Thursday, November 11, 2010

FOX NEWS wanted my opinion on TV's "Wheel Of Fortune" Wonderwoman...So I Gave it To Them.

The other day I received an email from Fox News reporter Meaghan Murphy asking my opinion on whether or not Caitlin Burke, the young woman who amazingly solved the "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle with just one letter, somehow cheated. I told Ms. Murphy, "Of course she did!"

Here's the article Ms. Murphy wrote for Fox News

The Wheel Of Fortune contestant who stunned the world by solving a puzzle with just one letter has laughed off suggestions she cheated.

Caitlin Burke picked the seven-word, 27-letter phrase — "I've got a good feeling about this" — after selecting a lone letter "L".

US show host Pat Sajak was stunned, asking whether it was "the most amazing solve we've ever had". Viewers were also shocked. The video of Ms Burke's freakish effort spread quickly across the internet after airing last Friday.

But as online debate raged as to whether it was too good to be true, one expert has suggested the 26-year-old contestant had an unfair advantage.

"I think she cheated with help from someone on the inside who simply gave her the information beforehand," FOX411 reported professional casino cheating expert Richard Marcus as saying. What I can tell you is that the spinning of the wheel had nothing to do with it, nor was this a similar scam to what happened a few times on the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? where contestants were getting help from the audience."

Ms Burke maintains she won her $900 prize and Caribbean holiday fairly and squarely.

"For those who think I cheated, I say, 'How?' I don’t understand," Ms Burke was quoted as responding. "I would love to know how people think I cheated at that game — like what, I had it written on my hand? How would I even know it would be a puzzle? Or what, I snuck backstage? I don’t even know how that stuff works. I mean, if I was cheating, I probably would have cheated in a smarter way and rigged the wheel so I made more money.”

The New York resident was even happy to give future hopefuls some tips.

"If you look at the end of a word and understand how letter endings work, you can work from there," she was quoted as saying. "For example, if there’s an 'N' in a word, there’s usually a 'G'. If there’s a three-letter word, it's probably 'T-H-E' — things like that." Common sense is underrated — you can really solve a lot by understanding the way words are formed."

My take: Well, common sense may be underrated but cheating is even MORE underrated!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can Casino Cheats Successfully Pastpost and Pinch Chips off gaming tables against RFID Technology?

Surprisingly, I am almost never asked this question by casino personnel when I give game protection seminars. This is probably because they assume that their tables are protected from pastposting (adding or switching chips after a winning outcome) and pinching (removing or reducing chips after a winning outcome) by gaming chips with RFID chips embedded inside them.

For those of you who do not know how RFID technology functions at the blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat tables in casinos, it is rather simple. When players place their bets, the dealer pushes a button that activates the RFID mechanism. The RFID chip within the gaming chip registers on a screen at the edge of the table. So if you bet one $25 chip at the blackjack table, the $25 chip will register on the RFID monitor. If you bet five $5 chips, they will all register on the monitor. Same thing if you bet one $100 chip and one $25 chip. The point is that the RFID screen will tell the casino not only how much you bet but exactly which combination of chip denomintations you bet with.

So it this RFID game protection beatable? Can you still pastpost and pinch chips when the casino has your original bets recorded on the monitor?

You may be surprised but the answer is undoubtedly "YES!" I am not going to tell you exactly how it's done because casinos pay me for that type of information...but I will say that you have to set the casino up for this type of move when pastposting. When pinching it is a different story...easier.

If anyone reading this article really is intrigued how to beat RFID technology in this manner, I'll tell you what I'll do. If you tell me how you think it can be beat, I will tell you if you are right or wrong.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Was Anti-Sunglasses Cheating Crusader Negreanu Wearing Sunglasses in PokerStars TV commercial?

I recently heard that Daniel Negreanu, who sounded like he wants to all but crucify poker players wearing sunglasses at brick and mortar poker tables in his anti-poker cheating tirades, was actually wearing sunglasses in his latest TV ad commercial for the giant online poker site PokerStars. Now, I didn't see this TV commercial ad myself, so I would appreciate anyone reading this blog who did indeed see it sending me an email to confirm this unholy "sunglasses sighting"!

If it is true, I can only say what I have said before...that Negreanu is full of shit and has a BIG mouth. He is an integral part of the GSN poker TV show "High Stakes Poker," which for me is the biggest cheat scam in the history of brick and mortar poker. You can read about that here.

In any case, Negreanu, who has publicly stated that he considers wearing sunglasses at live poker tables a form of cheating, is making millions hawking the PokerStars poker room, and you can bet your sweet ass that if they want him to wear sunglasses for their TV commercials, Negreanu is gonna do it in a New York second...So much for his anti-sunglasses cheating crusade!

PokerStars' Lee Jones on Multi-Accounting and Online Poker Cheating

Lee Jones, a very successful poker player, poker author and the poker room manager at the biggest online poker site, PokerStars, recently had this to say about cheating in an online poker interview with Bluff Magazine:

BLUFF: Some issues that affect the online poker community: First, the number of bots who have appeared on poker sites over the years, including at Cake Poker. Do you feel that anonymous names and/or having constant name changes makes detecting them more difficult?

Jones: I think the external poker community often doesn’t fully appreciate the level of information that the sites themselves have. For instance, people occasionally ask me if, when one of our players changes his nickname, are we still able to track him. In fact, we don’t pay any attention to the player’s nickname - we don’t think of him by that nickname any more than you refer to your girlfriend by the color of blouse she is wearing on a given day. We have a unique numeric identifier that you get when you open your account at Cake and that’s how we know you forever.

I told you all that to tell you this: there are lots of ways to spot bad actors and many of them come from *inside* the poker sites. We have many techniques for detecting bots and, in fact, our head of security is a bit of a bot expert. Bots really don’t make very much money on an individual basis so to be at all cost effective, they have to scale massively. In fact, many of the bots that we’ve busted recently were actually losing players, but were marginally +EV with bonuses, rakeback, etc. The point is that once you start to scale massively, you become much more detectable. I honestly believe that bots are more of a theoretical problem than a practical one. We definitely shut them down, and we’re good at doing it, but from the player’s perspective, they should be putting their energy into beating the carbon-based opponents. Of course, if the bots are colluding, that’s a whole different ballgame, but collusion leaves its own set of tracks and we spot those too.

BLUFF: Another issue that affects online poker is the security of a site. UB is well known for their superuser scandals, and their lack of having SSL encryption. Shortly after that discovery, PokerTableRatings found a similar flaw in Cake Poker’s site, and there was suspicion that there may have been “superusers” on Cake who exploited that flaw. A few posters on 2+2 were going through the hand histories to try and determine if this was the case. What is the current progress on that investigation?

Jones: In case nobody reads beyond the first couple of sentences: it is true that Cake Poker had a security vulnerability in its server-client communication. That vulnerability was removed on August 5th, 2010. There is no evidence whatsoever that anybody exploited that vulnerability. I also think we should be careful about our vocabulary. UB/AP had “superusers” - which is a term I use for people who had access to every single hole card of any game they wished. The subsequent vulnerability on UB, which was also found on Cake, was of a very different nature. Properly exploited, it might have given a user access to the hole cards of very specific people who they’d have to find on an unprotected (almost certainly wireless) network.

So if you were sitting in a coffee shop that had free WiFi and you could find a Cake user on that same network, and you had the proper exploitation software, you could have seen that player’s cards for the period that he was playing there. That’s obviously a very different scenario from the Hamilton et. al. thievery at UB where they had complete unfettered access to the hole cards of any game they wished. I’m not for a moment excusing the vulnerability that we had, but I want to keep our perspective.

You are correct that we have instituted a major audit of the hands that were played during the time that the vulnerability was present. We had three different teams working on it independently. Two of the auditors - Steve Wood, a former PokerStars employee, and Jeff Williams, a well known high-stakes player - have reported back that they were unable to find any signs of exploitation. The third team, Noah Stephens-Davidowitz and Thomas Bakker, are running in-depth statistical studies. They have not made it all the way through all the data yet. However, in the hand histories they *have* been through, they have found no sign of any exploitation of the vulnerability. I’d add that this audit is, by far, the most through and transparent audit of online poker histories that’s been done in the history of the business, at least to my knowledge.

BLUFF: Over the years, several well-known players have been caught multi-accounting. Do you believe there’s a way to prevent further multiaccounting scandals from occurring in the future? I know in the past you’ve talked about your dislike of particular rules that you feel are unenforceable. [For example] the one player to a hand rule.

Jones: Yes, I believe there’s a way to prevent further multi-accounting scandals from occurring: stop trying to enforce this silly one-to-one mapping between human beings and screen-names. It’s the Internet, and being anonymous, or “shape-shifting” is trivial stuff. You can use multiple computers, multiple ISPs, VPNs, mobile devices. And heck, that’s just the technology I’m aware of and I’m far behind the times on Internet technology. Furthermore, it’s just going to get harder as more and more devices become Internet-aware and so on.

Sites making a deal about this are fighting a battle that they can’t win and is only going to become more futile as time goes on. We have so many truly legitimate issues facing us: the whole question of legality, protecting the fish (player anonymity), real cheating (collusion and financial fraud), etc. It is a poor use of our time and resources to spend all that energy on multi-accounting. Now, two things to make clear:

1. I never condone somebody breaking a site’s Terms and Conditions. If you play on a poker site, then you have, either implicitly or explicitly, agreed to a set of rules. If their rules say you have a single account that has a single name, and that you and only you play that account, then that’s the rule and you follow it. If you don’t like their rules, play elsewhere.

2. I am not including in the general multi-accounting argument the idea of multiple accounts colluding or playing in the same tournament together. That’s a whole different ball of wax, and IMHO, crosses a very different set of lines.

But I firmly believe that the whole multi-accounting issue has largely come from the player community. They get upset when they see that players who have been crushing the tournaments are doing this. But the best players are going to do well, no matter what.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Do You Know the Origins of the Roulette Number-Marker or Dolly?

On American and British-style roulette tables, you see the dealer spin the ball, call out the winning number when the ball drops, and then place a marker or dolly (some call it a chesspiece) on the chips in the box on the layout corresponding to that winning number (or in the empty box when there are no winning chips), right? And I'm sure some of you realize that the reason for immediately placing the number marker over the winning chips is to prevent pastposting additional chips onto the number.

But did you know that until 1957 there was no roulette marker or dolly on American and UK roulette tables? That's right. In the old days the dealer would spin the ball, then when it fell into the slot of a number simply call out that number and point to it on the layout, in similar fashion to how dealers run the game on the giant French roulette wheels with their chip rakes.

What brought the marker into existence?

In the mid 1950s, the Classon Casino Pastposting Cheating Team devastated casinos in Las Vegas, Cuba and Puerto Rico by attacking their roulette wheels with late bets after the dealer called out and pointed to the winning number. Casinos were desperate and tried everything to stop them. Finally, in 1957, a surveillance operator at the Sands casino in Las Vegas came up with the idea to prevent pastposting on roulette layouts by having dealers place a marker atop winning chips or on the naked number-box immediately after the winning number was determined. He--and everyone else in the casino industry--felt certain that this security measure would eliminate pastposting on the inside numbers of roulette layouts. Boy were they wrong!

Henry Classon and his brother Joe simply devised a way to pastpost chips underneath the marker. Read about it here.