Friday, November 28, 2014

The Return of Friendly Poker, join our PokerStars Home Game CLUB

Livestreaming both Poker and some League of Legends (and possibly Minecraft in the near future) over at Friendly Poker (  
On the main page, you can watch Athene and Tania Livestream on the left side and the poker or LoL livestream under the chat (or all 3 if you wish!)

4 Weekly Tournaments:
Friday 6pm PST (-8 UTC) normal 6max NLHE

Saturday 12pm PST Knockout 6max NLHE
Saturday 1pm PST  PLHE/PLO half/half mix 9max

Sunday 5pm PST HORSE limit

FP Club ID:
FP Invite Code:

Feel free to invite others to come chat and play at Friendly Poker!

Monday, August 25, 2014

At the Poker Table, Political Controversy or Freedom of Speech?

     The Stage:  EPT 11 Super High Roller Final Table Livestream (Watch Here for replay, jump to 5:00 in video for player introductions) on PokerStars.TV
     The Villains: Olivier Busquet and Daniel Colman with shirts that say "SAVE GAZA" and "FREE PALESTINE"

     The Image (borrowed from screenshot crop):

     This is going to interesting.  I'll blog as I'm reading:
 Robbie Strazynski HERE,
 Nolan Dalla HERE,
 Victoria Coren HERE,
 Daniel Negreanu HERE.

     First up, Robbie.  He seems very against any political agenda at the tables, and indeed sounds personally affronted.  This was the impression I got from his twitter conversation in realtime, as I was watching the livestream on and following along on twitter.  He opines that at the final table politics are a no-no, but during their interview can do what they like.  Are they supposed to change shirts JUST for their interview?  I contend that their shirts should be acceptable part of the dress code.  I don't want to live, or participate in, an event, where they take away your right to an opinion, or say "you can only have an opinion here, not over here".  Luckily for Robbie, Twitter does not censor your opinion in any way.  I'm glad for that.
     Robbie seems so sure that his opinion is correct, that their needs to be a RULE for it, a DRESS CODE.  Why stop there? why not ban ALL advertising, all potentially politically incorrect humor, all potentially offensive clothing of any kind?  Once you open this can of worms, it can only get worse.  Why not apply common sense, and only take a stance when the need occurs?  The world needs more of this common sense approach.  The suggested approach seems to be emotionally reactive to me.  I think it goes too far.  Until there is some issue that actually arises at the table that disrupts the game, I think trying to prevent "potential" trouble is treading a dangerous path.
     I reserve the right to change my stance, should the poker table become a political soapbox to the detraction of the game, but as things are right NOW, I don't see any need for any rules.  The majority of the commotion and ruffled feathers were on Twitter, and they were a minority of the total viewers.

     Next up, Nolan. Quotes:
"So, unlike pro athletes which would clearly be forbidden to express themselves politically on their uniforms because they are paid and under contract, poker players are individuals who should be able to enjoy reasonable rights of free expression."

"But I certainly don’t want a giant corporation or some low-level tournament official making a decision as to what’s either political or offensive, particularly in a game with so many different kinds of people from so many nations around the world.  Let people wear what they want — we don’t need censorship."

      There are some good comments on his blog.  I AGREE with Nolan's point of view.  I realize and acknowledge that it is only one of many possible views.  This is the nature of the world we live, and of humankind in general.

     Next up, Victoria.  What a lovely written piece that make out points for both sides.  I highly recommend you read it, particularly if you have the aforementioned posts by Robbie and Nolan.  I agree with her view as well, up to a point.  I do not agree about not talking about "no politics and no religion".  I was raised to believe this was a lose-lose situation, but have learned through life experiences, that is just not the case.  Many good changes in the world WILL NOT happen, unless people discuss these very topics.  It is through such talks that we have hope that positive change will happen in appropriate places.  And who's to say that talk should NOT begin at a poker table?  I certainly have enjoyed some of the most interesting talks ever at the poker table, conversing with people I probably would never have met, if not for being at the same poker table.  This is one of the things I truly enjoy and treasure about poker.
     Some comments from her blog:
Ben Armitage:   "I would rather ban dirty clothes than controversial ones…."
 Tony Turtle:  "All the EPT needed to do is to add a rider to the televised final that “Any political statements or logos do not necessarily represent the feelings of the EPT”.  Job done."
Willie Elliot makes a very good points about the difference between a tournament and player freedoms, and the needs of broadcast to not offend their televised market.

     And now for Daniel.  He says he believes there should be 2 sets of rules, one for televised and one for non-televised events (or parts of the same event).  And I agree with this, too!  This is how I remember things working in years past, and something I've accepted whether I agree with it, or not.
     He then goes on to talk about actual politics more than any of the other blogs, and I agree with his view on Hamas, so far.  I am still learning by asking questions and reviewing what information is out there, but I'd have to say everything I've learned so far is aligned with Daniel's viewpoint.

    Now we return to Robbie, who had a reply to Nolan's post, located HERE.
He points out that you should hear about both sides.  I think this is good advice for ANY and ALL issues.  Hear ALL of the sides which are available to, and keep an open mind for information gained later.

     I respect everyone's opinions and well written blogs on this subject, and commend everyone for having a nice civil conversation about a potentially politically charged subject.  My personal opinion has not changed much, if at all, from my original thoughts, but I have certainly listened to, and linked for you, everyone's viewpoint of which I'm aware.  I am more on the side of "freedom" unless absolute action is needed for special cases, but I also respect the side of not detracting from the game, and understand the broadcast concerns for later televising.  Feel free to leave comments if you wish.

     You can decide for yourself.

Edit: nice follow up post HERE by Robert Cancellaro reminding us that politics is a part of everyday life.

Monday, August 4, 2014

BobAtLex Poker News ♥ ♣ ♦ ♠: Poker Friends Buy In Tourney

BobAtLex Poker News ♥ ♣ ♦ ♠: Poker Friends Buy In Tourney: Cash Game Tournament Buy In Every Friday @ 20:30 (8:30pm)EST NLHE,   5000 chip starting stack  10 minute blinds  normal game spee...

Come play a small game with competitive players, including yours truly.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The man lays down jacks full. WTF?

Twitter Poll: @TheWookieWay vs @PokerParadox

     I am considering dropping my @PokerParadox twitter account, or at least using it less and only in relation to blog posts.  I have 1650 followers on @TheWookieWay and 350 on @PokerParadox, but I'm not sure how many are following both.  I always recommend to people that they only follow one or the other, with the latter being my #Poker only twitter, with nothing but poker related tweets and re-tweets, versus the former which is my personal account and I may tweet about a LOT more than just #Poker.

     So I made a straw poll:  If, and when you read this, IF you follow @PokerParadox, please click and let me know which you prefer, so I can decide whether to keep both twitter accounts, or drop one of my seven accounts that I manage.  Yes, seven.  I also have five blogs.  Yes, five.

     Some might consider this too many, but I consider it "just right".  I can post a little to each one when the mood strikes, as opposed to one all the time.  I think this will result in higher quality posts.  And Lord knows, there are too many blogs out there for any one person to read as it is!

     Which reminds me, I have several poker blog posts backlogged after my break at the end of the series.  PokerStars deal?  California Poker?  Headphones at the table?  Coming soon!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Poker Media Coverage Is a Hard and Thankless Job

Why Poker Media Coverage Is a Hard and Thankless Job

No surprises for me here, as I have a few friends in the media industry, but this might be enlightening for some of you who don't have a clear idea of what those in the poker media actually do :)

Via Steve Ruddock featuring Jennifer Newell (@WriterJen), Chad Holloway (@ChadAHolloway), and Lee Davy (@Chingster23)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ivey Stories: Picking Phil Ivey's Screen Name + My poker name backstory

What would YOU pick if you had to pick Phil Ivey's screenname for him?

What are the best screennames you've seen out there?

I had chosen ZomBParadox prior to my poker days as a possible DJ name, until I learned that I'd be a happier Producer than DJ.  But it stuck, and I used it on MySpace, a bunch of music sites, and eventually PokerStars.  I had a nickname of Zombie back east, given to me by a stripper friend in Ohio, because I walked in all decked out in black leather one night, and she said I looked like Rob Zombie, and the name stuck, forever more!  It fit with my nocturnal life at the time, with my "vampire tan", driving around to parties in 5 state radius with my DJ friends, when I wasn't sleeping my day away.

My original nickname on the West Coast, had been Wookie (also Chewbacca, Chewy, etc) but there were quite a few "Wookies" all over the internet.

I later researched and chose TheWookieWay (as in doing things "the wookiee way") for my official poker "brand", and to use on all the sites.  I even wrote to LucasArts/LucasFilms to ask for permission to use "Wookiee", which is the correct spelling, because I had friends that worked at both places, and I wanted to make it "official".   Their official response was "no comment".   They are notorious for serious copyright protection and defense, so I went with the slight misspelling, but safe, Wookie.  In fact, I didn't actually type that. *waves hand* "This is not the copyright infringment you are looking for..."

Unfortunately, PokerStars only allows for 1 name change in a short period, and if it's been longer than that, they won't let you change it!  I am stuck with ZomBParadox forever on that site, unless I want to break TOS, and risk losing an entire bankroll.  So, ZomBParadox it is!  Though, on just about every other site, forum, or account, I have TheWookieway.

Back to the task at hand, #Day5 of the #MainEvent of the World Series of Poker, where Phil Ivey has busted on Day 4, but DanSmithHolla is in the top 5...

Friday, July 4, 2014

World Series of Poker 2014 - Interviews?

The World Series of Poker
Las Vegas, 2014
July 4th, Independence Day

It's been an interesting year, so far, and the Main Event starts TOMORROW, July 5th, 2014.

The BigOne for OneDrop, won by Daniel Colman, after defeating Daniel Negreanu heads-up, declined interviews.  Excellent blogs and posts on both sides of this issue, and both sides are right.  Who is more right?  That is for YOU to decide.

Daniel Colman:
His reply on 2+2 after winning:
background info on an interview before the OneDrop via a forum (previous blog post here has the link)

Daniel Negreanu's take via his blog on Full Contact Poker:

Mike Sexton's take on his blog via PartyPoker:

EDIT: adding post from WickedChops:

EDIT 2: Adding awesome post from Phillip Gruissem, and my favorite of the bunch about poker players making a difference

It's been 4 years since I first "live-tweeted" the Main Event, but with potential media jobs available at later events, I may do it again this year, so they know I'm experienced..

I will start blogging the link outposts again, as much will be going on, but only those links I think you would find interesting, and so you have them all in one place.

There supposedly will not be any livestreams since ESPN will be broadcasting, as far as I know at this point, but if any pop up, I will certainly post them here on my blog and Tweet them out.  Follow @PokerParadox if you want JUST my poker tweets, as a convenience.

Until next post, I wouldn't be a Wookie if i didn't say,

Thursday, May 29, 2014

BobAtLex Poker News ♥ ♣ ♦ ♠: Tournament Schedule

This is one of the smaller tournaments I play in, but there are some key players I consider competition that help keep me sharp.  Nice atmosphere to play in, as well

BobAtLex Poker News ♥ ♣ ♦ ♠: Tournament Schedule: Monday's   Season Series Points Tourney - Holdem NL 7pm EST  Daily Qualifier for May 1st Monthly Championship - Holdem NL 8pm E...

Saturday, May 24, 2014 - Humble Phil Hellmuth?

For those who asked so often "what's the PokerBrat like OFF the tables?", here is a good example (and I've heard he's even nicer in person from many people in the poker world who actually know him)

I have yet to hang out with the legend... but I'm sure I will eventually, whether on the table, or off. - Humble Phil Hellmuth?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blues Brothers - Peter Gunn Theme

Someone trolled me about Peppermill Reno tournaments, so I may end up going out of spite, especially if I can find a Cat Avatar card protector anywhere @JasonSomerville @dmoongirl

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Is SPR? | Poker Quick Plays VIDEO

An excellent explanation of Stack to Pot Ratio.

As I post more of these kinds of videos and instructional blog posts, I will want to see less of my readers at my own tables...

"The Series is coming!"

Friday, April 25, 2014

Absolute Poker Story: Almost billionaires - Montana Kaimin: Features

Almost billionaires - Montana Kaimin: Features

For those who missed the Absolute Poker story, or didn't know all the details, here's a nice write up about one of the members who faced charges and served his time...

I call BS on a Money Laundering article by McAfee

On Rich Muny's FB page, Cheri Jacobus cited a report from McAfee, which I read completely and dissected the article below, and then tweeted the article for others to enjoy... you may find it amusing ..

Nolan Dalla Well done. Do a youtube search some of jacobus' televised debate appearances on other issues where she gets slaughtered. Im glad she's in their corner. We couldnt "cheri" pick a more pathetic group of adversaries than jacobus, adelson, lincoln, et al
Yesterday at 11:53am · Edited · Unlike · 3

Cheri Jacobus Raj Samani favorited your Tweet
4h: This report from @McAfee_Labs details how criminals launder money using online gambling sites. Read "Jackpot!":
2 hrs · Unlike · 2

Rich Muny So what Cheri. That report makes the case for licensing & regulation. As the letter above shows you lack any understanding of this issue, your opinion could not be less relevant.
1 hr · Unlike · 3

Cheri Jacobus credits Thackston and Byers
1 hr · Like

Martin Carrico so she blocks you on Twitter...and then responds to you on Facebook go figure
1 hr · Like · 1

Rich Muny lol
1 hr · Like

Rich Muny Cheri: I skimmed the article and didn't see the Thax stunt cited. If it were, it would just delegimize the article.
1 hr · Like

Rich Muny Cheri. You represent Byers, right?
1 hr · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Reading this @McAfee report (isn't he a bad boy to begin with?) .. 3 year old Microsoft report cited .. Poker is 3rd of the 4 products lists, ranking only above Bingo, but behind Casinos and Betting (both in the Sands realm!) ...
1 hr · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge They cite Casino City for evidence which shows this:
Most Popular Online Poker
No. 1 Online Poker Site bet365 Poker
No. 2 Online Poker Site 888 Poker
No. 3 Online Poker Site
which we all know is CLEARLY wrong but checking will easily verify how upside down that top 3 ... PokerStars clearly out performs 2nd place 888Poker by a factor of OVER 8 to 1 ....
1 hr · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge These 2 paragraphs completely contradict each other:
Although a large proportion of gamblers comply within local laws and use licensed
gambling services (and contribute to these impressive growth figures), a significant
percentage are engaged in gambling at unlicensed websites. Examples of unlicensed
online gambling vary but can include bingo, poker, betting, and other casino games.
In fact, the number of licensed gambling websites is simply a drop in the
ocean compared with sites that are unlicensed (and subsequently illegal in some
jurisdictions). In October 2011, one count of unlicensed websites reached 25,000.10
With dozens of unlicensed gambling sites being created every day, it is likely this
number has increased significantly.
1 hr · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge If "a large proportion of gamblers" comply and use licensed sites , which is says is around 2,400 .. then how can there be 25,000 UNLICENSED websites? there are your launderers, go get them! ..
this is a Pro-Regulation point.
57 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Halfway through the report and no "facts" yet that prove their point ... Licensed is accepted as Licenced (spelling) but they use both in the report.. they should try to remain consistent if they want to appear professional...
55 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge • Gambling involves a huge volume of transactions and cash flows, which
are necessary to disguise money laundering.

Large sums of winnings or losses are tracked on most poker sites, and accessible in leaderboards and summaries in Poker media on blogs and print and online mags, etc... This means launderers would need lots of smaller transactions to disguise and spread across more people/players and this just isn't easy, and increases the Overhead in People and Time to accomplish this task. There are far easier ways to launder money.
53 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge there is a point about smaller transactions = less fines at risk , and being able to "chipdump" (my term, not theirs) for transactions like buying drugs.. but fail to mention the trail of getting that money onto the gambling site in the FIRST place.
I have yet to see ANY of the reports of "potential" problems point out that if you get CAUGHT be security safeguards or manual detection of the sites, you get your ENTIRE balance confiscated! So risk of losing 100% adds to the cost of business for launderers.
35 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge All of page 9 points out why regulated licensed operators are better than unliecensed or illegal
31 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Shout-out to SealsWithClubs for appearing in the report, as they talk about anonymity using BTC and Gambling sites, but here again, Seals is far down the list for traffic, it's a very small pond to try to "hide" your laundering in, would be noticed and blogged about by other players who are regulars.
26 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Figure 7 is the most ridiculously unrelated internet article on "advice on running a gambling ring" which has nothing to do with online sites of any kind...
22 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Page 13 actually shows why money laundering through gambling sites is a bad idea fraught with fraud or scams...
18 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge and I'm at the end... no substance to this double talking pile of BS ..
I think this disclaimer at the end covers it nicely
"The information in this document is provided only for educational purposes and for the
convenience of McAfee customers. The information contained herein is subject to change without
notice, and is provided “as is,” without guarantee or warranty as to the accuracy or applicability
of the information to any specific situation or circumstance.
12 mins · Like

Sean Wookie Doidge Tweeted so others can appreciate the document
9 mins · Edited · Like


#EPTLive live stream #EPT MonteCarlo Monaco

Follow along on Twitter using #EPTLive hashtag, view here, or on or on Facebook via EPT FB page
Day2 of 9 days of coverage .. €100k SHR, HR, Main Event and even some high stakes cash games!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WPT Championship @ Borgata End of Day 2

     Eric Afriat has a huge lead at the end of Day2, with 1,003,000 chips, almost double that of 2nd place!

     68 player remain, with at least 5 of my GPI Fantasy Poker Manager players in the top 10...

Remaining Players

PlayerPlayer NameSponsorChipcount
Eric AfriatEric Afriat1,003,000
Anthony GreggAnthony Gregg567,000
Athanasios PolychronopoulosAthanasios Polychronopoulos542,500
Scott SeiverScott Seiver539,500
Ryan D'AngeloRyan D'Angelo519,500
Jason KoonJason Koon500,500
Maurice HawkinsMaurice Hawkins433,500
Glenn LafayeGlenn Lafaye423,500
Jonathan TamayoJonathan Tamayo411,000
Hans WinzelerHans Winzeler397,500
Justin YoungJustin Young372,000

Via @WPTLIve updates for the full list and continued converage.

     Plus  Day 3 seat draw with 68 of 328 advancing » 

PS.. props to WPT for making that table so easy to cut and paste into a blog!

     Did you happen to catch this great shot of +Lynn Gilmartin ? @lynngilmartin

PPA vs Adelson's puppet, a $10k Security Challenge Gauntlet Has Been Thrown!

     I hear there is a $10k challenge from Eddie Harari to Jim Thackston post via Robbie Strazynski over at

     Cheri Jacobus is an unknowledgeable "pundit", we believe to be hired by Sheldon Adelson (aka the #HYPOCRITE ), who has a lot of opinions and drama filled tweets, but very few facts (if any!) .. if you haven't seen her tweets lately, a quick scan will tell you all you need to know without much digging.

Along those lines, I have copied the following for clarity on the subject:

     Presented for your viewing pleasure, the emails betwixt Rich Muny, Cheri Jacobus, Jim Thackston, Eddie Harari, with at least a CC for Robbie Strazynski ...
... In it's entirety, typos and all, from Facebook via Rich Muny (with his blessings, of course!)

The five of us had an email chat in late Feb./ early Mar. Eddie Harari listened to both sides, even phoning Thackston and me. In this email exchange, I pushed Thackston hard on his misrepresentation of the capabilities of online poker sites' collusion detection surveillance, and neither Thackston for Jacobus had an answer.
So, you can imagine my shock when I saw Jacobus attacking Eddie Harari for merely writing an article that reflected our discussion perfectly. As she continues her malicious, disrespectful attacks, I decided to release the email discussion:
On Feb 28, 2014 12:14 AM, "Jim Thackston" wrote:
Mr. Harari,
I saw your tweets in response to the PPA comments
I try to avoid the Twitter exchanges as much as I can.
I urge you to look at these 2 articles that I annotated for the May 2013 briefing I gave at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC.
The BBC article is very important to the discussion about collusion because it describes the reality of the incentives and disincentives for poker websites to enforce anti-collusion policy.
I disagree that 4-way collusion is easy to detect reliably and consistently (i.e. without generating false positives).
There is legal liability reason for poker websites to ignore collusion.
Let’s say a poker website uses anti-collusion algorithms and a person who earns a living playing online poker is falsely accused of collusion and is banned from the site.
The player is not guilty of collusion so he hires a lawyer to sue the poker website.
This would force the poker website to prove in a court of law that anti-collusion systems work perfectly.
The poker website will lose the lawsuit.
This is a very strong disincentive to look closely for collusion.
I made this point to the FBI using the BBC article and they agreed.
I approach this issue using scientifically sound arguments that are proven through actual testing and demonstration.
I would rather communicate with you using email rather than Twitter.
I also want to stay away from the charged rhetoric used by Muny and others.
Thank You and Regards,
Jim Thackston
[phone number redacted]
From: Eddie Harari
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 9:17 AM
To: Jim Thackston; Rich Muny; Robbie Strazynski
Subject: Re: Twitter
Dear Mr, Thackston,
I have studied the collusion theory and implementation. I also looked at the papers you have sent me. I think you have done a good work and i am sure you are an expert of this matter.
I know you may not like what i have to say , and I would like to say this as proffetionaly as I can.
(aside from detection methods that are known to be working in major online gambling sites today).
1. Strong ID on registration and physical certificate authentication for playing in a room is a must.
2. Suspicion should not ban player from playing, it should randomly assign a different seat for him (on a different table)
3. *** If possible then players should be shuffeled periodically and assign different seats. (mix up the players whithin the room) ***
4. When "suspicion" score goes higher then a certain level , the player details should be looked into and also the players acount should be suspended untill investigation has been done.
5. report each and every withdraw to the authorities so they can know about it and let the player know your doing it.
6. report your suspicion to the authorities so they can cross reference that with what they have... ( Let the players know your doing it and agree to it).
7. Work only with players from countries that cooporate with your regulation and your able to work with them about those things...
This will not eliminate and detect 100% of collusion, but it will sure make the people think 10 times before they do it. and from my experiance when they find that this is not as easy as it used to be and not as safe as it used to be , they will walk away and find another attack vector .
We deal with probability and statistics we never deal with absolute solusion , you know there is no such thing.
I respect your work and must say that impressed with your programming skills.
But what we (the experts) need to make things right, saying something is wrong (which is 100% correct) makes you a good expert. Correcting it , makes you great one !
When i wrote the Article about cyber security i did it so people know the risks and will understand that the issue of playing online is not that simple.
everybody in this debate agrees on that matter.
The debate should not be around what is going on now, it should be about the question IS IT POSSIBLE TO FIX THOSE ISSUES.
beside collusion there are a lot more issues that right now , i cant solve from the top of my head ... this is why i decided to give it time , learn some more... and write the answer in a second article.
I want to assure you, i will respect any comment you or any other expert have on this matter or on my work or ideas,i want to keep this debate proffetional and clean.

( sorry for the typos i have not edited this response, english is 3'rd language for me ).
(please forward to cheri jacobus i dont have her email right here...).
From: Jim Thackston
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 11:41 AM
To: 'Eddie Harari' ; Rich Muny ; 'Robbie Strazynski'
Subject: RE: Twitter
Dear Mr. Harari,
I have accounted for the countermeasures you’ve described below.
Please consider these points:
1. The patterns of play are known to the money launderers. They will know what an anti-collusion system is looking for.
2. Different patterns of play are seen by an anti-collusion system for different player skill levels – money launderers know this. Lower stakes tables populated by novices present different patterns than those for higher stakes tables.
3. The objective of collusion for money laundering purposes is to move money between colluding players, not to steal from bystanders.
4. Most importantly, the degree of difficulty in having automated systems try to find 4-way collusion (by 4 people who know what they’re doing) is far higher than for 2-way collusion. Please see this page and ask whether or not you think the anti-collusion countermeasures can be beaten:
At the urging of the PPA, we have asked the top regulator for the state of New Jersey to grant immunity from prosecution to test our methods with real money using the NJ-based websites.
So far, no response.
As a technology professional, you will appreciate that, in mathematical terms, poker is a very non-linear game. And non-linear problems are always difficult ones to solve.
Any anti-collusion system is essentially solving a non-stop non-linear problem. As the design of anti-collusion algorithms gets tighter, the number of false positives will become unacceptably high. Consider that poker is more non-linear than fluid systems such as the airflow over an airplane wing – there is randomness in such systems but it is ‘predictable’ randomness. Because human free will is involved in poker, such reliable predictability is not possible.
You mentioned rush poker – that can be exploited as well. Somewhat more difficult but only on the lower stakes tables simply because of time versus dollar amounts and the higher number of mule accounts required.
A money laundering operation can also corrupt poker tournaments which not only allows for the injection of dirty money, it also makes a profit for the launderers. (I haven’t posted the procedure for doing this but it works like the rush poker exploit.)
The ultimate conclusion I came to long ago is that the countermeasures required to eliminate money laundering (and cheating) were so burdensome that the business model can’t survive if the regulators and websites are serious about enforcing the rules.
Which means they won’t and thus the security problem remains. (See the FBI comments from the November 2009 letter to Spencer Bachus – they wrote about the lack of incentive to stop nefarious activity for a reason. And state and national governments have the same disincentive to effectively monitor – they need the money.)
Hope this adds some insight into the depth of my research.
Thank You and Regards,
Jim Thackston
In a message dated 3/3/2014 5:19:12 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Rich Muny writes:
Dear Mr. Harari,
This has been an interesting topic of discussion for us. As you may know, the Poker Players Alliance is comprised of 1.2 million poker players and enthusiasts who, as those most directly impacted by collusion, are dedicated to attacking collusion and empowering law enforcement to take clear action against those who’d prey on the poker community. Our community was victimized by those at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, and many of us – me included – are just now receiving our Full Tilt Poker balances (the result of a non-collusion issue). There are no greater advocates for safe online poker than those who actually play the game.
So, I read with great interest Jim’s statement that “the objective of collusion for money laundering purposes is to move money between colluding players, not to steal from bystanders.” This is a marked change from past discussion with Jim, where it was strongly implied that this scenario would be injurious to innocent players to the point where their funds would be at great risk. As it’s rather clear that the two would be mutually exclusive (collusion would increase the likelihood of getting caught money laundering), this is certainly a welcome update from him.
All that being said, I see several issues with Mr. Thackston’s analysis. I start with the actual likelihood of someone even making such an attempt. It’s one thing to come up with a political construct to use solely to justify banning the game, which we believe this is. It’s quite another to demonstrate actual, real-world threats. After all, if the “mules” were playing, they would have to be highly skilled and disciplined. Even with automation to aid or handle play outright, they mules would have to handle questions skillfully on their play if they came up. It’s unlikely someone would find value in training up a crew, providing them with up to six-figure playing bankrolls, and essentially requiring them to forfeit their opportunity to play the game for real by requiring them to use real IDs when playing. It’s also highly unlikely that money launderers would use this method, with 100% of transactions tracked, every hand recorded and, again, with real IDs required of all players. That’s why we’ve not seen this method used in the decade of online poker available to U.S. players through licensed and offshore sites alike.
As to the proposed “method” itself, I find that it would simply not work as advertised, for many reasons. The initial reason is launderers would not wish to raise their profile by colluding in a way to impact the other players at the table at all ... even it were a net neutral impact. If anything, they’d bleed off some money to reduce detectability. The second is that there is a fundamental issue where the “losing” mules funnel their money almost solely to the winning mules, while also simultaneously breaking even with the rest of the table. This differential would probably be very detectable. A simple SharkScope check of the losing players’ stats to opponents would be interesting by itself.
Thackston also comments on what anti-collusion systems look for. However, he offers no evidence or data regarding capabilities of anti-collusion measures. Thackston and I are both engineers who used to work on turbomachinery design. My chief engineer liked to refer to this as a “hand wave.” That’s what I take it to be as well. And, PPA never suggested that Thackston break laws and test his theories on real money games. We simply pointed out that he presented no evidence at all in the capability of anti-collusion technology.
So, point by point, this hand wave of “colluders know patterns of anti-collusion technology” is, to be frank, nonsense. Thackston cannot even produce this. Would a colluder learn by trial-and-error.  And, they are not random patterns. They are optimal patterns. Deviating further and further from optimal reduces the capability of collusion greatly –- along with increasing its variance. This also brings human nature to question. How many “mules” are willing to tell the boss they lost that day, saying “well, that’s variance for ya’”? It’s rather clear at least one would push the envelope to recover – especially if they were simply trained on collusion play and not as actual poker players.
And, there’s the fact that once one money launderer is identified, the scheme would unravel quickly, with lots of felony charges and seized funds. In other words, it’s a terrible way to launder money on play within the U.S.
PPA takes money laundering seriously and offers actual solutions. PPA Executive Director John Pappas recently testified before a Congressional committee on online poker consumer protection and law enforcement empowerment, with specific emphasis on anti-money laundering compliance programs, complete with auditable records, to be maintained by sites.
We also very strongly disagree with the notion that sites have no incentive to stop collusion. Sites in the U.S. are big name operations like Caesars and MGM that have no desire to tarnish their names. In other words, they have all the reason in the world to ensure players see their sites as honest and trustworthy.
We are pleased by the compliance of the licensed U.S. sites as well as the experience of some offshore sites that no longer serve the U.S. market but which are licensed offshore for operation where they offer services, such as PokerStars.
I hope this helps. Thank you again Mr. Harari.
Rich Muny
Vice President of Player Relations
Poker Players Alliance
P.S. Per your request, I added Cheri Jacobus to distribution
From: Cheri Jacobus
Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2014 10:33 AM
To: Rich Muny
Cc: Jim Thackston ; Eddie Harari; Robbie Strazynski
Subject: Re: Twitter
Rich -- You wrote: "After all, if the “mules” were playing, they would have to be highly skilled and disciplined" -- it is clear you have no idea what Mr. Thackston is talking about. The mules would not be playing in the game. That you do not seem to understand this despite the many hours you have logged on Twitter attempting to negate Jim's findings, is an indication that you, PPA members and others would greatly benefit from that live demo for PPA, the press and livestreamed for your members that Jim has repeatedly offered and that you refuse. It's also likely that the regulator's refusal to address this will raise questions.
Cheri Jacobus
On Mar 8, 2014, at 3:08 PM, Rich Muny wrote:
Hi everyone,
We understand Thackston’s proposal perfectly. When I wrote about how mules not playing would still require certain skills to elude detection, I was obviously including mules whose accounts were being played by others VPNing in.
I realize Cheri is new to all of this, but she needs to understand that Thackston didn’t invent the ideas of collusion, VPN play, or multi-accounting. Players have been discussing these risks and the steps sites and players can take to mitigate them since the online game started. That’s why articles like Mr. Harari’s are published on poker sites. I get that it all sounds scary to a layperson, but every single person who ever put real money on a site has considered these issues. We discuss it all the time on forums like 2+2. Thackston simply offers nothing new here.
For Eddie and Robbie’s benefit, Cheri and Jim want PPA to live-stream Jim “demonstrating” collusion..on a play-money site like Yahoo! Then, I guess Thackston would come in with a hand wave saying these mythical money launderers know all the secrets of anti-collusion technology and can defeat them at every turn. This, despite the fact that there aren’t even any money launderers trying this at all, much less those who know everything sites look for in site surveillance.
It’s quite obvious they want PPA to do this to earn them free publicity and status, but I have no idea why they think PPA would promote the efforts of prohibitionists who are more interested in finding problems – real and imaginary – than solutions. Otherwise, they’d have streamed their own event by now. I told them I’d be more than happy to share the date and time of their demo with my Facebook and Twitter friends and followers. I even invited Cheri onto my live webcast to discuss. So, we’re all still waiting for them to make their video or whatever they have in mind.
Cheri also commented on regulators. Regulators and sites address collusion and money laundering detection as step #1 in site surveillance and security. Jim didn’t come to them with anything new. In fact, rather than asking to test the anti-collusion software itself, he wanted to test his idea with actual, real-money players at the table. Of course he was rebuffed.
I think this has been a terrific discussion. It would be a shame for it not to be shared publicly. Perhaps Mr. Harari or Mr. Strazynski could include it or make it an article all its own? As we’ve all consented by definition by providing this with one another, it seems ready to go.
From: Cheri Jacobus
Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2014 3:22 PM
To: Rich Muny
Cc: Jim Thackston ; Eddie Harari ; Robbie Strazynski
Subject: Re: Twitter
Rich, Jim made it clear in response to an email you did not share with the others that he does not consent to you sharing his emails. I do not consent to mine being used in that way, either. We did not initiate the contact with you, nor did we initiate the cc to you.