Saturday, May 5, 2007

Poker Cheats: The History, Part 2

"The continuation of the article found in the archives here. A quick look at the history of poker cheating when getting caught meant more than getting banned."

Poker, The Cheating Game? - Part II
by: Kenneth Bateman

The introduction of the 52-card deck meant that the poker tables could now accommodate more players and there were more cards left over to draw, with each player having the chance to improve their hands. As the game of poker became more complex with the introduction of straights and flushes, so to did the complexities of cheating, as crooked gamblers had to adjust to the changing games and perfect new strategies and methods to fleece the suckers.

Collusion, whereby two or more poker cheaters would secretly partner in a game, using a series of signals to let each other know what cards they were holding, became popular with gamblers looking for a distinct advantage at the tables. The notorious marked deck was a commonly used ruse to give gamblers a secret advantage in the games. Decks of cards were “marked” in various ways, such as using undetectable markings on the card backsides, or nicking the edges of certain key cards in a way noticeable only to the cheater.

Some cheaters spent long hours perfecting the “art” of deftly manipulating cards to their advantage by second dealing or so-called bottom dealing, meaning that these experts could, for instance, hold back the top card in the deck, using the thumb of the hand holding the deck and unobtrusively deal every second card or bottom card to the other players and dealing the top card – the card that would improve the cheaters hand – to himself. Certainly, these maneuvers were meant for private games, and only possible to use when the gambler is dealing. and not possible in well regulated casinos where cards are dealt from “shoes” and multiple decks are commonly used.

But let’s give the crooked gambler his due. The ability to manipulate cards to one’s advantage under the direct gaze of other players requires not only a high degree of skill, but nerves of steel as well. Some cheaters take an easier path and devise ways of stealing chips from their fellow players. One method is to closely observe the players on either side and watch for an inattentive player. Then, with the use of a sticky substance hidden in his palm, the chip thief will casually lay his hand on a stray chip near the other players main stack, or palm a chip while pushing a pot toward that round’s winner. Slipping these chips into his own pile is easy, since the cheater’s chips are purposefully not neatly stacked.

These various methods of cheating, among countless others, such as card counting, the use of electronic devices and a myriad other ways to cheat at cards are very difficult to accomplish in a modern casino, where the staff is well trained and observant. However, there have been occasions when crooked gamblers and casino dealers worked together, with the dealer aiding his partner in various ways, one of which was to cleverly lift the corner of each card as it is dealt, allowing the cheater to see what was being dealt to each player. Assuredly, the chances of being cheated in a well-run casino are small, but when you are gambling alertness pays off, regardless.

About The Author

Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of poker and its players. To read more player profiles, visit

Poker Cheats: The History, Part 1

"I happened upon this post while browsing the web. It's an interesting primer on the history of poker cheats when the game was practically brand new. No, not 2001 at Paradise Poker...New Orleans riverboat in 1840. Without further ado, Mr. Bateman's article..."

Poker, The Cheating Game? - Part I
by: Kenneth Bateman

Poker’s advance from the casino’s of New Orleans to the paddle wheelers plying the Mississippi River in the early years of the 19th century. created new opportunities for the professional gambler. These steamboats were lavishly appointed floating palaces catering to the well-heeled, replete with wine, women and song for the taking, and, oh yes, gambling. Many of the passengers on these cruises were Southern plantation owners flush with money – thanks to the arrival of the railroads linking the cotton fields to the mighty river. These were men looking for a good time and willing to spend – or lose – their money in pursuit of pleasure.

At that time poker was a far different, and much simpler game then as played today. Only a twenty card deck (tens to aces), was used, and only four players at a table could participate, since the entire deck was dealt out, five cards to each player. Bets were placed and raised after the cards were dealt. The cards were then shown, and the best hand took the pot. This was an ideal game for card sharks since there was no draw and hands could easily be manipulated by various methods so that the card shark always left the game with the most winnings.

Among these various methods of cheating were sleight-of-hand tricks and even specially made mechanical devices often used by crooked gamblers, and most professional gamblers in those days were crooked. For example, Will and Finck developed a card-holding device called a sleeve card-holdout. This contraption – strapped to the inside forearm of a gamblers sleeve, which was tailored in a wide cut to accommodate the device, had a metallic clip attached to a leather band that could clasp a needed card that a gambler could transfer unnoticed into his palm with a deft movement of the wrist.

Since these were not penny-ante games it was not uncommon for crooked gamblers to recruit one or more of the ship’s officers as accomplices, with a portion of the “loot” going to the officer or officers for their aid. These officers would often steer so-called “marks” or suckers, who were usually pleasantly drunk over to the gambler and would further aid the card shark by prearranged signals that revealed what cards had been dealt to the “mark”.

In fact, cheating at these games had become so notorious that by the 1840’s a number of books were published as more or less “exposes” of the dangers of playing poker with professionals. About this time an American writer, Jonathan H. Green, wrote a particularly well received book on this subject called “The Exposures of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling”. In this book, Green referred to gambling as a “cheating game”. The game became more complex and more difficult for the card shark once the fifty-two card deck came into being, and new variations of poker were introduced.

Read Part Two

About The Author

Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of poker and its players. To read more player profiles, visit

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Neteller Layoffs and Continued DOJ Investigation

I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that Neteller continues their downward spiral. Gambling911's inside sources notify of further layoffs plus some interesting DOJ tidbits.

If you were playing poker a year ago, chances are you were moving your money around via Neteller, and if you were an online pokerbot, then the speed and convenience of Neteller's transfer system was great for adding a chunk of "free" bankroll every month from bonuswhoring. All this ended when the U.S. Department of Justice stormed Neteller HQ and froze all the funds. Many of you are probably still dealing with money trapped in Neteller-limbo, I'm sure.

Things aren't improving for the company, unfortunately. I never expected them to return to the online gambling e-wallet market, but I didn't think they'd completely fall apart.

Gambling911 reports that not only are layoffs still occuring within Neteller's management, but the DOJ investigators are STILL investigating the physical HQ building. I won't be expecting my limbo money anytime soon.


Tuff_Fish Will Make Your Day

Tuff_fish is a well known internet celebrity (think: the star wars kid). I'm not in the habit of posting videos, but after a Tuesday downswing, this video was needed. The funniest 2 minutes you may have today.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Free Winscrape for your WinHoldem Bot

I've been a bit bored lately.
No cashout problems.
No "random" security checks.
No bot problems.
I've gotten some hits from the WinHoldem forum, so I've decided to start tinkering around with WinHoldem again.

The biggest problem plaguing the new WinHoldem user at this moment seems to be the recent loss of official online poker room screen scraping. Unless something has changed since the last time I had to mess with Winscrape, I figure I can knock out a profile in a day or so. I just need you to Vote for the site you want scraped, and please be specific. I will need to know all the details you want in your profile (# of chairs, window size, 4-color cards, etc etc). I will compile all the suggestions and scrape the most popular one.

To be honest, if the winning online poker site is a juicy little spot my custom bot is beating up, I probably won't scrape that so that a hundred 12% vpip bots flood in. Sorry. I doubt this will be an issue as the more popular sites will be requested more often anyway.

Email me to vote.

Winning site and format will be announced on May 7th with the profile coming the following weekend.

Yes, I'm aware that Ray Bornet, WinHoldem's creator, is giving away $100 worth of subscription credit for working master profiles. My anonymity is worth more than $100, but I will find a way to get this to Winholdem support and hopefully posted to the master profile list. I'm not sure how exact I have to be to get my winscrape profile into the official list, but if Ray isn't too demanding, I'll do what is needed.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yahoo Enters Online Poker Market

Online poker might change dramatically in the coming months. The first online mega-giant has entered the fray.

Both Party Poker and Poker Stars representatives have been quoted in the past as saying that the real fight begins when one of the big online brands enter the market. it comes.

Yahoo's site is currently not open to U.S. or Canadian players, as the UIGEA continues to cast doubt. Others however, are welcome to sign up at Yahoo Poker (I purposefully did not link for fear of being accused of affiliate links) and begin playing immediately on the Boss network.

Markus Holm, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Development of Boss Media said, "We are delighted to be working with Yahoo! UK and St Minver. This partnership takes Boss Media to a new dimension and is a very strategic milestone for the company. It confirms that online gaming and entertainment are becoming increasingly integrated and that a major portion of future growth in our industry will come from large online entertainment brands."
"This partnership strengthens our position as the leading online poker software provider for the European market. Product innovation and an in-depth understanding of the European gaming landscape are keys to our success."

Is this the spark that lights the fuse for the next poker boom? Could be, but in and of itself, probably not. A more interesting thought, is that perhaps Yahoo knows something about online gambling regulation that we do not and is positioning themselves for an upcoming change.

The UIEGA looks weaker every day. Great news for us all, player or bot...American or not. Six months on from the introduction of the UIGEA in the United States and on the day that Congressman Barney Frank announced his bill to regulate online gaming, this news marks another seismic event in the relatively short history of the online gaming industry.

Ultimate Bet Poker Tightens Up

The most noted pokerbot playground just changed the rules. Ultimate Bet Poker has recently changed both their rakeback MGR calculation and now today, their pts calculation methods. A LOT of winholdem and OPI poker bots just drifted into -EV.

In the past, UB's rakeback MGR was calculated in the method commonly called "dealt". For example, if the pot is $60 ($3 rake is taken) and there were 10 people dealt cards, then each person generated $0.30 in rake for that hand. Using this method of calculation you are generating rake every time you are dealt cards. Recently, they switched their rakeback to the "contributed" method. By this method, If 10 people are dealt cards and only 3 people actually put money into the pot (blinds count), then a $60 pot would give them each $1 of MGR. Those that did not put money into the pot get no MGR. For the tight, ABC playing grinder or pokerbot, this change penalizes their tight preflop play substantially. Possibly reducing their rakeback by 50%.
Today, they officially changed their webpage to reflect what had been popping up sporadically at tables over the weekend: Their Ultimate points would now only be given for hands when the player had contributed. UB effectively increased the time to clear a bonus by 4 or 5 times. The points to cash promotion is nearly impossible to reach. Only players that were previously getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 points per week will now reach the LOWEST level of 750 points.

That is a brutal, brutal bad beat for anyone botting the UB micros for the Points to Cash program. Note, I don't feel like I'm "outing" anyone here. UB has been notorious about ignoring bots for as long as I've been in the game. It's no secret. Open up a table of $.02/$.04 limit at Ultimate Bet. 1/3 of the players at that table will be playing more than 12 hours a day. 12 hours a day of multi-tabling the penny tables! I'd say that's just stupidity if it weren't for UB's complete apathy. It will be interesting to see exactly what Ultimate bet hopes to do with this. Player numbers are dropping, and I'm sure it will only get worse, as I constantly read of people that still haven't noticed their rakeback payments have dropped. Players leave, fewer tables...UB's in the downward spiral, and it seems like it is going to take some fancy maneuvering to pull out at this point.