Poll

Is Online Poker Rigged ?:

Play risk-free !

Is online poker rigged ? If you're unsure, why risk your own money when you can play with real money with no deposit ?

Subscribe to PokerStrategy and get $50 USD FREE to play online poker on the room of your choice.

User login

Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet Exposed : Rigged !

When players try to say that in their opinion, online poker is rigged, one of the most usual answer is the "trust need" of the rooms.

We offen hear the following : "Come on ! Rooms just couldn't survive without our trust, and they make lots of money. They wouldn't risk losing everything by rigging games. Just imegine if the word ever spread... and it would just need one employee for this to happen..."

If you ever read such an answer, you can answer : "Wrong, stupid!", because the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet cases show that the risk of losing everything just isn't enough to prevent even some of the most important rooms from cheating, and the cheating may go on for several years before it's busted (up to 4 years, in the Absolute Poker case). It may even have never been busted if it wasn't for an incredible combination of circumstances.

So, what the hell am I talking about anyway?

What's a superuser

In the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet cases, the draws weren't being rigged, they played fair in this regard. At least we have no evidence that they didn't.

The problem did not come from the cards, but from the players. From a small bunch of players actually.

These players are called "super users" : these are special accounts allowing the user to see all the hole cards of every player at any table.

Usually, super users can't know what will the community cards be before they appear. But they can see the hole cards of every player, which is more than enough to have a 100% success rate.

What happened at Absolute Poker's ?

As early as 2006, some people start to raise eyebrows about Absolute Poker : a very respected and experienced player claims that a fraid of him, called Mike, is victim of a real fraud from Mark Seif, high stake player and ambassador at Absolute Poker.
After losing a few thousands dollars against Mike in a cash game, Mark allegedly said like "one second, punk" to Mike, before leaving the table, then coming back a few minutes later, claiming "I'm ready to take you down".

From this very moment, Mark Seif allegedly started to play incredibly well, much too well actually, not losing a single hand, folding everytime opponent was going to be dominating... as if he could see the hole cards of his opponent.

A charge we would hear about again the following year.

As far as Mark Seif is concerned, he never got caught : his hand histories mysteriously disappeared from Absolute Poker's servers. "Too old", according to the site's representatives. Unlikely, as the law theoretically required all hand histories to be kept for five years.

Greycat, Doubledrag and all the other ones

They play under nickname Graycat, Doubledrag, Streamroller... they play cash game in a completely illogical way, they don't even play like fishes, but like real ufos... and they're winning. They're not winning a little, they're not winning "quite often" and they're not winning "in short time". They're winning lots and lots, almost all the time, and both in short and long time.
After a moment, it looks irrealistic : these people just never lose, they win sh*tloads of money, much more than any pro player ever wins in such a time, even during a rush...

At the 2+2 online poker community, which can't be suspected of any friendliness toward people claiming poker is rigged, even the best players start to feel uncomfortable... and some are starting to suspect a massive fraud to be going on. No definite proof, but some troubling evidences.

The Potripper case

The bubble exploded for Absolute Poker with a player called Potripper.

Unlike the other ones, Potripper is not a cash game player, but a tournament player. And, in a MTT, people started to notice him: He won the tournament, showing a surprising playing style. Surprising and... perfectly winning. And I do mean perfectly.

Why so surprising ? First, because he folds almost no hand preflop. Unusual to say the least. Then, because the very few hands he'll fold preflop are against players betting with QQ, KK and AA.
And also, because he plays post-flop without error, not a single one, and this looks to good to be honest : raising every time he's ahead, folding everytime he's behind... no mistake. Not a single mistake. Noone can bluff him, because he folds every time a player is ahead, even before a player could chose between raising and slowplaying. They don't stand a chance.

As a consequence, he wins. Each time. He never loses a showdown. Of course, he went to showdown several time with garbage, but only with winning garbage.

The whole MTT went this way until the very last hand, against a player called CrazyMarco. Crazymarco bluffs, and raises all-in. Potripper calls with Ten-high. Ten f*cking high. In such a situation, this is absolute garbage. But CrazyMarco was bluffing, right ? He had... 9-High.

Judge by yourself :

Stage #896976330 Tourney ID 1883389 Holdem Multi Normal Tournament No
Limit $4500 - 2007-09-13 01:43:48 (ET)
Table: 14 (Real Money) Seat #3 is the dealer
Seat 3 - POTRIPPER ($765740 in chips)
Seat 8 - CRAZYMARCO ($214260 in chips)
POTRIPPER - Ante $450
CRAZYMARCO - Ante $450
POTRIPPER - Posts small blind $2250
CRAZYMARCO - Posts big blind $4500
*** POCKET CARDS ***
Dealt to CRAZYMARCO [9h 2h]
POTRIPPER - Calls $2250
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
*** FLOP *** [4h Kd Kh]
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
POTRIPPER - Bets $9000
CRAZYMARCO - Calls $9000
*** TURN *** [4h Kd Kh] [7s]
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
POTRIPPER - Bets $13500
CRAZYMARCO - All-In(Raise) $200310 to $200310
POTRIPPER - Calls $186810
*** RIVER *** [4h Kd Kh 7s] [5s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
POTRIPPER - Shows [10c 9c] (One pair, kings)
CRAZYMARCO - Shows [9h 2h] (One pair, kings)
POTRIPPER Collects $428520 from main pot

When the scandal breaks

CrazyMarco felt there was something wrong, so he hasked for the Hand Histories (once again). And this is when something real strange happens.

Instead of lending him his own hand histories, Absolute Poker's support unwittingly sends a gigantic excel file. So gigantic it looks unreadable to CrazyMarco, who gives up for a while.

Then, later, CrazyMarco forwards the file to a few people, and this is when the cat went out of the bag.

Because that huge file weren't CrazyMarco's hand histories, but EVERY player's hand histories, with all the nicknames, email adresses, IPs of each player... and of each spectator.

And this is when things start to look really wrong to the community.

First, the IP and email adresse of Potripper can be traced back to AJ Green, aka Allen Grimard, operation director at Absolute Poker.

Second, there is a mysterious spectator. The logs shows that this spectator came to Potripper's table a few minutes after the beginning of the MTT, and that it is at this very moment that Potripper started to act so oddly.
The mysterious spectator will stay at Potripper's table until the end of the tournament. His IP and email adress were traced back to a man named Scott Tom... founder and director of Absolute Poker.

The community also discovers the account number of this mysterious spectator is particularly low... which is interesting because at Absolute Poker, account numbers are given "in order". That's to say that the account #200 was opened before the acount #300, which was opened before the account #2000 and so on... Scott Tom had the account number 363... this is one of the very first account ever created (users had account numbers of 6 to 7 units in 2007). This is when it becomes obvious that this account had special powers... a superuser account.

Absolute Poker denies any wrongdoing... then admits (partly)

First, Absolute Poker tried to deny the allegations, and uses the propaganda we're all used to : "we're not rigged, because rooms can't be rigged". According to AP, there was no such thing as a superuser account, it was technically impossible that such an account could exist, they were being honest, etc.

Then, Absolute Poker claims they're investigationg the case, then concludes that "no evidence was found, we didn't found anything which could let us think that there would be any superuser account". Move along! Nothing to see here!

But evidences amass, buzz starts to spread in the poker community, and finally, Absolute Poker is forced to admit at least part of the whole fraud, and to give back the money to the most obviously scammed players.

Absolute Poker never told that the directors knew everything about this fraud, and have done so for a while. They never told either how much money was scammed. But there is not a single doubt remaining about the whole story.

We even know that the scam went undiscovered for 3 to 4 years, wrongfully taking more than 7 Million dollars to legit players.

Poker was rigged ! Absolute Poker is Rigged !

What about Ultimate Bet ?

Later on, in early 2008, another very similar fraud scandal is busted on Ultimate Bet, another room owned by the same company as Absolute Poker. Coincidence ?

The rigging scheme was the same : players noticed weird behaviors and weird earnings from specific opponents in cash game, and started to investigate.

After the Absolute Poker fraud, players were getting touchy about superusers and Ultimate Bet, which apparently was not exactly led by the same people, decided to play into the hands of the community, and called for an audit from an independant company.

This audit led to the discovery of 18 superuser accounts, owned by Ultimate Bet employees or former employees. The superuser accounts were suspended, the money was given back to the right players, and according to Ultimate Bet, the superuser computer code isn't part of the UB software platform anymore.

According to UB. Yes, they apparently played ball in this story, but still, after such a fraud is discovered, one should always stay skeptical of the company's claims.

By the way, it is worth noting that UB and AP merged into one poker network entitled Cereus. Who knows whether it's the AP or the UB spirit which now directs the network?

Finally, we must underline how this huge scam at Ultimate Bet was even more enormous than for AP : in the UB case. For two years, UB scammed way too many players so proud of claiming "online poker can't be rigged, never ever, it can't happen". In total, they took 20 Millions dollars.

20 Millions dollars were stolen to naive people by a RIGGED online poker room.

Because rigging does happen, and that Ultimate Bet too was rigged !

Conclusion

What this double-scam scandal proves isn't that online poker necessarily is rigged, especially not as far as card draw is concerned, since both frauds implied superuser accounts, which has nothing to do with rigging of the decks.

However, it sure is all grist to people fearing poker rigging's mill.

Indeed, the whole "they'd never dare, they'd have too much to lose" claim is now proven wrong. They'd never dare? Yes they would, and they did so! And they massively did so.

It also proves people are ready to claim that "it's not rigged, it can't be rigged, the whole software platform makes it impossible to be rigged" in a very convincing way, even if it's pure lie.

So yes, this cases demonstrate that poker can be rigged, and yes, they demonstrate that some people and company dare doing so, because they have financial incentive to do so. It demonstrate that, to them, cheating is a profitable behavior.

It also proves that a rig can stay undiscovered for several years. And if it weren't for some whistleblower who sent the now famous excel file to CrazyMarco, the whole fraud may have never been busted. The fraud might even still have been running on until today.

In the end, two poker rooms stole 27 Millions dollars, they gave back only part of it, by willingly scamming people, by rigging poker.

So don't let people tell you it can't happen. Nor that anybody believing rigging happens necessarily is an idiot.

Random Room

Celeb Poker is a well-known Poker Room, although its level of riggism remains unknown. We have seen very little bad comments on this one room, but very little evidence of it being completely clear too, although the official sites does say that it's "fully licensed and regulated", but we'd still like to get some more information.

Whether...