There have been several incidents related to game security on the Merge Gaming Network. The incidents call into question the ability for Merge Gaming to police their games, and their ability to detect and punish cheaters.
AJB4 Multi Accounting and/or Colluding
Six weeks ago I wrote a detailed story for Online Poker Sites about alleged cheating in Merge Gaming Pot Limit Omaha High/Low multi table tournaments followed by chip dumping in heads up sit and gos. Art Beauchamp, known in the online poker world as AJB4, was accused by several players of chip dumping and colluding in multi table tournaments. Accounts that were closely related to Beauchamp were playing abnormally against him, then after tournament wins, there would be chip dumping in heads up sit and gos. The accounts 444AJB, Passthesalsa, and HalKatB, would only play tournaments with each other. They all took the same days off, and in the end, Passthesalsa and HalKatB would dump chips heads up directly or indirectly to 444AJB.
Two Plus Two poster Gunth0807 contacted Merge Gaming about his suspicions. Merge Gaming replied in less than a day that there was no evidence of cheating. Sharkscope and tournament hand histories proved otherwise. It appeared that Merge Gaming did not even bother to investigate, especially considering how much more information they should have had about these players and their games together.
After the Two Plus Two thread started, more players posted evidence. It became more and more obvious that something shady was going on. Merge Gaming contacted AJB4 and they agreed he could not play in the same tournaments with the accused accounts. That punishment, or lack thereof, angered players. It appears that eventually all of the accounts were closed after the backlash from the poker community. Players never received refunds and Merge Gaming has yet to publicly discuss the issue.
DMARGARITA, Roundtripper and GummyBearz Accused of Colluding in $20 Double or Nothings
On January 12, Two Plus Two poster dankhank posted his suspicions about collusion in Double or Nothing sit and gos. Dankhank accused DMARGARITA, Roundtripper, and GummyBearz of colluding within these tournaments. The allegations are that these players would only enter the same tournaments with each other, and would soft play and chip dump when needed in the tournaments. The GummyBearz account just happens to belong to the Two Plus Two poster Roundtripper.
Most of the evidence is in images. I invite readers to visit the thread that I linked to to see the images. This one most worth seeing is here. Note that both players in that image played in the exact Double or Nothing sit and gos. Each screen would be identical if Roundtripper had not misclicked and entered a Super Turbo sit and go. The players have stopped playing together, but it does not appear that the player’s accounts were closed. Merge Gaming has refused to make a public statement or make refunds here either.
Girah and The Bluff Pro Challenge
The biggest incident in the past year involved Jose “Girah” Macedo. Another player admitted to chip dumping $100,000 to help him with the Bluff Pro Challenge. In addition to this, multiple players were using the winning account during the Bluff Pro Challenge. Missing a $100,000 chip dump during a promotion and multiple players logging in on the same account is terrible and there is no excuse for that. There was a lot of suspicion from players, but it it took the chip dumper coming forward for this to fully come out. It took months for Lock Poker to finally admit the fraud.
Be Aware Merge Gaming Tables Are Not Secure
I have removed all Merge Gaming skins from my recommended list due to the lack of security in their games, the lack of refunds to affected players, and the complete lack of communication. U.S. players are making some tough choices as to whether they put up with slow cashouts, rooms closing down without paying and anonymous tables. They should not have to be policing the games for a security department with a poor track record as well. At this point, I would advise against playing for any kind of significant money on the Merge Gaming Network.
Much of the reported cheating took place at $20 tournament tables. If players will cheat and get away with it on $20 tables, they will try it anywhere. There is no telling how many better cheaters there are out there getting away with it. The cheating/chip dumping in the above incidents seems poorly planned and was bound to get caught. If Merge Gaming is not capable of catching these types of cheating without help, what are they catching? If they cannot make the Double or Nothing sit and gos secure, they should remove them as a option. Several other poker rooms have already done that.
What makes the situation even worse is that when poker players have to do their own security work free of charge, Merge Gaming profits from it. That is because when cheating accounts get shut down, Merge Gaming does not disperse the seized money to the players that got cheated. It would appear that they keep it. Not only that, they never had to use their own resources for the investigation. That is an unreasonable reward for having others do their job. I understand they will not catch everything on their own, but when players catch cheaters themselves and do the entire investigation, they should at least get their money refunded.
I know that many Merge representatives know about the above incidents. The problem is that the skins are at the mercy of the network. If the network’s security department is not doing their job, there is little the skins can do. There are a lot of good people involved in the Merge Gaming Network. I did not want to have to post this type of post but it has become overdue. I made it clear to several people that this was coming if the network continued to ignore the problems. It is obvious to me that Merge Gaming’s security department needs to make some serious improvements. Hopefully they know it, and can make their games safer than they are now.