Dozens of PokerStars Spin & Go players received a batch of unexpected refunds recently following what’s been described as a “violation” of the site’s Terms of Service.
Rumblings of an issue involving PokerStars’ lottery-style games started to make waves online at the close of April after a number of high volume players reported receiving a significant refund.
Most notable was delijesever1 who made a post on TwoPlusTwo explaining that he received an unexpected refund of more than $1,000 which, he concluded, meant “something really big happened.”
Being a regular in the site’s $60 Spin & Go tournaments, delijesever1 is used to receiving small refunds around the $10 mark since his volume is so high that he often comes across situations other players might not.
However, a refund of $1,000+ was a sign that there must have been a serious breach of PokerStars’ rules over a sustained period of time.
Those suspicions were confirmed earlier this week after dozens of players received similar refunds accompanied by an email from PokerStars.
“PokerStars has become aware of a situation involving a violation of our Terms of Service, to the potential detriment of other players. You participated in games that were under consideration in this case and as a result, you may have been adversely affected,” read the start of the email.
Although PokerStars’ security team is yet to divulge any more information about the incident and, in particular, how the perpetrators were able to manipulate the system, some players suspect that data mining could be involved.
A forum post by kanadai Magyar on April 28 highlighted the possibility of players purchasing hand histories (a practice that’s prohibited) and then watching dozens of Spin & Go tournaments in order to gain an unfair insight into certain player’s tendencies.
Although the player acknowledged that removing the viewing feature from Spin & Go tournaments wouldn’t solve the problem, they did suggest it does raise a number of interesting questions.
“What if I lost one of my two $1,500 spins to a person using data mining information? Tough luck? What if someone lost a million spin to a data miner? Tough luck?” wrote kanadai Magyar.
Data mining has been a longstanding issue in the online poker community and, despite PokerStars and other sites trying to combat the problem, it’s one that still persists today. Although virtually every site, including PokerStars, has outlawed the use of data mining software, people appear to be finding ways around the current detection methods.
However, what the latest news does show is that security teams are becoming more adept at spotting these sorts of issues, but whether or not this will completely eradicate further problems remains to be seen.