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Online Poker Cheating: Why Collusion Doesnít Work
by Timmor L. White

Immediately after the first Internet-poker website went online, people began to wonder if there might be a way to beat the system through cheating. It didnít take long for players to realize this fact: While they were playing online poker, they could be speaking on the telephone to another player at the same table, and no one else would be the wiser.

This idea of working with another player was not new to the world of poker. At brick-and-mortar poker establishments, players have been teaming up for as long as there has been gambling. Two players go to a cardroom and sit at the same poker table. They have a predetermined system of signals to communicate with each other about their hands. The theory is that, together, they can better manipulate the betting and, eventually, win a lot of money. This form of cheating is called collusion.

In practice, making collusion profitable is an iffy proposition. It is far more difficult to execute properly than most people realize. Nonetheless, done skillfully over a long period of time, two colluding players can gain an advantage over the rest of the table. For that reason, cardrooms and casinos have policies in place to watch for collusion. Should they spot evidence of two players working together in this manner, they will promptly ban those players from their establishment.

Online poker is a different story altogether, and you can see why. With online poker, there is no physical poker table where players actually see each other with their own eyeballs. When you play poker online, you could be doing anything. Players can (and do) post probability charts next to their computers, sit at their computers naked, loudly swear and curse and give tells like crazy. Anything and everything is okay, since players cannot see what other players are doing. There are activities that no player would dream of doing while seated at a game in person, but those same activities can be done easily when playing poker online.

Included in this list of possible activities is talking to other players. At an in-person game, it is not possible to carry on a secret conversation with one of the other players at the table. You cannot discuss your hand and devise joint strategies to defeat your opponents while you are involved in the game. Obviously, if you tried to do this, other players would know what you are doing. But that is not the case online. Online poker seems perfect for such strategies of collusion.

Players collude in online poker games all the time. Often, those players think they are the first people ever to devise such a brilliant scheme. They congratulate themselves on their cleverness. In truth, they are late to the party. It is estimated that as many as one out of every five online poker tables contains at least some players working in collusion in some way.

Is this collusion effective? Not really. Most players who try it, do so only for a while, and then give up after they notice they are not generating any more profit than they normally do. Often, the colluding players actually end up earning less than normal. Such players eventually conclude that working in cahoots with another player is more bother than it is worth, at least for them.

So, what are they doing wrong? Why do their efforts at collusion fail to produce a profit? There are four basic reasons why simple collusion does not work for most players:

1) The players do not communicate effectively. In most cases, players do not have a clear system of communication worked out before they get on the phone with each other and start blabbing about their hands. As a result, mistakes and misunderstandings are common.

2) They do not play well. For most players, the added complication of constantly dealing with another person, analyzing his hands and figuring out strategy with him, is too much added mental baggage. These players do not concentrate as well on the things they should be concentrating on during the game. The most common result is that they play too many poor and marginal hands. These players are eager to get in there and start using their new perceived advantage, and as a result, they play too many hands and play them badly.

3) They are only two players strong. Rarely do colluders get more than two people to go in on their scheme at one time, and that is not enough. And three or more players on a multi-way phone conversation is bedlam, and highly ineffective; it can never work to produce results. Two players are not enough to influence a game and its probabilities a sufficient amount to make much difference, especially if there are another four to eight players seated at the same table. Two guys sitting at a table of ten are not likely to accomplish much, no matter how good they are at their plan.

4) They donít know what to do. This is the biggest reason why online collusion fails for most players. They sit there on the phone with their buddy, and they just know they have some kind of an advantage over the rest of the table. However, they simply do not know what to do with their newfound power. They do not know how to use it.

If you are one of the millions of online poker players who suddenly get the bright idea to collude with a friend while you play, I offer you this advice: donít bother. If you persist in putting your little brainstorm to the test, go right ahead, but you will soon find your dreams of poker riches dashed upon the rocks of reality.

True, there are ways to cheat at online poker. Many players do so every day. But colluding with a friend is not one of those ways. Talking on the phone with your buddy while playing is a sure path to failure. Just in case you are open to hearing my message, I thought Iíd save you the trouble and disappointment of trying this shortsighted scheme.


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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