Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Poker Faced?

poker-cheat.jpgIn “An Unstoppable Force Meets…” Haseeb writes about “we have just witnessed a monumental event in the history of online poker – the entrance of Isildur into our world of online poker.” Huh? Really? The post is jargon packed, and I’m not a poker player, but apparently this Isildur character has slaughtered all the best online players in the world by being “hyperaggro:”

About a week later I was sitting at tables without any action when Isildur showed up at one of my 25/50 NL tables. I was bored and willing to play anything, so when he offered to play 6 tables (although usually I max out at 4), I decided to take him up on his offer and play a serious NLHE HU match for the first time in a long while. As the match progressed, all of what I’d heard about him being hyperaggro and barrelly checked out, but as I watched the lines he took to bluff, valuebet, and the way he reacted to my betting patterns, he seemed uncannily perceptive. Nevertheless, within the first hour or so I had won about 30k and was feeling pretty confident. He sat out on all of the tables and I assumed that the match was over and was about to check out. But about a minute later he said “brb,” and so I decided to wait for him and continue the match.

One idea, seems obvious to me, is that Isildur is collaborating with the servers to know what everyone’s cards are. Maybe the server operators are involved, maybe not.

Either way, the post is an entertaining read.

Untitled photo by allfangs and elbows

5 comments on "Poker Faced?"

  • Frank Hecker says:

    I don’t think you necessarily need to suspect malicious behavior here. My take (as a non-poker player) was simply that Isildur was a talented player who honed his skills in one environment (European online poker sites) and came into another environment (US poker sites) where people were unfamiliar with his style of play and didn’t know how to counter it.
    Another possibility is of course that Isildur is actually an AI, like that being developed by the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta. But per Occam’s Razor I’d say that was a lesser possibility without knowing anything else.

  • PHB says:

    I doubt that Isildur is a full AI, but I would be surprised if most of the top players were not using AIs and statistical tools to assist their play.
    It would be pretty easy to write a sidekick program that gives you the precise odd on your hand winning. It would only take a little more effort to write a program that monitors the other players and calculates odds that they are bluffing &ct.
    The targeting assist came before the gun director.

  • Anonymous says:

    The major arguments against collaboration with the servers is that:
    1. He’s apparently been winning big on several of the major US online poker sites, not just one, and;
    2. Some of the top poker players that he’s taken millions off are co-owners of those same poker sites.
    Also, the reputation of a well-regarded poker site is worth far, far more than they could gain by cheating – they make a lot more money running straight games for years than they could running crooked games for a short while until they were found out (which is inevitable).

  • buy ugg says:

    He’s apparently been winning big on several of the major US online poker sites, not just one, Ugg Bailey Button

  • Derek Slater says:

    Entertaining indeed.
    Tangent on the subject of cheating: A couple of years back a hooded player named Eugene Varshavsky was accused of cheating at a (relatively) big-money chess tournament in Philadelphia.
    And guess who just tore through a Sudoku tournament in Philadelphia?

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