Posts Tagged ‘cheating at poker’

Why you can’t win big at slot machines/blackjack, and finally poker

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Ok, I figured I should write this article to help a lot of other people save a lot of money, and do better things with their time. But I’ll tell you why you really can’t win gambling, then why you can’t win playing poker (consistently, unless you are a robot), and my conclusions on how you can really ‘win’.

Slot Machines

Slots, no matter what anyone says, are fixed. People feel that when the machines are ‘warm’ you can win and when they are ‘cold’ you should avoid them. But what they are really saying, is this. If the guys watching the cameras see a lot of people walking around but not playing slots, they’ll flip a switch and let people win to get other people to start playing. If people are already spending tons of cash despite no pay-outs, there is no point in starting to let them win, because they are already playing (the ‘goal’ of a casino). A casino is a business, it’s not there to be your friend. It also depends on the number of people playing slots. How many times do you hear of someone winning big with only a few people around? Slots (especially nowadays) are a computer game. Except its a game that is controlled by someone else.

BlackJack

Blackjack — again, the odds are stacked in the casino’s favour. As many casino owners/dealers/etc say to those visiting Las Vegas in the US, ‘Who do you think built/paid for this city and these big hotels and these big casinos’? It’s the people that lose money. It’s virtually impossible to consistently win at blackjack, unless you ‘count cards’, which of course casinos have deemed ‘illegal’. (Duh, if they paid out money all the time they’d go out of business). To further discourage card counting, they reshuffle decks every hand, play with six decks, lower the blackjack payout (6:5 instead of 3:2). If you played with a consistent strategy (as opposed to card counting, say such as always doubling down on face cards, always splitting on pairs, and standing on 17 or higher), you’d get about a 2% return. In otherwords, you’d have to play 24 hours straight of blackjack to get a 2% return. So if you only bet $1,000 in an evening, you’d be ‘winning’ if you walked out with $20. Which means you’d be getting paid $0.83/hour. Hmm, seems a bit less than minimum wage. And depending where you live (i.e., the US), you might even be taxed on your ‘huge’ winnings, so you’d still walk out a loser.

Poker — the game with a chance?

So then came along poker. A game that perhaps you could win, or so you’d think. The house (casino) didn’t (necessarily) have a vested interested in who won, as long as someone was playing poker. When you play poker, you play either with session fees, or the casino takes a rake (a percentage of the winnings) every hand. They are more or less providing a service for a fee, the service of you playing in the casino with a bunch of security guards to try to prevent cheating. If it is a session fee, it means that you pay by the hour to play poker (i.e., maybe $50). If it is a rake, the casino usually takes between 5-15% of every hand, up to a certain maximum. (I.e., they might take a maximum of $5/hand). To put things in perspective, there are usually 10 players, and usually between 50-100 hands are played per hour. So in other words, for ‘standard’ poker games (i.e., $5/$10 limit poker, and $1/$2 no-limit poker), the casino will get paid anywhere from $250-$300/hour. So they don’t care who wins, as long as other people are playing, because they get paid no matter what. (Obviously at the higher tables, the casino gets a higher percentage. At $100/$200 games, they obviously could make about $3000/hour).

So anyways, cool. Here is a game that is ‘fair’, and a game that is not stacked in the casinos favor. Here is a game that you have a chance winning at. Here is a game that you can get rich quick at. Because, of course, it’s a game of odds, isn’t it? Well, if you can play like a computer (totally emotionless and 100% clear-headed odds calculation), then you would probably win all the time (or rather — win all the time against people who aren’t emotionless and 100% clear headed). But that’s not how it works.

(C) Copyright 2008
verycoolwriting.com

A few things:

  • Greed affects your game – It is really really really really hard to walk away from the table while you are winning. Especially if you need the money. You start counting your money, what you can do with all this excess cash. You are excited. You feel as if you are untouchable. The money is just flowing your way. You are so confident, someone raises you but then you decide to try raising them on a crappy hand like 8 3 unsuited.  Then the flop comes up A 8 3 — and you laugh at how stupid your opponent is because you just hit two pair. Your opponent raises you, you reraise, he goes all-in — you call without thinking things through — then you realize he had a set of aces (AAA) against your two pair — and you just lost a big pile of your stack. Now you are annoyed, and angry. You just lost money you spent two hours ‘earning’. And then — you start playing with scared money — you are afraid of losing your remaining stack — so you change your style of play. You don’t make calls that you feel you should make. Instead, you fold your high cards like QJ because you only want to play premium hands, when in fact you just got bluffed out. Then that leads into…
  • Emotions – Playing poker is a roller coaster of emotions. If you start “losing” money (even if you are actually ahead with what you sat down at the table with) — you start feeling really bad. You were already planning that nice dinner you were going to buy, that new car you were going to lease, that new suit you were going to wear — but then you lose (part of) the money you were playing with. When you start “losing” — you start getting anxious, and you want to make the right calls. If you “lose” some again, you forget it is a game — and then you start beating yourself up — how stupid you are for making such a call, etc. Then you are afraid to bet when you should — and someone gets a huge pot (lot of money) — and you kick yourself because you know it should have been “your” money. And then you start playing hands you shouldn’t play — because you want to get back what you lost. And before you know it, you are behind, and you have to pull out your wallet to get another wad of cash. And you rebuy — and you lose that money in 10 minutes instead of the two hours you’ve been playing, because now you are on tilt — and you can’t believe what a stupid call you made. If you are lucky enough to get up from the table and walk away, you start berating yourself for how stupid you were for losing the money, wasting several hours of your life, having nothing to show for it — and how you could have had that new suit, that new car, been able to leave your job, get a sexy girlfriend — but now instead you have to work twice as hard to make back the money you just lost in such a short period of time.
  • The table changes players – Finally, if you are still playing at the table — you figure you’ve got everyone figured out. Who bluffs on crap, who only plays quality hands. And then you get some ‘idiot’ who starts calling on everything, but then magically gets the cards he needs to beat your premium hands. You raise big on AA, he calls, flop comes up A 10 2. You are laughing because you just hit a set. You don’t see a possible straight, but figure there’s no chance he would have called you on that. You raise big, he calls. Next card is a King. You push, he calls. Final card is a Jack. You raise, he goes all-in and you look at the board. You are kicking yourself — he didn’t call all the way to the river on a queen, did he? The board is A 10 2 K J. You call. He shows a hand of Q2 — utter crap. And you just lost your second big wad of cash. Now you are steaming. You want to shake him — yell at him — ask him what the heck he was doing calling on a big raise pre flop on Q2, and WHY oh WHY did he call on your next big raise on a pair of TWOS — when there were two big overcards on the board — an ace and a 10. And then you can only sit, shake your head, and walk away. You vow never to play poker again, only to find yourself at the table two hours later.

And so it goes. The cycle repeats itself. You spend 10 hours a day trying to make money, when in fact you lose more than you make. You don’t eat. You don’t sleep. You sit at the table playing poker. You get lightheaded, you go for a walk, and you are back at the table.

Thing is, you have to remember — 90% of the guys at the table all have the same brilliant idea as you. They are going to get rich quick with no work. They are going to outsmart/outwit/outbluff you, and walk away a champion. One day, they might have a big kill, but the next day spend or lose it all — and walk away with nothing. And they kick themselves for the two days of their life that they lost, with nothing to show for it.

Playing online is even worse. You don’t need to get out of your house to drive to a casino. You don’t see the wads of cash. You simply pull out a credit card, make a deposit, and start playing. Meanwhile your health suffers.

Some guys may, on average, win consistently. But it’s not “big” money. I knew a guy that was 27 years old (or so he said he was, he could have lied, as he told me — he was a “poker player” therefore couldn’t really believe what he said), had gray hair and had to hide it with a baseball cap. A woman lost her car, her house, her family — before she eventually made it ‘big’ (winning back the money she lost, and then about $100,000) — in five years. But was it worth it? Was it worth the stress, the anguish, the grief, the loss and suffering to ‘make it big’?

Online gambling is worse. You start working, then all of the sudden you get this feeling that I want to whip out your credit card, and just make a quick small deposit, and start playing poker. Because maybe this time you’ll make it big. Maybe this time you’ll “clean up good”. That’s an addiction.

So I decided to write this article, and help educate you why you really shouldn’t play poker. Why you shouldn’t gamble.

Spend the money on yourself that you’d spend on poker. You’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it.

Why you shouldn’t gamble – how people cheat at online and offline poker

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

article (C) 2008 verycoolwriting.com

Online poker over the last five years has become exceptionally popular, more specifically something known as Texas Hold-em poker. I actually really got sucked into it, thinking I could start making $10,000/day after reading about students making millions of dollars. Instead of making that much in a day, I ended up spending months playing, only to find out I ended up paying for someone else’s really nice vacation from the money I had lost.

Part of the reason poker in general became so popular was because there was a hockey/sports strike a few years ago, so the t.v. stations filled the dead air-time with poker games. Almost overnight the casinos filled up with new poker players wanting to get rich quick. Then came on-line poker where you could play and win from the anonymity and comfort of your own home. However, it is extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, to win at online or offline poker unless you cheat, or are a robot, and I’ll explain why. Hopefully this will help you never start playing, or if you do – play it for fun. There are 3 elements to this article – offline cheating, online cheating, and why, just being human, you’ll almost always lose.

Cheating On-line

It is exceptionally easy to cheat on-line, and here is how people do it:

  • IM Chats/Phone/E-Mail/etc – Friends will sit at the same table, and chat/share information about their hands. So if are trying to bluff say having a King, and two other players know they each have kings, they aren’t scared, and will get your money. Many poker sites can detect ‘simple’ cheating – but only after it has happened a few times. Secondly, there are more sophisticated methods virtually undetectable.
  • Group Cheating – This is a much more effective way of cheating. Essentially a software program co-ordinates groups of 50 or more players playing at tables, which tables they should play at, when they should leave, etc – to thwart detection software at poker tables. The software then co-ordinates hands between players, letting each other know when they should bet, when they should fold, thus maximizing their profits and minimizing losses. For example, if three players are cheating together, and each has an ace, and on the board comes another ace – and then you try to ‘bluff’ having an ace, each of the players will know that you are faking it and then try to milk you for as much money as possible. When this type of software is randomized, it makes it virtually impossible for poker sites to detect it, because it would become too mathematically time-consuming to process. Most poker sites can only detect simple cheating (i.e., groups of identical players always playing together). As soon as they start mixing and matching with larger numbers of players, it becomes virtually impossible. To further confuse the poker sites, the software will occasionally allow players to ‘lose’ – so it doesn’t seem like any particular player is on a constant winning streak, but just has rather good luck
  • Software Helpers (i.e., “Odds Calculators”) – Surprisingly, many poker sites actually allow players to use software which is called an ‘Odds calculator’, which gives an unfair advantage over players simply using their brains (an example, not an endorsement, is ‘Texas Calculatem’ at calculatem.com). Basic version of this type of software simply shows the likelihood of winning a particular hand (i.e., % of you beating other players based solely on your cards, i.e., with flush draws, straights, full houses, etc). However, more sophisticated software – which many poker sites allow (such as partypoker.com) – constantly monitors what hands other players play – and records what cards they have when it goes down to a ‘showdown’. (I.e., when each player say goes all-in and shows each other their cards). This software then can determine ‘playing’ patterns. So as a basic example, if the software notices that you only go all-in when you have a flush draw (i.e., you have nothing right now, but are trying to force other players out so you can win the pot) – then the software will advise someone who say only has a pair of 2’s to go all-in, because they will probably beat you. And you lose money, instead of being able to scare other players out. I was actually playing a hand against someone – and stunned, I asked him why he didn’t fold to my all-in bet. He actually told me in the chat that the software he was using actually told me I was probably bluffing, and that he would probably win the hand with a single pair. I was very angry, obviously.
  • Poker Bots – Many sites actually disallow Pokerbots, but because the source code is available for some of them (i.e., http://www.codingthewheel.com/archives/how-i-built-a-working-poker-bot), and the fact that there are just so many different ways of fooling the poker sites, it is very difficult to stop them. (Actually, I was surprised how easy it was for me to find the above link, I simply went into google and did a search for ‘win poker bot’. A more ‘well-know’ poker bot is the WinHoldEm poker bot). Methods of figuring out cards use everything from something called ‘screen scraping’ (and analyzing pixels on cards), to reverse-engineering poker software to figure out what calls they are making, etc, etc. The only somewhat feasible way nowadays would be to have poker sites literally implementing a CAPTCHA every single hand. (In other words, before you made a bet on a hand, you’d have to enter a secret code). But even captchas are easier and easier to defeat nowadays. Bottom line, only if you use one of the most common poker bots like WinHoldem, will a poker site be able to detect it. But if you design your own poker bot, or use a lesser-known one – then you’ll be able to go ride your bike while the poker bot is raking in cash for you.

Cheating Off-line

Cheating in the casino is just as easy, but is done differently.

  • Group Cheating – This is a different form of group cheating, but still group cheating. Usually more ‘experienced’ players will go in at least a group of 2 or 3 players per table, and will have an agreed upon set of rules before they start playing. This is everything from physical signaling (i.e., scratching your head, talking about the weather in different states to hint at what cards you have, i.e., talking about Arkansas might mean that you have an ‘AA’), to subtler signaling. (I.e., betting three times the blind always means you have a pocket pair, or if you re-raise your buddy by say 3 times, then you are telling him you have AA and that he should fold and you’ll split the profits later).
  • Folding/marking cards. Although the casinos will generally reshuffle their cards, and bring in new decks, it is still possible for astute players to mark cards. They can do this by folding cards (say aces), tearing off little pieces, or even using ‘dirty’ fingers (i.e., powder, etc) on their fingers to mark ‘special’ cards (i.e., aces).
  • Dealer/player collusion There are some players that collude with dealers, and the dealers shuffle from ‘underneath’ the deck. I played one game in a casino where the dealer seemed to know a few of the players very well, and one player in particular just always seemed to hit ‘magic’ cards. (Make a full house when someone had a straight, or four of a kind when someone had a full house, etc).

It is harder, but not impossible, for people to cheat in the casinos. Not to mention that – when playing in ‘person’, someone might ‘roll’ you (beat you up) simply for winning “their” $100, let alone to mention if you just had a really lucky night and happened to win a few thousand. Is it really worth the risk?

The Human Element:

Finally, there is the human element to why you shouldn’t play. Let’s say you are aware of all these different tactics employed, and feel that you can still ‘beat’ the system. Let’s say you’ve read all the poker books on when to ‘hold-em’, and when to ‘fold-em’. Can you still win? Well, this will affect how you play (and not in a good way).

  • Tiredness – Most people don’t know when to leave the table, especially when they are losing. They figure that they will play ‘just’ one more hand – but several hours later, are still at the table, and several hundred or thousand dollars poorer. Likewise, it is very, very hard to leave the table when you are on a winning streak, because you start to get greedy and think it will last, until you make one small mistake and find that your ‘huge’ winnings that you acquired in the last two hours, are lost in 1 minute.
  • Emotional Roller Coaster – Playing poker can be very emotionally draining. When you win – you feel very elated and excited, but when you lose, you feel really, really bad. I’ve know “professional” poker players that did actually manage to make a living at playing poker, but had gray hair in their late 20’s. Is it really worth the risk playing now, to maybe make a few extra thousand dollars, at the expense of your heath? Not to mention, when I played, I felt the exact same kind of feelings.
  • Time waster – Unless you play really really good tight aggressive poker (and know when to play loose), you are going to find that it takes a really really long time to win, and you’ll get bored very easily and start making mistakes. Usually if you are a good player you can make 2-2.5 times the amount of your buy-in within one hour. However, most people don’t have the patience to wait that long, and want the “thrill” of playing so will start making dumb moves. That’s when you start paying the really good players, and walk away empty handed.

If, however, after reading this article, you STILL want to play poker and try winning money at it, I’d recommend visiting one of the many sites where they give you money to play. One such site is pokerstrategy.com. They “give” you $50 without you having to spend your own money. However, please note – the strategy that they have will take you literally days of non-stop playing before you see any real-money, and you are more likely to blow the $50 within the first 5 minutes of playing (boredom), and then deposit your own money, than you are likely to make any real money. If you do play according to their strategy to the letter, then it is possible that you will win money. However, you will probably have to play non-stop at least 2-3 months before you see any ‘reasonable’ money, but by then it basically becomes just like having a full time job.

The only time I think you should play poker is when you can play the game without caring whether or not you win ore lose – but if you were in that position, you probably wouldn’t be playing poker, would you? I hope this article helps you save time and money, and helps you use it towards more fruitful endeavors.

article (C) 2008 verycoolwriting.com