Back in early December, Cardplayer Lifestyle poker blog contributor and cyber security expert Eddie Harari penned a very well-received article about online poker cyber security. The idea behind the article was for an expert in the field to give laypeople a general overview of security measures online poker players should take when playing. Further, Mr. Harari outlined the security measures online poker sites ought to take to protect players.
Weeks after the article’s publication, Cheri Jacobus, an opponent of and lobbyist against online poker, took to social media where she Tweeted the article repeatedly, arguing that it supported her position that online poker isn’t safe. The expert supporting her views is Jim Thackston, who claims that online poker is a dangerous conduit for money laundering.
Mr. Harari, who is not against online poker, felt that his words were being misconstrued. As such, he decided to write a second, follow-up, article entitled Fully Secure Online Poker – Is It Possible? In it, he made his positions quite clear and did an excellent job debunking Thackston’s claims, namely arguing that the risks of collusion and money laundering via online poker were negligible.
Rich Muny, of the Poker Players Alliance, who regularly squares off against Jacobus and Thackston on Twitter, invited us all to his Poker Advocacy Radio Show to hash out the issue. Mr. Harari and I showed up ready to debate, but Jacobus and Thackton did not. It seems that when push comes to shove, there’s a lot of bark and not much bite in these opponents of online poker. In other words, by all appearances they’re plenty ready to sound off aplenty on social media but unprepared to prove their points publicly when directly confronted by a cyber security expert with a dissenting opinion.
That entire introduction, getting our readers up to speed on what’s been going on behind the scenes, leads up to the following bombshell, which was just communicated to me directly by Mr. Harari, who has had enough of their shenanigans: He is putting his money where his mouth is and is challenging Mr. Thackston to do the same, to prove, once and for all, if indeed there are true money laundering risks in online poker.
Harari’s $10,000 Challenge
For those unaware, and in the interests of full disclosure, Mr. Harari and I have been friends for close to a decade now and we’ve played plenty of live poker together. He spoke to me directly over the phone as I typed the following words (in italics), which constitute his open challenge to Mr. Thackston, and requested that I publish it in its entirety:
I have had enough with all this nonsense talk about online poker money laundering. Mr. Thackston is clearly not a stupid man, but I believe that he is incapable of coming down from the high tree he climbed up. So, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.
Mr. Thackston claims his system will work on real money online poker sites, with real accounts and real players. Therefore, I am offering him the following bet:
1. I will pay Mr. Thackston $10,000 if he can take $10,000 and launder it through innocent players in a real money poker game online and then cash out these monies without getting detected.
2. Should Mr. Thackston fail to do so, he will need to pay $5,000 to a charity of my choosing as well as publicly apologize for the discomfort and angst he has caused online players as well as all other parties involved in that matter.
3. Mr. Thackston should choose the site he wants to run this live trial on. The online poker site and I would then have to agree to this and have no less than 60 days to prepare.
4. All sessions must be recorded and all money must pass through innocent players, as Mr. Thackston has successfully done in his play money demonstration.
5. A detailed legal contract will be signed between me and Mr. Thackston.
6. Of course I am not suggesting that any real money laundering should occur. The money being used in this trial should be “clean”, declared money.
7. If Mr. Thackston loses more than 10% of the $10,000 sum during his play while trying to pass the money through the innocent players, the trial shall be considered a failure.
8. If one of the mule accounts gets detected, the trial shall be considered a failure and it shall cease immediately.
9. The entire $10,000 sum must pass through valid legitimate players (who would obviously be unaware of the trial taking place) and the online poker site must agree to refund any player who suffers or is adversely affected by the trial’s activity once it is publicly revealed.
10. All other details will be agreed upon between myself and Mr. Thackston directly and will be detailed in our contract.
11. Mr. Thackston and I will agree to split any legal fees.
12. If Mr. Thackston would like to make any comments about or amendments to the above offer, I am willing to listen to what he has to say and consider them in advance of the trial.
Best of luck to you Mr. Thackston – you are going to need it.