CHIP CHATTER: Cheating Issues Emerge, Online Poker Explodes, Casinos Reopen, PSPC Canceled, and More

Sean Chaffin June 3, 2020 983 Reads
A look at topics making headlines in the poker world.

Live poker rooms may be closed at casinos around the world, but plenty of news poker remains. From a cheating scandal to casino re-openings to the cancellation of the PSPC, there is always news in the world of poker.

Here’s a look at some topics making headlines over the last few weeks.

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Casinos reopening slowly with poker rooms lagging behind

As casinos begin opening, poker players are also returning slowly to live poker tables in a different environment. That hasn’t happened yet in Las Vegas or Atlantic City however.

According to the American Gaming Association, 321 casinos have now opened and 668 remain closed. Notably absent from the reopening lists are properties in Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

The state of Nevada was to begin allowing casinos to reopen on June 4 with some opening just past midnight. Many are opening for the first time in months with reduced staffing.

Properties in Delaware and Connecticut opened on June 1 with West Virginia properties opening June 5. Alabama and Rhode Island casinos will open the doors on June 8.

Some casinos in California have already returned to action with more planned in the next week. In Atlantic City, don’t expect any openings for at least a month. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has indicated reopening might not take place until the July 4 weekend.

In New York, only one casino has reopened so far. Despite all this news, poker remains an afterthought in many locations. The industry faces many challenges and major tournament series still may not return for months.

“First of all I know that poker will return someday to as it was before, only this time with a better understanding of hygiene, sanitation, and the newfound knowledge of how to cough and sneeze correctly with strong reminders from other players and employees if you forget,” WPT executive tour director Matt Savage told USPoker.

Online poker continues to explode around world

With no live poker, casino gambling, or sports to bet on, online poker has seen an energy not experienced since before Black Friday. Major operators like WSOP.com, PokerStars, partypoker, and 888poker have experienced record numbers in US markets.

Sweepstakes poker site Global Poker brought in 65,000 players for the recent Rattlesnake Open III. Sweeps Coin winnings in the series totaled 1.9 million.

On a global scale, GGPoker recently reported massive numbers for its WSOP Super Circuit Online Series. The festival is the first in which the WSOP has partnered to offer major series for an international market.

Originally with a $102 million guarantee, the 500-event series paid out almost $135 million. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see if this online poker boom continues.

May revenue numbers should be released in New Jersey and Pennsylvania soon.That should offer some insight after record-setting months in March and April.

Player cheating scandal revealed on Twitter

The Mike Postle cheating scandal made plenty of news in 2019 and is still playing out in court. Another cheating issue emerged last week when Bill Perkins alleged some well-known pros had been involved in cheating.

What is “ghosting” in poker?

Perkins charged that a few players had been involved in a private game via a poker app. He said well-known players were “ghosting” on a recreational player’s account. In essence, Perkins alleged those involved played as someone else.

For example, a loose-aggressive player might be playing on a known tight player’s account. It could be very profitable in the short term until other players adjust.

Dan “Jungleman” Cates was one of those involved. He admitted to playing hands on another player’s account against Perkins and Dan Bilzerian.

However, Cates noted that he understood the game “was rampant with professionals who were ghosting.”

“While I don’t think it’s fair that I’ve been singled out for something many were much more guilty of, I accept that as a role model for the poker community my punishment should be disproportionate compared to a normal player,” Cates said in a statement he released on the issue.

“I hold myself to a high standard of ethics and aspire to be devoid of inequity, but I still make mistakes and am sorry for my actions. I will do my best to behave better in the future.”

Cates confession draws criticism

Some players like Nick Schulman offered support. Others viewed the actions as a clear case of cheating. Shaun Deeb didn’t like the apology.

“Others doing it is no excuse for you also doing it,” Deeb noted on Twitter. “Clearly if you wanted to play the game, some of the recs were not being ghosted. You chose equity and hourly over morality and ethics. If the bar is others doing it, it’s a slippery slope of constant cheating.”

With online poker in the US seeing big gains, some players felt these types of incidents don’t help the industry as a whole.

“This is not an apology,” Grant Hinkle noted on Twitter. “Shady behavior by top players in the industry is not a good sign for poker long term.”

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PokerStars postpones PSPC Barcelona

Those hoping to cash in a Platinum Pass will have to wait another year. PokerStars confirmed recently that the PSPC (PokerStars Players Championship) has been moved to 2021 because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

2020 Platinum Pass at Poker Stars

The event was to play out in August and becomes the latest major tournament event to be delayed or canceled. PokerStars also canceled upcoming Road to PSPC events in France, Spain, and the Philippines.

“We realize that this news will come as a disappointment to many, but we know you will understand and appreciate why this is necessary,” PokerStars noted in announcing the news. “Our priority is the safety and good health of all our players and staff, as well as the communities that host such large events.”

Despite the postponement, the site is adding even more promotional power. PokerStars will be awarding 80 more Platinum Passes, bringing the total to 400. A Platinum Pass includes a complete $30,000 travel package including the buy-in to the PSPC.

Wire Act appeal heard this month

While US online poker continues to boom, the Wire Act remains an obstacle to continued growth and expansion. Currently, online poker is legal in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. West Virginia and Michigan have also legalized poker with plans to go live in the next year.

However, the fate of the Wire Act limits the possibility of interstate compacts. The only current interstate compact features WSOP.com among New Jersey, Nevada, and with 888poker in Delaware.

The Obama-era Department of Justice argued that the act applied only to sports betting. The Trump DOJ reversed that opinion in 2018, arguing that it applies to other forms of iGaming.

Most in the gaming business argue that was not the act’s intention and the New Hampshire lottery sued. The lottery won the first round in court and the government appealed.

Arguments are now expected to be heard in federal appeals court on June 18. The case may ultimately wind up in front of the Supreme Court. A loss for the gaming industry could curtail interstate compacts and affect online poker, lotteries, and other interstate gaming options.

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