Global Poker, a relative newcomer on the U.S. online poker scene, is caught up in a dispute with one of its big winners who goes by the screenname “BeHumble.” He is allegedly waiting for a cashout of $50,000 through PayPal. Global sent the money to “BeHumble's” PayPal account near the beginning of July, but PayPal declined the transaction. Now both companies are refusing to make the player whole, and each organization is blaming the other for the missing money.
The man behind the “BeHumble” name is Stefan Christopher, who used to play in the high-stakes games on Full Tilt Poker, going by the moniker “EskaborReturns.” Railbirds used to watch excitedly as he battled against the likes of Prahlad “Spirit Rock” Friedman, Gus Hansen, and Andrew “luckychewy” Lichtenberger in NL Hold'em and PL Omaha games with blinds as high as $200/$400.
All of this action was shut down post-Black Friday because Americans like Stefan were unable to access either Full Tilt, which shortly went bust, or PokerStars, the only other site for the kind of stratospheric games he was used to. Several years passed, but then in early 2017, Stefan heard about Global Poker on Facebook. His friends told him that the games were soft, and so he decided to open an account in the middle of May and play in the biggest games offered: $10/$20 NLHE and PLO. While $2,000-buyin tables are too pricey for most casual users, for a player of Stefan's caliber, they were no problem, and he began winning large sums almost immediately.
Accumulating big profits on his “BeHumble” account, Stefan initiated several cashout requests from Global, and the money was sent to his PayPal account. We reached out to Stefan, and he was kind enough to share his PayPal records with us. In the month of June 2017, he was able to pull more than $200,000 off the site – all from an initial deposit of just $1,000!
Trouble was just around the corner however. Near the beginning of July, PayPal limited Stefan's account, preventing him from receiving any new transfers and making any payments. Additionally, he was told that his PayPal account would be closed in 180 days, which will be effective on Jan. 5, 2018. He had a withdrawal from Global for $50,000 pending, which the poker site said it sent, but PayPal refused to credit the cash to Stefan's balance. PayPal said it was excluding Stefan from using its services going forward because he made a lot of substantial transactions to friends and family, avoiding the normal PayPal fees. Stefan told us that those people were really his friends, not customers or other people with whom he had business relationships, and that was why he took advantage of the no-fee friends and family feature of PayPal. After the Jan. 5 shutdown date, Stefan will receive his full PayPal balance, which he informed us was $42K, but there's no telling what will happen to the $50,000 from Global that appears to be stuck in limbo.
“BeHumble” kept playing at the Global Poker tables for a while, but he lost his remaining balance, and, with no way to redeposit to his account because Global transacts only with PayPal, he stopped playing. A few weeks later, he logged into his Global account only to discover that it had been disabled. The company said that it shut down Stefan's poker account because of the PayPal closure.
Stefan has been going back and forth with Global Poker customer support representatives, but they say that the issues are on PayPal's end and to take it up with that company. PayPal meanwhile states that the money was returned to VGW Holdings, Global's parent firm, and that PayPal does not have anything more to do with the matter. Finally, Stefan escalated his complaints to Global Poker's upper management, and they said they would get back to him near the beginning of January.
You can read more about Stefan's saga in a thread he started on the Twoplustwo forums. We wish Stefan Christopher good luck in his dealings with Global, and we hope that they find an alternate way of paying him what he's owed. We'll update this article as appropriate with any new information that Stefan gives us.
Here at Professional Rakeback we maintain a payout report that is updated monthly and covers a wide range of websites that offer poker, sports betting, and casino games. In this report we also cover Global Poker cashouts, so take a look for yourself if you are curious how we score them, and various other gambling sites.
If you're an American online poker player yourself, you might find it odd that Global Poker uses PayPal to conduct its money transfers. This is unusual indeed because PayPal doesn't allow U.S. customers or merchants to use its services for gambling purposes. No other reputable real money online gaming firm in the U.S. market supports PayPal for cashier functions.
The answer lies in the way Global's enterprise is set up. They claim not to be holding real money balances or allowing players to gamble with actual cash. Instead, they're selling play chips, called “Gold Coins,” that users put on the line at the tables. However, as an added incentive, customers also receive “Sweeps Cash” that can be played with too. This Sweeps Cash can be withdrawn from the site at a 1:1 ratio for U.S. dollars. There's also a convoluted mechanism that allows players to send forms in through the mail to get a paltry amount of Sweeps Cash without making a deposit. Global claims that this way of doing things is completely valid under U.S. sweepstakes laws. Global's sister site Chumba Casino had been operating under a similar model since 2012 before Global opened to the public in February 2017.
Given that Global Poker positions itself as a sweepstakes poker site, it's a bit unsettling that the organization would close the “BeHumble” account because of Stefan Christopher's PayPal woes. After all, if Global is mainly a Gold Chips play-money site, with Sweeps distributed just as an added bonus, then surely it would make sense for Stefan to be allowed to continue playing for fun.
Global Poker claims to have “partnered” with both PayPal and Facebook and says that these firms have given Global the OK to use their platforms. Yet, there are very few details that have been released about these “partnerships.” It could be the case that PayPal hasn't carefully examined the Global Poker Sweeps system and believes it to be somewhat akin to a casual casino or games site that has free-to-play entertainment with the slim chance of winning a real prize. There's no telling if PayPal will pull the plug on Global in the future, and if this does happen, there will be plenty of other users besides “BeHumble” with problems getting paid.
It takes two to tango, and the entire onus of this dispute doesn't lie solely on Global's shoulders. PayPal is well-known for its sometimes mercurial and unpredictable moves. Online reports abound about the money service freezing users' accounts for little or no reason. Many of them have to go through convoluted procedures to get their accounts reinstated, and in some cases, customers are permanently banned from PayPal without knowing why. Other reported issues include unexplained holds placed on funds, inept and unfriendly customer support personnel, and exorbitant fees for some services. Entire websites are devoted to documenting the bungling and ineptness of PayPal, such as PayPalSucks.com.
In Stefan Christopher's case, PayPal deemed his frequent use of friends and family transfers unacceptable. Nevertheless, this is not a good reason for blocking his incoming cash from Global. In any event, they could easily have reinstated his account and given him a warning. Indeed, they could have just simply disabled his ability to send funds to friends and family if this is the particular reason that they are closing his account.
Most online poker rooms allow players to request their cashouts via a number of different payment channels. This is sensible because it permits alternate processors to be used in the event that something goes wrong with one of them. By tying itself so closely to PayPal, Global Poker subjects itself and its clients to the whims of a single organization. If PayPal eventually elects to stop dealing with Global, even without hindering or reversing pending and completed transactions, then players will be in the lurch as far as withdrawals go until Global sets up additional payout methods. Really, poker room managers at Global should have possessed the foresight to have already implemented secondary and backup methods for the timely payment of winnings.
There are many offshore poker sites that cater to Americans and don't put themselves at risk of PayPal snafus. They operate according to well-established World Trade Organization rules, and they're properly licensed and regulated by the jurisdictions in which they reside. If you're an American, you can find out more about your options for internet poker in our guide to the best online poker sites. If you are still interested in learning more about Global Poker, against our professional recommendations, then we advise you to take a long and thorough read of our Global Poker review.