Tuesday, February 28, 2006


For anyone who’s been part of the online gaming scene, the cheating that’s been recently uncovered shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  There are some interesting parallels to the cheating that occurs in first-person-shooter (FPS) games such as Counter-Strike.

Take a look at the wikipedia article “Cheating in Counter-Strike” and you’ll see some similarities to the current state of affairs in online poker.

Hacked executables, bots, and client/server trustworthiness are all covered.  One thing to note is that while the cheating was very commonplace, there was little to no money involved as an incentive.  Add the huge sums of money involved in online poker to the picture and you can see how the cheats suddenly become very motivated to succeed.

Whenever you have a game architecture with a remote client communicating over the Internet with a remote server, you’re going to have issues with respect to cheating.  It’s unavoidable.  The best you can hope for is that the companies in charge of the game in question do their best to protect the honest clients.

I don’t have any inside information on any of these companies, but I still choose to play solely at Pokerstars and FullTilt Poker.  While I have no ironclad guarantees, I feel that both sites care enough about the player’s experience to devote significant resources to combat cheating.  If this issue gains momentum, cheat prevention will become a significant differentiator in determining which sites survive and which sites don’t.

I’m sure I don’t have anything to worry about at the stakes I play, but I’d like to think that as I eventually move up in limits, I’ll be greeted by better players, not by better cheaters.

No comments: