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Jao Poker Exhibits Shady Behavior

Logo of Jao Poker

If you're a U.S.-based poker player, then you may have seen or heard of Jao Poker, an entity that has seemingly sprung up overnight and promises fully legal online poker for Americans. Unfortunately, once you look beyond the hype, the entire operation appears questionable at best. We have reviewed Jao Poker and believe it to be a shady company that ultimately won't be able to fulfill its obligations to players or affiliates. Read our review of Jao Poker below.

Strange Affiliate Model

Blue Pyramid with Ace of Clubs

Most internet poker rooms are happy to partner with affiliates who can promote their games, and they allow anyone to become an affiliate for free. Affiliate programs are free because they only pay based on performance. In other words, if an affiliate fails to send players, the affiliate program has no need to pay said affiliate is it has incurred no costs. Jao Poker, on the other hand, uses its affiliates as a source of income. Jao Poker charges $250 for an affiliate account! Whoever does pay this fee gets a $100 credit to their poker balance along with Jao-branded merchandise, but the total value delivered is much less than the $250 upfront cost.

In order to recoup their investments, affiliates must try to sign up enough players so that their share of the rake is sufficient to make a profit. The compensation scheme is complicated and involves Jao Poker rakeback on an individual's own play, the amount of rake referred players generate, and bonuses for signing up other affiliates. Downstream credit extends for 10 levels, encouraging people to bring other affiliates aboard who then convince others to join, and so on until the whole structure resembles a pyramid. This sounds a lot like a MLM scam doesn't it?

All tiers of this affiliate program are trying to make enough money to pay off their $250 initial cost, and it's hard to see how Jao will be able to host enough traffic to make this possible for a very long time if ever. Jao doesn't allow anyone to register as a player unless they use an affiliate code. This is one way to try to ensure that affiliates receive credit for their referrals, but it also has the effect of limiting traffic. This tactic seems ultimately counterproductive especially because player liquidity is pretty small at the moment.

Jao Poker is now running a promo allowing people to become affiliates, or “Independent Business Owners” (IBOs) as Jao calls them, for just $100. Maybe the $250 price tag was too high to achieve the participation levels Jao was hoping for? This special is running until Labor Day (Sept. 4). However, those who accept this deal only get $50 placed into their player accounts rather than the standard $100, and they don't get any Jao merchandise either. Even at the reduced price point, this “offer” leaves much to be desired.

Spam Marketing Techniques

Megaphone

Jao management and affiliates are heading to internet forums and social media to shill the site. There are multiple Facebook groups that have been reporting an infestation of Jao Poker fanboys posting their aff codes, often against the rules of the group. Some of them are even developing personal FB pages that are basically advertisements for the site complete with large banners and signup codes. When you accept one of them as a friend, then others will soon send you a request, and you could wind up with dozens of “friends” who are just trying to promote this increasingly desperate-looking organization.

This is bad enough, but it gets worse when we look at how these Jao backers conduct themselves. Facebook user Tam Nguyen claims to be a member of the board at Jao Poker, and he has been actively commenting on anything negative posted about the poker site. The tenor of his posts is quite defensive and sometimes angry. Take a look at this example:

Facebook Post by Jao Poker Director Tam Nguyen

Mr. Nguyen aired his beef with a customer in a public arena rather than settling the matter privately. The language he used and the allegations he made come off as very unprofessional regardless of the merits of his claims. It's probably also a violation of privacy terms, and if it isn't, it should be.

We've seen Tam Nguyen spreading his affiliate code just about everywhere, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a variety of other online venues. An unnamed Jao insider informed us that Tam has more than 1,000 signups under his code, earning him thousands of dollars per month. It's no wonder he's so vigorous in trying to protect the reputation of his gravy train.

Editor's Note: Since the publication of this article, Tam Nguyen has been disputing the information we've presented. He has made comments to this effect on Professional Rakeback's Facebook page. You can view his post below and gauge the sobriety and rationality of his statements for yourself.

Tam Nguyen's Response to ProfRB Article

 

PayPal Acceptance Worrisome

PayPal Logo

Jao Poker used to support PayPal for deposits and withdrawals, allegedly making it easier for U.S. players to move their money around. This wasn't really a point in its favor though because PayPal prohibits its customers in the United States from using its services for online gambling purposes. Not only can Jao get in trouble as a merchant, but ordinary players may see their PayPal accounts suspended or frozen if they have conducted any transactions related to gambling. In order to get around the rules, Jao sent and received money to separate accounts under different names in direct violation of the UIGEA (the DOJ will get fired up over this)!

This jig appears to be up as Jao no longer lists PayPal as a method for either placing money into poker accounts or cashing it out. It instead transacts now in credit cards, bank transfers, and other payment processors. We've received word that Jao is transitioning to doing business exclusively in Bitcoin. This isn't anything really special either; there are many internet poker sites that support this cryptocurrency. Jao Poker is just catching up to the USA industry standard in this area.

Editor's Note: More details have emerged as to Jao Poker's payment processing efforts. They're acutally setting up fake e-commerce sites to allow users to make deposits with their Visa and MasterCard credit cards while circumventing the controls that card issuers have put in place. Songenterprises.com is one of these fake storefronts, which has been saved for posterity on InternetArchive.org.

Website of Song Enterprises

Website of “Song Enterprises" - along with card shufflers, poker chips, and other seemingly legitimate merchandise is this "1000 Jao Game Credit"

Website of "Jao Enterprises"

Another bogus e-store, "Jao Enterprises" - notice how the prices of the bottles of wine are all suspiciously round and even numbers.

Click a Mouse, Lose a House?

There are plenty of other bizarre stories floating around the 'net regarding Jao Poker, including one that says that its owner was involved in fraudulent real estate transactions in Minnesota. Don't just take our word for it; 2+2 veteran and moderator bicyclekick (Brian Clark) also recommends that players stay away:

Twoplustwoer Bicyclekick's Post on Jao Poker

This isn't the first we've heard of the housing scandal either. Not only did a source brief us on the subject privately, but other forums are talking about it as well. A trusted source contacted us about the housing fraud subject and confirmed the story as true.

Post About Dishonest Practices of Jao Poker's Owner

General Incompetence

Even after such a short time in the online poker industy, Jao has managed to annoy many people in small but irritating ways. In a thread on twoplustwo.com, many forumites are sharing their negative experiences. One was told that a points store would open by July 1, but there's so sign of any such store yet. Another person sent an email asking what documentation is required before requesting a withdrawal, and support answered telling him what email address to send cashout requests to. Someone else reported having trouble making a credit card deposit.The software is poor, and there are frequent reports of software timeouts. The website design is also lacking with occassional graphical layout mishaps. While each one of these user concerns is minor, the fact that there are so many of them calls into questions the overall competence of the personnel at Jao Poker.

Other Red Flags

Red Flag

Jao Poker states that it's licensed and regulated in the Kingdom of Cambodia, which is the first time we've ever heard of any online real money gaming entity being licensed in that country. There's no mention of the random number generator or the poker software on the website. There is a FAQ, but it only contains very basic questions and answers without much relating to the poker games, cashier methods, account verification procedures, promotions, or the other topics that you would expect to find in such a document. Anyone looking for solid information on Jao Poker will likely come up short. There are allegations being made in some quarters that people are cheating by sharing hole cards in outside chatrooms, and Jao has been unwilling or unable to stop it. If true, this means that anyone who's not in on the deception is getting fleeced bigtime. Editor's Note: Start ups (if you can call Jao that) often devote few resources to fraud prevention simply due to the costs of implementing the personnel. It would not surprise us if Jao Poker skipped this step entirely.

Copyright Infringement

Blue Copyright Symbol

While conducting research for this article, we here at Professional Rakeback stumbled upon something that made our blood boil. When we reviewed this text explaining Jao's affiliate compensation model, entire paragraphs are lifted from ProfRB's page about online poker in Minnesota article! Needless to say, Jao neither asked for nor received permission to copy these passages from us. In fact, they probably did it out of spite. You see, we have blocked them from certain online forums and social media groups for incessant spamming. Thus, when they realized they had no hope of advertising with Professional Rakeback, they decided to pilfer through our content and steal what they could for themselves (might they exhibit the same behavior and claim your account balance as their own one day?) This is just another indication that the executives at Jao are lazy and unoriginal at best and downright unscrupulous thieves at worst. Editor's Note: We update our articles frequently, and so the Minnesota page linked above no longer contains the portion that Jao Poker stole from us. You can view an old copy of the page from April 27, 2017 courtesy of Internet Archive that clearly shows the lifted text.

Better Options Available

The numerous issues with Jao Poker make it an unwise poker destination for anyone who values his or her hard-earned money. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable offshore poker sites that welcome Americans to the tables. They have strong histories of dealing games fairly and of paying out winnings without hassles. To learn more about the top places to play cards, check out our guide to the best US online poker sites.