“It’s a joke”– Community discourse shifts to ambassador role in wake of cheating incidents

Mo Afdhal
Published by:
Posted on: January 4, 2024 9:15 pm EST

If you’ve been following Poker Twitter over the last couple days, you’ve surely read all about the recent online cheating incident on GGPoker. The operator took action recently to ban an account, “MoneyTaker69”, that had infiltrated the site’s desktop client to extract data that essentially told him whether or not his hand was best.

In their announcement, GGPoker stated that they have addressed the shortcomings in their security system and will offer affected players appropriate refunds, but the incident–paired with ongoing allegations of bot farms on ACR Poker–has led to a spirited discussion within the community about operator responsibility and site ambassadors’ accountability to their peers.

Patrick Leonard’s post sparks debate

Patrick Leonard took to social media earlier today to offer his thoughts and perspective on the matter.

Leonard’s video takes a scathing look at both online operators and their respective ambassadors alike, going so far as to say that people should cease playing online altogether. The operators, Leonard argues, have no respect for the players that go about their business fairly and don’t do enough to protect them on their sites.

The conversation takes a turn when Leonard shifts his ire towards the site ambassadors for their lack of response following yet another cheating scandal. In his eyes, the ambassadors for these sites fail to speak out adequately on behalf of the players whenever these incidents arise.

The responses thus far range between those that agree with Leonard’s message to those that find his anger hypocritical and misplaced. Online poker ambassadors, for GGPoker and other sites, proceeded to sound off in the replies of Leonard’s thread.

Xuan Liu, an ambassador for WPT Global, commiserated with Leonard, but stood firm behind the team she represents. Tony Dunst offered his support to Leonard while sticking up for Isaac Haxton in the process. It wasn’t all positive feedback and agreement, however. Sam Grafton called out Leonard for having himself been a site ambassador just a few months and suggested his efforts could be better focused elsewhere.

Leonard himself responded to Grafton, saying he has a huge amount of respect for him personally, while addressing the points the PokerStars pro had made.

And the originator of the “tough conversation” weighed in on Leonard’s side as well, which led to at least one ambassador rethinking his stance.

The conversation remains ongoing on social media and this type of discussion is unfortunately nothing new in the poker world.

Still, it’s an important conversation to have and, perhaps more importantly, the community needs to find alignment in these moments to protect the game’s integrity for all players–open discussion is the only way forward here.

Featured Image Courtesy of PokerGO/Antonio Abrego