Annie Duke: I Was Never Shown Any Non-Public Hole Card Information

Annie Duke took to Facebook this week to clarify her knowledge of and involvement in the Ultimate Bet superuser scandal.Both Duke and fellow ex-UB pro Phil Hellmuth made statements concerning Ultimate Bet last week in response to the recent release of secret recordings made by Travis Makar that detail the attempt to cover up cheating at Ultimate Bet.But an apparently unintentional ambiguity in Duke’s initial statement caused her to offer additional clarification yesterday.Before we get to that, some quick background.Tapes imply Duke had access to God ModeComments allegedly made by Russ Hamilton on the tapes – which are at times inaudible and subject to interpretation – suggested that Annie Duke had some level of access to the so-called “god mode” that allowed UB insiders to cheat opponents by viewing their hole cards.Duke’s initial response seemed to support this version of events. From her Twitter: Duke unambiguously states she had no such accessBut her subsequent statement removed any doubt about whether or not she ever had access to “god mode” on UB:

Annie Duke: I Was Never Shown Any Non-Public Hole Card Information

Lock Poker Expediting Cashouts For CardsChat Players

Lock Poker has been the subject of myriad player complaints during its existence.The most serious complaint pertains to cashout speeds, which are among the worst in the online poker industry. Players in the U.S. have waited as long as six months to receive their requested cashouts. Players in the rest of the world wait 1-2 months for their withdrawals.But it seems that members of CardsChat.com do not suffer from these same delays.Dozens reportedly jumping to front of Lock’s cashout lineA thread was started in the CardsChat forum on May 5, 2013. The original poster challenged the fact that CardsChat ranked Lock Poker as the second best U.S. facing online poker room.On May 10th, a CardsChat moderator asked members to contact her if they were waiting for a Lock Poker withdrawal. Twelve members immediately contacted CardsChat about their delayed Lock Poker withdrawals and these complaints were forwarded to the poker room’s management. Lock Poker processed all legitimate requests within just hours of receipt.CardsChat has now reportedly helped dozens of players receive their Lock Poker cashouts.Immediate backlash from other playersThis may seem like good news, but it was not taken well by the online poker community.A link to the Cardchat discussion was posted in several Lock Poker threads at Two Plus Two. There is a subforum there that specifically deals with Lock Poker issues. The forum was formerly a promotional and support forum, but this privilege was lost when players approached Two Plus Two management about the lack of support provided by Lock Poker and the massive delays in receiving withdrawals.Lock Poker is clearly showing preferential treatment to CardsChat over Two Plus Two. A total of 41 Two Plus Two players have reported over $100,000 in delayed withdrawals and this is just a small sample.One conclusion that could be drawn: Lock Poker is trying to save face on a smaller poker forum at the expense of players on a larger forum in an attempt to keep their room actively promoted somewhere its reputation has not yet been damaged.Do not applaud CardsChat’s actionsIt is easy to thank CardsChat for its help in getting players paid, but there are, in my opinion, multiple issues with that conclusion.I believe CardsChat got itself into this situation by putting affiliate commission above the safety of players. Lock Poker was ranked number one on CardsChat’s recommended U.S. online poker rankings in 2012, even after many scandals that went beyond just slow cashouts. CardsChat promoted Lock Poker as its number one choice for U.S. players as late as August 2012.Lock Poker was already processing payments slower than the industry average at that time and the outlook was negative.Lock Poker eventually lost its number one position at CardsChat. It was replaced by BetOnline, a company that has a history of harassing or outright not paying big poker winners. This further demonstrates the inability of CardsChat to rank US facing poker rooms properly. The company eventually named Bovada its number one choice earlier this year, which is appropriate, but still ranked Lock Poker number two until the thread addressing Lock Poker’s problems appeared in its forum. It is still ranked number four today.After being challenged about the unfair actions of moving its players to the front of the line, bypassing players that have waited longer, a CardsChat representative claims “You have no way of knowing if these handfuls of withdrawals have caused any delay at all in anyone else receiving their withdrawals”.It does not take much common sense to know that is exactly what is happening. If Lock Poker had the cash or processing capacity to pay all of its players on time then there would be no need for CardsChat to intervene. CardsChat requesting preferential treatment for their players does not make cash magically appear in Lock Poker’s bank account.What is an affiliate’s responsibility to players?Affiliates have a responsibility to players. Trust builds loyalty in online marketing and poker in no different. It seems clear CardsChat has ignored that responsibility and includes commission in their ranking formula. The only other excuse is that they are completely ignorant about their industry.CardsChat provides apparently false BetOnline information on siteIgnoring the fact that BetOnline should not be in anyone’s top ranked U.S. facing room list, CardsChat goes a step further in their promotion of it. BetOnline is currently ranked number two in Cardchat’s ranking of online poker rooms and held the number one spot for about five months in late 2012 and early 2013.Under “BetOnline Poker Bonus” the review page states “25% Unlimited on ALL deposits.”BetOnline does not offer a poker bonus at all. I confirmed this with BetOnline through multiple channels.The bonus is in fact a sports book bonus and not a poker bonus. There is no poker bonus for CardsChat or any other affiliate beyond the Promo Bucks available to all players that may be used to enter tournaments. A search through Archive.org shows that this has been advertised for two years on CardsChat’s site, even though no such poker bonus exists.This may seem like making a big deal out of what may potentially be a typo, but players have fallen victim to claiming this bonus and then being subjected to a wager requirement in the sports book or casino before being allowed to cashout. BetOnline players interested in only playing poker should immediately contact support and have any bonus removed. This may prevent withdrawal problems down the road.Past Lock Poker issues that should impact rankingWhile still on the Merge Gaming Network, a Lock Poker pro was caught cheating in the Bluff Pro Challenge after receiving an obvious $100,000 chip dump on the last day of the promotion. Lock Poker seemed complacent in the cheating until the online poker community demanded the disqualification of Jose Macedo. He was eventually stripped of the win and the second place player was awarded the prize.Lock Poker was known to bend the rakeback rules on Merge Gaming before it left the network in May 2012. Lock Poker offered a promotion where players would receive extra rakeback into their casino accounts without any wager requirement. The funds could then be transferred to the poker room or withdrawn. This promotion was marketed heavily after Black Friday. Many players accepted this deal, but Lock changed the terms retroactively on more than one occasion, making the promotion virtually worthless.This is just a sample of player complaints attributed to Lock Poker. There have been a number of support and cashout complaints surrounding the online poker room over the past two years.Author Disclosure: I have been a volunteer moderator at Two Plus Two since 2006. I was once contacted to do freelance work for CardsChat but the topics assigned to me were outside of my expertise so I declined the work.Ed. note: OPR does not endorse playing at US-facing online poker rooms. Playing at US-facing online poker rooms is simply too risky from a financial (and potentially legal) point of view.

Lock Poker Expediting Cashouts For CardsChat Players

A Modest Proposal For Rebutting Online Poker’s Critics

Sheldon Adelson’s recent broadside against online poker – and the response that it generated – got me thinking about some of the underlying issues involved in how advocates for online poker regulation approach criticism from the likes of Mr. Adelson.I put some of those thoughts together in an article for QuadJacks: “Please Stop Writing Responses to Sheldon Adelson.”The gist of the article is that rebuttals – at this point – are likely counterproductive and only serve to strengthen Adelson’s influence.And I propose the foundations of a response strategy to his criticisms – and the myriad like his sure to follow in the months and years ahead – that I hope will be more effective than the temporarily-satisfying act of directly responding with a rebuttal.One point that I think is especially important comes at the end of the article, so I wanted to quickly highlight it here:Read the whole thing.

A Modest Proposal For Rebutting Online Poker’s Critics

CardPlayer Halts Promotion of Unregulated Poker Sites in Nevada

It’s only a matter of time until affiliates and poker media sites based in the U.S. drop advertisements for unregulated US-facing sites – either due to mounting regulatory concerns or because promoting regulated rooms becomes a more profitable / sustainable business model.And at least one major site took a small step in that direction recently.CardPlayer no longer shows advertisements for Lock Poker (or apparently any unregulated U.S.-facing sites) to visitors from Nevada.Different regions of U.S. see different versions of CardPlayerVisitors from Illinois (for example) still see banners for Carbon Poker, and a list of the “Best Online Poker Room Bonuses” that includes Lock and Bovada.But Nevada visitors see banners for Ultimate Poker – no Lock, no Carbon and no list of “Best Bonuses.”Additionally, another “best bonus” list on the top left of the page shows Lock, Bovada and other rooms to Illinois traffic, but only lists the free-play CardPlayer game for Nevada traffic.Both visitors still see the “2013 Player of the Year Sponsored by Lock Poker” banner. And, interestingly, both can still click on that banner to be taken to Lock (through CP’s affiliate link).Compare the screenshots below.As seen from Illinois (note highlighted areas)As seen from NevadaLock and Carbon banners have been replaced by Ultimate banners, and the “best bonus” list is gone entirely. And h/t to Dan Michalski for pointing this out to me.

CardPlayer Halts Promotion of Unregulated Poker Sites in Nevada