Saturday, August 01, 2009

New Celebrity Poker Cheat Born!

Well, I have no proof yet that he cheats poker, but poker's newest celebrity arrival, Jose Canseco, has already admitted to being a cheat and written a book about it. The ex-baseball slugger has admitted to taking steroids to cheat in baseball. Now he seems to be taking poker quite seriously, as other ex-professional athletes have done. Canseco played in the 2009 WSOP and in cash games as well. He also played in the last Dream Team Poker Tournament a few weeks ago. No one caught him cheating there, but personally, I wouldn't trust Jose Canseco in a poker game as far as I could throw him!

And if he's playing online poker as well, do you think he might be using some of those mental cognizance enhancer drugs like Provigil and Nuvigil that lots of online players use to get an unfair advantage over the competition, in effect cheating online poker? Well, if he cheated to build up his body, why wouldn´t he cheat to build up his mind?

I won't be sitting in a poker game with Canseco anytime soon!

10 Reasons Why Americans Should Not Be Cheated Out Of Online Poker

Everyone involved in or with online poker and his great grandmother know about Bill HR 2267, the attempt to get Congress to regulate and/or legalize online poker and online gambling in the United States. Much of the lobbying in support of passing HR 2267 is through measures that would protect US online poker players from cheat scams and scandals that have been victimzing players by the millions in recent years. I have compiled a list of reasons why people think online poker should be legalized in the US, some of which are a bit capricious, others right on. See what you think.

1) More than 12 million Americans play online poker regularly. My response (MR): Maybe they should find something better to do with all that free time.

2) With online poker sites regulated, American citizens would be protected from insider scam artists and cheats who don’t operate their sites with integrity. Outside online poker cheats would also have a tougher time cheating you. There would also be legal recourse in U.S. courts for online poker cheat victims. MR: Can't find any fault in this.

3) Billions in tax money would be garnered for Uncle Sam. MR: That much? If so, go for it!

4) HR 2267 would provide effective protection to keep underage children from gambling online. MR: Not sure I believe that. It's the same old anti-porn theory.

5) HR 2267 provides help to compulsive gamblers. MR: Probably chase them into brick and mortar poker rooms and casinos.

6) Three of every four US citizens are against the online poker ban. MR: There usually is an unhappy majority in cases like this.

7) Poker is a game of skill, not chance. Many US State courts have ruled this is so. MR: It's a bullshit rally cry. Truth is that although there is skill in poker unlike other gambling games, it is still gambling before anything else and breeds compulsive gambling like any other form of pure-luck gambling.

8) Licensing and regulating online sites would recreate the jobs that people had lost as marketing directors and party planners when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed. MR: Gimme a break! Don't make a labor issue out of this!

9) The US is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, yet we don’t have the same fundamental right to fund online poker accounts and play in our own homes that citizens of most other countries in the world have. MR: Don't cry! Just put your money in the bank where it will earn interest, however paltry that may be.

10) The online poker and gambling ban is extremely cruel and unfair to people who live in states where there are no legal brick and mortar poker rooms and casinos because they have to leave their homes to play poker and blackjack. And the same injustice befalls those who are physically handicapped. Legalizing online poker will allow these people to play in their homes and be happy instead of being depressed. MR: Shame on those of you who use handicapped people to support gambling measures. As for able-bodied people who live in states without legal brick and mortar poker rooms and casinos: if you need poker in your life so badly, move somewhere you can play in a real casino or poker room. Fuck the great school systems and hospitals you would leave behind!

So, after reading this, you mind be surprised to know that I actually support the legalization and regulation of online poker. But for only one reason: it will help fight the huge online poker cheat problems that pervade today.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are Casino and Poker Cheating at US Reservation Casinos and Poker Rooms Easy?

We have been hearing about lots of major casino and poker cheat scams victimizing Native American Reservation casinos the past few years. The two biggest were the Tran Organization False-Shuffle Baccarat Scam and the Richard Taylor/crooked craps dealers and pit personnel scam at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut, two Reservation casinos which are among the largest of all casinos in the world. True, I have been saying forever that Foxwoods is the poker cheaters and casino cheats number-one candy store, and the Mohegan Sun is not far behind. But am I saying as well that the majority of US Native American Reservation casinos are easy pickings?

No, not at all. The vast majority of Native American casinos have been diligently learning and implementing effective game protection and control systems on their tables and slot machines. I can say this firsthand as I consult on anti-cheating for some of them. Arriving at these properties to give game protection seminars, I found Native American casino bosses, if a bit inexperienced about casino and poker cheating, to be very willing to listen and learn, and then train their staffs effectively from instructions I've given them. I like to tell them at seminars that my job will have been done effectively if I came back to their casino unannounced in thirty days and tried to do a cheat-move and they caught me.

I did...and they did!!

So if you're thinking of going to your local Reservation casino to cheat, change your plans and go to Vegas.

VERY Dangerous WSOP Final Table Poker Cheats Scenario!

Yesterday, I received information from a pretty good source that one of the nine finalists in this year's WSOP Main Event final table did a horrible thing. I cannot verify that it is true, but based on the source, I think it is, and if it is, it presents about the most dastardly poker cheat possibility ever seen at the World Series of Poker.

The info I received is that one of the players because of urgent financial need has sold his eventual Final Table winnings to another party for $1,350,000. In other words, that desperate player gets his money now while the buyer will get a minimum of $1,263,602 in mid-November when the prizes are handed down to the final table players.

What does this mean? Well, first, the player gets the cash he needs now. He of course loses out on the chance of earning more money based on a higher finish than eighth place. At it stands now, seventh place will pay $1,404,002, eighth place $1,300,228 and ninth place 1,263,602. So the player has taken the amount of money now that is between the prize money that will be given for seventh and eighth place. How good a deal this is for him depends on which player it is and how much in chips he has going in.

For the buyer, it is an excellent deal. At worst, his investment will lose $86,400 if the player comes in 9th place. But if the player comes in 7th place or better, he picks up a minimum profit of $54,000, which is equivalent to 4% for a 3-month+ loan of $1,350,000. However, if the player finishes higher or even wins the tournament, the buyer will make a terrific score. Again, to put it into perspective, it depends on who the player is and how much he has in final table chips going in. Naturally, if it's a player in the top four chip-positions, then the deal is that much better for the buyer.

There is also the IRS issue of how the taxes will be paid and reimbursed, but it can easily be worked out between the player and the buyer.


I have blogged several times about the cheat dangers involved in the WSOP format of playing the final table four months after it's determined. This latest poker cheat scenario really brings it to life. What has happened here is similar to those dirty companies that pay of inheritors percentages of the estates' values they stand to inherit before the people willing the money and property die. There are companies that operate on the same principal in other (life) industries as well, such as the movie and TV industry where actors, directors and producers can sell out their future earnings from royalties, residuals and upcoming contracts for the bulk of that money now. But none of these carry the same illicit danger that the world of professional poker does.

For instance, let's take this one step further. Say the WSOP final-table player who sold out decides to take further advantage of his situation. Knowing that he has no real incentive to win the tournament because no more prize money is coming his way, what's to stop him from arranging to dump his chips off to one of the other eight players at the final table? All he's gotta do is approach one of them (and he has three+ months to do it) and demand either a share of that player's eventual prize money or straight cash in advance. To put this all simply: it is a horrible scenario, and I truly hope that some important forum like the Poker Players Alliance starts campaigning to return the WSOP Championship Event to its prior format. It is all about ESPN and promotion to jack up broadcasting and merchandising revenues.

If this WSOP format continues, huge ugly poker cheating scams like this will proliferate.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PayPal's Return To Online Gambling Should Help Fight Cheat Scams

The most trusted online payment processing company, PayPal, which in 2002 had backed out of doing business with online poker rooms and casinos for fear of prosecution by the US Justice Department, is now back in the online gaming world to offer its payment processing services to online poker rooms, casinos and their players. PayPal is now assisting nearly 100 online gaming sites with both depositing and withdrawing monies.

This news comes with great relief, first with the whole online poker monies debacle and some of today’s latest online casino scams. PayPal is among the most trusted online payment companies and that is proven with over 85 million people using their services. Whether players are using Euros or Dollars, PayPal will get your money where it needs to go.

Two names in the online casino world using PayPal are Golden Casino and Super Slots Casino. These casinos are also among the few that accept US players. PayPal is welcomed back with open arms by many online players and casinos.

Should Using PokerEdge Tracking Software Be Considered Online Poker Cheating?

This argument has been getting considerable discussion time in online poker forums recently, and I think it's a good one. After all, PokerEdge and other player hand tracking software allow players to do in an online poker game what they would never be able to do in a brick and mortar poker game, that is see and save opponents' hands after they're played, review a plethora of statistics on opponents' hand and table histories and use that information to exploit other players' weaknesses. Shouldn't online poker be based on brick and mortar poker, at which these computer-tracking skills are not available?

Of course many people will argue that since PokerEdge is available to all players online, those using it are not cheating. Yes, in theory. But in practice some players aren't using it for a variety of reasons, and when they are not they are clearly at a disadvantage when playing against those using it. In effect, online poker players HAVE TO use it to avoid playing at a disadvantage, or, if you will, avoid being cheated. This is a very interesting argument, and I for one would like to see PokerEdge and other hand-history tracking software banned (with enforcement) from online poker, not because I think it's online poker cheating but only because it takes a lot of human skill element out of the game. But removing PokerEdge from online poker rooms is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Speaking of this, I came across a very informative and well-written article on the subject by Chris Wallace. Please read it here:

Something isn't right in online poker these days. If you play on most major rooms, including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, you either have an unfair advantage or many of your opponents have an unfair advantage over you. I know you don't like the sound of that, but it's true. The top nine poker networks all have the same problem, with the Cake Poker Network being the largest to mostly avoid this issue.

The major rooms and networks have put themselves in a very unpleasant position where they have outlawed things they cannot prevent from happening. Poker-Edge is a prime example. According the Terms and Conditions of PokerStars and Full Tilt, this software is strictly prohibited. You can't play on the site without agreeing to their rules and since Poker-Edge is against the rules, you are breaking them if you use it. By the very definition of the word, the use of Poker-Edge on PokerStars is cheating. If you aren't using it, then you are being cheated because many opponents are using it against you.

Poker-Edge has been around for years and banned for most of that time, but I don't know anyone who has ever been kicked off an online poker site for using it because the programmers go through great trouble to conceal the use of it from the sites. Right at this very moment, Poker-Edge is being used on all of the major sites and no one using it is in any fear of being caught. Those who are willing to break the rules have a significant advantage over those who do not break the rules and that is the crux of the problem.

When you outlaw something that you cannot enforce, you simply punish those who choose to follow the rules while rewarding those who break them. This pushes more and more people to break the rules and the few who choose to abide by them are punished even further.

Let's look at another example, hand history resellers. These sites sell massive quantities of hand histories from the major networks for a very reasonable price. Anyone with $20 can buy hand histories, load them into their favorite tracking software, and have a huge database on players they have never played with. PokerStars has banned this practice, but as far as we know, there is no enforcement in place or that is even possible.

That guy who just sat down at your table has thousands of hands on you and a very good feel for how you play, but you have never seen him before. The site you are playing on cannot do anything about the fact that he has that information, but they have asked you not to get it yourself. If you choose the honest road and don't use that resource, then you are at a disadvantage, but if you do it, you are cheating. What a mess.

Other prime examples are sites like Official Poker Rankings (OPR) and Sharkscope, which list the results of tournaments on a number of popular rooms. This is publicly available information and is no different than reading about who won recent live tournaments in the back of a poker magazine. Full Tilt recently banned the use of OPR, which is what brought on the idea for this article. When I heard about the ban, I was lamenting that I had not taken more notes while using OPR in the past. It occurred tome that people who have taken more notes from OPR now have an advantage over me.

I have a laptop and could certainly have it open to OPR while I am playing on my desktop, but that is against the rules. I know people are doing it. In fact, I’d imagine that thousands of players are and there is no way for Full Tilt to ever know.

I don't want anyone to go nuts here. These things have a minor effect on your win rate when compared to studying, taking lessons, reading books, or joining a training site. The games are certainly beatable without these advantages and I can be absolutely certain of this because I don't use them and make a good living playing online poker. These programs do not create such an imbalance that the games are unbeatable, but the policies are not fair, don't work, and they do what a rule should never do, punish the just.

I never like to present a problem without offering at least some ideas on a solution. In this case, there are a number of solutions that would work quite well.

The first thing the sites can do is allow everyone to use these programs. As I noted above, these programs are not making people instant winners nor are they going to seriously hurt someone who isn't using them. As you move up in limits, these programs have a larger effect, but by the time you are playing high-limit poker, you should have learned about all of the options available to you. The sites could allow these programs, everyone could use them, and those who are willing to break the rules would longer being rewarded.

The other potential solution is to do what the Cake Poker Network is doing and Bodog used to do: don't give people a way to track the hands. The Cake Network uses incomplete hand histories that don't list opponent's names and allows screen name changes once per week. If you take notes on a player, they remain even though the screen name changes, giving you an advantage.

This brings poker back to the old school, where it's tough to play more than a few tables at once and you have to take notes in order to know your opponents. Because the 12+ table grinders who rely on stats are not interested in playing on the Network, the games are much livelier, more interesting, and fish-filled. Playing three or four tables on Cake Poker, Doyle's Room, or any of the other network sites can yield just as high of an hourly rate as playing 12 tables on PokerStars. Then we can get back to using software to improve our games instead of relying on it to help us play.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Can an Entire Poker Tournament Be a Scam?

Poker Scams come in many different shapes and forms, but can a legitimate poker tournament on one of the main poker tours or just off the main poker tours be a big poker scam? Well, even though some poker tournaments have had scams within its organization and operating personnel, a total bogus poker tournament that receives publicity in the poker magazines and other normal press coverage is unlikely. I am talking about brick and mortar poker tournament scams, not online poker tournaments, where the chance of a complete scam poker tournament is of course much greater.

However, there is one big upcoming brick and mortar poker tournament that is receiving some serious poker scam scrutiny. That is the Lets-Play-Poker UK Poker Championships between August 29th and September 3rd at Manchester Stadium in England. This is a £100 buy-in event with a cap of 750 players, yet it says first prize will be £100,000 with nine other players cashing.

A number of major UK forums have been questioning the legitimacy event, most of whom think that this could be a possible scam. For them, the numbers don't add up. With a £100,000 first prize for a 750-player £100-buy-in event and nine other players cashing, they wonder where the £25,000 overlay is coming from? And where is the money for the rest of the winning players? It doesn't specify whether rebuys are part of the event or not. The website doesn't state a guarantee of the prize pool either.

That only 10 players from a possible 750 will make money also seems weird. Shouldn't the organizers know that few players would turn up for such a top heavy payout structure.

Numbers are dropping for live events around the UK. The APAT, the GUKPT and the Brighton Rendezvous are all holding big festivals that clash with the event (APAT have almost 450 players guaranteed for their event). So where are these 750 players coming from?

Yes, this does seem a bit out of whack to me, too. But could it be a poker scam? Probably not. It probably is more inexperience at work with the organizers than anything else.

Chinese Women Running Nationwide Casino ATM Scam!

An investigation after the bust of a Chinese woman at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, Pa. has uncovered a large organized countrywide casino scam targeting poker and casino players withdrawing cash from their bank accounts at casino ATMs. And it appears that the scammers are all Chinese women!

The way the casino scam goes down is that the Chinese woman quickly approaches the person withdrawing cash at the ATM, often an older person, and kindly offers her help. The fact that the scammer is an innocuous-looking Asian woman helps make the victim trust her. At the opportune moment, the Chinese woman grabs the victim's credit or ATM card and reinserts it into the ATM, creating a "double recognition" of the access which the Chinese woman then uses to complete a second transaction by entering the victim's PIN and withdrawing cash, immediately after the first transaction is complete. The victim never knows what hits him and simply thanks the Chinese woman for her generous help.

Casino security investigators report that the success rate of the scam is 70% and the 30% failure rate is only people refusing her offers of assistance. Apparently, a surveillance officer at the Pennsylvania casino recognized one Chinese woman hanging around the casino's ATMs a bit too often and caught on to her casino scam. It has now been uncovered that similar casino scams run by Chinese women have been occurring at an alarming rate at Las Vegas, California, midwest and Atlantic City casinos.

My advice: Anyone offering to help you at a casino ATM should be considered a casino scam artist.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pitbull Online Poker Cheat Scam--Round Two!

In light of recent superuser scam allegations against Pitbull Poker, a mysterious spokesperson hit the poker forums with the statement below. Read it and see if you think this is genuine, or just another of the usual cases of online poker sites trying to deflect accusations. Remember, both Absolute Poker and UltimateBet had to be pushed, shoved and browbeaten before they launched internal investigations to search for superuser hole card cheats.


I am here to clarify a few things for you:

I am not related to the excellent Brenes brothers. In Costa Rica, Brenes is a relatively common last name. I am a real person, hired by Pitbull Gaming over a year ago to look after the network they were building and along the line I started taking care of other tasks to eventually look after the forums with the idea of providing an additional support venue. The Hand History Policy is what I know; I follow the policies and terms that the company has set. I am not making new policies out of thin air. We have never sent hand histories like the ones requested and that has always been the same policy (at least since I joined the company). I am not attempting to be deceitful with you guys or anyone. I was actually trying to be a mediator and resolve the conflict. As of today I am not posting anymore and you will have to deal ONLY with Customer Support if you want to keep asking for hand histories or ask for payouts or whatever you can think of.

Does this sound like someone on the up-and-up or someone on the cover-up-and-up?

I know what I think!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New SuperUser Online Poker Hole Card Cheat Scam!

Back in the 2000, when online poker was still relatively new and largely unheard of, a man named Federico Schiavio, an IT employee of Binion's Casino, bought a website name. He went to and bought the domain, meaning that he could put a website there. The name of the website was At the same time, it was rumored that Schiavio began building online poker software. In 2004, Harrahs wasn’t too happy to find Schiavio encroaching on their brand. As a result, in March of 2004 Harrahs began legal action against Schiavio for the domain.

In April of 2004, a company named Dimensus Ltd was put together as the parent company of an up an coming online poker room, Pitbull Poker. ( Shortly thereafter, an arrangement was apparently made between Shiavio and his website and It was rumored that the guys at Pitbull Poker even used Shiavio’s software, the software he was alledgedly creating back in 2000.

Enter Kevin Baronowsky: according to the online poker sleuths at 2+2 Baronowsky owns a few websites of his own. There’s website that sells pherehormone’s and a couple typo domains, such as and Both of the two typo websites redirect to (meaning if you go to your computer will automatically take you to

Now let’s look as the online poker players at 2+2 have at an Internet screen name, dsscanuck, a user name used online at a forum that talks about receiving satellite television illegally. There’s a person on that forum that shares with the community that he was busted for selling illegal satellite equipment. He turned state and provided evidence about his clients to the government to save his own skin.

If you check out you’ll be greeted by banners for as well as So what’s is a website that sells steroid cream. What does that have to do with this particular conspiracy theory? Absolutely nothing. However, is hosted on the very same servers as and none other than

Now, in addition to all of this fascinating information, there has been online poker cheating allegations made against Pitbull Poker concerning superusers seeing hole cards. Players have also allegedly asked Pitbull Poker for hand histories, delivered in a format that they could use. The online poker website allegedly refused to deliver. In fact, as of today, you just flat out cannot have an online hand history. So no one’s saying there are superusers, nothing's been proven, but some people might be saying that Pitbull is making it awfully difficult to prove or disprove their existence.

So, is your money really safe at this online poker room?

The parent company of Pitbull Poker was apparently dissolved on March 10th, 2009. So, as far as the folks at 2+2 can discern, there is no owner! A poster on 2+2“PBDave” says that the ownership was transferred to a company based in Cyprus. No records have been produced to support this claim.

Dimensus, the former parent company never actually had a gambling license, however, the company claims to be in Costa Rica, where they actually wouldn’t need one. But Pitbull claims to be a UK Company. The UK Gaming commission has been informed of the possibility of an illegal gambling business.

I don't think this will grow into an UltimateBet-size online poker cheating scam, but a lot of shit went on here and we will be hearing about this more!