When the Shackledcraft forums were shut down in early 2017, it was with a heavy heart and a sigh of relief. The final post by the site’s founder, Eric Smith, detailed how the forums had been compromised by hackers and used as a botnet to attack other sites. It was an unfortunate end to an important part of online poker history. A lot has been said about what happened to the Shackledcraft forums in recent years. Some of it is true, some of it is false and much of it is somewhere in between. In order to set the record straight, we reached out to several key individuals for interviews that have not been published anywhere else. The scope of this article isn’t limited to just one side of the story but rather all sides of it – both positive and negative – so that everyone can make up their own minds about what really happened with one of the Internet’s most famous poker sites…
Who Was Shackledcraft?
Before discussing the various stages of the forums, it is important to get a quick overview of who Eric Smith was and what he did. Eric founded the ShackledCraft forums in March 2007. He was a programmer who had created several other successful online communities. The SC forums were his first foray into the poker world, and he quickly established himself as a respected poster. Eric was a very private person. He was a family man and didn’t want his name or face associated with the SC forums. To this end, he went by the handle “handsome man” and provided no clues about his real identity. Besides being a programmer, Eric was a high-stakes MTT player. He was also one of the first members of the SC forums. However, he was never a moderator or administrator on the site.
The Glory Days of Early 2008
The ShackledCraft forums began as a small project in 2007 by a programmer named Eric Smith. His goal was to create an online poker forum where poker players could talk strategy, ask questions, and share their experiences. The forums grew steadily with a core group of players and soon became recognized as an important part of the online poker community. The forum’s growth sped up dramatically in 2008 when two big things happened. First, the Full Tilt Poker shutdown caused many online poker players to go on the hunt for a new place to play. A lot of them ended up on SC. Secondly, the Merge Network was created, and the SC forums were chosen to be the official poker forum of the new poker network. The entire poker community was then able to see that the SC forum existed, and it received millions of extra views.
2011: A Turning Point for the Forums
The SC forums enjoyed a great deal of success in the years after 2008. They got a lot of traffic from the Merge Network and were home to an active and knowledgeable membership. The forums were a great place to learn about poker and have discussions about strategy and upcoming events. The forums were also a place where people could discuss the politics of the online poker world. They could talk about laws and regulations, provide analysis of recent poker headlines, and discuss the various controversies and feuds that had swirled around the online poker industry for years. Unfortunately, the good times were not to last. In the second half of 2011, the forums began to experience some growing pains. The site was getting so much traffic that it had become difficult to manage and maintain. There were many technical problems that Eric had been unable to solve.
Problems with the Site’s Codebase
The SC forums were written in the PHP programming language. This was the standard for forum software for years and it worked well when the site was small and manageable. However, as the site grew and the technical problems increased, Eric realized that the forum’s codebase was flawed and not something he could fix. He needed to find a new platform to run the forums on. Unfortunately, Eric did not have the money to hire a team of programmers to create a new forum platform from scratch. He was running the site as a one-man operation and didn’t have the resources to deal with the issues that were piling up. The question of how to deal with the problems with SC’s codebase became more urgent in the fall of 2011 when the Full Tilt Poker Poker Rush came to an end. Without the traffic from the Rush to the SC forums, the site received less traffic and had fewer resources to pay for itself.
Hackers Ruin Everything
Unfortunately, the problems with the SC forums were just beginning. In October 2011, the site was hacked by malicious individuals who wanted to use it as a botnet to attack other sites. It was not the first time the site had been compromised, but this time it was different. The hackers had infected the site with malware that allowed them to take control of the servers remotely. When Eric found out about the hack, he immediately shut down the site to contain the damage and prevent the hackers from doing any more harm. The good news was that the malware did not allow the hackers to access the site’s user database (which held sensitive information like user names, passwords, and email addresses). However, the malware was able to use the site as a botnet to attack other sites. This caused the SC servers to be blacklisted by Google, which made it even more difficult for the site to recover.
The SC forums were a great example of how online communities can be helpful to people and have real social value. No one is immune from problems or mistakes, and the SC forums are a great example of that. Unfortunately, the hackers’ attack on the site was a black mark on the reputation of the SC forums. The malware that was installed on the servers made the site unusable for a long time. During that time, the hackers were able to infect many other sites with the same malware, which then took down their servers. When the site was finally restored, it was impossible for it to recover its previous reputation. The damage had been done, and the site never regained its position in the online poker community.