Sunday 18 July 2010

Chiren80 exploits Pokerstars VIP rewards, Russian bot-ring found on Stars and French players strike

Team PokerStars PRO player exploits VIP system.

PokerStars have been running a MicroMania promotion for it's micro stakes players, giving them extra VPPs and FPPs for their play this month.

One of PokerStars' Team PROs, Chiren80, who is known for his AtheneWins youtube channel, seems to have found a way to exploit this promotion. He was spotted playing heads up versus his friend '3J55' (who originally introduced Chiren80 to poker) on many €10NL tables, dumping chips back and forward in order to generate lots of rake / VPPs.

Chrien80 and 3J55 had figured that with them both being Supernova Elites and Chiren80 having a sponsorship deal worth $1 per 7 VPPs earned in addition to SNE benifits, that they could earn more than 100% rakeback on these microstakes tables. So they went to work chipdumping back and forward on the €10NL tables making easy money from PokerStars on every single hand that they played.

The head of PokerStars VIP Club "Steve D" has said that this type of action is considered abuse and that Chiren will no longer be doing it. He said that any action taken against Chiren80 and 3J55, if any action is taken, would remain confidential.

Having a look at the PokerStars TOS for the VIP club I notice:

11. Any abuse of the program or failure to follow program rules may result in the termination of membership and forfeiture of all accrued VPPs and FPPs.

I think the most likely outcome from this would be PokerStars removing all the VPPs earned during the abuse. However one has to think that Team PROs, the representatives of the site, should be held to a much higher standard than other players on the site. PokerStars are paying him to represent their site while he plays on their client, but what casual players see when they hit that "find a team pro" button is this player passing chips back and forward in an effort to exploit his "employer" for financial gain.

Steve D also stated that this incident was not being investigated by the security team. "This is not a security issue. Cooperation in two-handed games isn't technically considered collusion.". However, people have posted screenshots where there was a 3rd player on a table while they were doing this.

When news broke of this incident on 2p2 Chiren80 made the following statement:

"When the promo came out i started to play 24 tables 10NL as its very chill and good vpp's. 3j55 started to join my tables and play more and more aggressive vs me and i adapted ending up table selecting to be heads up vs him all the time.

I have won some and lost some the accusations in this thread are not in line with how i'm playing you can check the hand histories. I'm neither flipping nor chipdumping nor colluding and am not breaking any rules in the TOS.

If someone sticks it in with almost ATC its normal u call/shuv with botton pair.

And starting to play tight will only make him play tighter aswell which is minus ev for me.

I'm replying for the people that want a clear answer from me because i know that to some haterz it doesn't matter what i say.

As an online pro or normal player i wouldn't do anything illegal, if Pokerstars say it is i will stop immediately, although i don't think it's the case because i have informed myself and even talked to them as some people accused me of cheating in chatwindow."

This statement is just full of lies. It's so ridiculous that it's laughable.

People on the forum were quick to call him out. For one, people knew that 3J55 was his friend, in fact it's even been stated on 3J55's blog that they "share ev" (they normally 24-table the same fullring 100NL/200NL games and share the difference in won/lost "all-in ev" in an effort to reduce variance.)

Secondly the whole story that Chiren80 was seeking out 3J55 to actually play poker against the guy, adjusting to him, etc. etc. was ridiculed by some hand histories and stats.

Stats show him losing over $3,500 over ~6000 hands of 10NL, but he really expects people to believe that he was game selecting to play this guy because he thought he could beat him easily.

Posted by goldieshorn:
1. 3J55 had $20 you had around $70.
2. 3J55 raised to $5, you re-raised to $18 and 3J55 called.
3. 3J55 went all in with his remaining $2, you fold.
4. See number 3. You do this over and over again?

I can only imagine that Chiren and Jess, somehow (and I don't know how) did not think they were doing anything wrong, because they have both come across to me as very intelligent guys in the past. But even then, the blatant lies by Chiren when it was uncovered just makes him look so much worse.

2p2 threads:

PokerStars Pro Chiren80 Cheating (dumping back/forth for VPPs?)
Poker Stars Pro's dumping $$$ to friends?

10-account Russian ShortStack bot ring on PokerStars

Whilst grinding some 50NL on stars, 2p2er malloc looked up some stats for players at his tables and found 3 short-stacking players who had very similar winrates at each level and who moved up and down the stakes at exactly the same times, obviously very suspicious.

The website Poker Table Ratings took notice of malloc's 2p2 observations and did some investigating, which lead them to find a total of 10 accounts that they believe to be bots.

VPIP, PFR and 3bet even when filtered to each position are identical. Drilling down even further stuff like flop raise % and flop aggression frequency are identical.

The full article can be found here: PTR - Bot Ring Discovered On Poker Stars

These bot accounts have played as many as 1 million hands each and are from locations in Russia and eastern European countries. They played a simple short-stack strategy which earned them $58K in profit as well as VIP bonuses from a $187K of generated rake.

The accounts remained active throughout the night after the PTR article was publish and were then suspended by PokerStars.

It also came to light that the Spanish intellipoker forum found these bots 3 months ago:

There's a large 2p2 thread about this incident and a lot of posters believe that PokerStars has "dropped the ball" by not catching these bots sooner. It also looks pretty embarrasing for Stars to have a 3rd party website find these bots before they did.

However PokerStars bot specialist Jeff had the following to say:

"We would like to address the fact that the play continued throughout the night of July 16th, after a third party source posted an independent review identified 7 additional players. PokerStars had also identified 7 additional players very early in our investigation -- prior to the third party site's identification of them. We were conducting a very in depth search to locate other potential accounts, to ensure we had located all of the accounts prior to closing them down concurrently. Shutting down only part of a ring in mid-investigation can spook additional, undiscovered accounts into cashing out prior to locating them. As of this afternoon, July 17, that review concluded that the ten accounts were the complete extent of the matter."

I also noticed that PokerStars security specialist Micahel Josem made the following statement on twitter, which would seem relevant to this incident:

"@michaeljosem: People who think that massively data mining is the solution to big security challenges have no idea of the volume of data that needs to be s"

The fact is that one player noticed these accounts and their striking irregularities, and a 3rd party found conclusive evidence against them. By the time the accounts were caught millions of hands had been played.

addressing this issue PokerStars Jeff said:

"Finally, to address why these players played for a relatively extended period without detection, we can say that upon conclusion of this review that the bots were fairly sophisticated in certain aspects, including their human behavior modeling and their stealth capabilities. Our tools for bot detection are sophisticated, but they are not perfect. No site can guarantee you that they are completely free of bots. What PokerStars can and does pledge is that we use our extensive tools behind the scenes to detect bots as best we can... and they are very effective. We detect and remove most bots well before they even leave the development stage, and well before they could play long enough to come to the attention of players or third party databases the way these players did."

However the response to this statement has been entirely negative among the forum users.

"I just have to say, that this doesn't cut it. If your 'sophisticated systems' couldn't detect these 10 players after millions of hands, then you need a new system.

If PTR hadn't detected these guys they'd still be playing. Given the timing of what has happened, saying anything else is just silly. Whoever started the investigation, you guys shut these guys down one day after a PTR article outed them. They ran for months and months before that. So obviously they played a role.

We expect systems that can detect these guys BEFORE THEY PLAY MILLIONS OF HANDS, not after they've raped the games for months. Maybe that is outside the scope of your technology. Intelligent posters in this thread say it shouldn't be. Common sense says to me there should be some way to do this better."

"My god this is terrible! So we're supposed to believe that you guys were totally on the ball and after a year of not having any idea about bots on your site you just happened to come up with all the same data that PTR released a day ahead of you all on your own.

Oh and they're sophisticated bots so your highly trained detection staffed missed them? YEAH WE CAN TELL HOW SOPHISTICATED THEY ARE! THEY ALL HAVE THE EXACT SAME STATS! I'm not sure what exactly your detection methods are, but maybe tell your staff to go back to basics and look at the easy stuff?

Nobody here expects any guarantee that your site is 100% bot free. But we do expect you to go out of your way to make sure you catch bots. And we do expect you to catch ones that are ridiculously obvious like these."

The French are on strike

When the French aren't busy surrendering or watching their football team make a complete c*** of themselves on the international stage they enjoy spending their time blasting off their hard earned cash playing poker.
Unfortunately for winning poker players across the globe, the French government has taken note of the millions of euros being donked out of their economy by their poker-playing citizens and have taken action.
New laws that were recently enforced have made it illegal for French players to play on .com poker sites. They now must play on .fr sites only with other French players, with the government taking a 2% tax directly from each pot.

The approach from PokerStars, on their new site, was to increase the standard rake from 5% to 7.7%, increase the rake cap and start raking pots where there was no flop. Also SNG / Tournament fees increased. The midstakes turbo SNGs are now raked at 10.62% on .fr, compared to .com's 6.66 - 9%.

The French players are pretty pissed off about the whole thing. Not only are they forced to play with a much smaller pool of players, but the increase in rake makes the games practically unbeatable.

Although the isolation from the global poker world and compulsory tax were brought about through French government legislation a lot of the anger from players has been directed at PokerStars. Players are upset that they are expected to take the full hit of the tax with the site absorbing none of it, plus the fact that 5% + 2% DOES NOT equal the new 7.7% rate, PokerStars are taking more rake into the bargain.

So a good old french revolution was called and players started a strike by sitting at as many tables as possible and sitting out, effectively blocking anyone from playing on that table. At one point there were over 300 tables blocked because of the strike.

As for the impact of all this, well the guy who was leading the protests on a French forum said he was called by the very low key big-boss at PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg, where it was explained that PokerStars can't absorb any of the French tax because they are making a loss in the French market. Seems unbelievable but apparently Isai has even offered to open up the financial books to prove this fact.
But looking at the rake page on it now appears that Stars have got rid of the preflop rake, so that is some progress at least.

And for people all around the world who think this doesn't concern them just because they don't live in France, be very concerned because your country could be next. Everyone still keen on USA regulating online gaming?

Read more on 2p2: just started cash games tables and made them unprofitable

pokerstars.FR ON STRIKE !


  1. Another great blog post Dale. Keep it up!

  2. Very cool recap, but why is this blog becomes a news page??? I want to hear more stories about your STT and PLO shenanigans!!

  3. 100% chip dumping.All you have to do is look at the amounts won/lost on ptr.Obscene amounts for 10nl somebodys 100nl-400nl sessions look like that.

    Should flip him off and make you pro,least you have a cool blog and can play poker

  4. More flaming of Bachir Boumaaza is due

    IMO more of super nerdy gf's tits and less of his collusion. We already knew he was a worthless POS. I don't understand how one can be so retarded as to attempt to exploit a site that he longed so much as to become a part of.
    A loss for the gameless rakeback grinders overall.

    It seems that you should become a reporter in the poker world, your bloggers might find more respect for you if you play something other than a rigged WTF game than DoNs, either way you have an honest insight (albeit we know your mother reads this, more postsavers plz)

    Return to poker IMO

  5. An excellent post. Very informative.

  6. Dale,

    Great post. Really, what the fuck is going on with pstars. I just got my "admin credit" for all the DoN cheating by those moron chinese, and it is so paultry considering i have no idea how many of my games were altered by their play. Its very disconcerting to read all this crap happening online, Its hard enough for a donk like me to make money as it is.
    did anyone else get credits for the whole DoN thing?

  7. Awesome informative post, please it keep it coming.