Darren Woods, a professional poker player who won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2011, has been sentenced to 15 months in jail after having been found guilty of fraud against online poker rooms, payment processors and players.
Woods, who was formerly sponsored by 888poker, plead guilty to nine fraud counts related to events that took place between 2007 and 2012.
According to prosecutors, Woods opened several accounts at various online poker rooms, as well as with some payment processors.
These maneuvers allowed Woods to profit illegally in a number of ways: he was able to have multiple accounts at the same poker tables, thus cheating against other players, while also being able to take advantage of affiliate programs at the payment processors by “recruiting” his alternate accounts to those companies.
“You are an intelligent, able, and even gifted young man, but you turned your talents towards defrauding online gambling companies and cheating other players of online poker,” said Judge Paul Watson QC. “In individual games, other people playing against you stood to lose money because the odds had been rigged in your favor by the creation of multiple identities which were undisclosed to other players.”
For those actions, Woods will not only lose time to a jail sentence, he will also be forced to lose a large sum of money as well.
Woods will be forced to repay Â£1 million ($1.51 million) to his victims, including some of the companies he opened multiple accounts with and many of the players who suffered because of his multi-accounting.
So far, Â£911,217 ($1.38 million) as already been confiscated from the player, and Woods must pay another Â£283,673 to a Gibraltar-based company (the name of the firm was not disclosed) in the next six months.
If he fails to make that payment, he could land in jail for up to an additional six years.
While these punishments may be severe, Gordon Stables, who represented Woods in court, said that the harshest consequences will be felt in the poker world.
“He will not, in future, be welcome at live tournaments,” Stables said. “He used to attend many. He will not, in the future, be welcome on online gaming sites. He will not, in future, receive the sponsorship that he benefited from in the past.”
According to a report in the Grimsby Telegraph, Woods said that while he admitted engaging in collusion, he only did it because other players were doing it as well.
In addition, he said that he felt the sentence he received will make employment either in or out of the poker world difficult for the rest of his life.
“It will be difficult for me to get a job,” Woods said. “Who is going to employ someone with a criminal record for fraud?”
Woods’ father Morteza Gharoon, an Iranian businessman, also pleaded guilty to money laundering charges that landed him a six-month suspended sentence, and will have Â£18,910 he gained from the criminal activity confiscated.
“He doesn’t agree with gambling and it is a matter of regret to him that his son embarked on that skillful course of career,” said Adrian Farrow, who represented Gharoon. “He recognized that his son had that skill.”