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Chili Poker, VC Poker: No Sharks Allowed

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jan/30/2010

There has been plenty of controversy within the online poker community these days regarding online poker rooms that have systematically been getting rid of winning players.  Among the chief culprits, the iPoker Network.  It's VC Poker and Chili Poker online rooms are among the most vocal when it comes to this policy.

Certain customers of VC Poker, which is a subsidiary of British bookmaker Victor Chandler, received an email notifying of their account closures.

Chili Poker CEO Alexandre Dreyfus suggests that the new "no sharks" poker policy will provide an "eco-system that will bring in good players".

"I think that all iPoker licensees (direct or indirect) are agree to have better rules for the network to help to have a looser (less tight) network," said Dreyfus.

The Chili Poker CEO is not entirely convinced that the new trend will work for all online poker rooms.

"We still thinking that this ratio is not perfect and doesn't fit to all DNA of poker websites. But a least, we agree on the aim and the goals, so all poker-rooms have to work together".

iPoker is not the only online poker network engaging in practices of chasing away winners.  Both Microgaming (the 9th largest online poker network) and Bodog (the world's 15th largest room) have been moving more in this direction according to various reports on the Net, though the later may be a bit more subtle in its approach.

Microgaming has issued statements that it looks to prevent so-called "data mining" in its online rooms. Hand histories on observed tables will no longer be stored on players' computers and the practice of downloading and storing hand histories in bulk will be stopped.

Andrew Clucas, Head of Poker at Microgaming Software Systems, commented: "Concern has been rising over the long-term effect of third party software upon the poker industry as a whole, and in particular the negative effect it has on the recreational player demographic. The decision to put a stop to the practice of datamining on the Poker Network is part of Microgaming's overarching network strategy to support operators in attracting and retaining recreational players. It further demonstrates commitment in providing a secure and fair playing environment.

"I would like to emphasize that with this change, as with the change to Weighted Contribution, Microgaming is not seeking to alienate its winning players. There has been a move in the industry towards penalising winners; we believe that is the wrong approach. There will always be winners and losers in poker. What we are trying to achieve is a more level playing field for all the players."

Some see the Microgaming move as a good one.  Operators have long complained to Gambling911.com that the Microgaming Network was "full of sharks".

There was even an argument raised recently that high stakes poker players like Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius should be banned from playing in online poker rooms.  One Gambling911.com reader commented that this might be impossible considering they appear to have an "ownership stake" in the world's second largest room, Full Tilt Poker. 

Bill Rini of Bill's Poker Blog claims that the two poker pros are "sharks" and "net withdrawers".

Rini writes:

"They (Ivey and Antonius) are bad for the site and should clearly be banned if you listen to iPoker who gave Blonde Poker three months notice to find a new network because they had too many winning players."

One Gambling911 reader argued: "Poker rooms earn a commission of rake from their players, it makes no difference if their players win or lose, as long as they play. Having pros on the site makes no difference. The only way it hurts a skin is if they give the pro all the rake back, or they pay players (props) to play. The room itself is not losing money since they only get a % of the rake that their players contribute. It is not the skins money that is being wagered with. the skin just collects the commission from the rake. In a nutshell!!"

The issue of fish vs. sharks in online poker rooms will most certainly remain a hot button topic throughout 2010 as more online "skins" find it difficult to sustain the rather substantial payout vs. take ratio.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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