Our mission is always to ensure our communities have the best experience, whether that is at our online tables or live, and a part of that is protecting our players from those who seek to damage the poker community, either financially or reputationally. With online poker booming in the post-pandemic world, the industry has recently been looking at improving online and live players’ experiences. In the past few years, operators have been ramping up their efforts to isolate and remove cheaters from their online platforms. However, at least in some cases, those players banned for cheating could still show up and play live events sponsored by the operator that banned them online.
Now, PokerStars is moving to close that loophole, ensuring that any players banned from its online platform will also be banned from playing at PokerStars-sponsored live events like the European Poker Tour (EPT). In the past, PokerStars looked at the specific offense before banning a player from the live game — players whose cheating couldn’t be replicated on the live felt were previously allowed to compete.
However, PokerStars will now apply the ban far more generally. According to the Head of Game Integrity, Francis Lincoln, “Our mission is always to ensure our communities have the best experience, whether that is at our online tables or live, and a part of that is protecting our players from those who seek to damage the poker community, either financially or reputationally.”
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Game Integrity Gaining Prominence
PokerStars is far from the only operator making moves on the game integrity front. Its main rival for the top of the online poker game, GGPoker, recently launched a Poker Integrity Council made up of prominent players from the GGPoker stable like Jason Koon, Andrew ‘LuckyChewy’ Lichtenberger, and Fedor Holz, among others.
Additionally, there has been talk online among pros and operators lately of more general safety measures like a global poker blacklist barring known cheaters from poker no matter where it is played. Partypoker is among the operators pushing the new idea, and pros like Alex Foxen have joined the push.
The latest initiative from PokerStars adds to these efforts and is one of the most comprehensive policies in place at the moment. While PokerStars has banned some online cheaters from its live events for some time, with pokerfuse reporting on the policy as far back as 2014, the new policy extends those bans.
If a player’s actions led to their account being closed for a Game Integrity reason, then none of our players should have to face them again, be it online or live. This new initiative takes it a bit further. In the past, the operator looked at the nature of the infraction to determine whether the cheating involved could happen in a live environment. If it was a method of cheating that was only relevant to online play, the operator was more lenient about allowing those players to participate in live events.
With the new policy, that is set to change. “We will no longer look at whether the reason for the ban makes the player a threat to the live event itself but will take the view that if a player’s actions led to their account being closed for a Game Integrity reason, then none of our players should have to face them again, be it online or live,” Lincoln said about the new rules.
The new rules are designed to improve the PokerStars live tournament experience for its players. While, in the past, they may have had to compete against players who had been banned online, this new policy means that will no longer be the case — every player you meet across the felt at PokerStars live events will have a clean record online with the operator.
While online poker will almost certainly have to find new and innovative ways to ensnare cheaters in its midst, operators are taking the challenge seriously and extending the process into the live poker world. The latest moves from PokerStars will undoubtedly help create a much better environment at its live events by guaranteeing that cheaters will no longer be welcome.