I’ve been watching the Absolute cheating saga unfold over on 2+2 and P5’s and am shaking my head. I was trying to hold off judgement until a clear story came out (in case you want the whole story you can click here for a good summary) but now, according to P5’s, Absolute admits that their system has been compromised.
I am both pleased and disappointed that Absolute has been exposed. On the one hand I am happy because I have said repeatedly for years that an online poker room that was rigged would quickly be exposed by the players themselves. And on the other hand I am disappointed that this has happened at all. This is a huge black eye to the industry and will surely feed the tin-foil hat crowd who think online poker is rigged.
There was certainly some excellent detective work done by the poker community. That’s natural when you take smart people, many with full time jobs in the computer industry, and you throw them at a problem. Big kudos go out to everyone who put in the hard work to blow this story open.
While the actual admission is still only a rumour at the time of this post, I think the message the poker community needs to send is that this is an unforgiveable offense. Even if it was the action of a rouge employee, the fact that a rogue employee could compromise the system due to a lack of proper security protocols is enough of a reason to never trust the management of the site. You either care about security and set up the proper systems to ensure it or you don’t.
But let’s not just point our fingers at Absolute. Let’s not forget that PokerStars recently disqualified a player who was caught multi-accounting in the WCOOP. And not long ago Full Tilt was facing the ugly ire of 2+2 for being slow to respond to a bot network that was running rampant on their system. In fact, these multi-account stories are starting to become so common that I tend to just shrug when I hear that another player has been caught and banned from a site.
In order to avoid these types of scandals in the future companies need to invest heavily in their detection and prevention operations. Unfortunately, in a market as competitive and fast-paced as the online poker industry, the battle between cool new features and improved security is typically one-sided in favour of cool new features.
I’ve always believed that the best way to change the emphasis was to legalize and regulate online gaming. The UIGEA is the kind of thing that helps the shady operators stay in business. First, as one of the sites still accepting US players Absolute is already operating outside of the law. No matter how egregious their crime there is little likelihood anybody will ever bring the guilty to justice. Second, in a highly regulated environment money gets spent on security to avoid having to pay the kinds of fines that the government can impose.
I hope this all ends up serving as a wake-up call for the online poker industry.