Sunday, August 19, 2007

One IP Address Per Internet Tourney?

[Cal again, checking in from Thunder Bay--]

Another day, another cheating -- or at least unethical -- scandal erupting at pocketfives. This one centers on Texas player Aaron Been, who has been accused of trying to buy an account of an acquaintance that had run deep in one of the major tournaments, an event that Been himself had also entered to play, but had busted out from early on.

This is multi-accounting in its latest form, and as explored last time, it's become a factor at the highest levels. Been was exposed after the player whose account he tried to buy was offended enough to share the story with his friends, one of whom then relayed the tale to the pocketfives forum amid the account-buying and -sharing scandal. Been, already associated with the JJProdigy and gbmantis crowd, joined the discussion soon enough, with this:

Ok guys about a million people linked me to this anyway I recognized a guy I knew from Stars/UB was deep in some big tournament and wanted a % of the action so I talked to him and he wasn't interested in selling or ghosting or anything so I just said GL. I'll come right out and say I've been on the phone with people in the Stars million before.

After Jeff took over that guy's Stars Million it's always seemed like a good idea to me. I've also had people over playing at my house every weekend since I moved to Vegas and I've traded anywhere from 5% to 50% and sat behind them to give advice. We've had a few big scores and I think debating who made the final decision ala plattsburgh is sort of pointless. I also played the last few tables of a tournament for one of the most popular posters here before we all went out to a club.

I've lived in apartments and hotels with Poker players for several years and PokerStars will verify that I've always sent in my IDs and I've never had multiple accounts. So the Chris Savage moral police can call me a cheater all they want but you're not going to see any of my accounts closed because I haven't broken any rules. I will continue to have no moral objection to buying others action or selling my advice (or even selling my action or buying advice) as long as sites continue to allow it and I think they should continue to allow it because as Lee Jones said, unenforceable rules are not a good idea.

One can laugh at the references to the "Chris Savage moral police" and the mandatory mention of patron saint Lee Jones, but it turned out that Been was likely a bit less than forthright. The following post appeared later in the thread:

Okay -- AaronBeen is telling you all BS and I'm not gonna be quiet on this. F that.

He asked JaspudUF to take over his account in the FTP 400k on 6/10/2007. He said he had a group of players to take over and he'd log off and be done. He wasn't buying a piece, he was buying the account.

Jaspud sent me the PMs. He is a good friend of mine and probably the guy I hung out with the most while out in Vegas. He was pretty insulted by them asking to take over his account, as he's an awesome player with good scores.

I was going to keep my mouth shut, but I'm not letting people openly lie about the situation when I saw everything with my own two eyes.

BTW -- Jaspud took 5th for a little over 24k.

Others soon comfirmed pieces of this part of the tale. Been has since, in the virtual sense, taken a flyer from this particular pocketfives discussion.

The problem with the sharing and the purchasing of accounts, of course, is that it's a blatant attempt to disguise the real identity of the the player behind that avatar. One notes the irony in the fact that a lot of the players doing the complaining are dedicated users of real-time software programs such as PAHUD and/or tournament-result databases across the web, again an example of the sliding scale of personal ethics. As for account purchasing, rumors are now circulating about three or four well known teams involved in this sort of manipulation on a very frequent basis, one of which is this circle involving JJ Prodigy, gbmantis, stealthmunk and others.

So how to prevent it? Some have suggested that a clampdown on money transfers is the way to fix the situation, but that's an attack on the symptom, rather than the problem itself. The direct solution is not allow an account to be played from one IP (Internet Protocol) address early in the tourney, and then be moved to a second or third address later on. The ability to move from one computer to another during a tournament was designed as a fail-safe for players who suffered power outages, allowing another player to sit in for them until an original connection could be restored.

However, as with so many things, something created with good intent for the majority of honest players is being abused by a narrow, young minority with highly dubious ethics. It's clearly not worth the tradeoff if the system is going to be abused in that matter. Better that power or internet-service outages just be treated as random occurrences, a bad beat associated with the format of the game itself. At least by forcing players to play the entire tournament from their original computers, they could nip the account-selling problem in the bud.

Unfortunately, all players would have to suffer because of the actions of a few. But it still seems a wiser fix.

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