Since the AbsolutePoker online cheating scandal, online cheating has become a hot topic in the Internet poker realm. The hub of the drama was not necessarily a dishonest poker player. It was more so, for lack of better description, a “computer geek” who set out to prove that the system could be beaten. Maybe “hacker” might be a better word. He basically wanted to prove to senior management it could be done after they renounced the possibility that an opponent’s hole cards could be revealed.
As a member of the Kahnawake Mohawk Canadian tribe, who considers “fair play” a top priority, AbsolutePoker acknowledged the breach and declared that all money would be refunded (which amounted to about half a million dollars taken from one party, plus even more money from other injured parties). What’s even more annoying is the online poker predator didn’t even attempt to cash out any of the fraudulent winnings.
The good news is whatever loophole that led the AbsolutePoker.com employee to view his opponents’ hole cards has since been amended.
On the same note, there is an Internet scam out there (imagine that) that claims to offer software that allows pokers players to view their opponent’s hole cards. Not that any honest online poker player would ever stoop to such a level, but the idea is enticing. Don’t fall for it. First of all, the program does in fact work… if you can manage to get all the opponents at your table to download the software as well.
Imagine sitting at a table at your favorite online poker site. You are playing against seven other avatars from all over the world, some of them may not even speak the same language as you, and you have an undetermined amount of time with these same exact players. Now try talking every single one of them into downloading the software before you or they get knocked out.
If you do manage to somehow accomplish this feat, then there are even further steps that must be taken in order for the software to reveal their hole cards to you. In other words, the other player(s) would have to be in on the secret. You’d have more luck typing in the chatbox, “Why don’t you all just tell me your hole cards?”
So, the verdict is, if a sales pitch offers the ability to “See Everyone’s Hole Cards,” it’s a hoax. Furthermore, most reputable poker sites like poker idn have multi-million dollar cheating detecting systems that monitor every hand played for suspicious activity such as a player always making the right play, so there’s virtually no way for this to happen at any given online poker table.
What about Bots?
Despite the fact that it is virtually impossible for players to see their opponents’ hole cards, it is not a guarantee that your hole cards aren’t being revealed, but not to or by humans. Bots can see other bots hole cards and communicate with each other. While human collusion is a mild problem, bot collusion takes the dilemma and multiplies it exponentially.
Bot software is poker melanoma. A bot will multiply until it is no longer profitable to play. Bots eliminate the bad players, which is bad because, without the weak players, the institution of online poker would crumble. Most respectable poker websites realize this as a potential problem, and out of respect for their loyal customers they go to great lengths to protect them from bots, but without a more dependable answer to this security problem, bots will continue to reproduce. Furthermore, since bot software is even equipped with the ability to play human-like, they are very hard to detect.
One such attempt to impede poker bots is captchas. These are the text boxes many companies now use that ask users to type in a randomly generated text code. Bot software users have found their way around this. By simply having a human sit there and type the codes in, the bots can maintain their status. Captchas are only put into implementation when the stakes get high, and bots usually start and often stay at low-stakes to remain inconspicuous and because there’s only so far they can go before they are playing against themselves.
If the forces behind online poker do not attack this virus head-on, there will be adverse effects on the game as we know it. Even with cutting-edge research and the execution of some sort of solution to this problem, the hackers will always be one step ahead. We all would like to believe that the average online poker player is an honest guy or gal who enjoys and partakes in fair play, and for the most part, we are. There’s a sense of camaraderie between poker players (when they aren’t sitting at a table together anyway).
Only time will tell what the future holds for this institution and community of guardsmen and cards women. Poker is controversial and online poker is not without its fair share of scandal, but nothing that’s any fun ever is.