No Softballs as Chris Moneymaker Fields Tough Questions on “The Chip Race” Podcast

A conversation with the champ

“That’s the softball portion of the interview over,” quipped Dara O’Kearney at the midway point of an interview filled with challenging questions for Chris Moneymaker. The 2003 WSOP Main Event champion was the lead guest on the most recent episode of “The Chip Race” poker podcast and, as expected, there was a lot of discussion about Americas Cardroom (ACR), the poker site that he joined after 17 years as a PokerStars ambassador.

more than its fair share of controversy in recent years

ACR is an unregulated poker site that has been in operation since 2001. It has excellent software and lots of liquidity, but it has also had more than its fair share of controversy in recent years. In June 2021, ACR CEO Phil Nagy publicly apologized following misogynistic comments directed at the girlfriend of a member of the ACR Stormers Twitch team. In January of this year, accusations of a bot ring on the site were met with a botched PR response.

Moneymaker became the face of ACR in 2021 and the site has grown substantially since. There are, however, question marks over the site, especially when it comes to game integrity and security matters. Most of the deposits to ACR are via cryptocurrency. Most of the “Know Your Customer” (KYC) inquiries are carried out by the site when players try to make a withdrawal. With all of this in mind, it was great to have a frank conversation with a man who is known for his straight shooting.

Bad actors

During a 30-minute conversation with myself and co-host Dara O’Kearney, we covered a lot of ground with Moneymaker.

We asked him about his conditions for joining ACR, to which he replied that he had one primary stipulation: that player funds were segregated, which they apparently are. We inquired about KYC, which he acknowledged is not done when ACR onboards customers, but rather when players have big wins or play a lot on the site.

I made clear my own apprehension when it comes to unregulated poker sites and apps, but I also acknowledged the other side of that coin – how unregulated apps and sites are promoting the game and growing the game in territories where the UIGEA and equivalent laws could have killed it otherwise. Moneymaker was sympathetic to my concerns, particularly when it came to the difficulties with money laundering, problem gambling, and site security, but did argue that ACR was doing as much as many regulated sites.

That, of course, begged the question: are all the sites doing enough to protect the game against a myriad of bad actors? The conversation then segued to the existential threats facing our industry in the form of RTA, bots, mass data analysis, and numerous forms of collusion. To be fair, Moneymaker was armed with some details on the ways that ACR combats these problems, but, as was a recurring theme in the interview, he admitted that they could do better.

Bot issues

The inevitable topic of ACR’s bot problem and the bungled response to allegations of said problem came up. On January 3, 2024, TwoPlusTwo forum member “TylerRM” posted his findings related to bots on ACR. Moneymaker posted a video in the days after the accusations, challenging the community to deploy a bot on ACR that could play 5,000 hands undetected, offering a job and a $100,000 reward for the first person to do so.

he credited the community for getting the ball rolling on many of the 100+ investigations

Moneymaker owned the fact that this reaction was “knee-jerk” and poorly thought through. He credited the community for getting the ball rolling on many of the 100+ investigations that have led to bots being detected and money made by them confiscated. He also highlighted ACR’s security partnership with GTO Wizard as evidence of them making good on their pledge to collaborate with industry experts and the player community to ensure the safety and integrity of their platform.

Moneymaker then pointed to some of the recent changes on ACR: the return of player locations and the new anti-collusion PLO re-shuffler feature. ACR has also banned the use of “virtual” machines such as secondary computers, meaning that players have to run the ACR Poker client software from their “native” hard drive. TeamViewer and poker training products that can be re-tooled as RTA is also blocked. Moneymaker also alluded to other detection methods that would have to remain secret.

Nagy’s lack of filter

In another through-line of the interview, Dara and I probed Chris on the culture within ACR and the behavior of its larger-than-life CEO Phil Nagy. Over the years, many of the controversies that ACR has had were because of things said by Phil Nagy, especially his sexist remarks toward Weepro83, an ACR streamer and the girlfriend of his then-employee Ruben Costa. Refreshingly, Moneymaker didn’t hold back in his criticism of his boss, characterizing some of his past behavior as beyond the pale and describing him as “a big kid.”

his mouth just doesn’t have a filter”

“When [Phil] does work, he is fantastic but…one of the constant struggles at ACR is to make sure that he is not joking around too much,” said Moneymaker, adding: “his mouth just doesn’t have a filter.”

A similar lack of self-censorship is in evidence when Nagy posts to social media. “We took the codes [to Twitter] off him…but sometimes he finds his codes,” joked Moneymaker.

Nagy found his codes a couple of weeks ago en route to Jeju for the Triton Highroller Series:

I don’t wish to be puritanical about a post that was clearly intended as a cheeky bit of mature humor, but it wasn’t the greatest advertisement for ACR, nor the “Moneymaker Tour,” a point not lost on Moneymaker himself.

In summary

“Normally people ask ten questions about what it was like to win the Main Event twenty years ago,” said Moneymaker, laughing as the interview concluded. In my opinion, it speaks volumes for Moneymaker how he handled what I hope was a tough but fair interview.

While I think that Moneymaker was well prepared and gave us a very honest and transparent interview, I still have enormous reservations about unregulated poker. In a game that is already risky enough, this adds an additional layer of jeopardy that I would prefer to avoid. Also, aware of how challenging it is for sites in regulated markets, I think there is an inherent unfairness in the competitive advantage that sites like ACR enjoy.

All in all, it was an enjoyable interview and I give a lot of credit to Chris Moneymaker for meeting our questions head-on. I am conscious that an ambassador, even one as big as Moneymaker, is not responsible for the actions of a site or its CEO, but he does represent ACR and he didn’t shrink from any of our questions.

The post No Softballs as Chris Moneymaker Fields Tough Questions on “The Chip Race” Podcast appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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