September 2009
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Thou shalt not accuse, falsely or otherwise

In a sit-and-go tournament at PokerStars, I’d reported a hand where two players (showing as from the same country) appeared to dump chips to each other to prevent one from being blinded all-in on the bubble.

Naturally, that fate then fell to me.

Blinds were 200/400 with a 25 ante. Villian 1, sitting on about half the chips in play, raised to 1,200 and then folded after Villain 2 moved all in for a total of 1,275.

With the dead blinds and antes, his pot odds were 37-1. It’s an instant call for just 75 more chips, even if all you have in your hand is one 3 and a bridge score card.

A couple of weeks later I got a reply from PokerStars with the result of their investigation.  It said they couldn’t find any history of these guys playing together in the past and concluded that the first player almost certainly clicked on the wrong button and folded by accident.

They even found hands earlier in the same tournament where those two had played hard against each other – and sent me two hand histories that showed it.

PokerStars has a reputation for providing first class support to players and they’ve yet to disappoint me.  Ideally I wanted my $16 back, but I can accept their findings.

I had forgotten that after this hand I wasn’t able to keep my mouth shut at the table, and their response also went on to reprimand me because of this:

On a related note, I noticed that you accused these players of collusion at the table. Three problems exist when you make an accusation at the table:

1) You may be accusing two perfectly innocent people of being dishonest. If they are innocent, then you have sullied their reputations amongst other players at the table without cause.

2) If they are guilty, you have just alerted them to your suspicions. This allows them to come up with cover stories and alter their play all of which makes it more difficult for us to confirm the suspicion.

3) In an environment where there is already concerns about cheating in different forms, making such an accusation only serves to propagate the existing fears. Our support staff works extremely hard investigating collusion complaints and dealing with the integrity of our site. A lot of that work is undone with an accusation of this nature.

Please understand that accusing a player of cheating at a poker table is extremely serious and should never be done. If you have concerns regarding the play of two or more individuals, we encourage you to notify us immediately so that we can investigate. Include as many details as possible including their player IDs and where they are playing.

As you can see, we have a lot of tools at our disposal which help us keep our games honest and fair. In addition, the thousands of honest, vigilant players who point out situations that merit investigation are an important part of our arsenal. Thank you for doing your part to protect the integrity of our games.

Well, that’s me told.

But I have to admit I had never thought about this in so much depth. Kudos to PokerStars, it’s a good point well made.

Even if it is a cut-and-pasted standard response, it’s a damn good one and I wanted to share it.