Monthly Archives: May 2010

Live Poker is Rigged!!!

Well that’s if you think online poker is rigged, which I don’t. But if ever proof were needed that live poker is rigged, then here it is:

Of course it’s not rigged! As Jarred, the YouTuber who posted this video said; it’s “An Amazing Sick Hand AA vs KK vs KK!!!”

But I chuckled when I scrolled down the comments on YouTube:

This had to be a PokerStars shuffle, no wait if it was PokerStars the 5th King would have shown up!

Did Full Tilt Poker shuffle this deck?

I’m sure there are a lot more comments like these, but I usually don’t read comments on YouTube because, a) it’s usually posted by some brain dead ignorant moron, or b) it’s spam.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh. They might have been joking about online poker being rigged. Or maybe the guys at Full Tilt/PokerStars actually did shuffle the deck for that hand. Oh man, I’m confused. Either way it’s an entertaining hand.

Fixing the Problem of Datamining in Online Poker

Datamining is the process of extracting patterns from data. There are various products and services which datamine online poker sites, the most popular of which is PTR. They are parasites that provide detailed information about players, for a fee. Online poker players can purchase hand histories to build up a profile of people they’ve never played with before. This is clearly a major unfair advantage and the process should be stopped.

I’m 100% against these services. Supporters of these services usually say “only losers complain about them”, but I’m a winning poker player. But regardless, saying “only losers complain” should be the primary reason why they are bad for the long term health of online poker. Do we want the bad players to leave? Some people say “losers don’t care”, and while some probably don’t, I bet there are many losers/break even players who do care. These types of players are what contribute to the profits of winners, so online poker sites have to do more to protect them.

I also think this is true of table scanning software which finds the “fish” at the cash game tables. You see long waiting lists at the tables where the fish reside, with sharks circling their prey. This is unhealthy for the good of the game. Everyone knows that online poker games are tougher to beat than they used to be back in 2006, and fish should be offered better protection. Automated tools that allow sharks to pick off the fish are not good for the game.

What can online poker sites do to help prevent this abuse? There are a couple of things that could be done to prevent this and stop the online poker industry from eating itself alive. Here are a few:

Allow users to change their screen names

I’m not a fan of this option. Firstly, I am not against online poker players using their own data to build profiles of their opponents, be it via software like Hold’em Manager or from the building up notes. Allowing screen name changes would be unfair to these players who play by the rules.

More importantly, it would create an environment that makes it easier for cheats to escape detection. Yes the online poker sites would still know who the players are – but do we really trust online poker sites to regulate themselves? I don’t, and if you do then go and read about the scandals at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.

Limit table observation

Limiting table observation is the answer, since this is how sites like PTR get “their” data. Critics of this approach might say “but we like to watch the pro players at Full Tilt”. Well, how hard can it be to work something into the software to allow the professionals to be observed? I don’t think it requires much effort.

In my email correspondence with PokerStars they said:

Allowing observers to view the games prior to play is a fundamental
feature of the software that cannot be removed. Players like being able to
tell their friends “hey, come sweat me on table so-and-so, I’m winning big!”

It is our goal to minimise datamining via software limitations, without
overly restricting real players who need to legitimately observe a table
which they are not playing. Since we’re unwilling to completely remove
such features (which would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater), we
will always be engaged in a game of cat and mouse with those people that
seek to break our rules.

They say that the feature cannot be removed, but it doesn’t have to be removed. I also agree that it’s nice to watch your buddies play online poker. But there’s a simple answer to this – allow people to have “buddy lists”, and if their buddy approves, they can view tables they’re playing on. The screen names of the other players can be kept anonymous (“player 1”, “player 2”, etc). This allows the online poker sites to keep the social aspect of the game, but eliminates the parasites like PTR.

What are the online poker sites doing about datamining?

Online poker sites have known about this problem for a long time now. They keep coming up with the same generic replies; such as “We’re very close to tackling this” – but they’ve been saying this for what seems like years. I have a feeling that maybe they don’t care, but have to be seen to care. How difficult is it to tweak their table observation feature? I’m sure it’s not simple, but they have the resources to be able to do it, so they should get their act together and fix it.

If you agree then email your favourite poker site and tell them what you want!

Why You Should Avoid The Cereus Poker Network

Would you play poker online for real money at an unsecure poker site? Well if you’re playing on the Cereus Poker Network (Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet) then that’s exactly what you’re doing.

On May 6th 2010, PokerTableRatings published a report detailing the discovery of a critical flaw in the Cereus Poker software. They found out that it was possible to essentially hijack somebody’s poker account and display their hole cards in real time. Here’s a video they made and posted on YouTube.

Here is the synopsis of the report by PTR:

There is a critical vulnerability in the Cereus Network software which makes it possible for an attacker to hijack poker accounts and view hole cards. The only 100% protection is to stop playing on Cereus Network until they upgrade to using SSL. To our knowledge there are no cases of this vulnerability being used to exploit actual players. We created test accounts for all proof of concept testing done during the discovery of this vulnerability. We do not have passwords to any unauthorized user accounts. The Cereus Network has been notified of this vulnerability. We will continue to report on this as it develops.

The Cereus Poker Network has responded and says “we will not rest until it is fixed. We plan to have this issue resolved within a matter of hours”.

Despite some false reporting by poker news websites and other affiliates who earn money from promoting Ultimate Bet / Absolute Poker, it is NOT safe to play at Cereus at this moment in time. If you do play on these sites then this should make you think twice about it. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason to play at these sites anyway, because they are poor quality and run by very shady companies.

To say that the Cereus Poker Network has a troubled past is putting it mildly. Back in 2007 there was the “super user” scandal at Absolute Poker, in which millions of pounds was stolen from honest poker players. At the time the owners failed to properly investigate, told blatant lies, and basically covered everything up until evidence to the contrary (courtesy of diligent 2+2 forum posters) forced them to admit the scam. Its three years since that debacle and questions still remain as to exactly how much was stolen and who was involved.

This most recent security issue might not be insider cheating like before (although considering there shady history it could be another way to scam players) but it’s still a massive issue that needs fixing and questions need to be answered. In another industry, one that is regulated, these jokers would be put out of business. Instead we’ll just get more spin from their “regulators” the Kahawake Gambling Commission and the affiliate sites that profit from keeping the AP/UB brands alive and kicking.

Amazingly the Cereus Network is among the top 10 online poker sites/networks in terms of player traffic, according to Poker Scout. How much bad press does a company need to get before they crash and burn? Unfortunately you won’t find much truthful coverage of this incident on poker news and affiliate sites if they have a banner ad or two promoting these brands. It also won’t stop Phil Hellmuth or Annie Duke associating themselves with them – just as long as they money keeps pouring in.

If you want to play online poker at sites that are secure and value integrity then I recommend PokerStars.