Patrick Leonard Invites Poker Ambassadors to Action

Patrick Leonard

5 minutes

Last Updated: January 9, 2024

As a new year beckons, the online poker industry is in a bit of an interesting spot. On the one hand, interest in poker seems to be at an all-time high, but on the other, a variety of scandals have shaken the players’ confidence with online poker sites in recent weeks.

Patrick Leonard, one of the most influential voices in the online poker arena these days, posted a video just a few days ago in which he spoke out to the poker community as a whole, but poker ambassadors in particular.

Previously a Partypoker ambassador himself, Leonard was adamant in not singling out any particular poker operator or their ambassadors, but rather addressing everyone in the industry and speaking on the issues of cheating in poker.

The video was a call to poker site ambassadors to take responsibility for their words and actions, and prompted a great debate among players and fans of all calibers, a debate certainly worth having.

With a series of poker scandals breaking out over the last couple of weeks, the importance of game integrity and responsibility among poker operators and ambassadors has been in the focus, with Leonard simply bringing more attention to some important points.

What’s Been Said?

In the video he posted on January 4, the 2023 WCOOP Player of the Year spoke to poker players of all calibers, poker operators, and ambassadors.

A clearly shaken Patrick Leonard spoke in quite a heated manner about the state of the poker industry, likely referring to a number of cheating scandals which have shaken the poker world in recent weeks.

Leonard made it clear that he believes players are being treated very unfairly by the operators and their ambassadors when such scandals come to light and that the amount of respect being given to the poker community is very low.

He went on to address the ambassadors who continue to take paychecks from operators and poker apps who do very little to ensure player safety and don’t respect the players they are supposed to be catering to.

Furthermore, Leonard addressed the operators, saying that it is their responsibility to make the players whole in cases of cheating and refund the money they lost, regardless of whether the money has been withdrawn or not.

Response by the Poker Community

As is usually the case, the poker community had some split opinions about Leonard’s video, with a portion of the players fully supporting him, others calling him out as an ex-ambassador himself, and some agreeing only in part.

Among those standing in support of Patrick Leonard were the well-known social justice warrior Justin Bonomo and Game of Gold champion Maria Ho, both of whom reiterated that the poker community must stand together and fight for better security in online poker.

Matt Glantz, on the other hand, stated that he agrees with Leonard 100%, but that it is idealistic to think that ambassadors would quit their jobs or work against their own interest in such situations. According to Glantz, that’s just the reality in pretty much any industry.

Many others, including well-known poker pros and plenty of recreational players, were quick to pitch in, with the post receiving over 600,000 views in just three days.

What Was Leonard Referring To?

In case you have not been around throughout the holiday season, you may find it a bit surprising that a player of Leonard’s caliber, and a former Partypoker ambassador himself, is coming out to speak on issues of security and integrity in online poker at this time.

However, the video comes in the wake of two major cheating scandals, both of which came to light over the last couple of weeks.

While Leonard remained adamant in claiming he is not singling out any poker site or referring to any scandal in particular, these scandals certainly prompted him to speak out.

In the last days of 2023, the poker world was shaken by a cheating scandal on GGPoker, as it was revealed a player on the world’s biggest poker site was able to see the winning equities in real time during hands, allowing him to win over $50,000 over a short period of time.

GGPoker banned the player and issued a statement about the situation, but the matter of online poker security was brought into focus.

Just days later, a Two Plus Two post once again brought into light the matter of a suspected botting ring at ACR Poker, which has allegedly won more than $10,000,000 on the site over the last few years.

In the case of ACR Poker, we saw their lead ambassador Chris Moneymaker take to Twitter and issue a challenge to the poker world to create a working bot on their platform, but the language there was certainly more defensive than apologetic, with Moneymaker continually saying he has full faith in ACR and their security team.

ACR Cancels Its Bot Challenge

What Happens Next?

The current state of affairs in online poker is quite complex, and while the issues Leonard spoke on all very much exist, it is difficult to see how they will be resolved on a major scale.

Perhaps the biggest issue in terms of security and integrity is regulation, with sites like ACR or Ignition, which many American players see as their only opportunity to play online poker, not being monitored by the major gaming regulators at all.

What’s even more, the advancing technology and the growing understanding of Texas Hold’em as a game has allowed many tech-savvy individuals to create poker software that can help them win through RTA, botting, and other means.

The truth is that cheating in poker will never stop and those inclined to cheat will always look for new ways to get around the system and rig the games in their favor.

It is for this reason that poker ambassadors must be on the side of players and help the operators they represent put better security measures in place and fight cheaters at every step.

We can only hope that the next time a cheating scandal breaks out we will see ambassadors actively invite the operators they represent to handle the problem more seriously, or even quit their posts altogether, as was the case with a number of PokerStars ambassadors back when the operator decided to suspend the Supernova Elite player rewards system.

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