GGPoker Kicks High-Stakes Online Poker Pro, Confiscates $130,000 in Winnings

  • Tobias Duthweiler was banned from GGNetwork skin Natural8 in 2016
  • He played on two other network sites before creating a GGPoker account in 2020
  • Duthweiler claims he always provided real personal information to the sites
  • When caught, GGPoker originally took his entire $180k bankroll
  • After some discussion, GGPoker refunded his $50k deposit
Businessman stopping viewer from taking a bag of money
GGPoker confiscated $130,000 in winnings from high stakes poker pro Tobias Duthweiler after discovering he had been banned by network skin Natural8 in 2016. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: GGPoker told PokerNews on August 14 that network skins do not share customer personal information, so it only had IP and MAC addresses to go on when Duthweiler signed up. The site said it will update its security measures to share e-mail addresses.

GGPoker also maintained that Duthweiler’s $50,000 initial deposit consisted of $37,000 via an affiliate and $13,000 from a player-to-player transfer. He was not banned for winning – it was when he had to verify his identity upon changing his table name to his real name that his previous ban was discovered.

Player was banned by another skin

An online poker controversy is the talk of the poker world this week as well-known high-stakes German poker pro Tobias Duthweiler told members of the Two Plus Two poker forum that GGPoker closed his account and confiscated his funds.

According to Duthweiler, the account closure came just when he had rebounded from a slump, running $30,000 (he had originally deposited $50,000) up to $180,000. He claims the site was freerolling him, not concerned about his account when he was losing, and only taking action when he finally won.

previously banned in 2016 from another site on the GGNetwork, Natural8

Duthweiler’s account was closed because he was previously banned in 2016 from another site on the GGNetwork, Natural8. Natural8’s reason for the ban was that Duthweiler violated the site’s “Security and Ecology Agreement,” specifically engaging in a practice called “bumhunting”.

Bumhunting is the practice of occupying a seat at a table and not actually sitting into the game until a specifically targeted weak player sits down. Usually, bumhunters occupy heads-up tables as it is easiest to control the environment. Bumhunters also often track targets in the lobby, following them to tables and leaving the table when the opponent does.

In 2019, Duthweiler joined another GGNetwork skin, Bestpoker, but left when the site removed its high-stakes tables. This year, he hopped onto another GGNetwork site, Betkings, which was later absorbed by GGPoker, the network’s flagship site.

He eventually created an account at GGPoker directly and deposited $50,000.

Caught after second ID verification

As mentioned, Duthweiler started off poorly at GGPoker, watching his balance sink to $30,000. In one-and-a-half weeks at the end of May, however, he went on a hot streak and ran it all the way up to $180,000.

In June, GGPoker required high-stakes players to use their real names at the tables, so Duthweiler had to go through the identity verification process as he had done before. It was at this point that his account was locked and his funds confiscated. After some back and forth, GGPoker eventually gave him his original deposit of $50,000 back.

Duthweiler said that he always gave the sites valid personal information, including his photo identification. His address changed once over the years. He claims that he did not realize the sites were all on the same network (except for Betkings), and argues that GGPoker and the network should have seen that he already had a banned account before he even played.

Duthweiler rallies support

Most fellow poker pros and members of the poker community have come to Duthweiler’s defense, blaming GGPoker for committing one of two transgressions. One possibility is that the site/network’s security is subpar and has no ability to properly verify accounts, even if someone uses the same personal information and photo ID of a previously banned account.

If he kept losing, it didn’t matter – he was still generating rake.

The other option, according to Duthweiler’s supporters, is that GGPoker intentionally freerolled him, knowing that it could collect rake from his games and eventually ban him if he started winning. If he kept losing, it didn’t matter – he was still generating rake.

One poster on Two Plus Two also questioned how, if lax security was the problem, GGPoker would be able to stop people who had been banned for much more serious reasons like collusion or bot use. Duthweiler made no attempt to conceal his identity, so if GGPoker simply didn’t catch him until June, it doesn’t bode well for the site’s chances at catching people who are intentionally up to no good.

Fedor Holz gives other perspective

On the flip side, while not happy that GGPoker originally took Duthweiler’s entire $180,000 for what is a relatively minor transgression on the scale of bannable offenses, some see it as a situation where a player who was banned for violating the site’s rules still needs to face consequences. Most, regardless of which side they come down on, find it improbable that a high-stakes poker pro would not know that all of the sites were related.

GGPoker ambassador Fedor Holz weighed in, tweeting that he spoke with GGPoker management to get some information and came away satisfied that security was “up to very high standards.” He said that GGPoker’s standard procedure is to confiscate funds “to disincentivize banned players to return.”

Holz noted that the account wasn’t quickly flagged as a duplicate because some of the personal information was different, though clearly many disagree with that assessment. Because it took so long to notice Duthweiler was playing, GGPoker decided to return his original deposit.

He also assured the community that GGPoker does not keep the confiscated money, instead redistributing it to players against whom Duthweiler played.