Top 3 Poker Cheating Scandals – Gaming Online Casinos


Posted: January 8, 2024

Updated: January 8, 2024

Cheating at poker isn’t a fair or ethical way to play the game. It undermines the spirit of competition and fairness that makes poker enjoyable for everyone involved. Though there was always cheating at brick-and-mortar casinos, the internet allowed players much better opportunities for poker cheating.

The realm of poker, renowned for its blend of skill and chance, maintains a close link with the world of gambling and casinos. This connection has drawn its fair share of dubious characters, resulting in a history peppered with instances of cheating scandals. Since the game’s inception, cheating in poker has persisted, evolving from confrontations among cowboys to modern-day controversies that merely tarnish reputations across online platforms.

For those entrenched in the poker sphere, who also enjoy playing online at sites like Bet365 Poker, then awareness of the most significant poker cheating scandals is imperative. These scandals altered the game’s landscape and perception, leaving an indelible mark on its history. Here are three of the most notorious poker cheating scandals that rattled the very essence of the game and left an enduring impact.

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Poker Cheating  – The Black Friday

The bulk of contemporary poker cheating scandals unfold beyond the poker tables, often orchestrated by influential figures behind the scenes. Such was the case with Full Tilt Poker (FTP), a prominent online poker hub during the Poker Boom era of the early 2000s. Despite its immense popularity, the founders’ covert activities revealed a different narrative.

Amidst the fervour of the Poker Boom, the United States government, staunchly opposed to online gambling within its borders, took action in 2011. FTP, alongside PokerStars and Absolute Poker, permitted American players on their platforms despite regulatory restrictions. This defiance prompted a severe response from the US Department of Justice, who accused the trio of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

The crackdown ensued swiftly, marked by raids on offices, seizure of domain names, and the freezing of funds belonging to millions of poker players worldwide. In this upheaval, information trickled out, shedding light on the differing fates of players. While PokerStars swiftly addressed the issue, reimbursing players and allowing withdrawals despite a temporary cessation of real-money poker, the situation remained uncertain for those associated with Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker Played Their Players

This instilled a glimmer of hope among FTP players, but the situation was graver than initially perceived. Investigations revealed a series of deceitful practices within FTP’s operations.

poker cheating
Picture Source: Pexels

These encompass permitting players to engage in games using unprocessed US deposits, channelling player funds for operational expenses, and endorsing players to participate in high-stakes games on the platform. At the helm of FTP were Ray Bitar, Howard “The Professor” Lederer, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, all directly embroiled in the entire debacle. As Black Friday struck, FTP’s bank accounts were virtually depleted, prolonging the agony for players anticipating their owed funds.

Running A Ponzi Scheme

Within the poker community, blame primarily fell on Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, the public faces of FTP. However, it became evident that CEO Ray Bitar was the central figure orchestrating the deceit. The repercussions were dire: poker cheating players faced the grim prospect of waiting years before seeing any restitution.

Ultimately, Full Tilt players saw relief when PokerStars brokered a deal with the DOJ, acquiring FTP to ensure players received their due balances. In contrast, players associated with Absolute Poker received scant compensation, victims of the operator’s unscrupulous practices. Speculation persists on the fate of Absolute Poker and FTP had Black Friday never occurred, suggesting an inevitable reckoning for players ensnared in the web of deceit.

Legal resolutions ensued as individuals involved in the alleged Ponzi scheme at FTP settled with the DOJ in varied capacities. Astonishingly, Chris Ferguson, despite his involvement, resurfaced at the World Series of Poker and earned the prestigious Player of the Year title in the 2017 WSOP, prompting further contemplation about the scandal’s enduring impact.

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Super Users At Ultimate Bet And Absolute Poker

Have you ever experienced that uncanny feeling in a poker game, as if your opponent could peek at your hand? According to online poker news in the US, that unsettling sensation became a reality for numerous players at AP and UB in the latter half of 2007 and 2008. This poker cheating scandal gradually unfurled as players congregated on online forums, sharing accounts of encountering adversaries making inexplicable moves that consistently favored them in major online tournaments.

The initial allegations surfaced against a player operating under the alias “POTRIPPER” in late 2007. This player amassed staggering sums through unorthodox gameplay in platform tournaments, sparking widespread scrutiny. Rigorous analysis of hundreds of hands involving POTRIPPER led the online poker community to a unanimous verdict: POTRIPPER was unequivocally gaming the system. The precise methodology behind this flawless play remained obscured, with conjecture leaning toward a suspected ability to glimpse other players’ cards.

Monies Returmed

Subsequent allegations implicated players at Ultimate Bet Poker, mirroring the previous suspicions. Subsequent investigations conducted by the security teams of both poker platforms and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission corroborated the claims. They unearthed the utilisation of Super User accounts in both instances, granting access to players’ cards and enabling information sharing among those operating behind the suspected pseudonyms.

poker cheating
Picture Source: Flickr

The aftermath of the AP scandal saw the return of $1.6 million to affected players. Conversely, the Gaming Commission’s inquiries into UB unveiled a staggering reality: an estimated theft exceeding $20 million from UB players between 2005 and 2008 via the Super User Method.

Poker Cheating  – The Downfall Of Russ Hamilton

The victor of the 1994 WSOP Main Event, Russ Hamilton, a prominent figure affiliated with UB and employed as a gaming advisor, faced accusations of poker cheating by accessing the Super User account for personal gain. Subsequent revelations against Hamilton surfaced, including incriminating evidence in the form of a recorded telephone conversation between him and UB management discussing strategies to conceal the entire affair.

This damning evidence abruptly terminated Hamilton’s poker career, although the acknowledged poker cheat evaded substantial accountability for his actions. In line with many others involved in various forms of poker cheating over recent decades, Russ Hamilton endured a stained reputation while harbouring millions of dollars in illicitly obtained funds stowed away in their coffers.

Jose “Girah” Macedo – The Poker Prodigy Scandal

During the early years of the 2010s, a wave of poker prodigies ascended to prominence, among them Jungleman, durrrr, Isildur1, and Girah. By 2010 and 2011, Jose “Girah” Macedo emerged as a significant figure in the poker realm, earning acclaim as the anticipated next poker sensation from Portugal. Amidst flourishing success at the tables and the endorsement of Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Girah’s career sparkled with promise. Despite his youth, Jungleman’s protege instilled intimidation in potential opponents, dissuading many from challenging him.

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However, Girah’s meteoric rise faced a staggering downfall when he opted to exploit his fame for dubious purposes. He integrated into several coaching and support groups, offering coaching and sweating sessions, which garnered eager participation. Under Girah’s guidance, players engaged in heads-up matches against “sauron1989,” purportedly an easy target for lucrative gains. Yet, sauron1989 exhibited flawless gameplay against Girah’s protégés during these sessions, raising suspicions of poker cheating among some players. Macedo eventually confessed to sharing players’ cards with sauron1989, providing an insurmountable advantage that undermined any fair competition.

Sharing Cards With Another Player

Ultimately, Macedo asserted that sauron1989 was a friend he had introduced to poker, someone struggling with significant losses in the game. In an attempt to mitigate these losses, Macedo purportedly sought to aid his friend through these deceitful means. Shortly thereafter, Jose Macedo vanished from the online poker sphere, leaving a lingering mystery surrounding his whereabouts and fate. Girah’s poker cheating scandal incurred a toll of approximately $30,000 on the poker community, casting a shadow over one of the era’s most promising poker talents. The incident proved a regrettable misfortune for all parties entangled in its web, dimming the lustre of a once-brilliant poker mind.

Poker Cheating Today

With online technology and AI developing intelligent poker bots at an alarming rate, we can’t say with any certainty that poker cheating will ever be solvable. Much like athletes taking performance enhancing drugs, those searching for them will always be a couple of steps behind when it comes to detection. However, this highlights the importance of only playing poker on reputable websites. Without a doubt, one of the best online poker websites in the US is Bet365 Poker. Not only do they carry a stringent gaming licence, but also are constantly running the latest software looking for those who seek to circumnavigate the rules. 

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