Op-Ed: Poker players need to wake up
In a recent article, the BBC looked into the Chinese collusion team that bilked online poker players out of hundreds of thousands of dollars –possibly millions– at PokerStars. While the piece itself is fairly neutral there are some rather disturbing quotes, most notably by Aaron Todd, the Senior Editor for Casino City Time, who seems to have been the BBC’s ‘industry expert’. Todd states:
“There are varying degrees to which collusion happens but it is pretty easy to figure out when it’s going on, and it’s not extremely common… The vast majority of games, at least 95% and probably more, are completely above board… Cheating can happen in live poker, too, but the one advantage that you have if you play online is that the sites keep track of every single poker hand played, so it’s easy to go back and investigate.”
Really, it’s easy to detect collusion? Apparently Aaron is only aware of what I call numbskull collusion, where players all but advertise that they are cheating. If you have a cheating team of good players, the collusion could be nearly undetectable. Look no further than the alleged collusion between Nick “StoxTrader” Grudzien and a player with the screen-name Kinetica: Even with tens of thousands of hands to pore over, the best the poker community could do is put the tag “it doesn’t look good” on the duo. The two didn’t even relay information; they simply played in a certain way in a certain situation… allegedly.
I also dislike when people pull arbitrary numbers out of the air; where does he get the 95% number? And does he realize how widespread cheating would be if 5% of the games involved collusion or some other form of cheating? As a community we need to stop fabricating numbers, and work on gathering real information on the industry.
It’s time that the poker community ramps up the pressure on the online poker sites to better protect their players. We need to hold online poker sites feet to the fire until they hire security experts and statisticians that can make sense of the numbers and find peculiar play.
In my opinion, there is a lot more cheating happening in online poker than most people are aware of, or want to admit. Whenever money is involved, people will do very shady things, and break a lot of rules to get their hands on the dough.
As a community we need to stop writing off allegations as the rantings of bitter players, and we need to stop creating statistics that have no meaning, and are completely fabricated, in order to protect the integrity of online poker. The best way to protect the game’s integrity is to bare its soul, and then work on cleaning up the game: Pretending there is no problem is only adding to the problem.
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