Posts Tagged ‘Allegedly’

BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

 BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

Online blackjack has been around for just about as long as online poker has and while plenty of people have been skeptical of the poker random number generators (RNGs), many more have been skeptical of RNGs used in blackjack. Online operators compete against the players, so even though the odds are in the house’s favor, there is certainly motive to cheat. And when the cards are virtual, one can never been 100 percent certain – even with all the technical verifications and certifications in the world – that there is no way anything fishy is going on.

As a way to ease this trust issue and to make online casinos have more of a “real life” feel, some sites started up “live dealer” games, which are exactly what they sound like: real human dealers are dealing real cards to players over the internet. Players still click buttons to indicate their hit/stand decisions, but the dealers on the screen really put the cards out. It’s not something I’ve ever played, but it’s a decent idea that has gained in popularity in recent years.

Even though live dealer games are partially meant to engender trust, one recent game has shown that even live dealers and/or the online casinos may try to screw customers out of their money. On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who calls himself a “blackjack professional,” live streamed a 75-minute session of him playing in the live dealer blackjack games of BetOnline.com. This past weekend, he posted a portion of that video that shows what looks to be the dealer cheating.

Morgenstern did not notice the problem while he was playing; it was pointed out by a viewer in the comments of the YouTube video.

In the hand, Morgenstern made the unusual decision to split Twos against the dealer’s King, something that players rarely do. This seems to be because Morgenstern was counting cards, which he indicates once the hand is over by referencing the “negative” count of the deck. He likely split the Twos because he felt the deck was in his favor.

Morgenstern busted the first of the split hands with a 25 and was then dealt a Nine on the other Two, so he doubled-down. He received a Six on his next and final card, giving him a 17 on the second hand of the split. The dealer then dealt himself an Eight, giving him an 18, beating Morgenstern (normally, the dealer would deal himself both cards when the players are dealt their two initial cards, but apparently on BetOnline, he only deals himself one card and saves the other for after all the players have acted).

What was discovered by the viewer, though, was that when Morgenstern was dealt the Six, the dealer pushed the top card of the shoe up and took the second card to give to Morgenstern. Clearly, the proper procedure was to deal Morgenstern the top card from the deck, not the second card.

It is entirely possible that it was a mistake, but it seems unlikely, as sliding the top card out of the way to grab the second card is not a natural thing to do. It is also obvious that the dealer makes a sort of double finger-flicking motion before sliding the top card out of the way. Internet sleuths believe that he is not just randomly flicking his fingers, but rather rubbing his finger on the card in an effort to feel some sort of marking that indicates the value of the card. The idea here is that the markings indicate that the card is an Eight, which would’ve given Morgenstern a very good 19. The dealer didn’t know what the second card would be, but he allegedly took the chance that it was worse for Morgenstern than the Eight and then the dealer would get the Eight and beat Morgenstern.

Of course, that the dealer cheated is pure speculation right now, but the video is pretty damning. A further question is: did the dealer do this on his own or did someone off camera direct him to do so? If we may further speculate, what seems to make the most sense is that someone at BetOnline told him to do that, unless there was some internal incentive for a dealer to produce losing sessions for players.

The original video for Morgenstern’s session is below. The hand in which the alleged cheating occurred begins at about the 13:30 mark. Warning: there is a lot of foul language in the video.

And here is the edited video that specifically points out the cheating. There is no audio in this one.

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PokerStars Allegedly Requests Real-Life Video to Prove Legitimate Play

 PokerStars Allegedly Requests Real Life Video to Prove Legitimate Play

In what appears to be an effort to enforce its new, stricter third party software policy, PokerStars has allegedly sent an e-mail to select high stakes cash game players requesting a video recording of their play. A portion of the e-mail was posted on Two Plus Two by moderator “TooCuriousso1” in a thread for high stakes cash game regulars; it includes a laundry list of detailed requests for video evidence of legitimate online poker play and a ten day window in which to comply.

The relevant portion of the e-mail, posted by TooCuriousso, but sent to friends of his, is as follows:

However, we require a video recording of you playing. This recording has a few mandatory requirements:

– At the beginning of the recording, we must be able to clearly see your face in order to confirm your identity
– Before starting to play, you must rotate your camera 360 degrees to show us all of your surroundings
– You must start your playing session from an empty computer desktop, whereby you initiate the PokerStars client and log into your account
– After logging in, you must play a regular session of yours
– Your playing session at the tables must be for a minimum of 70 active minutes
– During your play at the tables, the recording must be of sufficient quality to see and track the activities that are taking place on your desktop. In addition, the recording must capture your surrounding environment including your monitor, keyboard, mouse and the movement of your hands
– Audio must be included in the recording
– You must minimise the amount of individual video files. Longer, continual recordings are preferred
– You have 10 days to complete this task

It is important that your playing session is conducted in the same manner as one of your typical sessions as your tendencies will be contrasted with your regular play.

You must supply the resulting recording to us via email. In the likely event the files exceed attachment limits, please utilise file sharing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or whichever service you prefer. We’ll largely leave this option up to you.

Failure to follow these instructions or if the video is of sub-par quality, will result in this task needing to be repeated.

While how out-of-bounds these requests are is really up to each individual, the e-mail does come off on initial read as eyebrow-raising. It is not all that unusual for online poker rooms to be able to monitor what software a person has running on their computer, as that is one way to try to detect illegal third-party software, but asking someone to provide video of their real-life surroundings is odd.

As mentioned, this looks like an effort to enforce the new third party software restrictions put in place this past fall. On Two Plus Two, PokerStars Sit & Go and Tournament Manager Baard Dahl listed out the following changes to the poker site’s policies:

1. Reference material, such as starting hand charts, now have to be “basic in nature”. Anything considered to be sophisticated in nature can no longer be used whilst the client is open.

2. HUDs are no longer permitted to display non-numerical data, categorize players or dynamically display statistics specific to a certain situation.

3. Hand or Situation Analyzers, such as programs that compute equities of various ranges of hands against one another, can no longer be used whilst the client is open.

4. Game State Reporters can no longer automatically or semi-automatically retrieve information from an otherwise permitted reference material. For example, tools can no longer notify an end-user that their starting hand lies in Group 1 of a statically defined grouping of hands.

5. Table Selection and Seating Scripts can no longer time a player’s registration into a global waiting list. They must register players into specific tables or tournaments.

If the e-mail to high stakes players is real, it will be interesting to see how many, if any, players comply with the requests.

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