Cheating at poker is a very touchy subject particularly with the Absolute Poker and Ultimatebet debacle that is still talked about even now and the recent news about the Chinese players cheating on PokerStars.
With the Absolutel Poker/Ultimatebet scandal, "superuser" accounts were enabled to allow players to view everyone's hole cards. With the PokerStars scandal, a group of Chinese players were colluding with each other in high stakes "double or nothing" games. Are these just the tip of the iceberg?
Lets look firstly at the forms of cheating that are out there. The first one is poker bots. A poker bot is a pogramme designed to play poker on behalf of a human against another human or computer. These poker bots are sophisticated and are very hard to detect. A more obvious poker cheat is the superuser accounts as mentioned above although these are virtually impossible to detect. Collusion is the biggest form of cheating and whilst may be difficult to detect, is not actually impossible to notice when playing.
After listening to a radio talk show on the subject of poker cheats, there was an interesting interview of Michael Joeson, security specialist at PokerStars,. The interviewer asked why they paid out more than 4 times what the colluders net profit was. His response was "it was the right thing to do". He denied that the "alert system" for colluders had been switched off despite a former unnamed employee confirming this was the case.
During the talk show, it was also confirmed that Russian players are openly asking for 4 or 5 players to join in a "team of players" in order to collude and cheat poker players. One person who messaged the show also confirmed that their friends do it all the time in hight stakes poker.
Poker sites have upped their game in detecting cheaters, poker bots and colluders but what about the cheating that we don't know about yet?
Hopefully, there is no other form of cheating however, what should you be looking for when you are playing poker. How will you know if two players are colluding.
The first and easiest sign is "chip dumping". If one player is way ahead of the other, the player with the most chips may well raise big in a hand to ensure all other players fold. The colluding player will call or re-raise to get a decent amount of chips in the middle. The player with the least chips will bet and the colluding player will fold. How will you be able to tell that they are colluding though - it sounds like any normal hand. The thing to watch for is the size of the bet by the player with the least chips. Perhaps the player with the least chips only has a couple of hundred chips left and to bet that amount into say a 4,000 pot and the opponent to fold speaks voumes.
Keep your eyes open, make notes if you are unsure, follow the players around on different tables to see if both players play each other on a regular basis; most sites have a "find a frined" function. If you thnk collusion is going on, report it to the site. It is their duty to look into every reported incident.
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