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EXCLUSIVE: The Revolution Poker Civil War and How Lock Poker Players Will Ultimately Pay The Price

What follows is an exclusive, in-depth look at what Lock Poker has done since leaving the Merge Network in May of 2012 - and the lasting effects their demise would likely have on the US online poker climate. We also share new and alarming evidence of a Lock representative telling a high-volume player that if he returned to their tables, he would get his eventual cashout request expedited far ahead of the pace of many who continue to wait (some as high as 8 months) for their own payouts.

Revultion Civil War Lock Poker Tragedy 



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The battle field was ready. Armies waiting for the call to charge. At least in the mind of the general on one side.

"We must take this field," said the general. "Today will be a landmark day in the history of this great war. Songs will be sung of our deeds, and the field before us will be littered with the souls of those who would stand in our way."

On the opposing side, the "army" assembled was quite content with the status quo. They saw no need for a battle to be waged on this day, or any other. But the war had been brewing for months already, and the leader looking across at the hungry soliders opposite them knew there was no avoiding the conflict to come.

The general stood tall, ordering his subordinates to sound the general alarm for battle. They would charge the field, whether their opponent was ready or not.

The battle was swift as it was ugly as the general's men slaughtered their enemy with little resistance. They conquered, staked, and claimed what they thought was rightfully theirs and made it their own. They had won the day, separated themselves from their supposed oppressive overlords, and were now free to operate on their own terms.

This was the day the Revolution truly began.

-----

The number had grown to nearly 100 players. After nearly three months of cataloging pending Lock cashout requests, the ceiling never thought possible to be near was about to break.

"To be honest, I figured the powers that be would have seen the list growing and once it hit maybe 50 players, then they'd grab it, pay out a huge swath of them, and that would be basically that," says 2+2 forum poster IHasTehNutz, who has compiled a list of cashout requests from Lock with greater than two months wait time from user submitted messages. "To see that now, outside of something miraculous, that the list is going to surpass 100 people, it's just crazy."

"You think about it this way - I limit the list to players that submit through PM's. There's a bunch I see in other withdrawal threads who aren't on the report. 2+2 is the largest poker forum in the world, but how many more people are waiting north of sixty days? It's scary to think what the actual number is."

It's a glimpse into the world that is the current state of affairs for Lock Poker. The once proud and "proud of it" poker room on the Revolution network is now but a shell of their former self. Where once was a prince now stands a pauper, isolated and dark to the vast majority of those in the online poker community. Only via your Lock poker client and then an additional playthrough requirement can you contact a member of the Lock team - even still, your comment or question awaits moderation that may or may not occur.

For those waiting for their payouts from Lock, the silence is deafening. Repeated emails by players to Lock's customer service reps go unanswered or - in many cases - are simply copy/pasted responses that may not even have anything to do with that player's unique situation.

That is, of course, unless you are a high volume player.

ProfRB.com exclusively obtained a report from a regular high-volume player (who asked to remain anonymous) that shows a conversation between himself and Shane Bridges, a Lock representative and "Social Media" director, via Skype. The player, seeking advice on whether or not he should return to Lock after an absence, was told that if he reached a certain monetary plateau in rake from his play, the player's subsequent cashout request would be expedited to "a monthly payout".

The relevant portion is screen-grabbed below:
 

Evidence of Lock Poker cheating players


The conversation continues as Shane asks the player if he will out-rake another player, discusses his tastes in alcohol, and then offers to send the player a "1.7 liter Grey Goose to your door to celebrate your return". Read the text version at your own risk here.

Special treatment is not something exclusive to Lock when it comes to affiliates, who can sometimes navigate the waters of the industry to get payments to players at a steadier pace than what they might receive on their own. However, at present, only Juicy Stakes, another beleaguered Revolution network poker room, can boast having worse customer experiences when it comes to money owed to players. Of the US-facing poker rooms among the major US-friendly poker networks, none of them aside from Juicy and Lock have average reported wait times longer than 77 days for any method of payout over the past 4 months (according to our own tracking - August report here, and September report here). And the room with the 77-day average (a timeframe from four months prior to this article's posting, mind you) has lowered it to less than 30 days at last report.

Lock's track record for cashouts, however, isn't even close to 77 days. Their previous four months of what has been cataloged from actual players via our cashout reports is appalling - especially when you consider that others, solely based on ability to make money for Lock, are being paid in a fraction of the time. It's quite amazing how those "third party processing issues" seem to fade into oblivion at opportune times.

But really - when it comes to brandishing favoritism about like a kite in the wind, Lock Poker has few equals. The player talking to the Lock rep above had no affiliate. He was simply going to rake a lot of money for Lock Poker. Or he would have, anyway. Three days after that conversation above, the player traded his large sum of money off of Lock. A change of heart after careful consideration.

"Why should Lock get to play God with who gets payouts and who doesn't? Why do they get to decide who deserves money more then others? I put money on Lock to hit $10k (in rake) and it didnt make me take it off at the time. But I thought better of it three days later," stated the player.

"If I leave that money on and play to get that benefit, am I any better then Lock? I want to be clear - I'm not against the Revolution network. I'm just not going to sit on a high horse and tell people whats right or wrong when people (waiting for cashouts) can't pay rent."

---

After the dust had settled, a new online poker network emerged from the battlefield. No longer would all of the soldiers be represented under the Merge banner - now, a new path would be forged through the blood and bodies of a one-sided war. The new name that would be heard was Revolution Gaming, and from it would rise a new destination for US players hungry for action since the events of Black Friday a year earlier.

That unusually cold dawn post-battle gave way to the heated summer months as Lock Poker, once just a skin on the Merge Network, was now in the process of "purchasing" selected assets from Cake Gaming. They would rebrand the former Cake Network as Revolution, and Lock Poker would be its premier skin. Lock would begin offering 200% player deposits up to $4,000* - an unheard of value for US players still feeling the sting in the months and year after PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were no longer available to them. Lock offered 36% rakeback via their new VIP system*, and upscaled their Sunday MTT schedule to include $110,000 GTD and $80,000 GTD pro bounty tournaments, where players would earn additional $500 sums for taking out Lock pros Melanie Weisner and Annette Obrestad*.

The players, they came (some even via "questionable tactics"). And they came in droves. Immediately following the move from Merge, Lock enjoyed a 94% surge in player traffic. The gains continued and held throughout the rest of 2012. Everything was heading in the right direction.

But then, the inevitable happened. Players started cashing out after enjoying the fruits of Lock's labor. The floodgates opened, and like a rushing river running through an open dam, the water began to rise. Waiting times for payouts - once clocked in matters of days or maybe weeks, were now taking a month. Then they took six weeks. A couple months became the norm. Promises of a new cashier system with new processors came from the Lock reps. Everything would be okay.

Except it wouldn't be. The backlogs piled up. Third-party processors were "stealing funds". The new cashier coding and design was "taking longer than expected". Players were complaining. Player-to-player trading rates (we call it "vig") were dropping faster than the Titanic in the north Atlantic in 1912. Finding reputable processors was "proving harder then previously thought". Players were still getting paid, we were told - it was just taking longer "due to the influx of players".

An influx that Lock created themselves, of course. Who wouldn't have been attracted by high rakeback deals and lucrative promotions? Surely with such a targeted approach to player retention and growth, Lock was ready for cashouts en masse. But as the waiting times increased, the traffic slowly began to decrease as 2013 played out. Tournament guarantees were lowered and some even outright disappeared, while segregation from other network skins became the order of the day.

We didn't understand what was really going on, you see. We were still told by Lock's faithful representatives and trusted media shills (sources...I mean sources) that everything would be just fine in due time. Payouts were "speeding up" and "getting made" despite mass publicly-available data showing otherwise - we just needed to trust them, you see.

But of course, you probably know the story by now - the limiting of peer-to-peer trading (players had to manually ask support to move transfer limits up), the "Fair Play Technology" implementation, the Lock-paid excursion to Portugal, featuring the trusted media shill who got the exclusive non-interview "interview" with Lock CEO Jennifer Larson. Pick your poison. There's plenty of it to choose from.

But the most damning sign of impending doom came just last month, amid further segregation via Revolution and on the heels of Lock leaving the 2+2 Forums for their own version of a forum. Intertops Poker, a Revolution skin that actually engages in safe business practices despite the allure of a quick buck (been around for over 30 years now too), decided they had enough of the current trends and summarily left the network at $2/$4 cash game levels and higher, and basically all of the network MTT schedule (save for tournaments with GTD amounts of $999 and lower).

The result has been a disaster for Lock and Revolution, which was left holding the bag after not being able to reduce their MTT schedule quick enough before Intertops left the coop. One of the immediate results was a $20,000 overlay from their $75k GTD Pro Bounty tournament on August 11th, which was roughly the amount that Intertops players would have contributed to the prize pool.

Since then, things have only gotten worse. And the forecast is calling for more clouds.

---

"War is hell. There are no winners."

Despite any short-term gain from the "battle" with Merge, Lock Poker has long since spent their capital, gained and then lost both treasure and the perception of the online poker community. An eventual collapse, according to many, seems only inevitable. Of course, this would harm the financial status of those situated at the top of the Lock heap. But the ones who may truly pay the price, ultimately, are the players.

Particularly, the players from America. The lion's share of the crop of players owed money from Lock Poker - whose total numbers remain unknown to all except the very top of the Lock management food chain. What will be their fate should Lock shut its doors? Will the scenario that many fear play out?

The scenario, a doomsday one at that, hidden in the back of many people's minds, is that the raised profile of so many in the US owed money from an off-shore gambling company will ultimately lead to more scrutiny from US authorities. Whether or not specific action is pursued on Lock is debatable - but one possible outcome could be the revisitation to UIGEA-type legislation and a renewed push to stop overseas gaming companies from accepting US funds for play in their online rooms. This could lead to a sour taste in the minds of those who might have looked at US-backed regulation of online poker as a possibility, endangering the immediate and possible long-term future of access to quality online poker for American players.

In any case, Lock CEO Jennifer Larson is unlikely to be held accountable in the States. Positioned in Canada and armed with enough plausable deniability to sink a submarine, Larson is poised to avoid and dodge, and might even be able to retain her trusted media shill to handle her public relations.

But the players don't have such luxuries. In the end, they are the ones left with their hands in the pockets, pulling out lint in the place of the money promised to them. Remember this quote from a 2010 press release when Larson was taking credit for Merge Network success.

“One of our mandates as a company is to provide a superior online poker experience. We are determined to take this industry by storm and innovate in every possible way we can. The player comes first at Lock and that will always drive our business development.”

Until, at least, that development runs the company into the ground.

---

The battle field was cold as evening struck. The armies waiting for the call to charge had long left, and only the dead remained rotting in the night air.

But not far, the general stood with his trusted captain - the man who led the general's troops to victory.

"We took the field," said the general. "We laid waste to our opponents. Already I can hear the men crafting the words of song and rejoice."

The captain looked at the general with pity and slight disdain. He couldn't reveal it - not yet.

The general continued, unimpeded. "I tell you fine Captain. It was a glorious victory. History will look back on us as heroes and victors, the likes of which never seen before or after a great stead. And you shall be handsomely rewarded for your bravery and courage!"

At that, the captain could not contain himself any longer. He had to break his general's reverie.

"General, with great respect - walk forward 50 paces."

The general looked at the captain as if he had three heads.

"Walk forward? What for, Captain? I am tired from the day, and require rest."

The captain insisted. "Please. For my bearing, I require you to assist me, sir."

The general granted, if reluctantly, the captain's request. The two men stood side by side and walked. Slowly at first, until their pace quickened in the tree-thick cover of forestry.

At the 50th pace, both men stopped. The captain, a knowing look upon him, gazed to his general. The general looked around, bewildered.

"Captain, where are my men?" said the general.

"General. There are no men."

"I am not in the mood for horseplay on this eve. I ask again - where are my men?"

"They all died, General. Every one of them. No one survived the battle."

"But the men signing and carrying on!" exclaimed the general. "I heard them, saw them with my own eyes!"

"It was in your mind, sir," reluctantly stated the captain. "Fortune has seen fit to allow us - you and me, sir - to survive. But this war claimed all of the rest. Every last one of them."

The men stood there, looking at the dark nothingness of the forest clearing, left frozen by the scars of the body, and of the mind.

The war consumed them all. Left no one save for the general, and his captain.

This was the day the Revolution truly died.

---
 

PROFRB

Special thanks to CalvinAyre, TwoplusTwo Forums, 4Flush, and GameIntel