Tuesday September 17,2013 : LITTLE PROGRESS APPARENT ON POKER LAPTOP TAMPERING ISSUE (Update)
But more players come forward with similar complaints after EPT Barcelona
The alleged room invasions and laptop tampering at the Hotel Arts, where many players in the recent European Poker Tour Barcelona were staying surfaced again this week with reports that more players have come forward with similar complaints.
Following the Jens “Jeans” Kyllönen, Ignat "0human0" Liviu, Aku Joentausta and Lauri Pesonen complaints, no further information has been released by those involved in the investigation.
However, other players have since posted on social media and poker message boards that they suspect they are also victims of the person or persons unknown who it is alleged entered hotel rooms and inserted malicious software onto the laptops of players.
Ankush "pistons87" Mandavia said this week that he had been exposed to a similar experience as Kyllonen during his stay at the Hotel Arts. Several calls were made to his room whilst he was away, and his entry card was at times inactive.
His friend, identified only as Spektah later discovered that his laptop password had been removed, and his machine threw up the dreaded blue screen, freezing all activity.
Chanracy Khun, another Barcelona player, used Twitter to comment that he was also a blue screen victim, and subsequent investigations had revealed the presence of Splashtop, a program which allows mobile devices to view and operate laptops remotely.
Player Yaf reported the suspicious behaviour of a hotel employee he found in his room when he returned to it unexpectedly. He was possibly lucky that he did, because his laptop was unmolested, although his report on the issue to the hotel has not yet produced information on the outcome.
Unhappy with what he perceived to be a lack of enthusiasm for pursuing his problems at Hotel Arts, Kyllonen posted that he had contacted parent group Ritz-Carlton to underline his dissatisfaction. He received a polite letter assuring him that the group was taking the incidents seriously, but that no real progress or information was included.
The reason why tournament players are paying such close attention to this issue is the fear that snooping software may have been installed illegally on their hardware which could put them at a disadvantage in subsequent tournament classes.
The poker publication Poker News points to the case of Jason Koon, who earlier this year claimed his laptop had been hacked whilst he was playing in the EPT Deauville live tournament and staying at an hotel recommended by the organiser Pokerstars.
Returning to his hotel room one day, he discovered that the password on his laptop had been erased. He subsequently accepted a challenge to play a Swedish-registered account using the handle ‘PookLook2' on $1,000 and $5,000 heads-up sit-n-gos on Full Tilt Poker.
He lost $48,000 to the Swedish account, which had a previous average buy-in of only $15.
The fears of such players are understandable, emphasising once again how important it is for the hotels concerned – and Pokerstars or other tournament organisers – to take these issues very, very seriously.