The question of how to “fix” online poker is a vexed one. And it has been for a while now. Since the Moneymaker effect began to wane in the early twenty-teens, there has been plenty of hand-wringing over this subject.
GGPoker’s answer to the question might take a little bit of explaining. That’s something they have only just come forward and done. In a recent post entitled The Good Pro, The Regular Pro, And The Bad Pro, the site did its best to explain a spate of recent bans.
GGPoker is offering the chance to appeal these bans and have them lifted. But only until the 5th of September 2020.
Once your application has been reviewed and approved your account will be reinstated as a Real Name account. Applications should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and titled “Application for return to GGNetwork” and include the following information:
— GGPoker – HOME OF ONLINE POKER'S LARGEST PRIZEPOOL (@GGPokerOfficial) August 22, 2020
The Good, the Bad, and the Reg-ly
GGPoker’s softening comes after a great deal of controversy and concern that it was banning winning players. It turns out there was a bit of method behind the madness. Their recent Twitter post breaks down poker pros into the three categories in the title.
Good Pros are “someone who contributes to the poker market’s growth. Successful poker players will naturally get the spotlight of the media and attain wealth. We hope these players eventually work towards getting more people into the market, just like Michael Jordan did for basketball […] The important thing is that good pros utilize whatever strength they have to help grow the poker market that brought them their fame and wealth.”
The regular pro is skimmed over as being someone who “mainly focuses on their gameplay and win rate. They continuously study their own game, improve, and crush the field. From our standpoint, there is nothing wrong with this as long as they follow our terms and conditions.”
The bad pros are described last as being anyone who “focuses on manufacturing unfair advantages over their opponents and exploiting other perceived weaknesses.” How does that differ from simply being good at the game?
GGpoker clarified its stance on what type of poker pros it is looking for on its website….
What do you think?? pic.twitter.com/3Uatj5h2GZ
— Joey Ingram #passion (@Joeingram1) August 22, 2020
The problem of poker
Here GGPoker quickly conflates several things. Outright cheating methods like collusion are listed with standard professional behaviors like bum-hunting. These are immediately followed by the statement that “bad pros bully and harass opponents.”
This isn’t on the face of it as terrible a policy as it sounds. It picks up the arguments of sites like RunItOnce (though taking them in a rather different direction).
Daniel Negreanu’s infamous “more rake is better” argument targeted this sort of “bad pro.” DNegs thought higher rake would bring recreational players back by pushing out the kind of pros who squeeze until the pips squeak and then sit out each next hand until another lemon joins the table.
These players certainly sap some of the joy from the game. They are the salarymen of poker, post-9/11 versions of John Turturro in Rounders, grinding it out on their leather asses. But they are also a large part of poker, and they show up every day, keeping the wheels spinning in the online economy.
If a poker site hires the biggest winning poker players in poker tournament history + most prestigious event series to promote it's site while also doing interviews talking about how professional poker players aren't welcome on the site – that marketing message doesn't line up.
— Joey Ingram #passion (@Joeingram1) August 13, 2020
The confidence trick
The problem GGPoker has though is not that their policy is inherently bad. It is that it lacks transparency. That is why people are giving them flak for these bans. And their dream logic marketing copy about bad pros who are simultaneously doing things that “not illegal” but which GGPoker defines as “cheating” does not instill confidence.
Ironically their offer of appeals undermines their attempt to project confidence in their own policy. And the time limit throws into question the safety of every dollar on the site after the 5th of September.
Players need to know exactly what can get them banned, and feel confident that the standards can be applied fairly. If GGPoker can find a way to do this, they might earn back the poker community’s trust.
At this point I think they’re insulting the poker community’s intelligence. https://t.co/CGo10XJulN
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) August 23, 2020