Monday, April 20, 2015

Lock Down

Among the weekend poker news was the report that Lock Poker, for a good while one of the more conspicuous “rogue” online poker sites continuing to serve U.S. players post-Black Friday, went offline sometime last Friday.

John Mehaffey first reported for U.S. Poker that the site had gone down on Saturday, although over the last few weeks it had become something of a ghost site with only a handful of players at a time. Others reported on the shutdown as well, which appears also to include that “SuperWins” site that popped up about a year ago as a surreptitious skin of Lock.

While there hasn’t been a lot of activity on Lock of late, the site has remained well within the poker community’s consciousness thanks to the site having become increasingly unreliable with processing withdrawals, then finally becoming altogether unresponsive to all withdrawal requests. Mehaffey notes how troubles withdrawing date back to late 2012, with the site not having processed any withdrawal requests at all since April 2014.

He lists “$10-$15 million” as an estimate of how much sits in Lock Poker accounts, although I’ve seen some guessing the total to be even higher. Or should I say nominally sits in those accounts, as the money surely is long gone, having been either spent or otherwise purloined by the site’s owners. (And some percentage of it probably never was anything more than “phantom” funds to start with, thinking of alleged payouts in freerolls, overlays being allegedly covered, and so on.)

Never has a site been more appropriately named, a fact I’ve already exploited more than once here in posts from 2013 punningly titled “Put Your Funds on Lock Poker (And Throw Away the Key)” and “Lock’s Stock in Peril.”

Those posts were written two years ago, and it’s amazing to think the site continued to function for so long afterwards with players continuing to deposit as the ability to withdrawal gradually diminished and then ceased altogether. There was a regulator for Lock -- Curaçao eGaming -- although they obviously weren’t acting legitimately in any way to ensure against the ongoing thievery. (In fact, Mehaffey notes the license with Curaçao is still valid.)

When I peeked over on Twitter earlier tonight it was interesting to see some back-and-forthing among some whom I follow regarding how much sympathy should be given to those losing money on Lock, with some taking the position players foolish enough to risk playing there -- especially after the troubles began in earnest -- got what they deserved.

Others are pointing out how some affiliates continued to advertise for Lock, with Card Player being the most conspicuous culprit after having continued to host banners and direct players to sign up and deposit up until May 2014. The assorted Lock Poker “pros” who continued to be associated with the site well after it became apparent to many it was not trustworthy are catching some heat again as well as they did before.

Some were surely encouraged to play on the site by Card Player and other affiliates, and perhaps by the pros, too, although their influence was likely less extensive. Anyhow, enough of the unwitting were hoodwinked to keep things going over there, even if only barely, up until Friday.

It’ll amount to a sad, belated postscript to all of the other scandals and disappointments that form the narrative of the fall of U.S. Online Poker 1.0. That story still continues with a few more lingering sites and Bovada (formerly Bodog) having gathered momentum of late as the currently most popular “rogue” site. According to PokerScout, Bovada (whose traffic has to be estimated) is now more popular than Full Tilt and PartyPoker, even, in terms of the number of active cash players.

With the story of U.S. Online Poker 2.0 starting so sluggishly and without much inspiration, the finish of the prequel continues to be more interesting, even if anticlimactic.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Bovada is not without its own cash-out problems. Although my check has always gone through, last time it was on a bank in Indonesia or some place and that bank charged me $60 for my deposit to go through to my bank. $60 to cash its own check? Gimme a break.

4/21/2015 3:05 PM  

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