Most recently two harrowing scandals with the participation of Sergey Rybachenko happened. At first he claimed to the support service of PokerDOM room because of the bug in the software and then stumbled at the fairness in China Poker. Besides these two moments I have a lot of questions about Poker software industry, the RNG feature and about other details of the Poker rooms software. For this reason I decided to make sense of it all and addressed to the director of the company “Connective Games LLC” Konstantin Zubarev, who developed PokerDOM room software with his team of Tomsk programmers.
A week ago I didn’t know that in Russia there is a company that since 2006 actively develops Poker software. Previously, Siberian guys from the company “Connective Games LLC” built the Italian eNetPoker network, and now their customers are: PokerDOM, RuPoker, Europe-bet, PokerMIRA, Aconcagua Network, PokerdelasAmericas and a score of smaller rooms. At the moment, the Tomsk company is in negotiation about the transition to its software of a several major Poker rooms. Therefore, I think it will be very interesting to listen to their expert opinion on a number of questions.
From the interview with Konstantin Zubarev you can get following information:
The difference between PokerDOM RNG and PokerStars RNG;
How is the activity of developers of Poker software licensed;
Why couldn’t be a superuser who sees someone else's cards in PokerDOM;
How to avoid playing in fraudulent Poker rooms;
The official response to the claim of Sergey "Gipsy" Rybachenko and much more.
Interview with Konstantin Zubarev
- Konstantin, for which rooms your company wrote poker software?
Over the history of the company “Connective Games LLC” we developed probably more than a hundred Poker rooms, including skins. Only until 2010 there were about 50 skins for Enet Poker. Most of the rooms stopped the business for a variety of reasons. Basically, because of the overestimating of their forces at the time of the promotion of a new room from the ground up. Some people ran out of money, and some partners wanted an immediate result and therefore lost faith in Poker. Now there are about 25 live projects. Two of which are aimed at the Russian audience: PokerDOM and Poker MIRA, the others – for the CIS countries, Europe and Latin America.
- My understanding is each customer has different requirements for software. Are there any features of your software that you created for rooms in different regions?
I pose our software as a software for regional Poker rooms. What does it mean? First of all, the software is oriented for а new markets within a country or region, so the main work is to adapt the software to particular markets, rather than the run for the feature that are represented in the “dot com” projects. I can explain this with several examples:
Example #1: Georgia – Europe-bet. This is the first successful Georgian Poker room. This room was perceived by players as a development of Georgia. For players it was a great pride to play in this room, and not in the "dot com". Maybe now it sounds funny, but then it was happened. The market was new and the basic requirements were simplicity and clarity of the interface, including design. You probably won't believe me, but the design elements were discussed on the highest level of the leadership, for example: how to make the Aill-in button - red or orange?
Example # 2: Argentina - Aconcagua network. Market is also new and contains elements of national pride. It was very important to support the spirits of camaraderie within one country and at the same time the spirits of rivalry between countries. For this reason we showed flags (all over the place) demonstrating from which country is the player.
- What do you think who is the leader of Poker software industry and what place in this ranking belongs for your company?
I think the leaders are 888 and Amaya, in spite the fact that Amaya is the purchase / sale rather than the development of own software. When it comes only to software (not to liquidity of Poker rooms), then the leaders are: Amaya, 888 and Connective Games. Microgaming is clearly losing out to everyone. In some aspects, we are better than Amaya: mobile client and Multi Table Tournaments are accessible by us.
Questions about the RNG
- Tell me, are there big differences between the RNG of your software and the RNG of PokerStars or of 888Poker software?
There are practically no official differences. If you take the Pokerstars reports on probability distribution, then they are the same as ours. But the RNG realization paths can be different. I plan to prepare an article about our RNG to solve some problems.
Two points about the RNG:
My experience shows that the problem about the RNG is often removed after some eminent certification. For example, the GLI certificate was not published - the censures arose, the certificate was published on the website – the censures disappeared. However, nothing changed. Although I don’t confirm that it is the rule.
Our RNG is random. It was confirmed by the certification commissions. But sometimes arises the problem: Is the hundred-percent random RNG comfortable for players or not? For example, in Land preference the deck is shuffled in a special way and is distributed on two cards. Respectively, it is not correct to call such distribution as an accidental distribution. Accordingly, when people start playing online preference, they have questions.
- Is the RNG developed for each kind of poker (Hold'em, Omaha, Chinese Poker and etc.) separately or is it common for everyone?
The RNG is one, but card deck work may be a little bit different depending on the number of the used cards. I think this question will be part of the review of our RNG. But there are no fundamental differences.
- Is your activity licensed / certified? For example, how do players understand that your RNG is true but not “false”?
Our software is always licensed according to the requirements of the jurisdiction, where the operator works. If it’s Malta, the software certification is carried out according to the requirements of Malta. Maltese Gaming Commission is quite serious organization and checks everything 10 times and very fundamentally. We passed certification in Malta twice, the last time in January 2014.
But it is necessary to understand the difference between problem of the RNG and problem of fraud. The RNG is autoprogram, giving random results. It can work well or badly, but nevertheless it remains just an autoprogram for generating numbers. It's another matter how to interpret the results of the RNG. If someone somehow begins to adapt and redraft the results of the RNG in specific situations, then it is fraud and has nothing to do with the RNG.
In my opinion, the fraud is various special modes, when one player or group of players has a distinct advantage over other players, using the hidden possibilities of software: peeking at cards, robots, choosing the desired card and etc.
So, all these “special modes” are checked primarily and very seriously. Fraud is a criminal offense in any jurisdiction.
- “The last time in January 2014” I can’t pay attention to this. Software developers are superstitious as parachutists? :) Have you some “rituals” before launching of new software?
There was a large terrace in our old office. Before project handover we went out and danced with a big shamanic tambourine :)
- You mentioned “peeking cards”. Several years ago in the Absolute poker superusers were found. They could see right the hidden cards of opponents during the game. How easy is it for owners of poker rooms to gain an access to these “options”? Are these opportunities prescribed in advance when creating the software?
It’s easy to explain. Our company belongs only to us, we don’t have foreign holder, investors, owners and etc. Therefore, we have a great opportunity that we use - Live Honestly! We care for our reputation. Imagine how it is difficult for company from Siberia to take the lead in the industry. Therefore, our principle is simple - no hidden options, no bots (except for testing), no back doors. You can become our client only on general terms with a player's account without any special privileges. Administrators can manage the settings of tables\tournaments before the starting tables, but not after. They have no possibilities to influence on gameplay.
I remember the story about Absolute poker. I think that when an operator has software and team, then he has the ability to do whatever he wants.
Questions about software PokerDOM
-Konstantin, recently Sergey “Gipsy” Rybachenko casted discredit on the RNG in Chinese Poker at PokerDOM. What can you answer to this claim?
Now we carefully collect information. I think that everything works fine. But!
The Chinese poker compared to Texas Hold'em, Omaha and other types of poker, has not yet been certified, because it is a new product. Therefore, I will be sure by 101% only after certification of this product. I understand that the question may arise: “Why is a product realized that has not been certified?”. It’s simple - the market is grown much faster than its serving structures, which work with the lag.
And another moment. It is necessary to distinguish two situations:
It is different things. We check the first item and will certify. On the second item, you can consider this my official statement - we don’t have any tools for the game manipulation. This is fraud.
- Sergei “Gipsy” Rybachenko confirms in his blog that the management of PokerDOM and their PRO-players stated that there is the same RNG as on PokerStars in the room. I’m quoting his question: “Do the Stars use the Tomsk RNG or I don’t understand something?”
The RNG of Pokerstars has nothing to do with our RNG and the other way round. In truth, it’s hard for me to comment on someone’s statements :) We are not representatives of PokerDOM, although we are friendly with their team, but it’s better to ask this question to PokerDOM.
But I want to repeat - it is important to evaluate the result of the statistical distribution, but not the implementation, which will be differ by various suppliers.
- Perhaps you have already heard that some players complain about an “auto-overlay bug” in Chinese poker. Tell us, how quickly can your specialists solve this problem? To do this, PokerDOM should put such a task before you, or is everything organized another?
Bugs can destroy our reputation, so we fix the high priority bugs without waiting for the operators’ request. I’ll precise the information about this bug… Problem description and solution (log files copies from Skype, author's note)
It happened on September 1, at 9:00 AM Tomsk time, but unfortunately GIPSY got a bug a few hours before the bug fix updating of the system.
-So, this problem is solved, right?
Yes, it was solved on September 1.
-This is good news! And how often do you update software of poker-rooms, such as PokerDOM, for example?
There are 3 types of tasks:
1.Planned new version (once in a month, or once in two months). Usually, it’s connected with the completion of work on any extended project.
2.Bug fix. It means that critical bugs are fixed on the following day and low priority bugs are fixed once in 1-2 weeks.
3.“Much Needed” tasks. These are high priority tasks requested by customers which are performed in case of long wait of planned version.
Questions about Poker software industry
-Taking into account your experience, can you give any advice to players how to avoid fraudulent poker rooms? Many people are upset over some scandals stories, such as “use of bots” and cheating in Doha Poker, which damaged many well-known regulars.
I think, my advices will be typical:
Examine jurisdiction of an operator and veracity of published documents (most of jurisdictions represents its public cadastre of documents)
Examine history of software. Usually, new poker software is developing for 2 years and then it is testing for the same amount of time. It is hard to expect stability of new companies, that’s why it’s necessary to pay attention to supplier-company’s age.
Examine age of software. The older software is, the more expensive it is (constant investments into development); the more expensive software is, the better operators treat their business and reputation.
I don’t think, that any of existing software suppliers would like to destroy their reputation by “questionable” development, especially the suppliers whose shares are on exchanges. In general, We can see some movement to arrangement in the industry, and some reduction of quantity of bad rooms. The situation is common in the sphere of poker’s suppliers.
I visited the site of Doha Poker and I didn’t find the contact information.
-Konstantin, what are the latest tendencies in the industry of poker software? What new facilities can we expect in the near future?
Firstly, the quantity of players using mobile devices increase every month (this shows a clearly defined mobile tendency). The second tendency is regionality. It’s fashionable to play in national poker rooms instead of *.com because of good support, well known language and favorable currency. The third tendency is international tournaments of leagues and big rooms. Speaking of tournaments, now we are testing a project of international tournaments between rooms. For example, in the end of September we are going to make a regular tournament between PokerDOM and Aconcagua. Now I’m not ready to publish the list of features, that we are developing, but the idea is good. Maybe we’ll publish this list later.
-Thank you for the interview, it was really interesting!
You are welcome! In conclusion I would like to say, that we are situated in Tomsk, the address is known. Our team is friendly, we’ll gladly take activists for independent commission, we’ll give them research code, compile and give a code for real systems. I think, it’ll remove any questions.
Published in Pokeroff, News Section, 16 September 2015