The Lock Poker Saga: A Timeline of Bad Faith

Last weekend’s apparent cessation of services at US-facing online poker site Lock Poker likely came far too late to reclaim the player funds embezzled from Lock by primary owner Jen Larson and other Lock execs.  However, at least it signals the probable end of the ongoing theft from new and inexperienced depositors to a site that for a long time has never had intention of honoring withdrawal requests.

Nothing has changed since the Lock Poker client went offline last weekend, along with all remaining support services and connectivity (thankfully) for the last of the site’s deposit options.

Lock Poker The online pages for Lock and sister site still exist.  However, traffic-tracking site PokerScout has removed its Lock Poker listing after recording zero actual player traffic on the Lock/SuperWins network for several days.  Another indicator: the affiliate sites owned and operated by former Lock Poker affiliate manager Gerry Poltorok no longer show any signs of active Lock Poker links, nor much else in the way of recent activity.

It’s still technically possible, as some players have noted, that the site could be resurrected.  The lights are still on at the home pages, but these are likely gathering dust and not being maintained, despite being paid for for several months in advance.  Likeliest guess is that they’ll disappear in another few weeks or month, to be displayed by the ubiquitous “404 – Page Not Found” message that’s become the Internet’s virtual tombstone of choice.

Lock Poker departs leaving perhaps $15 million in unpaid player balances, and a primary owner (Larson)and chief executives who appear to have intentionally covered their tracks to evade prosecutorial efforts, from whatever jurisdictions might have interest.

It’s of course very sad that online poker players will have suffered, collectively, another eight-figure hit.  However, it’s way past time that Lock Poker should have gone out of business.  Since its inception back in 2008, the site has been nothing but a thieving enterprise, offering nothing to the poker world.  That includes stealing players from other sites, defaulting on agreements with other networks, and finally, stealing from the players themselves.

The following timeline illustrates just how shoddy Lock Poker’s existence has been:

2008 (October): Lock Poker launches as a skin on the Cake Poker Network.

2009-2010: Lock Poker’s fortunes rise and then fall.  Lock Poker originally grows quickly, but becomes enmeshed over a skin-v-skin controversy when Lock is widely accused of poaching high-volume online grinders from other Cake affiliates.  While the practice may have been at best neutral to Cake’s own bottom line, the cost to other skins is significantly, and the network’s reputation eventually suffers.

2010 (April): Lock leaves the Cake Network after contractual disagreements, reportedly in connection with the excessive, under-the-table rakeback deals offered by the other sites that have damaged other Cake skins.  Lock Poker moves its player base to the Merge Poker Network, which features Carbon Poker and other skins.

2011 (March): Lock and BLUFF Magazine co-sponsor the Lock Pro Challenge, which is set to award a pro-style sponsorship package, a WSOP seat and an appearance on a summer-issue of cover of Bluff.  The official winner of the month-long contest is named as Jose “Girah” Macedo, a Lock-sponsored pro already under contract.  The award comes despite massive complaints and significant evidence that Macedo and another player conspired in a massive chip-dumping scheme spanning several days that allowed Macedo to win the contest.

Nonetheless, and in the face of insurmountable evidence, Lock Poker CEO and primary owner Jen Larson issued this statement in defense of Macedo:

We pride ourselves in standing for trust, legitimacy and loyalty. The truth is sometimes hard to stand by but it is the only way we can move forward. Although José won enough money from his own IP to have legitimately won the challenge, the unfortunate fact remains that breaking the rules is strictly disallowed. It nevertheless remains José is an exceptional player and I firmly believe that his mistakes only lead to greatness if he learns from them and himself moves forward.

–Jennifer Larson, Lock Poker

The statement itself was a lie, as subsequent examinations of the game play proved, particularly regarding the claim that Macedo would have won the contest without the collusive play.  Macedo’s chip-dumping companion — and later, Macedo himself — eventually admitted to the cheating scheme, though Lock Poker issued no formal retraction regarding the contest’s prizes.

2011 (April): Lock Poker is again caught breaking a network’s official rules regarding maximum rakeback awarded to players.  This time, Lock Poker circumvented Merge’s contractual max of 35% by offering an extra 20%, but with a hidden, unadvertised catch: Players would have to do a playthrough on Merge’s casino client of 40 to 160 times their winnings, an amount far, far beyond the profit likely to have been realized at the poker tables.

Online grinders ended up switching to Lock for what they thought was a better rakeback deal (which was impossible, as most were already receiving the network’s max) only to discover that they had been deceived via a classic bait-and-switch.  The theft of players from other skins eventually contributed to the liquidity and reconciliation issues that would soon endanger the Merge Network, just as they had dragged down the Cake Network’s fortunes when Lock was there.

2012 (May): Lock is punted from the Merge Network amid rumors of millions in dollars in owed reconciliation payments due to the comparatively high profit rates of Lock’s players, which were better than average overall, and had been recruited based on game volume rather than deposit likelihood.

2012 (May): Lock ends up back at the now cash-struggling Cake Network, claiming in press releases that it had bought the Cake Network.  About this time the Cake Network itself rebrands as the Revolution Gaming Network.

2013, early: Lock Poker’s cashout times expand from weeks to months as players wait for their withdrawals to be processed.  Lock PR spokesman Shane “Comical Ali” Bridges assures players repeatedly that the problems are temporary and are the fault of third-party payment processors, even though business registrations soon emerge that show Lock maintains its own private payment-processing service under a white-label entity.

2013 (May): Lock Poker CEO Jen Larson invites at least two dozen Lock-sponsored players and a small handful of favored affiliates to a lavish, week-long retreat at a castle in Portugal.  Such soirees were and are the hallmark of Larson, who was later revealed to have a taste for $500 bottles of wine with nightly meals amid other accouterments of the luxury life — all paid for, it turned out, with Lock players’ dollars.

2013 (June): The slow-pay / no-pay status of withdrawals for Lock players deteriorates to the point where a 2+2 forum poster, “IHasTehNutz,” begins assembling a list of Lock players who were actively waiting for withdrawals that they had filed but never received.  By the time of Lock’s recent and apparent failure, that list included requested collective withdrawals of over $1 million, not processed for periods of between one and two-and-a-quarter years.

2013 (October): After failing to pay yet another round of reconciliation payments, Lock either flees or is booted off the Revolution Network.  Lock sets out to start up as a standalone network, later creating a second skin (in March 2014),, for anticipated rebranding.  A new site affiliated with the remaining Revolution operation, Pure Poker, tries to swipe back some of Lock’s players in an unseemly marketing ploy.  Both sides threaten lawsuits against each other, but nothing comes of it.

2014 (April): Date of the last known withdrawal payments sent out by Lock Poker.

Late 2014 – early 2015: Lock Poker funds drop to near worthlessness on the secondary market, and player traffic on the site dribbles to a halt.  Remaining Lock affiliates begrudgingly yank the last of their banners.

2015 (April): Lock’s gaming servers and support services are taken offline, without explanation.  No company statement is forthcoming, signaling the presumptive demise of the site that shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.

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