The poker community watched a high-stakes drama start at the end of March. For once, it wasn’t a couple of pros fighting over Twitter, cheating accusations at Hustler Live, or bot discoveries.

Poker stables are in the crosshairs of GG Network’s Russian chapter, PokerOK. If you aren’t aware of this poker lingo, stables are groups of players who train and find backing or staking together. Around 3,500 players are said to be part of these stables on PokerOK. Backing fund, poker school, and training fund are three other names for a stable.

Ivan Bryksin, the site’s CEO, labeled poker stables “the greatest threat to the purity, integrity, and equality of poker today."

We talked with the leaders of the largest training and poker backing groups about the new initiative of GG Network's counterpart, PokerOK, directed against their players.


Fast forward to April 8th. In a significant move to protect the integrity of their online poker ecosystem, the GGPoker Network and its Russian-language platform, PokerOK, have made a jointly announced a series of stringent measures targeting the practices of poker stables and their backers. The announcement comes on the heels of an ultimatum issued by PokerOK's CEO last week (covered in the article above), demanding that these entities cease activities deemed harmful to the overall player experience on the platform.

The joint statement, disseminated through various social media channels, including PokerOK's Telegram account, outlines a list of prohibited activities that stable participants and their backers must immediately discontinue. These include teamplay, softplay, ghosting, collusion, bumhunting, multi-accounting, and the collective gathering of statistics, notes, and hand histories.

The announcement stipulates that the only permissible form of player backing will be through GGPoker's built-in staking feature. An upcoming update to the platform will ensure transparency by allowing all players to view the backing arrangements of their opponents at the tables. While not explicitly stated, the announcement's details suggest a significant reduction, if not a complete elimination, of player-to-player fund transfers.

These changes may necessitate updates to GGPoker's Security and Ecology Policy, which underwent its most recent revision on March 29. Reports indicate that modifications have already been implemented in the Russian-language version of the policy on PokerOK.

Stables Imply a Collective Game – GG Network's Statement

We've translated the statement from the Russian Telegram post issued by PokerOK and GGPoker.

Joint statement from PokerOK and GGPoker Network

1. The activities of stables (stables) that systematically violate the rules of the platform (including teamplay, softplay, ghosting, collusion, bumhunting, multi-accounting, collective collection of statistics, notes and mining) must be stopped, otherwise, according to the Agreement on Ecology and Safety updated on April 8 , bankrolls of stables players will be confiscated.

We accept as true that poker is an individual game, and such activities of stables imply the promotion of an attitude towards poker as a collective game, which is contrary to the entire positioning of the GGPoker Network.

2. Backing of players in tournaments should only occur using the functionality of the PokerOK client on the GGPoker Network. In order to expand the functionality of backing, in the next two months we will implement a function that allows you to see a player’s backers.

3. Stables should not publicly advertise player backing. Backing should be a private arrangement and not a marketing tool to attract more players to stables.

4. Any stable that violates these rules is prohibited from doing business on PokerOK and GGPoker Network, as well as players associated with them, who may be subject to restrictions, blocking or confiscation of funds.

PokerOK's CEO had already assured us of GG Network's approval before this statement, but now things are clear. GGPoker will also adopt the stance of PokerOK, though the two skins may take slightly different approaches.

GGPoker also gave a couple of clarifying answers on their official Reddit page:

A user wrote, "With the news that GG is going after stables and collusion, how will they decide what's ok and what is not ok and bad?"

Post from April 9th

Another Redditor asked, "Is it true that players who attend poker schools or are members of backing funds will now be blocked on the GGNetwork?"

Older post from April 2nd

What Does The Community Think of This Move?

The poker community has several schools of thought when it comes to the stables saga.

We asked Charlie Carrel for his thoughts on the stable situation. He's been a prominent figure in the community for a long time now and runs Elite University, which offers coaching and training – but isn't a poker stable.

He answered our questions before the joint GG and PokerOK announcement but after the initial declaration from PokerOK.

1. Do you have any personal experience with poker stables?

"I almost set up a poker stable, and have been invited to coach at many, but nothing came to fruition. I've also played against thousands of players from stables."

2. Do you believe players in a poker stable collude, soft play, chip dump, or in any other way play the game with ulterior motives?

"Yes, undoubtedly."

3. If you had to guess, does the typical poker stable play fair and avoid situations of collusion?

"I don't think it matters what the typical stable does: moreso that the stables give the opportunity to cheat. Even if 1% of stables do it, it ruins the fairness of the game."

4. How do you feel about the stance PokerOK has taken?

"I can empathise why they are doing it. It at least shows that PokerOK is taking the security of their site seriously. It is a shame for honest players, but perhaps in the long run, it will suit them as well, as the games are more honest and fair."

5. Do you think this could affect GGPoker players one day?

"I think so, yes. Part of me hopes it trickles over to GG))) Spasiba)) <3"

(Charlie seems to have gotten his wish on that one)

Opinions on Stables Are Divided

Regs and pros have known about stables for a while, but casual players might be hearing about them for the first time. The first major discussion on Twitter started after Beriuzy posted a picture of our Russian forum, with a question.

His follow-up post explained why this issue is so vital to online poker:

"Why is this important?

A site banning players based for being part of a stable is simply insane.
Everyone sells action in many ways nowadays, technically everyone is part of a "stable" one way or another. Sites like Pokerstake/Stakekings are also facilitating this & are even supported by GG in the past for WSOP.

This can be a dangerous precedent to just ban winning players & accuse them of bogus cheating claims.

I have no sides yet but simply posting this because it's important to follow.

Any cheater or unethical player should be banned but you cannot group innocent players into that category just because they want to reduce their variance & sell action."

Patrick Leonard, Founder and Managing Director at bitB, put out a long piece of writing that got deep into the subject. The full post will take a while to read, but we'll sum it up for you: Pads fleshes out the pros and cons of stables, saying they are "critical" and at the same time, "very dangerous".

But consensus didn't come then and isn't likely to come any time soon. Everyone agrees that fairness should be supported and cheating bannable, but those are the only constant themes.

The community seems divided into three main categories.

Opinions From Stable Insiders and Stable Players

There are players on the inside, involved with stables or operating stables. They usually support stables, at least legitimate ones, and have nuanced opinions about them. To these players, a reputable stable supports and improves poker skills with the latest methods. They rarely agree with the way PokerOK classified them.

FunFarm CEO Lorem spoke with PokerOK's CEO on a live stream recently, but it went nowhere productive. He replied to Pads by saying this:

Most stable owners, reps, and coaches have been adamant that any form of cheating is not endorsed or accepted within their ranks. They often mention that none of the alleged offenses are not exclusive to stables at all.

Long before GGPoker had voiced their position, even Fedor Holz was concerned with the blanket approach.

For example, lead coach of BBZ Coaching, Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, had this to say about the latest statement from GG and PokerOK:

"They say "the activities of stables" – this is not the activities of stables – this is just poker. Like, people cheat. All of the different ways got listed and got attributed to stables, which is bullshit".

Opinions From Players Who Are Unaware of Stables

There are players on the outside, who don’t understand or know about stables. To more casual players, poker stables are intangible and nothing more than a concept. When asked about this issue, many recreational players supported the banishment of poker stables. Eliminating a skilled subset of opponents may sound like a plus to them, without any negative impact on the horizon.

If you were playing a soccer game and got the chance to kick the best 3 players off the opposing squad, would you? In the case of poker, it seems like many players would appreciate that.

Opinions From Everyone Else

There are players somewhere in between, who know about stables but aren’t involved directly. Some want to see online poker players completely unconnected from each other, with no ties on or off the tables. Others see stables as a financial and educational resource, which has value but must be run fairly. But even those who accept some stables play fair can see the value in getting them off GG Network.

AllinPav summed up his feelings on Twitch and said what a lot of non-stable regs are probably thinking:

"I don't know how I feel about it. I mean, the greedy side of me likes it, obviously, because less regs is kind of really cool. But also, you have people in stables who don't partake in any cheating and go about it in an honest way.

I'm also just anti-stables anyway. I also just don't go for stables, just run it up in the micros if you have to instead of giving up half your pockets."

But even those outside of stables seem to feel this business decision goes in the wrong direction. The casino-fication of poker, even more than top sites already have, appears to rub some players the wrong way.

Jamie Staples of partypoker wasn't pleased with PokerOK’s stance against winning players:

One poll with 185 votes showed how a small sample size of poker players felt:

But judging from Twitter comments alone, most seem to support the action, in some form.

We'll continue following this story, but GGPoker and PokerOK have made their intent clear. Only time will tell how the implementation goes.

To see where this all started on March 27th, read the article we published as our Russian team broke the story.

We talked with the leaders of the largest training and poker backing groups about the new initiative of GG Network's counterpart, PokerOK, directed against their players.


And afterward, when PokerOK CEO Ivan Bryksin added to his statements, meetings were had, and things got heated, we covered that too.

The CEO of PokerOK (GGNetwork's Russian skin) spent an entire night talking on a forum about the crusade against poker stables.