Want to really feel a chill? Imagine yourself wandering into a online poker room where ALL FIVE of your opponents are sitting in the same room (or are sharing a conference call or chat room), working together, seeing each other’s cards, and the like. Not only would knowledge of each other’s cards be a huge advantage, but they would be able to select only the strongest hands to play, making it very difficult to prove cheating even by post-hand review.
How do you protect yourself from this? Like most forms of cheating, a suspicious nature is a good start. If the same two players keep re-raising each other, be wary. They might just be wild players, or something might be happening.
How the Online Poker Room Can Help
But I also think the online casino needs to help. They need some sort of appeal and review process, where a player who thinks he’s been the victim of sharp practice can press a button and have some casino employee review the hands and the betting. If Player C has re-raised with a bad hand, we know what’s going on. The cheaters should then be permanently barred (tougher in cyberspace than in real casinos), their accounts frozen, and the losing player should be awarded the pot (or pots) that the cheaters took down.
Unfortunately, sophisticated poker cheats know better than to re-raise with a bad hand; they’ll wait for a situation that’s more defensible. That’s why I think we’re a long way from high stakes poker being practical on the Internet, with the possible exception of one-on-one poker, and most players don’t like to play one-on-one.
If you can find a online poker situation where the ownership is well capitalized and where there is an effective review process, I’d say you’re probably as safe playing online poker as the live version. I do not endorse (explicitly or implicitly) any particular online poker room (or Internet casino), so don’t write asking for recommendations. I can help identify the issues that should concern you; after that, you need to do your own work. Things can change fast in this business.
Comparing Online Poker to Live Poker
For people who don’t live within an easy drive of live legal poker rooms, online poker offers some very real advantages over illegal private games. It’s very easy to get cheated in a private game, it’s no fun getting arrested, and I assure you, the first time you play in a game that gets hijacked (robbed) by three guys brandishing shotguns (which happened in one of my old Atlanta games), you’ll develop a stronger interest in the safety of card room poker.
You also need to consider your own Toto HK strengths and weaknesses as a poker player. If you’re a very good “technical” player but aren’t very good at reading other people, or at keeping a poker face, online poker may be a better option than live poker. If technically you’re merely adequate, but no one can “read” you and your intuition about other players is good, you need to find a live game.
Me, I prefer the camaraderie of a live game, but that’s a personal preference, easy to indulge because I live 15 minutes from a card casino, and also because I don’t think poker is as good a game without all the fascinating human factors. If the drive isn’t that easy for you, or if you’re a math professor type, online poker is a viable option. But like they used to say on Hill Street Blues… be careful out there!