02 March 2006

My Take on Poker Cheating

I wanted to point you to a supplier that I've been working with for about a year now, ChipsandGames. I remember when I looked for poker chips on eBay for the first time (now two years ago), and how difficult it was to have any confidence if the chips were any good. I found Mehdi and his team, I bought chips originally as a consumer, and I've now been working with them for about a year, using them to supply custom chips for client promotions, sending them as gifts, etc. You can always be sure that your order will be filled promptly and that the chips will be great. My chips at home are the three-stripe clay 14g version, but I keep sixteen samples on my desk to play with during calls or whatever. At checkout, Mehdi will give you 10% off any order if you use closet in the discount code box. They're sending me their new plastic DaVinci cards from Italy, and I'll let you know how they are.

Random Wednesday musings:

EDITED POST: Didn't mean to bash Felicia. I love it any time she comes to the site, and she does have a reputation regarding hold em vs. other forms of poker. I don't normally edit my own posts, but I don't want to offend Felicia. So sorry, Felicia. No offense intended. And your photo is very nice.

OK, that didn't mean to start out as a Felicia-bash, but just get over it (and Felicia, you look super great with your new do). Anyways, I've been killing time playing $0.25/0.50 Stud, and it's actually pretty fun and I would recommend it as a change of pace. I don't understand much of it for sure, keep typing "why do we keep getting so many cards" in the chat box (which seemed to tilt the 3s after I caught the nut flush and a boat on her), not sure about starting requirements (especially when you're 3-handed), not sure about when I should bet vs. bring-in, not sure about raising. Heck, I barely understand what wins (and I still don't know if I know what qualifies as the low), but I'm a big winner, up $5 every session I've played. If I played every day and won $5 each day, well, you do the math.

ADDENDUM: Just won $6.15 with quads twice and a boat playing stud. I think I'm in love!!

Jack Wild
died today, the star of H.R. Pufnstuf. This was the creepiest TV show ever made on Saturdays. Some sort of acid-trip-Puff-the-Magic-Dragon sort of deal, with a taking flute and the goofiest stuff. It creeps me out just to look at the above photo, so enjoy.

My two bits on the ZeeJustin and JJProdigy cheating diatribe (go google it to find all the links, or better yet Iggy has a great two-bits on it). I won't bore you with all the cheating/non-cheating stuff but hopefully add some new content and a new area to explore. What is the purpose of the casino/poker room? The house is in the business of profitable growth. This profit is equal to the revenue they generate minus the winnings of players and their expenses. In poker, this equation is slightly different, where their revenue is in the form of tourney fees and the rake. For the traditional bricks and mortar casino, the house edge of whatever game is being played is the vast majority of the revenue, and the % they win is fairly constant. Expenses can vary, depending on the casino's need to bring in players geographically (pulling from outside of their local area for customer acquisition), as well as stealing players/winning share once someone either lives closely or is visiting. The amount of time playing and the amount of money at stake also factors into all of this.

When does the house's edge change, that % of player bets to revenue retained? When cheating occurs. The MIT guys of Bring Down the House fame, written by Ben Mezrich, illustrates the red flags thrown up by statistical variance thrown into a casino's numbers, and how the casino springs into action to sniff it out and execute the guilty (literally in past days). The gaming industry has analytical and intelligence capabilities that rival El Al Airlines and the KGB in their prime. Heck, card counters and crews illustrated with the MIT guys (which was never even illegal, just found a way to beat the house for huge sums of cash and chips) are banned from casinos.

Which brings us back to our friends, the poker room and the online poker site. Can you imagine a casino in this world relying on friends tattling to management because their buddy won $100k at the craps table using loaded dice? That's ridiculous, but that seems like where the online poker community is today. Why did these two get outed? Because they were outed by others. No IBM Deep Blue analytics, no Chris Ferguson/Paul Phillips-designed collusion sniffing tools. The mere fact that they couldn't or didn't detect JJProdigy playing two accounts in a MTT from the same IP address sends a chill down the spine. I've been to the Gutshot room in London, where for the first time I saw ten PC's with players at them in the same room. Now these blokes were just playing their own game, but how many rooms are there around the world as we speak? How many crews are bankrolled and actively cranking along wherever?

Which brings us back to the casino vs. online poker site difference. Who does cheating hurt in the casino? The house. Who does cheating hurt in online poker? Other players. One could even argue that it does Party no good to be too diligent in their collusion discovery as this would normalize play and winnings more, lowering the number of winners and super winners, which would potentially cause a revenue decline.

Why do I play at the Bellagio when I can? One of the reasons is I trust them. I trust that they are going to sniff out crews and get rid of them. Now do they do this? I'm not sure, and I may be naive to think they do. But what would I do if I found out that crews worked the room, or I discovered it myself? Well, I could decide never to go back, or I could tell others. For online play, we don't really have that luxury unless someone steps forward with better capabilities and that value proposition. Party is the gorilla, and they are obviously inept. All the others seem to have a we-were-investigating-and-discovered-this sham strategy for hunting cheats, just jumping on the same guys who were discovered. And don't be mistaken, by the way: playing multiple accounts in the same tourney is cheating, pure and simple.

Two incredible hands from High Stakes Poker on GSN that I saw last night (TiVo). The first, Freddy Deeb min raises 600 (I think) with four callers (Deeb has QQ, Negreneau has A3o). Flop comes 245, everyone checks to Deeb, he fires 2500, everyone folds to Daniel, who raises up to 7500. Deeb sits there for no more than twenty seconds, then mucks the ladies face up and starts some speech about Daniel's size of bet. I cannot imagine how many times I could play that hand and not lose all my money, but I can tell you I would call that at least 100% of the time. Incredible. Then a painful sequence between Johnny Chan and an amateur restaurant owner from Chicago. Chan raises to 4000 with AA, the amateur says raise with AsJs (didn't know Chan had raised), there's confusion, he ends up min-raising another 4000, Eli Elizra calls the 8000 (98o), Chan re-raises to 20,000, this guy pushes immediately his last $140k, Elizra folds and Chan insta-calls. He stood there teetering in the background for four minutes, watching Chan stack the chips and put the packs of 100's aside. Note to self: if Chan re-raises me from early position, please fold.


Blogger Felicia :) said...

It's not snobbish to encourage other players to branch out and explore other games. It's called "trying to uplift and help fellow poker players."

When Howard Lederer wrote "Specialize at your own peril," no one accused him of being a snob. They thanked him for such great advice.

I'm no Howard, but obviously trying to help newish and/or fellow players has only done one thing for me: ostracized me from this community.

I can't win, so now I'm gone.

3:25 PM  
Blogger DOMIT said...

BTW, Felicia puts a lot of time and effort into her posts. Too much for people like you to offhandedly "bash" it.

Not to meantion that she's writing up a study; no bashing of Holdem involved!! If you're going to bash something, take the time to actually read it!

3:41 PM  
Blogger cc said...

felicia should know I love her to death--I don't read Lederer, just her! domit, felicia knows that I troll her site regularly, and as I can't comment on her site this is the only way I can get some grace from her presence. But flame away. I'm a big fan, so I don't think felicia needs anyone's help defending her.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Felicia :) said...

Thank you.

That's an old pic, btw.

5:43 PM  
Blogger April said...

When you get a chance, can you e-mail me about your chip supplier work? Thanks!

2:17 PM  

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