Collusion has no place in online or live poker and all acts of collusion
Committed players understand that poker is an individual’s game and
view collusion as a deceitful act. The few who involve themselves
in collusion risk suspension of their online accounts or a complete
ban, as well as having to repay the opponents they have cheated.
As a player, I want to know how safe the industry is; I want to know
that I have an equal, fair chance to win. When researching this article
I went to the security department of the biggest independent poker site,
Who looks after our interests
Based in multiple office locations around the world with support from
home workers, hundreds of specialist poker security staff are employed to
preserve the integrity of our game. You can be assured; 24 hours a day, 7
days a week, 365 days a year, specialist poker security personnel are
working in our best interests.
It is not just human poker security specialists that keep a wary eye on
poker play. The site also has a wide base of automated security systems
with the primary function to highlight issues that may need further
A collusion investigation made by a poker specialist that is
further reviewed by a senior collusion expert is time consuming,
believe it is important that every reported allegation of collusion is
How prevalent is collusion in our game
In any walk of life there will always be a few that think they can
cheat their way to riches. However, the perception of collusion in poker
is much more frequent than the reality.
While all reported cases of collusion are investigated, the majority are
found to be innocent of collusion. Often it is simply players reaching
the wrong conclusions based on the limited information they have.
While regionally there is no ‘collusion central,’ the majority of
confirmed collusion cases happen at the lower stake levels. This
bias may be due to the overall higher numbers playing at lower stakes;
or could spring from the inappropriate and erroneous thought, “no one
will notice if we keep it low.”
The overwhelming majority of online poker players are honest in their
approach, looking only to beat their opponents by fair means. The
online poker industry is certainly not rife with scammers and cheats.
How do security teams protect us
have automated systems that review every account for indications of
illegal activity. Ongoing developments of those automated systems are
conducted in secrecy to ensure players continue to receive the highest
standard of security.
Possibly the most useful tool available to the security teams is the
ability to review every hand a player has been dealt into, allowing
analysis of all the associated information. This undeniable data, when
evaluated by poker security specialists and collusion experts, will
clear your name if you are an innocent party or will otherwise be
Regardless of the stakes involved or the format played, the poker
security department treats all investigations with equal diligence.
When a player is thought to be involved in collusion
As prescribed above, a player involved in collusion will be
found out by a variety of automated systems and human evaluation
or third party reporting. Every report of collusion is investigated.
A player alleging collusion to the PokerStars
security department, will be kept informed of the progress of
the investigation and advised of the outcome. PokerStars
consider this an essential part of the process, as it gives the
reporting player the opportunity to review the findings and share
their opinion on the outcome if they disagree.
The site security team work towards a fair assessment
that produces an accurate conclusion which preserves the integrity
of our game; in reality this is all we want.
When a player is found to be active in collusion
With the security systems in place, it is unusual to find
collusion that has been going on for more than a few weeks:
typically, the site is fairly quick at identifying misconduct.
However, if malpractice is conceived over a longer period a
lengthier review is conducted.
The regular process involves the suspect player’s account being
frozen, while a poker specialist asks for an explanation of the
issues involved. While the account is frozen no financial
transactions are possible for that player.
If an investigation made by a poker specialist and further reviewed
by a senior collusion expert concludes that a player was involved
in collusion, they risk having their funds confiscated, their
account suspended or completely closed; 100% of all funds
confiscated from players are returned to the victims of their
If a player is allowed to return from suspension following
activity in collusion, they are kept a very close eye on.
How we can help security teams to help us
Do not go looking for collusion, as said before; ‘the
perception of collusion in poker is much more frequent than the
reality’ and collusion is not something you should worry about.
Inevitability attempts are made to gain unfair advantages over
legitimate players, but these rare attempts are generally easy to
say that reports from players are valuable tools.
Anyone with suspicions regarding a situation should take note of
the tournament and/or hand number(s) along with the names of the
players involved; then send the details to the sites security
department so they can conduct a review.
It costs nothing to report irregular play and while most
situations tend to have an innocent explanation, the poker sites
welcome the opportunity to investigate and act if appropriate.
The best advice for players wary of collusion, is the same advice
I’d give to players looking to play poker in a fair and competitive
way; pay close attention at the table.
If something looks really bad in a tournament your immediate
options may be limited (the game must go on); if you are playing a
cash table you have the option to sit out or leave. But in both
cases, help the security teams to help us.
Other types of prohibited activity
The site is also on the lookout for Bots with a wide range
of automatic detection tools that highlight their illegal use. In
order to confirm that each player is a human being, a team of ‘Bot
hunters’ investigate suspicious users flagged up by their systems
or reported by other players. They also have a range of systems
and techniques designed to thwart those who register multiple
are opposed to data mining (the practice of gathering large
databases of hands from observation of hands that you are not
dealt into). They have a liberal policy regarding poker management and personal
analysis tools, understanding it is reasonable for players to
record and evaluate hands that they have played in the past.
You should read the terms of service of all poker sites you
Terms of Service: http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/tos/
Third Party Tools and Services http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/prohibited/
My thanks go to Michael J from PokerStars for
his advice when researching this article.
The thanks of us all should go to the security personnel who across
the industry protect the integrity of this game we collectively