I get a lot of emails and see a ton of allegations that the poker rooms must be cheating, especially from folks who are taking bad beats. So, are they cheating?
Let me try to answer this with a true story that recently took place in our poker club…
To maintain his privacy, we’ll just call our poker player Dale. Dale joined our Club in January, and it wasn’t long and we started seeing a bunch of forum posts about the bad beats he was taking.
He posted hand history information, proving his case. As usual, we took this seriously and analyzed the hands and provided our feedback as a mentoring team.
The very next week, Dale posts more bad beat stories. A few days later, Dale accuses Poker Stars of being rigged. He provided a bunch of “Bolagila” and made numerous accusations, but we could not find enough facts to really support his point of view.
We made a special effort to spend even more 1-1 time with Dale, as we felt bad for him and his continued losses. We urged Dale to take the time to study the instructional videos on SNG and MTT tourneys.
Then the accusations and bad beat posts subsided for a few weeks. Then all of a sudden, Dale reported doing well at Poker Stars, but he was now convinced that Full Tilt must be rigged, as he was once again taking an improbable number of bad beats there.
There must have been a collective sigh from all of us who were desperately trying to help Dale improve his poker game – I know I for one was growing weary of this…
But, instead of budding out into a full blown conspiracy, we avoided it, and tried to instead focus on poker strategy – something else we were all failing at.
Dale continued to blame SNG and MTT poker. He said Full Tilt, as well as Party Poker, was easiest to beat. Since it was his turn to act first, he could play a better game. He frequently increased his monetary stack by taking advantage of the rake.
One night, we got together and watched him play a $1/$2 game. While we all know how strong AA is, we realized that Dale was playing the opposite. He would bet the minimum and then raise; not as weak a play as we were used to seeing him do. We decided not to blame him, and to study his patterns.
During this period Dale continued to post bad beat stories. He mentioned the different Poker Stars bonuses that would allow him to get back the money he lost to other players. He also mentioned that sometimes his losses would be so extreme that he couldn’t play for almost a month. He made a few all-in plays, lost badly, and would try to rebuy in hopes of getting back to even.
Then the bad beat chain of events began. His limp in preparation for a flop, turned into a big raise and then a full house on the turn. He lost easy money with several people folding. This continued for several weeks.
Then, there was a big win. He got so excited after learning that he bet out rather than wait for a better spot. That’s when we first noticed the scratches and diagonal slashes on his pocket. Bad beats just got worse.
Soon enough, Dale put in a big pre-flop raise with pocket 5’s. The flop was 5-5-4. He needed a gin, so we all waited for the turn and then watched as he turned over Q-Q. When the river came up, it was just a a 10. He bet out with pocket Q’s again and lost another big bet.
After that, we started watching him more carefully. We noticed that he would still try to make plays at the pot, no matter what. Even when we were taking away hands, he would chase a draw. We also started to notice that he would limp in more if we were making a problem hand.
Finally, after forcing him to play a lot tighter with us, he turned on the fans. Turn after turn, he would lose big pots to people who had read our hand, and would go on tilt mode the rest of the night.
One of our friends decided to video record Dale for about an hour a night. We would record what we were saying at the poker table, and would post it online for others to see. We would also turn the raw video into a downloadable to apocalypse type video. Things like flash videos, but eventually it became just a bunch of jive.