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Faulty Algorithm Removes Poker Content From YouTube

Glitch Causes Poker Vloggers To Receive Unwarranted Strikes On Their Channels


With fewer televised poker tournaments and an increase in the number of people cutting their cable cord, many people are moving towards streaming platforms to consume their media. As a result, YouTube has emerged as one of the main sources for poker content.

Over the last several years, poker pros like Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen have generated a large and loyal fan base by filming poker vlogs and uploading them onto the giant social media platform. Video content became more plentiful as up-and-coming vloggers followed in their footsteps and streamers that were primarily playing tournaments on Twitch began producing content for YouTube as well.

Unfortunately for poker fans, YouTube began removing poker videos from its platform in a seemingly random fashion. Regardless of subscriber count or the stakes being played in the video, content creators were getting strikes on their channel and in some cases, losing their entire channel without having broken any rules.

Jaime Staples, a partypoker sponsored pro with a popular Twitch channel began spearheading the issue in February.

Jaime StaplesAccording to the Canadian poker pro, there is a problem with the site’s algorithm that filters for content violating the terms of service. In a video that was pinned to the top of his Twitter feed, Staples said that there are a few employees in the gaming department of the company that understands poker and knows that the videos being flagged are indeed following the site’s regulations.

Staples is compiling data from all creators that have been affected by the site’s faulty algorithm. He opened an email address solely for poker YouTubers to send him all the relevant information about every video removal and every strike.

With a little help from the knowledgeable employees in the gaming department, Staples hopes that the data will result in an updated algorithm that doesn’t blackout poker content from the site.

“If we collect all this information, present it to them in an easy to read format… Hopefully it will be faster to get our stuff heard. And also, they will take us a little bit more seriously,” said Staples in the pinned video.

Owen, one of poker’s most popular vloggers with 195,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, experienced the algorithm’s inconsistency first-hand.

“I had five videos removed at the beginning of February and I was given a strike,” said Owen. “I appealed those decisions. Three of those appeals were approved, but two were rejected, including the video I was given a strike for.”

Though Owen believed the two rejected videos would be gone forever, YouTube put them back up at the start of March and removed the strike from his channel. A different video, however, was taken down around the same time and his channel received a warning.

Brad OwenIt is especially concerning for guys like Owen who rely on YouTube for a portion of their yearly income. If recent videos are taken down or demonetized, it could ultimately hurt Owens’ bottom line and cost poker fans quality content.

Luckily for Owen, the flagged videos weren’t recent, and his newer content hasn’t been affected yet.

“It’s been very bizarre,” said Owen. “None us YouTube content creators know what’s going on or why we’ve been having issues. There has been little or nor response from YouTube’s side. The videos that have been flagged were from years ago. It seems to be a glitch from the AI that reviews content. Hopefully it’ll all get resolved soon.”

Since there is no rhyme or reason to the removal process, Owen hasn’t altered the style or process he uses to create his videos. He is still uploading on a regular basis.

The silver lining in it all is that once an actual set of eyes sees the content, the decision made by the bot is overturned.

“It appears that once videos are appealed, and then manually reviewed by a human, it is determined in almost all cases that the videos don’t actually violate any of the rules,” Owen said. “The videos generally get put back up after that.”

Not everybody’s experience with YouTube support was as easy as Owen’s, however.

“I’ve heard of a few instances with Jeff Boski and Jaime Staples in which all or almost all the videos from their channels were taken down for about a week before they were put back up,” said Owen. “That has to be very scary for them. It’s scary for me to see that YouTube can make mistakes that big, with serious consequences, and give no explanation for why it’s happening.”

Boski, whose real name is Jeff Sluzinski, is a mid-stakes tournament pro that creates vlogs centered around his live tournament exploits in Las Vegas.

On March 9, Sluzinski tweeted a screenshot of the message from YouTube informing him that his channel had received a second strike. YouTube works on a three-strike policy. With his second strike, Sluzinski was banned from uploading any content or starting any live streams for two weeks.

If he receives one more strike, whether it’s the fault of the algorithm or not, YouTube will kick him off the platform for good. His last upload on the channel, which has 37,400 subscribers, was published on Feb. 19.

The Michigan native told Card Player that even though the entire problem rests with the bot, YouTube’s support staff doesn’t do enough to inform creators what was wrong with the video. If creators had an idea of what was being flagged, they could work around that and keep the videos up until the AI is fixed.

Jeff Sluzinski“The problem is the lack of support from YouTube,” said Sluzinski. “There is no one to talk to that can tell us what we did wrong. We just get the generic ‘harmful and dangerous’ content or ‘regulated goods.’ Of course, we can fill out the max 300-word appeal to try to get our videos reinstated, but this is also not interactive.”

Sluzinski is just like most other creators in that he takes great pride in his vlogs and his channel. Even though he plays poker for a living, he doesn’t want to gamble with his YouTube channel.

“Imagine your girlfriend saying, ‘If you do that again, I’m going to break up with you.’” said Sluzinski. “You ask ‘What did I do wrong?’ She replies with, ‘You know what you did wrong.’ You are left with no information on how to fix the problem and you risk losing something that you care deeply about.”

With the spread of coronavirus throughout the country, nearly all the casinos have closed which has forced both poker players and fans to stay in their homes, the demand for quality poker content might be at its peak.

Even though most of the content creators generally center their material around live poker, some have already begun to tailor their content to the current environment. Neeme, for example, started streaming online poker cash game sessions.

For now, he is streaming those sessions on YouTube. But if the social media platform doesn’t make the necessary changes to its algorithm, Owen thinks that a lot of the content might migrate to another website.

“At the very least, there needs to be much better communication on YouTube’s side or perhaps we’ll have to move elsewhere,” said Owen.



almost 2 years ago

I wonder if the vloggers didn't show any logos, or blurred logos out in their videos if the problem would go away?

Jeff Sluzinski, AKA Jeff Boski, will start some of his videos at the top of Wynn parking garage, with the Wynn logo located on top of the building, clearly seen in the background of the opening shot. Does the algorithm see this logo then automatically reject the video?