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Poker is a game of chance. But some chances are better than others.
October 17, 2007 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Poker is pretty popular, and it seems like almost everyone is making money at it. At the tables, on Wall Street, and online. The World Poker Tour helped create the current boom and, with the World Series of Poker, helped make poker players into rock stars.

There have been some previous issues with online poker room management, but -- for the most part -- players tend to believe that the software and random number generators are reasonably secure, and that the cheating risks of playing on line are mostly due to collusion, chip dumping, and the like rather than something specific to online play. (modulo the growing possibility of workable poker bots for online play).

They appear to be wrong.

It's beginning to look like one online poker site has a cheating problem. theories abound, and some fallout has happened already.
posted by rmd1023 (44 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poker is pretty popular, and it seems like almost everyone is making money at it.

well no - every dollar someone wins is a dollar someone else loses
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on October 17, 2007


pyramid termite: this is true! but given that most losing players lie about their results, it still *seems* like everyone's making money at it. (every losing player i know claims that they're "running about even" or "well, i'm a break even player but running a little bad right now".)
posted by rmd1023 at 11:04 AM on October 17, 2007


well no - every dollar someone wins is a dollar someone else loses

Depending on what the rake is, every dollar someone wins could be as much as $1.15 or more that someone else loses...
posted by dersins at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2007


every dollar someone wins is a dollar someone else loses

If this fact gets out, I predict the downfall of the gaming industry.
posted by found missing at 11:07 AM on October 17, 2007


Take me to the river
Flop me in the water
Take me to the river
Double dip me in the water
Washing me down
Washing me out
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:11 AM on October 17, 2007


the NYT freakonomics blog gets in on the story
posted by rmd1023 at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2007


See also the recent scandal regarding collusion during the PokerStars WCOOP Main Event, in which TheV0id was stripped of his first place prize of almost a million dollars.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:21 AM on October 17, 2007


This is very interesting - I've often wondered if there were any "god-level" accounts on online poker sites that could see our hole cards, and how great the temptation to use them would be for a hacker. But I also figured it would be easier to write a program that broke into our accounts & transfered the money out than it would to hack the uber-user accounts. The "Theories abound" link is especially intriguing. Smart guy, whoever put all of that together, and bad news for Absolute Poker (and for online poker in general).
posted by jonson at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2007


Also the jjprodigy and zeejustin scandals over multi-accounting tournaments of a couple of years ago.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2007


Smart guy, whoever put all of that together

Not really one guy, jonson. People have been sharing their hand histories and Poker Tracker databases for a couple of weeks now. Druff has really just made a time line out of the existing data, and superimposed a theory on top of that. How accurate his thesis is remains to be seen.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:28 AM on October 17, 2007


I was going to post this - but did not want to publicize it further. It's just tapping the glass, I think.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:31 AM on October 17, 2007


Ah, gambling: the tax on people who don't understand mathematics.
posted by mullingitover at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


And, I had no idea there were that many 2p2ers on MeFi.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:34 AM on October 17, 2007


And, I had no idea there were that many 2p2ers on MeFi.
LDO, ;-)
posted by mosk at 11:37 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


and of course: http://www.absolutepokercheats.com/
posted by bashos_frog at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2007


Reading through the hand-history analysis is pretty stunning. Perfect play. Prescient folds and bluffs. It's exactly the sort of cheating you would be an idiot to try unless you expected no one to be able to examine it—and it sounds like the "leaked" IP-rich hand histories compromise that very expectation.
posted by cortex at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2007


Once I thought golf was the most boring "sport" on television. Then came poker.
posted by tommasz at 11:42 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, where are some good places for Americans to play online poker since those idiotic new laws went into effect? I used to play at partypoker.com, and I had some money in neteller (which I need to withdraw by march or something or lose forever)

I'm perfectly fine with trying to prevent totally arbitrary gambling, but poker does take some skill, and it's a lot of fun. I don't see why they couldn't make an exception like they did for state-run horse racing. Oh wait, yeah I do. Because republicans wanted to score points before an election, and they didn't really even care about the consequences. Just like half the laws they pass. Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 11:48 AM on October 17, 2007


My virtual worlds are colliding.
Scary.
I think there's a brown trout in my pants.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2007


PokerStars and Fulltilt.
Make sure you get some kind of decent bonus and rakeback deal, though. I wish I could start over with a new identity though, because I didn't do that first time around and it costs me.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2007


Once I thought golf was the most boring "sport" on television. Then came poker.

Stop watching the WSOP and the World Poker Tour, and start watching High Stakes Poker.

Boring, it's not.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boring, it's not

Boring, it is.
posted by ladd at 12:13 PM on October 17, 2007


Bashos_frog: I didn't know there were brown trout in this blue pond.
posted by mtstover at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2007


Jesus, Peter McDermott. That was indeed nailbiting. What's the meaning of the word "cooler" as used by the player in that clip? A bad beat?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:15 PM on October 17, 2007


Yeah, it is boring. But I missed the genes/environmental factors that make any card games interesting in any way--I just check out, a la Homer in the jury box ("Meow, meow, meow, meow!"). This is why I don't get invited to poker or Oh, Hell gatherings.
posted by everichon at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2007


Not a bad beat, which implies your cards were better to start. A cooler is getting a great hand that turns out to be 2nd best.
Having 5h6h on a 7h8h9h flop is a cooler when your opponent has ThJh.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2007


I love that hand, Peter McDermott - I had no idea it was on YouTube, I remember watching it the first time & being aghast. So much money...
posted by jonson at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2007


brown trout are lurking everywhere, man.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2007


It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the current attempt to legitimize online poker. I can see both sides getting some traction from this.

For those who are interested and are not also members of 2P2 (all five of you in this thread), the Legislation forum on twoplustwo.com is the best place to keep abreast. There isn't much on there about Absolute Poker now, but I'm thinking that will change pretty quick. Even though it's the players and the industry who will gain the most from an online gaming commission as this case shows, I suspect it's the social conservatives who will be able to reference it most effectively in a soundbite.

-----

delmoi,

Your comment about Republicans is wrong. It did have Republican support and Bill Frist made things happen in the Senate, but take a look at the House and look at the voting numbers for each party. The bill had broad bi-partisan support.
posted by BigSky at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2007


All-county lineman in 1995 with 15 tackles for a loss. sup bro?
posted by Lame_username at 1:11 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


BigSky, you're going to get "broad bi-partisan support" for a bill on security for our ports. That's a gimme. It's unfair to state that the "broad bi-partisan support" was for Frist's UIGEA, bundled into a ports bill you couldn't possibly vote against with elections looming.
posted by peacecorn at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2007


Anyone up for a mefi donkament on stars?
posted by bashos_frog at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2007


A cooler is getting a great hand that turns out to be 2nd best.

Comes from the term 'cold deck'. When card cheats are setting you up, they'd have a deck that was pre-arranged to give you that great second best hand, while the other guy has the hand that's just a little better. They then switch it into play. Cold because it hasn't been handled by the dealer, so it's a few degrees cooler than the real deck.

Archetypal cold deck hand here.

Also: I don't have an account with PokerStars bashos_frog. Isn't there a regular MeFi tourney that gets played there though? I seem to recall seeing mention of it in MetaTalk at some point?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2007


Poker players as rock stars? I don't think so. If any of those fatass, sunglasses-inside, PokerStars.com-pimping losers I see on ESPN are getting the amount of ass that a rockstar gets, they're buying it with their winnings.

It's cards for christsake... All these attempts to 'spice it up' with stage lights and celebrities doesn't make it cool.
posted by jstef at 6:19 PM on October 17, 2007


anyone playing poker online is just a fool, including my foolish nephew who claims to make a living doing this. we all know his father pays all his bills and debts. there's another one born every minute, and these days maybe ten.
posted by caddis at 6:25 PM on October 17, 2007


I would be up for a MeFi tourney on Full Tilt. What happened at AP is very sad and probably will be damaging to the scene in many ways.
caddis, very few people actually make a living at poker, ( and I'm guessing your right about your foolish nephew) but some of us do manage to, well lets say, have a hobby that is self supporting. :)
posted by HappyHippo at 8:18 PM on October 17, 2007


Whenever I happen upon Poker Championships on television, I always note the number of players wearing big sunglasses glasses and earbuds.

This is so wrong. Hasn't anyone seen Orson Welles in the original Casino Royale?
posted by eye of newt at 10:47 PM on October 17, 2007


anyone playing poker online is just a fool

There are enough of them going to support the non-fools. I knew a couple of grad students who got most of their income playing poker online.

I didn't like playing against them in real life.
posted by flaterik at 12:34 AM on October 18, 2007


anyone playing poker online is just a fool, including my foolish nephew who claims to make a living doing this.

Your nephew may or may not be a net loser, caddis. 90% of online poker players are, so it wouldn't be surprising. However, the other ten percent make money at it. Some of them make quite astonishing amounts of money.

Anyone who doubts that is just plain wrong.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:34 AM on October 18, 2007


peacecorn,

I don't have time to look up some references right now, but the bill did have broad support. The 2P2 Legislation forum has been discussing the issue for over a year a half and it was widely agreed that if the bill ever came up for a vote it would have passed. Attaching it to Port Security just made it a slam dunk. It wasn't tied to Port Security so it would pass but so that it would come up while Congress was in session. Without considerable help from some lobbyists, including I believe Jack Abramoff, the bill would have come up and passed years prior. There are two posters on that forums, the moderator, Berge20 and another whose handle escapes me, who both work on the kill, and both of them made statements last year at the time of the bill's passing that were consistent with the above. The most prominent poster on that forum now, The Engineer, has also made a number of posts reminding the community that the Democrats are not necessarily our friends. Barney Frank has been very vocal in pointing out this is bad legislation but this simply isn't a party issue. Remember that when it passed the House, separate from the Port Security legislation, the vote was 317 to 93.

-----

caddis,

I don't know or care what provokes your scorn but rest assured, there are many online poker players who are anything but fools. Even the losers don't deserve that description. One of the older generation of players (Bobby Baldwin, perhaps?) once commented that he disliked the term sucker. There's little cause to adopt an attitude of superiority simply because you have a better idea of how to play a flush draw. Most of the time the losing players know they have the worst of it, they are there for entertainment. Showing contempt for someone because of how they choose to spend their entertainment dollar doesn't say much positive about you.
posted by BigSky at 4:54 AM on October 18, 2007


anyone playing poker online is just a fool

keep playing daniel negreanu's stacked, bro and dreaming that you could play real poker like sup bro. maybe someday you will have a kid with some ugly woman (because attractive women only f*ck guys like sup bro) and raise the kid to be like sup bro and live through him because you never had the chance to live a life like sup bro's.

sup bro laughs at all the haters on this board. you are just like all the offensive linemen who talked sh*t to sup bro in 1995 and then got owned by sup bro and then faked injuries because they were too scared to line up against sup bro.

bashos_frog, mosc, cortex, rmd1023, BigSky and everyone else who supports sup bro will be rewarded for their loyalty. sup bro looks out for his teammates and never lets them down. sup bro has got more heart than anyone bro and that is what makes sup bro the living legend that he is.

sup bro?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2007


The 2P2 Legislation forum has been discussing the issue for over a year a half and it was widely agreed that if the bill ever came up for a vote it would have passed.

Not to question the collective intelligence of the 2P2 Legislation forum, but IIRC the bill (in various forms) had died in committee and failed to pass several times on its own before it was attached to the Port Security bill. So it's at least questionable that it would have passed as a stand-alone bill.
posted by srt19170 at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2007


So it's at least questionable that it would have passed as a stand-alone bill.

I'm afraid it really isn't. I want accessible online poker as much as anyone and if we're going to get it we need to see the facts clearly. It passed 317 to 93 for crying out loud. How contentious is that? There were holds placed on the bill and it died in committee a few times but that's pretty standard. Many bills take a long route to becoming law. What you are seeing there is the work of lobbyists and frankly they should have done a better job. Or, probably more the case, the gaming industry dropped the ball and failed to adequately fund an effort to protect their market.

And now we are faced with an uphill battle, even if we do win, we can expect substantial monitoring of funds and taxation above and beyond income tax. Of course as this scandal shows, regulation will bring some benefits as well.
posted by BigSky at 9:42 AM on October 18, 2007


Once I thought golf was the most boring "sport" on television. Then came poker.

Then came baseball.
posted by shotgunbooty at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2007


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