A handful of poker players have been asked by PokerStars, the world's biggest real-money online poker room, to record a video of their sessions to prove they are not a bot or otherwise violating the site's terms of service. The video can't simply be a recording made on Camtasia or a similar screen-recording program, but must include the player actually playing.
It is believed that the poker community was first made aware of this last week when TwoPlusTwo poster "TooCuriousso1" posted about the situation in the HU CASH Regs thread last week. The poster made it known he is not one of the players asked to record a video before posting the communications someone else received from a PokerStars representative.
"However, we require a video recording of you playing. This recording has a few mandatory requirements:
- At the beginning of the recording, we must be able to clearly see your face in order to confirm your identity
- Before starting to play, you must rotate your camera 360 degrees to show us all of your surroundings
- You must start your playing session from an empty computer desktop, whereby you initiate the PokerStars client and log into your account
- After logging in, you must play a regular session of yours
- Your playing session at the tables must be for a minimum of 70 active minutes
- During your play at the tables, the recording must be of sufficient quality to see and track the activities that are taking place on your desktop. In addition, the recording must capture your surrounding environment including your monitor, keyboard, mouse and the movement of your hands
- Audio must be included in the recording
- You must minimize the amount of individual video files. Longer, continual recordings are preferred
- You have 10 days to complete this task
It is important that your playing session is conducted in the same manner as one of your typical sessions as your tendencies will be contrasted with your regular play.
You must supply the resulting recording to us via email. In the likely event the files exceed attachment limits, please utilise file sharing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or whichever service you prefer. We'll largely leave this option up to you.
Failure to follow these instructions or if the video is of sub-par quality, will result in this task needing to be repeated."
Reaction to these measures are mixed. Some think that if you have nothing to hide, then this is not a big deal. Others feel it is overly intrusive. Many have reacted that the freezing of funds without warning is going too far, including TwoPlusTwo poster "0desmu1," while others support the requests for videos if it helps protect the site from bots.
"The measures taken are definitely Orwellian," stated 0desmu1. "I'm okay with it for the most part except for the part where they hold your money hostage. It's very unethical to change the rules to that severity without any warning while denying you access to your funds. What if they suddenly ask you to provide some extremely difficult document to obtain in order to withdraw your funds? It definitely crosses the line.
"Stars is really losing touch with their customers, but I think that's naturally going to happen when a company goes public and their focus shifts from their customers to their shareholders."
Among those supporting the measures by PokerStars was TwoPlusTwo poster "Jamsym2," who stated, "I'm not sure I get the outrage. When the PLO bot ring was discovered, everyone was outraged that Stars hadn't done more. Now they are doing more for the security and integrity of the games and people are mad about that as well. I mean, if you have nothing to hide then what's the issue? Sure, it's a slight inconvenience, but on the other hand it's good to know that people using dream machines will get caught out."
TwoPlusTwo poster "DontBanMePlz" informed the poker community that despite him not playing in months, he was one of the players to receive the request.
"Is this real?" he stated. "I got my account locked this morning [and] haven't played on Stars in a few months."
Contacted by PokerNews, a PokerStars representative did not confirm DontBanMePlz version, as he informed us that the online poker room did not issue such a request.
PokerStars defends its actions, stating that it has been proactively investigating player accounts for years. They acknowledge that this might be inconvenient to players who are following the rules, but find it necessary to investigate where they have reason to believe a player has violated the terms of service of the site which they take seriously.
A PokerStars representative commented the following:
"PokerStars takes the enforcement of our Terms of Service very seriously. That's why we routinely seek additional information from players who are under suspicion of breaking our rules. We conduct thousands of proactive reviews of accounts every year, and some of these reviews are completed for players who we discover during the course of our investigation have done nothing wrong. We understand it is inconvenient for players to comply with additional requests, but where we have reason to believe that a player may have broken our rules and possibly won money fraudulently from other players we are obliged to investigate as fully as possible in order to come to the correct decision.
"PokerStars has used such investigatory techniques for more than five years now, and will continue to do so in the future. A complete and comprehensive investigation is the fairest way for PokerStars to enforce our rules."
What do you think about PokerStars asking certain players to record a video of them playing on the site? Share with us your views in the comment box below.