Nov 30, 2017
How Partypoker Took Down a Massive Collusion Ring
By RTR Dennis
Collusion has been present since online poker's early days. Luckily, poker sites and/or players are usually good enough to sniff out collusion and bring the cheating to light.
Just recently, partypoker uncovered a major collision ring thanks to the help of a TwoPlusTwo poster named “FarseerFinland.”
FarseerFinland posted his take on a "huge collusion ring in high-stakes MTTs at partypoker." Thanks to his detective work, Partypoker was able to take down the fraudulent ring and ban the guilty parties. Let's discuss the details of this story along with how the offenders were busted.
FarseerFinland's First Experience with the Colluders
FarseerFinland has been playing partypoker under the name “DukeOfSuffolk” for years. He normally competes in MTTs with buy-ins worth $109 or higher. And he noticed two separate incidents that caused him to suspect collusion.
The first one happened in a Wednesday Turbo Highroller final table. The poster wrote that his opponents were playing in an odd manner. Specifically, he noted how in 48 hands, players with "somewhat short stacks" were never forced all-in by each other.
DukeOfSuffolk busted three players himself, while none of the other opponents attempted to knock each other out. After he was eliminated, the tournament suddenly moved at a rapid pace and finished up 3 minutes later.
This sparked FarseerFinland to do some investigative work. And he found that six of the Turbo Highroller’s top seven finishers had just started playing at Partypoker in 2017. He also discovered that these six players all competed in high-stakes MTTS and almost always entered the same tournaments.
The six players went by the screen names “dimitriax,” “domingo661,” "Sorcian,” "SciorXxx", "GASSGUSS" and "PowerCarl.” DukeOfSuffolk contacted partypoker support, and they assured him that a full investigation would be done.
The Second Collusion Incident
Just a few days after his experience in the Wednesday Turbo Highroller, DukeOfSuffolk continued doing more research. DukeOfSuffolk found that eight other players with comparable tournament histories to the six players mentioned above were entering "Clubber II" events.
These eight screen names include "coccopaga090,” "pesnokviv,” "ven.pax.soy", "fausfalser,” "diabolicox900,” "cheflol,” "A10cooming,” and "PR3PEzzz.”
Nothing immediately stuck out about these names, besides the fact that they had very similar tournament profiles. But he also noticed that four of the names finished in the top four spots of a Turbo Highroller.
Proving the Collusion
FarseerFinland went to work on creating text files with hand histories from the Turbo Highroller. He also made a video showing the players in action during a two-table bubble situation.
DukeOfSuffolk later updated his TwoPlusTwo thread with 12 more names that had suspicious activities in Clubber II tournaments. The player then sent all this evidence to partypoker support to help with their investigation.
Colluders' Accounts are Banned
Writing in the same thread, "Party_Rep," wrote that they were hard at work getting to the bottom of the matter.
"The OP and myself have been in discussion and all details have been shared with the Risk team management for review," the rep explained. "We treat the accusations of collusion very seriously and will ensure relevant action is taken pending investigation."
Tom Waters, managing director of partypoker, confirmed in an interview that collision did indeed occur in specific Highroller MTTs. He also wrote that the site blocked the accused accounts.
"It depends on the case, every case is different,” Waters explained. “In this case, the security department reviewed the initial complaint from the player and began a full investigation to 1) Verify that collusion was taking place and 2) That ensure all accounts involved were successfully identified and blocked."
Waters said that they had to wait until the investigation was over because of the high amount of false collusion reports. However, FarseerFinland's reported incidents did indeed involve collusion. And the accounts have since been closed.
"It's also important to note that 99% of collusion accusations are proved to be false. A lot of people get suspicious based on the emotion of losing pots, running under EV in general and against specific players,” said Waters.
“It is important that our security team is as informed as possible to be able to quickly identify if it is indeed collusion or not. We cannot simply close every account that is emailed to us as being suspicious of collusion."
Partypoker Explains why Players can Best Catch Collusion
Some might be alarmed that a wide-scale cheating ring was going on without partypoker noticing. However, Waters mentioned that players often have the advantage in identifying these fraudulent rings before poker sites do.
"BOT and collusion detection techniques can require a large number of hands in order to accurately analyze the information and identify rogue accounts," Waters said.
“Therefore, sometimes players are able to identify suspicious activity faster, depending on what they have experienced at the tables. We have sophisticated fraud control mechanisms in place that are continually being updated to counter new and more advanced fraudulent techniques."
How to Report Collusion to Partypoker
The good news is that partypoker has measures in place for players to report any suspected fraud.
"We have set up a new email address, [email protected], where players can send their suspicions directly to an expert team who will review the case immediately,” Waters said. “We have also formed a player panel of elite online players who will review hand histories in difficult cases and make a fair and impartial decision.
"We are already working closely with a number of players for certain matters. Over the coming months we will be rolling out some highly advanced detection techniques that we are building with the help of some of our players."
What did Partypoker do about This Collusion Incident?
Partypoker didn't give exact details on how many offenders were involved in the ring. But Waters did say that they'll do everything they can to make sure collusion victims are properly reimbursed. Additionally, offenders will have their funds seized so that they can be "redistributed to the affected players."
He wishes that partypoker could share the offenders’ names so as to prevent future occurrence. However, Waters explained that this is more complicated than it seems.
How to Protect Yourself from Collusion
FarseerFinland offered nice advice for how you can spot possible collusion.
"If you've been playing small field $22-$55 MTTs I would keep my eyes open. If you see anything that looks like probable collusion (not just in tables but their game history etc.) you should contact Party_Rep imo."
FarseerFinland also urged players to visit the Official Poker Rankings to check tournament histories of potential colluders. This way you can see if there's a pattern among the suspected parties.
You can read the entire TwoPlusTwo thread here.