TwoPlusTwo is suddenly being flooded by reports of unexplained bans at 888poker. Online poker’s last stand in Australia is underway. Viktor Blom has been crushing the online tables this summer. And more.

888 Brandishes the Ban-Hammer

A crackdown of some sort appears to be underway at 888poker, as numerous posts have begun appearing in the TwoPlusTwo 888poker Players’ Thread complaining of out-of-the-blue bans, accompanied by the seizure of account balances. All such bans have been announced to the affected parties via a terse email stating that the site’s security team has been “alerted to suspicious game play indicating that the use of Artificial Intelligence may be involved.”

Naturally, the players in question all deny wrongdoing; after all, no one, guilty or innocent, ever confesses publicly after complaining about a ban. All seem genuinely confused about what they might have done, however. 888poker, like many sites, has fairly stringent rules about what third party software can be used to assist during play, and the affected users have admitted to using some software, but only programs that are on the accepted list. Some of these programs accept plug-ins, however, so the most plausible speculation so far is that some of these plug-ins have been deemed over the line and 888poker has decided to come down hard on those pushing the boundary in that way, rather than issuing warnings.

Paranoia is high in the poker world these days, and many winning players are of the opinion that sites are looking to fleece or get rid of them by any means necessary. More insidious theories about the ban are therefore being floated, including the idea that 888 is simply in dire financial straits and using flimsy excuses to give net-withdrawing players the boot and grab some cash in the process.

888poker has not yet made any public comment on the matter, but may well do so in coming days if the bans are as widespread as some fear.

Quick Hitters

– Australian online poker seemed doomed up until a few months ago, but a goal-line stand is underway as The Australian Online Poker Alliance, with the help of Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, managed to have a request for a last-minute inquiry into whether poker deserves a carveout in legislation targeting online gambling more broadly. The inquiry was held on August 1, so the die has been cast, but the committee’s deadline to respond is not until September 21, so it may still be a few weeks before we see how it falls.

– PokerNews reports that Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, one of online poker’s most up-and-down high rollers, has been finding the right side of variance this summer, having won $1.3 million at the nosebleed tables.

– The European poker world has generally been celebrating the imminent arrival of combined liquidity for the currently ring-fenced markets of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. It’s literally impossible to please everyone when it comes to poker, however, and “David” at PokerNewsReport would like to rain on this particular parade.

– On the subject of being a Debbie Downer, I wrote a piece myself today, foretelling gloom and doom for 888poker’s upcoming Flopomania variant.