Friday, January 18, 2008

Cheating at Online Poker

Absolute Proof!

I was digging into the Absolute Poker cheating scandal, and the whole thing is just so interesting, and at the same time so horrible for the online poker industry. There was always the argument that the sites would never rig online poker, because it would cost them to much if they got caught, and they make enough money already anyway. The argument is pretty much gone now. Cheating was rampant at AP by insiders, and from what I have heard it pretty much still continues to this day. Even without the insiders cheating, the security is so lax, that it is no problem having 25 accounts with your same name, address, IP..., and no problem entering the same MTT with all of those accounts, or filling 8 out of 9 seats at a cash game with those accounts (The poor mans way of viewing every ones hole cards). Guess it might have cost some money to close those gigantic loopholes, so they never bothered and they still exist today. By the way Ultimate Bet is owned by the same company as AP, so watch out over there as well. I have never played on either site, thank God. Makes me wonder whats going on at the sites I play at though. Even ones with good intentions probably have exploitable security flaws by insiders. When you pile this on to all the cheating in big MTTs through multiple accounting, ghosting, and like 10 other ways I have never heard of, it is pretty sickening. I offer no solutions here, other than to legalize online poker so it can be properly regulated, and crimes like this can be properly punished. With the way things are now, these foreign companies have no problem stonewalling us, and letting huge security issues like this remain open with no fear of any real punishment.

The best thing about the story is the smoking gun evidence of the cheating. The image at the top of the post is from PokerTracker, and shows a lone data point in red in the upper right corner. A player who earns around 475BB/100 hands while voluntarily entering 93% of the pots preflop. Not a single other player in the data is close in either measure. There is no way that data point could exist without cheating (unless the sample size was small). I would imagine a bunch of the other outlayers on this chart that are in the direction of the red dot, are also cheaters, but a bit better at it. If you have not seen the replay of the hand history, click the link below. It is absolutely amazing. Any real poker player, can see in just a few hands, that that is exactly how you would play if you can see the hole cards of all of your opponents. It is pretty crazy to watch, but definitely well worth it.
One thing that is great about Fantasy Sports, is that all forms of cheating are pretty much impossible. To compare it to poker, it is like you are allowed to choose the cards you will play before hand. Once the contest starts, everyone sees what you have chosen, and the real world games are played to determine who wins (vs. the flop/turn/river). Once the contest (hand) starts, no cheating can occur because you could determine the winners from all the information provided up front independently. I guess it could be possible to find a way to multi- account, and enter the same contest more than once. That is against our rules, but it does not really provide much of an advantage if any. Our biggest competitor actually allows a single user to enter the same contest as many times as they would like. Their only restriction is that you can't use the same fantasy team twice in the same contest. We may at some point allow this as well. Unless you know a bunch of NFL or MLB players on multiple different teams, and our able to coordinate all of their actions, you can pretty much give up on cheating in Fantasy Sports Contests.

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