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Steve R

Lock Poker and surrogates finally address forum controversy

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For the better part of 2013 –and for some people going back years—Lock Poker has been widely criticized on a number of issues, chief among them the extremely slow withdrawal speed the site has been plagued by. As wait times for checks have stretched from weeks to months the poker world has been asking questions, and questioning the financial solvency of one of the largest US-facing online poker sites.

For the most part these criticisms have been addressed by Lock Poker representative Shane Bridges, who does most of his communication via the 2+2 poker forum. Unfortunately, Shane’s responses have been far too vague and lacking in details for some of the 2+2 community, which has led to speculation, accusations, and numerous potshots being fired by both sides. But now it seems other Lock Poker representatives and some of the sponsored poker pros have started to weigh-in on the site’s unacceptable transaction times, and also at the more vocal critics of Lock Poker.

Before I get to the latest developments let me trace the path Lock Poker followed to being such a major player in the US online poker market, and also the “enemies” it has accrued along the way.

A Brief History of Lock Poker

Prior to Black Friday Lock Poker was simply just another online poker room plugging along on a US-facing network. The site had done a good job positioning itself as an alternative to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker by assembling a pretty good team of sponsored poker pros and really pushing the Lock Poker brand at a number of poker media sites. Once Black Friday hit and PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were booted from the US, Lock Poker’s marketing efforts started paying immediate rewards and the site was responsible for around 50% of the traffic at the Merge Gaming Network according to reports.

Despite their post-Black Friday success, Lock and Merge had a number of issues, eventually leading to the two entities parting ways, with Lock Poker joining/buying the Cake Poker Network and rebranding it the Revolution Gaming Network. With Lock’s player base and the existing Cake players the network jumped to the #1 spot pretty quickly, despite some issues with rolling out a new software overhaul and amidst multiple allegations that had persisted since the site’s unfortunate signing of Jose “Girah” Macedo.

Problems at Lock Poker and Critics

The first problem for Lock Poker was the signing of Jose Macedo (who turned out to be a total fraud), as the young Portuguese “con-man” brought not one but two scandals to Lock’s doorstep. First Macedo won the Bluff Challenge, where the top earning player at Lock Poker over a month was given a sponsorship deal, a WSOP buy-in and some other perks including a Bluff Magazine feature story. Well, it turned out Macedo didn’t win the contest on the up-and-up (the official reason at the time was that he let someone use his account) and was disqualified.

Later it was learned that Macedo was a complete fake, and not only was he letting other people use his account, but he also was involved in chip-dumping to win the Bluff Challenge (which he was stripped of days after winning) with Haseeb Qureshi, a backer of Macedo at the time. Eventually Macedo’s crimes would extend to hacking other players computers, and his time at Lock Poker came to an end, but the damage had already been done to Lock’s brand, and the site was now on the radar of several poker truth-seekers like Todd “DanDruff” Witteles.

Lock would have even a bigger problem on their hands when a new promotion where players would get a casino bonus without a play-through that was later rescinded. The gist of the promotion was that Lock Poker players would earn an extra 20% rakeback which would be delivered into their Lock Casino account, but when players attempted to withdraw these funds they found they did have a play-through requirement. This promotion (ostensibly created to poach players from other Merge skins) seems to have been the genesis of the Lock Poker/Merge split roughly one year later.

But, even before any of these incidents came to light it seems that Calvin Ayre had his problems with Lock Poker and owner Jennifer Larson, evidenced by this 2010 post on his website: http://calvinayre.com/2010/12/04/pok...er-case-study/

Other major critics of the site have been the owner of the affiliate website 4flush.com and the owner of SitnGogrinders.com and HUSNG.com Ryan “RyPac13” Pachmeyer, both of whom are well respected affiliates and members of the poker community.

There are some other allegations and circumstantial evidence against the site as well (you can read most of these allegations here but keep in mind this is the anti-Lock Poker point of view from Todd Witteles):

Nowadays, Lock’s major problem is with their extremely slow payments. The problem has grown to the point where Lock Poker pros were being publicly called out on social media and on poker forums, and finally after months of nary a word, voices other than Shane Bridges have been heard on the Lock Poker side. Regardless of which side is right or wrong, once you go into damage control like Lock Poker has, it’s a hard to climb out of that hole and shed their now acquired reputation.

Another recent issue has been Lock Poker’s decision to require a play-through for P2P transfers for certain affiliate accounts. According to critics this is because the site is broke and can’t pay, while Lock Poker contends that people are causing the panic to drive the price of Lock Poker money lower (it’s now under $.50 on the dollar) so they could buy tens-of-thousands of dollars of it and pose as affiliates to get the money off the site quickly...

Here is an explanation from Lock Poker that was given to Gambling911.com (which should be noted is a pro-Lock Poker website): http://www.gambling911.com/poker/loc...ud-050313.html

The question will likely be answered very soon as Melanie Weisner and other Lock Poker pros/representatives have indicated that the site is expecting to have all cashier issues fixed by June. So, apparently in just a few weeks we’ll find out if Lock Poker was the victim of some unfortunate bad luck and circumstances beyond their control that they can put behind them, or if they are in fact on the verge of collapse.

Here is Lock Poker Representative and PokerForums.org owner G9OLT’s explanation:

“Its a giant panic. I know of a few members on 2+2 with multiple 2+2 accounts and multiple lock accounts that where using scare tactics to drive the price low, so they could buy tens of thousands worth of money… They where posing as an affiliate so they could also get away with no play through requirements and also sped through cash outs.

"Problem is this was only possible due to Locks cashout times. But I know 2 months ago I cashed out $4k and it took near 6 weeks. Then last month I cashed out $6k on the 15th, and it was in my neteller by the 18th. Which is a massive improvement. I don't have the exact info on what happened to cause the slow down, but I have a feeling it was a problem with a batch or 2 that made it look like everyone was delayed when it wasn't. Same way as it looks like everyone who transfered funds now can't withdraw, when infact its only a very few people. And will only be those who where abusing Lock p2p system that will have problems trying to get the funds off. If you weren't doing anything dodgy you have nothing to worry about."

You can read Melanie Weisner’s response on 2+2 here, and the entire thread on the matter with several Lock Poker responses here: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29...1/index15.html

Author’s Note: Regardless of what happens, Lock Poker’s inability to properly communicate with the poker community should be a lesson to all the other poker rooms out there. I know and respect many of the principles involved on both sides, and have empathy for people on both sides of this argument. People like Todd Witteles have invested a lot of time and energy into investigating Lock Poker, and although I don’t always agree with the conclusions he draws or the way he conveys his displeasure with “potential” wrongdoing (with an ends justify the means type of approach), this type of investigative work should be welcomed in the poker community.

Updated May 5th, 2013 at 05:17 AM by Steve R

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  1. hotshott74's Avatar
    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next couple. Thankfully, I am just a bystander watching in this situation. From what I can see the Lock Pro's aren't doing themselves any favours in the thread over on 4, other than Moorman1... Hopefully, it all is sorted out for the sake of those who have funds on the site and the online poker community...
    Updated May 7th, 2013 at 08:36 PM by hotshott74
  2. Steve R's Avatar
    I've steered clear of it because all I want to say "PUMP THE BRAKES!" Nobody in the thread really has any idea what is going on as its all speculation about what support meant by saying this or that, or what this or that signifies, but every single one "knows 100%".

    Plus too many of them have been wrong in the past. If 10-20 people were abusing the P2P transfers (as Lock says) that would be pretty much be every instigator in the thread vilifying them (+Druff). Nobody without an agenda has chimed in with anything useful as far as I can tell on either side.

    It sucks how quickly it goes from "they did x, y, and z, we should look into this" to "our money is gone" "everyone needs to quit". too much reading into what is being said and looking for the slightest inaccuracy and not enough critical thinking going on.

    I say Pump the Brakes. Nobody should deposit on the site until its straightened out.