888poker has detailed the funds returned to players on its global dot-com site during 2023 that were refunded via the platform’s game-security and anti-cheating efforts. This marks the third straight year that 888 has gone public with its anti-cheating and refund numbers as the industry continues its efforts to combat bad actors in online poker.
For the 2023 calendar year, according to an 888poker Magazine post, the site identified 161 accounts as either using real-time assistance (RTA) or running poker bots on the platform. 888poker banned those accounts and issued refunds totaling $362,893 to 4,068 players who lost to the computer-aided cheaters. The figure averages out to about a $90 refund per cheated account. The nearly $363,000 in refunds included about $250,000 restored by 888poker itself, joining about $110,000 the company seized from balances in the banned accounts.
888 noted that this is the largest annual total of cheated funds being returned to players in the three years the site has made such figures public. In 2021, 888 banned 85 cheating accounts and refunded nearly $100,000 in total to over 4,000 affected players. In 2022, the site refunded $287,292 to 6,801 distinct players but did not specify the number of cheating accounts that were banned.
The 2023 refunds are more than twice the size, on average, as though issued throughout 2022, and more than four times the average for refunds issued during 2021. The hikes indicate that AI-based cheating by players remains an entrenched practice throughout online poker and demands continued diligence from online sites.
888’s Krakow reaffirms commitment to issue
Matan Krakow, Head of Poker Offering at 888poker, issued a brief statement underlining the site’s ongoing game-security issues in online poker’s neverending, cat-and-mouse battles against AI-based cheating:
“Our continued progress in tackling bots stems from the understanding that it is crucial in order to ensure that 888poker continues to provide an enjoyable, safe, and level playing field for all our players.
“This has been driven not only by our increased investment in our detection capabilities but also through the continued support and cooperation of our players, who have an important role to play in helping provide us with vital information about players they think are using AI and RTA.
“It is not only important for us to detect and block accounts using AI, but also to make sure that players who lost to accounts using illegal software, get properly compensated. This year we paid approximately $250K to players out of our own pockets when it was not possible to retain the funds from blocked accounts.
“We continue to consult with advisors who are top notch in terms of analyzing hand histories and detecting non-human patterns. Based on feedback we are receiving, we understand that after much work has been done on this front in the last couple of years, 888 is in very good shape compared to our competitors on this front and have a clean and safe playing environment.
“It is an ongoing effort, and we will continue to do all in our power to ensure we keep poker fun and fair, and listening to our players will continue to be a key factor to progress on this front.”
As in previous years, the numbers reported by 888poker reflect only the anti-cheating efforts and refunds issued on the global site. Anti-cheating efforts on 888’s platforms in firewalled jurisdictions, such as in the United States, fall under different reporting requirements and are generally not released to the public. 888poker, as with most other operators, does not identify by name the cheaters who have been banned from its platform.
888poker, unlike some other sites, has avoided a major cheating scandal in recent years. In early 2022, prominent German pro Fedor Holz lobbed collusion allegations at an alleged ring of Brazilian pros, though the Brazilian players were later cleared by an internal 888 investigation.