Saturday, December 13, 2014

Online Poker Cheating Continues to Proliferate

Many claims of online poker cheating are marring the integrity of the online poker world, and it appears to be getting worse. PokerStars, one online poker site that has been committed to combat online poker cheats, has released a video explaining what it is doing to help prevent cheating. The site itself, like most others, has been the victim of several online cheat scams, the most recent occurring in October, 2013, which resulted in PokerStars refunding $50,000 to victims of that poker fraud.
PokerStars explains how it combats cheating in its newest Inside PokerStars video.                    
Director of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser introduces the video in a blog post, explaining that “the vast majority of poker players are fundamentally honest. But when you have more than 67 million registered players, with as many as 400,000 playing at a single time, there are going to be some who don’t play fair.”                                                                                                   
Two members of the team devoted to detecting and preventing cheating explain that evenattempts to cheat are surprisingly rare. They analyze all player reports which point to potential cheating, the most common allegation being collusion—where two or more players are sharing information and acting together.                                                                                                                                                
The reported incidents are analyzed by expert players, along with the players’ playing history to detect any “abnormal playing patterns.” Technical analysts check whether the alleged colluders are operating from the same physical location, using the same hardware and software etc. The Game Integrity Team that carries out this work consists of over 50 poker playing specialists.
Hollreiser states that a full 20% of PokerStars employees work in the areas of “protecting the integrity of the games and ensuring compliance with regulators.”                                             
No technical information that could help potential cheaters is given out in the short video, but PokerStars explains that cheating by using “bots”—software that automates poker decisions—is countered by systems that look for “non-human behavior patterns.”                                                     
My take: PokerStars has clearly taken the responsible positon at being on the front lines in the war on online poker cheating, but this war is almost like the war against ISIS and other terrorist groups in the real world. There is only so much they can do, and the online poker cheats are as smart or even smarter than those security experts working for PokerStars and the other sites. So the bottom line is: all online poker players are always at some risk while playing poker online.