Saturday, April 16, 2011



The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday announced the indictment of 11 individuals involved with online poker websites on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.

The defendants include the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies that do business in the US: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars. The government seized five Internet domain names associated with these companies. The government alleges that the defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to dupe or bribe banks to process gambling profits in violation of U.S. laws.

"Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement.

The 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made it a crime for gambling businesses to knowingly accept most forms of payment for illegal Internet gambling. The defendants allegedly tried to circumvent these rules with the help of individual payment processors, also named as defendants, who helped disguise gambling revenue as payments to phony merchants selling non-existent goods such as jewelry or golf balls.

The scheme also allegedly involved bribing small banks to process payments in return for major investments in the banks, or buying the banks outright.

Two of the defendants were arrested in Nevada and Utah respectively. A third is expected to appear at his arrangement in New York next week. The other eight defendants named are presently outside the U.S. and have yet to be arrested.

The indictment seeks $3 billion in civil and forfeiture penalties and restraints on 76 bank accounts in 14 countries.

The last widely reported Internet domain seizure didn't go so well for the government. Following the seizure of 10 domain names in February for alleged involvement in child pornography, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged that a number of lawful websites had been temporarily disabled in the process.

Absolute Poker made news in 2007 as a result of a cheating scandal.

My take: Is this the beginning of the end of online poker in the United States?

No way, Jose!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Online Poker Players Speak Out on Full Tilt's block of Poker Tracking Websites

Source: Poker News Daily

Most players view the recent move by Full Tilt Poker to block the ability of online poker tracking sites such as SharkScope and PokerTableRatings (PTR) from receiving data favorably.

SharkScope stated in an update on April 5th, “We respectfully request that all online players carefully consider the option of playing at sites other than Full Tilt and communicating to Full Tilt your opinions and rationale about why you prefer to play elsewhere.”

This has set off a firestorm of discussion on the online poker forum TwoPlusTwo. Much of the talk centers on how players use data from tracking sites and whether this information offers them an unfair advantage. A majority of the players on TwoPlusTwo have strongly voiced their opposition to such tracking sites and programs.

“I completely agree as long as it levels the field for all players,” posted “Polar Beard.” “In my opinion, sitting at a table an hour or two is more than enough to have a good idea of your opponents’ style and competence.”

“If a tracking service remains available for a select group of players, then it’s (a whole) other ball game,” “Polar Beard” concluded.

Several players admit to actively using such services as SharkScope and PTR, but they agree that they should probably be shut down. “Even though I use PTR and Sharkscope pretty often, I’d be happy to see all sites cut them off,” poster “mchu1026” shared in the TwoPlusTwo thread.

With Full Tilt blocking poker tracking sites, many are calling for the largest site in the industry, PokerStars, to step up and do the same.

“Well done FTP for blocking PTR, now step up Stars,” poster “raidalot” writes. “What really needs to be blocked urgently are the tools that store and sell hand history data and/or player stats (or provide them in the form of HUDs). I have never used PTR, but I see on the home page that it provides ‘premium content’ such as VPIP and other player stats. This sort of site should be banned by any poker site interested in the long term future of the internet game.”

Another poster, “knef,” contacted PokerStars regarding the tracking situation and the site told him that it is “trying” to block tracking sites from receiving information. “PokerStars is aware that there are people who try to break our rules on data mining and consequently I’m pleased to advise that we are in the process of improving our software to stop this activity,” “knef” reports a PokerStars support team member named “Regina” as saying.

Although the wave of opinion is against tracking sites, some posters point out that these sites were important in breaking several recent scandals in the online poker world. “PTR has helped crack down on multi-accounting, cheating, bots, and chip dumping,” stated “RY889.” “The majority of you guys are losing players and I don’t blame you for wanting your stats hidden, but for us winning players, it has been a useful tool for game selecting.”

Several top pros have weighed in as well. Team pro Adam “Roothlus” Levy gave his two cents: “It’s because PTR got bought by Zynga and FTP wants (to) draw the line in the sand.” Jordan “scarface79” Smith seemed to side with the minority, stating, “Easier to hide their super users,” while Jay “SEABEAST” Kinkade sided with the majority: “Great move, thanks FTP.”

Shawn “buck22” Buchanan, who holds Red Pro status on Full Tilt Poker, weighed out the pros and cons. After his analysis, he posted, “Unless the large majority here either works for FT or is a bit thick, I honestly can’t see the benefits to this.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busted Canadian Casino Cheats Identified But What They Did is Still Unclear

I came across this article about the recent casino-cheating bust in Saskatchewan. It identifies the dealer and the players arrested but does not give any further information about what actually happened. To boot, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority says it does not know if the seven arrested casino cheats were working together or alone, which seems pretty stupid to me. Of course they were working together, or at least the dealer was involved with all of them.

Article: Live games dealer Christopher Stone, 25, was charged with cheating at play and theft over $5,000. Also charged were Xiao Zhuang, 32; Wade Wang, 36; Ceciellia Swiftwolfe, 28; Ken Mark, 28; Christopher Belanger, 38; and Rueben Bear, 27. The charges were laid following a two-year investigation initiated by officials from the Sask. Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and Indigenous Gaming Regulators Inc. Battlefords RCMP were contacted and a criminal investigation was launched. An RCMP gaming expert was brought in to review the evidence, including surveillance videos.

“The Gold Eagle Casino has the procedures and policies in place to deal with these sorts of things. They did a good job of providing us with information and making sure this was dealt with in an appropriate manner,” said Cpl. Jason Teniuk with the Battlefords detachment.

The charges did not stem from a single event, but a series of incidents over an 18-month period, said Teniuk. He declined to say how much money was involved. RCMP have not determined if the individuals charged were working together.

“Not all seven were there at the same time,” said Teniuk. “Whether they were working as a group or not I don’t know.” The accused will appear in Provincial Court May 30. All have been banned from SIGA casinos.
Daniel Morin, director of security and surveillance with the Sask. Indian Gaming Authority, said the organization has a number of controls in place in its casinos to safeguard against cheating, including supervisors in the live games area, surveillance departments and monitoring the financial highs and lows at each table.

“The big thing for us is we want to make sure we have good clean gaming in our casinos, and we will take whatever measures are necessary to keep gaming integrity at a high level,” he said. “We consider this [incident] proof that what we’re doing is working.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Card Cheat Caught Using Sandpaper to Mark Cards in Pennsylvania Casino

Marking poker or blackjack cards by scraping them with a tab of sandpaper stuck to the fingertip is about as old as gambling in the Wild West era, but forty-three year-old Sefula Seji of Oak Ridge, New Jersey, must have gone back in time through a time-tunnel and returned to mark cards with sandpaper at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA, that according to gaming authorities who busted him and charged him with 39 counts of cheating at gambling. Seji was jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail, quite a high bail for a non-slot-cheating charge in a casino.

I don't know what the 39 counts are for, unless he was viewed on surveillance tape marking cards during 39 hands of poker or blackjack. The game he allegedly cheated on has not yet been specified.

My take: Well, since table games are new in Pennsylvania, why not introduce them to all the old forms of casino cheating!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Electronic Poker Tables Versus Online Poker Tables--Which Are Safer Against Cheating?

ePoker Table
You all know what online poker tables are, but some of you might not be aware of electronic poker tables or "ePoker" tables that are sprouting up in casinos across the world and in many jurisdictions in the United States that do not allow live poker in casinos.

Basically ePoker is a similation of live poker that is played on an automated poker table with up to 10 players, who each bank the games in turn. Their appearance is very close to live poker tables. The big difference is that there is no need for a dealer, nor do they use cards or chips but rather graphic representations of cards, chips and dealer buttons. You might call it a mix of live poker and online poker, live because you are seeing the faces of the people you play against, and online because you are using buttons instead of actions to play your hands.

So the question arises: What about electonic poker table cheating? Is is more or less prevalent than online poker cheating?

The answer is simple. ePoker cheating is far less prevalent than online poker cheating for one simple reason. Although both forms of poker do not use the human element in the dealing and payoff functions of the game, each player can see the other players, which in itself protects all players from some forms of poker cheating. In online poker you cannot see your opponents using laptops with bot and collusion programs. In ePoker, colluders would have to cheat manually, meaning they would have no computer assistance to help with their calculations. Of course colluders can still collude but their advantage would be less than it is online, therefore you would expect to run into a smaller percentage of cheating players on electronic poker tables because cheats go where there best opportunities

My advice: Play electronic poker wherever you can. It is generally the safest form of poker. There is also no card-marking that is seen in live poker games, nor is there any other manipulation of the cards.