A couple of years ago, an online cheating scandal was uncovered where certain Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker users had the ability to see other players hole cards. This confirmed to many players one of the worst fears that an online poker player has regarding cheating. Online poker cheating is a major concern for any player that plays online, but many do not realize the different types of cheating that can go on. Let’s talk about some of the forms of cheating that have been used in the past and likely still currently used.
One of the more common schemes that online poker cheaters will try and use is some type of software that will allow them to see your hole cards or your computer screen. What usually happens in this event is that a player is contacted via email and given some type of trojan program that allows someone to access your computer remotely. In some cases, the user only has the ability to see your screen. In other cases, they have the ability to access your computer.
Other types of cheating are not nearly as invasive as a trojan, but can be equally as devastating to players on sites. One common form of cheating is also a carryover from live poker. This is collusion. When players collude at a poker table, this means that the two are playing together as a team in the efforts to try and take everyone’s money. They usually share the profits equally. You will usually be able to spot these types of players with enough time at the table. You may find that the same two players are always raising and reraising the pot to force players to put in bets. If the pot gets heads-up between the two, they slow down their betting or even stop. Sometimes they can pass signals according to their bet size or even the amount of time they take to bet. Some are even as blatant as to say what they have or pass some type of verbal clues in chat.
However, collusion doesn’t have to be done in this form. Sadly, technology has gotten to the point where two players can collude and communicate with each other outside of the digital table. These forms of communication can be via cell phone, instant messenger, email, or video conferencing. Another common practice that colluding players will use is a team strategy to play poker. In this case, a player sits with another player or group of players and the collective group plays the game together. When this happens, a player can be playing against two, five, or even 20 people in the same hand.
Account sharing is another type of cheating that is regularly seen online. When someone is account sharing, they are having another player play as them on the website. Sometimes it is a family member or friend. In some cases, a player may pay someone to play as them. There have been recent examples where someone paid a pro to play as them online. When this was discovered, the person was disqualified from the tournament and prize money reclaimed.
Another type of cheating method used quite frequently is multi-accounting. This is exactly what it seems, a player with more than one account. All online sites prohibit you from having more than one online identity to play poker with. The reason for this is to prevent someone from taking multiple accounts and sitting down at a poker table or a tournament. If you are playing a six-handed table with two players, you obviously double your chances of winning. However, you are doing so by playing two hands each round vs one.
Chip dumping is another cheating technique that is used online. With chip dumping, a player will sit with another player and intentionally bet off chips to them. Sometimes this is done to transfer money to a player in cash games. Other times, this is done in a tournament to give another player a chance to win. In that case, the two are working together to get the person that is receiving the chips to the final table. In the event of chip dumping to transfer money, while not allowed, if the two players are playing a heads-up game and chip dumping, not much is usually done.
Another type of cheating that many people don’t think about as cheating is stalling at the money bubble of an online poker tournament. In every tournament you will see players that will stall once you get near or on the bubble in the hopes that someone else will bust before them. This is done to try and ensure a payday. The stalling is done by running down ones time bank or consistently taking the 10 seconds or so that a player is given to make a decision before a time bank is activated. If this was done in a live event, a player would be penalized up to and including disqualification from the event. Online, it is a common practice that has yet to be remedied.
As you can see there are various ways that online poker cheating can, and does, occur online. You may have cheated yourself and not realized it. If you suspect someone of committing a serious cheating offense, contact your website’s security or support department. They have the ability to review the hands and hand histories of the players in question to make a decision whether the player is cheating. Also, if there is obvious cheating and nothing is done to stop it, go elsewhere and tell people. If enough people speak out regarding a cheating incident, steps will be taken. Sometimes you have to embarrass a site to get action. Regardless, it is your money. Take the steps you need to in order to protect it.