Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mike Caro's Anti-Poker Cheating Crusade

In 1984 Mike founded his Cheater Monitoring Service, with an office at the Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles. He told me that players started slipping out of the woodwork, confessing, confidentially, that they had been guilty of cheating, but were mending their ways, hoping to be allowed to play in the casino. Because of these experiences, and many others, Mike has acquired insight into the cheating world. One of my favorite Mike Caro quotes: “Barring or arresting cheaters isn’t enough. They should be boiled and eaten.”

Better methods. He says that poker today is more honest than in the past. But cheating has become more sophisticated technologically. I’ve been told that online cheaters can even purchase software that makes deceit easier. Fortunately, online sites are perfecting better methods to detect collusion. Mike sometimes helps with that.

At the Second Annual World Poker Conference Mike stood before the audience and declared how serious an issue cheating was, how it had gained momentum through poker partnerships, and how it was giving the poker world a bad name at the time. Later, he was involved in helping Planet Poker, the first real-money online poker site, pioneer collusion monitoring. I’m sure the industry, as a whole, has continued to build on those early efforts.

Mike is still working behind the scenes and is considering joining a group of programmers to make collusion monitoring a fact of life in the online poker community. Over the years, this has become a passion of Mike’s. Beyond the obvious ethical benefits, he finds this type of programming challenging and intellectually rewarding.

Cheating at poker is worse than robbing a bank, Mike has stated (maybe a bit exaggerated here!). At least, when a bank robbery occurs you have the bandit standing before you in all his treachery. Not so with poker. You sit down with the assumption that everyone is agreeing to play honestly.

Mike believes, and I agree, that cheating at poker, including partnerships, should carry a hefty punishment with prison times of five or more years—mandatory! What do you think?