Check Mate? Poker Queen’s Ticket Contest “Giveaway” Provokes Twitter Furore

By Ian John
December 5, 2022

When is a poker giveaway for a seat in the forthcoming WPT Poker World Championship Main Event, not a poker giveaway?

Well, when it is being run by Nemo “akaNemsko’ Zhou , a chess and poker player from Canada, or at least it seems to be the case.

The controversy has caused uproar on Twitter with Zhou and her boyfriend and poker coach Alex “Thallo” Epstein accused of rigging the contest in his favour.

So how did this all kick off and how did a seemingly ‘good deed’ turn so sour?

Let’s explain what happened in a bit more detail.

The WPT World Championship Main Event Giveaway

With a guaranteed top prize of $15,000,000, the biggest guaranteed prize in poker history, tickets to the WPT Main Event at the Wynn Las Vegas have been in high demand and many players have been attempting to win their way into the Main Event through a series of satellite tournaments.

One of those players was the erstwhile Miss Zhou, an industry player and influencer who entered a recent satellite which offered a prize of a $12,000 package to the WPT World Championships, which included a $10,400 buy in to the Main Event.

Her hope was to win the prize and then give it away to a lucky winner on her YouTube account.

That Miss Zhou won her ticket fair and square is not in dispute. Despite being considerably behind the chip leader entering the heads-up phase, she played very well to secure the win and claim her notable prize.

All of which was captured on her live stream of the tournament and it was during this that she posted on Twitter details of a contest to win the $12,000 package that she had just won herself.

Why Is This Important?

This is an important part of the process as because Nemo Zhou is a Twitter and YouTube influencer and personality, when she holds giveaways such as this, she will inevitably generate more tweets, and get more watches and subscriptions with her YouTube account.

By driving up the number of subscriptions she lands, this increases her traffic and thus monetises her account further, ensuring that she will earn more money from her social media accounts.

So, offering a free poker ticket to one lucky winner to the hottest and richest poker tournament in history, is certainly a great way to drum up huge interest in your Twitter feed and YouTube account.

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In her Twitter post, she said that she would shortly be posting a video on YouTube and that inserted within the video was a special “code phrase” which players must identify in order to stand a chance of being in the draw for the ticket.

Additionally, those entering must subscribe to her YouTube feed.

She also stated that it would be only one of the first ten people to comment on her video with the correct phrase that would be in with a chance of winning the prize.

Additionally, rather than a random draw for the ten qualifiers for the prize, Nemo Zhou stated that “I will pick a winner from comment creativity and ability to use the seat.”

On the face of it, everything seemed above board but that all changed when the winner of the contest was announced.

Refreshing Her Page

It is important to understand the benefit that this type of giveaway offer gives to the YouTube account holder.

By driving traffic to her YouTube site, with many players refreshing her page frequently (increasing its number of views) and many subscribing to participate in the contest, this increases the value of her account.

Many people, desperate to win a seat at the WPT Main Event, were refreshing her page and trying to ensure that they were one of the first ten people to comment on the video.

Her editor was to release the video at some point up until midnight on the 30th November, which meant that many players would have spent hours refreshing the site to take part.

And The Winner Is…

A day later, Nemo decided to announce the winner of her giveaway and when she did, it caused Twitter to go into meltdown.

The “lucky” winner, Thallo, is not only Nemo’s poker coach, but there is also evidence online that he is her boyfriend.

And it is fair to say that the announcement didn’t go down too well with the Twitterati.

Additionally, there were other complaints that many people, including Thallo, who commented when the video first dropped, made a ‘placeholder’ comment to secure a place in the top ten and then went back and edited in the phrase from the video to ensure it met the requirements for the competition.

There was also the issue about how initially unapologetic both Nemo and Thallo were regarding what had happened with this subsequently deleted Tweet upsetting a lot of people that had participated in the giveaway.

As the Twitter anger grew, it was clear that something had to be done, with many people asking the WPT to ban Thallo from competing and Nemo from competing in any future WPT events.

Climbdown And Redraw Made

After the furore over the fact that she awarded the prize to her poker coach, possible boyfriend, who had seemingly been trying to sell the ticket to pocket the cash two days before the tournament where he ‘won’ it, it was clear that Nemo had made a big mistake.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she decided to complete a redraw for the contest where she took the first ten eligible names from the first giveaway, without Thallo amongst them, and then she live streamed the draw to ensure that all was fair and above board.

Now while the lucky winner, this time a player called Dhanish, seemingly landed the prize, the fallout did not end there.

Several Twitter users complained that the list that Nemo used for the second draw was not the correct list and that some names that had been on the original list of ten first users to comment, had been left out of the draw.

Others even claimed that the redraw was a fix too and that the winner was somehow known to Thallo and Nemo.

It seems likely that if Nemo decides to run any more giveaways in the future, then what has happened here will likely ensure that any future promotions are organised a little more fairly and a little less in favour of someone she knows and has some form of relationship with.

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