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Poker Streamer Matt Vaughan SCREWS UP, Loses $136K+

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It can’t ever be a good thing when someone wins a huge jackpot and then finds out that they’ve been disqualified at a later date. This is precisely what happened to Matt Vaughan when he chose to play the Ignition Monthly Milly tournament though. The Nevada-based poker player entered into the event on February 21, 2021, and he finished at the top of the leaderboard, bagging himself more than $100,000 as a result.

Two months after that win, Vaughan shared a video to his YouTube channel reporting on how he had won and lost the $136,686 prize. He didn’t do this by spending the money though. Instead, he lost it because Ignition discovered that he was playing on someone else’s account due to Nevada being a restricted state. This, the Ignition poker site said, violated the terms of service, resulting in Vaughan being disqualified and all other players moving up one spot in the rankings.

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Vaughan Euphoric After Initial Win

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The start of the video details Vaughan’s reaction in the first 10 seconds after he won the huge jackpot. It then proceeds on through several hours and a couple of days after the win when the reality of the $136K prize finally starts to sink in. 124 hours after his victory at Ignition Poker, Matt thanks everyone for their kind messages and responds to the question, “What’s your splurge purchase going to be?”, stating that he doesn’t believe there will be such a purchase, but he will buy himself “a very nice bottle of liquor.”

Vaughan gives shout outs to people in the initial stages of the video too, including tournament coach Matt Hunt, his mental game coach, Coach Bahman, and owner of School of Cards, Blake Eastman. Clearly, Vaughan gets emotional regarding both his win and the people he is grateful to before thanking those who watched on Twitch and sent messages through Discord and Twitter.

Following the initial elation, the video clip shows Vaughan having a celebratory drink with his buddies before skipping ahead two months. At this point, a somber-looking Matt walks into shot and states, “I lost it all.”

Matt Vaughan2021 Online Poker Dumbass of the Year Nominee Matt Vaughan

Ignition Restrictions Lead to Vaughan’s Loss

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The video continues with Vaughan detailing his entry into the Monthly Milly, which he states he bought into for $535 and then luckboxed, timed-out, and mis-clicked his way to victory. And all of that was live streamed for avid viewers to enjoy. Vaughan then goes on to say that the legality of U.S.A. online poker has its own rules that vary based on the state you’re playing in, and he notes that Ignition Poker has its own specific restrictions pertaining to geography too.

Ignition, as many people will know, operates within the United States of America, but is an offshore platform. Therefore, it bases itself out of Costa Rica, and it holds a gambling license from Curacao. It is this setup that allows US players to visit and join the poker platform as a way of circumventing current US legislation that theoretically (though not in practice) does not permit online poker sites in some states.

Only a few US states provide their own regulated online poker, including locations like Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Ignition does not operate within some of these states because it is likely that legislation providing for the licensure of online poker in these states would see Ignition and other offshore rooms targeted as unlawful online poker operations. Since real money revenue is at stakes, it's possible that these jurisdictions might deploy heavy-handed enforcement actions as opposed to other states, which have historically not really given much of a damn either way.

Vaughan goes on to state that Ignition Poker has specific states mentioned within its Terms of Service where it does not accept players from. This is clearly expressed in the Terms of Service part 2.3, with the official wording being:

Use of the website and associated services are expressly prohibited from the following states: DE, MD, NJ, NV. Any account accessed from a restricted state will have all access rights revoked and any balance contained in the account may be considered void.

The Problems Begin for Vaughan

The initial issues came about because Vaughan had moved from Wisconsin (an accepted state at Ignition Poker) to Maryland (an unaccepted state) in 2017. In the process, he did not update his address details in his Ignition account, and this did not compute with him until he tried to make a withdrawal of $16,000 at one point.

Ignition Poker contacted Matt to say that his location of play was different from the address on his account. He was allowed to cash out his funds after verifying his identity, which is an important part of holding an online gambling account anyway, but because he had relocated to Maryland, his account was closed after this.

Within the past seven or eight months, Vaughan opted to relocate once more, this time moving to Nevada instead. He knew that this was also a restricted state, but he had read that various other players had managed to circumvent the Terms of Service by playing at Ignition Poker from friends’ accounts. Because of the commonness of this activity, Vaughan opted to take the same route and play at Ignition Poker through a friend’s account.

Due to the fact that Ignition is an anonymous poker site as well, none of the other players knows who is taking a seat at a poker table. Therefore, Vaughan was easily able to utilize a friend’s account to play poker from within Nevada at Ignition.

The difference between his gameplay in Maryland as opposed to his gameplay in Nevada is the fact that he didn’t realize what he was doing in the former, whereas he knowingly violated the Terms of Service in Nevada. However, his friend proceeded with going through the verification process after Vaughan won the tournament at Ignition.

He was ultimately stopped in the end, though, because the poker site discovered that the account holder was not the one depositing and playing poker there; Vaughan was. Live streaming the session on Twitch wasn’t exactly the best idea either!

No Payout for Terms of Service Violation

Vaughan expected to receive his payout in the same way that it occurred in Maryland with his account being closed down straight after. That is not the way that it happened for Vaughan, though, because rather than simply accessing his own account from an unaccepted state, he was using someone else’s account, and this was deemed by Ignition Poker as “multi-accounting.”

The use of the term “multi-accounting” leads one to believe that Vaughan had several accounts on the go under his own name, which is not actually what occurred. He simply used an account that a friend had opened up to participate in the tournament.

Along with speculations that online poker is rigged, tales of cheating teams and multiple colluders working together to fleece unsuspecting users abound in the online poker community, so it's understandable that the poker site would want to crack down, perhaps overenthusiastically, on this kind of activity. In the end, Vaughan was informed that the multi-accounting decision was grounds for the site to not pay out at all. privately contacted a representative for Ignition Poker who authorized this public statement about the Matt Vaughn scandal stated:

Because the player who won the tournament was playing on someone else’s account (due to living in a restricted state), he was disqualified from the tournament for violating the Terms of Service and all other players moved up one spot in the rankings, resulting in a lot of players being credited extra money for their higher finish.

Heads-up Deal Saves Vaughan From Total Loss

During the heads-up portion of Vaughan’s live stream of his play, he was contacted by an associate who said that the other player, Tom Braband, was interested in proceeding with a “poker chop.” Also known as a poker deal, this would result in most of the prize pool being divided between both parties with a $5,000 of it being reserved for the final winner.

The prize pool would be ICM (independent chip model) chopped. This allows the conversion of tournament players’ stacks in chips into their money equity, and this money would be paid out to them both regardless of the outcome of the $5,000 heads-up competition.

Despite the fact that Vaughan was disqualified by the Ignition site/PaiWangLuo Network and Braband was declared the official winner, Tom chose to honor the chop that the two of them had decided on. This meant that Braband elected, out of his own sense of ethics and fair play, to send Vaughan the portion of his first place prize that was in excess of the first place money according to the terms of their chop. Thus, Matt Vaughan ended up taking home around $16,000 – not exactly the big windfall that he thought he had locked up but still a lot better than $0 nevertheless.

Our Thoughts

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Ignition Poker operates as a part of the PaiWangLuo Network, and this entity is responsible for the overarching rules, Terms of Service, and so on that are largely reflected in toto on the Ignition site. This organization is one of the most well-known of the offshore poker networks providing their services to the US market.

Had Braband chosen not to honor the chop in the end after Vaughan’s disqualification, then Matt would not have received anything at all. So is the PWL network legitimate and operating in a proper way? Or are Ignition and its partner Bovada rigged? Well, in this circumstance, the poker network is simply operating in adherence with its own Terms of Service.

Yes, the “multi-accounting” that Vaughan’s gameplay was labeled as is not quite what people have in mind when they hear that term; however, he was still in blatant violation of the rules and was using someone else’s account to participate in the event. Vaughan also made a key error in choosing to live stream his gameplay, and likely the poker room caught on to him quickly due to this.

Playing on Ignition and Bovada

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Whatever the case may be, if you do choose to engage in playing poker at Ignition, Bovada or any other online poker room, then be sure that it is not restricted in your state. If you want to learn more about Ignition, then check out this accurate review of Ignition Poker. Or head over to an honest Bovada review to learn more about this provider. For a comparison between the two sites, read this Bovada vs. Ignition overview.

We can recommend a variety of other online poker sites that provide their services to US states. This may be especially useful in case you reside in an area in which Ignition and Bovada do not do business. So check out the guide to the best US online poker rooms to find one to join.