Banned! Banished! Blacklisted!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Several months ago, several Coding the Wheel readers got an email from PokerStars.

We at PokerStars have noticed that recently you have tried out a program called "XPokerBot" by "Coding The Wheel". We would like you to know that among this program's features are automated robot playing that makes it against the rules of Poker Stars.

It's not the first time the PokerStars secret police have condemned a piece of software, nor will it be the last. The PokerStars Prohibited Software blacklist currently calls out some fifty (50) prohibited applications, of which nine (9) are prohibited while the PokerStars client is running, and forty-one (41) are prohibited at all times.

Let's be clear: according to the above document, you're not allowed to run prohibited software even if you shut PokerStars down first. Whether PokerStars is actually running doesn't matter! Once you install the PokerStars software, your machine, at least partially, belongs to PokerStars.

Of course, the piece of software in question, XPokerBot, isn't mentioned anywhere on the PokerStars blacklist. But the email goes on to wag the finger of warning:

Please don't protest that you didn't use XPokerBot, or that it did not actually play any poker. We are aware that codingthewheel.com has not yet published a complete working bot capable of poker logic. Even the degree of experimentation you have done thus far is against our terms of service, and cannot be permitted. Therefore, any reply that doesn't include something like "I understand that bots are against the rules and I won't use or experiment with them on PokerStars" will only delay the re-opening of your account.

However, I prefer the slightly more poisonous version PokerStars sent me, the XPokerBot author, directly:

I regret that we cannot "fail to notice" your activity going forward, nor that of your readers.  We will continue to detect and warn users of your software, to the point of seizure and confiscation of funds from those who choose not to heed the warnings, or who choose to try to "cloak" the bot process by using various methods to which you alluded, of which we are well aware, and through such veil we are able to pierce. 

The implicit (or not-so-implicit) threat here is: Do something we don't like, and we'll banish you, and we might even steal your money! After all, you have no legal recourse! Ha-ha-ha!

That, I guess, is our reward for buying in at PokerStars: an occasional deposit bonus, plus violation of electronic privacy through authoritarian snooping. And it all happens behind the scenes, without the informed consent of the user—unless you consider informed consent to be shapeless verbiage buried in the fine print of a Terms of Service nobody ever reads:

5.7. You agree that PokerStars may take steps to detect and prevent the use of prohibited EPA Programs. These steps may include, but are not limited to, examination of software programs running concurrently with the PokerStars Software on the User's computer.

5.7 is the only clause under "Prohibited Uses" which isn't given a bold, capitalized heading. The wording is purposefully vague:

Compare and contrast those behaviors with the definition of informed consent:

Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given.

Now ask yourself this question: when you give an online poker site your money and your action, do you expect to be spied on and investigated by their software, in a way that's never clearly documented or explained? Does that sound like the practice of a legitimate company?

No?

Because in every other walk of life, collecting sensitive information on the sly from your customers is considered unethical, dangerous, and possibly illegal.

What makes PokerStars exempt?

Let's not pretend PokerStars is legit in the sense of "stamped and branded with the word of law". That time has not yet arrived. While it may be legal for you and I to play online poker, the people who operate online poker do so from a position of extreme legal ambiguity. Party Poker golden boy Anurag Dikshit was recently fined over a quarter billion dollars for his role in the formation of the U.S.-facing side of the Party Poker business, and Party Poker withdrew from the U.S. market two years ago.

PokerStars, smelling blood in the water, stayed.

And in order to protect windfall profits, they've forced on their users a Terms of Service which demands powers no sane court would ever grant, even assuming PokerStars had a shred of legal legitimacy...which they don't. What they do have, are all the powers of a bank: they manage hundreds of millions of dollars in player deposits, they operate a general ledger, they maintain privileged financial information. Yet they enjoy zero effective oversight or liability, and they pay zero taxes in the countries where they take the lion's share of their profits.

Kind of an ideal situation, really. For PokerStars, that is.

But what do you think? Is it ever acceptable for a company to prohibit their users from running software on private home computer hardware? Is it ever acceptable for a company to snoop on their users in order to enforce compliance? What if the prohibited software isn't used for cheating, hacking, or defrauding purposes? What if it is? What if the company operates from a legal gray area? What if the prohibition of software is completely ineffective?

Former Sun CEO Scott McNealy once said:

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

Was he right?

Tags: privacy, poker bot, PokerStars, online poker, poker

53 comment(s)

I couldn't agree more... I like playing online poker, but if the online poker software had up front warned me about the snooping, I'd play somewhere else... or at least taken some stealth precautions whether I was running a bot or not. So no, the backdoor behavior is totally out of line, but who's going to convince PokerStars of that? Until you can get at their customer base, nothing changes.

Anurag Dikshit?

Too easy.

Not even gonna go there

Seems to me that running the poker applications in a virtual machine is the only sane thing to do.

However I can sort of understand them, try playing Counterstrike, Battlefield, CoD or any other FPS with cheaters. It's boring as hell (yes, the stakes and motivation are different).

As it has been said before, perhaps it's time to open up for poker bots. The record industry is certainly not making a success trying to fight technology.

Poker bots are great.

PokerStars doesn't want you to use bots.

If you can't hide them good enough and get banned, don't cry.

Its all a big game, and I have a feeling the bot makers can usually stay one step ahead. Consider it a barrier to entry that keeps the noob botters out of the game. :)

The privacy issue is quite worrisome, but it's your choice to play at PokerStars and install their software... or not. If you really want to play at PokerStars, then have absolutely nothing else on your machine. Privacy issue gone. Thanks for playing! Quit crying!

Oh and keep it up with the awesome botting articles! You rock harder than you can imagine! :)

Tbh with you I'm quite happy for PokerStars to rummage through my account and pick up any sort of botting or cheating software and ban me. I play honest poker and therefore I want to be sure that PStars is keeping check on everyone. They do a great job. Those e-mail messages seem very hostile lol, I got nothing like that when I was caught with 2 accounts on Stars. Infact I had my entire bankroll including W$ refunded to my original account.

Awesome article.

Gambling companies are so damn unethical. That 5.7 in their TOS is so vague and conspicuous it really makes me feel angry towards PokerStars. I have played there for years and didn't know any of this stuff.

"collecting sensitive information on the sly from your customers is considered unethical, dangerous, and possibly illegal."

I think this is fine for PokerStars to do this. How else are they supposed to control cheaters and botters? First everyone is complaining about AP and UB having superusers and now people are complaining about how to prevent just those sort of cheaters????

Ha. "...veil we are able to pierce." I'll ignore the Yoda-esque framing of that sentence for a moment and present a veil that is unable to be pierced. How about this:

  1. Install Poker Stars client on some old physical computer somewhere (not a VM, so you don't get flagged for running in a VM)
  2. Install your poker bot flavor of choice on another computer somewhere (VM or not, doesn't matter)
  3. Use VNC, remote desktop, etc. to bring the desktop or poker client window to the bot machine.
  4. Scrape poker state on the bot machine with your poker bot software, etc, etc.

How would Poker Stars know that their software is being botted on another physically separate machine? Maybe they should ban VNC and the like? Good luck - I can write an app to copy windows from one machine to another in an hour. Of course then there is the network traffic. Maybe they can ban that too?

The idiocy and arrogance of these people amazes me. I've been botting for years on PS using just this method, made $10's of K's and never had a problem.

Have you run out of interesting technical stuff to write?

Lately it's been only this "my rights bla bla". :(

I very much enjoyed this article and despite some of the complains in the comments above, I think you should keep on hammering this point, and keep hammering it, and anybody who has a blog should hammer it, so that whenever a typical clueless PokerStars player does a search for anything relating to PokerStars, he finds his way onto a site and learns that not everybody is happy with how PokerStars conducts their business.

Something rotten in Denmark...

There's a lot of sides to this issue.

I think it is PokerStars' right, nay, job, to ensure bots aren't playing on the site. Stars owes it to the human players to protect our rights to play against other humans.

I'm fine if the client sees what other things are memory resident and shuts down if it doesn't like what it sees. But snooping for what I've got installed and sending that to a central server is not ok. That info doesn't need to be floating around. Besides, there's more ways of identifying bots than snooping -- with a large database of hands and some statistical analysis, I bet you could find the bots without too much trouble.

Anyway, I say make the bots legal.

Make one section of the Stars site 'human only' with some sort of VOLUNTARY method of ensuring that the section is human only. Sure, it'll be hard to completely ensure the sanctity of the site, and it'll take some invasive techniques, but if you tell me exactly what you are doing and why, I'll agree to it. For instance, go completely client side and shut the hell down if you see anything out of the ordinary. If I don't agree, keep me off the human only part of the site.

The rest of the site will be 'bot land'. Then, bot writers can target other bots, and PokerStars picks up all the rake. There will be plenty of lazy humans to pull money from and it'd be a great AI experiment to see which bots rose to the top and which humans adapted and took money from bots.

Nice Article! In fact, any other software out there that wants to collect personal data (what a list of processes, mouse behavior, etc. is) asks for this in much more prominent ways during installation.

If online poker sites become legal and regulated in US or other country caring for privacy, they can be massively sued for such behavior and invasion of privacy on user's PC. It does not matter if they had it in their ToS or not, they clearly not made aware their users of it, nor they have published the complete details of what kind of data exactly they would like to collect from your PC - and ask the user explicitely to agree to that.

Even they scan your processes, and only send a conclusion back to the server (but not the actual list of processes), this is still illegal datamining of personal information.

What they have in the ToS is clearly not enough, you can check out some random web site's privacy statements that are much more comprehensive even for simple things like logging users IPs.

[i]Now ask yourself this question: when you give an online poker site your money and your action, do you expect to be spied on and investigated by their software, in a way that's never clearly documented or explained? Does that sound like the practice of a legitimate company?[/i]

Yes, I do expect to be "spied on." Similarly, when I walk into a casino I expect their staff to keep cameras on me at all times, watching for anything bad that I might do.

It's called security, and most players want it.

I know you can get around it in any number of ways... heck, if you're a good engineer and programmer, you could get around it in ways that are completely undetectable, but that's not the point.

I'm glad to see Stars is doing their job. And it's sad how many people think that they have some god-given right to cheat at poker just because they possess the technical wherewithal to do so.

KW:

The XPokerBot.exe code released here doesn't actually do anything other than display information, and the only window I see that has any information at all not available either through the poker client itself or tailing a log file is information about the functions the app is calling.

That's not cheating. That's not even close to cheating. PokerStars banning that app is roughly equivalent to a casino kicking you out because you have eyes and a brain, and both of those could be used to cheat.

Using VNC may not be sufficient; you would be limited to doing screen-scraping, and PStars' software will easily detect that the mouse clicks were not originated by a human player. The VNC approach is similar to what is used by OpenWinHoldem, and I saw a note recently on OWH's forum from a user that was banned by Stars for using it (the bot runs outside the VM where Stars client was running).

the key challenge is how to drive the mouse & keyboard in a way that is completely indistinguishable from a human player doing it.

I can't believe the cowardice of certain people who comment on this blog. It's very simple: PokerStars is performing illegal collection of sensitive user information. If this data collection actually protects players from those who use cheating tools (collusion/hacking), then it might be justifiable. But the fact is, PokerStars security precautions prevent nothing. Go visit www.winholdem.com or any other established, commercial bot. Users can ALWAYS run these tools via a second machine, using VNC or some other such tool. There's nothing PokerStars can do to prevent this. Zip. Zilch. Ergo, their security measures are a PR scam. Ergo, they're invading user privacy in order to enforce a certain public relations image.

If any other company tried this sort of unethical, shady behavior, they'd be lynched. But PokerStars gets away with it because, like the author pointed out, hardly anybody is aware that this is being done, because that information is conveniently buried in fine print, and super vague.

If you don't resent the hell out of some fly by night overseas poker operation invading your privacy in this way, then you don't deserve privacy. As Ben Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Well, on the one hand, I would much rather Pokerstars focus its efforts on collaboration based cheating, seeing as how I have actually been subject to this method of cheating on the site, twice in which the users were caught and I was refunded some funds. Who knows how many other times though users have shared cards with each other in order to gain an edge. That is the much more trivial way of cheating. On the other hand, it certainly won't be much fun playing against bots, but I imagine the bot AI will be so weak as to actually guarantee easy profits for the concious player. Inevitably though, there will be a day when the bot AI is developed far beyond the human skill capacity, e.g. Deep Blue and chess. Then, it will no longer to be fun or profitable to play and the industry will suffer. I don't know any players who are interested in that.

Also, your articles have been going downhill, and while I appreciate your writing I am hopeful that you will get back on track.

I prefer these kinds of articles to the poker botting drudgery. with endless amounts of code. tell me the story, talk a few technicals points, and wrap it up. Blogs are blogs, not books.

I would like to see a book tho. You could call it 'Bringing Down the Mouse: The story of how the Dallas underground took online poker for millions' ;-)

About5.5 TOS from PS: EPA which are designed to provide an "unfair advantage". Who says they are designed to do that. They are designed for fun or for gaining programming experience or for selling or for whatever reason except designed for providing "unfair advantage".

non-software based databases or profiles: Does this mean I am also not allowed to write on a piece of paper about player dude889 that he is a big fish and always hits his inside str8 so he is a big fish?

....User has personally observed through the users own game play: You can only use the information gathered from your own game play? What about I read a book how poker players behave during game play? I am not allowed to use the information I gathered from the books? I can read and have an unfair advantage against a poker player who can not read? You are playing poker and a friend told you that dude1234 always raises from the button. I can not use this information now and reraise. Because I did not knew he was doing that by my own gameplay observations and wanted to fold my AT on the big blind instead? I am not allowed to read on poker forums about different players and how they play. I can not watch a poker table and see how players play before I sit down and actually play against them too? I can not discuss poker action by other players at the table with other players at home because I gain insight information beyond my own obervations during my own game play? I am not allowed to think about poker scenarios against opponents not encountered yet and how to play it if I did not observed this already?

Regarding "unfair advantage": If your IQ and playing insights are better then someone elses IQ and playing insights you have an unfair advantage? The low IQ player will never be able to play as good as you because his IQ is to low to learn from his mistakes and his IQ is to low to recognize this too and thinks it is all luck. If you are an emotional type of player not capable of keeping disciplined and the other player is a natural disciplined player maybe the disciplined player has an unfair advantage also then.

If there is one big unfair advantage it is the rake Pokerstars takes no matter who wins or looses the hand turning almost every player into a long term losing one. It is an unfair advantage from PokerStars to reside in a country residing out of the legal consumer protection jurisdiction so that the customer has no legal way to challenge any wrong doing by the company who dictate whatever they feel like doing to the pokerplayers including forfeiting the monnies you faithfully deposited in your player account with no interest.

BTW- Why would you play on Pokerstars? There are too many bots playing there taking down the money. ;)

Danny- Unfortunately, PokerStars (along with Full Tilt) have the market pretty much cornered. Yet another reason I guess. They can invade your machine because where else are you going to play?

First of all - great article, as usual. Thx. Have some questions about the comments tho:

[quote]...How about this:

  1. Install Poker Stars client on some old physical computer somewhere (not a VM, so you don't get flagged for running in a VM)...[/quote]

Are U getting flagged for installing PS in VM? I am thinking about moving to a macbook and using a locked VM running WinXP on Parallels or Fusion for security reasons. Should I change my mind?

[quote]Using VNC may not be sufficient; you would be limited to doing screen-scraping, and PStars' software will easily detect that the mouse clicks were not originated by a human player. The VNC approach is similar to what is used by OpenWinHoldem, and I saw a note recently on OWH's forum from a user that was banned by Stars for using it (the bot runs outside the VM where Stars client was running).

the key challenge is how to drive the mouse & keyboard in a way that is completely indistinguishable from a human player doing it.[/quote]

What about players like me using AHK scripts to make multitabling easier? During my play I have no mouse action at all. Opinions?

Lots of people use VMs to run online poker clients from a Mac, so I don't see how it could "flag" you. But running in a VM doesn't guarantee stealth I don't think. There are ways to "pierce" it.

I once published a blog on this very topic. Seems like the criminals at Pokerstars are up to the same criminal behavior as always. If anything they have gotten worse. Mobsters and money launderers out of Israel. Pfah

Running in VM for me isn't about stealth, it's 4 security reasons. Imagine a clean, pure (but patched and secured) WinXP install with only the necessary SW (like e.g. PS and PT) in a "freezed" VM, which returns to its original status after every reboot. Farewell viruses, wellcum hackers - anything fishy gets a long kiss good night after the next reboot. Of course there are a few issues to solve - PT DB must run on the host OS (or in another VM), U must update the "freeze" status after OS/SW patches, poker client update etc., but it's still manageable.

Sorry for OT. Waiting 4 your next pokerbot article.... or whatever article, I enjoy your style.

B.B.

i, along with many pros, welcome pokerstars to investigate my machine and the machine of every other player. what i wouldn't reälly enjoy the old party poker ToS where they said they would take screenshots and see what other programs are running. so that you probably wouldn't want to do any home banking or anything else that involves sensitive information (which is pretty much everything you do on a computer). now pokerstars is the leading poker site, and they're doing a pretty good job investigating both colluders and bots. however, unlike some commenter said, there are many other poker sites out there. besides stars and full tilt there is cake, the whole prima network, the ipoker network, the cryptologic network (all of those networks with 5+ different poker sites), bodog, betfair, sense poker, need i go on ? oh yeah there's the cheater/scumbag UB/AP .... almost forgot to mention them.

now, the reason pokerstars is based in .... wherever. i think it's gibraltar but it makes little difference. it's not because they want to do something illegal. it's quite the opposite. it's illegal to operate a poker site in the US, as it is in many european countries. you should suggest that the US passes a law that allows REGULATED AND TAXED operation of poker sites and i'll be one of the first to open shop there.

on the taxes .... you think pokerstars does the MAJORITY of their business in the US ? after they were stupid enough to pass the UIGEA ? that the republicans pinned on the safe port act ? US business has gone down significantly, while european/asian business has gone way up. so you think they should pay taxes in every country they have players in ? or is the US just so special ? if i open a business, should i be paying taxes in every country i sell stuff to ? business tax ? you should think about that for a minute.

what is the best bot to use

Fuck pokerstars. I'm coming for your money jeff.

if you think poker stars is violating privacy, you should see what governments do

Unfortunately this is nothing new, players of World of Warcraft have been spied on by Blizzard for years with Warden. Blizzard has yet to face legal action over the monitoring (IFAK) so the legal status in USA of such actions is still unknown.

I don't believe that Blizzard or PokerStars have the right to monitor what you do with your own property, but then their not going to stop.

In the end this all comes down to money, yours, mine, theirs. And the world keeps spinning.

Interesting article.

No mather whatever someone tells you. Using maths to do your betting is not cheating. Is called risk management.

I am glad I do not do poker games. Instead I play the stock and Forex markets. About the same feeling as betting, except that you can make informed decisions and no one comes crying when you do so.

Bots ruined online poker imo

Even though Pokerstars is based in Gibraltar, they are under UK jurisdiction and are publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. They do all they can to comply with the legal jurisdiction that they are under. They are not under American legal jurisdiction (no matter what the US gov't wants to believe), so they can really do anything they want without regards to Americans or American law. Actually, the fact that they promote Pokerstars.net on American TV may hinder that assumption now that I think about it.

[respost from another article]

They are fairly serious:

004817e0 d _ZN11BotDetector12botDetectorE 001c64e8 t _ZN11BotDetector13OnUserVCInputEPKc 001ca2b0 t _ZN11BotDetector13ProcessSignalEiPv 001c6570 t _ZN11BotDetector13ReportVersionEv 001c82ae t _ZN11BotDetector14OnHandFinishedEPKcjj 001c5cc8 t _ZN11BotDetector14postClientInfoEPKcttjttS1 001c7088 t _ZN11BotDetector14postTablesInfoEijjjP6PBlockPKSt6vectorI10PStringExtSaIS3EEPKS2IjSaIjEE 001c5c1a t _ZN11BotDetector15GenerateVCImageEmPh 001c6020 t _ZN11BotDetector15OnButtonClickedEv 001c6a2a t _ZN11BotDetector15ParseRuleStringER10PStringExtS1S1RjS2S2 00201586 t _ZN11BotDetector17createBotDetectorEv 001c6d82 t _ZN11BotDetector17postResultToMonetEijjRK5RectPKcjllm 001c61ea t _ZN11BotDetector17reportHandsPlayedEv 001c797e t _ZN11BotDetector18OnVisualConfirmMsgEjjR13MessageParser 001ca10c t _ZN11BotDetector18ProcessTimerSignalEP5Timer 001c8466 t _ZN11BotDetector19CheckMouseBehaviourEv 001c5bc4 t _ZN11BotDetector19ProcessDialogSignalEP6Dialogi 001c8d72 t _ZN11BotDetector21ConfigureMouseMonitorEv 001ca000 t _ZN11BotDetector21SetBotsDetectionTimerEv 001c83b6 t _ZN11BotDetector23SetBehaviorMonitorTimerEv 001c6088 t _ZN11BotDetector24GetDlgTextFromServerTextEPKcR10PStringExtS3_ 001c645a t _ZN11BotDetector25OnVisualConfirmationTimerEv 001c5e1c t _ZN11BotDetector27ShowVisualConfirmationImageEv 001c66c0 t __ZN11BotDetector9ConfigureEv

who cares its all rigged to hell anyway u better believe it there slimy little fuckers.

Fuck those progs... have anyof you in favor of the programs actually considered learning the game, learning the math...

Who gives a shit!! Learn to play the game you fucking cheating snobs.

I never before plaid online poker, but heard a lot about it. but reading this article it seems to be complicated with all these bots and other stuff.

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@James - The scarey part of the BotDetection code, is (IMHO), that this is the Macintosh client.

I think all this "hi-tech" solutions (such as the anti-botting product you mention) will fall prey to the ultimate enemy of all hi-tech solutions. A low-tech enemy.

I point to www.decaptcher.com as a perfect example. When years of artificial intelligence and image recognition fail you, just hire a factory full of Indians to type in the Captcha codes for you.

I'm already hearing reports of large scale "poker farms" starting up.

I believe you attributed a vague monetary value to how much a poker bot would be worth ... a factory full of $3/hour workers suddenly starts to look very cheap and relatively risk free in comparison.

how do these places like pokerstars recognize a bot vs human, cant an element of randomness be worked into the code? could a bot be used to win [url=http://www.howtobuyfacebookpokerchips.com]facebook poker chips[/url] in texas holdem?

How can you question a pokersite's ethics and legality when you run pokerbots! You are destroying the integrity of the best game ever created.

I praise sites like pokerstars that close CHEATERS accounts and keep the money because as it stands, this is the only deterent for the leeches of the poker cummunity.

WHAT IF YOU ARE USING HOTKEYS? DOES POKERTRIADS LOOK AT IT AS IF IT WERE A BOT?? MAYBE THATS WHY I'M DOOMSWITCHED SO HARD.. I USE AUTOHOTKEY, THEY MAY THINK ITS A BOT?

I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT ONLINE POKER IN GENERAL MUST BE AT LEAST 3% RIGGED.. WHICH WOULD MEAN MILLIONS MORE CASH AT THE BOTTOM OF THEIR RIDICULOUS DEEP POCKETS THAT THEIR TEENY ARMS CAN'T REACH.

it wouldn't matter if you did use bots on this rigged piece of sh!t site anyway.. your bot would lose lol.

ASK YOURSELF THIS

why does pokerstars use a 3000+ line random number generator?? The law states that you only need some low number (i think it was about 12 or less) so why would you need an extra 2980+ lines of code??

also why do they employ people to specifically categorize and analyze stats from players, especially newbies on play money tables, who win a lot??

Bottom line is.. YOU CANNOT TRUST A PRIVATE ORGANIZATION BASED OFFSHORE WHICH IS BASED PURELY AROUND LYING AND PROFIT GENERATING. It is stated on their site that they are "not a gambling site" so why are you allowed to "gamble" with real money??

FYI i have played 76000+ hands on this rigged site so pls dont give me some "yu dont know what your on about, loser" b.s. ITS PURE LUCK IF YOU WIN HERE, and the players who profit are generally employed by pokerstars, or very high stakes players who hit it lucky. LOOK UP PEOPLE STATS... 70-85% of all players on this site LOSE MONEY OVERALL.

How would Poker Stars know that their software is being botted on another physically separate machine? Maybe they should ban VNC and the like? Good luck - I can write an app to copy windows from one machine to another in an hour. Of course then there is the network traffic. Maybe they can ban that too?

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Pokerstars plays the "forbidden software" game in order to demonstrate that their game is legit and above reproach. Of course anyone who plays on Pokerstars and suffers horrendous bad beat after bad beat and awful, impossible to play situational poker over 1000's of hands knows full well that Pokerstars, and other sites, have their players who are pegged to lose over time.

Some examples of how Pokerstars does it:

You get AA in the big blind, everyone folds to you. Pokerstars counts this as a statistical "win" for your AA. But, when your AA is all in against a small pocket pair or other hand it'll probably only win 2.5 out of 4.5 times...about half the normal rate. So, while your "winning" AA's are winning 4 out of 5 times the equity you gain is actually only about 50% instead of 80%.

Go on Pokerstars....who are the winning players? How can a player playing 12 tables at a time be up in all of them? If you see some consistently suspicious play from an individual player (ie. calling your bluff all in on the river with bottom pair) it's a cinch he'll be "hidden". Can he see your cards? If you answer "No" how DO you know? They can hack into the Pentagon, into banks, ATM's, confidential personal databases, why can't they hack into the Pokerstars server?

How many of you have signed on to a new account, gone on a tear for the first few sessions and seen the hammer fall after that with horrendous bad beat after bad beat? IT'S RIGGED. If it's rigged, it's cheating you. If no matter how well you do in live poker you can't win on line over time it means you're never gonna win on line.You've been blacklisted, your money is needed to pad the winnings of winning players who get a lot of publicity through crappy websites such as cardschat.com, a portal for signing up new players.

Bottom line, if you can't win on line just play for a LITTLE money to give it some spice IF YOU MUST PLAY AT ALL.. Stick to the live game if you can get one.

POKERSTARS IS RIGGED.

Titan Poker? It's so badly rigged and so full of security flaws it's not even worth joking about.

Bottom line,

poker is not rigged, live is just easy as hell. sites like full tilt attract competitive players. if it is rigged then how do the same human players consistently get to the top of play money ladder and the freerolls (I see the same guys all the time, this is a legitimate question)? unless they use some different system for real money games on the same site then I don't know.

this is coming from a guy that doesn't know hand odds or starting hand odds, haven't really learned position strategy, doesn't like to bluff, never read a poker book and only going on basics and I keep a positive bankroll for play money with what I perceive to be pretty decent play money players.

I was reading this blog so I can get ideas to write my custom poker calc and tournament stats tracker in c++. (I haven't learned that either)

Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging.

""poker is not rigged, live is just easy as hell. sites like full tilt attract competitive players. if it is rigged then how do the same human players consistently get to the top of play money ladder and the freerolls (I see the same guys all the time, this is a legitimate question)? unless they use some different system for real money games on the same site then I don't know.""

arent you answering your own question?? if its not rigged, THEN WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SEE THE SAME PEOPLE WINNING??? maybe they are the ones who have been picked to win, they are the ones who consistently promote the sites as legitimate, therefore recruiting new customers and making sure the existing ones stay loyal and in hope.. or they are just so f*$king SKILLFUL, they can beat the random number generator, and make mind and soul reading plays with only a blinking light to go by!! LOL!!! what a joke.

Whether PokerStars is actually running doesn't matter! Once you install the PokerStars software, your machine, at least partially, belongs to PokerStars.

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Coding the Wheel has appeared on the New York Time's Freakonomics blog, Jeff Atwood's Coding Horror, and the front page of Reddit, Slashdot, Digg.

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