The PokerGo Tour announced late on Thursday that it has formally suspended two prominent PGT participants, Ali Imsirovic and Jake Schindler, indefinitely. PokerGO’s public acknowledgment came after multiple poker-industry watchers noticed that Imsirovic and Schindler had been removed from the 2022 PGT Leaderboard, despite having earned leaderboard points through earlier Tour finishes.
Imsirovic and Schindler were already notable for their absence from the PokerGO’s ongoing Poker Masters series, after both had participated in the 2021 edition of the series. Imsirovic’s and Schindler’s suspensions were also alluded to in a Wednesday tweet from Daniel Negreanu, who was “betting” on Schindler and Imsirovic not being present.
Given that Negreanu is a minority owner in PokerGO, he may have had knowledge of the ban before it was made public and chose that method to tip off his large social-media following.
PokerGO issues brief statement on suspensions
PokerGO’s notice on the suspension of Imsirovic and Schindler was brief, and it omitted any of the reasons why the suspensions were levied. The statement read as follows:
“The PokerGO Tour (PGT) today announced the indefinite suspensions of Ali Imsirovic and Jake Schindler from tour play, effective immediately. The suspensions will extend through at least the 2022 PGT season, upon which time a review will take place.
“The PGT is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and emphasizes proper conduct to ensure the safety and security of its players and events.”
“Both players have been ruled ineligible for the season-ending PGT Championship and have been removed from the 2022 PGT leaderboard.”
Cheating accusations linger regarding Imsirovic and Schindler
The two players have been accused by other high-stakes pros of cheating in both online and live play. Both players were among a few dozen pros whose play on GGPoker abruptly stopped on the same day that GGPoker announced a ban, without naming names, on a few dozen users of real-time assistance (RTAs) at the online tables.
Imsirovic was also pilloried after appearing to rubberneck Paul Phua’s hole cards at a Super High Roller Bowl Europe event earlier this year, though Phua also accepted responsibility for not properly protecting his hand. Regarding Imsirovic, though, the episode drew more cheating accusations from Alex Foxen and others.
Not specified in the PokerGO ban, but certainly within the realm of possibility, is that the suspensions of Imsirovic and Schindler are linked to the launching of GGPoker’s Player Integrity Council (PIC). GGPoker offered an olive branch to players previously banned for cheating, but only if they applied for reinstatement within a limited-time window that lasted for only a few weeks and has since closed.
It’s not for certain that Imsirovic or Schindler even applied for reinstatement, just as it’s not an absolute certainty they were among the 40 or so players previously banned. But GGPoker brand ambassador Jason Koon spoke in July about players who committed the most egregious types of cheating, and if they resumed such activities, their live-play opportunities will be impacted as well.
The Player Integrity Council partnered with roughly a dozen live tournament series as it launched last summer, with the provision that PIC’s live-event partners will ban players from their events who have also — and again — been banned online. The PokerGO Tour is one of PIC’s partners. Is the PGT Tour’s suspension of Imsirovic and Schindler linked in any way to ongoing Player Integrity Council work? None of the entities involved are speaking publicly on that point, and PIC has no plans itself to name names.
However the PGT bans of Imsirovic and Schindler evolved, they have been implemented, and the two players now find themselves on the outside looking in at PokerGO Tour events. Similar suspensions could happen for other accused players, just as other tours and series could likewise bar Imsirovic and Schindler from their events.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze