China Ban Apps to Combat Real Money Poker Action

With China no longer recognising poker as a competitive sport, media outlets are reporting that the promotion of all online poker applications is to be outlawed, and that all such applications will need to be removed from app stores by June 1st.

The upcoming legislation is all part of China's continued drive to help enforce the country's strict anti-gambling laws, and with many play money "Social" poker apps being used to host big money, high stakes poker games online, the Chinese government is at pains to stifle any such activity.

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Above: A still from a recent Chinese news report which sepculated the end was nigh for social poker gaming apps being used as a front for high stakes cash games run by independent 'agents'

Many "social" poker apps including the likes of 'PPPoker', 'KKPoker' 'PokerLords', and 'PokerFishes' have been promoting their play money apps as a means for players to create their own 'private clubs' within the app, allegedly so that friends can enjoy a social game of cards on their mobile devices.

However,  as we reported over a year ago, many of these "clubs" were being set up by agents who used the play money platforms to run private 'invite only' high stakes cash games - the chips may have only been play-chips on the site but in reality the agent would be setting the real cash value of the chips in play. The games have attracted a high volume of players including a number of well-know western high stakes pros. In fact with the general demise of PokerStars high stakes games it is very likely that these Chinese apps were where the REAL online high stakes action has been taking place over the past 18 months or so.

Above: Many high stakes players used multiple devices such as iPads to allow them to multi-table big money games run by agents running private clubs on social poker applications like PPPoker.

Although the apps themselves do not facilitate or allow real money games, players are able to set up private games and invite 'friends' to join them - in the same way you can on many mainstream real money poker apps and websites. Agents running the private games or "clubs" then communicate with their players via Skype and are used as a middle-man facilitating the deposits and withdrawals and keeping track of the profit/losses of players involved. Of course playing via an agent required a tremendous level of trust with just the agent controlling the movement of players funds, but the huge success of the clubs certainly indicated that the risk was worth taking. The outlawing of social poker apps will be a devastating blow to the agents and players alike. Whether the new laws will altogether eradicate the current practices is unknown, but the risk of playing on those which remain operational will increase exponentially as it will be inevitable that more agents will be arrested, bank accounts closed, and ultimately money used for gambling will be forfeited.

Anti-gambling investgtions have already led to thousands of Chinese bank accounts being frozen. For instance, last June Chinese trade officials were quoted by The Myanmar Times saying the Agricultural Bank of China in the Yunnan province had frozen some 5,000 bank accounts over one eight month period. The bank accounts are said to have been involved in, "online gambling, illegal transfers, illegal deposits and drawings"

While HighstakesDB will always promote and celebrate high stakes online poker, we would certainly advise extreme caution here on in if you are either playing, or considering playing for real money in one of the private clubs running on Chinese social poker apps.

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