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So you want to play online poker?

By odano in Culture
Sat May 07, 2005 at 01:53:30 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

In the last 2 years, online poker has exploded to a multi-million dollar industry with tens of thousands of players on at all times, day or night.  According to PokerPulse, a site which keeps track of the number of users on most major poker sites, the largest online cardroom had a peak of in excess of 40,000 real money players in the last 24 hours

Well I've got a little secret for you.  Half of them are idiots.

Now that i've got your attention, lets get into some specifics.  The ratio of winning to losing players online is around 4:6, with the 40% being a somewhat constant population of winners, and the 60% a revolving door of gamblers, drunken college students and other poor players hopelessly trying to come out ahead.

If you can get yourself into the 40%, you will find a new world where there are thousands of people just waiting to sit at a table with you and give away their money.  But here is where the infomercial ends.  Poker is a game of knowledge and skill, where in order to beat your opponents you need to learn tricks they dont know, study the game more than them and then make the right decisions while you are playing.

This particular article is going to focus on the most popular poker game at the moment, Texas Hold'Em, and more specificy Limit Texas Hold'em, the most popular cash game online poker rooms and b&m poker rooms.  First you need to learn the basic rules and poker hand rankings.

Now you know the rules, but you still have no idea what you are doing.  Luckily Limit Texas Hold'em is a game where at any moment you only have 3 possible actions, so even if you were guessing at random, you would still make the right one 33% of the time.  But obviously we aren't going to settle for random choice when we have all sorts of information at our disposal to help make the choice.  Although Texas Hold'em and all poker games are games of imperfect information, we will use what we have.  In Texas Hold'em there are always 2 cards dealt to you (called "hole cards"), if we choose to play these cards, we can see the community cards and of course the other player's betting patterns.

The first (and most important for a beginning player) decision is what two cards should I play?    By looking at this expected value chart for hands pre-flop, you can see if any particular hand is positive expected value (+EV), which means that by playing this hand there is some sort of positive expected return or profit, or negative expected value (-EV), which means that by playing this particular hand you are losing money.  However due to the incredible variance of a single hand, or even a hundred hands, it is very possible for bad starting cards to win and good ones to lose, which is why these expected value statistics were calculated over hundreds of thousands of hands at real money tables.

Now that i've enticed you with enough information to get started, the rest you are going to have to learn on your own.  Pre-flop play is often almost robotics, so it is easy to convey here what the optimal strategy is, but play after the flop is where money is made or lost.  This is where you need to learn the situations where you want to be getting your money in the middle, and situations where you are better off mucking (folding) your cards.  Since you are a beginner, I will tell you a few things you need to learn in order to learn how to learn to develop a poker strategy.

The first skill you need to develop is how to read your hand and the possible hands that can be created from the board.  You should know at all times exactly what you hold, know exactly how many cards will help you and how many will hurt you. This poker beginner site has a good section on reading the board and many other topics.  After you have mastered this concept, your next lesson is in pot odds.  Pot odds is a way to turn Texas Hold'em into a math problem.  By calculating how likely one of your "outs" (a certain card or group of cards that if they come out on the board, you believe you will have the winning hand), and then comparing that to how much money you have to put into the pot to see the next card, you can figure out whether a particular play is +EV or -EV.

Im not going into more detail because I dont need to reinvent the wheel.  There are hundreds of sites out there that will teach you basic poker strategy and pot odds.  If you are interested in learning more, just google poker strategy and you will find them.

One reason for this article is that the skills that are involved in computer science and engineering are the same ones that are involved in poker.  It is no surprise that many of the world's best poker players either have a computer science background or only left the field to play poker.

If you are interested in learning more, here are some links which may help you:

Two plus Two - They not only publish the best poker books, but they have a the best poker forum online and a great free online magazine

CardPlayer magazine - Has good articles and a helpful forum

Low Limit Hold'em - A nice guide for low limit hold'em (probably the best online)


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What is your favorite hand?
o High card 31%
o One Pair 0%
o Two Pair 3%
o Three of a kind 3%
o Straight 3%
o Flush 3%
o Full House 24%
o Four of a kind 6%
o Straight Flush 24%

Votes: 29
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o PokerPulse
o basic rules
o poker hand rankings
o expected value
o This poker beginner site
o pot odds
o google poker strategy
o best
o poker
o players
o Two plus Two
o CardPlayer magazine
o Low Limit Hold'em
o Also by odano

Display: Sort:
So you want to play online poker? | 100 comments (69 topical, 31 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1: Don't tap the glass. (1.33 / 3) (#4)
by fluxrad on Thu May 05, 2005 at 12:57:27 PM EST


"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
you'd have to be a fool to play online poker (2.20 / 5) (#7)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 05, 2005 at 02:42:00 PM EST

even if you are absolute genius at the game

one word: bots

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

i'm not so sure (none / 0) (#11)
by lostincali on Thu May 05, 2005 at 06:21:40 PM EST

Wouldn't it be really hard to write a program that was actually good at playing poker?

It seems much easier for the non-programmer just to learn poker than to try and program a poker playing bot

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

half bot/ half human then: cheats (none / 1) (#26)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 05, 2005 at 09:57:43 PM EST

the point is, there are large segments of the game where number crunching power can give you an enormous edge

at the very least, in odds analysis that humans are not as good at

this allows the human to focus on what they do best: bluffing, psychology

cheats that relieve the human for other things to concentrate on is an issue: the casual player cannot compete with a serious easy online gambling cash harvesting operation

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

It is not a concern (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by odano on Thu May 05, 2005 at 08:18:52 PM EST

First of all, your main problem with a bot is getting it to run with the program.  The more advanced poker rooms have software which track a few things.

1) They can take screenshots of your computer at any time
2) They track not only the timing of clicks, but how the mouse actually clicks
3) They scan for known illegal software during runtime to detect it

Now, assuming you even have a good bot programmed, getting past these hurdles is not easy.  And the software updates around once a week (using the PartyPoker network as my exampe), so every time it does you have to update your software and get past whatever new measures they have installed.

And frankly, I am skilled enough where I can analyze a hand much better than any computer can.  Calculating the numbers is the easy part, any idiot or computer can do that, but knowing the inherent strategy and poker theory behind certain moves makes me a better player than even the most advanced poker bot around at this moment.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

you're forgetting one thing: incentive (none / 1) (#25)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 05, 2005 at 09:51:53 PM EST

it is exactly because of the popularity of online poker and the idiots there, as you have noted, that makes a cost/ benefit analysis, including all of the daunting hurdles you point out, still worth the effort involved

i mean just look at horse gambling in hong kong and the kind of boutique analysis and betting firms that coalesce around that, you wouldn't believe the ends that some of those guys go

likewise, you will have CalTech and MIT PhD level countersurveillance and programming going on given the attractiveness of the profit potential

you'd be amazed

you may be saying it isn't easy money for the bot programmers, but it's still a very good return on investment: people work a lot harder for a lot less money in this world, so therefore, bot programming is still very attractive

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Even if I agreed with you (none / 0) (#31)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:12:00 AM EST

Even if I believed that there were a huge number of bots online, it wouldn't bother me too much.  While the bots may be winning money from the bad players, the bots are losing money to me, because I not only am going to be better at categorizing my opponents and adapting to different styles than the bot will.

Poker is a type of game where the math is the same for everybody.  A bot can figure out the math, an idiot with a calculator can figure out the math.  The real skill and win (or loss) rate is determined by your strategy and how well you read your opponents, which I guarnatee any human player can do better than a bot if they study the game.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

dude, you're smoking some serious smack (1.50 / 2) (#40)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:10:39 AM EST

reading an opponent is rather limited online

and if you can describe a strategy, you can program for it

and like i said, if the money is there, the incentive is huge

what would you, oh mr. "my intuition beats your programming skills and deep investor pockets and guru consultants" do against a table where the bots are connected?

where, for example, 2 or 3 players at a table are actually bots operating in tandem... what kind of psychological tricks against your intuition can they employ?

or, forget bots for a moment, what about 2 or 3 good players working together at a table, sharing their info? what kind of gambits could they set up? can you see that coming and beat that oh mr. intuition expert?

the more you think about it, the more you realize how fucking wack online poker is

so i'll tell you what: mail me a check for $2,000, and consider it the same thing as playing online poker... how does that sound? ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

one remark (none / 0) (#54)
by WetherMan on Fri May 06, 2005 at 09:19:54 AM EST

reading an opponent is rather limited online

Ask a regular player how much information he gets from a player's face vs how much he gets from his playing style.  Most information is gleaned from a players habits with the cards, which does translate onto online play.

Otherwise I agree with some of your points about cheating.
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
[ Parent ]

poker bots (none / 0) (#83)
by haardvark on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:16:30 AM EST

if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

forget vexbot, the bot below works quite well at a couple of commercial sites and it's free


[ Parent ]
I'm going to (none / 1) (#10)
by starsky on Thu May 05, 2005 at 06:18:38 PM EST

give away my idiocy here, but are there any online poker sites that play the kind of poker I play? 5 cards, round of betting, change 0-5 cards, another round of betting? Thanks :).

I believe one does (none / 1) (#18)
by odano on Thu May 05, 2005 at 08:14:01 PM EST

But that game, 5 card draw, is almost never played anymore.
You may want to look into other games like Hold'Em or 7 card stud, not because they are inherently any better of a poker game, but since they are so much more popular it is much easier to find a game (and being proficient in one of these games is more profitable than in 5 card draw).

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]
Wussy poker games (none / 1) (#58)
by sholden on Fri May 06, 2005 at 10:32:56 AM EST

5 card stud. Now that's poker.

None of this make the best hand out of seven cards crap. Or this I don't like this card take it back and give me another one drawing crap.

And you can see all the cards bar one card per player... So having a really good hand is in fact crap because even though you have a full house everyone can see two pair or trips of it anyway and hence folds...

Then again you actually get straight flushes in hold'em on occassion...

The world's dullest web page

[ Parent ]
About the nay-saying (3.00 / 5) (#20)
by localroger on Thu May 05, 2005 at 08:18:59 PM EST

While I don't gamble online (or elsewhere now for quite awhile), my original spark of k5.fame involved gambling, and this piece rings very true to me.

My card-counting friend X tried a stint at poker and found in RL pretty much what odano reports here. His version was that, at any table, you can make money as long as you aren't the "donator." People who play a lot of RL poker are pretty much a small insular group who know each other by sight, and X found that too often he was the donator.

Do not worry about armies of poker shark bots. Blackjack has been solved for more than twenty years, but poker is still considered hard by game theorists. Your biggest threat even online is the vast pattern-recognition capability of your human opponents.

Although you can provide yourself some mechanical helpers, such as automated probability guides, much of poker play can't be automated without judging what other people will do. If you are consistent your style can be made and you will lose, even at the PC where you have the perfect glass "poker face." You must vary your style while gauging the styles of the other players. It is not probability theory but spotting exploitable patterns in your opponents' play that will get you the big edge. If you always bluff or never bluff your style will quickly be made; you win when nobody can tell whether you're bluffing.

Online poker is the one form of online gambling I would be tempted to try, if I was any good at poker. There is little reason for the online casino to electronically cheat you and much opportunity for them to be caught if they try. It's like the tournaments I used to play in; since you're playing against other players, not the house, they have no incentive to rig the game. They get their rake no matter who wins. By contrast, they could easily rack up the house edge at a game like Blackjack or Roulette as high as they want and nobody would be the wiser.

The nature of poker would even make it pretty hard to rig with shill players working for the house. By the time your rigging bot could tell what cards to magically produce, very often they'd already be dealt to some human player.

I have also been told by big wheel RL players that online poker has changed the face of their sport. Last year the World Championship was won not by someone who played poker since their wee years, but by a guy who learned to play online. Online you can get a great deal of play in in a short time, racking up the kind of experience that takes a lifetime of pick-up and casino games. Then when you enter the room full of sharks you have an advantage; most of them are known by at least some of the others, and you may have even seen some of them play on TV; but to them you are a total mystery until they've played against you for awhile.

It's not for everybody; you have to be comfortable with probability math and calm. (The #1 exploitable predictable style of bad play is being too eager to play bad hands. The hardest thing to learn is to let go when you are dealt lemons.) But the author is right, there is a steady trickle of cash waiting to be tapped for someone who is willing to put up the effort and learn the game.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

well, duh (none / 1) (#43)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:31:47 AM EST

if i were an idiot savant i would play online poker too

there are not many true rainmans out there

but there ARE a lot of average men with big egos

and therein lies the source of the appeal of gambling since time immortal: ego over logic

you have to be gifted and hardworking, but you can make cash at gambling

but that observation applies to a vanishingly miniscule segment of society

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

You do not have to be "rain man" (none / 1) (#51)
by localroger on Fri May 06, 2005 at 08:14:20 AM EST

...either to play poker well or to count cards. It's more like riding a bicycle in both cases, a matter of practice. Card counting is more mechanical and can be learned quicker, but poker will remain exploitable over a much longer haul.

I do agree there are easier ways to make a buck, which is why I don't hang out in casinos any more.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Dur. (2.00 / 2) (#79)
by Harvey Anderson on Sun May 08, 2005 at 05:52:01 PM EST

I am not disposed to take advice on poker or heed dork platitudes like 'vast pattern-recognition capability of your human opponents' from a guy who has suggested a flat-file text search for K5.

c'mon, c'mon, love me for the money.
c'mon, c'mon, listen to the money talk.

[ Parent ]

Only fools play poker online. (2.33 / 6) (#24)
by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Thu May 05, 2005 at 09:30:41 PM EST

It has been proven by scientists repeatedly, again and again, that seemingly ordinary people, for example those you might find on the Internet, can influence sources of randomness (so-called) to produce significant fluctuations and departures from chance expectation. People like Warren Buffet, for example, whose brain-stuff is tuned to pluck topical and impressionistic information (thoughts, so-called) from the "probability" realm.

By analogy, Einstein was tuned to receive the music of the spheres, Mozart just music, and so on. Just as your brain has opiate receptors, the "system," hive mind or what have you, has... people. If poker isn't your special purpose in the system, you better have more money than you can afford to lose. I mean, you don't see white blood cells acting like they're big shoot neurons, do you?

Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.

dude (none / 0) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:27:35 AM EST

you watched the matrix movies too much

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
no i'm alone a lot (none / 1) (#44)
by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:41:47 AM EST


Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.
[ Parent ]

you're not alone (none / 0) (#45)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:47:17 AM EST

look over your shoulder in 3...2...1...

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
They cheat. Don't play fool. (2.50 / 6) (#30)
by StephenThompson on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:09:12 AM EST

Online or offline, cheating at Texas holdem is trivial. And it doesn't even take the house to be in on it. Consider, all it takes for two players to increase their winnings is for one to drop out when his confederate has a better hand. This allows the cheaters to halve their losses. Communicating who's hand is better is extrememly simple and undetectable. Trusting strangers to play straight is foolhardy.

This is a common myth (none / 1) (#32)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:18:31 AM EST

And here is why.  The online cheating detection mechanisms are very complicated, and with the added benefit of peer-suspicion.  If I believe anybody im playing with is cheating (which is possible to detect if you know the patterns), then I will go to the help section and report them.  I've played tens of thousands of hands, sat at thousands of different tables, and I have only seen 1 or 2 times where I was suspicious of other players.

PartyPoker and other top poker rooms (PokerStars, UltimateBet, Prima network, etc) have entire teams of people that go around and check for cheating.  They will pull up hand histories and look for the signs.  If they believe somebody is cheating but aren't sure, they will associate accounts, which means that both players can play normally, but they are banned from sitting at the same tables.

Basically it comes down to whether or not you have confidence in the poker room to detect the cheater.  A good thing to remember is that if a player is good enough to cheat without being detected, they are also good enough to realize that they could win the same amount just playing themselves without any risk of getting caught.  Which option do they think they would pick?

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

They'd pick cheat (none / 1) (#34)
by StephenThompson on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:44:34 AM EST

Detecting cheating is essentially impossible. They couldn't gather enough statistics to determine who was cheating in a single session. And since they are cheaters, there is no way to track them from game to game because they lie about their identities.

[ Parent ]
You're wrong. (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by fluxrad on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:05:58 PM EST

Detecting cheating is essentially impossible.

No it's not. It's answering questions like "Ok, this guy was reported to us. Why did he fold top pair top kicker when XxH4x0rxX bet into him on a 65J three-suited board?"

In poker at any level it is truly profitable to cheat, there is basically a right way and a wrong way to play a hand. I'll grant you, the difference between a call being a losing proposition and a raise being a winning proposition can sometimes be razor thin, but if you truly know what you're doing you can pretty much spot collusion.

Also, don't believe the crap that these other guys are throwing around about cheating being profitable for places like Party, Paradise, or Ultimate Bet. These companies make money from one simple thing...the rake.

The more people that play, the more they rake. If a place is full of cheaters, the legitimate customers will stay away. That means less rake, which translates to lower profits. Just because they're run off-shore doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing.

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
random combination of people? (none / 0) (#80)
by bcrowell on Sun May 08, 2005 at 07:26:42 PM EST

When you join a game, is the combination of people random? If there's a large number of people signed on at any given time, and each game is a randomly chosen set of them, then it seems like cheating by collusion would be impossible.

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

Online Poker is a Sham (2.62 / 8) (#37)
by pHatidic on Fri May 06, 2005 at 02:35:58 AM EST

I did research into it for my business a few weeks ago. I was trying to find out a simple question: If I put 100 bucks into the pot and lose it to other players, on average how much would I be losing to other players playing fairly and how much would be lost to other players who were engaging in collusion, cheating, and other fraud. For example credit card fraud is 27 cents per 100 dollars of transactions, what is the rate of fraud per 100 dollars in poker. A very simple question.

I called up Party Poker, the largest poker site, which is based in gibraltar so that they don't have to follow any laws. They wouldn't tell me. So I called up the company that regulates online gaming, IG Council, and they didn't know. So I called up River City Group, the largest industry magazine and research group, and they had no idea. I also called up ECOGRA, the european group, and they had no idea either.

Basically, every time a player cheats the casino makes money, so not only do they not discourage fraud but in some cases they actively encourage it. Many casinos have been known to use bots on their own tables.

The random number generator is about the only thing that is checked, but it is trivial to collude over the phone is thurler said or to put a sniffer right outside the casinos servers so that you can spy on all their traffic.

At party poker, if someone reports you for cheating, then their team in india checks the hands by hand. If they notice anything suspicious, then they bump it up to the guys in gibraltar (i doubt there are any, but they say there are). Even if you are caught cheating, there is nothing they can do to you. If they ban your IP, you just unplug your computer and plug it back in. Big deal. But they know this, so they don't even bother. In all my research I was unable to find evidence that they have actually banned even one single person from party poker in any legally enforcable way.

In short, only a complete idiot would play on party poker or any other gambling site. For some reason the same people who say that computers can't be used for voting have no problem throwing their money away online. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Nothing they can do? (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 03:07:53 AM EST

When you sign up, in order to make any deposit or withdrawl you must give them all your personal information, including your full name and address.  When you actually go to deposit or withdraw, they keep a record of which bank account and names are associated with these accounts.

If you get get cheating, they can permanently ban not only your IP, but your name, your address, your associated bank accounts, etc.

And if you think they have nothing to gain by stopping cheating, think about this.  If the public thinks that poker is overrun by cheaters, then they wont play on the site.  You are a perfect example of this.  Because you believe people are cheating, you wouldn't consider playing.  Think about how much business they would gain if they had a better reputation?  A lot.  Which is why they do care about cheating, and they do take care of it.  There was a popular commercial poker bot that existed, they banned it and all people who used it.  They added in special software to detect it and banned that.  If you dont think they do anything, just ask the hundreds of people who used this software and now cant create an account anymore at the site.

Remember, they see all the cards and all the tables.  They know how likely it is for two people to be sitting at the same table over the course of a month.  If perhaps a certian group of people find themselves at the same table 5x more often then normal, it will raise some red flags.  When you actually think about it, detecting cheating online is simple.  Sure you cant prevent a couple people from telling their cards to each other over the phone, but it isn't like this really gives them such an unfair advantage at the table that everybody should be worried.  There are really few situations in which it would really matter.

And believe me, when PartyPoker's parent company goes public on the london stock exchange, they will open up and people will truly see how much they are interested in keeping a fair playing field for everybody.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

Wrong (1.25 / 4) (#62)
by pHatidic on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:26:05 PM EST

Which is why they do care about cheating, and they do take care of it.

That's the biggest load of shit I've ever heard in my entire life. They don't even know what the rate of cheating is, so how could they possibly know if it's going up or down?! Anyone who has spent even an hour or two investigating how these sites work knows that nothing or virtually nothing is being done. If five people make accounts and all sit at the same high rolling table, they could easily take 100 grand to split among themselves in a single night. That wouldn't raise any flags at all as long as they didn't do it again. And even if they did get caught, it still isn't even a crime because these companies are based in Gibraltar.

[ Parent ]

wrong? (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by JussiK on Sat May 07, 2005 at 06:40:53 PM EST

You keep saying that they don't know what the rate of cheating is. Do you have any real proof of that (other than the fact that they wouldn't tell you)? You say that it's easy to see nothing is being done about cheating -- care to elaborate?

I don't know much about the laws of Gibraltar (except that it's based on English law), but I doubt that cheating in gambling is legal even there. Do you have any references for that?

I think Odano made a pretty good argument and your response lacks evidence to support the otherwise healthy sceptism...

[ Parent ]

Exactly (1.50 / 2) (#39)
by shinnin on Fri May 06, 2005 at 04:55:40 AM EST

Thanks for the analysis, but WTF would anyone in their right mind assume online poker is not a sham in the first place? Only if they're the kind of gullible twit who'd buy expensive Hi-Fi equipment from a guy driving an unmarked white van, I'd say.

Cheap Pharmacy ba

[ Parent ]

Bollocks. (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by mindstrm on Tue May 10, 2005 at 04:11:20 PM EST

Party Poker doens't have to follow any laws? Last time I checked, Gibraltar had a metric ton of laws, well enforced ones, and they take their gambling very seriously.  Gibraltar isn't some backwoods 3rd world country.. it's a 1st world UK Protectorate.

Just because you asked for some fact about their company doens't mean they are required to tell you.

You need to define what you mean by "Fraud" with regards to online poker. How would this cost be calculated?  I've seen fraud costs calculated for many aspects of online gambling, but haven't yet seen a cost for online poker.  (probably because the fraud % in online poker is not fraud agains the house, so doens't need to be tracked).  Have you tried calling a vegas casino and asking them for the fraud percentage at their poker tables?

Next: Party Poker most definately has people in Gibraltar, their HQ isn't some shell company, it's a real office in a nice building, with real employees.

Next: Legally enforceable way? You don't need "legally enforceable". When it comes to operating in multiple jurisdictions, "legally enforceable" is meaningless.   you simply ban the player,  and don't accept deposits from them anymore.  The number of people engaging in collusion is relatively small compared to the total number of players.

These companies DO have large fraud departments, I can assure you that online poker companies, especially the big ones, take collusion detection VERY seriously. If your tables aren't fair, you will lose your customers.

They don't need to cheat to make money.. online poker is highly profitable.. and the house isn't gambling, not at all.  The focus, like any good business, is to get more customers, not to steal from the ones we already have.

You are saying that there has never been a verifiable case of a player being booted out.. can you cite one verifiable case of fraud where someone was allowed to continue playing? If not, this is all just speculation.

[ Parent ]

do you work for party poker or something? (1.50 / 10) (#41)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:24:25 AM EST

i'm looking at your replies to the obvious examples of how stupid online gambling is and i'm beginning to wonder

jesus christ, how much do you get for your astroturfing efforts mr. public relations intern?

online gambling is fucking retarded, really

but don't worry about it, there are a lot of retards in the world, so you and your online gambling bosses will be rolling in billions for a long time stealing from the morons with your idiocy tax

a fool and his cash are easily parted

maybe you're not a public relations intern, maybe you actually are one of those retards

either way, don't come here to kuro5hin and expect that you can post this bullshit rationalizing the fucking stupidity of online gambling, and expect that no one here with a semblence of an iq will reply to your bullshit and call it what it is

sorry to tell you, but there will always be a certain segment of intelligent people who realize gambling for what it is, an exercise in ego over logic, and realize online gambling for what it is, an exercise in ego and low iq over logic

these intellgient people will do one of 2 things:

  1. avoid online gambling
  2. employ gangs and code to steal your money from you in online gambling
so have a nice day, retard and/or pr intern

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Eh? (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:50:46 AM EST

I am advocating people try out a new hobby, one that is especially suited to people with backgrounds in engineering and other fields that are big in logic.

I am replying to all these messages because I am trying to stop the myths from overcoming the truth.

So lets look at this logically, shall we...

A) This isn't online gambling.  You aren't pissing away money at a slot machine.  You are sitting down at a poker table with a known set of rules where your decisions and strategy are what determines how much money you win or lose.  Sure there is a ton of variance in the short term, but in the long term the win (or loss) rate is all based on skill.

B) I did not mention any poker rooms because I am not trying to get people to sign up and play by reading this.  Learn the rules of the game, maybe read some articles about it.  If it interests you, I am telling you that there is a large group of people worse than you playing the game right now.  If you dont want to play it, then just dont even look at it.

C) I know more about the poker rooms than you do.  I have played at every high quality poker room on the net.  I have seen the quality of play, and I can attest to the fact that if there is any cheating going on, it isn't a big deal, because I have never really run into it.  I make a good deal of money playing online poker, because I know a lot more about the game than most of the people online.  I study the game, I read articles, I learn new tricks.  And the best part is the more I learn, the more money I make.  It is a fun hobby to have, and I am glad that I play.  I was sharing this with the people at this community who perhaps would be interested.  Just because you are not, doesn't mean anything you say matters at all.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

more astroturfing (1.33 / 3) (#47)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 06:24:59 AM EST

talk about the folly of online gambling, and you come back with a ready list of glowing testaments to the wonders and joys and purity of online gambling

it's like you are a goddamn missionary for a religion or something

do you want to know the ultimate test to whether or not you are a fuck with an agenda or not?

if you really were some innocent come telling us about all the free money out there you wouldn't be posting here on kuro5hin, YOU WOULD BE GAMBLING RIGHT NOW, ROLLING IN DOUGH, AND WE WOULD NEVER HEAR ABOUT YOU

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Its a hobby (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 07:19:41 AM EST

Sure I enjoy playing, but not all the time.  Although I make around $15/hour while playing right now, I can make a lot more than that doing other things.

For example, if I were playing right now I would miss out on the joy of getting flamed by you.  And since you can't buy that kind of flaming, my only choice is to write articles that anger you and strap in for the ride.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

$15/hr? (none / 1) (#52)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 08:20:02 AM EST

dude, with the skills you need to make $15/hr at online poker, you could have a job making at least twice that, and, as an added bonus, you might actually build something you are proud of, rather than just leaching off of retarded people online

much as i am doing now

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

now we are on the same page (none / 0) (#53)
by odano on Fri May 06, 2005 at 08:49:19 AM EST

Now we are thinking on the same page.  Just because you learn a new skill doesn't mean you need to go crazy with it.  Just like I play golf and basketball from time to time, I play poker from time to time.  I am not a professional nor does it affect any part of my social life.  I just spend the time I used to be sitting down watching TV and play poker instead.

And I agree with you about building something I am proud of.  I do not idolize professional poker players the same way I do not idolize professional sports players, because they are just playing games and not "building" anything to use your term.

However, you gotta pay the bills.  And playing poker while surfing the net is a hell of a lot easier than getting off my ass and getting a shit college student job at starbucks.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]

yeah, but at starbucks you are making coffee (none / 1) (#67)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 06, 2005 at 05:46:58 PM EST

what exactly are you contributing to society with gambling?


gambling is for losers

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

grande latte societal contribution (none / 1) (#70)
by phip on Sat May 07, 2005 at 03:17:21 PM EST

Only losers don't contribute to to society. Now start paying your dues or.. or else!

[ Parent ]
Coffee? (none / 0) (#71)
by omrib on Sat May 07, 2005 at 05:18:55 PM EST

Isn't coffee a bad addiction?

Or maybe it's good in moderation (just like being addicted to checking every word in the dictionary is bad, but checking every once in a while is fun and rewarding)?

What are you contributing to society with coffee? Ripping off poor coffee farmers? Raising the blood pressure of the population?

[ Parent ]

you have a good point, however (none / 0) (#73)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 07, 2005 at 07:23:08 PM EST

take my point more abstractly: making something with your hands versus just being a leech

doesn't that seem more rewarding to you?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I totally agree (none / 0) (#75)
by omrib on Sun May 08, 2005 at 11:12:42 AM EST

I would rather get paid by people who appreciate what I do than just take money from someone without any return.

I'm sure people who play poker feel rewarded for their efforts (reading books and articles, playing thousands of hours, etc.), and of course nothing good comes out of poker for the human race.

My point was that there are much worse "honest" jobs than playing poker online. Making coffee is definitely not the worst. For example, giving someone a loan and getting twice as much in interest requires less preparation than poker and causes more damage to society.

I don't play poker online (or offline), but there are far worse things in this world.

[ Parent ]

You call that crap "coffee"? (n/t) (none / 1) (#78)
by smithmc on Sun May 08, 2005 at 04:42:43 PM EST

[ Parent ]
a new hobby? (none / 0) (#59)
by thekubrix on Fri May 06, 2005 at 11:41:10 AM EST


Two things,.....

Gambling is addicting and UNHEALTHY

The internet is addicting and UNHEALTHY

[ Parent ]

Ha... (none / 0) (#85)
by khaustic on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:14:42 AM EST

"...a semblence of an iq..."

[ Parent ]
Why (2.40 / 5) (#48)
by A Bore on Fri May 06, 2005 at 07:14:43 AM EST

Why won't someone create a simple program, maybe a firefox plugin that'll do all the annoying card counting, playing, betting and such things automatically? Why must I sit at my computer trying to outwit people, when I could have a sidebar doing it for me?

automatic poker player (none / 0) (#84)
by haardvark on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:18:54 AM EST

poker robot does exactly that


[ Parent ]
Onl-1ne poker. (1.00 / 4) (#50)
by Mylakovich on Fri May 06, 2005 at 08:03:50 AM EST

For those whining about Bots Bots Bots (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by WetherMan on Fri May 06, 2005 at 09:36:01 AM EST

I just thought I'd share the best and brightest out of the public ones, you can even go play against it if that's your bag.


Name's VexBot, and it'll probably kick your ass in heads up.
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs

Ah, I see my next target. [n/t] (none / 0) (#61)
by Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles on Fri May 06, 2005 at 12:22:46 PM EST

[ Parent ]
40/60? Are you KIDDING me? (3.00 / 4) (#63)
by urdine on Fri May 06, 2005 at 01:51:12 PM EST

I got about this far in the article - where did that number come from?  Lucky guess?

I think the numbers are far worse than that for "winners," especially over the long term.  The key is the rake, what the online casinos take out of every pot.  You not only have to be better than other players, consistently, but better enough to make up the cost of playing.

As someone who lived in Vegas for a short while, playing poker to make money, the problem is not that people don't know how to play correctly.  Very quickly, poker players have gotten very book smart about odds and pot value, etc.  The issue is that poker has two sides - logical and emotional.  It's the emotional side that people mess up on, getting tired of losing and going on tilt, staying up late and losing focus, etc. etc.  The one thing I learned, if you want to grind it out, it's a frigging horrible job that doesn't pay very well and is in no way exciting or glamorous.  And you have to fight tooth and nail for $7 pots, and you SHOULD play to get under people's skin, since that's how you make the MOST MONEY the QUICKEST.  Even in online poker.

So you want to enlarge your penis... (1.33 / 3) (#76)
by anothertom on Sun May 08, 2005 at 12:03:34 PM EST


Online Casinos considered High Risk (none / 0) (#77)
by hughk on Sun May 08, 2005 at 12:12:44 PM EST

At the bank where I'm currently working, online gambling is considered a Sanctioned activity. Many other banks have similar policies.

This relates to the disputes, the money laundering and other criminal activities realting to the gaming. Normal casinos have a location and they are linked usually to other parts of an entertainment complex which are fully legitimate such as hotels. They are therefore considered to be ok.

What this means is that you have little oversight of an electronic casino, and the banks definitely recognise this. One of the important hints I find missing is how you can be sure that the online 'casino' that hosts the games is being well run.

Yeah umm.. (none / 0) (#88)
by mindstrm on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:41:11 AM EST

The majority of large, established online gambling companies are not involved in organized crime, money laundering, and often have more stringent fruad and money laundering protections than even US banks. Many have offered to prove this to US authorities and banks. They aren't interested.

Many online gambling offices DO have normal locations, they have corporate officers, and offices, and individuals who can be easily located and communicated with.

You can decide if the site is being well run by looking at what other's say.. some of the largest sites out there are publicly traded, audited entities, and have hundreds of thousands of active players who will vouch for them. Enron was a sure thing, right?

A great deal of the nonsense spread about online gambling is just that.. nonsense.

a) Cheating. Yes. Okay. An online casino could could be cheating. absolutely.. but you don't retain customers and grow a successfull online gaming business by cheating your customers. This is a highly competitive industry.. it's very easy for your customers to take their business elsewhere.  Any large operation that's been around for a while is likely not cheating. A small one that nobody has heard of and has only existed for a month is obviously more  of a risk.

[ Parent ]

Two Plus Two SUCKS HARD (none / 0) (#81)
by ok on Sun May 08, 2005 at 08:30:04 PM EST

Stay away from those forums.  It's mostly Moneymaker wannabes in their late teens and early twenties who think that they are pros because they just finished grinding 8 hours with a $12 hourly rate.  No one talks about their bad runs.

Good poker players play poker; bad poker players write books about playing poker.

You want GOOD poker talk?  Go to rec.gambling.poker and get better.  Yeah, you'll have to deal with Usenet spam, but even Usenet spam is better for your poker game than reading spew from a bunch of wannabe kids.

Cheating, rigging, and other conspiracy theories.. (none / 0) (#82)
by ok on Sun May 08, 2005 at 08:35:23 PM EST

1) Poker sites have no need to rig their software.  They make zillions per day from the rake.

2) Worry about cheating (collusion) only at the highest stakes.  The best poker sites have it in their best interests to detect collusion -- a terrifically EASY task -- and prevent cheating.  

Look, if you want to play some low stakes poker and have fun, don't worry about it.  No one's cheating at 3/6 limit or $50 one-table tournaments.

Collusion (none / 0) (#87)
by mindstrm on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:30:56 AM EST

Not that easy to detect collusion; modern collusion systems can be quite good.  

Also, collusion does not hurt the poker room directly.. it is the perception of collusion that hurts them... people won't play if they think others at the table are cheating. Collusion that goes unnoticed by other players isn't a problem.

[ Parent ]

Colluders are greedy: the small stakes are safe (none / 0) (#89)
by ok on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:37:38 AM EST

Not that easy to detect collusion; modern collusion systems can be quite good.

Agreed.  I just don't think it's something to worry about at the lower stakes games to which most readers here will be drawn.

Also, collusion does not hurt the poker room directly.. it is the perception of collusion that hurts them...

Did I give too much credit to K5 readers by not pointing out this obvious fact?  I guess it's not something a non-poker player would conclude immediately...

[ Parent ]

The thing about poker (none / 0) (#86)
by Razitshakra on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:28:20 AM EST

The thing about poker is that most everyone think that they are good at it. Even when in fact they are not. This makes sure that poker games, online and otherwise, are supplied with losers. However, this is not only a bad thing for the mistakenly confident.

Personally I avoid skill based gambling such as poker and horse racing and play Lotto and slot machines instead. If I had thought better of my skills, I might have lost money at poker tables, but that might be an acceptable price to pay for better self-esteem.

Lets ride / You and I / In the midnight ambulance
- The Northern Territories

Is it possible to be "good" at poker? (none / 0) (#92)
by HollyHopDrive on Wed May 11, 2005 at 05:29:46 AM EST

It's almost entirely luck rather than skill, like most gambling games. Yes, you have to be able to bluff well, and at times when the stakes are high you'll need nerves of steel, but it's still more luck than anything else. That's the point - that the results are unpredictable.

I make too much sense to be on the Internet.
[ Parent ]

Answer: Yes (none / 0) (#95)
by ok on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:16:02 PM EST

It's almost entirely luck rather than skill

Please defend this assertion.

Here's a hint: how could people play professionally if it were "almost entirely luck?"

Here's another hint: casino games are created so that the player never has an edge.  Roulette for example: if you pick the right number, you are paid 35 to 1.  The odds against hitting your number are 37 to 1.  So if you play "infinity" times, you are guaranteed to lose money.

Poker players do NOT play against the house.

[ Parent ]

Because it depends so much on your hand (none / 0) (#98)
by HollyHopDrive on Mon May 16, 2005 at 11:39:05 AM EST

It doesn't take a genius to work out what cards you should lose to try to get the best hand possible (for example, if you're playing a five-card hand, and you have two pairs, get rid of the odd man out and pray for a full house. But what can you do if the cards don't do what you want?).

Like blackjack, there are a few ground rules on what to do to maximise probabilities (eg, in blackjack, stick on 19), but apart from that, not a lot apart from luck. That's why it's a typical gambling game.

I make too much sense to be on the Internet.
[ Parent ]

Wow. (none / 1) (#91)
by skyknight on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:07:24 PM EST

Luckily Limit Texas Hold'em is a game where at any moment you only have 3 possible actions, so even if you were guessing at random, you would still make the right one 33% of the time.

I stopped reading at that point. Why, exactly, should I tolerate someone lecturing me on poker when they don't even know the difference between uniform and non-uniform probability distributions?

Based on this one sentence I am willing to conjecture that you don't have anything worthwhile to tell me.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Wow. (none / 0) (#97)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Thu May 12, 2005 at 01:14:49 PM EST

I'm afraid you've got it wrong.

The "right" move is the one with the highest chance of winning.

There are three choices.

Chance of choosing the "right" move is 33%.

Nothing else affects these basic facts - there is a one in three chance of randomly choosing the right course of action.

[ Parent ]

HA! (none / 0) (#93)
by C Montgomery Burns on Wed May 11, 2005 at 05:01:45 PM EST

So I click on the link for this article, and what do I see in the google ads along the right side of the article?

"Cheat at online poker".

Intelligent design

Under "These pills enlarge your wang?" (none / 0) (#96)
by ok on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:28:58 PM EST

A sucker's born every minute...

[ Parent ]
Blatant Promotion (none / 0) (#99)
by dannomatic on Mon May 16, 2005 at 09:50:17 PM EST

This is very obviously a blatant nod towards shameless self promotion of user poker sites. Not exactly the most clever method for doing this, although I would venture a guess that it has been somewhat successful.

Allow me to venture that the inbound links for The best Online Poker Resource only point to resources that the poster of this story has some sort of affiliation with.

There are numerous other more informative or educational issues in the world of onling gaming and poker specifically since poker is all the rage at the moment.

Question for the poster of the story:
Are you affiliated beyond interest sake?

Has the traffic to your site increased because of the posting?

If so, then by how much?

Just curious :)

Get's you to thinking about the editorial integrity of Kuro5hin....

I work in the world of Online Poker - My job is cooler than yours.

No dice (none / 0) (#100)
by odano on Fri May 20, 2005 at 04:50:47 PM EST

It is classic thinking in the poker world, but this is just informational. I am not trying to make money from this story, I am trying to pass on information that I've gained by playing poker. If you want to see what poker site I am affiliated with, check my paid ad.

Stockton Computer Repair | Biggest US Cities
[ Parent ]
So you want to play online poker? | 100 comments (69 topical, 31 editorial, 0 hidden)
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