable, but they can still be newsworthy for the very topics they touch.  In contrast, Revolution Gaming and Pure Poker err by assuming that because Lock currently has little or no credibility, Revolution automatically has some of that credibility instead.  It doesn’t work that way; cred isn’t a zero-sum game.

In the Lock Poker / Revolution Gaming war, there really aren’t any winners.  Above all that applies to poker-playing, would-be consumers, who continue to get the short end of the stick.

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