A small, unregulated poker site that shut down abruptly in late August has left players around the world presuming their bankrolls on the site are also gone, even after the owner of the site appeared on video to explain what went wrong.
Not to be confused with a brick-and-mortar club by the same name that shuttred in London in 2012, the Fox Poker Club was an online poker room in operation since 2015. The site ran on the PokerMavens software, which is an open-source platform that is used by many private online poker clubs.
Players started reporting payout problems weeks ago, while other regs and hosts began trying to sell their Fox Poker funds at a discounted rate for cash or money on other sites.
Sparked by software complaints
There have been complaints in the past over the software, as users have alleged there are loopholes that allow the host to manipulate the software to their advantage – if they wanted to. On the PokerChipForum, a thread from April 2020 points to the fact that the software could be hacked to see hole cards and to also influence certain hand outcomes.
The team behind PokerMavens, Fox Poker’s underlying software, addressed these allegations in a September 2020 Poker Fraud Alert podcast and pointed out that any poker software, including theirs, is only as honest as the owners who are hosting and running the software.
Andy Troumbly was one of the owners and main site administrators of Fox Poker Club, and is accused of carrying out certain acts behind the scenes that eventually led to the online poker room’s sudden closure. Troumbly is reported to have awarded himself $1.5 million in online chips during the past six months, which he went on to lose on the site.
Growing troubles for Troumbly
Troumbly reportedly carried out his scheme by creating fake accounts with the handles DIAMONDHANDZ and grapes15. He loaded these fake accounts with around $1.5 million in chips and, since he controlled the accounts for the site, was able to keep this operation a secret for six months.
The other site administrators suspected something was off when the withdrawal processing times at Fox Poker started to lag. Poker players were also upset because the site promised them a max withdrawal limit of $17,000 each month, but they were suddenly limited to withdrawals of just $300 per month.
While there were concerns all around, Troumbly kept using multiple excuses to build a smokescreen that fooled the other admins. They finally managed to uncover what he was up to by tracking his login details on the beta site to confirm that he was operating fake player accounts.
The admins claim they continued to allow the poker room to function as they were under the impression they could recover the losses. When they realized they were getting into a deeper financial mess, they decided it was best to shut Fox Poker Club down to prevent more poker players from suffering financial losses. Poker Fraud Alert’s Todd Witteles captured a blog post on Facebook from the site’s other owners outlining the scam.
Fox Poker players were completely surprised by the decision, as many players still had money in their accounts. One player claims that he has more than $100,000 in his account, while a group of poker players from Russia claims they have a combined $120,000 in funds stuck.
Troumbly put out a 32 minute YouTube video giving his side of the story. As of now, it appears highly unlikely that Fox Poker players are going to be able to recover their funds.
Fox Poker: Three lessons
While Fox Poker’s sudden closure is rare, to say the least, having a rogue admin behind the scenes isn’t unprecedented, which means many sites — both large and small — could potentially fall victim to a scheme that puts their finances in jeopardy. While there is not much that players can do to prevent a site from going out of business and keeping their funds, there are signs you can look — and steps you can take — to help keep your bankroll safe.
1. Don’t ignore red flags
Never dismiss any red flags about your online poker experience. Take some time to look into it and find out whether it is genuine or not. If you find out that the red flags are real, you should think twice about playing at a specific online poker room.
2. Keep your account balances small
Private poker games are a great way for you to interact with a small group of poker players and have fun. However, private poker clubs can be a lot riskier than established poker rooms like PokerStars and GGPoker. If you insist on playing at a private poker club, don’t keep a lot of money in your account.
3. Take withdrawal troubles seriously
If your online poker room is making it difficult for you to withdraw your winnings, you should think about changing poker rooms quickly. At a minimum, if you are seeing people on poker forums and in Facebook groups starting to complain about withdrawals, then is probably ill-advised to keep depositing on the site.