Online Poker Cheating Scam Unraveled

from the whodunit dept

Slashdot points us to the news that the well known online poker playing site UltimateBet.com has been fined $1.5 million as part of an ongoing investigation into what appears to be a rather massive scheme to defraud online poker players by giving some insiders the ability to see all the cards other players held. Over the past year, this story has been building up steam, as the fraud was actually called out by some other players who questioned how certain players had been able to win so much. Using statistical analysis, it was shown to have been close to impossible, without inside knowledge, and the latest report does, indeed, pin some of the blame on a well-known poker player who was an initial "consultant" to one of the companies involved in this mess. If you read the MSNBC link above, you'll see that there are a number of different companies involved, but it sounds as though many are simply shell companies for the same group of people, with attempts to move assets around for a variety of purposes. So, it's not yet entirely clear who was involved beyond the one player named, but more names are expected to be released later this year, as investigators finish up their investigation.

What may be most interesting about the whole ordeal was that it was exposed not by the body charged with actually regulating the online casino, but other players who were able to sniff out the details working together in online forums. Chalk another one up to the wisdom of the crowd.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 7:38am

    Gambling is gambling

    On the financial markets, or anywhere else, if people can cheat, they will cheat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 7:57am

    So online gambling should be legal?

    Right, so casinos can cheat away. We know this is "fair" because of free markets, right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 7:59am

    phil hellmuth

    I find it no coincidence that Phil Hellmuth was involved in this somehow too.

    Those in the professional poker industry know that much of his success is based upon having friends in the same tournaments dump him chips, so it's no surprise that he'd be involved with this scam too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 8:43am

    Like the "Kahnawake Gaming Commission" is going to do anything about this. How can you sue a commission, organization or business that does not recognize the authority of Canadian law and courts?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ragaboo, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Re: phil hellmuth

    Err...I work for a major poker magazine and I've never once heard about your little Hellmuth "fact." I'm going to go ahead and take that with a grain of salt.

    As far as this scam is concerned (and the scam with Absolute, a poker site that is, coincidentally or not, owned by the same company that owns UltimateBet), I think this is the best example of why online poker (and online gambling, in general) should be legal and regulated in the U.S. You don't protect anyone by banning it. People will still play if you ban it, you're just making it so that shady things like this can happen and go relatively unpunished (Will Russ Hamilton get jail time? Doubt it) and gambling addicts are less likely to get the help that they need because they are pushed underground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Erik, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Hellmuth is a tool and it fits that he's also involved in a scam. Underground poker is going to have these problems until it is made legal again and regulated. There's no way I'm playing poker online until I know the company I'm playing with is based in the US and subject to our laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Tim, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Is it just me is or is there a fundamental problem with sitting in your room and betting money in a "game" where the other "players" may or may not even exist ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Steve, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 9:42am

    Ultimate Bet

    I quit ultimate several years ago because I felt the cards were unreal. I saw to many hands, in one day, where 3 or more players had big pocket pairs. It was also obvious that to many low percentage hands would win, time after time, for certain players. And don't tell me thats just poker, because I've live cards to many years to buy what I was seeing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Duke, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Obviously

    This is why you need to quit playing online and find people/friends in your area to play with. Whats the point of playing online against people whom you cannot read? It is like having sex in the dark, sure it can be fun but visual aids make it so much better. Besides, most are cheating(using some sort of statistical program)so why put yourself at an obvious disadvantage?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 10:52am

    knew this long ago..

    I got in an arguement over the fact that myself and another player had the exact same hand but he won and I did not. Nobody there seemed to even care that if they were actually paying money that it would affect them too. And yes, it was ultimatebust, err, bet.com.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    read the original

    You should read the original post by the guys who first found this:

    http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip/ub-scandal-sticky-251207/

    Of course the Kahnawake whatever isn't going to do anything - they were the ones doing the cheating. They won't bust themselves.

    As for the Hellmuth colluding, read annie duke's book or Richard Marcus' book - both out him as a cheater (without namhing his name, but making it very easy to see who they're talking about)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Ultimate Bet

    Steve wrote:

    ...because I've live cards to many years to buy what I was seeing.

    Umm, what does that mean, exactly?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    or something like that

    A fool and his/her money is soon parted

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Ppitstop, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 4:04am

    Online Poker Cheating Scam Unraveled

    I am always amazed that people actually trust these sites. The technology involved may well be beyond your average enforcement office to monitor?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Scott Lithgow, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 4:06am

    Online Poker Cheating Scam Unraveled

    Isn't the biggest point of poker the social interation and mind games which are totally missing on line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    zealeus, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 5:55am

    Re: Online Poker Cheating Scam Unraveled

    Possibly, but for some, it's also a money maker. I had a couple of friends in college who were literally making thousands of dollars a month playing part time. If you're a) really good & know what you're doing and b) have the tools for statical analysis of the game at your disposal, you can make some decent money in online poker.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    nasch, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 7:32am

    Re: Ultimate Bet

    If I'm not mistaken, the scam had nothing to do with the randomization or lack thereof of the cards. The problem was that some players could see others' hole cards. As I've told others, I'll believe the cards are not random if and when I see a statistical analysis of hands dealt. "Gut feeling" is extremely, wildly inaccurate for such measurements.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    nasch, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 7:36am

    Re: Obviously

    Besides, most are cheating(using some sort of statistical program)

    I'm interested in what you're referring to here. Assuming randomness, there's no way to predict upcoming cards in poker. The only kind of statistical program I can think of that would help is one that analyzes hand value and pot odds. Is that what you're referring to? Do you think it's cheating because players should have to memorize those things instead? If so, why?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 9:10am

    Re: knew this long ago..

    """I got in an arguement over the fact that myself and another player had the exact same hand..."""

    I've never heard of using multi-deck shuffles in poker, so it should be impossible to get the exact same hand. Numeric values of cards may be the same in two hands, and in this case the winner is determined by suits, using whatever variant that particular site chose.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_card_by_suit

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Obviously

    "Do you think it's cheating because players should have to memorize those things instead? If so, why?"

    Take your laptop into a vegas casino and try this, im sure they will politely explain to you why its considered cheating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Arch_NME, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: knew this long ago..

    Did you even read that article you linked cus here is a quote from it that seems to directly contradict what you are saying.

    "High card by suit is never used to break ties between poker hands"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 8:01am

    i firmly belive this is going on at doyles room also

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    FoolsGold, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 1:35am

    Online Poker Cheating: Hole Card viewing

    The young Australian who posted the statistical analysis did not use any tools that any CPA firm could not have used. The absence of simple auditing procedures makes all those associated with the poker sites suspect. They may claim to be celebrity players or spokesmen but they are more akin to unindicted co-conspirators who now claim that they remained conveniently ignorant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    FoolsGold, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Re: Poker OnlineScam Bots

    Well, I think all the other players exist, its just that some of them may be bots. I don't know if a player really should object to a bot.

    Its the honesty of the site that is most in question. Some players determine an opponent is a bot and alter their stategy to beat it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    FoolsGold, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 7:32am

    Re: Obviously

    Some players are able to "read" bots. The tells are just different than with a live person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Jason, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: knew this long ago..

    If two (or more) players have the same hand the pot is split. There is never a winner determined by what suit they have.
    "High card by suit is never used to break ties between poker hands, but can be used in the following.." Wiki

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    denis leary, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    poker scam

    HI
    Look at the names of the players on the different tables. You will see the same name /player at several tables. These players are from site and invariably win all the money.The names will change each day but always same system. The kid will appear on 3 or 4 tables.Whiz kid on 3 or 4 others. Usually 2 from site at eaach table. You can't win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    denis leary, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Re: read the original

    How come nobody notices that some players are at several tables at the same time which is impossible. It's not hidden, we can read the names of players at each table.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 23rd, 2008 @ 3:51pm

    Are you serious? Of course its possible to sit at multiple tables. Thousands do it every day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    denis leary, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 2:39am

    Tell me Jason how come no one wins if it's not the fiddle of the century? Invariably on the All Ins we lose. Here you are with your house of KS and just by chance AEQUI/ has a house of A's.A flush is supposed to fall every 50 hands.On on line poker you have flushes, straights, houses every second minute.
    It's nearly impossible to use the chat when you play at one table how can you play at 4.The buzzer is ringing before you have a sentence written.
    I admit it's enjoyable but you're never gonna win.And don't give me the shit that's it's cause you don't know how to play.it's a scam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    thruth, Dec 1st, 2008 @ 4:26pm

    cheating at on line poker

    anyone that has played on line and payed attention has seen odd things happen. I personally have seen the losing hand get paid,seen the same player get pocket aces five times per hour and have seen times where you are only allowed to come in to a game with 5000 chips but have seen players come in with 50,000 dont know how they do it but I can tell you I have complained and got no responce or a responce of
    (we have look at the game you have mentioned and found no wrong doing)everyone should know that it is posible to cheat at poker on line after all it is a computer and any computer can be hacked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Duane Lett, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 7:02am

    Re: Ultimate Bet

    I could not agree with you more. I have played there for over a year and saw the same thing time amd time again while playing free rolls. I finally just quite playing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    ian holden, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Online Poker Cheating Scam Unraveled

    the mind hames still exist its the scams that are the problem, i can twist the very best up

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    ian holden, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 9:25pm

    Re: Re: read the original

    how is it imposable to play more than 1 table u fool

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    ian holden, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 9:28pm

    Re: cheating at on line poker

    if after youv left a sit n go table you then rejoin some sites let you buy back in with the amount you just left with, so maybe thats how you saw a player buyin with $50.000 instead of $5000, im with u lot though there is trickery at play i'd bet my life on it but not online lmao

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    denis leary, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 1:17am

    And who facilites this band of on line robbers???????
    VISA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    eli otakie, Dec 28th, 2008 @ 8:51pm

    poker stars

    I was playing a tournament on poker stars, at the first level someone had 240k in chips, I questioned that, I typed in a comment how come he's got so many chips? I guess poker stars monitored the chat so they kicked him out of the tourney.
    My question is how many other guys are stacking up their chips to the amount they want?
    Is it fair for the other players while others are cheating?
    Anyway I like poker stars , I just wish they have a way to stop these cheaters.

    Eli Otakie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    FORECLOSURE, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 8:14pm

    Re: poker stars

    HEY ELI OTAKIE,

    DO YOU STILL HAVE THE STOMACH AND DIGNITY TO EVEN COMMENT ON THIS SECTION AS A CHEATER WHEN IN FACT YOU ARE THE BIGGEST LIAR AND CHEATER OF THEM ALL, HOW CAN YOU SAY THESE THINGS WHEN YOU YOURSELF IS A BIG TIME CHEATER, WHEN THE COURT AND THE BANK HERE IN CALGARY WAS WAITING FOR YOU IN DECEMBER AND SHOW UP AND PAY YOUR MORTGAGE, INSTEAD YOU ARE PLAYING POKER IN DECEMBER. DONT BELIEVE THIS GUYS, HE IS A FAKE AND FRAUD

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    rbc foreclosure, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Re: poker stars

    eli,

    just wondering where you spend the hundreds of thounsands of dollars you stole from the bank thru mortgage fraud and played poker with it. Well we think so. FYI to all eli has several foreclosed property in calgary and he said he has no money to pay for the mortgage.

    Just make sure you can get away with it. Crime does not pay.
    Thanks for all us from Calgary foreclosure victims

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    eli otakie, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:39am

    Re: Re: poker stars

    very intersting, why dont you reveal your name, if you are telling the truth about eli you shouldn't be afraid

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:42am

    Re: Re: poker stars

    very strong accusations to be posted on the net, wondering whats holding you back from going to the cops, are you involved in fraud as well?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Just a friend, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Poker stars

    I guess, getting popular as Eli is in the poker tournament game will be a target of unpopular comments and accusations to probably disenfranchised him in winning some more money in the game. In show business as they say, it is and will be a trend on all popular person to put anything up and who has made a name in the game placing any comment on cheating could be done by virtually by anyone.

    Everyone experiences some ups and down's in life and business but, reality is things happen for a reason and things that beyond your control or not within your grasp you could not do anything. Even banks collapse.

    Anger, envy, frustration and accusations will be there if you are dealing with people, but for the sake forgiveness and fear to God, If the person had have some bad times, leave his love of poker away from his personal and business life.

    Nobody can please everyone but at least you can say you are a much better person now, that you can play better.

    Just a friend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    human's nature is to talk bad about other people, I had known eli otakie for more than 20 years, nothing but good thing to say, never know him as a cheater or a bad person.
    kind of strange to see these comments, let me assure you that he hasn't done non of the above mentioned things, and if he had the power he would help anyone that needs help.
    I feel bad for him for you guys ruining his name, but God knows the truth, he will seek justice for him at the end.
    you did the same to God himself, also killed him why wouldn't you do it the a normal person.
    your heart isn't pure and I feel sorry for you.
    I will just have to pray for Eli and wish him the best through his life journey.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    pissed of poker player, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    is this a poker blog or a freaking mortgage blog, why don't you guys all go get a life.
    leave Eli and his poker alone, solve your problems in other places.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    DENIS LEARY, Feb 14th, 2009 @ 3:16am

    PROBABLY WORK FOR THE SITES THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT WHICH IS THAT ALL THESE POKER SITES ARE RUN BY ROBBERS WHO ARE CHEATING A BUNCH OF LOSERS WHO REFUSE TO SEE THE TRUTH STARING THEM IN THE FACE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    WATCH FOR THE TRUTH, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    VERY BAD PERSON
    Michael "Mike" Masnick (born December 8[1], 1974) is the founder of Techdirt, a weblog that focuses on technology news and tech-related issues. Additionally, Masnick is founder and CEO of Floor64.[2] He is also known for coining the term "The Streisand Effect" on the Techdirt blog in January 2005.[3] The Streisand Effect was the subject of an interview on NPR's All Things Considered hosted by Robert Siegel.[4]
    The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized. Examples of such attempts include censoring a photograph, a number, a file, or a website (for example via a cease-and-desist letter). Instead of being suppressed, the information quickly receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored across the Internet, or distributed on file-sharing networks.[1][2] Mike Masnick said he jokingly coined the term in January 2005 “to describe [this] increasingly common phenomenon”,[3] the name being taken from a 2003 incident in which the singer Barbra Streisand attempted to use legal process to preserve her privacy, only to see the matter become far more prominent as a result.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    GHFHFGF, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:03pm

    VERY BAD PERSON
    Michael "Mike" Masnick (born December 8[1], 1974) is the founder of Techdirt, a weblog that focuses on technology news and tech-related issues. Additionally, Masnick is founder and CEO of Floor64.[2] He is also known for coining the term "The Streisand Effect" on the Techdirt blog in January 2005.[3] The Streisand Effect was the subject of an interview on NPR's All Things Considered hosted by Robert Siegel.[4]
    The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized. Examples of such attempts include censoring a photograph, a number, a file, or a website (for example via a cease-and-desist letter). Instead of being suppressed, the information quickly receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored across the Internet, or distributed on file-sharing networks.[1][2] Mike Masnick said he jokingly coined the term in January 2005 “to describe [this] increasingly common phenomenon”,[3] the name being taken from a 2003 incident in which the singer Barbra Streisand attempted to use legal process to preserve her privacy, only to see the matter become far more prominent as a result.
    Technology Guardian: How did Techdirt actually get its start?
    Mike Masnick: I was in business school on the east coast, far away from Silicon Valley, and in the 1996-97 timeframe there was a lot happening in Silicon Valley in the technology world. I thought it would be a fun project for myself to do an email newsletter to keep people informed. The catalysing moment was seeing Slashdot towards the end of 1997, and saying, this is the perfect [web] format for what I'm trying to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    true poker player, May 4th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    play on a bot table, lose on bot table. get some friends n' play in real life. watch tha difference!!! stop playin tha puter!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Gregory, May 11th, 2009 @ 6:52pm

    Dirty Strategy can't Eliminate

    If your plan is to go home, bagging pack of money, no wonder you may also try cheating when playing. online casinos or land based games, no matter how you play, you're always thinking on winning especially if your getting left behind by other good players.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    its a scam, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:04pm

    no doubt about it

    I HAVE BEEN PLAYING POKER SINCE I COULD WALK AND THAT WAS 37 YEARS AGO COME FROM A GAME FAMIALY I HAVE PLAYED ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING ONLINE AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY BAD PLAYS CATCH UP IN MY LIFE NOT ONLY AGAINST ME BUT IN EVERY GAME I PLAYED I DID HAVE SOME SMALL SUCCESS WHEN I HIT EVERY HAND I PLAYED I DONT HAVE A HAND HISTORY BUT IN MY MEMORY I HAVE SEEN 75/25 90/10 80/20 GET THERE WAY MORE THAN IS POSSIABLE CANT BELEIVE THERE IS NOT A SCAM I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IN LIVE POKER JUST WATCH FULL TILT THERE IS A CSAM FOR SURE NO WAY DO CARDS COME LIKE THAT IN REAL GAME NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY........p.S. SORRY FOR THE SPEELING IAM A MATH TEACHER...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    video conversion service, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 2:24am

    Poker Online

    All poker sites are a scam. If it is possible to win a bag of $$$ online, we should've heard of people staying at home and making a living out of it!
    Go get a social life, and have fun with your friends playing poker, this online scam is not worth any $, it will only increase the chances of getting your cards hacked. !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Rudy Macek, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    online poker cheating

    If you want to know the real scoop about cheating in the poker world, both online and off, read Richard Marcus's book dirty poker or go to his webiste http://www.richardmarcusbooks.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Cheater Chad, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 4:28am

    It's easy to cheat at online poker. I do it all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2009 @ 6:44pm

    fuck all ye poker losers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Michael Henkle, Aug 21st, 2010 @ 7:50pm

    Re: no doubt about it

    I agree with you 100% The one, two and three out miracles at online poker sites are common place. My advice is to play small or free tourneys and when they let you win, take the majority of your money out. Never play single tables! Look to satalite your way into the higher stake games. And try and get it in with the best but avoid the all ins.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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