One of the most popular online poker competitions, PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker has been on the radar of the poker community lately. Namely, the organizers of the tournament made a unanimous decision to strip the 2018 Main Event winner of his winnings and freeze their account.

A poker player that goes by the name “wann2play” has won the 2018 WCOOP Main Event but the amount he won will be redistributed to other players.

Associate director of PokerStars, Rebecca McAdam stated that poker lovers who enjoy playing the card game on their platform deserved a safe place to do that. She added that the platform invested millions of dollars annually in preserving the integrity of the platform. Moreover, she stated that they had a huge Game Integrity team that makes sure everything is in order. The team investigates players who seem to be interrupting the enjoyable and safe working environment.

Finally, McAdam concluded that they were using “cutting edge technology and practices” that would help them determine whether a player was acting inappropriately. The funds from players who weren’t playing by the rules are distributed back to affected players as soon as possible.

What Really Happened?

The tournament started as usual, and many players were eager to take part in it, including some of the well-known faces such as Linus Loeliger, Michael Zhang, and Noah Boeken. In fact, they made it to the very end, taking part in the final table. Boeken ended up sixth, Zhang had to deal with the fifth place, and Loelinger hit the rail third, leaving Ezequiel “eze88888” Waigel and wann2play to test each other’s poker skills in the heads-up play.

Although the majority of identities of online poker players in the final table were familiar, wann2play remained anonymous throughout the event. However, Waigel immediately noticed some irregularities when the two players started their heads-up duel.

According to him, everything changed in the heads-up although the two were playing for hours before that. Eventually, they agreed to split the reward, with Waigel getting $1,257,203 and wann2play getting $1,352,967.

A tweet from “girafganger7”, a professional online poker player really made the poker world stare in disbelief when they stated that they have a “credible source” that wann2play is actually a well-known professional. In other words, it’s possible that the person who was hiding behind the nickname was actually a poker player who is very famous in the poker world.

Waigel was quick to alert the PokerStars officials about some irregularities, and they eventually confirmed them. However, no further details were given regarding the case, only that there was multi-accounting (aka ghosting). Moreover, many players suspect that VPN was used and that the WCOOP 2018 winner wasn’t actually in the Netherlands at all.

Although this is quite an odd case, it is actually not rare. Poker players on the web use various techniques to improve their roles, and some of them are sometimes not exactly legal or are at least frowned-upon.

This happened once again in a WCOOP event back in 2007 when a user named “TheV0id” won it for $1.22 million. However, the PS team made an investigation to conclude that it was another player who used the account instead of the registered Natalie Teltscher. Natalie sued PS over this issue but failed to recoup the money that way. Instead of TheV0id, the user who actually received the money was Kyle Shroeder, nicknamed ka$ino1. Schroeder was named a new champion and was given the prize of $1,378,330.