Friday, May 29, 2009

Pit Supervisor of Casino Accused of Cheating Murdered At Atlantic City Trump Taj Mahal!

Mark Magee apparently had a very serious beef with Atlantic City casinos. In a letter he sent to a Philadelphia television station before killing a high-ranking Taj Mahal shift boss, he said that Trump Taj Mahal and other Atlantic City casinos had been cheating him and other customers for a period of at least 20 years.

TV station WPVI reported that it received the letter from Norristown, Pa., resident Mark Magee and that it didn't contain any threats, only stating that the Atlantic City casinos have been cheating for 20 years. The letter didn't mention any specifics of how the casinos allegedly cheated nor did it mention Ray Kot, the Trump Taj Mahal supervisor whom Magee shot several times in the abdomen with hollow-point bullets. The TV station said it won't publish the entire letter and is cooperating with police.

Taj Mahal's CEO, Mark Juliano, said the shooter had no previous beef with the slain casino supervisor. He probably just took out his frustrations out on the poor guy, who was well-liked and respected at the casino. Also it appears that Magee was intent on robbing the casino, and police found a suicide note on his person when they arrested him.

Magee in court said he understood the murder and weapons charges against him. However, why in the devil's name did he do this? That, he didn't say.

Connecticut Craps Cheat Master Convicted of Cheating Casinos!

Richard Taylor, A.K.A. Mr. Casino and Mr. Cool, is going to be cooling off for awhile. A Connecticut jury has convicted the Tennessee man of cheating two casinos out of tens of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors say 43-year-old Richard Taylor of Memphis was the ringleader of a group of gamblers who cheated Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun casino in a craps scheme. Taylor was convicted Wednesday of larceny, conspiracy, cheating and other charges. Prosecutors called several dealers to testify they allowed late bets at the craps table for Taylor and others. Criminal cases are pending against 11 former casino employees. State police say Taylor and his group were responsible for nearly $70,000 in losses to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in 2007. Taylor is facing more than 40 years in prison when he's sentenced July 10.

Now it remains to be seen what happens to all dealers and pit personnel who were indicted in the cheat scam with Taylor. I imagine that in exchange for them ratting him out, they will get leniency in a series of plea bargains. I don't think any of them will do prison time but none of them will work again in the casino industry, at least not in the US.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Online Poker Cheat Device Texas Hold ‘Em "Cheat 'Em" Gets Wall Street Journal Coverage

Normally, playing “five-of-a-kind” in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em would be grounds for a Vegas pit boss to escort you from the premises. (It’s impossible as there are only four of a given class of card in a deck.) But in “Texas Cheat ‘Em,” that dishonest hand is only proof that you’re doing it right.

Developed by Wideload Games, “Cheat ‘Em” is a twist on the traditional rules of Texas Hold ‘Em as players automatically get a spate of add-ons to spoil their opponents intentions. This includes seeing what cards are coming next, changing other player’s hands, and even stealing chips from your rivals across the table. The cheats are enough to turn even novice players like me into competitive poker studs. I was able to best some of the makers of the game during a demo in a conference room in West Los Angeles.

“Cheat ‘Em” stemmed from the development team’s conversations about real-life games of poker in their Chicago offices. They watched gambling movies like “21,” among other things, to develop “the zeitgeist of cheating,” says the game’s director Scott Corley. Adding new cheats was easy to do, taking only 20 minutes to program in, and then the team played each other to figure which cheats were a little too unfair.

But is it really cheating at all if everyone can do it? Perhaps if one person could peek at another player’s hand that would create inequity, but when everyone can do it, than it’s just a matter of playing the game. “Most people agree that cheating gives you an unfair advantage,” says Mia Consalvo, associate professor of telecommunications at Ohio State University. “With this game, how would it give you an unfair advantage if the developers built it that way?”

In a sense, “Cheat ‘Em” is just a new way to play poker with its own rules and strategies, albeit ones different from those in Las Vegas. What’s interesting is how the introduction of cheating into a game environment changes the previous norms for talent. That means that within this new rule structure, even one in which players “cheat,” there will be advantages and disadvantages to certain styles of gameplay. I was tipped off to one method by one of the game’s producers – I could freeze the cards that appeared in the “community,” the cards the dealer plays that are available for all to use, and then replicate them with future cheats. This method would allow me to reproduce multiple pairs at will, transforming my two pairs to a full house or three of a kind. And suddenly a lawless game looks a little bit more organized after all. “There are strategies to use within the game,” says Mr. Corley. “There are things that you wouldn’t think you’d be able to do.”

Of course, everyone else is cheating as well and so I found myself often thwarted by other players’ more devious tactics. The game takes on a bit of the feel of “Calvinball,” the nonsensical game developed by the child protagonist from Bill Watterson’s popular comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” “The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can’t play it the same way twice,” Calvin announces.

Cheating is one the new developing areas of study by academics who are interested in why and how players cheat. Ms. Consalvo says there’s a sliding scale to cheating, according to the research she finished for her book “Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames.” There are the purists that argue that no one should try to deliberately take advantage while others see pragmatic uses in cheating to overcome difficult parts of a game.

The latter was certainly my experience during my first encounter as a child with the “Konami code.” Early Nintendo games could be brutally difficult, and “Contra,” a 1988 side-scrolling action game from Japanese developer Konami, was certainly no exception. The game only gave you three lives (and three “continues” to start over) to attempt to complete the game--a pittance given its exacting requirements. But on the playground at my grade school, a fellow sufferer shared a tip – if I pushed in a certain button combination during the game’s initial screen, I would instantly get 30 lives in place of my previous triad. The information felt sacrosanct as if I was part of some resistance movement to secretly thwart the maker of Contra’s intentions.

The reality is far less clandestine. “The great misconception about cheating is that it’s some sort of deviant act,” says Liel Leibovitz a videogame scholar who finished his Ph.D dissertation for Columbia University on the topic. Because videogames are pieces of software bound by explicit directions of their programmers, cheats are usually intentional. Sometimes, however, programmers accidentally leave loopholes open and players find ways to exploit them., for example, has dozens of tactics players can use to bend the rules in games like “Gears of War 2” and “Fallout 3.”

But Mr. Leibovitz notes that videogames are just algorithms – bundles of “if/then” propositions that dictate what should and shouldn’t happen in a game. Even unintended uses of the games aren’t “cheating” per se, just imaginative workarounds of the rules that videogame designers put in place. It’s less like alchemy and more like metallurgy. “The genius and difficulty of videogame design is that you really follow a tight script while feeling like the decisions you’re making are your own,” says Mr. Leibovitz. “You should feel free will.”

Even the legendary “Konami Code” is hardly theurgical despite my childhood beliefs. It was designed by the programmers to test “Contra” without being constrained by the paltry three life requirement.

But my childhood interest in cheating echoed something very important. “Far from being a deviant phenomenon in video games, cheating is, in fact, very much of an essential feature,” Mr. Leibovitz wrote in 2007. In fact, cheating represents a much deeper type of experience with the game. Rather than accept the rules as given, cheaters look for ways to subvert them and in the process, develop a closer relationship with their hosts. Cheaters are interested in testing the boundaries of the games they love and that takes, more than anything, lots of time and effort.

“We should think about it as ‘getting the game.’ Cheating becomes a type of appreciation,” Mr. Mr. Leibovitz says. “You feel like maybe you’re not just a passenger [when you cheat], maybe you could drive just a little bit.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do Online Poker Casinos Cheat?

Pay attention to this question! It is not "Is there cheating going on in online poker casinos?" We already know that there are tons of online poker and casino cheats out there working everything from bot and collusion scams to trying to steal your credit card and personal info to use in identity theft scams. Here, I am referring to the reality of an entire online poker room and casino entity being in existence solely to cheat you.

There is nothing to prevent a bunch of crooks from creating a fake online casino or poker room to steal your identity, credit card information or to simply create an online cheat casino where players always loose. At the same time there are many online casinos that are legitimate businesses and will never employ any cheating tactics to steal your money or sensitive information. Everyone knows that the casino business and even gambling in general is a bullet-proof system, i.e. the house always wins in the long run. The honest online casino and poker companies know that and they act just like a land-based casino would--some players will win but the odds are always stacked against the player and it comes down to pure luck when a player wins big; but in the long run the majority of the gamblers will lose more than they win. Therefore, those honest online casino establishments work very hard to build up a good reputation among the players and watchdogs. The more players gamble at the online casino, the more people will lose and more profitable the casino will be.

So in all, I recommend staying away from online poker and online casino sites that you stumble upon and really know nothing about. Some of these might just very well be those online poker cheat and casinos to watch out for!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Online Poker Cheat Concern

Is PokerStars' Online Billionth Milestone Poker Hand Promotion A Cheat?

I received an interesting e-mail today putting into question PokerStars' hugely successful promotion, which has been distributing loads of cash to some lucky players. In fact, it appears that the writer thinks it might be a form of online poker cheating. Here's his letter:


I was hoping you could help me with a question I have about Pokerstars Billionth Milestone Hand Promotion. I don't know if you're familiar with this particular event
so I'll explain the best I can. Several months ago Pokerstars gave away close to $400,000 in prizes whenever a specific hand was dealt, in this case it was every millionth hand dealt until the 25 billionth hand was reached, there were 150 of these hands.

The catch was that you could only win if the hand was dealt to you while you were playing in a cash game not in a MTT ( multi-table tournament ), sit-n-go or free money game. So it seems very strange that every one of these "special" hands was dealt in a cash/ring game. You would think if the deal was random that at least a few of these milestone hands would have been dealt in a MTT or sit-in-go.

I'm sure I'm missing something I just can't figure out what it is. Thank You for any help and I really enjoy your site! (Is it that only cash-game hands count in the accumulation of hands?)

Who out there wants to tell me what he's missing? Or who out there wants to tell me what might be going on that most of us don't know.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Online Poker Scam in Form of Phising Hits bwin!

Scandal at Online Poker Site bwin is Latest Cheating Smear on online poker.

Customers of the online gaming operator bwin have in recent days found themselves the target of an email phishing attack, the criminally fraudulent process which attempts to acquire valuable personal data such as credit card numbers, passwords and account data from unsuspecting users.

Several customers have complained this week of receiving an email appearing to come from bwin, offering a number of exclusive prizes upon entry to a raffle. In order to enter into the competition, recipients are provided with a link to log-in to what appears to be the bwin site. In reality, the link takes customers to bwimpoker, an imitation site where users details are then stolen.

Customers logging into the site risk losing sensitive information, including log-ins and passwords.

Online poker forums have also suggested that customers have been attracted by an email sent to their account saying they have won a prize, but in order to claim it, must deposit $500. This less subtle scam goes on to advise players not to log-in to their bwin account for the next four days, presumably while its contents are emptied.

bwin is understood to be investigating the matter, and any customers who believe they may have been a victim of this fraud are urged to contact the company's customer services immediately.

Online Poker Reality Show To Air on G4...Scandal?

Another Online Poker Media Scandal?

It's to be called: 2 Months, $2 Million

It's to air in August on the cable and satellite channel G4.

So, is this nothing more than an inside online poker cheat scandal, or will the players really be playing for keeps? The whole thing is reminiscent of the 2006 Fox Sports Net poker tournament that hyped six players playing a $60 million freezeout, each with $10 million of his own money. Of course, that never came to be and was really a major bullshit hype to fatten the bankrolls and increase the exposure of in-vogue professional poker players. Fox Sports Net (with my help) realized that even the poker-crazed public wasn't going to buy it, so they axed it.

Now we get another huge attempt to glorify poker, this time online poker, in the mass media and entertainment field. In August, cable station G4 will debut a brand new reality series following four online poker players trying to earn $2 million collectively in just two months. The show is appropriately called “2 Months, $2 Million” and will consist of 10 half-hour episodes.

Park Slope Productions brought “2 Months, $2 Million” to G4 executives. Laura Civiello, Vice President of Development for G4, told Poker News Daily about the network’s decision to green light the series: “There was something there that represented a lifestyle our audience is fascinated with. Every young guy wishes they could have this lifestyle, so it was very appealing to men ages 18 to 34, which is the majority of our demographic.” Filming is set to commence next week and the show will begin airing in August.

The group of four players who will vie to earn $2 million consists of Jason “pr1nnyraid” Rosenkrantz, Brian “Flawless_Victory” Roberts, Emil “whitelime” Patel, and Dani “Ansky” Stern. The latter final tabled the competitive PokerStars Super Tuesday in March and won the $30,000 Super Turbo Guaranteed in April. The two finishes were worth a combined $22,000. Patel nearly made the final table of a $5,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Six-Handed contest during the 2007 World Series of Poker, landing in eighth place for $83,000 in an event ultimately won by Bill Edler. Patel and Rosenkrantz are friends and recruited Roberts and Stern to join forces for the upcoming G4 show.

The four contestants will be wagering their own money, which Civiello believes adds an important dimension to the show: “It’s a huge challenge. That’s part of the fun of the show, watching them go on this incredible journey. For our audience, both the stakes and the lifestyle are the whole package. You want to come back to see if they win or lose.” The online poker world watched as the Bluff Poker Challenge played out in March on Lock Poker. The competition asked players to turn $200 into as much money as possible over the course of one month. In the end, Brian “SNo0oWMAN” Hawkins won, generating $25,000. In the G4 competition, each of the four players will need to earn an average of $500,000 over two months in order to reach their collective goal.

G4 held focus groups of its viewers to gauge interest in airing “2 Months, $2 Million.” Civiello explained that the “high risk, high reward” component of online poker was one of the leading drivers of its popularity among men ages 18 to 34. G4 penetrates into 65 million households nationwide, where it airs on varying tiers of cable service. Civiello explained, “We’re definitely aiming at the guys who are plugged in. This is the first generation that has grown up with the internet. It’s changed the way they’ve socialized. Culturally, it gives them a new way of looking at things.” G4 is owned by Comcast, which also manages E!, The Style Network, and FEARnet. Comcast is based on Los Angeles and provides telephone service, cable television, and high-speed internet.

Executives at G4 discussed the legal ramifications of airing a show surrounding online poker prior to giving it the go-ahead to film next week. Despite murky laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) on the books, Civiello told Poker News Daily that the topic was well-researched: “We vetted the concept through our legal department because there is a lot of confusion around this. You have people introducing legislation to completely ban online poker and you have people introducing legislation to allow it. It’s something we looked into.” The G4 venture will mark one of the first times that online poker has ever been featured on television. One of the most recent occurrences was in November, when CBS News program “60 Minutes” investigated the scandals on Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.

Other new shows in the works from G4 include “Web Soup,” a spin-off of the popular E! series “The Soup.” The show will chronicle viral videos and humorous web happenings each week. It’s hosted by Chris Hardwick and premieres June 7th. G4 is also planning a clip show about “sexy women around the world,” according to Civiello. Viewers can expect to see everything from Lithuanian honey wrestling to a wild Italian beauty pageant.

Be sure to tune into G4 in August for the debut of “2 Months, $2 Million.”

Well, I will surely tune in once or twice for sure, and you should probably, too. I will have more to say on this show once I see it. Remember, my take on the show "High Stakes Poker" on the Game Show Network was that it was all bullshit and nobody was really losing any money. Hope this will be different, but I kind of doubt it.