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The Reality of Online Poker

Having spent around twenty years in the gambling industry in one capacity or another and numerous years in online poker, you cannot help but become aware of the seedier side of the industry. But this applies to all fields, it doesn’t matter what it is or how high profile something is, it will always have a seedy side that few people ever get to see.

Unfortunately this is the same with poker, I mentioned last week about the prospect of online poker becoming a target for cheats based on how much tougher the games were becoming. (Link – Can You Trust Online Poker?) I may get criticism for writing that article but that is exactly how I see it. I also don’t see how catching players deters them either.

Does losing money deter players from playing poker? On the contrary, the smarter ones improve their knowledge base and learn new techniques and don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Don’t you think that cheats operate in the same way? How do you think a skilled cheat becomes skilled?

By the usual process of making mistakes, trial and error and not repeating past mistakes! Often though it isn’t cheating that is your biggest obstacle, quite often it is players simply teaming up with each other either by sharing bankrolls, sharing information or in some instances even sharing accounts.

We are in a world now where the acquiring and using of information is king with regards to online poker with poker ability and knowledge being of less importance. It is for this reason that I don’t write tactical strategy articles with the same frequency as I used to. Tournament poker is exactly the same, I haven’t played live poker since 2003 when I had a heated argument with a gaming manager about locals blatantly violating the English only rule.

But the level of cheating that was going on was amazing, well actually “amazing” is probably the wrong word as its really only amazing if you perceive in your own mind that cheating and gamesmanship is a rarity. Poker has spent billions over the past few years marketing itself to the masses. But yet just who do you think are present in those “masses”….. charlatans, cheats, crooks, con-men, swindlers, robbers, scammers, fraudsters, computer hackers and all other types of low-life who infest our world……or did you think that only the good guys play poker.

Like a brightly lit moon in a pitch black night sky, poker has stood out like a beacon to these people so don’t be surprised when sharks come calling when you continually throw chum into the sea. Even years ago I knew of live cash games in respectable casinos where the entire game was carved up by the locals.

Insiders never stood a chance and the leader of one such team was known as “Dr Death” amongst a handful of people simply because of the fact that whoever went on their table invariably left losing money and it wasn’t to do with the fact that he was a great poker player either.

I simply do not trust live cash games and especially in situations where you are playing with local players who have known each other for some considerable time. Much of what I am saying is difficult to prove but that will always be the situation with regards cheating. Just how do you prove the fact that two players have made a personal agreement with each other?

Also, do not think that cheating in live casino cash games involves blatant tactics like concealing cards, switching cards, marking cards or any of the other crude techniques that are often talked about in the books and movies. Cheating methods in poker can be undetectable and when players can signal hand strength to each other, signal betting intention to each other, bet to trap other players in the middle and all the rest of it then this is very difficult to spot.

But then even if you spot it, you still have the job of proving it. If you find marked cards or see players stealing chips or concealing cards then you have physical visual proof. But this is not the case with sophisticated cheating as there are no visual clues that can be used afterwards. Obviously I am referring to live games here over online games and I am sure that many people will be inclined to disagree with some of my comments here as well.

However they are comments made on knowledge and experience and not comments made by someone who has been fortunate enough not to be on the receiving end of a cheating “firm” yet or doesn’t play high enough. There is a dark side to poker and it pays to be aware of just how dark that dark side really is. I currently play on Pokerloco as I really like the site, software and back up but even then, I wouldn’t trust any poker site to police itself and I constantly watch my games very closely not just from a technical aspect but also from other aspects as well.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be seen at www.pokerloco.com/thedean and on his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com.

Carl Sampson

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