2017 Poker Wrap Up: Bitcoin, Hackers, and Ransoms

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As 2017 comes to an end we look back at some of the dark forces that afflicted the poker industry all through the year. When it comes to poker, it might still be too early to call it a year even if it is just a few more days to 2018 – it is one of the shakiest businesses in the world and anything can happen at any time. So, let us just delve into the events that shook the poker world most so far;

May’s Hack Jobs

The hackers targeted High-limit poker pros who they left defenseless by seizing control of their phones, Facebook and Twitter accounts. The poker pros who later publicly revealed that they had been the victims of hacking included Cate Hall, Dan Smith, Vanessa Selbst and Vanessa Russo. However, according to poker pro Doug Polk, the poker pros mentioned above were just a tiny fraction of the high-stakes community that had had their personal information stolen by hackers.

“The hackers have infiltrated bank accounts and tried to initiate wire transfers, used credit cards to rack up charges, gotten into Dropbox accounts containing copies of passports, credit cards, and tax returns, and extorted victims using incriminating information found in their email accounts,” Polk said in his popular YouTube channel.


This was a result of hacking but this time it is not just individual players who were affected but a whole site – America’s Cardroom. The hacker demanded ransom forcing the site to cancel all ongoing tournaments and refund all player buy-ins in early September. The standoff which lasted for three days, however, played out in favor of Winning Poker Network CEO Phil Nagy who refused to pay the hacker saying:

“We had the attacker get on chat and say I am gonna attack you in one minute and he does the attack, but I will never pay an attacker I won’t pay a ransom, I won’t do it because once you let the bully get your lunch money, he’s taking your money all the time. Once they make you a bit*h, you are a bit*h, and I don’t like the idea of being a bit*h.”

Well Played!

Enter Crypto

Decentralized digital currencies have gained a lot of popularity in poker circles this year thanks to the buzz bitcoin has been creating. Cryptocurrencies have proven in a very short time that they are the key to turning an average poker bankroll into a massive pile of real money. In fact, a number of online poker sites are already supporting cryptocurrency transactions which come with the added advantages of reliability and unmatched processing speeds.

Still, we have to acknowledge the downsides of this particular arrangement by putting into consideration the unpredictable volatility of these cryptocurrencies – case in point, bitcoin. Crypto might be a savior thanks to the exceptional security associated with blockchain technology but a lot of this security is compromised when the decentralized currencies are hosted on centralized networks like poker sites. We wouldn’t that now, would we?

Josh Andrews

Author: Josh Andrews

As an avid follower of the crypto world from the beginning since early 2010, Josh has experienced and covered every drop, turn and rise of Bitcoin from the first halving to the countless attempts of regulation. Over the years Josh has developed a keen interest in the different applications and uses of Bitcoin and its current movement within the gambling industry. It's safe to say very few can match Josh's passion for the growth and development of Bitcoin.

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