A major collusion ring involving Chinese players has apparently been unearthed by Pokerstars.
The collusion uncovered apparently involved dozens of players from the same Chinese province playing “double or nothing” tournaments in which half the players cash for double the amount of their initial buy-in. The players apparently played together to help increase each other’s stacks. The buy-ins played included up to $104 tournaments.
The names, amounts, and time frames are still being analyzed by members at twoplustwo.com, but the players apparently profited hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of about a year.
The news broke when a member at the twoplustwo.com forums, called “Jane1023,” posted saying her PokerStars account was closed and that $10,000 was confiscated from her account. She insisted she was simply a winning player and the charges of collusion were false. The thread quickly turned against her, both from the e-mails she provided from PokerStars and from some digging done by 2+2 members. Some members said they had been trying to report many of the players for some time, before PokerStars took any action, and some received refunds for being involved in tournaments in which collusion apparently took place.
Here is some of the e-mail from PokerStars security that “Jane1023” posted:
We apologize for the severe delay in responding to you about your pending case. Your account, along with many others, has been thoroughly reviewed, and the long delay was due to several factors, including the numbers of players that we reviewed. Many of these players did not respond, and many who did respond were not honest in their responses.
The review of your account and your play is complete. We have come to the conclusion that you worked with others as a team to the detriment of other players while playing at the tables.
The integrity of our games is critical to the success of PokerStars. Based on our findings, we have decided that your account will remain closed. The funds in your account will be used to compensate those players that were harmed by your actions. Such action is not taken lightly. My findings went to a review board made up of other poker specialists who, after looking at the evidence, agree that such action is appropriate.
This conclusion is based on a careful review of your play with all cards exposed. In reviewing hands it is clear that you routinely made team plays to create situations where you were supposed to benefit. You and your friends routinely played four and five players deep, and squeezed the blinds between two or more cooperating players. After reviewing several hands, for several players, it became obvious that this was part of some kind of agreed-upon strategy.
The e-mails provided in the post also name at least some, if not all, of the accounts involved in the collusion, plus the account of the poster at 2+2. Here’s the list:
strong arm A
No hand histories involving the players in question have been posted or uncovered yet; however, the thread has only been active at 2+2 for a few hours. Also still in question: Why did it take PokerStars so long to uncover the collusion, since it appears the Chinese players had been working together for some time?
This is the second time that PokerStars has broken up a ring of Chinese players colluding at the online poker site. The first instance was in 2008, when players were working together in limit stud games.
We’ll have more on the story as events warrant.