Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid 19 Raising the Stakes in Online Poker Cheating!

Ghosting in Online Poker
We may have another epidemic on the loose. This one in the online poker world. Of course we all knew that the epidemic would give rise to online-poker play for the obvious reasons, but at least some people may be surprised that the increase in online poker cheating is no doubt keeping pace. I am not one of those people.
The recent big case of online cheating is the Daniel "Jungleman" Cates case, in which Cates, a highly-regarded pro, cheated multi-millionaire recreational player Bill Perkins out of what is reported to be hundreds of thousands of dollars by "ghosting" the games. Ghosting is when a player in a big-hand situation is replaced by another player of higher-caliber talent to take over the playing of the hand. The term comes from ghostwriting books. There has also been talk of Cates having information on Perkins' hole cards, which can be obtained via hacking and with the help of designers of the application software.
Also murkily involved in this cheating scam is Dan Bilzerian, the hedonist actor/poker player who has been involved in lots of online and off-line murky and sometimes violent scandals. This scam seems to mirror the Mike Postle live poker scam of a few months ago, where Postle allegedly used streaming at Stones Casino in California to get the value of his opponents' hole cards. In any event, there are thousands of online poker scams rearing their ugly heads since brick and mortar poker got sidetracked by the virus.
How do I know this? Well, first off, I know a thing or two about online poker cheating. Back in 2006, I wrote a book about poker cheating, both online and off, called "Dirty Poker." In the book, and on television with famed Las Vegas investigative journalist George Knapp, I boldly stated that online poker would be infested by cheating scandals, mostly by way of hacking, where the cheats would obtain information on their opponents' hole cards among other things.
Both Knapp and I took a tremendous amount of heat from the poker community at the time, many calling me a full-of-shit asshole and much worse. But, lo and behold, the biggest online poker scandal of all-time engineered by Russ Hamilton (who also cheated his way to the 1994 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship) that came to light in 2008 showed that maybe I wasn't so full of shit after all. Tens of millions of dollars were taken from legitimate players in exactly the same way I'd predicted it would. You can see my interviews with Knapp on my website
But my knowledge of the current rise in online poker cheating has nothing to do with what I wrote and said in the past. I have direct information on it. You see, believe it or not, I have been making a bit of money these days despite my casino game protection training career being on indefinite hold. Since early April, I have received eight (count 'em) requests to monitor private online poker games in which a player or players were suspected of cheating. All of these games were by private invite and played on mobile apps which one of the players, or a close contact of one of the players, designed and created the platforms. Even though I am by no means an online poker cheating expert, I know cheating when I see it!
In each of these eight cases, I was linked to these private online games, some of which were formed by executives of the same companies, industries and even strip clubs. So I pulled up a chair in front of my laptop, popped open a beer and a bag of chips, and watched the action. As the suspected cheating players were identified to me beforehand, it was quite easy to offer an opinion as to whether or not they actually were cheating by watching their play. In six of the eight cases, I was sure the suspects were guilty. In the other two cases, I thought the accusers were overzealous in wanting to blame someone or something for their losing streaks and the seemingly unrealistic winning streaks of their targets.
One funny if not unusual incident arose from a private-app game played by a group of well-to-do executives who frequented the same Chicago strip club. I was contacted by one of the players who copied me all the emails between the players in the game discussing their suspicions of the one player they all suspected of cheating because he was on a two-month winning streak and was also the person who'd introduced them to the app and the platform.
Well, I watched ten two-hour stints of their game, focused on the suspect player for the first five sessions. I just couldn't see anything suggesting the accused was cheating. I was sure he had no information on the other players' hole cards. So I watched and watched and watched. Finally my attention, for no specific reason, was drawn to the other players. I focused in on each of them, one by one.
My findings: The guy who'd hired me was the one cheating! I sent him an email, copied to all the other players in the game, that, yes, there was cheating going on in the game, but it was not being done by the suspected cheat. Then I sent a private email to the guy who'd hired me and told him I thought he was the cheat...No, I didn't refund the money he'd paid me.
Neither he nor any of the others from the game ever responded to my emails.
So, what should you take from this? If you play in private online poker games by invite only...BEWARE!