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Ode to a Buddy

The Life & Humbling Times of a Bridge Pro Learning Poker
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 This Too Could Happen To You

March 1, 2014

Maybe, maybe not, you noticed I haven’t been around for a while. Let me tell you it wasn’t my choice; my account was frozen and if you stay with me, you may even learn about the importance of tightly securing your PokerStars account because given many scenarioes, this too could happen to you.

I was in hospital for what I thought would be a small surgical procedure. Initially I shared a room with a very innocent-looking young woman from British Columbia, a far distance from Toronto. Early in the morning, we had a brief talk about poker and she told me she plays low buy-in cash games on a site only for those in her province and another one which I can’t remember. I told her I play 25NL Zoom and briefly explained how to play it. The next thing I remember was being in a large room, a recovery room with my specialist explaining  'surgery larger', 'all fine', 'morphine drip'. What could have been hours later, I was back in a different room, having just been moved to a private one, with my family there. All was so murky, with one thought not connecting to the next. I slept, slept more and even more. At some point, who knows, five, ten minutes later, or five, ten hours later I felt kisses on my cheek and ‘We’ll be back.”.

It was about three days later that I even opened my computer and by habit I clicked on PokerStars and my partner noticed my account balance was a big, fat zero. I’m not sure it initially registered as I was still on a lower dose of opiates, but I did think I had a balance of well over $300. The next day, starting to feel more human, I knew exactly what my balance had been, $370. My first reaction was to email support@pokerstars.com. I told them that whatever happened, I took responsibility as I had kept the 'Remember Me' on my login,  Nonetheless, this is when the drama began.

Shortly after the panic email to support@, my partner asked if anyone could have hacked into my account. Everything then made sense. I asked the nurses questions and indeed I was in surgery and the recovery room for near six hours. During that time a nurse was sure that the young woman, who had been my roommate, was on a computer for hours at a time.

I tried to log into PokerStars to no avail. A message came up that my account was frozen. I immediately emailed support@, explaining what made the most sense.  They sent a list of the one long day and times Zoom—always $25 Zoom—was played and results. She had lost every penny. Somehow with twisted thinking, I was relieved she couldn’t have made any money because if she was also a member of PokerStars, she could have transferred funds from my account to hers but I was told later that security@ had already checked for any such activity and there was none. But why, I asked them, was my account frozen?  This is when security@pokerstars took over as is their responsibility.

Security

They said my account could not be re-instated without proof that it was actually me who was in contact with them.They referred me to Terms of Agreement   But still not all fully intact, I had emailed support@ and security@ from an email account that did not match the one that I had registered with Pokerstars. That must have made them more suspicious. I explained what I assumed had happened given the ‘day of the financial drain’ which coincided with the day of my surgery. But understandably, they insisted, asking for an up-to-date driver’s license and passport with my name, address and picture. Given I get bouts of vertigo, for safety purposes I had not renewed my license and given health issues, I was going nowhere out of Toronto so was in no rush to renew my passport with the one I had out-of-date. We were at an impasse. So I sent my Ontario health card which had my name, address but no picture. When it had expired, a year prior, I was also in hospital and there is a provision that if physically incapacitated, with a doctor’s note, a family member could pick up a new card fwhich lasts for about six years, but it normally comes with a picture. Security@ determined it wasn’t a government document so I explained to them that each province’s Ministry of Health issues these cards. They now wanted a birth certificate and utility bill. I was supposed to be leaving the hospital the next day and was sure I knew where my birth certificate was and could use my I.S.P. server bill which I received online.

Hours of search found no birth certificate. I had my kids, my dogs but not mine. And just my luck, the website of the largest cable, I.S.P. server was down and I tried it for days. Meanwhile my bouts of vertigo were increasing in length and intensity. My partner is also a doctor and next thing I knew, I was re-admitted to the hospital. No doubt stress played a role in this. When the next email came from security@, I emailed back and asked them to close my account, that I wasn’t feeling well and could not meet their identification requirements.  By the end of the day, they emailed back that they accepted my Ontario health card sans picture and a note I had sent from my bank. The drama was over. No doubt, they truly aimed to accomodate me and for that, I am grateful..

One can’t blame PokerStarsm, rather it shows their vigilance as they hold and are responsible for monies in our accounts. And from hereon I am keeping a smaller amount in my account. Thus this is far less a blog about morphine drips and roommates.It is about securing one's computer--a password to open one's computer that is not easy to unscrable with a convoluted PokerStars' password, taking off the ‘Remember Me’ and getting  a  PIN number from support@. Here is the the URL which I urge you to read:

http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/features/security/pin/                   and

http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/features/security/passwords/

The details certainly won't be the same and I trust your identification is likely up-to-date.But if you think your computer can never be hacked and dont take security seriously. . .

This Too Could Happen To You!

 

P.S. Throughout, I was in touch with Dave, (TheLangolier). I am very grateful to him for listening and responding. He assured me that all would get sorted out when I was losing hope. When my account was unfrozen and I let Dave know, he was absolutely entitled to email  back: "I don't say this often, but I told you so!".

 May all your aspirations come to fruition.

 

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