DISCLAIMER #1: This is an editorial, and is strictly the opinion of pokerfraudalert.com. The "facts" presented in this article were deduced in a common-sense fashion from observation of this company's behavior and communications with the public. pokerfraudalert.com is NOT stating any of the below information to have been verified or proven in a court of law, but is rather drawing editorial conclusions from the information available. pokerfraudalert.com is also extending an open invitation to the management of this company to publicly or privately respond to the allegations herein.
DISCLAIMER #2: Lock Poker has since left the Merge Network (which occurred in mid-2012), and bought the old Cake Network, renaming it Revolution Gaming. They are even more shady on their new network, and appear to be broke or very close to it. Even though some of the Merge-related information below is obsolete, it establishes a history of shadiness, and is still interesting reading.
This is the first of a series of reports I'll be doing on various poker companies (mostly online).
If I'm reporting on your company here, it's probably because both you and your company are unethical.
Of course, I'm willing to admit I'm wrong (no, really, I am!), so I welcome representatives of these companies to step forward and defend themselves. I will post retractions and/or apologies if it turns out I've made any wrongful statements.
However, keep in mind that I will never softball questions or accept double-speak responses, so you probably shouldn't bother defending your company unless you're actually legitimate and can back it up with facts.
This report is about Lock Poker, a skin on the Merge Network.
The Merge Network is currently the biggest network in which US residents are allowed to play poker. It's the only network I'm playing on at the moment. It's comprised of a number of "skin" sites, all of which feed into the same games. For example, if you're sitting at a $5/$10 table on Lock Poker, your opponents at the same table might be playing on Hero Poker, Carbon Poker, Black Chip Poker, or one of many other sites.
Lock Poker was originally with the Cake Network. Cake slipped, and eventually became a non-factor. Skins were jumping ship in droves, and Lock was one of them, moving over to Merge. This was in March, 2010.
My first indication that something was wrong at Lock Poker came in the summer of 2010. I had about $300 sitting on Lock, and I really had no interest to play there anymore. I only had money there because they briefly sponsored the site I co-owned at the time, and we had our weekly radio tournaments on there for a few months. I just wanted to cash it out and be done with it. It turned out that this wasn't just hard, but nearly impossible.
It took over two months to get Lock to process the cash out. Recall that this was before Black Friday, and cashouts weren't as difficult at that point. Even worse, this delay wasn't due to a slow payment processor. Lock just refused to process it. They kept stalling me, promising to "get to it tomorrow", and weeks kept passing by with no action. Eventually they just started completely (and intentionally) ignoring my e-mails. Finally, after 9 weeks of this crap, I had enough and wrote them the following:
Not surprisingly, this got their attention. Suddenly I got a prompt response within 2 hours, and my cashout was immediately approved and processed. However, I knew that had I not been the owner of a somewhat-known poker forum, I probably would have never seen that $300 -- or at least it would have been a lot more time and trouble.WHY AM I BEING IGNORED?
I need a response to this within 24 hours.
I run a large poker forum.
I will run a front-page story on how Lock Poker does not process cashouts if I do not get satisfaction immediately. I will also bring this to the attention of other poker forums.
Please handle this immediately.
I posted about this ordeal shortly after it happened, but then Lock fell off my radar for awhile. Deep down, I knew they were shady, but they were such a small fish in a big pond, nobody was really going to care about any complaints about Lock Poker. I mean, at the time we still had Ultimatebet doing brisk business, and they had a much worse record than Lock.
However, others were starting to take notice of Lock and its questionable operations.
Calvin Ayre, Bodog founder and self-styled billionaire playboy, took a break from counting his money to write this blog about Jennifer Larson, owner/CEO of Lock Poker:
The blog was written in December, 2010, four months before Black Friday. This is interesting because, with Pokerstars, Full Tilt, and UB still dominating the US market, a big player like Calvin Ayre still found the time and desire to personally blog about Jennifer Larson and her allegedly shady behavior.
Calvin described Jennifer as "a moderately competent search and social media manager" prior to her founding of Lock Poker. He mocked her for running the entire operation out of a Vancouver condo.
He took her to task for the site's curious partnership with Sharkscope, a data mining operation that seeks to help professional online tournament players get useful information about their opponents. Calvin, always a believer in gearing online poker towards the recreational player and not the pro, found this behavior to be reprehensible. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the data mining argument, so I won't delve into that any further. Besides, Lock ended up being guilty of far more than partnering with a data miner.
The spring of 2011 brought a few interesting developments for Lock Poker.
Read on for the rest of the story...