Everything You Wanted to Know about Cheating in Online Poker But Were Afraid to Ask …

by , Dec 6, 2011 | 6:28 am

WASHINGTON DC — About 110 people or so are in DC for the Digital Gaming and Lottery Policy summit … essentially a two-day crash course on gaming regulation. The DGLP confab is addressing everything from technology to legal quandaries to very detailed proposals on taxation breakdowns … like by the percent! We all know online gambling can be a complex issue, with lots of minutiae that can impact the success or failure of businesses built around a sub-industry. And the way American lawmakers are picking it all apart is enough to make you think that we musta either totally forgotten about Europe’s relatively successful regulation of a multibillion-dollar industry over the past decade, or we Americans just consider the other side of the pond nothing worth a study — they are responsible for Full Tilt, after all!

No? Regardless, as part of the process of eventually “getting there” legislatively, and staying true to Pokerati’s motto In Negotio Pro Poker Meliori, my contribution to policy noise today will be addressing online cheating. Below are my notes from which I plan to wonk out with my donk out:


Some are game rules that can be dealt with within the game, or handled by the site
Some are debatable and best left to the market
Some are criminal acts by players
Some are criminal acts by operators
Some are misuse of the site for nefarious purposes (money laundering)
Some are simple matters of disclosure

Cheating Activity That Can Affect Game Play

Ultimately the goal is to create a fair environment for all players to compete in, while not removing advantages of skill, i.e. natural and learned ability. Below are different types of cheating

  • Common language violation (English-only)
  • Soft-play
  • Collusion
  • Chip Dumping
  • Disconnect (non-protected)
  • Team Play
  • Table Talk
  • Ghosting
  • Account Selling
  • Coaching
  • Multiaccounting
  • Superusers
  • Hacking/Phishing
  • Money Laundering

Types of Penalties

Some cheating violations can be handled within the context of game play, while others might require a higher level of due process, with varying penalties in different jurisdictions.

  • Warning from floor/tournament staff
  • Removal from poker room/tournament
  • Banning from poker room/network
  • Civil prosecution
  • Criminal prosecution

Debatable Matters

There are some strong divides over what is or is not — or should or should not be — a violation, including:

  • Use of Bots
  • winning bots vs. losing bots?
  • disclosure
  • Anonymous Play
  • Personal Data Tracking
  • Data Mining for Sale

Assessing the Severity

Some other factors to consider when defining what constitutes cheating:

Enforceability — some presently accepted violations are unenforceable, making punishment seem arbitrary
Magnitude — should number of people affected or the amount of money at stake make a difference?
Detection Capability — you don?t want to hamper a site?s ability to detect

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