Back in August, the writing team here at Rakeback.com reported on a ring of Chinese players that were systematically colluding in games on PokerStars to gain an unfair advantage. The cheating was alleged to include hole card sharing, chip dumping, and squeeze plays against innocent, non-colluding competitors. Spurred along by online message board posters, the PokerStars security team unraveled the web of deceit, banned dozens of accounts, and returned nearly $2 million in illicitly obtained funds to the honest players that had borne the brunt of the cheating.
In the intervening months, it would appear that the would-be colluders have continued to give fits to the security department, because the site has now implemented an unprecedented restriction that is clearly meant to stem the tide of unfair cooperative play in the world's most populous country; As per a recent software update, ring games tables on the site are allowed to seat no more than one Chinese player at a time.
Players attempting to take a seat in violation of this rule are given a message which explains that they must wait until their countryman has left the table. The message spins the restriction as a "security feature" that has been "implemented to enhance the integrity of the game." The previous trouble with the Chinese collusion ring is not mentioned at all. In fact, although so far only players accessing PokerStars from China have run into the message, the language is open-ended, referring not to China but to "your country." Presumably, PokerStars is leaving the door open to the possibility of eventually imposing a similar restriction on players from other countries.
Unfortunately, innocent Chinese bystanders are getting caught up in the crossfire. A side-effect of the restriction is that anyone playing from a Chinese IP address will be forced to game select a little bit harder as they dutifully avoid their countrymen at the tables. PokerStars regrets the inconvenience.
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