WPT500 Winner David Afework Disqualified by PartyPoker, Loses $160,000 Payday

The United Kingdom’s David Afework has seen a significant online victory wiped from the record books after being disqualified by PartyPoker following his win in a Party-hosted WPT500 event. Afework, a relatively unknown player, topped a 2,088-entry field on June 2 to win the tourney’s $160,210 top prize. He went public on Monday, saying that PartyPoker stripped him of his winnings due to account sharing.

Afework, posting as “Devplaza” on the 2+2 poker forums, described receiving an email from PartyPoker support notifying him of his disqualification in the event for turning his account over to a third party. In his forum post, Afework stridently denied receiving assistance during the WPT500 event, stating he “was completely alone for 99% of the time” and played the event on his own Dell laptop throughout.

Afework further declared that, while his roommate is another online poker player, that roommate (as yet publicly unidentified) did not play in the WPT500 event, nor was the roommate even present for the period that Afework played. “I imagine this third party nonsense comes from the fact that I have been living with another poker player for the best part of 7 months so maybe they see we share the same IP address or whatever but I’m completely transparent about that and don’t want to hide that, no one has ever had access to my account other than myself, that’s a 100% guarantee.”

The British player, who was cited during the live-streamed finale of the event for his unusually active style of the play, described his shock at having his winnings taken away. “The truth is I played the tournament and I won, it’s as simple as that and to see how Party poker (sic) have taken things is just the biggest disappointment ever and I’m just at a loss for words. Making it to the final table with some really good players to then come out on top was just wow. I played better than I ever have and also had the luck I needed on the way.”

Afework also disclosed that in celebrating his win, he also gambled it up on Party’s roulette tables, where he turned £2,000 into another £18,000. But according to Afework, “They’ve taken it all away.”

Afework sought help from online community

Besides describing what happened, Afework’s appearance on 2+2 was also a call for help as he sought advice on what actions to pursue. Afework was advised by several other posters that his best options were to obtain formal legal help, and then to file a complaint with the United Kingdom Gaming Commission (UKGC), which licenses PartyPoker to provide services to UK players.

Afework would likely have to follow that or a similar course just to learn further details about the disqualification and funds forfeiture. He joins innumerable players who have forfeited online poker winnings, and online sites have a near-perfect legal record in defending themselves against claims of false seizures. Poker sites also never provide specific details about such disqualifications beyond generic responses, and it did so to an inquiry from PokerNews:

“We have a dedicated Game Integrity team who use a variety of detection methods to proactively identify accounts that are in breach of our terms and conditions. ‘Real Name’ tables help provide a community feel while reducing anonymity. A real account holder should never give a third party access to their account, as stated in our General Terms and Conditions (Section 12).”

PartyPoker went on to explain that they “establish reasonable evidence” before seizing player funds from accounts that they have determined violated their policies. The seized funds, Party says, are redistributed to players on the site who were “impacted by the actions of the offending account.”

One unknown element is whether PartyPoker reviewed activity on Afework’s account during earlier play, and then discovered something amiss only after his WPT500 triumph. Major tournament winners on any site are more likely to have their accounts and prior play audited due to multiple factors. Afework’s statement that his poker-playing roommate wasn’t present during the WPT500 event doesn’t preclude the possibility that he might have shared the account with the roommate or others on earlier occasions.

Prize winnings redistributed to other players

The industry standard for payout redistribution is to bump all other players up a spot when any cashing player is disqualified. PartyPoker has already indicated its plan to do so with this event.

Afework’s disqualification means that Sweden’s Henning André wins the event’s $160,210 victor’s payday, a bump-up of more than $51,000 from his initial $108,796 runner-up cash. That second-place cash now goes to prominent poker streamer Jaime Staples, whose initial third-place, $74,227 payout was already a career-best. Each of the event’s top 10 finishers, except for the disqualified Afework, will receive an extra payout of at least a couple of thousand dollars.

Written by
Haley Hintze
Contributing writer Haley Hintze is a 20-year veteran of the poker world, a Women in Poker Hall of Fame finalist, and two-time Global Poker Awards finalist.

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