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Thread: Is playing Pokerstars from the USA using a VPN unethical?

  1. #1

    Is playing Pokerstars from the USA using a VPN unethical?

    Daniel Negreanu recently posted a poll on Twitter asking: "Do you consider players using a VPN to play online poker from the US to play on sites that forbid play from the US to be cheating?"

    76% of roughly 16k voters said "No".

    Shane Schleger was prominently voicing his opinions against the majority. Could be a good guest for radio.

    Links: Dnegs tweet with reply from Schleger Dnegs also made a blog post on it (including fake Jefferson quote).

  2. #2
    Silver sah_24's Avatar
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    Shane and Norman Chad are correct, it is cheating but obv not a massive EV scam lol. Nevermind the fact that Pokerstars will catch you, it is just a matter of time

  3. #3
    Gold duped_samaritan's Avatar
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    I don't think the fact that it's very strictly enforced should affect whether or not it's 'ethical'.

    If it were just in the terms, but never enforced, I guarantee most or all of the poker players claiming it's 'unethical' would have a different opinion.

  4. #4
    Silver sah_24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duped_samaritan View Post
    I don't think the fact that it's very strictly enforced should affect whether or not it's 'ethical'.

    If it were just in the terms, but never enforced, I guarantee most or all of the poker players claiming it's 'unethical' would have a different opinion.
    I would 100% be playing on stars if I wouldn't get caught, but it's still a form of cheating / unethical

  5. #5
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    It's not cheating.

    Cheating gives you an unfair advantage in play. Here are some forms of cheating in poker:

    - Superusing (seeing hole cards of opponents online)
    - Card marking
    - Collusion
    - Soft play
    - Bottom-deck dealing
    - Mulit-accounting (on sites where it's not allowed)
    - Ratholing (sneaking money off your stack so it's no longer in play)
    - Hiding bigger denomination chips in play until it's advantageous to show them

    While some of these are worse than others, all of them create an unfair disadvantage for opponents.

    VPNing is not cheating. You get no advantage over opponents by doing so. You simply get to play poker from a location where you're not allowed to do so.

    Let's take the US/Canada example.

    Say you are 10 feet from the border between US and Canada, and on the US side. If you play on Pokerstars there, you are breaking the rule of no US players. If you step 10 feet over and go across the Canadian border, you are legally playing on Pokerstars. So what's the difference to your opponents? None. You have no more advantage standing on the US side of the border than you do on the Canadian side.

    It's simply a matter of rules. In one instance you're breaking the rules set by the government, and in one case you are not. From a poker standpoint, it's all the same thing.

    So it's not "cheating".

    However, it is unfair to both the site and other players within your country. That is, you are doing something that others in your country aren't allowed to do. So if the games are good, you are getting the ability to play there while everyone else in your country following the rules doesn't get that opportunity. It's not cheating but it's unfair. That's why I have no sympathy for VPNers who are caught and have their $ confiscated. You're also creating a potential legal burden for the online poker site, if it's found that you were playing from the US and they failed to catch you for a long time.

  6. #6
    Gold ftpjesus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    It's not cheating.

    Cheating gives you an unfair advantage in play. Here are some forms of cheating in poker:

    - Superusing (seeing hole cards of opponents online)
    - Card marking
    - Collusion
    - Soft play
    - Bottom-deck dealing
    - Mulit-accounting (on sites where it's not allowed)
    - Ratholing (sneaking money off your stack so it's no longer in play)
    - Hiding bigger denomination chips in play until it's advantageous to show them

    While some of these are worse than others, all of them create an unfair disadvantage for opponents.

    VPNing is not cheating. You get no advantage over opponents by doing so. You simply get to play poker from a location where you're not allowed to do so.

    Let's take the US/Canada example.

    Say you are 10 feet from the border between US and Canada, and on the US side. If you play on Pokerstars there, you are breaking the rule of no US players. If you step 10 feet over and go across the Canadian border, you are legally playing on Pokerstars. So what's the difference to your opponents? None. You have no more advantage standing on the US side of the border than you do on the Canadian side.

    It's simply a matter of rules. In one instance you're breaking the rules set by the government, and in one case you are not. From a poker standpoint, it's all the same thing.

    So it's not "cheating".

    However, it is unfair to both the site and other players within your country. That is, you are doing something that others in your country aren't allowed to do. So if the games are good, you are getting the ability to play there while everyone else in your country following the rules doesn't get that opportunity. It's not cheating but it's unfair. That's why I have no sympathy for VPNers who are caught and have their $ confiscated. You're also creating a potential legal burden for the online poker site, if it's found that you were playing from the US and they failed to catch you for a long time.
    I agree with most of what you said there Druff but the last sentence Its not like PS doesn't do their best to catch folks using VPNs but its like many other things many times the smartest eggs know how stay ahead of the game so to speak.. I know a guy who just uses Nord VPN with the deadman switch running meaning if the VPN drops it completely shuts off the computer's internet connection completely if the VPN looses its remote connection and hasn't had issues as of yet.. Who knows how long itll last hes only playing micro at the moment and hasn't cashed out yet due to still experimenting..

     
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      sah_24: Ya that would be the best bet to not get caught, I have yet to find a VPN that doesn't randomly drop. Stars can still likely see whats running on your PC and catch you tho
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  7. #7
    It is absolutely unethical, but only because certain players are using technology to gain access to games that they otherwise would not be allowed to play. By definition, Ethics is the moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity. In this example, those that skirt the rules to play on stars via a VPN are compromising the rules in the conduct of said behavior.

    Just sayin.....

  8. #8
    It is April 2021 and online poker is legalised in the state of California. A statewide poker boom goes off and games are 2006 juicy, access is geolocked to residents of California.

    Meanwhile in Latvia the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection's nation wide ban on online gambling goes into effect on April 15, forcing all major online poker operators to stop offering real money play to Latvian customers. The Latvian poker community quickly dubs this date Black Friday.

    It does not take long until a group of Latvians shows up on the Californian poker sites. Using Californian front accounts and VPNs they bypass the restraints set up to keep out of state players out. As time pass, more and more Latvian VPNers sweep in, bleeding the once so juicy games completely dry. All of the foreign players jumping through the hoops to get access to California poker are professional players. The Latvian recreational players are stuck playing in brick and mortar casinos and on shady online sites like LCR (Latvia's Cardroom).

    Are the Latvian grinders engaging in unethical acticity, are they cheating? Are they simply playing poker from a location where you're not allowed to do so.

     
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      sah_24: spot on

  9. #9
    Silver sah_24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klinz View Post
    It is April 2021 and online poker is legalised in the state of California. A statewide poker boom goes off and games are 2006 juicy, access is geolocked to residents of California.

    Meanwhile in Latvia the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection's nation wide ban on online gambling goes into effect on April 15, forcing all major online poker operators to stop offering real money play to Latvian customers. The Latvian poker community quickly dubs this date Black Friday.

    It does not take long until a group of Latvians shows up on the Californian poker sites. Using Californian front accounts and VPNs they bypass the restraints set up to keep out of state players out. As time pass, more and more Latvian VPNers sweep in, bleeding the once so juicy games completely dry. All of the foreign players jumping through the hoops to get access to California poker are professional players. The Latvian recreational players are stuck playing in brick and mortar casinos and on shady online sites like LCR (Latvia's Cardroom).

    Are the Latvian grinders engaging in unethical acticity, are they cheating? Are they simply playing poker from a location where you're not allowed to do so.
    So this lol, I would still do it if I was less likely to get caught tho

  10. #10
    Serial Blogger BeerAndPoker's Avatar
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    It's not cheating but it's against TOS.

    Regarding Pokerstars they want to stay compliant with all country laws being a publcially traded company. They have broken into a few state markets and don't want to miss out with future penalties as more states come aboard.

    Party and 888 seem to feel the same with this stance and likely are enforcing the rules too but other smaller networks still left likely don't care so much.

    So does that mean you can play on the sites that don't care? I wouldn't take that risk because what if you run up a lot of money and they catch it before paying you they could easily close your account and take your money claiming you broke TOS. This wouldn't be shady either it's not like the recent story of the guy who left his license in the car at a live casino who who a jackpot promo this is obvious breaking of TOS.

    Their are some bitcoin type gambling sites for casino/sports that prohibit USA customers but ask for zero information except an email address so if someone vpns them strong chances they always will get paid but again it might not be worth the risk.

    Pokerstars bans people for life for this if they get caught so why even attempt it? They can catch a vpn better then anyone else we've seen.

    If they didn't do anything about it everyone serious about poker would vpn to play.

    Buying an account like what Brian Hastings did was bad, especially because it was a big losing account if I recall. That is extremely unethical by itself but tbeir is a difference between using a vpn and teamviewing into a Canadian (or place where Stars is legal) to play poker. The person playing that way would likely deal with some lag but they aren't likely to ever get caught that way if it's a legitimate account and you can bet a lot of these top pros are doing that these days for scoop/wcoop using their own accounts to prevent the potential vpn connection drop.

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