As online poker continues to captivate players around the world, one question that frequently arises is whether poker site employees have the ability to see the cards you’re dealt. With real money at stake and the potential for unfair advantage, it’s natural for players to have concerns about the integrity of online poker platforms. The advent of online poker has revolutionised the way people enjoy this beloved game. No longer constrained by physical locations and limited by the availability of opponents, players can now join virtual tables and compete against opponents from all corners of the globe.
However, this virtual landscape has also given rise to skepticism and speculation about the fairness of online poker games. One common worry among players is the possibility that employees or insiders at poker sites could gain access to their hole cards, which are the two private cards dealt to each player, and use this information to gain an unfair advantage. After all, with the ability to see hidden cards, one could easily manipulate the outcomes and potentially siphon winnings away from unsuspecting players with an advantage no one else has got.
Good Sites Won’t Allow It
While the concern around the idea of a poker site employee being able to see your cards might seem plausible at first glance, it’s important to understand the extensive security measures in place to prevent such misconduct. Reputable online poker sites are well aware of the potential risks and have implemented multiple layers of protection to safeguard the integrity of their games. The first line of defence lies in sophisticated encryption technology. When you connect to an online poker site, your connection is encrypted using advanced algorithms and technologies.
This makes it virtually impossible for unauthorised individuals to intercept and decipher the information being transmitted. This means that the cards you receive and the actions you take at the virtual table remain private and secure. On top of that, online poker platforms employ state-of-the-art Random Number Generators to shuffle and deal the cards. These RNGs are designed to generate truly random and unpredictable outcomes, replicating the fairness of physical card shuffling. This means that neither the site employees nor the players can predict the cards that will be dealt.
To reinforce transparency and trust, the trustworthy poker sites undergo regular audits and certifications from independent third-party organisations. These audits evaluate the site’s software, security protocols and fairness of the games. Any discrepancies or irregularities would be swiftly detected, making it highly unlikely for poker site employees to be able to manipulate the outcomes without detection. It’s worth noting that the reputation and credibility of online poker sites play a crucial role in ensuring fair play. Established and respected platforms have a vested interest in maintaining the trust of their player base and protecting their brand reputation.
The consequences of any unethical behaviour would be severe for the big sites, potentially leading to legal ramifications and irreparable damage to their business. While it’s natural to have concerns about the security and fairness of online poker, you can rest assured that reputable poker sites have implemented robust measures to protect the integrity of their games. By employing cutting-edge encryption, RNG technology, independent audits and stringent security protocols, these platforms strive to provide players with a safe and enjoyable online poker experience.
It Has Happened in the Past
Part of the reason why there is a degree of fear about poker site employees being able to see your cards is that it is something that has happened in the past. In 2007, a leading online poker site confirmed that it had been hacked by a card cheat. The guilty party had used as security flaw in order to gain an edge in the high-stakes No Limit Texas Hold’em games played on the site, meaning that the perpetrator was able to see the hold cards of the other players in the game, which was an advantage that will have been insurmountable to those that didn’t have it.
It was believed that the the cheat managed to pick up somewhere between $400,000 and $700,000 in ill gotten gains, having been employed by Absolute Poker. A spokesperson for the company said that the person had hacked the system in order to ‘show that it could be done’. A spokesperson said, “This is literally a geek trying to prove to senior management that they were wrong and he took it too far.” The company, which was based in Costa Rica, had to refund all of the lost money to the players concerned in order to stop itself from never getting any players.
Absolute Poker, which was owned by member of the Canadian Kahnawake Mohawk tribe, said, “We acknowledge a significant internal security breach whereby a resource who was infinitely knowledgeable about the system was able to get into the accounts in question. He played on those accounts and he saw hole cards. We have closed that security breach and we have identified a very serious issue internally as far as communications flow and we’re resolving that.” Initially, however, the company had denied any wrongdoing when accusations emerged on an online forum.
One user asked for a hand history from Absolute Poker, which was then used to re-create the tournament and post that re-creation to YouTube. It was at that moment that the scepticism of other players melted away, give that the hand history featured the hole cards of all of the players rather than just the one that requested it, which would normally be what happened. Two independent experts looked at the tournament and came away convinced that the mystery player, known as ‘Potripper’, could see the other players’ cards, which is why it all came out eventually.
To give a sense of how clear it was that he was cheating, one expert said, “It would be easier to buy a 6/49 lottery ticket in six different states, and hit the jackpot all six times.” Players traced the IP address of one of the players and discovered that one of the players was based in Costa Rica, using an account that had been developed internally for beta testing. An email address was also traced and found to belong to Scott Tom, who was either an Absolute Poker employee at the time or had been in the past, causing the company to eventually admit that there had been a cheat involved, even if it wasn’t Scott Tom himself.
Interestingly, another company also owned by the same company and licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, UltimateBet, had a similar cheating controversy that took place between 2005 and 2007. It involved the use of software that transferred the hole card information of other players to the perpetrators, with UltimateBet saying that it had removed the software that allowed the cheating by February of 2008, with refunds issued to those affected by what had taken place. It is unlike they are the only two sites to have such a thing happen at some point.
It Isn’t Worth a Site’s Time to Allow Cheaters
When it comes to online poker sites, the way that they work is that the site itself takes a percentage of the rake from winning players. That means that they are going to walk away with a net win no matter who it is that wins the games or tournaments that are taking place. The more players there are playing, the higher the pots are likely to be and therefore the larger the rate that the poker site is able to take home at the end. With this in mind, it is not worth the while of reputable sites to allow cheating to take place, which is why you can be relatively confident that it doesn’t.
To put it another way, if it emerged that someone had been able to see the hole cards of all of the other players in a game, most users would simply refuse to play poker on that site in the future. This would result in a huge loss in revenue and the site most likely closing down in the long-term, which is what happened with both Absolute Poker and UltimateBet in the wake of the cheating scandals that affected those two companies. As a result, it is much more in the interest of a poker site to ensure that its games are as safe as possible than to allow a select group of people to cheat.
Nowadays, Protection Is Too Good
Whilst you should obviously never say never, the good news for those of you hoping to take part in some online poker play is that the technology is too good nowadays for anyone to get away with cheating for too long. If a poker site’s IT security is good then it will quickly notice unusual data requests being made during games. It doesn’t even need to be amazing security for that to be the case, just decent enough. With such protection in place, the chance of anyone being able to employ any sort of program that would give them access to your hole cards is slight.
Whilst it would be possible for the devs on smaller poker apps to theoretically be able to see your hole cards, the obvious question to ask is why they would want to. Of course they would be hoping that they’d be able to win hands, but in order to win enough to make it worth their while it would become immediately suspicious, just as it did during the Absolute Poker game that resulted in players investigating what had gone one. It simply isn’t worth the risk of being found out and losing customers to the point that a site or app would be shut down for anyone to do it.
Losers Always Think the Cards Are Rigged
When it comes to playing poker, it is important to acknowledge that the losing players will always be suspicious that the cards were rigged against them. This is true of people who play in real card rooms from London to Las Vegas, but it goes up a notch when the games are being played online. Without being able to literally see the cards in front of you, it is hardly surprising that someone might be suspicious that there is something dodgy going on if one player is winning all of the time at your expense. This might be because the cards are rigged, but it also might not.
The joy of poker and the reason why so many people love it as a game is that you can win even when you have the worst cards of all of the other players. The nature of bluffing combined with the ability to read people means that someone could be dealt 2-7 off suite but pretend that they’ve got top pair. They win because the other players buy the bluff, not because they’ve been able to see anyone else’s cards. Of course, that is much easier to do when you’re looking into the whites of someone’s eyes and the money that you’re betting with is physical chips in front of you.
Online it sometimes doesn’t feel like real money to some people, who therefore are less likely to be bothered if they lose it. They will call out a bluffer a lot of the time, but that isn’t because they’ve been able to take a look at their hole cards. The problem is that the history of online poker involving some cheats using flaws in security to see the cards of other players then feeds right into the notion of it being more than just sour grapes when someone loses. In this day and age, the chance of being cheated out of your winnings is extremely slim, though obviously you should never say never.