Zhuang Ruan has been having a good year. He won some high rollers, transitioning from crushing high stakes cash games online to crushing high stakes tourneys in meat space.
Ruan managed to beat a $50k high roller at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open earlier this year. In that event, he took down $562,600. In the process he beat Dan Smith heads up (after an awkward misunderstanding over a chop).
Ruan is just 20-years-old. While in general, U.S. laws limit gambling to players who are 21-and-over, casinos on Native American tribal nation land often allow 18+ players to gamble. This meant that while Ruan couldn’t gamble in Vegas, he still managed to cash for half a million on US soil.
A few weeks later he won $1.6 million for 3rd in the Super High Roller Bowl Europe Main Event in Cyprus.
Then last month, Cardplayer ran a glowing profile on Ruan, written by Steve Shult. That’s when things went a bit wonky.
The article details his impressive rise through the stakes. Switching games from Runescape to NLH to PLO as he grew bored with each game in turn. Ruan alsom admitted to a few misdeeds in the profile, like playing poker online while underaged (who among us didn’t) and playing online poker in Japan where that is illegal.
But these weren’t Ruan’s only nefarious doings according to the 2+2 rumor mill. In a 2+2 thread dedicated to the Cardplayer profile, accusations of his unethical play began to circulate.
The accusations started small with user “RyanWCollins.”
“Am I wrong or isn’t he a guy who actually sold RTA to ppl and was actually banned for RTA on some site,” RyanWCollins wrote.
User “Rahm93” replied: “[Ruan] used to RTA using Vision on highstakes ACR under the name Weeb among others as well. Instructed and backed a large group of young players to use Vision while playing on all US networks.”
Vision is a PLO solver, which can be used as a real-time assistant during online play. RTAs are against the Ts&Cs of most online poker sites. They are also considered to be outright cheating by much of the poker community. Though is is a point of some debate.
The responses to RyanWCollins’ question gathered steam. Within a few more pages of discussion, a narrative had developed that alleged an ugly picture of Ruan’s past and his business practices.
At the center of the discussion was 2+2 user “TheSpork” who claims to have been part of Ruan’s stable. In a long series of 2+2 posts, TheSpork explained that Ruan staked a group of players in his role as “coach.” He pushed them to use Vision and another solver called MonkerSolver.
According to TheSpork, Ruan’s stable played on Global Poker and Poker Bros, where he also collected agent fees.
“He then got all of us to play on PokerBros where we were aggressively pushed to play using monker and visions in real-time with a hud on an emulator to access to app,” TheSpork wrote. “Any time we had questions on hands, they were mostly met with “check visions” or “run a sim”, indicating he either was too lazy to teach, incapable of teaching, or some combination of the two. This is a horrible combination for anyone trying to run a legitimate stable.”
To back up his tale, TheSpork provided a link to an imgur page on which they posted an array of screen-capped conversations between “Spork” and “Squid.” The latter is supposed to be Ruan.
There are around 30 screenshots on the Imgur page that appear to bear out this approach. In them, Squid harangues Spork to use RTAs more (Spork appears to be limiting their use largely to pre-flop play).
The conversations are date-marked at various points throughout 2019 and 2020, and include advice from Squid like “buy in for 50 bb and run every hand through visions.” When Spork asks “real time.” Squid replies: “yeah, real time.”
A later post shows a six-point plan from Squid for winning at poker. Points four and five are “follow monkersolver always” and “use visions.” A repeated theme in the screencaps is that the best way to win is to follow Visions output while you play.
TheSpork would have us believe that Ruan has been using RTAs while playing online as his standard practice for large chunks of his poker career. If this proves true, pokers latest beloved “phenom” is likely to find himself out on his ear.
We have reached out to Ruan for comment, and aim to run his response if he gets back to Poker.org on this topic.
Featured image source: Flickr by Marco Verch