Search the Site

How Not to Cheat

Let’s say you discover an old lamp and rub it, and out comes a genie offering to grant you a wish. You are greedy and devious, so you wish for the ability, whenever you play online poker, to see all the cards that the other players are holding. The genie grants your wish.

What would you do next?

If you were a total idiot, you would do exactly what some cheaters on the Web site Absolute Poker appear to have done recently. Playing at the very highest stakes games, they allegedly played every hand as if they knew every card that the other players had. They folded hands at the end that no normal player would fold, and they raised with hands that were winners but would seem like losers if you didn’t know the opponents’ cards. They won money at a rate that was about 100 times faster than a good player could reasonably expect to win.

Their play was so anomalous that, within a few days, they were discovered.

What did they do next? Apparently, they played some more, now playing worse than anyone has ever played in the history of poker — in other words, trying to lose some of the money back so things didn’t look so suspicious. One hand history shows that the players called a bet at the end when their two hole cards were 2-3 and had not paired the board … there literally was no hand that they could beat!

I don’t know whether these cheating allegations are true, because all the information I am getting is third-hand. The poker players I’ve talked to all believe it to be true. Regardless, I bet these guys wish they had it to do over. If they had just been smart about it, they could have milked this gig forever, winning at reasonable rates. For the stakes they were playing, they could have gotten very rich, and their scheme would have been nearly undetectable.

(Note that I say nearly undetectable, because while that poker site probably never would have detected them, I am working with a different online poker site to develop a set of tools for catching cheaters. Even if these guys were careful, we would catch them.)