On the Case: Jason Koon Discusses GGPoker Anti-Cheating Initiative

GGPoker's Jason Koon is heading up the company's new Poker Integrity Council and spoke with PokerScout about the anti-cheating effort.

Cheating has been quite a topic of conversation in recent months and GGPoker recently announced its new Poker Integrity Council (PIC) to help combat unethical play. The company hopes to curb collusion, multi-accounting, use of real-time assistance (RTA), and other cheating methods.

The council will now work to decide if a player cheated at the online poker site and what punishment is warranted. ​​ GG ambassador Jason Koon is heading up the council and sees it as a step in the right direction. He recently spoke with PokerScout about GG’s plans.

“For too long cheaters have been able to prosper in poker, as they were well aware that any consequences they faced would be limited to a single site or operator,” he says.

“With PIC, not only do we have a robust approach for catching cheaters backed by the collective knowledge of our voting members, but thanks to the participation of and strong support from our allies, for the first time we will be able to keep the worst cheaters out of poker entirely. This project means a lot to me and I’m truly honored to be a part of it.”

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How does GGPoker’s integrity council work?

Adding to its growing stable of talented ambassadors, GGPoker signed high stakes pro Jason Koon this week to its player ranks.
Jason Koon

Along with Koon, other members of the PIC include well-known pros Andrew Lichtenberger, Fedor Holz, Seth Davies, and Nick Petrangelo. The group will investigate suspicious behavior flagged at GG. The council’s process includes:

  • Detection – The company flags suspicious behavior such as collusion, bot play, use of RTA, or ghosting for review. RTA is a type of software offering players game theory optimal (GTO) guidance as they play a hand in real time. Most online poker operators ban this type of aide.
  • Review – Members review relevant hand histories, with the player remaining anonymous.
  • Ruling – Council members vote on any disciplinary action.

Live poker partners

GGPoker is also partnering with the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, Triton Poker, Poker After Dark, King’s Casino, and the Asian Poker Tour. Koon says the efforts to curb cheating can carry over to the live arena.

“If the PIC determines that players with repeated occurrences of cheating at live events is grounds for investigation, they may be subject to review/investigation,” he says.

Some players may be wondering if there will be any kind of appeals process beyond the council. Koon says that’s not in the plans because of the thoroughness involved with and needed in the process.

“While there will not be any formal process for players to appeal PIC’s decisions,”he says, “actions will only be taken against players when the council is absolutely certain that foul play has occurred.”

Rooting out unethical behavior

This is the industry’s first major effort to find and punish those believed to be cheating. Some major names like Bryn Kenney and Ali Imsirovic were accused of cheating in recent months.

Koon can’t comment on if the council will review any of these specific players. He doesn’t rule it out however.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on any specific individuals,” he says. “However, our first council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1, and the main topic of discussion will be to review and deliberate on the historically most egregious cheaters.”

GG won’t necessarily make banned players known to the public. However, GG will share names of those the council rules against with live tours and operators teaming up with the company in the anti-cheating effort.

“Our goal with PIC is to keep the poker streets clean,” Koon says. “We are not in the business of ‘outing’ or publicly shaming players. The list of blacklisted players will only be shared on a need-to-know basis, for example with our allies.”

Koo also notes that the company is hoping other online poker operators join in with the campaign as well.

“We want PIC to be a truly industry-wide initiative,” he says, “and we are all for other online operators to get on board.”

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Court’s in Session: GGPoker Unveils Poker Integrity Council to Clean Up Game; Jason Koon Leads Effort

GGPoker recently launched the Poker Integrity Council to spearhead an industry-wide effort to help protect the integrity of the game.

GGPoker recently launched the Poker Integrity Council (PIC) to spearhead an industry-wide effort to help protect the integrity of the game.

The company made the announcement on July 5 at the World Series of Poker and hopes to help investigate allegations of cheating, conducting fair reviews, and enforcing sanctions for the most egregious cheaters.

The move comes after some recent cheating allegations involving some of the biggest names in poker. That included allegations of collusion, multi-accounting, real-time assistance (RTA), and other improprieties that are against most online poker operators’ terms of service.

GG ambassador Jason Koon is one of those on the council and looks forward to working with others toward bettering the game.

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“I joined GGPoker with an important objective in mind, to help the GGPoker team make their poker games more secure and fair than ever,” Koon said in a news release.

“It’s an honor to launch the Poker Integrity Council and take another massive step in ensuring online poker is safe for all players. Our long list of allies also means that the wider community will be better protected via the industry-wide blacklist; we’re sending a united message that there’s no place in this game for cheaters.”

Steps in the GGPoker integrity review process

The move by GG comes after significant debate in the industry regarding security efforts. Some have favored an outright blacklist of cheaters. Others believe it’s simply up to operators themselves to police rogue players.

GG’s Poker Integrity Council is composed of some well-known players and includes:

  • Jason Koon
  • Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger
  • Fedor Holz
  • Seth Davies – Run It Once
  • Nick Petrangelo – Upswing Poker

The group will independently investigate suspicious behavior flagged at the site’s online tables, according to GG. The company has put in place several steps involving cases the council reviews. That includes:

  • Detection – Suspicious behavior such as collusion, bot play, use of RTA, or ghosting is flagged for review. RTA is a type of software offering players game theory optimal (GTO) guidance as they play a hand in real time. This type of aide is banned by most online poker operators.
  • Review – Relevant hand histories, with the player remaining anonymous, are reviewed by Koon and PIC members.
  • Ruling – Council members vote on whether or not disciplinary action is required.

Disciplinary actions

The PIC will consider several options if disciplinary action is warranted. This can include a warning, account suspension, or a permanent GGPoker ban. This could also include a permanent ban combined with confiscation of funds.

In addition, in the most serious cases, a decision can be made to add the player to an industry blacklist. Beyond these, the company has also partnered with other poker operators to punish those who are found to have been cheating. Those companies include:

  • World Series of Poker
  • World Poker Tour
  • Triton Poker
  • Poker After Dark
  • King’s Casino
  • Asian Poker Tour

These groups will then bar blacklisted players from their events. With the inception of the council, GG can review the status of players previously blacklisted from the online poker room upon their request. In certain circumstances GG may remove or reduce the bans currently enforced.

As of now, GG hasn’t announced a player appeals process. Also, GG hasn’t released details on the other groups’ efforts at identifying possible cheating.

It’s unknown if other online operators will be be part of the effort with a similar process. GGPoker will announce more partners in the coming weeks.

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Major Cheating Allegations Against High Rollers Rock Poker World

Allegations of cheating surfaced this week against two high-stakes pros who are some of the biggest names in poker.

Allegations of cheating surfaced this week against two high-stakes pros who are some of the biggest names in poker. All-time live tournament money winning leader Bryn Kenney was accused of cheating online by one of his former staked players.

Poker pro Alex Foxen also accused Ali Imsirovic of cheating at the recent Super High Roller Bowl. He’s also alleged to have colluded online as well.

Neither player has commented so far, but the allegations brought plenty of discussion among players this week.

Collusion, multi-accounting, and a poker cult

Poker pro Martin Zamani made the allegations against Kenney on Thursday via Twitter and on Doug Polk’s podcast. Kenney staked Zamani in online events along with several other players.

Zamani described a scheme to collude, use multiple accounts, and utilizing RTA (real time assistance) software. All are considered cheating and violations of various sites’ terms of service.

Zamani outlined a scheme to collude and accumulate as much money as possible as a group as part of his accusations.

“The idea is to always do what’s best for the team,” Zamani recalled on the Polk podcast.

Screen captures from Telegram conversations can back up his allegations, Zamani said.

“Brynn knew he was cheating,” Zamani said. “It wasn’t like it was a secret.”

Even more bizarre events are alleged by Zamani. He said Kenney attempted to run his stable as a cult, making his players even see a “shaman.” Some players were subjected to having frog poison put in their bodies and became violently sick.

As noted above, Kenney has yet to comment on Zamani’s claims. Click here for a complete account of the entire story at USPoker.

Accusations also made against Ali Imsirovic

Ali Imsirovic

One of the hottest poker players in live poker over the last few years, Imsirovic has become a regular in high roller events. However, Foxen accused the poker pro of cheating last weekend.

The controversy arose after the Super High Roller Bowl recently. Foxen made note of a hand where it appeared Imsirovic may have intentionally looked at the hand of the player to his left, Paul Phua.

Foxen alleged the move gave Imsirovic an advantage playing from the button only against Phua on the small blind and Michael Addamo on the big blind. Phua folded his hand and Foxen alleged that knowledge of the folded hand helped Imsirovic win the pot.

“Ali is known as a cheater to almost all in the high roller community, however without much ironclad proof, most stay silent,” he Tweeted. “After watching this hand on the SHRB live stream, enough is enough.”

The SHRB hand received a mixed reaction among poker players. Video shows Imsirovic glance down and to the left, but it could be unclear if he meant to look at Phua’s hand.

However, Foxen went on with other accusations as well. He said GGPoker banned Imsirovic for using RTA. He also accused Imsirovic of collusion and multi-accounting.

Imsirovic hasn’t commented on the accusations but was back in action on Wednesday in the PokerGO $25,000 Heads-Up Showdown. He lost in the first round while Foxen also played in the event and advanced to the second round.

Click here for the complete story from USPoker on the allegations against Imsirovic.

Taking caution after online allegations

The allegations against Imsirovic and Kenney have some players cautious of playing at some of the highest stakes online.

“The number of high stakes players I’ve talked with about RTA/colluding/multi-accounting in the last 24 hours has been absolutely mind blowing,” Polk noted on Twitter on Friday.

“All I can say for now is that I would be extremely wary of playing high stakes poker online in today’s environment.”