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Poker Community Reacts to 60 Minutes Story

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/01/2008
Poker

The folks at Two Plus Two, a popular posting forum community covering the game of poker, offered their reaction to the 60 Minutes piece that aired Sunday night regarding a much publicized "inside cheating scandal".

Late last year, a group of poker sleuths got lucky. 

According to the 60 Minutes report, when one of the players requested the hand histories of a suspected cheater known as "Potripper," someone at Absolute Poker inadvertently sent them an Excel spreadsheet with 65,000 lines of data that include all of the cards that had been played in thousands of games against hundreds of Potripper's opponents.

It allowed Michael Josem to recreate some of the hands, as the cheater would have seen them, in and turn them into a video that he posted online, along with a statistical analysis of the cheater's win rate.

"We have here a whole lot of people in the middle, which is pretty normal, they lose a little, they win a bit. A few people got lucky for a bit, a few people were losing a lot of money. Right up here, in the very top right hand corner, we have the cheater," he explains. "We did the mathematical analysis to find that they were winning at about 15 standard deviations above the mean, which is approximately equivalent to winning a one-in-a-million jackpot six consecutive times."

"Now, this sort of stuff just doesn't happen in the real world," he adds.

But more importantly, the Excel spreadsheet also listed the user account and the IP address of the suspected cheater, which the sleuths traced to the computer modem of an Absolute Poker employee.

The 60 Minutes report showed a dilapidated building in Costa Rica they referred to as a "mall" and home to Absolute Poker.  The office itself is state-of-the-art.  Gambling911.com has visited the establishment.

Online gambling has, for much of its existence, been self-regulated.  The Kahnawake Mohawks have added some additional protective measures, which the 60 Minutes report touched on, though not in the way most industry experts would have liked.

The quest to hold Absolute Poker accountable didn't stop in Costa Rica at that mall as it would have some several dozen "fly by night" operations that have shut down over the years, walking off with players monies.  Kahnawake regulates Absolute Poker and their reaction to this discovery (of cheating) - while initially slow - did result in affected players being fully compensated.

Observed one member of the Two Plus Two poker forum:

"This story does paint online poker in a negative light to the general public. Of course the core group of players (who post on this website) will not care but the rest of the world will."

Many on the Two Plus Two forum were not thrilled with the final ominous warning offered up by one of its members that "more super users (cheaters) could be lurking in other online poker rooms.

That could be true, but just as commercial airline crashes help identify maintenance flaws and work towards preventing future disasters, so too does bringing the "Absolute Poker" scandal to the forefront in helping Internet poker evolve, improve and eradicate dangers associated with the game.

"DanDruff's (Todd Witteles) comments about the possibility of this going on elsewhere are clearly and obviously correct; they are also clearly and obviously just the sort of soundbite that 60 Minutes seeks to increase the sensationalist aspect of this story," points out one member of the posting forum.

Of course, what the online poker community may fail to realize is that CBS on a few occasions in the past already broadcast stories that industry observers regarded mostly as negative towards online gambling.  There is probably some rationale behind this.

CBS was itself once involved in the online gambling industry as a parent company to CBS Sportsline, which in turn owned VegasInsider.com.  They were mostly pressured to sever that relationship thanks to pressure from the National Football League.  The NFL has long opposed legalizing gambling on the Web and were the catalyst for passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. That said, a story of this nature probably doesn't lend itself to a "feel good" attitude towards online poker either.

"No way this story could or should have been ‘good for internet poker' any more than a story about the Hindenburg could have been ‘good for blimp transportation'," said one member of the Two Plus Two forum. 

 

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