Ghosting is not part of poker and has to be banned
Ghosting, and its close relative in the poker world, collusion, were among the big talking points this week – a video of Germany’s top players in action showing many in the community don’t quite understand the rules or don’t like them.
What is Ghosting?
First up, a quick explanation of ghosting for those new to the term:
Ghosting is when one player gives advice to another during a tournament or cash game, either in person or often nowadays via Skype or TeamViewer.
This breaks the one player to a hand ethic that underpins poker. But because it is so difficult to police in online poker that the rules are difficult to enforce.
Collusion is basically when two or more people at the table are actively working together to take chips and/or money from the other players – as we saw in this week’s article.
And so to this week’s video of Fedor Holz, Steffen ‘Go0se.Core!’ Sontheimer and Stefan ‘baeks22’ Schillihabelgrinding last year’s SCOOP & partypoker Powerfest.
It’s not unusual for players to share a grindhouse or team venue, especially during the big series. But it is unusual to see live streams and being able to watch the players chatting and sharing the highs and lows of big events.
Though an old event, one 2plus2 forum user stumbled upon it and raised the question: ‘Back in the days when I was playing, this was called “ghosting” and strictly forbidden.
He added: ‘Just out of curiosity: Is it legal nowadays? If not, should it be legal? Do you think they should be banned or anything?’
Of course, these players are among the best in the world – and have no need or desire to do anything against the rules to win – but to the outsider, it looks like a setup that is open to abuse.
Another video doing the rounds recently had tongues wagging about possible ghosting, collusion, and basically every other question a poker player might imagine…
I've got a lot of questions about this poker grind house pic.twitter.com/HJRhdiiZSP
— Joey Ingram 🇲🇽🇲🇽🇲🇽 (@Joeingram1) April 18, 2020
A common practice in stables
That has been an accusation leveled at many ‘stables’ over the years, with at least one unnamed stable accused of having mandatory ghosting in their terms and conditions for membership.
Ghosting, at its extreme, sees a more experienced player take over in the final stages of a tournament to maximize the win/cash rate.
Again, in online poker that is almost impossible to police, as another long-time reg and forumite intimated.
‘Back in the day, it was even totally common for coaches to ghost their students during live play. That stopped at some point or at least things weren’t broadcasted out in the open anymore.
‘Stars always said taking over another account is a big no-no. However, we can’t police if there is more than one person sitting in front of the screen.’
One backing stable spoke out about accusations a year or two ago, explaining why they wouldn’t allow ghosting.
“It’s well known that we don’t ghost our players. Ghosting is -EV for us. When you play your own final tables, you learn from your mistakes, and you improve over time. When you’re ghosted, someone else is doing the learning.”
Naturally, not everyone is as ethical as this – poker having produced at least its fair share of dubious characters over the years.
The sites do the best they can to monitor play for things such as ghosting or collusion, PokerStars spelling out their policy as below…
And PartyPoker with similar Terms of Service as part of their Fair Play ethos, stating: “We have a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate play and fraudulent activity.”
Recently a high-profile case appeared, the 2018 WCOOP Main Event winner ‘Wann2play’ disqualified and suspected to be multi-accounting.
Possible ghosting was also a theory behind the expensive DQ. Although sites rarely if ever give detailed reasons to the poker community for such decisions.
This one, however, cost the anonymous account $1.35million. Pokerstars redistributed the funds to the other players, with Argentinian pro Ezequiel ‘Eze88888’Waigel promoted to champion.
What should the average player who sits alone playing online – that is, the vast majority of players – think about such set-ups? At the very least, it has to make them uncomfortable.
Of course, the German superstars would be aghast at the thought of people discussing them in any such terms. However, perhaps streaming group sessions isn’t the best idea.
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