Jason Koon Discusses GGPoker Poker Integrity Council Progress

20 Mar 2024
Sean Chaffin 20 Mar 2024
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  • Player anonymity remains a key focus
  • Committee also has a deterrent effect
  • Live poker operators part of the effort
GGPoker ambassador Jason Koon. (credit: GGPoker)
The last year has seen some pretty interesting cheating accusations in poker – from peeking at cards in live play to multi-accounting, the use of real-time assistance software (RTA), and collusion at the online tables. 

In July 2022, GGPoker set out to at least try and clean up some unethical behavior in the industry. 

The company launched the Poker Integrity Council (PIC) with a set of goals and procedures to address potential cheating. The council is chaired by GG ambassador Jason Koon and also includes other well-known players.

The PIC even has some live partners participating to help address the issues. Koon spoke with PokerWired this week about the council’s progress and where things are headed.

What is the Poker Integrity Council?

GGPoker officials hope the council offers an organized system to address cheating concerns. The group investigates suspicious behavior at the GG tables. The steps involved in reviewing cases include:

  • Detection – Suspicious behavior (collusion, bots, RTA, etc.) is flagged for review.
  • Review – The player stays anonymous and relevant hand histories are reviewed by Koon and other committee members.
  • Ruling – The PIC votes on whether disciplinary action is needed.

Koon is no stranger to poker success, in both the live and online poker area. He has almost $44 million in live tournament winnings with wins on some of the game’s biggest stages including the World Series of Poker and Triton Poker. He also has a master’s degree in business administration and finance.
Along with Koon, the PIC includes: Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger (LearnWPT); Fedor Holz (poker pro); Seth Davies (Run It Once training site); and Nick Petrangelo (Upswing Poker training site).

In handing out rulings, possible PIC disciplinary actions could include warnings, account suspensions, or permanent GGPoker bans. Funds confiscation with a ban is also a possibility. An industry ban could also be included among live poker partners, which include:

Challenges and Success

Certainly this is a huge undertaking to try and police any sort of cheating or unethical behavior. Koon says the first few months have gone well, however, and he’s encouraged by the progress so far and commitment from members.

Offering a structured process that protects players has been a major goal. The system is meant to prove real accusations and clear players who aren’t involved with unethical behavior.

“Although establishing a solid foundation required longer than initially anticipated, we’ve focused on key aspects such as safeguarding anonymity and protecting the identities of the players under review,” he says. “Legality and compliance are very important to us. While there are still many areas for improvement, we are confident that the working process we have established will enable us to function effectively.”

As with any effort, unexpected challenges are inevitable. Koon says these have offered some valuable learning opportunities. The PIC has made some adjustments along the way and continues to refine the process without losing sight of the overall goals.

ggpoker poker integrity council

“I feel strongly that the fact that we assembled a council with some of the most insightful poker minds on the planet,” he says, “sharing a united commitment to fighting cheating and preserving the game’s integrity, is a big accomplishment in itself.”

Koon notes that the goal isn’t simply to punish players. The PIC’s creation may have an even bigger “deterrent” effect and keep cheating prevention on players’ radar.

“Contrary to what some may think, the PIC’s goal is not to issue bans left and right,” he says. “Rather, our mission is to help clean up the game by identifying bad actors and ensuring that they are held accountable for their actions. As we progress, strict penalties will naturally follow. If the prospect of such consequences deters people from cheating, then we consider our mission to be successful.”

Players React To Anti-Cheating Plans

Pleasing all poker players with this kind of effort would never have been possible. The PIC has received some criticism when it comes to the group’s goals and procedures. But Koon stays focused on some of the support so far.

Players seem to be frustrated overall with cheaters, he notes, and see concepts like the review committee as a way to at least begin a process to counter or prevent cheating. As the progress continues, Koon is open to suggestions for improvement.

“The response from players has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, highlighting their frustration with cheating and game vulnerabilities,” he says. “They recognize the gravity of the problem we are addressing and empathize with the challenges we face. While we know of some dissenting opinions about the PIC, we believe they stem from a shared desire to clean up the game we all love. It’s our job to excel in our efforts and change their perspectives.

“The poker industry is full of brilliant minds with unquestioned integrity, and we are always open to expanding the scope and efficacy of the council. However, it’s important that we prioritize quality over quantity, ensuring that we bring on board only the most qualified individuals.”

While several live operators have joined the cause and support the mission, the PIC isn’t simply focused on acquiring new partners. The group instead works to emphasize the importance of the committee’s work and decisions in directly addressing dishonest players, Koon says.

“By working closely with our existing partners, we aim to ensure the effectiveness of our efforts before expanding further,” he says. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has shown support for our efforts. The Poker Integrity Council is fully committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity within our favorite game. We are really optimistic about the future of poker and look forward to continued collaboration with the community.”

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