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Tracking Online Cheaters in Poker 150

Posted by Zonk
from the dirty-way-to-play dept.
prostoalex writes "MSNBC has a special report on discovering online cheats at AbsolutePoker.com. A Costa Rican company belonging to a Canadian tribe at first denied all the accusations of any cheating going on, but after Serge Ravitch made a scrupulous analysis of the games' events, the reputation of AbsolutePoker.com was at stake. A detailed log file provided investigators with necessary details: an employee and partial owner of the site was one of the players involved, and having direct access to other players' cards allowed him to improve his game substantially."
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Tracking Online Cheaters in Poker

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  • Silly gamblers (Score:1, Interesting)

    Cards are out. Sports are in. Bet on horse racing, football, and dogfighting - the holy trinity.
    • by arootbeer (808234)
      Football players are racing now? What is the world coming to?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Cards are out. Sports are in. Bet on horse racing, football, and dogfighting - the holy trinity.

      All online games are easy to fix but I think people who play online poker are crazy. The whole point of the game is making judgements about the cards people are holding from their behaviour. If you can't see them, or even be sure that they are members of your species, why would you play?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        True, true. ...the whole thing is shady from the get-go. Online gambling is already in a large grey area of international law. Shit, if somebody absolutely had to gamble, then couldn't they do so at an analog casino(which would be a much more difficult to cheat)?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          At a real casino the casino is ALWAYS going to be cheating you, online you at least have a chance.
          • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bluekanoodle (672900) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @01:10AM (#21052851)
            In a real casino, you don't play against the house in poker, you play against the other player. The casino takes a cut of the rake for providing the atmosphere, the table, and the dealer. As in onlone and "analog" play, it is in the casino's best interest to ensure fair play at a poker table. If players don't feel the play is fair, they'll go somewhere else, and if they go somewhere else, the other players will follow the action. As far as table games go, where you are playing against the house, why is it 'cheating" when the casino provides a game that statistically you are bound to lose, and yet you still play? Disclaimer, I work in the Casino indistry, but I also know better to play the games, because the odds aren't in my favor.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Turkot (1177013)
              This AbsolutePoker.com approached my company about 6 months ago. They were inquiring if I could supply security monitoring for their online gambling. Their focus was strictly the client, client blocking and not their servers. After examining their state of affairs and our specialties, I declined. Obviously this was the correct choice. I assume by this report they wanted to ensure they were the only ones that could cheat. With attitudes like that, why am I not surprised to find them getting their 15 minutes
          • by nate nice (672391)
            This is a stupid post. Casino's don't cheat anyone. Why would they cheat you when they make plenty of money off of you without cheating?

            So, you're telling me you would rather play a black box game for money than a transparent one in a casino?

          • Insightful? Idiotic more like.

            The odds might be against you in a casino but that's not cheating. That's totally transparent and in the open. If you choose to play knowing that it's your decision. But the casinos don't cheat.
        • Nearest B&M casino to me: 1.5 hours. Thanks, but I think I'd rather stay home and play poker online.

          There are online poker rooms with very good reputations among avid poker players; Absolute Poker, despite its size, is not one of them.
      • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:27PM (#21051537) Homepage
        I guess its for people who cant make a poker face then. :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598)
        They play for the same reason that people play slot machine games against a computer programmed to make a profit... addiction
      • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:47PM (#21051679) Homepage

        I think people who play online poker are crazy. The whole point of the game is making judgements about the cards people are holding from their behaviour.
        A large part of their behavior is how they bet and how long they take to do it. That's still visible. Believe it or not, most decent poker players have a pretty good "poker face". It's not like you gain much insight at live poker looking for twitching eyelids and nervous ball-scratching.
      • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:5, Informative)

        by stirfry714 (410701) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:49PM (#21051705)
        "Making reads on people" is only a small part of the game. Sure it's an important part to make certain borderline decisions, but there are far more important considerations - hand selection, betting strategies, pot odds, etc...

        Yes, playing online takes away non-verbal tells. But it also gives you ammo in the form of hand histories, betting patterns, etc. You can gain far more information about an opponent if you know how he's played in the past than you ever could off a potentially deceptive tell.

        Also, if you're wondering why some people play online, it's because there's far more diversity of games - typical live poker rooms these days are just $1/$2 NL HoldEm fests, with very few other tables. Plus many players enjoy the faster rate of the game, and some even multitable, having numerous tables open at once. You can play *far* more hands per hour online than in a live game.

        With that said, I do enjoy live poker more, and I would play it more often - if only it was legal and regulated in my state. Too bad I have to drive three hours to find the closest poker room.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)
          So, are stats programs not considered cheating then? I always thought part of the skill of poker was to be able to calculate odds and use that information, as well as what you know about your opponents and their tendencies, to win. Real life casinos wouldn't let you use a computer to do that, but it's okay online?
        • by vertinox (846076)
          But it also gives you ammo in the form of hand histories, betting patterns, etc. You can gain far more information about an opponent if you know how he's played in the past than you ever could off a potentially deceptive tell.

          The key here is that online poker always allows a player to "cheat" even if it is something as simple as the other player just punching the card history into a second computer to give him all the statistics. Heck... You might even being playing against several persons sitting at a comp
      • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AuMatar (183847) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:50PM (#21051719)
        In both online and offline poker, the biggest clues to your opponents are *not* facial or body language tells. Those are too easy to fake. The real clues are betting patterns and logic. Those are not only obvious online, they're easier to spot. Bots are actually fairly easy to beat, they can't use second order logic (playing your opponents tendencies, not just your cards)
        • by Oriumpor (446718)
          Ahh the bot dilemma. A good bot will be able to follow your tendencies and play against them. Don't believe me? Ever play Any console fighting games on super hard modes? We had the tech to do that in the 90's imagine what is available to an enterprising person or (business for that matter.)
          • by AuMatar (183847)
            First off- video games don't do it very well. Secondly, they're games of perfect information- the games know all the variables of past attacks. They don't know all of it in poker, so they do an even worse job. Trust me, as someone who's made several thousand dollars on online poker- I'll play at a table of bots all day long, its free money.
            • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:4, Insightful)

              by RCSInfo (847666) on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:49PM (#21052099)
              Here is my reservation with online poker - what if instead of a table of bots, you were playing a single bot holding 4 hands? The bot still doesn't have perfect information, but can now factor in all of the cards from all hands that it sees. For that matter, what keeps a human player from starting a 2nd account and playing two hands at the same table?
        • by karmatic (776420)
          Bots are actually fairly easy to beat, they can't use second order logic (playing your opponents tendencies, not just your cards).

          Bad bots don't do second order logic.

          As anyone who has played any poker knows, there are a variety of strategies one can do in poker, affecting everything from when to bluff or fold, raise or call, etc. It's relatively trivial to have a bot that can try different techniques depending on who it's playing against, and learn what works and doesn't.

          Furthermore (and especially at hig
          • Re:Silly gamblers (Score:4, Interesting)

            by John Betonschaar (178617) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @07:36AM (#21054335)

            It's relatively trivial to have a bot that can try different techniques depending on who it's playing against, and learn what works and doesn't.
            No it isn't. You think it's easy, but the fact that no-one has ever before created a poker-playing bot that does better than even mediocre human players disproves this.

            Creating a bot that defeats weak players is trivial, ie: players that have no sense of the odds they will hit something and make decisions that you can prove to be wrong based on the mathematics of the cards. A computer could calculate perfect odds and only play on them. However, such a bot would lose agains even a mediocre player that uses deception in his hands, plays bluffs, and watches the computers betting patterns. It's not hard to spot mathematical play.

            Creating a bot that plays like a poker pro would require a combination of programmed intelligence, mathematics, player statistics, and second-order logic. There is no 'algorithm' that plays good poker yet, that I know of. It's not trivial.
            • by Sosarian (39969)
              I think the University of Alberta poker bot probably does a good job. They played some real players, and almost won, although they did give the players some of the same information they were using to even the odds a bit. I think they are improving and will get better over time, but they aren't using their bot to play in online casinos :)
      • by jaffray (6665)

        I think people who play online poker are crazy. The whole point of the game is making judgements about the cards people are holding from their behaviour.
        Perhaps you should learn a little bit about poker before making such declarations about the sanity of others. Physical tells are a very small component of the game.
      • by Phleg (523632)
        You've clearly never played a serious game of poker. 95% of a player's behavior consists of their betting patterns and reaction to other players. 5% has to do with what their physical mannerisms.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I prefer stocks. Just as thrilling, and you get to earn (or lose) as much as you want, with none of the ethical or moral issues.

      And of course you get to laugh at all the people on the wrong side of the fence on a day like today, and take their money!
    • As I'm sure somebody has said.. Poker is a game of SKILL not a game of CHANCE.

      There is a very simple test..

      Football fans know the top 20 football players, it's a game of skill.
      Baseball fans know the top 20 baseball players, it's a game of skill.
      Poker fans know the top 20 poker players, it's a game of skill.

      See the pattern? Now, tell me:

      Name the top 20 craps players in the world
      Name the top 20 slots players in the world
      Name the top 20 roulette players in the world.

      Yes, poker has an element of luck: You can o
  • "This is literally a geek trying to prove to senior management that they were wrong and he took it too far," he said.

    So you know there is a problem and management refuses to believe it. What's the best course of action? Ignore it (and potentially looking like an idiot and getting fired when it's discovered)? Show that it's a problem (and potentially be fired)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Best ID Ever! (712255)
      This "geek" claim may actually be false. The cheater's IP address was linked to a founder of Absolute, and now they are claiming that a disgruntled geek tried to frame the founder. Given that they have stonewalled and seemingly lied throughout the amateur investigation, I'd take the story with a grain of salt.
  • view source (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:19PM (#21051471)
    <Understatement>
    and having direct access to other players' cards allowed him to improve his game substantially.
    </Understatement>
  • by registrations_suck (1075251) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:19PM (#21051473)
    Is anyone surprised? Off-shore gambling sites have no real oversight whatsoever as far as I know (unless Vegas, et.al.). Of COURSE people are going to get ripped off. As much as gambling on the cards, people are gambling on the site itself - and in this case - the guilty parties were gambling that no one would notice. Gambling all the way around. This is just one of many reasons why the U.S. is just out and out foolish to continue banning on-line gaming, when instead, it could bring it to shore, charge gazillions for licenses, tax the proceeds (for both the house and the gamers), and as an added bonus, enact various certification and oversight requirements that would provide some measure of protection while allowing government to do what it does best - grow even larger.
    • Good Idea. They could use a portion of the (probably sizeable) proceeds for gambling rehabilitation. If only the US gov't would do same with Marijuana sales ;)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by UncleTogie (1004853) *

        Good Idea. They could use a portion of the (probably sizeable) proceeds for gambling rehabilitation. If only the US gov't would do same with Marijuana sales ;)

        I know lots of stoners that wouldn't care for the marijuana rehabilitation part...

        ...but yeah, I darn near guarantee they could tax the sales of it at triple the rate of cigarettes and still have lines out the door and around the block. Same age limits as alcohol, with "dry" regions allowable with medical exceptions. HUGE tax windfall, and if they're smart, it could save the dying walrus that is Social Security. Goo goo g'joob.

        Don't get me wrong...I'm not arguing the obvious hazards of inhaling ANY type

        • Dire Straits said it best:

          Last time I was sober, man I felt bad
          Worst hangover that I ever had
          Took six hamburgers, scotch all night
          Nicotine for breakfast just to put me right

          If you wanna run cool, you've got to run on Heavy Fuel.

          If it wasn't for drinking and smoking, fucking and toking, there'd be no reason for working and eating.
        • by rts008 (812749)
          Then they would have to change the acronym BATF to something else, like BAMTF, or something.
          Perhaps this could be the next /. poll?

          If you could walk into the convenience store/gas station and ask for and get a 'pack of Northern Lights 100's', then I might warm up to my job as a convenience store clerk.

          Why yes, I frequently post while drunk!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stirfry714 (410701)
      Yup, it should be legal, licensed, and regulated. Exactly right.

      And they should allow cardrooms in all states, just like California does. Basically, if you aren't playing against the house (playing only against other players), it should be a legal game to spread. That's generally how it works in California (overgeneralizing here, but you get my point). No slots, no blackjack, roulette, etc, but poker and other card games where you play other players only.
    • You want the government to try to regulate electronic gambling? Hell, they can't even manage to create a fair and unhackable playing ground on something unimportant like, ya know, Voting. No randomization, just tiny amounts of personal information, and no personal funds up for grabs (unless you count the lobbyists and the corporations that benefit from legislation, but that's another story...).

      Online gambling for large sums of money is just plain stupid. Online gambling on sports matches is getting to

    • by pnewhook (788591)

      Gambling all the way around. This is just one of many reasons why the U.S. is just out and out foolish to continue banning on-line gaming, when instead, it could bring it to shore, charge gazillions for licenses, tax the proceeds (for both the house and the gamers), and as an added bonus, enact various certification and oversight requirements that would provide some measure of protection while allowing government to do what it does best - grow even larger.

      I think I'm missing something in your logic...

      If t

    • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @12:50AM (#21052749) Journal
      First, AP's wasn't offshore. It was run out of Kahnawake. Which is in Canada. (Okay, Quebec, so it's SORTA in Canada).

      Second, there is oversight. There's the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. [kahnawake.com] But, admittedly, they blow at customer relations. But with their backs against the server-room, they're actually doing something about this one. They're commissioning an independent investigation to see what's going on. Again-- because it would be bad PR otherwise.

      And that's where the real oversight comes in. The players are what keep the online casinos "honest". Players like those who discovered the AP cheats. People who know how the games should be running, and know when things aren't being run correctly. Then there's player run oversight groups like Casinomeister [casinomeister.com]. And there's also people who have put up tons of statistical information about online games, like The Wizard of Odds [wizardofodds.com]

      A casino with a bad reputation gets spotted, gets talked about, and goes out of business. The online gambling world's potential playerbase is relatively small, and there's a LOT of businesses who want a piece of their action. Screw up once, and every single player has five hundred other places they can go to.

      • by epine (68316)

        A casino with a bad reputation gets spotted, gets talked about, and goes out of business. The online gambling world's potential playerbase is relatively small, and there's a LOT of businesses who want a piece of their action. Screw up once, and every single player has five hundred other places they can go to.

        Most of the stupidity in the world does not originate from stupid people. There is something about certain topics that causes the brain to down-regulate critical thinking, esp. topics on the axis of fe

  • collusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:20PM (#21051475) Homepage
    This particular story has to do with a security hole in the computer software, but in general, my understanding of the logic of the game is that online poker is potentially the only way to get a guaranteed honest game with strangers. In a meatspace game with strangers, the problem that basically can't be solved is collusion. Player A and player B both walk into the casino, and pretend they don't know each other. In reality, they've arranged certain secret signals in advance, to be used in hands where the pot gets big. One signal might mean "I'm bluffing," and another might mean "I'm not bluffing." Over time, this gives them a huge systematic advantage. An online poker system, on the other hand, can at least potentially be set up so that A and B can't get themselves into the same game together -- you just have to have a large enough pool of users, and assign them randomly to games. The other reason I'd never play in a casino game is that the house's take is big enough that you're practically guaranteed to lose money in the long run, unless you somehow manage to get into games where your skills are extremely high in comparison to your competitors'.
    • Re:collusion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Astarica (986098) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:26PM (#21051521)
      The problem is that as you move higher and higher stakes there are increasingly few players so it is easier and easier to get you and your friend on the same table. Assuming you and your friend are at least no worse than the average player of that level, it has to be the case that you'd win if you collude, so the only thing that holds you back is your capital. I believe the statistics say that the knowledge of 2 extra cards is basically insurmountable over the long run in poker. And in online there's nothing stopping me from calling my friend and say I got these cards, what do you got? And there's no way anyone can catch that. If you try to cheat in a real casino, people would eventually notice. But that isn't possible for online.
      • Re:collusion (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:58PM (#21051777)
        And in online there's nothing stopping me from calling my friend and say I got these cards, what do you got?

        Isn't calling out on the same phone line your modem is using a bit difficult?

        If you try to cheat in a real casino, people would eventually notice.

        I'm not sure how. For example, if you and your friend sit at the same table in the casino, and you've worked up a system where he plays very tight (comes in with nothing less than a 10-10 or A-K), he can explain his play as following one of the books (Helmuth, I think). Before he folds he plays with his chips, just like everyone else does, and uses the chips to signal to you what he has. Maybe makes two stacks of the appropriate height. Since the casino does not know what he folded, they cannot coorelate his actions with specific values of cards.

        If he doesn't fold, he uses different chips for card protectors depending on what he has.

        Of course, you cannot sit and stare at him until he plays with his chips, or ask him to do it again, and he cannot be obvious about counting out how many chips or you might get caught as being just plain suspicious. Otherwise, you'd blend into the normal pattern of play.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          To gain an advantage, eventually you have to make a move that would otherwise not make sense. Make enough of these moves, and people begin to notice.

          Online poker sites keep records of every hand that is played for money. They can go back and check hand histories to look for collusion. Most the time the people doing it are quite amateur, and their play reveals what they are doing. The hand histories of online poker sites theoretically make it much easier to catch collusion online than in B&M poker.
          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            To gain an advantage, eventually you have to make a move that would otherwise not make sense.

            Even the best poker players make plays that "don't make sense". Sometimes the commentators actually say that, sometimes they just make something up so it looks like the player was the smartest guy alive for knowing when to do something that common sense and percentages says he shouldn't.

            Next time you watch poker on TV, keep track of the number of times Mike Sexton says he can't imagine that a player could possibl

        • by Skim123 (3322) <mitchell@NosPaM.4guysfromrolla.com> on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:18PM (#21051905) Homepage

          And in online there's nothing stopping me from calling my friend and say I got these cards, what do you got?

          Isn't calling out on the same phone line your modem is using a bit difficult?

          Yeah, maybe if it's 1996.
        • by balthan (130165)
          Who uses a phone line to access the internet? What are we? Savages?
          • by aliquis (678370)
            Who even use one to make phone calls?

            I've been living here for 7 years now I think and I have never had a phone line.

            Also I can start as many outgoing phone calls as I feel for =P (well, the client may have a limit.)
        • Isn't calling out on the same phone line your modem is using a bit difficult?
          If you're cheating in poker, hopefully you'd be able to afford a second phone line, or even [gasp] one of these newfangled broadband connections.

          Perhaps there was something interesting that you wrote, but it's pretty clear that you are just arguing for the sake of arguing here, so I stopped reading.
      • Re:collusion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jaffray (6665) on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:27PM (#21051975)
        It's much easier to catch colluding cheats online than in a live game.

        Online poker sites have vast quantities of forensic evidence - complete hand histories, including the actions and hole cards of all players involved, for every hand ever played. Easy to datamine for suspicious patterns, and sites like PokerStars have people doing that full time. Surveillance video of live games isn't as complete, isn't stored for as long, doesn't include hole card data, and is vastly more difficult to review.

        I routinely play for thousands of dollars both live and online. I'm not too concerned about being cheated in either, but I'm more concerned about the live games than the online ones on trusted sites.
        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
          I still don't see how you would stop collusion via phone, or just having multiple computers with different providers so you could hold two or three hands at a table. As an earlier poster said, there's only so many players in the high stakes games and only so many rooms to fill, randomization alone can't stop these behaviours.
          • by jaffray (6665)

            I still don't see how you would stop collusion via phone, or just having multiple computers with different providers so you could hold two or three hands at a table.

            You can't stop it, but you can use all that forensic data to detect that something screwy was going on. Cheating both effectively and subtly is not easy, and if you slip up, you're running the risk of having your entire online bankroll confiscated or redistributed to your victims. If you have the necessary skill, it's more rational to play lower stakes honestly. (Or, I suppose, play on a site like Absolute with substandard security. Sigh.)

    • The other reason I'd never play in a casino game is that the house's take is big enough that you're practically guaranteed to lose money in the long run, unless you somehow manage to get into games where your skills are extremely high in comparison to your competitors'.

      why do you think online casinos are any more "loose" as they say than physical casinos? What prevents online casinos from using software that gives them the same advantages statistically as real world casinos? For that matter, many online

      • Re:collusion (Score:5, Informative)

        by stirfry714 (410701) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:56PM (#21051767)
        Umm, poker rooms (whether live or online) have no "advantage" statistically. They aren't "loose" or "tight" like you'd think of in slots.

        The house takes a fixed amount of every pot, called the "rake". Sure, some casinos take more than others, but it's not because the software is fixed one way or the other - it's because they've said upfront that they are going to take X% out of every pot.

        That's a big reason a lot of us love poker - you aren't playing against the house. *Any* game you play against the house, you will be losing money in the long run - a casino isn't going to spread a game that it will statistically lose money on. (Card counters in blackjack being a rare exception, where they can eak out an overall 1% return on investment if they get away with it).

        Poker you play against other players. Sure, there's luck and variance involved, but in the long-term if you are more skillful at the game than other players enough to beat the rake, you will make money, guaranteed. That's why there are professional poker players - they are good enough to make a consistent living at the game. No such thing as professional roulette or slots players - as much as some people might try! :)
        • Card counters in blackjack being a rare exception, where they can eak out an overall 1% return on investment if they get away with it

          Completely agree with what you said, but this statement needs clarifying. That 1% isn't really the ROI because it's a 1% edge per dollar bet and the total bets in a session will be many times the investment (bankroll). A counter wouldn't start a session with $100 and expect to end with $101 on average. There'd be no point if it were that low a return.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          You seem to be making some big assumptions when you talk about how online poker rooms don't have an "advantage". The major assumptions you seem to be making are that the dealing is fair and that the people you're playing against aren't shills or even bots. In an online poker game, it's pretty hard to prove when the dealing is fair. I do remember an article on slashdot from years back where the author statistically examined the deals from an online poker site and concluded that they were dealing from the bot
          • by bnenning (58349)
            In an online poker game, it's pretty hard to prove when the dealing is fair.

            Actually it's much easier than in a live game, because you can keep records of every single hand.

            I do remember an article on slashdot from years back where the author statistically examined the deals from an online poker site and concluded that they were dealing from the bottom of the deck

            I'd be interested in that article if you can find it. I have no idea what "bottom of the deck" means in an online game, but if the hands aren't di
      • by sholden (12227)
        It's poker, it's not played against the house. Online poker has much lower rakes than physical casinos and hence there's more money left for the winning players.
      • too bad you can't delete comments like that... what has been said cannot be un-said
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion (114072)
      You realize that half the people you're playing against online could be sitting right next to each other, right?
      • I think that's why he mentioned the "large pool" and "random assignement". That would make it unlikely that two people in the same room could get into the same hand.
    • by tshak (173364)
      Over time, this gives them a huge systematic advantage.

      With just two people? Not usually. The forms of collusion which have a meaningful impact usually involve having over half the table in on it. Software can detect betting patterns, IP addresses, and other heuristics to catch most of this. Alert players can also smell a rat, online or in real life.
    • by shma (863063)
      You are correct that with this model, you can reduce the odds of player collusion to practically zero (especially on a site with 10 million plus players). However, no poker site actually uses this model, and for a good reason. All sites offer many varieties of poker (hold 'em, draw, stud, HORSE, etc) as well as different game conditions (number of players, cash games vs sit n' go games vs tournament, number of players, buy-in, fixed limit vs pot limit vs no limit, etc). For a specific choice of these option
    • Over time, this gives them a huge systematic advantage.

      No it doesn't. It gives them a small advantage. Statistically, little.

      collusion actually causes you to risk more (combined money of those involved), to win less (winnings is split) for a slight increase in odds.

      And they do this online as well. Only they're on the phone and they know exactly what cards each other have. It's not as big a deal as you make it out to be. Generally, you need to be very good players, and play against not so good playe
    • by naoursla (99850)
      It is even easier for two people to do that online. They can even talk on the phone and don't need secret signals.
  • by Astarica (986098) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:21PM (#21051477)
    The stakes of online gambling is simply too high, and it's far easy to cheat. If I simply call a friend who lives in another location and exchange information, how will you catch that? Many of the high stakes table only has 1 table so it's not hard to get on the same table. If you assume the cheaters are actually good players then it is also not necessary that you always play on the same table. Poker is a game of information, and knowing even 2 more cards compared to others give you a huge advantage.
    • by surgen (1145449)
      I've even seen people get 3 or 4 people on laptops in the same room playing the same table.
    • The "stakes" are only as high as you make them. If someone has a foolproof method to cheat and make money, I can *guarantee* they are playing at higher limits than I play online. :) The cheating in this case was on tables where hundreds of thousands of dollars was being wagered.
    • by tshak (173364)
      The stakes of online gambling is simply too high, and it's far easy to cheat.
      Do you have evidence of this? This is only the second major case of cheating that I know of, and in both cases players are having the money confiscated. Sure, you can't prove that cheating isn't happening, but I know many people (outside the US, of course, unfortunately we can't play anymore) who play online and make a killing at it. There simply isn't evidence that people are getting cheated out of their money with any kind of mea
    • by aero6dof (415422) <aero6dof@yahoo.com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @01:39AM (#21052979) Homepage
      The stakes of online gambling is simply too high, and it's far easy to cheat. If I simply call a friend who lives in another location and exchange information, how will you catch that?

      Because each of you two individually suck at poker, but observably improve when you're at the same table?

  • Me too. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:24PM (#21051503) Homepage
    "...and having direct access to other players' cards allowed him to improve his game substantially."

    Yeah, I find knowing the other players cards helps my game as well. Go figure...
  • They could have made tons and tons more money if they were just patient. The way the hands played out, there were only two possibilities: 1. They're cheating, or 2. They're luckiest SOBs ever.

    Here are some of the damning hand histories: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Board=beats&Number=12493401&page=0&fpart=1 [twoplustwo.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Jails are full of stupid people who thought they were actually smarter than everyone else.
    • Looking at the link... what is it with assholes who need 800kb avatars? They post three or four times and the poor schmuck with dial up spends sixty seconds downloading text.
    • ...here is a snippet one of the really damning hand histories (the cheat is POTRIPPER):

      POKERME420 - Posts small blind $150
      JINXY_MONKEY - Posts big blind $300
      *** POCKET CARDS ***
      Dealt to AUTOSMOKE [7c 4h]
      Dealt to OBV_DONK [Js 5h]
      Dealt to POTR0AST [6h 4c]
      Dealt to POTRIPPER [Ks Qd]
      Dealt to POKERME420 [10d Qs]
      Dealt to JINXY_MONKEY [Ah As]
      Dealt to CLOVER777 [Kh Jd]
      Dealt to SCARFACE_79 [7s 3h]
      SCARFACE_79 - Folds
      CLOVER777 - Calls $300
      OBV_DONK - Folds
      AUTOSMOKE - Folds
      POTR0AST - Folds
      POTRIPPER - Folds
      POKERME420 - Ra
  • by JK_the_Slacker (1175625) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:28PM (#21051539) Homepage
    ...this is what happens when you make your data members public.
  • Tip of the Iceberg (Score:5, Interesting)

    by posdnous (469992) on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:21PM (#21051929)
    This is only the tip of the iceberg.

    from the article, it mentions that the cheater was so blatant at cheating because they had a personal vendetta to prove to the company about it's flawed security. Basically the cheater told the company that it's systems were vulnerable and they wouldn't listen, so he set out to prove a point to them. Only after basically being so blatant at cheating that people thought he was god, and complained umpteen times to Absolute Poker did they do anything about it.

    Basically what this proves is that, there is no way a real cheater will be caught. A real cheater is not going to do things to draw attention to themselves, if they can gain a 100% edge by cheating, they won't press it to it's maximum, they'll only press it slightly so that they only have a 55% edge, time and compounding will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams, and NO ONE will be the wiser.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      I'm going to have to call BS. The cheater did not have to play more than one hand for the other players to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was cheating. I assume that these games have some kind of chat functionality, yes? If so, he could have just typed, "Nice pair of Aces you have there."

      If they don't have a chat function, please disregard this post.
      • Absolute poker statements:

        "First Statement:
        "We have done an extensive research into the claims that have been brought to our attention. While we are continuing with our investigation, we have yet to find any evidence of wrong doing. Our game client only receives data regarding the individuals hand and no other players hole cards, except in the event of a showdown. The player's and their respective actions that are in question, all come from a small sample of Hands. We have researched their play exhaustively
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I wasn't calling BS on the cheating. I was calling BS on the fact that the individual had to play a bunch of poker, winning unrealistic hands to get other players to believe that he was cheating.
  • Was the employee a shill who was playing for the house?
  • A very good summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by bgspence (155914) on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:38PM (#21052043)
    http://casinosmack.com/blog/the-absolute-poker-scandal/ [casinosmack.com]

    The Absolute Poker Scandal
    October 16th, 2007 5 Comments

    Is AbsolutePoker.com rigged?

    Either way, the company is in big trouble. What follows in this post is huge news in the world of online poker and online casinos.

    Our story begins in 2003. Absolute Poker's software is in development and many test accounts are created to make sure the program is working correctly. One of these test accounts, known as account #363, can see the hole cards at any table. This test account can not be used to play in real money games, it is only used for development purposes to see that pots are distributed correctly. The id number of this account being #363 is important because this tells us that this was one of the first accounts ever opened in AbsolutePoker, making it very likely the person in control of this account is someone with intimate ties with the company (owner, founder, employee, programmer, shareholder, etc.)

    Follow with me to the opening of Absolute Poker (AP). Four people in different parts of the United States open up accounts at Absolute Poker. These four individuals do not know each other. The names in question are Graycat, Steamroller, DoubleDrag, and Potripper. They play in Absolute Poker for a bit, but they don't do well and their accounts are not logged into for many months. These are actual and real players, they are not fake players, they do not know each other, and they are not cheaters.

    Key moment in the development of Absolute Poker: a major software upgrade is in process in 2007. The company hires programmers from many areas, including Costa Rica. Our villain in this scandal comes across the test account #363 with hole card access. Visions of big money flash in front of his eyes as he envisions hacking his way to big casino cash. He hatches a plan.

    He finds inactive accounts at Absolute Poker and changes the password to these accounts at the server level. He opens test account 363 at a separate computer which allows him to see all the hole cards at the table. He then gets family and friends to cash out his winnings to. The way he does this is after he gets a big amount of cash at the poker tables, he plays against his relatives and buddies and loses all his cash to them. DoubleDrag loses to Reymnaldo, Graycat loses to SupercardM55, and Steamroller and Potripper lose to other various friend and family controlled accounts.

    September comes, and as the money piles up, so does the ego and greed. Other poker players make comments in chat that they suspect there is cheating and collusion involved. He logs in as DoubleDrag and then loses every hand intentionally in No-Limit in an attempt to cover up his scam as he senses other players may be on to him.

    September 12th. A well-known online poker tournament player named Marco Johnson, who plays under the screen name CrazyMarco plays in a $1000 buy-in tournament at AbsolutePoker.com. Cheat account Potripper is also playing in this tournament. CrazyMarco loses a head-to-head battle with Potripper when Potripper and asks for the hand history of the final table.

    September 17th. The four Absolute Poker accounts (Graycat, Steamroller, DoubleDrag, and Potripper) are suspended and frozen.

    September 21st. AbsolutePoker sends CrazyMarco a huge Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file (10MB and a full 65,536 rows, which is limit in Excel for most current versions). The spreadsheet is too complicated and scrambled to look into, so he saves it and decides to analyze it later.

    October 12th. An AbsolutePoker.com official statement is released with their official comments on the cheating rumors, gossip, controversy, and overall poker community outrage. The company has been made aware of the poker blogs, chatrooms, and online casino discussion forums that are talking about this situation and they state that they take these allegations "extremely seriously". They have "determined with reas
  • by jaffray (6665)
    It seems like every time online poker is mentioned on Slashdot, there's a chorus of "What kind of fool would play poker online?! Cheaters, bots, hackers, oh my!"

    Granted, this particular incident does give a black eye to the industry, but I can't help thinking back to the mid-nineties. Every once in a while there'd be a news story about some online store or other leaking credit card information, or closing up shop and keeping customer money without delivering the goods, or some other scandal. And every ti
    • by jacks0n (112153)
      Imagine how painful it would sound to hear a bunch of poker players discuss programming.
      • by jaffray (6665)

        Imagine how painful it would sound to hear a bunch of poker players discuss programming.
        Sadly, I don't have to imagine it - one of the great disadvantages of live poker is that one gets to hear a bunch of poker players discuss quite a few topics they know nothing about. :)
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      Simple. Some online vendor takes a credit card and doesn't deliver, I have 60 days to report it and get my money back. Some online vendor takes a credit card and passes it to all their friends in Romania, I get a new card and a bunch of voided charges. Too bad for the merchants that got ripped off, but I lose nothing.

      I play online poker (or any other online game) and am cheated. Where do I get my money back? I don't. I'm just poorer and perhaps somewhat more experienced.
  • Um.... DUH! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I write webapps for a living. I know how easy it would be to sneak in a back door, and so do many of you. I cannot believe that anyone with enough internet savvy to play online poker wouldn't be aware of this possibility.

    Just.
    Plain.
    Stupid.

    I guess that stupid people get what they deserve.
    • by krelian (525362)
      So I guess you never use banking websites and have never bought anything online, no? And what's the point of being an AC? It's going to be a piece of cake to crack slashdot and get your details?
  • Poker site owners claim the market will police integrity. If customers find own a site is crooked, they'll all depart another of many competing sites.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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