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Thoughts on Online Cheating (and a Semi-Retraction)

First things first. A while ago, 60 Minutes ran its piece on the UB cheating scandal. I watched it a few days later on DVR, but I don't think I mentioned it here.

Todd Witteles actually made an offhand statement that has really stuck with me since that day. It was probably a throw-away statement during an hour or more of interviews, which I am sure were chopped up for the really good stuff, as per 60 Minutes' M.O. Whatever the case, the statement, paraphrased, was this: The cheaters in the UB scandal got caught because of greed. It was impossible for a player to win as consistently as the superuser given the superuser's style of play. That said, there very well could and probably are other superuser accounts used by players that are smarter or less greedy than the guy(s) caught in the scandal.

Sure, that was liberally paraphrased, but it really stuck with me. Witteles makes sense. Even if all of the superusers were uncovered and shut down after the scandal, who is to say that new cheaters won't have the foresight (and now, the knowledge from the UB scandal) to lose every once in a while, or hit a big score and get the fruck out of dodge.

I don't know all of the technology involved, but I do know human nature. In fact, I even defended ZeeJustin a long time ago before it was cool to do so, because I sincerely believe that most people would cheat if they knew they would not be caught. Now, I'm not getting into the ZeeJustin argument, but I just think that generally speaking, people are opportunistic. If a guy keeps flashing his cards, you might warn him once or twice, but if he keeps doing it, how do you not look. It's damn near impossible. Ever do a crossword or a magazine multiple choice quiz and accidentally see the answers on the bottom of the page? Even though you don't want to know the answers, as soon as they flash before you, its done. Your brain processes it. It's not exactly the same thing, because obviously ZeeJustin and the SuperUsers affirmatively acted to cheat, but the principles are the same: if someone has access to a cheat and he/she thinks they will not be caught or there are no consequences, he/she is very likely to take that opportunity to cheat.

Simply put, I fear that Witteles was right. There probably are other superuser accounts out there, either on UB/Absolute or some other site/network. Will that stop me from playing, though? Probably not. After all, they'd have to be pretty farging stupid to be cheating at my online bitch stakes. Besides, online poker isn't real poker to me anyway. It's just a place-filler for the real deal (AC in two days, beeches!).

On an unrelated note, I'd like to offer a semi-retraction to my previous post regarding what I perceived to be a terrible offer by PokerStars (advertise for Stars in exchange for an entry into a freeroll with too many players and too small prizes). I had believed at the time that the tourneys would have thousands of players, literally 5,000+ (if not 10,000+) by my estimates based on past years. In reality, it seems like most of the qualifier tournaments only had about 500+ players. I don't know about all of them, but the two I saw had in the 550 range. That's a BIG difference, and while I'd rather not point out my own errors, it would be disingenuous for me to give my opinion, ruffle some feathers in the process, and not man up to the fact that some of my estimates were wildly offbase. This is especially true since the big difference in player pools really does change my opinion about the event run by PokerStars. I'm still not sure if I would've accepted the offer and placed the links/banners to play because most of the qualifier tournaments were scheduled at times that would be impossible for me and most working stiffs in the US. But the value of the tournaments to an individual player is a lot higher than I initially estimated.

Finally, congrats to all of the poker bloggers who won prizes in the event. Anyone have a final tally of how our merry band of misfits did?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:57 PM,


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Easycure said...

I won a single Step 3 ticket in a prelim. and a Main Event entry (did not cash). I have since turned my Step 3 ticket into a Step 4 ticket and will play in a $215 buyin tournament this coming weekend...probably the Sunday Million. So I'm still alive.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger gadzooks64 said...

I picked up a Step 2 and 2 $215 tickets - plus an extra Step 2 that was awarded by mistake but they let me keep it anyway.

IMO, totally worthwhile to play in this. The fields were not huge and with 6 preliminary events and a restricted Final Event there were plenty of prizes to go around.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Check your facts. That wasn't Tom Dwan.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

"I'm sure it would be going on," ***Todd Witteles*** says. "The people who did this were very greedy and very blatant. But the scary thing is there may be other accounts out there like this, maybe even on other sites that are not being done with the same sort of recklessness. And maybe this has been going on, on more than just Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet. Maybe it's going on in several other places. And maybe it's even still going on in these sites."

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Thanks Champ. The change has been made. Sadly, after the stock market collapsed, I had to lay off my two best editors.

At 9:37 PM, Blogger CJ said...

1) I agree with you on his comment. It was absoultely correct and he shouldn't apologize for it.

2) The Stars setup was much better than it was in the past. I won two Step 3 tickets. I hope they do it like this in the future.


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