Winning Poker Network Faces Bot and Rakeback Accusations

Winning Poker Network Faces Bot and Rakeback Accusations

Only six months ago, Winning Poker Network CEO Phil Nagy announced a crackdown on poker bots.

There was a video statement from Nagy and a new policy posted on flagship site Americas Cardroom. Players were receiving reimbursements from time playing unknowingly against online poker bots. It was all about transparency and fairness, a nod to the loyal players.

Those efforts seemed to fade less than two months into the new commitment by the network and its CEO. And several months later, players are again reporting massive numbers of bots. The complaints are posted on social media and online poker forums.

But nearly two weeks after the post and an increasing number of vocal players, Nagy has yet to address the issue this time.

Original Bot Allegations

On September 30, a contributor on the TwoPlusTwo online poker forum going by the name “HandOfGod666” started a thread with a detailed list of allegations. It consisted of bots and the misappropriation of player funds.

This person’s account of the events begins in November 2018 with a description of accounts seeming to originate in former Eastern Bloc countries. He noted a lot of their stats seemed higher than average and alerted WPN’s security department.

Without a satisfactory answer, he contacted Joey Ingram with the data he compiled. In the months that followed, Ingram posted numerous videos showing evidence of action on WPN indicative of bot play.

In April of this year, a video emerged from a livestream in which Eric Collier played against a Latvian called “FoxRox” on Americas Cardroom. The play was so alarming that it went viral in poker circles.

WPN Promises Bot Crackdown

When this was something that WPN could no longer ignore, CEO Nagy went public to acknowledge the bot problem and promise to fix it. He appeared on Ingram’s YouTube in a somewhat contentious interview, and Nagy took to social media outlets to express his concerns about bots.

Nagy went so far as to announce a crackdown in conjunction with a new “transparent and verifiable reimbursement policy” in WPN’s stance against bots.

By April 11, FoxRox had been banned, resulting in the reimbursement of $175,728.80 to a total of 4,401 players who competed against the bot between June 2018 and April 2019. Another bot was banned, resulting in $25,134.60 reimbursed to 1,057 players for play from February through April 2019.

The initial bot crackdown had led to 277 accounts closed and nearly $735K shipped to players who had played against those 277 bots.

By the middle of May, another 41 names were added to the banned player list. Nagy stayed in the public eye, confronting WPN detractors and facing complaints straight away.

However, after those conversations with the public and with a number of individuals, the communication ended. Apparently, the bot crackdown ended as well. The last banned players added to the list were banned as of May 15, 2019.

Software Upgrade Creates Issues

WPN upgraded its software in May. And during that process, there were issues. Some of the initial issues included players unable to view leaderboards, regular tournaments, some account balances, and VIP Program points for extended periods of time. Players were unregistered from tournaments. Player signups and withdrawals were unavailable for days.

The full first phase of the software update took several months, during which time there were occasional site outages and issues. However, WPN said the platform would be so much better for players.

Players saw things differently.

According to HandOfGod666 on Two Plus Two, that period of upgrading was more serious than most people knew. The VIP program was a specific concern because “rake race leaderboards disappeared entirely and both VIP and flat rakeback payments completely stopped as well as deposit bonuses for months.”

By July, players awaited the promised restoration of the VIP program on the 10th, but that didn’t happen.

In August, per HandOfGod666 said, “Some VIP rakeback was paid but not the correct amounts.” He also noted that some players reported underpayments on flat rakeback payouts, and some affiliates reported no payments at all.

Last month, HandOfGod666 added more issues to the pile. “Rank points and their equivalent are being shortchanged over 50%,” he wrote. “Flat rakeback players are reporting not receiving any rakeback or even negative rakeback, or being shortchanged massively.”

The closest thing to a public acknowledgement of any part of this was just today, when Americas Cardroom retweeted a post from Recent Poker from September 22, which refers to affiliate payments.

A WPN affiliate spokesperson told the site that the new software delivered “inaccurate reporting” and “caused some late and estimated payments.” That was accompanied by an apology and a statement that the poker network is fixing it.

It is unclear if sites like Recent Poker received their payments yet. But ACR retweeted the link to the article on October 8 and again on October 10 – more than two weeks after the original article was posted.

More Bots

In addition to concerns about rakeback and other payments, HandOfGod666 also reported that the bot situation worsened as the summer months went on.

By September, the poster wrote, “Bot situation goes full out insane with almost every table during peak hours and especially on Fridays (the last day of the Beast race) having sometimes almost 90% of PLO200 and lower having 2-4 bots on it.”

How does this person know which accounts are bots? Many of them can be tracked and shown to have the exact same post-flop statistics for years.

The stats have not been kept up, however, because hand histories haven’t been available for all-in cash game and MTT hands since the software update began running in May.

It is concerning that the seemingly heartfelt words of Nagy and the “transparent” process of banning bots and refunding player monies lasted little more than one month in action.

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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