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Swindling in Cyberspace

February 8, 2023

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We’ve all heard the stories of genius poker players who manage to cheat the system at casinos. Whether through marking cards, colluding with others, or even using specialized card counting microcomputers, it seems some people will always find a way to swindle money from others. Cheating isn’t only limited to in-person play, though! Let’s take a look at some of the biggest cheating scandals in poker on the world wide web.

In 2007, poker websites Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker found themselves in the midst of a scandal. It was discovered that someone was able to view all of the cards that were dealt on the site. Using this scam, the player was able to cheat their way into a whopping $22.1 million in winnings! After some investigation, the cheater was revealed to be poker professional Russ Hamilton. Previously, Hamilton had won the WSOP Main Event in 1994. He admitted to the scam in a private phone call. You can check out Hamilton’s cheating in action below:

Between 2007 and 2012, WSOP bracelet winner Darren Woods used a VPN service to create multiple accounts on different gambling sites. This basically allowed him to manipulate the poker games in his favor. He was discovered because he used the same username in some of his professional tutorials! Woods was eventually charged with 13 counts of fraud. He then was ordered to pay £1 million in restitution.

Of course, no discussion of online poker scandals can be complete without mentioning the infamous Black Friday event. On April 15, 2011, Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker were shut down after mass criminal accusations from the DOJ. The charges included violating the UIGEA, bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. U.S. players were quickly blocked from accessing real-money games. This resulted in players being unable to cash out their banks. Distraught players were worried that all of their hard-earned winnings would be lost forever.

11 defendants were named in the initial indictment. The list included CEOs and payment processors. After a long battle, Poker Stars players received timely payouts. Three years later, cashouts of Full Tilt funds finally made their way to players’ bank accounts. Alas for players on Absolute Poker, management refused to process any withdrawals.

With constant technological innovation, we’re sure to see new and unique ways of scamming real-money sites in the future.