Daniel Negreanu Defends Use of VPN’s to Play Online Poker in US

Posted on August 3, 2019 - Last Updated on October 3, 2022

With over $41 million in lifetime earnings, Daniel Negreanu is the second winnings live tournament poker player of all-time, only surpassed by the $45 million of Justin Bonomo. He’s also a long-time ambassador for PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker site. And he has as much credibility as anyone in the poker community.

But, Steve Ruddock of OnlinePokerReport writes, some consider “Kid Poker’s” views on using a virtual private network (VPN) to illegally play online poker in the United States are wrong.

What is Negreanu Arguing?

Daniel Negreanu was the long-time face of PokerStars prior to stepping down earlier this year. Before leaving the online gambling giant, “DNegs” toed the company line. He defended the site’s actions and would never suggest anything that violates PokerStars rules, such as playing with a VPN.

That was, of course, until the wealthy poker pro resigned from PokerStars. He now has a bit of a different tone. On Twitter, he recently argued that using a VPN to play online poker in a jurisdiction where it’s illegal is all fine and dandy. It’s not cheating, he argues.

He wasn’t the only one who shares those same views. Negreanu asked his Twitter followers if they felt playing under a VPN is cheating. Of the more than 15,000 votes, most agreed with the poker legend.


Why a Need for a VPN?

August 15, 2011 is considered the most costly day in poker history. On that date, dubbed “Black Friday,” the US Department of Justice cracked down on the major poker sites operating in the US and banned them from doing business in the country.

That forced sites such as PokerStars to back away from the US market, leaving only smaller, less profitable poker sites to accept American players. What that caused was it forced online poker pros to either move to another country or us a VPN, which spoofs the location of where you’re at.

So, if you’re located in, say, Los Angeles, you can use a VPN so it makes you appear to be located in a different country where online poker is legal. By doing so, you can beat the system and play on poker sites that don’t accept US players.

If you get caught using a VPN, however, you will be banned from the poker site, most likely for life. And you might never receive your account balance. So, it’s quite risky.

But is it Cheating or Wrong?

We know using a VPN is against every online poker site’s rules and can lead to banishment. But is it morally wrong or cheating? That’s for you to decide as it’s a matter of opinion.

Steve Ruddock, called out Negreanu. “Kid Poker” said that the poker sites shouldn’t police VPN use. Instead, he suggests, if the US government cares so much about stopping online gambling, they should “police” the industry.

“Why should a company outside of their jurisdiction be held to policing something they aren’t morally opposed to,” he argues.

Ruddock disagrees and compares that argument to a liquor store refusing to card customers because they aren’t opposed to underage drinking. He also argues that using a VPN is, in a sense, cheating because, as he claims, most of the players who would use a VPN are “good players” and that makes the games on sites such as PokerStars more difficult for the recreational poker players.


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