Chris Moneymaker Discusses ACR

21 Mar 2024
Jonathan Raab 21 Mar 2024
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  • 2003 WSOP Champion Chris Moneymaker discusses ACR on Chip Race Podcast
  • The site regrets the bot challenge they issued, but remains committed to improving
  • New measures implemented at ACR to address player concerns
Chris Moneymaker discusses ACR on Chip Race Podcast.

2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker recently was a guest on the Unibet Poker sponsored podcast The Chip Race. Amongst other things, he spoke about the recent bot challenge scandal at Americas Card Room (ACR) during his 30-minute conversation with hosts David Lappin and Dara O’Kearney.

Who is Chris Moneymaker?

Chris Moneymaker from Mississippi is synonymous with the poker boom of the mid-noughties after he became the first online qualifier to win the WSOP main event, having qualified on PokerStars for just $86. He turned that investment into $2.5m and became a sponsored pro at PokerStars for almost two decades, before leaving the site in 2020. In 2021 he became an ambassador for ACR (America’s Card Room).

Discovering ACR

Chris first discussed how he discovered the ACR site during Covid lockdown, when he made a deep run in their flagship tournament, the Venom. Having made the final table he received a call from ACR owner Phil Nagy and although he admits had not heard great things about him, he changed his opinion after this call. Nagy famously calls up all Venom finalists to wish them well and Chris had asked him not to reveal his identity to the public before the Venom final took place. Nagy was true to his word and did not reveal that Chris was a finalist and from then on, the two got on like a house on fire. 

Soon after, he was unveiled as a sponsored player and ambassador for ACR. Moneymaker only had one stipulation before he joined the site and that was that player funds should be ring-fenced from the rest of the companies assets, which they are at ACR.

Know Your Customer

The next question that Moneymaker fielded from the Chip Race presenters was related to KYC (Know Your Customer) checks that most poker sites conduct and game security, responding

I think ACR does a decent job, I think we could do a better job on the Know Your Customer, the majority of our deposits are Bitcoin, we do a lot of KYC when people have big wins or play a lot on the site. When we onboard our customers we don’t do a lot of KYC

He then added

I definitely think we have room to improve (on KYC and security) but I also think we are very good compared to other players (sites) that are not regulated.

Phil Nagy

ACR has had its fair share of scandals in its 23-year existence and some of these were the result of things said by Phil Nagy on social media. 

Speaking about the often unpredictable actions of Phil Nagy, Chris described the ACR owner as someone who is big kid, but when does work, he’s fantastic. 

One of the constant struggles at ACR is to make sure that he is not joking around too much….his mouth just doesn’t have a filter.

He then mentioned that when Nagy posts on social media

The good thing is its from his personal account, the bad thing is that its still reflective of ACR

A recent example of Nagy’s edgy social posts comes from earlier this month, when he was in Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, en route to South Korea to take part in the Triton Jeju High Roller Series.

$100,000 Bot Challenge

Recently a scandal erupted at ACR whereby the site was accused of being ridden with bots. Initially unconvinced that their platform had been compromised by the presence of robot players, the site issued a challenge to players to use automated bots and remain undetected by ACR security. They offered a $100,00 prize to anyone who was able to prove they could infiltrate the system with an automated poker playing bot. 

Needless to say, they soon saw the error of their ways and pulled the challenge within 24 hours, amidst industry incredulity that such an offer could ever have been proposed. In their retraction statement ACR also committed to collaborating with industry experts within the poker community to ensure the safety and integrity of the ACR platform.

Having gotten some easy questions out of the way at the beginning of the interview, they addressed the topic of bots and the ill-fated challenge, asking Moneymaker to elaborate on what progress has been made since last month’s statement. Moneymaker outlined some of the measures that that have been taken so far, including

  • Bringing back player locations, which had been an unpopular change when they were removed and adding flags.
  • Introducing a PLO re-shuffler, where folder cards get shuffled back into the deck, in order to fight collusion. 
  • Suspension of around 100 accounts identified as bad actors (bots, collusion). 

There are other tools that the site is using to detect bad actors, but Moneymaker did not divulge these, to preserve their upper hand in the battle against cheats.

Moneymaker also admitted that running the bot challenge was not one of their best decisions and that they realised this almost immediately after it was announced, leading to it being pulled within 24 hours. However he also stated that during this time, nobody was successful in completing the challenge.

Whether this progress is enough to calm player fears about the safety of games at ACR remains to be seen, but Chris did a pretty good job of explaining situations that were in no way his responsibility. As an ambassador to the site, he has the interests of players at heart as much as the success of the company and seems to be a solid and measured voice within the organisation. 

To listen to the full episode, click on the link in the folliowing X post:

The Venom

The Venom tournament which introduced Chris Moneymaker to ACR has a $12.5m guarantee this year and takes place in April, with satellites into the $2,650 buy-in tournament running daily. Initially launched with a $5m guarantee, the site subsequently raised this to $12.5m!

The Venom PKO tournament schedule is as follows:

Day 1A – Sunday, April 14
Day 1B – Thursday, April 18
Day 1C – Sunday, April 21
Day 1D – Thursday, April 25
Day 1E – Sunday, April 28
Day 2 – Monday, April 29
Day 3 – Tuesday, April 30

The Final Table takes place on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

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