The number one message I have for poker players trying anonymous poker tables is do so at your own peril. Anonymous poker tables are seen as a good way for poker operators to reduce the loss rates of bad players. As a result we are seeing them pop up all over the internet on networks such as Bovada and Microgaming among others. Unfortunately, poker operators are not especially good at catching cheating at online poker. The reality is that any semi-sophisticated cheating is very difficult to detect. I don’t want to go into too many details because I do not want to educate potential cheaters. However, I can say with a high degree of confidence that cheating occurs at higher frequencies at anonymous poker tables than regular tables.
Poker operators would have you believe that they have highly sophisticated software to prevent cheating. The “sophistication” of this software is highly questionable in my opinion as are the skills of those in the security departments. I do believe that certain websites are fairly sophisticated(especially PS), but to suggest that the entire industry is would be inaccurate. Unfortunately, the networks that are pushing the anonymous tables at us also tend to be the ones that have weaker security systems.
Does a poker operator care when a mid-high stakes poker player is cheated out of a significant sum of money by other sophisticated cheaters at the table? They couldn’t care less unless that player is somehow able to harm their reputation. In some cases players have been able to do that previously. However, at anonymous tables that is no longer possible because players are left to have blind faith in the security systems of poker operators. Sadly, the history of poker if filled with superusers, collusion, soft playing, etc many of which have gone undetected.
I have not even mentioned bots yet. Professional poker players on normal tables are highly in tune with the actions of their opponents. They quickly notice anomalies which may suggest some kind of cheating occurring. Because poker bots are programmed they tend to have some noticeable and funny tendencies. Obviously, the better the programming the less notice able the tendency is. However, over thousands of hands versus an opponent even small tendencies can be noted. When you play anonymous poker tables you have no chance of detecting anomalies. At this point you are putting blind faith in the poker operator to crack down on cheating. Good luck with that… Bottom line, be careful with your bankroll at anonymous games.
Cheating at anonymous tables should be a bigger concern for professional players than recreational players. The type of cheating that I think is more freqently used at anonymous and more difficult to detect targets regulars. The good thing about non-anonymous games is that if you don’t have good luck against a particular opponent, or something seems fishy with the way they play, you can just quit them. Unfortunately, when you don’t know who you are losing to it is possible you keep getting cheated over and over by the same players.
Follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/PokerCapitalist and I’ll be tweeting out when I update my blog. In part II of this series on cheating I am going to discuss some warning signs to watch out for at anonymous games.