A few weeks ago, one of the latest cryptocurrency-based online poker sites, CoinPoker, had its real money tables go live and to celebrate, the site is running a couple of generous promotions. Unfortunately, according to GameIntel Managing Editor and PartTimePoker.com writer Alex Weldon, it appears that those promos are contributing to artificially-inflated player traffic at the site.
At most online poker rooms, a great promotion usually leads to boosted player traffic, so on the surface, the situation at CoinPoker might look normal. But when Weldon checked out the CoinPoker tables for an article topic for GameIntel, he thought the place looked even busier than expected. He ran it by the Gameintel’s owner, Dan Stewart, who agreed something was amiss.
Writing his full story at PartTimePoker, Weldon said that CoinPoker’s traffic patterns aren’t following the norm for the industry. Typically, a poker room will see its traffic peak at night in the time zone(s) where it has the most customers, when players are home and have time to play. CoinPoker’s peak, suggestive of players concentrated in southeast Asia, is stretched out and “makes sudden jumps of 100 seats or more, upwards or downwards, often with very little change in between.”
These jumps also coincide with drastic changes in the percentage of full tables, from a fairly normal 80% or so, down to less than 50%. During those periods when the percentage is high, all the full tables have significant waiting lists. During those periods when it’s low, most of the partially-filled tables have the same number of users, which is often 5/6 seats filled during peak hours.
Looking more closely at the tables, Weldon observed that most of the tables were occupied by the same small group of players. He thought this might be normal, as those interested in playing at CoinPoker were also likely very dedicated players, so seeing them multi-table as much as they were could be explained.
But then he saw that they were all playing at least 20 tables at a time, which is…a lot. One player with the screen name “1st” played at 42 tables for at least eight consecutive hours. That’s basically an impossible feat.
It appeared to Weldon that this bizarre traffic pattern was explained by CoinPoker’s promos. One is that all games are rake free. The other is a leader board race with three stake tiers and weekly and monthly giveaways of CoinPoker’s proprietary cryptocurrency, CHP. Five million CHP are to be awarded, an amount that is worth about $125,000. To have their hands counted, players must voluntarily contribute to 10 percent of pots.
The players Weldon observed played at the minimum stakes for each of the leader board levels and each level had the number of players at the tables (though different names). The betting patterns of the massively multi-tabling players seemed to indicate automated decision making. The players also always bought-in for 40 big blinds and rarely let their stacks get above 200 big blinds. This reeked of soft-play, as the players could just move chips around the table to each other, without fear of getting whittled away by rake, while contributing the required 10 percent to qualify for the leader board promo.
These players are bots.
Weldon got in contact with CoinPoker to ask about the players in question, but received little to no response. He also asked about what security measures were in place to detect and stop bots and collusion and received no response. It does not appear that CoinPoker is doing anything to stop what’s going on and whether the site wants to or not is in question.
Weldon goes on to discuss why this is even more of a problem that it otherwise would be because of CoinPoker’s business model, but rather than elaborating here, we encourage you to read his piece in its entirety.