In this article I warned you about the dangers of anonymous poker tables. Now lets talk about how you can avoid being cheated.
Here is an image of an anonymous poker table… Your opponents simply show up as Villain’s or Player 1, Player 2, Player 3, etc
1) Stay observant and watch for anomalies. A great example of this is two opponents at your table who appear to be weak player. Maybe they get it all in pre-flop for stacks with KJo and 108o. However, they seem to have premium poker hands against other Villains.
2) Be especially vigilant at higher stakes games. The more sophisticated cheating scams have generally targeted the highest poker games. Sometimes players have befriended others so they would be invited into your house giving them the opportunity to install malware on your computer. Recently, at an EPT event hotel staff were in on the scheme of granting poker cheats access to high stakes players rooms to install malware. This is a significant risk. Crazy store can be read about here… http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip/my-unbelievable-ept-barcelona-story-hotel-rooms-arts-barcelona-broken-into-plant-trojans-1369171/
3) If you are a higher stakes poker player maintain a dedicated poker computer.
4) Don’t be so worried about “passing up value” that you won’t quit a player. If you feel like a particular player just has your number then play against others. There is enough value to be had without playing an opponent that consistently massacres you. This will help to contain the losses if another superuser type situation arrises again.
1) Watch for bots that behave in a highly structured and predictable manner. If you doubt that highly skilled poker bots exist guess again! I have played against the following bot and it is quite talented. Also, just recently I discovered a huge 90+ page PDF dedicated to helping poker bots cheat. See my most recent article on anonymous poker table cheating.
2) Highly irregular folds will occasionally happen with bots. Because they are programmed a bot might fold in a situation where no other poker professional would. For example, to a min bet on the river when the pot is already 150 BBs. Regs will almost universally call a 1 BB bet even if they have nothing just to see the hand. However, a bot may be programmed to fold anything worse than a one pair hand in this situation regardless of the bet size. If you notice multiple irregular actions this can be a great tip off. 3)
3) I already talked about why anonymous poker tables are especially dangerous in my previous post Anonymous Poker Cheating. Sadly, poker operators have done a poor job of protecting players from anonymous poker cheating.
4) Don’t rely on the poker operators to protect you from being cheated at anonymous poker tables by bots. This brings us to the question…..
The answer is a very clear, NO!
Publicly they send out press releases saying they are addressing the problem of anonymous poker cheating. Apparently they are “collaborating” with one of the bigger poker strategy websites on how to solve this problem. However, the reality is far different than they would have you believe.
In fact, as any reasonable poker player could tell you bots thrive in short stack situations…. Yet Ipoker has so called “20/50” buy-in tables and tons of anonymous poker tables. The 20/50 tables are especially troubling. If Ipoker is actually serious about getting rid of poker bots why are these tables still available? Any poker expert like myself can tell you these are havens for bots. For those of you who don’t understand why poker bots are able to operate much more effectively in short stack situations. They are better short stackers because there are less possible outcomes that the program needs to deal with. Ex. A 20 BB stack can simply choose to shove or fold a certain range of hands versus having to deal with complicated flop, turn, and river decisions. This makes it much easier to program a bot to play. Clearly, Ipoker and other networks are aware of this and yet they do nothing… Why? To answer this question lets examine their self interest.
If a weak player shows up at a $200 NLHE game and shoves all-in every hand their “shelf life” will be very short. Once a regular wakes up with a big hand they will call and the weak player will likely lose. The poker operator will only get a rake of about $3 for this. However, if the poker operator allows short buy-in tables and the weak player does the same thing it will generate significantly more rake. Why? Because rake structures are capped at $3 poker operators would rather their weak players lose over multiple hands rather than one hand. Just like anonymous poker tables bring win-rates of regulars down so do 20/50 poker tables. These are also the environments that poker bots thrive in. So what is the operator to do?
1) They could actually try to get rid of the poker bots and reduce their cut by making all tables deeper stacked and actively hiring experts to identify and get rid of bots.
2) They could try to protect the brand by sending out press releases to poker news websites demonstrating their “commitment” to dealing with poker cheating, while wink wink nod nod accepting that cheating will continue and making very poor efforts to stop it.
Clearly they are choosing the second option and not doing a great job of protecting players.
I focused on Ipoker because I think they are one of the worst offenders, but this is a problem on all poker networks. The sketchier networks are the ones that have pushed anonymous poker and short stack buy-in tables.
Good luck at the tables! I would love to hear your comments on this post and be sure to check out my newly released book “Exploitive No Limit Holdem”, which focuses on how to win in todays challenging games.