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.  

Big Online Poker Cheating Ring Operating out of Denmark

Against many critics, I have been continuously warning the public about online poker cheating and fraud. It will continue to grow at the same rate as the industry itself grows. And one thing that remains constant through all this is that no one ever gets prosecuted. Although we are hearing about a current investigation into online poker cheats in Denmark, I still doubt anyone will actually face criminal charges on this.
This article details the latest mega-online poker cheat scandal.
A Danish online poker player has been accused of online fraud by Denmark’sEconomic Crime Department.
Local authorities believe that the professional player may have cheated in a number of online high stakes games and accumulated millions of dollars in illegal profits.
On Dec. 9, Denmark’s reported that Copenhagen police Commissioner Torben Koldbrog confirmed that an investigation was underway.
According to what Koldborg said to the local media, "A 32-year old player, who is part of the Danish poker elite" is currently under investigation and was officially notified about it in October.
Police also explained that, to date, the man has not been formally charged with a crime.
PNN also reports that investigators believe that the high stakes pro perpetrated the fraud by installing trojans on a number of computers he got access to. These programs would have allowed him to play online poker while seeing the hole cards of his opponents.
While the Danish media announced that an official statement on the issue may become available later today or during the early hours of Dec. 11, talks immediately heated up on the international poker forums.
Two Plus Two member 'sunino' was the first one to try to connect the dots and link the declarations that came from Koldborg with a thread opened in August 2013 to discuss some alleged cheating against Viktor “Isildur1” Blom.
At that time, in the fourth part (now offline) of a series of articles titled The Making of Viktor Blom published on HighStakesDB, Blom moved some serious allegations against 2007 European Poker Tour Warsaw champion Peter 'Zupp' Jepsen and Sweden’s Robert 'Gulkines' Flink.
According to Blom, Jeosen allowed Flink to play against Blom from his account, causing him losses of $800,000 on Bet365 Poker. 
"I was contacted by Bet365," Jepsen explained at that time. "They came to me and claimed that they had evidence that I had let someone else use my account against Blom. I admitted it, and explained to them that my Swedish friend had lost his own bankroll and was desperate to continue playing. I don’t think what happened next, has ever happened before or since."
The issue, however, was settled without any major legal consequences, as the poker room allowed the players to transfer the money back to Blom and officially close the issue.
"Bet365 returned to me with a decision,” Jepsen said. “They decided that I had to pay Blom the full amount: $800,000. In the meantime Gulkines had continued playing on the account and unfortunately lost $300,000.
"This meant that there was now only $650,000 in the account instead of $950,000 as had been the case right after the match vs. Blom. Bet365 insisted that I deposited $150,000 so that they could transfer the full figure to Blom. If I did not agree, they said they would drag me to court and make sure that I never played online poker again…anywhere!"
The episode in 2013 is not the only one that involves Jepsen in a case of cheating. Back in 2009, PokerNews UK editor Matthew Pitt reported that the Danish pro discovered that he had been one of many targets of a scam ring.
At that time, Jepsen explained that, upon suggestion of a friend, he visited what appeared to be a legitimate poker site - where he was prompted with the request to install a “new” version of Flash.
Knowing that he already had the latest version available at the time, Jepsen decided to investigate on the issue and ask a friend from the police IT department to have a look at the site.
After a thorough analysis of the web page, the police official found out that the site contained a backdoor trojan, which would likely install a key-logger that would make it possible to record the victim's login details and data, and send them back to the originator.