Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PokerStars Responds to Jennifer Newell's Security Cheat Inquiry

Well-known poker writer Jennifer Newell, who has covered the subject of cheating in online poker quite thoroughly these days, claims that she sent questionnaires to the security staffs of all the major online poker sites that accept US players. According to Newell, only PokerStars responded, which doesn't at all surprise me as they have been at the forefront of the fight against online poker cheats. Here are the questions and answers between Newell and PokerStars:

Q: What company or individual(s) own your site?

A: PokerStars is owned by Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited, a privately held Isle of Man company.

Q: What company or organization holds your gaming license?

A: There is a misconception about offshore companies being unlicensed and unregulated. PokerStars holds its license with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. More information can be found at www.PokerStars. com/IOM.

Q: What is your site's stance on multi-accounting and seat-selling practices?

A: With trivial exceptions, a player may play on only one (his) account during a tournament and may not "hand off" his seat mid-event to a different player. Violation of this rule may result in penalties including disqualification from the tournament, with full forfeiture of winnings (which will be distributed to other players) and barring from PokerStars. Further clarification, including examples of what is acceptable and unacceptable activity can be found under Rule 21 at www.PokerStars.com/Poker/Tournaments/Rules.

Q: What security measures does your site employ to prevent cheating?

A: PokerStars employs a large number of experienced poker players who review any suspicious activity at the tables. These reviews are initiated from three main sources: 1) player complaints, 2) automated alerts of unusual activity, and 3) standard scheduled reviews of accounts. These reviews involve examining both account activity and the hands played by the player in question for any suspicious activity. In addition, we have a Games Security department whose only goal is to protect players from inappropriate activity by other players.

Q: How can you assure players that their money is safe and the games are fair?

A: Regarding money, all PokerStars player balances are held in a segregated account of a major European bank and are never used for any sort of operating expense. PokerStars was the first major site to establish a segregated account of this nature. If every player on the site wished to cash out their full balance tomorrow, there would be absolutely no problem handling all of the requests. No player has ever failed to receive a cash-out on our site in over six years of operation.

Regarding games, as indicated above, we engage in both reactive and proactive reviews of the play between players on our site. In terms of receiving a fair deal, we have undertaken great lengths to develop truly random shuffle, safe from any hacking or manipulation. Our random number generator was submitted and verified by multiple auditing agencies. More details can be found at www.PokerStars.com/Poker/Room/Features/Security.

Finally, we have a standing offer with every real money player on our site to send them every real money hand that they have ever played for review... Many players have taken advantage of this service, and often publish their results, all of which always indicate that our shuffle is completely random.

Q: What separates you from other online poker sites with regard to safety and security?

A: Several of the measures outlined above are unique to PokerStars (segregated account balances, offer to send all hand histories). However, the biggest way that we separate ourselves is by the company culture that has customer focus as the main company value. That focus is what brought us the reputation of having the best support in the industry. PokerStars was founded by businessmen and technology professionals who were also passionate recreational poker players viewing poker as both challenging and entertaining. Much of senior management is still heavily comprised of people who love poker and who are committed to providing a great poker experience for all our players.