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Online Poker Cheating - Attitudes Are A-Changin'
by Timmor L. White

In October of 2007, a horrible cheating scandal was uncovered at Absolute Poker. The news of this scandal made national headlines. Since then, everything is different regarding attitudes about online poker cheating. Can you feel the difference?

In case you've been hiding under a rock, I'll briefly tell you what happened. During an tournament at Absolute Poker, some players suspected another player of cheating. After the tournament, the player who finished second filed a complaint and requested a copy of hand histories for the tournament. In return, Absolute Poker inadvertently sent him more data than just hand histories. The information they supplied showed a cheating scheme that linked directly back to Absolute Poker itself.

Here's how the cheating took place: An observer came into this poker room and informed the winning player of all hole cards during the tournament. And this observer was in cahoots with Absolute Poker; his IP address and account name traced to the servers that host Absolute Poker. In other words, an insider had access to all hole cards in real time, and he relayed that information to an outside accomplice.

No wonder this story made big news. No wonder the poker world is again abuzz with talk about cheating.

Regarding the question of whether or not cheating online ever happens, there used to be a variety of opinions. According to poker authority Byron Badd, writing for Gambling911: "Cheating at online poker really doesnít happen that often. You hear all the time that people feel they got cheated, but more often than not it is a complaint about a bad beat. Cheating will always be part of poker whether it is online or at a local cardroom, but it usually doesnít happen very often and is not something you need to worry about when you are at the table." An opposing view was expressed by Jonathan M. Katz in Slate Magazine: "In an anonymous world where everyone is after your money, and where lying and preying on the weak are encouraged, it's easy to get paranoid that others are cheating. And in fact, others are cheating." As far as detecting these cheaters, Steven D. Levitt writing for the New York Times blog, said this: "One of the projects Iíve been engaged in lately is trying to catch players who are cheating in online poker. It turned out to be harder than I thought it would be to catch online poker cheats."

But now, in today's new climate following this widely publicized scandal, these discussions are moot. No educated individual can now argue convincingly that online poker cheating never occurs. It does. Obviously. And everyone knows it does. This knowledge has dramatically changed the landscape regarding cheating at online poker.

In years past, the usual question has been: Is cheating online possible? And the commonly-held answer among supposedly knowledgeable individuals has been: No. Now, following the Absolute Poker debacle, the question being asked is more like: Since cheating is happening, how might I protect myself from being cheated? Or maybe even this question: Since cheating is all around me, how can I, myself, cheat?

Yes, attitudes are different now than they were prior to news of this scandal. There is much greater acceptance of the concept of cheating in online poker rooms. There is heightened awareness of the possibilities. More people are asking: Can I cheat too? With all this cheating happening, how might I get in there and get a piece of the pie? Should I educate myself on the matter of poker cheating? Am I being naive if I am one of the few players who still believes the possibility of cheating is remote? These are good questions. I hear them asked all the time now.

Attitudes have changed, which is good-news, bad-news. It is good news because it is based in truth, and truth is always good. The truth: There exist ways to cheat online, even today, and there are unscrupulous people willing to take advantage of those ways. The more the online poker community recognizes this truth, the better.

But this change in attitude is also bad news. The bad news is that more people are now apt to try some means of online cheating. If that is a result of this new heightened awareness, it is most unfortunate.

After all, one fact remains unchanged. It remains undeniably true that cheating is despicable activity. Nothing could ever change that abiding truth. Cheating, even when possible, is never advisable. Cheating is immoral. A cheater, at poker or any other area of life, is a person to be despised. There is nothing admirable or cool about a cheater. The best advice is this: If you don't know how to cheat, don't learn. If you do know how to cheat, don't do it anyway.

Be aware of this change in attitude regarding poker cheating. You are likely to hear new talk about various ways to cheat. Be alert to this discussion coming your way. You will hear it in poker rooms. You will hear it in forums. You will hear it in personal correspondence. But hearing it does not mean that you, yourself, need to be a part of it. And it certainly does not mean that you, yourself, need to be among those who actually cheat. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control your own actions. I urge you to resist the temptation to cheat. Play fair, and enjoy the magnificent game of poker in its pure, uncorrupted splendor.

Timmor L. White is the founder and president of Online Poker Systems and the OPS Group. With a background in Internet technology, he is active in the study and reporting of online-poker playing strategies. If you wish to explore a specific way to cheat when playing online, click here: Online Poker Cheat.

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