The Biggest Online Poker Cheaters Ever

Ace card up sleeve cheating concept

Online poker was introduced to the world toward the end of the 90s. It quickly became one of the most popular online casino games, attracting millions of players. Many online poker players enjoy Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker tournaments, so it’s no surprise that online casinos have seen their fair share of cheating scandals. Some people will go out of their way to ensure that they win big at the poker table, whether it’s at a land-based or online casino. 

Five of the biggest cheating scandals

The best online casinos and poker sites use advanced artificial intelligence to prevent players from cheating. Yet, some players still managed to get away with cheating in poker online. Here are five players worth mentioning:

1. Russ Hamilton

Russ Hamilton during World Poker Tournament in 2004 in Las Vegas

Russ Hamilton is a World Series of Poker professional and won the 1994 Main Event. The Ultimate Bet scandal — perhaps the most famous scandal in online cheating and poker history — had the poker industry in a frenzy. Between January 2005 and December 2007, Russ Hamilton cheated players out of millions of dollars, costing Ultimate Bet over $22 million. He was able to do this through a superuser account on Ultimate Bet. Hamilton could see the hole cards of each player and made bets accordingly. He admitted to his cheating scheme and has not paid back any money, and Ultimate Bet ended up paying back players who were defrauded. Hamilton is a free man with a reputation for being one of the biggest cheaters in the game. Unsurprisingly, he has been blacklisted by the poker world.

2. Darren Woods

Darren Woods is a talented young poker player and a former World Series of Poker bracelet winner. Woods defrauded several online poker players by successfully opening and playing with multiple poker accounts. His cheating scheme worked by logging into a poker table using multiple accounts and winning money against the “other’’ players. This was illegal as he made it look like there were various players when it was likely just him and his victim playing. This meant he was able to skew the odds in his favor.

Unlike Hamilton, Woods was found guilty by a UK court and jailed for 15 months for fraud and for cheating poker players out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was also found guilty of claiming false commissions from his former sponsor, 888.com. Hamilton was ordered to pay back $1.5 million to those he defrauded or he would have to serve six years in prison. Woods was the first person to be criminally prosecuted in the UK for cheating while playing poker online.

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 — installed a backdoor in his own software, which led to the Black Friday scandal. This backdoor allowed certain users the means to see everyone’s hands at the poker table, and to thus defraud other online poker players for combined millions of dollars. Absolute Poker was shut down and Tom made a plea deal of a mere $300,000 fine. After pleading guilty to lesser charges, Tom only spent 7 days in prison. 

4. Josh Fields

Josh “JJ Prodigy” Fields is one of the world’s youngest and most controversial poker players. He was involved in playing with multiple accounts in major tournaments on the PartyPoker site. At the age of 15, Fields started playing in online poker rooms, which is illegal as the legal age is 18 years old in the USA. He won a tournament for $140,000 under the username “ABlackCar”. The scandal came to light on a poker forum after suspicion arose that ‘’ABlackCar’’ was being run by “JJ Prodigy”. He eventually admitted to creating multiple accounts and buying accounts. Well-known sites such as PokerStars and PartyPoker banned him. Fields found himself in trouble again when it was reported that he had been taking over for players during tournaments, and shared their winnings with them. Although he was banned from all online casinos, he continued to play under multiple aliases. What makes Fields’ cheating story so interesting is that he 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 it is impossible to create multiple accounts in live games. 

5. José “Girah” Macedo

Dubbed the Portuguese poker prodigy, José ‘’Girah’’ Macedo admitted to staging a hole card-sharing scam. He admitted to convincing players to play against a certain player on the iPoker network. Macedo used the name “sauron1989” in games with stakes up to $50 – $100. He convinced players to allow him to “sweat’’ their play and watch them online over screen sharing. The account “sauron1989” was playing too well and players were becoming suspicious. They discovered that the respective Skype accounts of Macedo and ‘’sauron1989’’ would often log on and off at the same time, which confirmed their suspicion that Macedo was using Skype as a superuser account and scamming them. He apologized and promised to pay back the players with interest. Macedo lost his Lock Poker sponsorship and one year after being called a poker prodigy, Macedo left the poker world. 

How do players cheat online?

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

Playing 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 that players cheat online in poker tournaments.

Multi-accounting

A player will create several accounts and use them in a single poker room. It is illegal to use more than one account in poker rooms online. It gives the player an unfair advantage in cash games and allows them to see more than their two hole cards.

Poker bots

Bots are essentially simple computer programs that have been coded to play poker online. Basically, they’re computer programs that can be used to cheat at games like Texas Hold’em. 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. 

Ghosting

Advising poker players 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. Ghosting can be difficult to monitor in online tournaments. It’s considered cheating as there is more than one player strategizing on a hand. This will give the ghosted player an advantage over other players at the table.

Collusion

This happens when two or more players at a poker table are working 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 multiple raises and re-raises prior to the flop to build the pot. Colluding is illegal as it gives some players the unfair advantage of knowing when to fold and helps to calculate their outs, based on the information of the other player’s cards.

Viewing hole cards

When you play poker online, information about your hole cards is stored on the poker server. In the Russ Hamilton scandal, his ‘’super-user account” allowed him to see all his opponents’ hole cards. If a player can see their opponents’ hole cards, they can win every hand. Players can also fold before the showdown every time they are behind.

How to report cheating online

To avoid encountering cheaters when you play poker online, make sure you are registered 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, noting 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 are 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 at Borgata Online

For premier online poker and an unbeatable poker experience, register at Borgata Online. You’ll gain access to a variety of online poker, including live poker and Texas Hold’em. Play poker on your desktop, smartphone, or tablet with Borgata Online.