cheating in online poker

Cheating in online poker has always existed, and will always exist.

Every player has wondered if they are being cheated when they play online poker. And more still might be wondering ‘how can I cheat in online poker?’ Online poker is known to be very safe and secure, but of course, some cheating happens in the online gambling as well.

There are a lot of different strategies poker players use to cheat online. Some methods are more aggressive than others, but all these tactics are always ongoing at online poker sitesIn this article you will learn more about the six most popular cheats in online poker.

Six ways for cheating in online poker:

  • Multi-Accounting
  • Virtual Machine
  • Ghosting
  • Collusion
  • Access to hole cards
  • Account Selling.


Multi-accounting means that a player uses multiple real money accounts at a single poker room, ring game or tournament.

It is possibly the most dangerous and widespread form of cheating.

Online Poker rooms forbid players from opening more than one poker account per person. The main reason for this is their first deposit bonus offers. By banning multi-accounting, they prevent bonus fraud.

The real problem for players starts when these players are using two or more accounts to play poker at the same table or at the same tournament. Players with two or more accounts have an unfair advantage because in cash games they can see 4 cards and in tournaments like SNGs, MTT, DON he has “two lives” in the one tournament. Poker rooms have many measures to prevent multi-account cheating. For example, to cash out, players need to upload a copy of their ID.

Also, many rooms have a security feature that prevents the same IP address from registering at a tournament more than once. Additionally, if other players detect this form of cheating – they can report it to the poker room. But remember, multi-accounting is theoretically always possible.

Virtual Machines

Virtual machines, or “bots” are computer programs that cheat at online poker – they make decisions and actions for the poker player at the table and can play for their owner even when he/she is away on the computer.

One of the most popular virtual machines is the program Polaris (created at the University of Alberta in Canada), which is able to win the majority of heads-up fixed limit Texas Hold’em cash games against poker professionals.

Even though poker is known as a game with limited information, the Return On Investment (ROI) and profits are still determined by the math skills of the poker players.

Another advantage for a virtual machine – it has no emotions, which prevents it from making rash decisions

Poker rooms have no financial interest in catching poker bots, because bots also generate rake.  However, if a bot gets caught and this fact makes it to the public – the poker room’s reputation will be spoiled. All poker rooms are using different mechanisms to detect any kind of virtual machines. They are not published to the public, but some of these measures probably include:

  • Examine 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 the reaction time of a player

Party Poker, for example, using a pop-up window where the poker players have to type in some letters within 120 seconds.

Poker rooms forbid the use of many programs while playing poker (especially programs that help players make decisions and/or make suggestions on how to play a hand).


Ghosting is when one poker player is giving advice to another one during the tournament or poker game. It is very difficult to control this form of cheating in online poker tournaments.

Ghosting happens when a friend is sitting next to the poker player and playing the poker tournament with him, or when players help each other by speaking on Skype or Teamviewer during the tournament play.

These tools provide players the ability to show real-time screenshots of one computer to another, which makes Ghosting very easy. Ghosting is most of all used in the final phase of online poker tournaments when prize pools are high and a coach can help in a difficult situation or prevent the tilt.


Collusion is when 2 or more players cooperate at the same poker table, and it’s one of the most common ways of cheating.

Collusion can be time-consuming and it is difficult to collude profitably. Collusion is prohibited by the poker rooms in their terms and conditions. Collusion occurs when Online Poker players share their information through telephone, cell phone, Skype or other communication tools.

Access to hole cards (superuser account)

It is logical that a player who sees the hole cards (hidden cards) of his/her opponents is able to win any game. Online poker rooms send the information about the hole cards only to the one player.The info about the opponents’ hole cards is stored centrally on the poker server.

It’s almost impossible to steal the data from the server. However, this happened in 2007 at the poker room “Absolute Poker”.

Account Selling

Account selling – is when a player sells his “seat” of an online poker tournament, often to a pro player.

There have already been some very popular incidences of account selling. Which is of course against the rules of all online poker sites.



There is no reason that you should stop playing online poker because of the fact that people cheat. Learn tactics, which will protect you from online poker cheaters, play at only the most secure and trustable online poker rooms (for example, our partners).

No site is completely free of cheating, but some do a really great job of keeping their games fair and clean.

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The last changes of the page “Cheating in Online Poker” was made by YPD on March 04, 2019