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?

Monday, March 02, 2009

More Online Poker Cheat Scams Coming Because of World Economic Crisis?

Will the current worldwide financial crisis bring out more online poker scams from the woodwork? Probably, but that doesn’t mean more of them are going on. To understand what I mean, let’s take a look at what has been happening in the financial-scam world since the global economic fiasco took hold in late 2008. There were many bank scams and frauds that have come to light since then, but to date three gigantic ones have dominated the news, all of them involving billions of dollars. The first that hit was the Bernard Madoff investment pyramid scheme, which among its victims bagged a few online-poker-pioneer billionaires, for whom I don’t feel very sorry for as most of these people scammed their way to their own riches way before the advent of online poker. Then there were the UBS bank scam and the Allen Stanford investment scam, both of which surfaced only last week. The Stanford scam may wipe out the majority of Antigua’s finances before it’s all said and done.

But this does not mean that suddenly huge bank and investment scams are happening in an abundance we have never seen before. All it does mean is that more financial scams are being exposed in these very difficult times when people across the world need their money and decide to withdraw their funds from various investment accounts, and increasingly are finding that there’s little or no money in the accounts.

The same thing is bound to happen in online poker, which is a major billion-dollar industry. The UltimateBet scam notwithstanding, we will probably see more big online poker scams come to light as the financial crunch continues because online poker players, just like people in the financial world, will be watching their money closer and at times calling in their funds from their online poker accounts.

But remember, don’t panic when you hear about the next online poker scam or the next one after that. It won’t be an indicator of a new rush of online poker scams but rather the surfacing of ones that had been going on awhile, most likely before the financial crisis hit.