Cheating in online poker is rare, but still there

Many players occasionally wonder about being cheated while some contemplate how to cheat themselves. Despite instances of cheating, technological advancements ensure industry safety by quickly identifying and harshly dealing with cheats.

Cheating, illegal and unethical in professional gambling, encompasses various activities, typically categorized into pre-game manipulations and in-game tactics.

Pre-game manipulations

These methods, employed before the game starts, often involve deck or card tampering. Common techniques include using marked cards, which have subtle marks on high-value card backs recognized only by the cheater. Other approaches involve swapping official decks for pre-arranged ones or “stacking the deck” to arrange cards in an order benefiting the cheater.

In-game tactics

In contrast, in-game tactics involve cheating during the gameplay. Common strategies include signaling, sharing information with a partner through pre-established signals; second dealing, dealing the second card from the top to provide a specific player with a desired card; and card switching. In digital games, hackers might employ malicious software to view opponents’ hands or manipulate the game algorithm.

Cheating with Poker Bots and Software

Numerous players remain skeptical about bot usage in poker, yet there are numerous evidences for their use, such as Polaris from the University of Alberta, which bested professionals in heads-up fixed-limit Texas Hold’em.

Cheaters employ bots, which can play hands and make decisions independently, enhancing their winning prospects without any physical effort. By offering bots additional play information, cheaters further elevate winning chances, exploiting the bots’ emotionless and tireless nature. Several platforms, like partypoker, actively discourage bot usage, implementing robust mechanisms to deter and eliminate such practices.

Conniving Cheat

In this cheating method, two or more players combine, without other’s knowing what is going on. These cheaters connive together to win large financial benefits and share with each other.

They share their hole cards as well as their strategies via Skype, telephone, or other instant messaging applications.

Multi-Accounting Cheating

Multi-accounting cheating involves an individual employing several accounts to play simultaneously within one poker room, notably in identical ring games or tournaments. Considered extremely dangerous and widespread, this cheating method offers players significant unfair advantages, such as seeing four cards in normal cash games or exerting significant collective influence over the outcome of a hand. Furthermore, in tournament formats such as Sit & Go, MTT, or DoN, cheaters gain essentially decisive edges by having two ‘lives’ active concurrently.

Online Poker rooms prohibit having more than one account per user, primarily to prevent bonus fraud by obstructing attempts to exploit multiple first deposit bonus offers through multi-accounting. Challenges arise when these deceivers employ several accounts at identical tables or tournaments, significantly affecting fairness and integrity within gameplay.

Cheating with Ghosting

Ghosting is when someone receives help from another player during a tournament, for instance. It is very difficult to control this form of cheating in tournaments because someone could be sitting actually with the player or simply communicating via Skype or Teamviewer, for example.

Collusion Cheating

Collusion occurs when two or more users conspire, potentially sharing information or coordinating play, such as manipulating poker hands, to secure an unjust advantage and distribute resulting gains. Communication tools, like telephones or Skype, facilitate easy information exchange. Operators utilize advanced software to identify inconsistent play or betting behaviour and detect players who frequently play together, safeguarding against such unfair practices.

Access to hole cards (superuser account)

Many remember infamous incidents where individuals employed superuser accounts to glimpse opponents’ hole cards, ensuring easy victories. Nowadays, data is meticulously stored on central servers, making unauthorized access nearly impossible.

Account Selling Cheat

Account selling is when someone sells their ‘seat’ in an tournament to a strong(er) player who is then effectively afforded anonymity by not playing under their usual name/account. Such a practice puts other’s at a disadvantage in a number of ways, and is therefore a serious breach of the rules that is severely punished.

Cheating FAQ

Consequently, online poker rooms use various mechanisms to detect virtual machines, and while they don’t necessarily give details of such measures to the public, these probably include:

  • Examining whether certain programs are running in the background (e.g. the WinHoldem poker bot framework)
  • Taking screenshots
  • Measurement of mouse movements (if they are natural)
  • Measurement of player’s reaction time

Party Poker, for example, uses a pop-up window in which players have to type something within 120 seconds.

Moreover, online poker rooms forbid the use of many programs while playing poker – especially those that help players make decisions, and/or make suggestions as to how to play a hand.

Fortunately, online poker rooms have many measures to prevent multi-account cheating. For example, to enable the cashout facility, players need to upload a copy of their ID.

Also, rooms have a security feature that prevents the same IP address from registering at a tournament more than once. Meanwhile, if other players detect this form of cheating they can report it to the support.

Author: YPD
last updated 06.10.2023