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A Law Unto Themselves

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Dec 01, 2005


Online poker sites can pretty much do as they please. We can huff and puff all we want, but, at the end of the day, we are at their mercy. That's not to say that these sites are acting disreputably in any way, and with good reason; they'd have nothing to gain and everything to lose if they were. However, there are occasions when players have legitimate grievances against one of these operators, but sadly have no recourse to a higher authority when all else fails.

Magazines such as Card Player do an invaluable service by publishing articles that air these grievances and also give credit where credit is due.

In the main, I have had positive experiences with online sites, but I am having trouble with one.

In July, PokerRoom was holding satellites for the Paris World Poker Tour event. I entered a $40 supersatellite, and, much to my surprise, I qualified for the final stage, which was to be held the following weekend. As it approached, I checked to see what time the game was, and found it had been cancelled. I wrote to PokerRoom and received a reply stating that the new tournament date had not been decided. They promised to get in touch once they'd decided on a new date. This new date never materialised, and after several e-mails, they replied: "The next WPT final qualifier will be for the Five-Diamond Classic at Bellagio in December. The competition was not cancelled, the venue was changed." To say that I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. In the real world, if you order and pay for a hamburger, you don't expect to get chicken nuggets. "OK," I responded, "so please credit my account with the value of my win, about $400." I'm not into chicken nuggets. They responded by telling me they didn't do refunds: "Please be advised that we cannot refund you for this tournament entry." Very strange; obviously, they are in desperate need of my original $44 stake.

In complete contrast, Nikki Newman (poker operations manager) of immediately offered to refund my PokerRoom entry when she heard my tale of woe. Chalk and cheese. I opened a PaddyPower poker account and was immediately credited with $50. Needless to say, I shall be supporting that site and bidding PokerRoom farewell.

More encouraging still was PaddyPower's response to collusion at the final table of a satellite for Dublin's European Poker Tour event. It banned the two colluding winners and gave their seats to the third- and fourth-place finishers. Any player who cheats should be named and shamed. I'm sure that the rest of us law-abiding poker citizens would prefer to play on sites that are proactive about cheating and advertise the fact. We are not children looking at the poker world through rose-colored glasses. We know that cheating takes place, because, sadly, there are always a few rotten apples about. We also want to know that online poker operators are actively looking after our best interests. Hush-hush or behind the scenes isn't good enough. If you're doing a good job, flaunt it.

It is imperative that we differentiate between the good guys and the also-rans. WilliamHill refunded my entry into a small tournament a few weeks back. Unwittingly, both Tom and I had entered the same tournament. He was playing downstairs and I was playing upstairs. About 400 players had registered for this event. A few minutes after it started, I was moved to another table and immediately disconnected. Customer support explained that Tom and I had ended up at the same table, an occurrence they couldn't allow. They accepted that I had no say in what table I was moved to, and had no problem refunding my entry fee. That was good customer relations.

So, why is PokerRoom being so awkward? If I could speak to someone, perhaps all would be revealed, but, strangely, they provide no address and no telephone number. I'm not holding my breath for a satisfactory resolution.

Lucy "Golden Ovaries" Rokach has long been one of the most successful tournament players in Europe, with 14 major tournament titles to her name in the last five years alone. She hails from the Midlands in the UK, but can usually be found on the European tournament trail.