Back to Page One:
Casino Poker Cheats
Online poker cheating differs in several key ways from casino poker cheating. There are four principal areas of concern:
Minor cheating -- with friends telling each other hole cards on the phone or IM, but who do not share a bankroll or play together
Idiot cheating -- now less common than in the past when more cardrooms did not fold hands when players timed out
Inept collusion -- where stupid partners collude together in ways so obvious that they are discovered quickly
Expert collusion -- where competent people collude in an effective way, including "self-collusion" where one
person plays in the same game on two different accounts
I should also briefly address phantom cheating or loser hysteria. A phenomenon I have observed when it comes to online poker is how
some inexperienced player will post a message on a forum
saying something like: "When playing at a casino, the other players told me it was stupid to play online because they made a lot
of money cheating with their friends while talking on the phone."
Windows - Mac
This reminds me of a scene from Say Anything where John Cusack (memorable as "Lloyd Dobler") is talking about women to some guy
friends. After listening to their "wisdom", he says:
"If you guys are such experts on women, then why are you hanging out here behind the Quickie Mart without girlfriends on a Friday night"?
<long pause, then one replies>
"By choice! Yeah man, by choice."
If there was a gold mine in doing what these people claimed, why were they doing something else, and telling someone else the "secret"
of their gold mine.
But at least this sort of cheating does exist to some degree. Other hysterical newsgroup postings have ranted about all manner of
obscure ways that cardrooms cheat players. The allegations offer techniques that cardrooms would have to be insane to use as they
would be extremely counterproductive. One of the most common of these is the "action flops" fantasy. This allegation betrays
a total lack of understanding how casinos make money. Cardrooms generally hate big pots. They like
small pots. Two players playing for one bet each in
a 5/10 game normally max out the rake. Any action beyond that occurs without the cardroom making anything. Creating "action
flops" would be directly against a cardroom's interests.
But delusional paranoia, where time and again bad poker players show why they are bad poker players, is a subject for other articles
on this site. Bad, cheating cardrooms have existed, like they exist in any industry, but for the most part, that is not a "cheating"
thing people should concern themselves with. Play at the successful cardrooms and you should have no worries.
Like b&m casinos, the online cardrooms hate cheaters, because they are trying to take money from them. Fortunately, while minor
cheating like talking on the phone with a friend is easier online, detection of more elaborate schemes is also far easier online.
Besides the hand histories that all players have available to them, online poker card rooms have a wide variety of cheat and collusion
detection techniques that range from the obvious to the very subtle.
Suppose a self-colluder has two computers, two Internet connections, and two identities. If the cheater plays as Player A in a game
only when he also has Player B in the same game, a red flag will be tripped. This means that even if this person is cheating this way
successfully, he also has to play his identities on separate tables a large percentage of the time to try and avoid detection (and again,
most cheaters are too greedy and too stupid to do that).
Cardrooms can see
all hands folded, so if a player knows he can go all-in with a King high flush because his partner folded the ace previously, this can
be easily observed by cardroom security personnel. The same with two players whipsawing an opponent (raising back and forth, where one
player has the nut hand). The cardrooms can see if one of the players is doing something completely out of line.
Now here is the important thing. Each of the above two examples could go unnoticed by themselves. They probably would not trip any
automatic red flags. But, if both manipulations where done by the same players, and even if only one was reported, cardroom security
can look back over the logs of when these players played together, and now these separate actions, perhaps weeks apart, can be pieces
in a puzzle, independent bits of evidence that can create a vivid picture of a cheating partnership.
The best tool the card rooms have when it comes to detection is the eternal vigilance of honest players. Unlike b&m casinos where hard
evidence is difficult to come up with, where eyewitness suspicions and distant cameras are normally about all there is to go on, with
online cardrooms honest players don't need to provide evidence. They only need to provide suspicion. In other words, online card rooms
have at their disposal algorithmic red flags as well as honest player red flags. One incident may seldom tell a whole story, but one
incident can serve as a red flag that uncovers a fairly sophisticated web is dishonesty.
Idiot and inept cheaters tend to police themselves. Their behavior is so obvious they are detected very quickly. Expert cheating is
more dangerous, profitable for the cheats, and harder to detect, but online cardrooms have far more tools to detect experts than b&m
casinos. Again, the minor cheating of friends sharing information about cards when one is not in a pot is nearly infinitely more
prevalent online than in a casino, but fortunately this most common bit of cheating is also seldom crucially helpful.
In a way, there is a trade off when comparing casino poker to online poker. Cheating occurs in all venues. It is part of the game,
like spitballs are in baseball. B&M casinos have more effective cheating that goes undetected. Online cardrooms have more minor
cheating that provides only a small edge.
In both cases though, the #1 weapon required to keep your money out of the hands of the crooked scum is to speak up to casino and
cardroom authorities. Don't be a nuisance by ranting about every questionable play you see, but don't keep your major suspicions to
yourself. The more cheaters kicked into the loser dustbin where they belong, the more money there is for you, and the cardrooms, and
even the weaker players - which means, squashing cheaters is a poker skill.