The Biggest Online Poker Cheaters Ever


The Biggest Online Poker Cheaters Ever


Ace card up sleeve cheating concept

The Biggest Online Poker Cheaters Ever


Ace card up sleeve cheating concept

Poker was introduced to the online world toward the end of the 1990s. It quickly became one of the most popular online casino games, attracting millions of players. Many people enjoy Texas Hold’em and Omaha online poker tournaments, so it’s no surprise that online casinos have seen their fair share of poker cheating scandals. Some people will go out of their way to ensure they win big, whether that’s at a casino, a private poker game or even when they’re playing online poker for real money. But which individuals have had the audacity to cross limits they shouldn’t have? Let’s find out about some of these poker scandals.

Five of the Biggest Poker Cheating Scandals

The best online casinos and poker sites use advanced artificial intelligence to prevent players from cheating. Nevertheless, some players have still managed to cheat before eventually being caught. Here are five players worth mentioning.

1. Russ Hamilton

Russ Hamilton during World Poker Tournament in 2004 in Las Vegas

World Series of Poker (WSOP) professional Russ Hamilton won the 1994 Main Event and took home its $1 million prize, which proved he had the skill to win poker games legitimately. However, his desire for riches drove him to cheat in what is now known as the “Ultimate Bet scandal” — perhaps the most famous controversy in online cheating and poker history — which sent the poker industry into a frenzy.

Between January 2005 and December 2007, Hamilton cheated players out of a fortune, costing Ultimate Bet (now a part of the Cereus Poker Network) more than $22 million. He did this by gaining access to a superuser account on Ultimate Bet, which allowed him to see each player’s hole cards and make bets accordingly. He was caught using the superuser account and admitted to his cheating scheme but refused to pay back any money, leaving Ultimate Bet to refund the defrauded players. Despite stealing millions from other players, Hamilton is a free man, walking away from the incident with a reputation for being one of the biggest cheaters in the game. Unsurprisingly, the poker world has since blocklisted him.

2. Darren Woods

Unfortunately, Darren Woods would not be as lucky as Hamilton. He was a talented young poker player who made almost $500,000 playing poker professionally. However, the former WSOP bracelet winner couldn’t resist the chance to get his hands on even more money — even if it meant breaking the rules. Woods’ cheating scheme involved successfully opening and playing simultaneously from multiple poker accounts online. Logging into poker tables using numerous accounts, he defrauded several online players by winning money against the “other’’ players. Woods attempted to cover his tracks but was eventually found out. 

This was an illegal act, as he made it look like there were various players at the virtual poker table when it was likely just him and a single victim playing. This meant he could skew the odds in his favor, as he could have up to seven seats at a table against one real poker player.

Woods was found guilty by a UK court and jailed for 15 months for fraud and cheating poker players out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He was also found guilty of claiming false commissions from his former sponsor, Woods was ordered to pay back $1.5 million to those he defrauded or face six years in prison. Woods was the first person criminally prosecuted in the UK for cheating while playing poker online and served time for his crimes.

3. Scott Tom

The Black Friday scandal had everyone in the poker industry buzzing. Many believe that Scott Tom — one of the founders of Absolute Poker, a once-successful poker site — either installed a back door in his own software or was able to exploit a glitch, which led to the scandal. This duplicitous exploit allowed certain users — including Tom and other people with whom he allegedly colluded — the means to see everyone’s hands at the poker table and thus defraud other online players for millions of dollars.

Absolute Poker was shut down and, despite the massive amount of money he’d managed to cheat out of other players, Tom made a plea deal of a mere $300,000 fine. After pleading guilty to lesser charges, Tom spent only seven days in prison, after which he boarded a one-way flight to Antigua.

4. Josh Fields

Josh “JJ Prodigy” Fields is among the world’s youngest and most controversial poker players. At age 15, Fields started playing in online poker rooms, which is illegal because you have to be 18 to play at the virtual felt table in the USA. He won a tournament for $140,000 under the username “ABlackCar.” The scandal only came to light on a poker forum after suspicion arose that ‘’ABlackCar’’ was being run by the user “JJ Prodigy.” He eventually admitted to creating multiple accounts and buying accounts, resulting in bans from well-known sites such as PokerStars and partypoker. 

Fields found himself in trouble again when it was reported that he had been taking over for players during tournaments and sharing their winnings with them. Although he was banned from all online casinos, he continued to play under multiple aliases. 

Fields admitted to cheating right before he turned 21 and started playing in live poker tournaments. His online reputation follows him at live events, although it’s safe to say that creating multiple accounts in live games is impossible. Fields has won almost $750,000 playing in high-stakes offline games as a professional player. His largest single win was $153,015 for a third-place finish at Event #63 during the 47th WSOP in 2016.

5. José Macedo

Dubbed the Portuguese poker prodigy, José ‘’Girah’’ Macedo admitted to staging a hole-card-sharing scam. He admitted to setting up games during “coaching sessions’ with certain players, having them play against a certain player on the iPoker network. He convinced players to allow him to “sweat’’ their play and watch them online over screen-sharing while also playing in the same game under the username “sauron1989.” 

The account “sauron1989” was, despite Macedo’s claims of being an easy-to-beat whale (or weak player,) playing too well and players that he coached became suspicious. They discovered that the respective Skype accounts of Macedo and ‘’sauron1989’’ would often log on and off simultaneously, which confirmed their suspicion that Macedo was using Skype as a superuser account and scamming them. 

Macedo apologized and promised to pay back the players with interest. But there was more to the scandal! Two other members of the popular poker forum of which Macedo was a member, Dan “Jungleman” Cates and Haseeb “DogIsHead” Qureshi, were also caught up in it since they bankrolled Macedo.

Due to the cheating scandal, Macedo lost his Lock Poker sponsorship. One year after being called a poker prodigy, he vanished from the poker world. In 2014, reported that Macedo had cleaned up his act — quite literally in fact, because he launched a successful cleaning service for university students in the UK.

How Do Players Cheat Online?

Man in a dark room with a hoodie on playing on the computer

From edge sorting to counting cards, there are many loopholes to give you an upper hand at the casino. But can these techniques be used online? Playing online poker for real money is considered safe and secure at trusted sites. However, cheating still happens in the online gambling industry. Here are five ways players cheating online in poker tournaments may be trying to go about it.

1. Multi-Accounting

A player will create and use several accounts in a single poker room. Using more than one account in poker rooms online is illegal as it gives the player an unfair advantage in cash games and allows them to see more than their two hole cards. Poker sites usually prevent people from creating multiple accounts in the first place by verifying their personal data, tracking whether any accounts are playing from the same internet IP address or whether they’re playing from a virtual machine.

2. Poker Bots

Bots are essentially simple computer programs that have been coded to play poker online. These programs, or bots, can be used to cheat at games such as Texas Hold’em poker, where they can make decisions and take actions in a poker room or can even take over play for the owner while they’re away from their computer. Some of these poker bots are incredibly advanced; while none will ever be perfect, they can dramatically improve a player’s win rate. 

Most sites employ various systems that monitor for any play that exhibits “robotic” patterns to prevent abuse by these AI players.

3. Ghosting

A poker player getting advice from someone else during a game or tournament is known as ghosting. It can be done over the phone, over the computer or the person could be sitting next to you. Since this method of cheating can take multiple forms, it can be difficult to monitor in online tournaments. It’s considered cheating as more than one player is strategizing on a hand. This will give the ghosted player an advantage over other players at the table.

Ghosting is hard to see, but poker sites have systems to detect suspicious play, which is then reviewed to determine whether the player was just lucky or was ghosting.

4. Collusion

This happens when two or more players at a poker table work together to win more money from other players. There are many ways that players can collude, including revealing their cards to each other, trapping players in the game and making multiple raises and re-raises before the flop to build the pot. Colluding is illegal because it gives those players the unfair advantage of knowing when to fold and helps them to calculate their odds based on the information of the co-conspirators’ cards.

As with ghosting, collusion is not always obvious, but sites have systems in place to analyze players’ gameplay and flag any games or hands that stand out, particularly if there’s a pattern involving certain players.

5. Viewing Hole Cards

When you play poker games online, information about your hole cards is stored on the poker server. If players can see their opponents’ hole cards, they can win every hand. Players can also fold before the showdown every time they’re behind. In the Russ Hamilton scandal, his ‘’superuser account” allowed him to see all his opponents’ hole cards, giving him an obvious advantage over his opponents.

Poker sites have dramatically increased their security to avoid situations like this and if a situation like this does occur, it can be easily tracked back to the individual who committed the crime.

How To Report Cheating Online

To avoid encountering cheaters when playing poker online, register with a trusted and reputable online casino. Borgata Online is fully licensed and regulated by the State of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. If you suspect someone of cheating during a poker tournament or in a poker room, you should submit a complaint immediately. In your complaint, note the username of the cheater, the time and date you suspect they cheated and the game or room they were in when the incident occurred. 

At Borgata Online, we have zero tolerance for fraud and collusion. We perform random security checks and other activity-log reviews to uphold fairness at the poker tables. With our unfair advantage policy, we’re committed to acting fast and diminishing any unfair practices. If players are found guilty of fraud or collusion, their accounts are closed immediately.

Play Poker Safely and Fairly at Borgata Online

For an unbeatable poker experience, register at Borgata Online. You’ll gain access to various types of poker online, including live poker and Texas Hold’em. Play poker with your friends or against other people online, on your desktop, smartphone or tablet with Borgata Online.