Rob Yong Wants partypoker to Implement Facial Recognition

  • Nearly 85% of poll respondents are in favor of facial recognition
  • Yong believes it will curtail bots, multi-accounting, and ghosting
  • Critics point to privacy issues, lack of effectiveness, and possible errors
facial recognition diagrams superimposed on woman's face
Rob Yong posted on Twitter that he wants partypoker to start using facial recognition software to help prevent cheating. [Image:]

Twitter followers love the idea

Rob Yong, a managing partner at partypoker, took to Twitter on Wednesday to gauge the poker community’s interest in using facial recognition technology to improve site security and combat cheating.

Yong said he wants the technology to be used when a player signs in to partypoker and randomly when in the money or at the final table of a tournament, as well as in high stakes cash games.

He said that he plans on taking the suggestion to the decision makers at partypoker, but also posted a poll and solicited feedback from players.

At the time of writing, more than 4,600 people have voted in the poll. The results are overwhelmingly in favor of facial recognition: 84.4% to 15.6%.

Trying to stop bots, multi-accounting, ghosting

Yong points to three reasons for wanting to implement facial recognition on partypoker. The first is to stop bots from opening or buying accounts.

Bots are computer programs that play poker automatically with little or no intervention needed by the user. They have been a serious problem in online poker for years. Bots are not necessarily better at poker than humans, but they do not get tired, do not miscalculate, and do not go “on tilt.” They can play around the clock and even if they eek out a tiny return on investment, it adds up to great profit over time.

What Yong envisions is a facial recognition requirement that would stop any unmonitored bot in its tracks. If it is running without a human in the room and the security check pops up, there will be no face to recognize.

facial recognition requirement that would stop any unmonitored bot in its tracks

The second goal is to stop multi-accounting. Players are only allowed to have one account. The assumption here is that partypoker’s security software would be able to figure out if the same face is being used for more than one account.

Third is the goal to stop ghosting. Ghosting is when a player gives advice to another player during a poker game, sometimes taking over for the player completely. This is most commonly found in late stages of big tournaments with a lesser-skilled player getting help from a pro.

Yong responds to naysayers

As mentioned, Yong has received loads of positive feedback. People appreciate the efforts to improve security and prevent cheating, even if it means a hit to their privacy.

But the idea is not without its critics. Some expressed concern for those players who don’t have webcams. Others have said that there will be a lot of people who just don’t want partypoker having the ability to snoop on them.

willing to lose some customers in exchange for what he believes will be more who will sign up

Yong responded by essentially saying that he doesn’t care, that he is willing to lose some customers in exchange for what he believes will be more who will sign up if they know partypoker has taken extra steps to protect players.

Another concern is the possibility of the facial recognition system not working properly, resulting in someone being disconnected or otherwise prevented from continuing in a tournament in which there is a lot of money on the line.

Yong generally commented that the systems that currently exist are quite reliable. He also jokingly responded to one person by saying, “Prob fails less that [sic] actual software crashes.”

One criticism that Yong did not really push back on is the limited effectiveness to combat ghosting. Ghosters are often providing help remotely; the player who owns the account is still sitting at the computer. Thus, they would still pass a face check. And even if the ghoster is sitting with the account holder, a face check doesn’t prove that anything illicit was going on.

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