A Flaw in Full Tilt Poker Balance Calculations for Affiliates Could Unfairly Cost Players Tens of Thousands of Dollars

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Update 2/4: The GCG has recognized this flaw and updated their policy. But impacted affiliates must dispute their balance in order to have rakeback payments returned to their balance.

From the GCG website:

Affiliate balances shown upon logging into the online filing site were determined by deducting from the account balance all payments labeled as Affiliate payments in the data provided by Full Tilt Poker. The Department of Justice does not consider rakeback an Affiliate payment and will include rakeback payments in approved remission amounts. However, if rakeback was labeled by Full Tilt Poker as an Affiliate payment on a particular account and was therefore deducted from the balance, it is the player’s responsibility to dispute the account balance and provide an explanation differentiating rakeback from Affiliate revenue.

See this article for step-by-step instructions for disputing your balance.

Original story follows:

While the Full Tilt Poker remission process is wrapping up tidily for many players, a new development threatens to unfairly deny hundreds, if not thousands, of players a substantial part of their FTP balance.

The remissions process for FTP players tagged as affiliates

First, a bit of background.

On January 31, 2014, Full Tilt Poker accounts marked with an affiliate tag were sent emails by the Garden City Group (GCG) stating they would be eligible for remission based on the balance of their account less any affiliate income.

Players were marked with their tag because the GCG believed that part of their balance was derived from affiliate activity, specifically commission payments on customers these players referred to Full Tilt Poker.

These users were sent Petition and Control numbers used to log into the GCG website in order to verify contact details and account balances.

But upon logging in, many users – including myself – ran into unforeseen problems.

As reported in this thread on TwoPlusTwo, many users found their account balance was significantly lower than expected.

The massive flaw in the GCG’s balance calculation formula

To attempt to deconstruct why there was a difference, I began investigating my player account history spreadsheet that was downloaded from the Full Tilt Poker website.

I quickly realized that the GCG was using an overly simplistic formula to determine account balances that resulted in some player rakeback payments being mistaken for affiliate income.

Looking at the player account history spreadsheet, GCG was taking the final account balance found in Column H and subtracting out the sum of all transactions with Transaction Type equal to “Affiliate To Player” found in column C.

The problem with this methodology is that legitimate personal rakeback payments were labelled with this same Transaction Type prior to July 2010.

Personal rakeback payments are essentially bonuses paid to players as a direct result of their play and are not in any way connected with affiliate commission payments.

How to tell the difference between rakeback and affiliate income

To differentiate between legitimate rakeback and affiliate income, we must look at the column D, the “Details” column. Inside column D, each “Affiliate to Player Transfer” transaction type will be marked with the details of who the affiliate was.

Legitimate player rakeback payments will have the rakeback provider’s name in the details column. Affiliate income will have the user’s Full Tilt Poker account name in the details.

As an example from my own spreadsheet: on November 7, 2007, I have an entry with the “Affiliate to Player Transfer” transaction type. In the details column it shows my player screen name (wiltontilt) in the amount of $62.43.

This was affiliate income earned from a friend signing up under me. According to GCG and the DOJ’s terms, I am ineligible to receive these funds for remission.

Two rows under this transaction, there’s another entry on November 8, 2007, showing an “Affiliate to Player Transfer” with the Details column showing “RAKEBREAKcom” for the amount of $489.86. This amount was rakeback earned from my rakeback provider as a result of me playing poker.

GCG is treating both of these “Affiliate to Player Transfer” amounts as affiliate income even though the second transaction is completely unrelated to my (paltry) affiliate income.

I can prove this by doing some conditional sums in excel such as this:

=SUMIF(C1:C44907,”*Affiliate to Player Transfer*”,F1:F44907)

… where C1:C44907 represents all of the rows in the “Transaction Type” column, “*Affiliate to Player Transfer*” represents the transaction types we want to find, and F1:F44907 represents the values to be summed. (If you are doing this on your own spreadsheet, you will want to change the 44907 value to the last row of data in your spreadsheet).

By taking this summed value and subtracting it from the final account balance showed on the last row of Column H, you will see the exact same balance that is displayed after logging in on the GCG’s website.

This proves that the GCG is currently making no distinction between rakeback payments earned by playing poker and affiliate income earned from referring players to Full Tilt Poker.

Some affiliates asked to enter their balance

Other users have also reported having no account balance displayed to them upon logging in with the petition and control numbers provided by the GCG. Instead, those users were asked to enter in their account balance.

It is currently unclear why some users had their remission balance incorrectly calculated and other users had no balance calculated.

- Aaron is a high-stakes pro familiar to many from his work at DeucesCracked. His latest project is PlusEVPoker.com. Follow Aaron on Twitter @WiltOnTilt.
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