Partypoker fastforward scandal gets on Doug Polk’s radar

Kat Martin
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Posted on 09/29/2021

As previously reported by Poker.org, something is very wrong with partypoker’s fastforward seating algorithm. Specifically, players multi-tabling the popular format have experienced a deficiency of hands dealt to them in the cut-off position — a phenomenon now known as the “CO dip.” (For three-handed play, the dip occurs on the button.)

This problem has been carefully and extensively documented in a 2+2 thread, two threads on Reddit, and on partypoker’s own Discord server. A clear consensus exists among players that multi-tabling fastforward produces the CO dip. The claim is supported by follow-up studies in which single-tabling the game produced an excess of hands dealt to the cut-off.

Doug Polk praises Rob Yong

In a YouTube video uploaded today, Doug Polk refers to the matter, beginning at the 1:34:45 mark. Polk, a poker celebrity and occasional investigative journalist, along with Joe Ingram, have both been implored to look into this issue in the 2+2 thread mentioned above. Polk acknowledged that this and other public requests put the matter on his radar.

In the YouTube video, Polk praises Rob Yong for looking into the matter personally and, we are told, in great detail. Polk says of Yong:

“This guy lost sleep, at night, trying to figure out why you as a pro weren’t getting a fair amount of buttons. And it seems like [pause] it’s probably okay.”

The reticence Polk exhibits in the video in absolving partypoker of a major screw up is interesting, as is the qualifier “probably.” Based on Polk’s comments, it appears Yong has uncovered what the problem is and has communicated that to Polk. Meanwhile, hundreds of impacted players are still in the dark.

It is commendable that Rob Yong, a senior partner in partypoker, would work from dusk until dawn to research this scandal. Two players told Poker.org privately that they had contacted Yong several months ago. Despite receiving no response then, both are pleased that Yong is taking a direct interest now.

What’s next?

Since the publication of the original story on this matter, several players have reached out to Poker.org sharing data, frustration, and the responses they have received from partypoker’s customer service representatives.

That multi-tabling fastforward poker reduces a player’s EV seems beyond doubt. That professional players are far more likely to multi-table than recreational ones is also clear, at least anecdotally. Impacted players have taken a step back from the claim that partypoker is intentionally rigging games, but they cannot fathom why the site has allowed the situation to fester for over eight months.

One hint comes in a common phrase used by partypoker in email responses to complaining customers:

“We would like to inform you that the seating algorithm on the Fast Forward tables is something that we continuously review and take every concern in relation to it very seriously. Since this algorithm is the same for all customers, at this stage we would not be able to comment on whether we would be offering compensation.”

While some players have wondered why something as simple as a seating algorithm requires constant review, others suggest the critical statement here is that the algorithm is the same for all customers.

This point is not in dispute. All customers who choose to use the software in a legal manner, by multi-tabling, will experience the same CO dip and loss in EV. That doesn’t make the situation fair. Indeed, many players who have fallen victim to it regard the situation as common theft.

Ultimately only partypoker, with full access to their own code and all hands dealt, can resolve this situation. If Rob Yong’s intervention speeds up that process, impacted players will doubtless be pleased. But those same players have made it very clear on 2+2, Reddit, and Discord that they view partypoker’s foot-dragging on this matter as completely unacceptable. And many are expecting compensation for their losses.

Featured image source: Twitter