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Controversy Clean-Up: ACR CEO Puts Bounty on Imsirovic Allegations

A controversy in the pokersphere can arise quickly. Someone may play a poker hand today that instantly becomes controversial. Or a situation can reemerge from the past, take on a new form or add a new component, and capture the attention of Poker Twitter and surrounding areas.

Not all people have the time to follow drama unfold on Twitter. They often ask for CliffsNotes. “Can someone give me the basics of this situation?” I’m here to do that. And since (insert copyright legalese here) that name is taken, I’m naming this column something unbelievably original:

JensNotes

Catchy, no? If no, we can go with a more explanatory title of Controversy Clean-Up.

Ali Imsirovic versus Phil Nagy

People logging on to Twitter on Wednesday, May 17, or anytime thereafter, may see chatter about longtime high-stakes poker pro Ali Imsirovic allegedly using bots to cheat on Americas Cardroom (ACR) and its sister sites on the Winning Poker Network (WPN). Or they may have seen people applauding WPN CEO Phil Nagy for putting a $100K bounty on the proverbial table for anyone who can prove that Imsirovic is doing said cheating.

Let’s go back.

Origin Story: Ali Allegations

What had happened was…

In April 2022, high-stakes poker players were playing events on the island of Cyprus. There was a Super High Roller Bowl and Triton Super High Roller Series, all a part of the PokerGO Tour (PGT).

Ali Imsirovic had been riding high from big results for several years running. He was the first-ever PGT Player of the Year in 2021 and he was on his way to a repeat, already on top of the PGT POY leaderboard in Cyprus… until things began to quickly fall apart.

Alex Foxen took to Twitter to publicly accuse Imsirovic of cheating at the Super High Roller Bowl – on the livestream, no less. Foxen said that Imsirovic looked at table-neighbor Paul Phua’s hole cards, and the livestream recording appeared to back up that assertion. The next day, Imsirovic played more of the tournament but wearing sunglasses, a rarity at those games and for Imsirovic himself.

While most poker players were taken by surprise at the accusation, many high-stakes players were not. Players such as Justin Bonomo and Ryan Leng spoke up as well to corroborate Foxen’s overall allegations of Imsirovic’s unethical play. It snowballed from there.

  • Allegation: Imsirovic cheated in the 2022 Cyprus Super High Roller Bowl.
  • Allegation: Imsirovic was banned from GGPoker for multi-accounting and using RTA (real-time assistance), both methods of gaining an advantage in online poker and widely regarded as a form of cheating.
  • Allegation: Imsirovich displayed suspicious behavior in online poker MTTs in the form of chip-dumping to his horses (players he backs), and his horses sometimes played suspiciously as well.

As of this article’s publication, there has not been any proof. Not a single poker player has produced solid proof that Imsirovic undoubtedly cheated in online poker. Even the livestream appearing to show Imsirovic peeking at an opponent’s cards could not serve as clear-cut evidence.

Further, GGPoker would never confirm or deny any investigation into Imsirovic or if he had been banned. This is common for online poker rooms, as they rarely reveal any information related to cheating allegations.

Even so, poker tours began to prohibit Imsirovic from playing their events. He and another player – Jake Schindler – were allegedly turned away from registration in the middle of the 2022 European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo series in early May 2022.

While the WSOP in the summer of 2022 took no steps to prohibit Imsirovic from playing, the PokerGO Tour did institute a ban in September. The PGT suspended Imsirovic and Schindler indefinitely and ruled them ineligible for their Player of the Year race. Even with that, the statement provided no details or evidence.

Despite the lack of evidence, the word of the poker players appeared to corroborate what some tour operators or online poker site operators knew or believed to be true.

It should also be noted that Imsirovic has never made a public statement about any of the accusations.

More to the Story: Coaching and a Bounty

The word around most poker spaces was that Imsirovic had given up on most live poker tournaments for the indefinite future. He did not try to play in the inaugural WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas in December, and he has yet to reappear at any major live poker series. Poker Twitter would have reported it.

However, poker players “in the know” felt certain that Imsirovic has continued to play online. He has reportedly been banned from sites like GGPoker and PokerStars. Notably, he was also banned from the Winning Poker Network, including Americas Cardroom in 2019.

On May 17, Barry Carter happened upon Imsirovic’s Instagram account and snapped a photo of a message asking any guys (only guys, evidently) to email him if they’d be interested in poker coaching.

Poker pros like Matt Berkey responded to Twitter threads to relay long-standing rumors that Imsirovic and his stable of horses collude and use RTA systems on ACR regularly. Phil Galfond seemed to believe this as well, referring on Twitter to Imsirovic’s “current cheating methods.”

Enter WPN CEO Phil Nagy. He was checking Twitter from the high-stakes tables at the current Triton series in Cyprus and saw Galfond’s tweet. Seemingly without hesitation, Nagy offered up a $100K bounty for proof of the cheating.

The move garnered praise from around the poker community, even from those who would not ordinarily say anything positive about an offshore-based poker operator. Matt Berkey, Jesse Sylvia, Ryan Riess, Justin Bonomo, and Dan Zack were among those magnifying Nagy’s offer.

That’s the story so far.

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Jennifer Newell poker author
Written By.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell recently moved back to her hometown of St. Louis and spends much of her time writing. After more than a decade in the poker industry, she continues to write about gaming while working on a novel and a small business.

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