Playing in unregulated poker markets made news this week with glitches reported at Americas Cardroom (ACR). A firestorm erupted on social media as players complained of missing cards and other errors.
Poker sites are no stranger to player complaints, but actual gameplay errors are pretty rare. Poker pro Tony Ruberto posted a hand on April 26 where a river card was never dealt. Well technically the card was dealt, but not actually visible to players at the table.
— Tony ruberto (@TonyImrunninout) April 26, 2020
A two-time WPT champion with more than $3.6 million in live tournament winnings, Ruberto has had similar problems several times. He’s frustrated with the site.
“What kinda BS site is this?” he told USPoker. “But as we’re all locked down, options are limited. I guess my experience is less than optimal due to these issues.”
Numerous hand and poker gameplay errors reported
Ruberto isn’t alone. Other issues have come to light over the last week. Some wonder if the offshore site had been prepared for an onslaught of players during the Coronavirus pandemic.
ACR serves US players despite online poker for real money being licensed and regulated on a state-by-state basis since Black Friday. Ruberto’s hand was just one of many game discrepancies posted in the last week.
“Bro you have to solve the riddle on the back of the card,” one Twitter user noted about the missing river card. “Why do you think you have a time bank?”
While there were plenty of funny comments, the issues reflect possible problems with overseas sites serving US players. Other recent ACR complaints have included:
- Players not getting dealt cards at all during a tournament, yet still making it in the money.
- Receiving only one card in Texas Hold’em.
- A hand labeled a “misdeal” – a rarity in online poker.
- Incorrect pot splits awarding a losing player in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo.
- Bots and players with no screen names.
- Tournament suspensions at random.
Others have reported slow response times from customer service. Here’s a quick visual of just some of the hand complaints over the last few days.
Congratulations to on making the $$$ in this ACR main event with only a couple big blinds!!
Not being dealt in has helped him to stay alive as he attempts to climb the ladder further. We will cheer you on from afar.
— Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) April 27, 2020
This guy came to the table with less than a bb and never received a hand… I should be credited with 5th place money pic.twitter.com/WMLVn0WpWP
— Jen🇺🇸 (@jensets) April 26, 2020
No lack of players, ACR attempting fixes
Despite these complaints, including slow payouts, many players continue to play at offshore sites. On April 26, three ACR tournaments were affected by players not receiving cards.
For its part, ACR has attempted to refund player funds and offer some information via social media. It also offers insight at a forum devoted to issues and complaints.
“The technical issues affecting the game have now been resolved,” the site noted on Twitter. “Our apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.”
ACR scheduled software updates for April 29. The current issues come after the operator gained some media attention in recent weeks after hosting a major charity tournament.
The event raised $1 million for Feeding America and featured celebrities like Tom Brady, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, and Matt Damon. But it is noted that, “it also raised awareness for ACR, a site based in Costa Rica that does not serve customers in the US legally.”
The site has now made some news for other reasons and it remains to be seen how the issues will affect player pools. Complaints continued this week about glitches.
ACR needs to hire new developers – how can this happen so often ? https://t.co/gJqMUe8jUT
— Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) April 22, 2020
Painting a negative picture for the industry?
Situations like the problems at ACR may be specific to the platform, but exemplify the risk players may take offshore. US-facing sites in legal jurisdictions like Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania undergo scrutiny from state gaming regulators.
Legal online poker sites face similar laws as land-based casinos. However, some argue that the type of issues faced by players on ACR can go beyond simply getting correct payouts and missing cards. A lack of fair play and transparency can paint a negative picture of the legal, regulated online market in the process.
— Cracking Aces (@CrackingAAces) April 27, 2020
Katie Stone and her husband Joe Cappuccio play online poker in New Jersey for a living. An ambassador for Borgata, she believes negative attention from sites like ACR hurt industry efforts at legalization in other states.
“The last thing we need to be doing right now is showcasing the downfalls of unregulated poker to a wide audience of regulators and consumers,” she told USPoker. “This results in constantly having to re-educate everyone on the differences between regulated and unregulated poker which delays progress and is detrimental to the industry overall.
“Regulated gaming solves the issues that are most important for the players: software functionality, game security, bots, prohibited software, etc. The desire for short term growth in the unregulated market can impede the growth of the industry worldwide.”
Legalized online poker in the US
The ACR issues come as the US industry has seen some momentum in recent years. West Virginia online poker and Michigan online poker were both legalized in 2019. That brings the number of legalized states to six, with major populated states like California, Florida and Texas still champing at the online poker bit.
The Coronavirus pandemic has also put the legal online market in the spotlight again. Operators have been reporting record player pools in recent weeks.
With sports betting also gaining so much traction recently, many hope online poker will benefit from loosening state gaming laws. In the US, the only legal regulated sites are:
- PokerStars – Pennsylvania and New Jersey
- WSOP.com – Nevada and New Jersey
- partypoker – New Jersey with the additional skins of BorgataPoker.com and BetMGM
- 888poker – New Jersey and Delaware
WSOP.com offers the only shared liquidity pool at the moment with NewJersey, Nevada, and with its partner 888 in Delaware and NJ. Other options for Americans include sweepstakes poker sites like ClubWPT and Global Poker.
But when it comes to offshore sites not regulated in the US, Stone offers some advice – avoid them.