Zenith Poker puts “stolen” PFR charts on Youtube channel

Jon Pill
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Posted on: May 28, 2021 10:21 pm EDT

The Zenith Poker Youtube channel has come under fire after sharing several other poker coaches‘ pre-flop range charts on screen during a live stream.

The YouTube channel serves as promotional material for the Zenith Poker coaching site. On the channel, Thomas Pinnock, one of the coaches on Zenith Poker, headed up a controversial stream yesterday. The ostensible purpose of the stream was to review various PFR tools from several other coaching sites. Some of the sites whose content he shared were Upswing and Poker Detox.

However, the real purpose of the channel appears to be pushing traffic to Pinnock’s training site. Zenith Poker is a small coaching site with a few, relatively cheap paid courses, and a smattering of poker related free courses. These include things like “Introduction to Game Theory” and “Preflop Fundamentals.”

On Zenith Poker you can book a 50-minute session with Pinnock for BTC 0.0042. That’s about ~$150 at the minute of writing, though who knows what the crypto markets have done since then.

Pinnock has very little positive to say about any of the charts. The video seems to be largely a way of turning viewers off his competition.

Although Pinnock initially claims to have bought the content he is sharing, he very early in the stream refers to a friend who sent some of the charts to him. He also offers to review further sites if viewers give him access to them.

This is the major source of criticism. One of the coaches who was reviewed is now the pinned comment under the video. AlvinTeachesPoker wrote: “It’s super, super f**ked that you share counterfeit/stolen material from other schools. Like it’s one thing to have zero people care about your channel and need to get some hype, it’s another thing to be outright thieves.”

Pinnock responds by linking to the Wikipedia page for fair use. Fair use allows the sharing of copyrighted material providing the use meets certain standards. Criticism is one of the major situations when fair use is allowed. The video probably meets the standard on that basis.

It is also not clear to what extent copyright applies to PFR charts. Typically, tables of data are not considered to be copyrightable.

Is and ought

Legal or not, the question of ethics still hangs over the video. Partly because Pinnock apparently did not buy all the charts himself, and partly because he also giving away other people’s products.

On 2+2 juggler97531 wrote “In my world, this would be clear copyright infringement. […] The video seems to be sharing big chunks of [the charts] to be easily screen scraped. It’s over an hour-long video where over and over documents with ranges are being shown on the screen. Sometimes he shows a directory full of ranges where thumbnails are so big you can clearly read them from the screen.”

Much of the content is from behind paywalls. It appears from the video that Pinnock did not pay for much of the content he shows in the video.

Molly Case summed up the issue in the Youtube comments to the video.

“There’s a reason that you don’t see any credible or established poker strategy site posting material from behind competitors’ paywalls,” Case wrote. “It’s because it’s a scummy thing to do.”

Pinnock has his defenders. Nathan V wrote in response to Case, “It’s not only legal, it’s fair in my opinion. It’s good that people be able to make criticisms about products on the market, and this requires addressing specific things in the content.”

Other people viewed Pinnock as taking a stand against the poker coaching industry, which some view as rife with low quality content and bad faith coaches.

It seems likely that this controversy was the main purpose of the video. Arguments over fair use and poker coaching ethics all just register as engagement to the algorithm. The Zenith Poker channel has less than 1,000 views on most of its videos. This video has 1,600 and counting.

Featured image source: Screen capture from Youtube