Posts Tagged ‘Again’

Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

 Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

It has been a while since we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) about trying to ban online poker in the United States, so I suppose it was about time for him to try to revive his dead horse. Last week, Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Wire Act clarification issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2011, a decision which would effectively make online gambling completely illegal in the U.S.

As readers may remember, the Wire Act was designed more than 55 years ago to curtail organized crime by making sports betting over phone lines illegal. For whatever reason, decades later, the Department of Justice interpreted it to include all gambling over the internet. In late 2011, the OLC clarified that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, thus officially opening the door for states to launch their own online gambling industries.

Sen. Graham has introduced billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) multiple times, trying to get the OLC’s ruling reversed, but it largely hasn’t been taken too seriously by lawmakers. Thus, it’s time for another approach.
As one would expect, the letter is mostly bullshit. For example, one paragraph states:

The DOJ opinion had the practical effect of repealing legislation Congress carefully and thoughtfully enacted in 2006 to ban internet gambling – legislation developed over seven years and crafted based on assurances from DOJ at that time that internet gambling was barred by the Wire Act and other federal criminal laws.

I’m not going to bother parsing every word, but suffice to say that the UIGEA – the law referred to there – was not “carefully and thoughtfully enacted.” It was, instead, attached to a must-pass SAFE Port Act and snuck through in the middle of the night with virtually no debate.

The letter goes on to use the “won’t anyone think of the children” scare tactic that we have heard a million times and again cites an old FBI letter that states, “[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes” like money laundering. Of course, that letter is always misrepresented, as the concerns it addresses have to do with unregulated gambling, not legal, properly regulated online gambling.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas skewered the letter in a statement, saying:

If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win “most misleading” in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs. Congress has given express authority to states to regulate igaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore. Moreover, they continue to misrepresent and almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming. I suppose it’s easier to conflate reality with their own bias to continue making the same points, than actually own up to the fact that regulated igaming is responsible public policy.

The PPA posted the entire letter, which can be read here.

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America’s Cardroom, WPN Hit by DDoS Attack Again

 America’s Cardroom, WPN Hit by DDoS Attack Again

It had been a while, but America’s Cardroom seemed due for another cyber attack. Yup, leading into the Labor Day weekend, ACR and its network, the Winning Poker Network, were hit with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, something that is unfortunately not a unique event for either the online poker room or the network.

The attack began Thursday evening, affecting, among many other games, ACR’s Online Super Series (OSS) Cub3d. Problems continued all the way through Saturday.

America’s Cardroom initially tweeted about the issues at about quarter after eight Thursday night, writing, “We are currently experiencing a DDOS attack, all running tournaments have been paused. Will keep you updated.”

A half hour later, ACR announced that it was cancelling all tournaments in progress and providing refunds per the site’s terms and conditions. At about 9:00pm, the site was back up, but the DDoS attacks continued, causing poker client interruptions less than two and a half hours later. Problems continued well into Friday morning until ACR and WPN finally got things under control (temporarily) close to noon.

The pattern continued that evening, with games going down after 6:00pm Friday and then resuming, and going down again after 7:00pm. Finally, around noon Saturday, ACR’s techs seemed to get a handle on things “for good.”

In a Distributed Denial of Service attack, the attacker (or attackers) floods a server with millions of communications requests at once. It’s not a virus or a hack or anything malicious like that, but the communications overwhelm the server and grind it to a halt. Think of it like the traffic jam to end all traffic jams.

It wouldn’t be THAT big of a deal if the attack was coming from one source, but since it is “distributed,” the attacker arranges it so that it originates from literally millions of IP addresses. It makes defending one’s network insanely difficult. To use another brilliant illustration, if you are trapped in a house and a zombie horde is coming for your juicy brains, it’s scary and awful, but if all the zombies decide to come in through the front door, you can probably handle it if properly equipped. If they surround you and just crash in through every door, window, and mouse hole like in Night of the Living Dead, might as well develop a taste for human flesh because you’re screwed.

As with other DDoS attacks, the network was contacted by the aggressor, who demanded a ransom of some sort. WPN CEO Phil Nagy went on Twitch and said he refused to cave to any demands. He even posted a brief series of messages from the attacker, who said he was doing it on behalf of a competing poker room (all spelling mistakes what-not his):

this is my job
anouther site give me money
for doos you
and i ddos you
😀
this is my job

Nagy said that he hoped that by at least making it public that it may be another site responsible for the DDoS attack that it will make someone nervous that they could get caught and the attacks will subside.

WPN first experienced a major DDoS attack in December 2014, during its Million Dollar Sunday tournament, when it caused disconnections, lag, and registration problems. It happened again in September 2015 and again in October 2015.

The network will be re-running many of the tournaments, including the OSS and MOSS, and will cut the buy-in of the million dollar guaranteed OSS tourney in half as well as add an extra Sunday Million.

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EPT Adjusts Payout Structure Again

 EPT Adjusts Payout Structure Again

Season XIII of the European Poker Tour (EPT) began in August and at that time, a change to the payout structure of the tournaments was announced. It was decided that it would best for the players and the poker economy to increase the number of players in each tournament that cashed, expanding the payout positions from 15 percent of the field to 20 percent.

In an interview with PokerNews, PokerStars Department Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson explained some of the thought process behind the decision:

We started looking at the payouts in a vacuum and to see what made sense. We took all the preconceptions out of it. We saw that if we would pay out 20 percent instead of 15 percent, we could give 5 percent of the field a do-over. It’s effectively like saying ‘Thanks for coming, I hope you had a lot of fun. Sorry you didn’t make it into the big money, good luck the next time because here’s money for another shot.” If someone has a buy-in to play another poker tournament, that’s a good thing. So that’s the direction we ended up going.  

“To keep a healthy poker economy, a solid liquidity for live tournament poker, you need more winners,” Johnson added.

As you can see, the idea was to allow more people to go home happy, even if it meant decreasing the amount of money that would go to the top few finishers. That made many pro poker players unhappy, as they rely on those big payouts to help make up for the tournaments in which they bust out of the money. Not long after the interview, PokerStars went back to a 15 percent payout structure for €50,000 Super High Roller and €25,000 Single-Day High Roller events.

Today, via the PokerStars blog, Johnson announced that the powers that be have rethought the payout issue some more and have reworked it yet again. He said that there was a lot of feedback, causing them to discuss specifically two main issues: how deep the payouts go and what the minimum cash should be in a given tournament. As to the payout depth, he wrote that 20 percent is now the “floor” for payouts rather than the “ceiling.”

As for the min-cash, he said:

…. many players were ok with a 1.1x type cash but many felt like they just got their money back and didn’t ‘win’ anything. Since one of the key points in our change was to create more winners and more winning moments and the 1.1x cash doesn’t necessarily qualify as a winning moment to some of our players an amendment was needed. Therefore we decided to go back and raise the min-cash to something with more substance and it is now in the 1.5x range.

Thus, the EPT has implemented the following:

•    12 to 15 percent payout structure for all events with buy-ins of €10,000 or more
•    17 to 20 percent payout structure for all other events
•    Min-cash will be “around” 1.5 times the buy-in for the events with deeper payout structures

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Sorel Mizzi Cheats Online Again, Gets Banned from PokerStars

 Sorel Mizzi Cheats Online Again, Gets Banned from PokerStars

According to a report from PokerFuse.com, professional poker player Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi has once again been banned from PokerStars, this time for playing on the site from the United States on other player’s account.

The story of Mizzi’s rules violation dates back to February 2016, when a poster went on Two Plus Two and alleged that Mizzi played in the (September) 2015 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event, making the final table, while sitting in his apartment in the United States. PokerStars does not permit players in the U.S. to play on PokerStars.com.

A friend of Mizzi’s, Rory Brown, had also made the final table and allegedly spoke with Mizzi about strategy before the final table, telling him the reads he had on each of the players. One of those players, “bindernutnut,” was Mizzi, though Brown did not know it.

In July, Mizzi admitted to the rules violation while on Joey Ingram’s podcast. He said that he really wanted to play in the WCOOP Main Event, so he used someone else’s account to do so (with a virtual private network that would fake his location). He understands that it was not the right thing to do, saying, amongst other things, “I was being sneaky and I got caught and it sucks.”

“Do I feel terribly guilty about doing this?” Mizzi added. “To be honest, no not really.”

He clarified that he was not trying to cheat his friend or anyone else, saying he actually tried to contact Brown when fewer than 20 players remained in the tournament to both a) offer to swap action with him and b) let him know who he was at the table, but Brown didn’t answer his texts or calls at the time.

Now, according to PokerFuse, Mizzi has been banned from PokerStars for quite some time.

“I can’t play on [PokerStars] for a couple years,” he said.

Mizzi is an extremely accomplished poker player, with $ 3.6 million in online tournament winnings (recorded winnings) and $ 11.2 million in live tournament winnings, but he also has an awful reputation in the poker world as someone who is more than willing to skirt the rules while at the same time not feeling particularly bad about it.

His first notable transgression was back in 2007, when Mizzi purchased the Full Tilt account of Bluff Magazine’s then-Managing Editor, Chris Vaughn, while Vaughn was deep in a $ 1 million guaranteed tournament. Mizzi won the tournament, but was eventually found out and banned for life. The winnings were taken away and given to other players.

In 2008, he was back at it, multi-accounting on PokerStars. That time, he was suspended on the site for three months.

He was allegedly more brazen in 2011, as John Racener accused Mizzi of bottom dealing in a live, heads-up game of open-face Chinese poker. Mizzi claims the story is not true.

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Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

 Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

Online poker is once again back on the table in California, as California State Representative Adam Gray introduced Assembly Bill 2863 (AB 2863) on Friday. The bill’s goal is to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker in the Golden State.

This has been tried many, many times before in California over the last several years, but has rarely gone anywhere thanks mostly to a group of Native American tribes who want as much control as possible over online gambling in the state. There are so many stakeholders in this issue – tribes, card rooms, race tracks, and more – that so far, everybody has lost in the tug-of-war.

Last year, Rep. Gray introduced a similar bill, AB 431, which was considered a strong “compromise” bill. Rep. Gray is the chairman of the state Assembly’s Governmental Organization (GO) Committee and was able to get his legislation through a committee vote, but that is as far as it got, partly because of opposition from the select group of tribes and partly because daily fantasy sports (DFS) was pushed to the forefront.

The biggest difference between AB 2863 and last year’s AB 431 is an added compromise when it comes to the involvement of pari-mutuel facilities. The hardline tribes have not wanted racetracks to be included – the tribes want as big of a piece of the pie as possible – and in this bill, they are finally left out. Sort of. In AB 431, racetracks are not permitted to become licensed online poker operators, but in exchange for being excluded, they, as a whole, will be due to receive as much as $ 60 million per year from online poker revenues generated by the industry. This $ 60 million would come from the licensing fees paid by operators and the tax revenues they will be required to pay to the state.

The hope here is that the stubborn group of tribes will be appeased while at the same time, the racetracks will be content to receive money for doing nothing.

Operator licenses will be good for seven years, though the fees involved were not set in the bill. In previous bills, the initial licensing fee was $ 15 million, with 15 percent of gross gaming revenue taxed. Service providers – those that don’t actually operate the sites, but provide things like software and marketing services – must also be licensed, though it appears that they will not be charged a fee like the operators. They will, however, have to foot the bill for the investigation into their suitability.

Like in AB 431, there is no “bad actor” clause, which typically prohibits operators who accepted U.S. players post-UIGEA from applying for licenses. The hardline tribes have always wanted this because it would shut out established companies like PokerStars, but it does not seem that they will ever get it. In fact, a number of other tribes have formed a coalition with PokerStars and its parent, Amaya Gaming.

One aspect of the legislation that players will not like is that it makes it a felony to play poker on an unlicensed poker site. Other pieces of legislation that have been written around the country generally make it illegal to operate an unlicensed poker room, but it is unusual to make it an actual felony for someone to play on such a site. That doesn’t mean it would be strictly enforced – it is hard to imagine the police knocking on someone’s door for playing a $ 5 Sit-and-Go on, say, Bodog – but it is certainly possible.

The entire bill can be found on the California legislature’s website.

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