Thursday, October 18, 2007


Online Poker Scandals

Sending the right message

After issuing various denials for more than a month, Absolute Poker has finally acknowledged the obvious:
It is every online poker room's worst nightmare - a security breach from within that compromises integrity, chases away your high stakes players, and erodes your greatest commodity, trust. Responding to that nightmare, however, determines whether you stay in business or disappear without a trace. For the past week it looked like Absolute Poker was going to need Anthony LaPaglia to find them, but today they have done the old 180 degree turnaround.

Now they're saying "hi, we're Absolute Poker and we have a problem", and moreover they're admitting that they need help to fix that problem. Thanks to some igenious and frighteningly clever detective work by several online poker players (Nat Arem and Todd Witteles chief amongst them) the fact that there was a cheater was conclusively established. In fact, they may have even found the identity of the crook, as former Absolute CEO, Scott Tom is now under investigation.

I felt that it wasn't some lowly customer service employee, but rather someone high up, and I'm just happy to learn that it wasn't Mark Seif! There is evidence that Tom might be implicated in all this, including email addresses, IP tracing, and a good deal of other information that has been posted on various online poker forums.
A player who felt he'd been cheated during a AP $1k tournament requested hand histories for the tournament from AP. More details are here.

From deep into the tournament, a sample hand :
Stage #896976330 Tourney ID 1883389 Holdem Multi Normal Tournament No Limit $4500 - 2007-09-13 01:43:49 (ET)
Table: 14 (Real Money) Seat #3 is the dealer
Seat 3 - POTRIPPER ($765740 in chips)
Seat 8 - CRAZYMARCO ($214260 in chips)
POTRIPPER - Ante $450
CRAZYMARCO - Ante $450
POTRIPPER - Posts small blind $2250
CRAZYMARCO - Posts big blind $4500
POTRIPPER - Calls $2250
*** FLOP *** [4h Kd Kh]
POTRIPPER - Bets $9000
CRAZYMARCO - Calls $9000
*** TURN *** [4h Kd Kh] [7s]
POTRIPPER - Bets $13500
CRAZYMARCO - All-In(Raise) $200310 to $200310
POTRIPPER - Calls $186810
*** RIVER *** [4h Kd Kh 7s] [5s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
POTRIPPER - Shows [10c 9c] (One pair, kings)
CRAZYMARCO - Shows [9h 2h] (One pair, kings)

POTRIPPER Collects $428520 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total Pot($428520)
Board [4h Kd Kh 7s 5s]
Seat 3: POTRIPPER (dealer) (small blind) won Total ($428520) HI:($428520) with One pair, kings(ten kicker) [10c 9c - B:Kh,B:Kd,P:10c,P:9c,B:7s]
Seat 8: CRAZYMARCO (big blind) HI:lost with One pair, kings [9h 2h - B:Kh,B:Kd,P:9h,B:7s,B:5s]

When most of the money went into the pot - on the turn - Potripper called with an exceptionally poor hand. In fact, his opponent happened to have one of the very few hands that Potripper could beat.
POTRIPPER could only make this call if he knew exactly what his opponent held. There is no other explanation.

Twenty-six other hands are analyzed here. A 2+2 forum on the matter is here.

Absolute Poker's integrity has been destroyed. I've played there before, but never again. I hope their business collapses.

Poker Stars, one of the sites I frequent, had its own scandal this month. A professional player, using multiple accounts simultaneously during the WSOOP tournament, won $1 million:
Just look at Poker Stars and how they handled The V0id and his multi-account playing during the WCOOP. Granted that isn't as serious as a player being able to see hole cards, but nevertheless Poker Stars looked into the matter and discovered that there were activities going on that were against the rules. They dealt with the problem swiftly by disqualifying The V0id and seizing his $1 million in prize money and redistributing it to the proper winners.
The proper response.

I have played hundreds of thousands of medium stakes hands at multiple online poker rooms, both in tournaments and cash games. I've been a consistent winner and have never once suspected that I was cheated. I believe cheating to be exceedingly rare -- it just isn't really worthwhile. These latest scandals haven't changed my mind.

I thought I'd include a link to poker legend Doyle Brunson's best hand:
"I was twenty-four or twenty-five years old at that point and still kind of new," Brunson says. "Johnny Moss was the best. He and I were really fierce competitors from the beginning because I think he recognized that I was going to be the next top player, so he tried especially hard against me.

"Johnny had a lot more money than I had, so Johnny could money-whip me. He could make situations where it was hard for me to call because he had so much money and I didn't have that much.

"This was a cash game in Texas. There weren't any tournaments in those days. The guy in the first seat made a small bet about the size of the pot. Johnny Moss called it. I had a J-10."

The flop came K-7-8. Brunson thought Moss was drawing at a straight. The turn came a 2, and everybody checked. The river came a 3.

"The first guy checked and Moss made some kind of real big bet, and I thought to myself he was drawing at a straight and he missed it and he thinks he's going to win this pot. I called with just the jack-high. The other guy paired kings and threw that away. Johnny was drawing at a small straight.

"That was my greatest hand because I think that kind of defined the moment that I became what I knew was a real top player."
(h/t Bill O)


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