Wednesday, 26 May 2010

49 player Chinese cheating scandal on PokerStars Double or Nothing SNGs


A team of at least 49 Chinese players on PokerStars have been caught colluding in Double or Nothing SNGs.

As a result of this organised cheating ring, an estimated total of around $750,000 has been stolen from innocent players!




I remember when Double or Nothing SNGs were introduced on PokerStars around 18 months ago. My first thought was "great, a new game that the fish wont understand how to play", but while I was studying the ICM for this structure of game and seeing how small differences to stack sizes near the bubble can hugely affect a players equity in the game I just knew that these games would attract colluding scumbags like moths to a light bulb.

I know people will say that collusion can happen in any form of poker but there's no format of poker where collusion is as attractive and profitable as in Double or Nothing SNGs. A subtle dumping of a couple of big blinds or giving a walk to someone when it's an easy push can make an absolutely massive change in equity. This isn't the type of collusion that requires guys with headsets talking and sharing holecards over skype. It's more of a pre agreed softplay strategy, that guys can still do while seriously multi-tabling.

Since I started playing DoNs I have received refunds from PokerStars on approx 25 separate occasions where players were caught colluding in (what must be several hundreds of) my games. So I always have this feeling of paranoia when I'm playing DoN SNGs that I'm being cheated against. When I'm running bad and I have the same regulars on every table folding to each other's steals on the bubble until I get so short stacked that I have to push, then the largest stack of the regs calls me with some marginal hand, I wonder to myself "are these guys are ganging up on me?".

A lot of the regulars in these games know each other and talk strategy together. I find it hard to believe that a bunch of these guys aren't treating each other at least a little bit more favorably in these games than they would treat random players.

While on a vacation last year with some SNG players from twoplustwo three of us were regulars in the $104 DoN SNGs at the time. When the 3 of us were alone, one of them said "we should respect each other's shoves, you know" subtly trying to suggest that we softplay. It back fired on him because I spend the next 2 months spite-calling him at every single opportunity until he quit the games.

So it's safe to say there are a lot of regulars playing these games that have agreements with each other not to play too hard against each other in certain spots where it actually makes a big difference to their equity but can't really be detected as collusion. Sure the guys who aren't so subtle about it will end up, and do, get caught  but there are spots in the game where guys can collude subtly enough never to be detected.

Back in January of this year I noticed 2 Chinese players in my games who were clearly helping each other out near the bubble. See the email I sent to stars bellow:

Hi,

I would like you to investigate 2 players for collusion in double or nothing SNGs.

Aladin888
strong arm A

On 19th Jan I played a session of 53 games. 14 of those games had Aladin888 and strong arm A in them. Neither of these guys appeared separately in any of my games, they only appeared together. Upon further review I notice that they've both played 1/4 of their total games on the site with each other, and it looks like most of their recent games have been played together. Their winrates are also significantly greater in the games they play together.

Aladin888strong arm ACombined
Total Played1053 829
Played Together237237
Av. ROI Apart2%4%3%
Av. ROI Together6% 7%6.5%



2 hands caught my attention in 2 separate games, which looked like chip dumping on or near the bubble.
Aladin888 never limps when he has chips at large blind levels except for in these 2 hands where strong arm A was a short stack in desperate need of chips to survive.

PokerStars Game #38389892782: Tournament #233763492, $50+$2 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VII (125/250) - 2010/01/19 7:25:00 WET [2010/01/19 2:25:00 ET]

Table '233763492 1' 10-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 2: Aladin888 (4480 in chips)
Seat 3: Daleroxxu (1868 in chips)
Seat 5: strong arm A (857 in chips)
Seat 7: Freddou74 (3475 in chips)
Seat 8: doombear (1350 in chips)
Seat 9: azn808 (1920 in chips)
Seat 10: qqberry (1050 in chips)
Aladin888: posts the ante 25
Daleroxxu: posts the ante 25
strong arm A: posts the ante 25
Freddou74: posts the ante 25
doombear: posts the ante 25
azn808: posts the ante 25
qqberry: posts the ante 25
azn808: posts small blind 125
qqberry: posts big blind 250
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Daleroxxu [7c Qh]
Aladin888: calls 250
Daleroxxu: folds
strong arm A: raises 582 to 832 and is all-in
Freddou74: folds
doombear: folds
azn808: folds
qqberry: folds
Aladin888
Uncalled bet (582) returned to strong arm A
strong arm A collected 1050 from pot
strong arm A: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1050 | Rake 0
Seat 2: Aladin888 folded before Flop
Seat 3: Daleroxxu folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: strong arm A collected (1050)
Seat 7: Freddou74 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: doombear (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: azn808 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 10: qqberry (big blind) folded before Flop


You will notice in the next hand that Aladin888 as the big stack on the bubble minraises everyones big blind, then when it comes round to his friend strong arm A he limps the button to set up a chipdump. There's just no way Aladin888 limp-folds in this spot unless it's his friend in the BB. And I would be interested to know what cards strong arm A held because there is no way he would ever bluff here without knowing the big stack limper is folding 100% of the time because he's his buddy.

PokerStars Game #38390003545: Tournament #233763492, $50+$2 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VIII (150/300) - 2010/01/19 7:31:14 WET [2010/01/19 2:31:14 ET]

Table '233763492 1' 10-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 2: Aladin888 (5400 in chips)
Seat 3: Daleroxxu (2608 in chips)
Seat 5: strong arm A (1047 in chips)
Seat 7: Freddou74 (2865 in chips)
Seat 8: doombear (1290 in chips)
Seat 9: azn808 (1790 in chips)
Aladin888
: posts the ante 30
Daleroxxu: posts the ante 30
strong arm A: posts the ante 30
Freddou74: posts the ante 30
doombear: posts the ante 30
azn808: posts the ante 30
Daleroxxu: posts small blind 150
strong arm A: posts big blind 300
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Daleroxxu [4h Jc]
Freddou74: folds
doombear: folds
azn808: folds
Aladin888: calls 300
Daleroxxu: folds
strong arm A: checks
*** FLOP *** [Kd 3s 8d]
strong arm A: bets 717 and is all-in
Aladin888: folds
Uncalled bet (717) returned to strong arm A
strong arm A collected 930 from pot
strong arm A: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 930 | Rake 0
Board [Kd 3s 8d]
Seat 2: Aladin888 (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 3: Daleroxxu (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: strong arm A (big blind) collected (930)
Seat 7: Freddou74 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: doombear folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: azn808 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

thanks,
Dale

So a week later I was told that the players that I had reported were guilty, were now banned and their funds would be redistributed to players affected by their cheating. gg suckers.

Just to illustrate how collusion affects equities in DoN SNGs lets take a look at the second hand that I reported above, where 'Aladin888' limp-folds to 'strong arm A' on the bubble.....

Before the hand begins these are the chipcounts of each player with their $ev as determined by ICM.

$50 Buyin Double or Nothing SNG (Top 5 recieve $100).
Blinds 150/300 with 30 ante.


Player            Chips    ICM Equity ($)
Aladin888        5400    98.4649
Daleroxxu        2608    91.3261
strong arm A    1047    62.8020
Freddou74        2865    92.8395
doombear         1290    71.7531
azn808r            1790    82.8143


ICM is the best formula for working out our equity in a SNG, however it does have it's limitations. It makes no adjustment for future actions, and in this hand 'strong arm A' is posting the BB of 300 which has a huge impact on true equities, he's worse off that the ICM numbers suggest.


After the limp-fold of the bigstack to his friend in the BB, this "1BB chipdump" brings a massive change in equities.

Player            Chips    ICM Equity ($)
Aladin888        5070     97.7338 (-$0.73)
Daleroxxu        2428     88.1056 (-$3.22)
strong arm A    1647     77.1006 (+$14.30)
Freddou74        2835     91.1955 (-$1.64)
doombear        1260      66.5286 (-$5.22)
azn808            1760      79.3359 (-$3.48)

The bigstack only takes a 73 cent drop in equity while the short stack gains $14.30 as a result of the action. Where did the extra money over the chipdumpers 73 cents come from? Well it's stolen from the other players at the table, who weren't even involved in the hand and who's stack sizes are only minus the 30 chip ante. You can see the shortest stacks are hit the hardest. To put it into perspective, a +$14.30 gain in a $52 DoN is worth an extra 28% ROI, this in a game where the best players only beat the games for around 5% ROI. And all those other players not involved in the hand losing 6-10% worth of ROI as a result.

This is why these games will always attract cheating scumbags. When lowlife scum work out that there are poker games on the internet where they can dump a few cents in equity with the result being that their friends gain hugely significant amounts of equity, dollar signs go off in their eyes and they flock to these games.


Chinese Invasion

So I just recently learned from reading twoplustwo that a cheating ring of 49 Chinese colluders that played in the DoN SNGs on PokerStars had been caught. Their most active period was November '09 to mid February '10 and it looks like they netted around $750,000.

Most of the names on the list had their accounts suspended in February. But as I looked through the list of names, recognising most of them, two of them jumped out at me - they were the two guys that I reported back in January ('strong arm A' and 'Aladin888'). When I reported these guys in January I was pretty happy to have caught 2 cheaters but had no idea that it would lead to the investigation of such a large amount of players colluding together in the games.

When it comes to cheating, PokerStars never publicly reveals any details on what went on. If you are the person that reports specific players of cheating and PokerStars security team finds those players guilty they will email you back with their findings and compensate you fully for games where you were hurt by the cheaters.

Hello Dale,

First allow me to apologize for the delay in responding to your report. This

particular case was quite involved and more time than usual was required for the
review.

We have concluded that the play of '
Aladin888' and 'strong arm A' violated the
integrity of our games.  They have been informed that they are no longer welcome
to play on our site.  In addition they were disqualified from events in which
their unfair play affected the outcome.  Players who advanced as a result have
been compensated at the expense of the colluders.

You played against these players in several tournaments, and your account has been

credited as follows:

#233763510 $52.00 (buy-in)

#233763522 $100.00 (bubbled behind a colluder)
#233764467 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233771487 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233772379 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233772388 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233772413 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233772438 $52.00 (buy-in)
#233772451 $52.00 (buy-in)

Total credit: $516.00


The integrity of the games at PokerStars is of paramount importance to us and we

will not abide unfair play in our games.  We work hard to police our games to
assure our players of a fair, secure place to play.  In the rare cases where
collusion has actually occurred, we make sure that any players affected are
compensated appropriately.

Please accept our thanks for your timely report and continued play here on

PokerStars.  Please do not hesitate to let us know any time we can be of help.

Regards,


Dan M.

PokerStars Game Security

But all the other players who played against the cheaters will get a much smaller refund, which I believe is worked out as a percentage of what could be confiscated from the cheaters (what they had left in their account when caught) minus what was given to the person reporting the cheaters. These players will be given a standard email saying that PokerStars found people working together and as a result you are being refunded $X. With no mention of who cheated them, in which games, how much they were cheated for compared to how much they were compensated, etc.

This is the same exact email that I've received countless times:

Hello,

PokerStars has become aware of two players who were working together in our Sit & Go tournaments to the detriment of other players.  You were involved in at least one tournament with these players and as a result you may have been adversely affected.

The players' accounts were closed and their funds frozen pending a thorough investigation, which is now complete.  Fortunately the problem was identified quickly and they had only played in a few tournaments before the accounts were closed.

In a case such as this it is our policy to confiscate the colluders' winnings or balances and to distribute them to the players affected by their actions in as fair a way as possible.  To confirm your credit, log onto your PokerStars account, go to the 'Cashier' screen and click the 'History' button.  Your share will be shown "ADMIN CREDIT", followed by the amount of the credit.

I regret that we will be unable to answer questions as to how your specific credit amount was calculated.  Likewise, we are not at liberty to identify the specific games or players in question.  Suffice to say that they have been barred from the site and you will not encounter them again.

The integrity of the games at PokerStars is of paramount importance to us and we will not abide cheating or collusion in our games.  We work hard to police our games and prevent such instances.  In the rare cases where collusion has actually occurred, we make sure that any players affected are compensated appropriately.

Thank you for your continued play here on PokerStars.  Please do not hesitate to let us know any time we can be of help.


Most people will get this email and think "there were cheaters in my games but Stars found them pretty quickly and have compensated me, great". However the reality is that if you receive this email you are never going to know truly how badly you were affected by the colluders and if the amount credited to you by PokerStars comes close to making up for it, where as the person reporting the crime is over-compensated in most cases because they are given refunds for the games played with colluders where they dont cash and get to keep the money when they win, effectively freerolling in games with colluders. Meanwhile the other players in the game are given a small portion of what's left over from the confiscated funds.

Is this fair? No, ofcourse not. This policy isn't set up to be as fair as possible to everyone involved, it's set up to protect the image of PokerStars. PokerStars image means absolutely everything to them so it makes sense for them to treat the person reporting the crime as well as possible, to the point where they are even over-compensated, then to split up what's left of the confiscated funds and send small refunds to the other players who had no idea that they were even cheated, while keeping absolutely silent about what events took place on their site.

PokerStars refuses to reveal their method for working out how much money to refund to players. The following post from a PokerStars player on 2p2 regarding a very tiny refund he was once given shocked me:

"When I questioned PS on the tiny admin credit I recived they just said that "I wasn't really affected by the cheatiing, and to consider the credit as a gift from my friends at PS".

Here is a portion of that e-mail from PS support:"

"The method which we use to compensate players who have played in a
tournament where collusion was present is complex and relies
upon an estimation of likely harm done in each case. This is why the final
compensatory figure does not always tally up exactly to a buy-
in. " -
BlackSerac

When there are people colluding in a DoN SNG that you're playing in you're ALWAYS affected. I've already demonstrated how there can be huge swings in equity just as a result of the slightest bit of softplay.


So with stars non-disclosure policy we would never normally hear about large rings of cheaters being caught, and the only reason that we found out about this cheating scandal was that one of the players involved posted their email history with PokerStars support which included the list of names, all of whom live in the same Chinese town, while in a vain attempt to get twoplustwo users to help him get the $10K that was confiscated from him. My favorite post from the user was

"You always know many regular players in Sit and Go games.That means I know their dates.Maybe I treat them a liittle bit better than nomal player.But that is the way you play Double and Nothing game." -Jane1023

Hilarious!

flopp_deuces who is a SNG regular pulled up some stats for about 40 of the 49 players, to see how much money they had profited and when they last played. (note, dates are American mm/dd/yy)

jessica318- 30k profit, last game played 1/25/10
wudiyg- 99k profit, last game played 2/10/10
jane1023-55k profit, last game played 2/18/10
gucci53- 33k profit, last game played 2/8/10
lazzzzzzy- 15k profit, last game played 1/7/10
renhe88- 34k profit, last game 2/14/10
Xuanyu.L-16k profit, last game 3/19/10
chenxr- 42k profit, last game 2/18/10
flypretty-4.4 k profit, last game 5/4/10
nayouyi-13k profit last game 2/17/10
hzlsl-25k profit, last game 1/29/10
freetime1955- 400 profit, last game 2/5/10
xxwpk168- 21k profit, last game 2/5/10
microsoft25- 3.1k profit last game 2/8/10
wenpk15888- 8.4k last game 2/18/10
strong arm A- 2.2 k profit, last game 1/23/10
degreexia- 1.5k profit last game 11/7/2009
ellena054- 4.4 k profit, last game 5/20/2010
jinse888-15k profit, 2/5/10 last game
liuli888-1k profit, 2/5/10
rara999-3.1k profit last game 2/17/10
dcbm288- no profit, last game 2/18/10
linyin- 2.7k last game 2/10/10
yangguangze-830 profit last game 11/29/2009
pakerster-2k profit last game 2/9/2010
yutian-8.1k profit, last game 2/6/2010
coroinpu- 6.3k profitlast game 2/16/2010
maomao1832-9k profit last game 2/18/2010
hslj001- 1k profit last game 2/3/2010
psnyls-1k profit last game 2/14/2010
goloverez777- 11k profit, last game 5/10/2010
leaders668-4.8k profit last game 2/18/2010
guiliang- 2.0k profitlast game 1/31/2010
chijianli- 10k profit last game 2/17/10
xiawenju- 5.3k profit last game 2/1/10
147222-11k profit last game 2/17/10
wzem618800- no profit, last game 2/17/10
mnbqwe12- 4k profit last game 2/18/10
wzhongz-6.4k profit last game 2/17/10
superxia-16k profit, last game 6/29/2009
sishun-14k profit, last game 6/29/2009

Which comes to a total of $541,900. Now add on some FPP bonuses and supernova milestones etc. and I'd estimate the real financial gain here to be more in the region of $750,000. Yes, three quarters of a million dollars stolen from SNGs that have a maximum buyin of $100.

All the regulars who have played hundreds, even thousands of SNGs with these cheaters are up in arms right now about what has been revealed. Back when most of this cheating was going on, Jan - Feb, most of the winning regulars in the games were having their worst month ever

"I've played about 7000 $52-$108 dons in the first 6 weeks of 2010. I kind of felt like something was up, but I assumed I was a losing player and just gave up. If true, this makes me pretty sick as they have not only just stolen money from me, but they have taken away future earning power from me. I was on a pretty nice pace to hit SNE. I've played >$600,000 in buyins during this time and only received a refund of ~$400." -Simplicity8

"and this thread from jasty is back in Feb. and has all the non cheating regs saying how jan. or feb. were the worst months profit wise that they ever had and even had simplicity saying that he quit playing because he was bad(you probably weren't as 'bad' as you thought) This affected the mentality of many players as I remember fossilkid saying he had his first losing month in like 2 years in January or February." -flopp_deuces

"After my onetime 8% ROI in the DONS dropped to ~1% in 2010 I gave up on the games, and in turn gave up on your site and moved over to full tilt.
I always thought the DONs we're a little troublesome...........  I was not the only player having an awful 2010 and end of 2009, I know many others who became discouraged and either dropped down levels or moved onto other sites and/or games." -DirDirDirty

"+1 I'm in the same boat as you with over 10k $104s played and shying away from the game after my roi began to drop unexpectedly.
It really does do a number on your game when you think you are doing something wrong even tho you are playing the same way that had you winning months before." -eppy12588

" I had stopped playing double or nothings because of the health problems i got because of stress and the downswing I was on." -flopp_deuces


When high volume winning players quit the games as a result of being systematically cheated for an extended period of time it isn't just the money lost in those games where these players are being affected. A much greater impact comes in the lost earning potential by not playing in future games, not to mention that most of the players who quit the games were on pace to make Supernova Elite and reap the many benefits that come with that.

In addition, with approx $750,000 taken out of the games by the cheaters it's not just games where we have played against the cheaters that we are being hurt. The recreational players who are long term "dead money" in these games will lose their money to a team of colluders much faster than they would normally lose their money, so future games get tougher because all the fish are broke. Even when we are playing games after all the cheaters have been suspended we are still playing in tougher games because of how much money has been removed from the SNG economy.

I ran a PowerGrep query on my hand histories to pull out games where I'd played with at least 2 of the players on the cheater list. I found 244 games, with 44 having 3 or 4 cheaters. And I was barely playing any volume during the time of the cheating. Having looked through a bunch of the HHs I never once, not once single time, seen two of the cheaters get all in against each other. It's more than likely that the main part of the collusion was an agreement not to call each other's raises / shoves, which is such a huge advantage in DoN SNGs.

I sent an email to PokerStars with the list of 244 tournaments and received a quick reply.

Hello Dale,

Thank you for your email.

Due to the complexity of the situation to which you refer and the number
of accounts involved, we have not yet begun to pay out compensation for
this case.

We expect that we will begin to process compensation within the next
week, and players who receive a payout will get an email in due course.

Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Regards,

Hoong
PokerStars Support Team

So this cheating scandal was so complex that it has taken over 3 months to investigate. The list of names that we have came from an email to one of the cheaters on Feb 19th. Who's to say that there weren't many more accounts found after this date who were a part of this? I mentioned that I had played 244 games with 2 or more players from the list, well I've also played in 1421 games with at least 1 of the players, and it doesn't strike me as likely that such a well organised ring of cheaters would only collude some of the time and play a whole bunch on their own. So there is the possibility that this thing could be much bigger than we believe it to be already.

Questions are being raised about how PokerStars are policing their games. It certainly seems to be more of a retroactive than a proactive approach. When someone reports suspected collusion they always investigate it fully, and I believe PokerStars employs some of the very best poker security experts to do this. However, do they actually have people proactively looking for cheaters? It seems unlikely when such a large number of players from the same location can go on cheating for months and cash out $750,000 before they are caught.

I'll be very interested to see how players are compensated by PokerStars for being affected by this scandal. No doubt most of the money stolen has been cashed out but just dividing up what was left in their accounts when caught between the players affected just isn't going to be enough this time. If PokerStars don't dig into their own pocket on this one there will be a lot of angry and vocal players out there.

If you don't believe that it's PokerStars responsibility to pay money out of their own pocket to replace that stolen by cheaters (who got away with cheating on their site for many months) think of it this way. Most of the regualrs in these games, myself included, have payed well into six figures in rake to PokerStars. We pay this rake and in return we expect to be able to play poker in a safe and secure environment. When we are hurt by people cheating, we should be fully compensated and if stars cant recover this from the cheating scumbags how about digging into all that rake we've paid. Also, these cheaters must have paid in the high six figures in rake themselves so theres another source of money to compensate the players.

Going forward I wouldn't be surprised to see these DoN games removed from the site. With such a large amount of cheating gone on in these games they must be a huge strain on PokerStars security team. Not only that but having games running on their site that are associated with cheating and collusion is simply terrible for PokerStars image. And their image of being the most safe and secure site to play on is their number one asset in an industry where some pretty scummy stuff has happened in the past.

44 comments:

  1. wow nice investigation !
    DoN tnt are the place to be for cheaters.
    We have luck that Pokerstars support take this problem seriously, but maybe we should stop this kind of tnt..

    ReplyDelete
  2. A quality post. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Didn't realise it was such a long post when I started, but a very interesting read.

    They've been talking of ditching the DoNs for ages, kinda seems like the power of collusion is enough argument for them to do it...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Why am I now surprised! I firmly believe the same shit is going down at FR 25NL aswell. Always the same people playing 24 tables with $5 and according to PTR they've played like 500K hands in 6 weeks. I wonder how PS will combat this issue for good.

    Nice work

    ReplyDelete
  5. Absolute scum. I wish it were possible to actually prosecute them on legal grounds for fraud if Stars were unable to recover all the money that they've defrauded people out of (obviously the massive legal complexities of having an entity like PokerStars pursuing legal recourse in potentially ~200 different countries around the world, often for small amounts means it's not gonna happen.)

    I remember having a go at DoN's at the end of last year, not having nearly the same success as I had when playing them the first time out... and there definitely seemed to be some fishy stuff going on.

    One of the worst thing is that obviously if you're unaware of collusion at the table, is when you have a marginal situation come up, which you obviously pass on if you're (say) a medium stack with a short stack about to pass through the blinds - a situation you could probably push through, but you're better EV to sit it out, see what happens to the short stack. Now that short stack gets a subtle chip dump of like +1 BB or something, and now you really are at a big loss... I mean literally if you knew they were going to be colluding, then you could actually just adjust to it, like any other game condition (and it would still be terrible, but if you're playing based on other players in the game using "general strategy" (if it's not "optimal strategy"... because they're usually donks) and then someone does something like this... not raise a friend's BB, or limp/fold, then it screws your game up a lot.)

    I had a hand in a homegame recently, where two guy who were friends were SB/BB, there was an UTG raise to 3x, 2 flats, and the SB is about to put in a reraise... taking his time to think about the amount & cut out his chips... then the BB sticks out a raise to 8x (obviously a ridiculous raise, it's only a pot juicing raise when you know there's already going to be at least 12 BB's in the pot from 4 different players).

    So the SB just calls the 3x, the 8x bet from the BB now stands... out of the other 3 players, 2 call the extra 5x and it gets back to the SB who shoves (of course) for 40x BB, because there's now 30X BB's in the pot. He had AA, ended up getting called by one of the flatters with TT.... but I mean that was probably the fishiest thing I've seen in a live game for a long time, it was just so freaking obvious. I tried to get to see the 8x guy's cards, but the dealer shuffled them into the muck, I mean WTF? Like at least 4 different people at the table wanted to see his cards... it was probably like T2o or some crap.

    Collusion sucks. It's hard enough dealing with variance & whatnot when taking money from these donkeys.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yeah, nice read. I think they took me 10k in January. Will see if PS give some money back...
    Certanly, nice comment about the chinesse ppl in my blog ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is the big problem with DON, I even tough that it would be better to play "anonymous" (like in warcraft 3 FFA ) but then no read on other players ...


    The worst is that we lose in different way if there is real collusion

    -lose from direct collusion
    -lose because fish go away as they are broke faster and game are tougher
    -lose because you start to tilt after few weeks and doesn't play your A game anymore


    Anyway, even if pokerstars don't cash back players at 100% of the lost , they still work hard to find colluder and keep game safe , not like 99% of other rooms

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  8. That is a very great article.
    I play the DON as well , and in the january i played 4296 DON SNG. I played them around 3% under my standart roi.
    I had a lot of situations looks like collusion.
    Big stack folded a lot of times against the shortstack and called them with an marginal hand against a middle stack - a lot of times against me...
    Thank you for the investigation

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  9. Great article Dale, and very interesting. I was playing a few DON's earlier in the year too with a poor ROI. I'd love to say that was down to cheating, but my inept strategy for DON's was probably the cause in equal measure.

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  10. This was posted on 2+2 forum back in dec.

    Hello Patrick,

    The player 'jiuliang' and others from from Hua Zhou, China are part of a
    Poker School run by a PokerStars affiliate. The establishment is a retail
    outlet (similar to a strip mall) with several computers set up to allow
    customers to come in, get set up, and play on PokerStars even though they
    may not have their own computer, or a credit card to fund their account.
    The school also offers lessons in poker play, and in how to play multiple
    tables at once.

    Our affiliates team watches this group closely to ensure that they cannot
    play at the same tables as one another, and that they are not sharing
    information. There are many more than 30 customers of this retail outlet,
    which is a unique concept to China due to the difficulty in getting funds
    onto the site from that region of the world. Each player provides photo ID,
    and we check their play via our bot detection tools. They do not seem to be
    running bots, and all players from there appear to be human by every test we
    have designed.

    There is nothing of concern regarding these players, though we do continue
    to keep an eye on them to make sure that this remains the case.

    I hope this has answered your question completely. Please do not hesitate
    to let us know any time you need anything.

    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    PokerStars Game Security

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  11. Thanks for the article, early in the year I had a horrible stretch, I wonder if this had something to do with it.

    Barnesman

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  12. Nice post Dale, thanks to everyone who pays way more attention than I do and takes the time to report these things. With that said, the 2P2 thread is out of control, collusion went from underestimated to way overestimated in the matter of 2 days, games are still purrty good, keep grinding guys.

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  13. Nice post.

    One of the problems with DoNs is that the regulars play so many tables they don't pay attention to the action. They're probably the most knowledgable and can detect unusual plays if they paid attention.

    I helped bust some of the cheaters at the lower stakes DoNs and posted some things people can look for http://blog.microrollers.com/2010/03/more-don-cheaters-busted.html

    Every once in a while if I see a long list of tourneys with only one registrant but there's one at the bottom of the list with 3, I join it because it's usually 1 reg that is registering his set and 2 colluders that joined a table at the bottom of the list so that they can be sure to both get in before it fills up.

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  14. good post
    interesting details about roi apart and together

    p.s. Bars Hunter

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  15. For anyone using Holdem Manager, I included a SQL statement you can run against your db to find any tournaments you played with the players identified in the 2p2 thread.

    http://blog.microrollers.com/2010/06/don-sng-challenge-update-10.html

    I'll try pasting it below but the formatting might get screwed up.

    SELECT *
    FROM
    tourneyplayerdata
    WHERE
    player_id in
    (SELECT player_id FROM players
    WHERE lower(playername) in ('jessica318', 'wudiyg',
    'jane1023', 'gucci53', 'lazzzzzzy', 'renhe88',
    'Xuanyu.L', 'chenxr', 'flypretty', 'nayouyi',
    'hzlsl', 'freetime1955', 'xxwpk168', 'microsoft25',
    'wenpk15888', 'strong arm A', 'degreexia', 'ellena054',
    'jinse888', 'liuli888', 'rara999', 'dcbm288', 'linyin',
    'yangguangze', 'pakerster', 'yutian', 'wenpk15888',
    'coroinpu', 'maomao1832', 'hslj001', 'psnyls', 'goloverez777',
    'leaders668', 'guiliang', 'chijianli', 'xiawenju', '147222',
    'wzem618800', 'mnbqwe12', 'wzhongz', 'superxia', 'sishun'));

    Dale, from reading your blog and watching your videos it seems you really like to take time out of your busy schedule to help other players :) I posted some graphs showing my DoN results for this month and I've never experienced anything like that before. Have you ever had a period where you ran so much below EV in those games?

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  16. the thing is about your sql, you want to find tournaments where you played with **2 or more** of that list of names, not just one ore more - they cant collude on their own.

    i used powergrep with my hand histories as the source to find them, my HEM database is purged so doesnt include everything.

    yeah I've dropped over 50 buyins in DoNs over 500 games or so when the ev line was positive, variance sucks - even in these.

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  17. I went with the assumption that they would be cheating most of the time so if there's one at your table there's likely another.

    Did you find a lot of instances where you only played against one of the players named? If so, it might be worth reviewing those games for any cheaters that might have been missed.

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  18. the answer to your question is in the blog post :P

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  19. SUPERB POST MATE

    WE HAVE FEATURED IT AT NPF TO TRY AND MAKE AS MANY PLAYERS AWARE OF THIS PROBLEM WHICH I BELIEVE WILL ONLY GET WORSE

    NPF = Newcastle Poker Forum

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  20. Great blog post Daleroxxu :) and yes it is scary stuff

    Makes you think its only the tip of the iceberg stuff and that the problems are well rooted.

    Again about stars' image, if there security seeks out mass scale cheating surely its easier for them to say nothing and protect there precious image and hope no-one cottons on, Maybe that's where there priorities lie.

    I would prefer to hear story's about these cheats getting caught and prosecuted form stars, make them public and try to assure us that there doing all they can, and more, not sweep them under the carpet and pay people off to keep sch-tum !!!

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  21. Great read and well done sniffing some dodgy chinks out!!!

    Sikkk

    Any chance linking up my blog dale?

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  22. Hey daleroxxu,

    thank you very much for your investigation in this scandal, unfortunately I am a victim of this frustrating collusion ring too.

    Like flopp_deuces I was also in health problems and erratic mood swings at these time because there was no chance to make money from the DONs.
    Before I was winning player on DONs, on other PokerNetworks and also in the beginnings when they were introduced on Pokerstars. Unfortunately I had shipped some money from other Networks to Stars when the collusion ring was introduced, to play some higher SNGs. Because normally I dont play the "High Stakes SNGs". I prefer 10s and 20s. So give a try for some k SNGs in the high stakes and yeehaaa Chinese Collusion screws your bankroll on stars to approximately zero. I can very good remember that in nearly every of my SNG that I have played at this time one or more of those names were involved in my games.

    Especially chenxr, Lazzzzzzzy, gucci53, Xuanyu.L, and this fxxked up scumbag Sishun are so fucking branded in my braincells. Guys, if you read this, your karma is so fxxked up, I am pretty sure that all of this will come back to you guys.

    Anyways, I am hoping that stars had frozen all of their bankrolls and we will have a refund.

    PokerProjects

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  23. I think Poker Stars should over-compensate you for this, as well as add you to their security team.

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  24. Dale,

    This is unbeleivable. I remember the majority of these players, and so much suspect play. I reported a few of them in the past for suspected collusion. I only play 5-7 tables so i can recognize alot of the crap that goes on. Guys like you and jph would have a tough time recognizing it Multitabling like you do.
    Anyway Ive reported 6-7 spanish players within the last 30 days (nothing against Spain, it just so happens they were all spanish players) and all were found to be colluding and booted.

    And your other commentors are correct, the damage by this goes way beyond just the money they cheated. It affects players more than just the buy-ins they lose, but anyway nice going on this info.

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  25. Thank you, Dale, for all your efforts. I was playing during that time, DoNs, and lost big time. All I got back was $50 along with a note from Poker Stars, and I know I played with those scumbags. I was one of those who gave up after losing so many times. Just couldn't figure out why I had gotten so bad. Now I know, and am sick about it. Pitstop1099

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  26. it effect most to ur sentiments....
    u looses faith in urself..ur game....
    i dont its true in my case or not...but i m not comming back to pokerworld again lost a lot of money..more than 15K USD..

    can pokerstars refund my faith in poker?????? imposible

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  27. forgot to thank... Daleroxxu

    great work ... big applause to u :))

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  28. dude where did u get those pics from???? lol Are they real or some joke? :)

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  29. the pics are "WOW gold farmers"

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  30. Has anyone received a substantial refund yet?

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  31. yes, i will write an update in a few days

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  32. Dale,
    Anymore news?
    Also is it possible that since the DONs are so full of colluders PS uses them like an ant trap?

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  33. Dale,

    Would you be available for an interview in upcoming days regarding this?

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  34. i might be David but i'm quite pretty busy, can u pm me on 2p2 with more info / to arrange?

    also, check out podcast interview i did with irish poker radio about this, was recorded just after the story broke in may
    Irish Poker Radio Ep 48
    ... its at 40 minutes in.

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  35. Hi Dale.. I'm unable to send PMs over there due to zero post history... is there anyway you could send me an email and we could do a written interview via email? I'm on fivesmail.... with the username dhubermex.

    If that won't work I'll try some other way to get in touch.

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  36. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11250835

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  37. I also experienced check fold situation. hpw to prevent thist ? going to other sites or other games?

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  38. Excellent Post! Thank you for the information. I too have been a victim of many SnG's where the Chinese are dumping chips or collaborating with one another. I have lost a total of $4500 on PokerStars over the course of two years. Crazy thing is, I am a pretty decent player. I kill'em at the casino's, yet I constantly lose on the Internet?

    Yet out of all my losses, PokerStars has only refunded me [on two occasions] a total of $38.

    I really enjoy poker, but I cannot play on a site that does not protect my safety and security [regarding my money].

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  39. Now the same is happening in Fifty50.
    A group of Russian and Ukrain players are doing the same.

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  40. online poker, people have been and continue to be cheated. my god, full tilt stole millions and people are still discussing what to do. players have no idea what goes on and with millions in cyberspace people will continue to steal millions from kids in pursuit of pipe dreams, the poker world community is filled with so many dirt bags I have no idea what the attraction is. money is needed in life but only a part of it. To spend days on end with scumbags? you can keep the money there are other ways to make money. you will never hear about or see the faces you see in poker now, not because they lost the edge to young ones it is because they realized there is more to life and the vast majority eventually went broke anyway

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  41. I am trying to define if online poker is a viable and legitimate form of risk for the investment community and of course, its regulators.

    Frankly at the onset I was getting a lot of flack, my credibility- while intact, was definitely in play, you could say that I was put all-in...

    Then, Amaya bought Pokerstars and FullTilt, and they did so with the financial backing of one of the most significant players on Wall Street, The Black Stone Group. Black Stone has a who's who of Directors on its Board including former Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Brian Martin Mulroney.
    That transaction has sent an unconventional message to the investment community that the main stream media hasn't yet picked up on and that is, forget about what is legal now, lets fight and make it legal...

    What is rather strange about such an envious approach is that, usually, there is no money on the front end of a fight against governments and regulators. Moreover, the industry has yet to establish their control over the environment where they invite players to play, and that's a serious hurdle.

    In the investment and legal business this is called throwing good money after bad.

    As far as the Pokerstars players are concerned my opinion is this, Pokerstars is the equivalent of the kid in school that always has its lunch money stolen, let me explain. Pokerstars is too honest for its own good. While this might seem like a positive, it carries a serious problem on both end of the spectrum. On the one side they seem to be paying money back to people that have predatorial goals to begin seeking out players with lesser skills, with and on the back end of these good intentions, Pokerstars becomes unusually vulnerable to negative publicity, and all of you know that the more something is repeated the likelier it will be perceived as the truth.

    Its a lose/lose situation for the likes of Pokerstars.

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  42. So, the problem is how do you control an environment whereas at any given time you have more than a hundred thousand players of various skill levels spread out throughout the planet...
    Surely anyone can imagine the scope of the task, but more importantly, how do you overcome such an obstacle.
    Many insiders believe that if on-line poker is to survive it will have to be compartmentalized into geographical regions and in fact the process has already begun. In Canada, provincial governments are racing to bring on-line their own virtual poker rooms, with some already operating, and the same is likely contemplated in the United States, and right now, states like Montana have opened their borders to international operators allowing their citizens to play for real money on-line.

    Some in the poker community believe that such a scenario is evidence of the failure of companies like Pokerstars, to invest necessary capital in their departments of game integrity. Some go as far of accusing operators of being too greedy, benefiting from greater opportunities of profits at the expense of some players and the integrity of the game.

    Ironically, on line operators have been operating with an unfair advantage against their brick and mortar counterparts ever since the inception of on line poker games and, the most significant of these advantages is that they never had to invest the same percentages of capital in game integrity that regulated brick and mortar competitors have had too.
    Just look at how a game is managed in a casino for example, if you have ten tables in the room you'll have at least twenty individuals employed by the house to run the game.
    Now take Pokerstars for instance and their 10,000 plus table running at any given time, transferring the average amount of casino employees per the ten table scheme, Pokerstars would need as much as 20,000 people working the virtual room... Thats not including client support or the cashiers and the support staff to run such a poker environment.
    Take out dealers and your are still left with a hefty number of employees.
    Now considering rake for rake between a casino operation and on-line operations and the margins are phenomenal for companies like Pokerstars.

    And that is where the argument is born that on line poker operators have an unfair advantage over brick and mortar operations.

    Many on line operators are not willing to forgo profits and invest in game integrity like brick and mortar operators have to. For obvious reasons and because of that, players and the game suffer.
    When I started my research my goal was to leave the game the way it is as much as possible, I also understood that convincing operators to separate themselves from their money for the sake of the game was almost a pipe dream.

    As it stands, the international game of poker is all but dying slowly as a result mostly of a lack of commitment by its operators to share in the industry growth and wealth. The credibility of pioneers such as Isai Scheinberg slowly eroding leaving some to believe that the sale of Pokerstars is but a cash grab just before someone realizes that the boat is taking water.

    The only way the industry will survive and flourish, is if the major operators commit significantly more financial resources to protecting the game from cheaters, but until then, you can rest assure that there is more money for operators in having cheaters participate in the game.

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