October 16, 2008

Under The Hole Card

An Australian poker player has uncovered a $US 10 million cheating scandal at two poker sites and triggered a $US75 million legal claim.

In two separate cases, Michael Josem found that certain player accounts won money at a rate too fast to be legitimate. His findings led to an internal investigation by the parent company that owns both sites. It found rogue employees had defrauded players over three years via a security hole that allowed the cheats to see other player's hole cards.
poker underNow the owners of the sites have filed a $US 75 million claim against the makers of the software that powers them, claiming they were unaware of the security holes when they purchased the sites in 2006.

Suspicions were raised late last year. Josem plotted the cheating accounts played every poker hand as if they knew every card that the other players had and folded hands at just the right time. In fact, the cheats won money at a rate that was 100 times faster than a good poker player could reasonably win. It's totally against poker odds, equal to winning a one-in-a-million lottery on consecutive occasions.

What we know so far is that, as a result of his detective work, Josem has been employed by the leading online poker site, PokerStars, to work on its security team.

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