November 18, 2009

£1500 of fraudulent transactions on my poker account

Last Sunday morning (8th November) I found myself subject to a call from the HSBC Fraud Department. This was not particularly unusual as I have had to field many calls from them over the past couple of years as they seem to view any gambling transaction as suspicious, and being a professional poker player it's inevitable there's going to be a fair few of those! This time though I was aware that I hadn't made any deposits recently, but just figured they were wondering if it was really me that kept ordering Dominoes pizza (our oven & microwave decided to pack-up simultaneously recently). I was 20-tabling on Pokerstars at the time, and not paying much attention, until they listed several transactions that I had no idea what they were.

Struggling to concentrate whilst playing, I told him these deposits were definitely> not made by me, and that I would ring back in an hour when I'd had a chance to play out all my tables. It turns out 18 separate transactions were made on my Mastercard totalling £1465 on the Victor Chandler website.

Therein follows frantic phone-calls to Victor Chandler and the bank making sure everything was blocked. I was initially given the idea that the bank were going to sort everything out and that the money wouldn't even leave my account.


The £1465 came off of my credit card and 10 days later I'm still in a bit of no-man's land. I'm waiting for dispute claim forms from the bank so I can claim this money back. Even then it's going to take 6-8 weeks to go through the process. I'm pretty sure any fraudulent transaction should be covered by Mastercard, but I'm not gonna rest easy about it until the transactions are struck from my account, or whatever has to happen.

VC's response has been a little unsettling. The first lady I spoke to, when I was still rather confused about what happened, confirmed unusual activity on my account (which had been dormant since April or May or something), and passed it on to the security team. I was then unable to get anybody to tell me anything, and was told that I would have to go through the Police to get any information.

I duly reported it to my local Police Department, but they said the bank and/or website would deal with it, and they would notify the Police Department where the fraud took place.

This is when I sent Nik Spooner, who runs Tetleyboy Affiliates, an e-mail as he was the guy who signed me up to VC on a nice rakeback deal. This guy is the nuts, and has helped me solve problems that were nothing to do with him in the past, and came through for me again as he got the Security team in touch with me straight away.

They seem to acknowledge that a fraud has been committed, but their language is a little too vague for my liking. They have informed me that the IP address where these transactions took place is in the UK. How this person has got into my account I really don't know, because I couldn't even remember my own details to log-in. I hope something is done to try and track this activity down, but right now I'm not even sure they don't think it's me.

So it looks like I'll be sweating getting this money back over the next few weeks. I just wish someone would guarantee me that I'll be getting refunded so that I can rest easy on this issue.

So here's a warning right now to make sure you keep your poker accounts as secure as possible. I'd recommend not letting any poker site save your card details as that's what has got me in the shitter here. I'm still unsure how they would have known my 3-digit security code on the back of my card, but perhaps they didn't have to enter that, I'm not sure.

All my money (well, all my poker bankroll at least, I still have money for food!) is currently on PokerStars, where I'm happier about it being, as they don't save your card details. I used to complain about having to keep re-entering them every damn time, but I take that all back now. The RSA-token I ordered with FPPs to increase the security on my account arrived today, and this seems like a really good way of ensuring you are the only one who has access to your account.

November 17, 2009

Wiiiiiii, my first Sharkscope star :)

I've been running like God the last few days (or at least, way above expectation) and it has helped push me onto the Sharkscope leader boards. Admittedly it's a little bit of a niché category (Total Profit Any Games 4-6 Table $5.01-$15), and admittedly I'm only in spot #20, so it's kind of like saying you were considered for an Oscar award in the "movies of duration between 92 and 94 minutes" and were 20th in line to receive it. Nevertheless, I'm pretty happy about it as it is the first one I've received.
Had Sharkscope tracked the Tribeca network in 2005/06, I'd have been a shoe in for one when for my Heads Up SNG results were v.good on there...and I was always close to being on the Boss Media network Total Profit list in 2007/08, but didn't play quite enough to ever get there. At least volume is something I've improved on this year! I've been using Sharkscope for several years, as a tool to check out other players on my table, but perhaps even more so to track my own results. It feels really good to have a nice and steady graph, it almost gives me more confidence in my game, and definitely makes me feel better about being a professional poker player.
With only 6 weeks left in the year I'm not sure how high up the leader board I'll be able to climb, but looking at my own stats I've only put 290 hours into getting there. This might seem like a lot, but I've already put in 90+ hours in the month of November alone, so had I been playing these 45-man tourneys all year, my star might even be that bit prettier.

Cue huge downswing following this brag post, almost certainly have bokked myself!

November 13, 2009

SNG contest is hotting up...

Apologies for another big gap in updates, but I've been keeping up the hardcore grind, and it's difficult to want to write about poker after playing a 9 hour session! I've played 1800 SNGs already this month, with this mini-prop bet proving good motivation to play as much as is reasonable.

Even playing that many, I am not currently in the lead of the 3-man contest to see who can make the most profit in PokerStars SNGs of below a $30 stake. Moon&back has been racking up the $$$ consistently and is edging it. Longy had a disadvantage in that he was unable to access his PokerStars account for a good few days, but despite that has caught up impressively already.

Current standings
1. Moon&Back (Pd: 1144, Avg. ROI: 26%, Profit: $3365)
2. Myself (Played: 1797, Avg. ROI: 14%, Profit: $3115)
3. Longy11 (Played: 878, Avg. ROI: 22%, Profit: $1892)

I'm really pleased with how it's going, and even if I don't win I'm happy that I'm seemingly making nice and steady money right now.

I could have been put in a bit of difficulty if an injury I sustained on Monday night had happened to my right hand instead of my left. I play a friendly game of 5-a-side football every week. We all have a stint in goal which nobody particularly enjoys. I made what can only be described as an awesome save against a very fierce shot from close range which was heading for the top corner. However it bent my hand all the way back and I was bloody worried because I couldn't move it for several minutes. It seemed to get better though and I called off my trip to A&E. However it turns out I only postponed it as I woke up unable to move my left hand, and after 4 or 5 hours in A&E, I had my hand x-rayed and it turns out I have fractured my triquetral bone in my hand.

So that's a spot of bad luck, but it seems to be healing up okay. I have to wear a splint intermittently but no cast or anything It goes to show one of the pitfalls of being a professional poker player, because if I did sustain a debilitating injury to my right hand (ie. mouse controlling hand), I'd be pretty screwed for trying to make money on the internet. Especially considering the format in which I play, playing 20 tables at a time.

I seem to have run pretty bad non-poker wise at the moment, but I did scoop a WSOP Final table sweepstake in which I randomly drew Joe Cada, so it's not all bad! Here he is pictured with my winnings from the sweepstake:

November 04, 2009

Mini-prop bet for November...

I have a lil' prop bet contest going on this month. Nothing major, but a nice bit of motivation for grinding. It's a three way dance between myself, and Blonde forum members Longy and Moon&Back. $250 in the pot each, and winner takes all on who can make the most profit playing SNGs of less than $30 in stake on PokerStars in November.

They both have pretty Sharkscope graphs, and good multi-tabling skills as well, so I think it's going to be a tight contest. Hopefully my ability to put in a lot of volume will help me through, although a server restart on PokerStars just as I was about to start my session today is a bit of an annoyance!

I've started well, racking up $900 or so in 450 games...but a real nasty downswing as I finished my last session, with zero cashes in my last 34 games, which is set to be my worst non-cashing streak in the 8,000 games I have now played on Stars. We're keeping track of our progress so far in this thread on Blonde.

With being a bit of a PokerStars aficionado recently I was pleased to read the recent news that it is setting up a Poker Tour in the UK & Ireland (called the UK & Ireland Poker Tour, ingenious that!). I can't see this being anything but a huge success, as all other PokerStars supported poker tours have been so far, and I look forward to trying to play as many
of the events as possible. With potentially large fields of satellite qualifiers, I imagine them being a fair bit of value.

Note that I have added a 'blogroll' of the podcasts that I listen to on the left hand side of this blog. These are great for making the grind of online play more bearable by having them on in the background, and I think they are all of great quality and worth listening to (and as I have mentioned previously, the 2+2 Pokercast is especially excellent).

Also it's only 4 days until the final table of the WSOP main event is played out on November 7th. Of course I will be routing for fellow Brit James Akenhead, and I also hope that Phil Ivey does well as I think it could potentially be good for the game if he does. I have a little vested interest in Joe Cada in the form of a sweepstake, so plenty to keep me interested in what goes down. I have been enjoying the footage of the 2009 WSOP which I downloaded from this handy lil' site so far, and although there's no way around finding out the results before you see the actual footage these days, it should make for compelling viewing.