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Poker Article: Online Poker Legitimacy
The big news in the online poker industry this year was the discovery of illegal manipulation
of outcomes at a reputable online poker room. The manipulation was created by a disgruntled
former employee, who had created a high-privileged account on the site. This account, when
used, enabled him to "see" other players' hands in the poker rooms, and use this for an
unfair playing advantage.
Players at this poker site began suspecting foul play when this particular player consistently
won hands, even when other players in the room had exceptionally high hands. Suspecting players
had initially announced this on popular poker forum boards, and ultimately a complaint was
lodged to the poker site's management team, as well as the gaming commission, that governs the
Ultimately, the poker site admitted the foul play, and specified that a former disgruntled
employee had created a high-privileged administrative account (which was designed for software
testing purposes) was used which enabled him to see the hands of all the players in the poker
room that he participated in. The poker site investigators were able to audit hand histories
to discover the improprieties that were taking place. Once discovered, the online poker site
took quick action, to prohibit this activity from every being able to take place again.
Due to this well-publicized event, the online poker community has begun questioning the ethics
of online poker sites. How can it be guaranteed that events like this will never take place
again ? Moreover, are there are holes in their systems that would cause issues such as these ?
Can poker sites be trusted ? These are all valid questions, but fortunately, there are some
good reasons that the likelihood of this happening again is quite miniscule:
- Reputation of Sites at Stake - The most reputable and popular poker sites certainly run the strong
risk of losing their reputation (and their customer base), if events like these ever occur again.
It is not in the best interest of poker sites to have any problems at their site. For sites to
have a stigma of cheating associated with their site, will be an instant credibility issue, which
a site may not be able to recover from.
- Software design is important - A poker site's integrity is only as solid as its software design.
If they design faulty software, issues like this will become prevalent. The reputable poker sites
typically ensure that their software development is solid, and if they are leasing software for
gaming purposes, then they usually only use software from the most reputable software gaming
- Randomization - Reputable poker sites generate or lease software that makes use of a computer's
randomization functionality. Used in most programming languages today, randomization ensures that
cards will literally be drawn in a random fashion. Lottery systems and other games of chance,
also use this randomization function for their software.
- Industry watchers - Since this event occurred, there are many in the industry that are on the lookout
for shady poker behavior. If there are any doubts as to the integrity of game play, you can be rest
assured that these events will be well-publicized on the poker forum boards, and gaming commissions
will be alerted. Online poker players act as a watchdog to the industry.
- Regulation abound - Most of the reputable online poker sites are regulated by gaming commissions
from their jurisdiction. These gaming commissions provide stringent criteria for the site to remain
in business. These commissions regularly audit both the software and the accounting practices of
the poker sites, to ensure that they maintain credible and ethical business practices. Some of these
poker sites are also publicly traded companies (in their jurisdiction), and thus need to meet the
standards imposed on them by their local stock markets.
In short, it is safe to assume that reputable poker sites are on the up-and-up, since there are many
factors listed above that warrant their honesty and ethical success. There will always be opportunities
for rogue behavior on a site, but one can be rest assured that when discovered, it will be remedied
quickly. The key is to patronize reputable and credible sites, and avoid those sites that are less
well-known, and less regulated.
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