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"Cheating" (Angle Shot?) at Online Poker; Poker Site Foots Bill - Ship It, Fish!

About "Cheating" (Angle Shot?) at Online Poker; Poker Site Foots Bill
Previous Entry "Cheating" (Angle Shot?) at Online Poker; Poker Site Foots Bill Monday 30 January 2006 @ 19:26 Next Entry

I don't post much about specific online hands. In general, the online situations I end up in just are not that interesting. It's mundane poker most of the time.

I probably wouldn't post this hand either, except for the "cheating" incident at the end. It's probably more of an angle shot than cheating, but I think Ultimate Bet bears much of the responsibility. I explain why at the end.

Online Hand Action

I describe the action of the hand, and include my commentary and thinking in italics.

This is a six-handed, $1/$2 Blind NL HE with $200 maximum buy-in on Ultimate Bet. The hand started on Saturday 2006-01-28 at 20:00:02. The table was full but one player was sitting out, so the deal was was five-handed. popov18 was in the $1 SB with $199.40. I was in the $2 BB with $493.85.

As is typical in this sort of tight-weak online game, everyone folds to SB, and popov18 raises it to $6. I quickly call with 6h 8h. I wouldn't even consider folding in this game. popov18 was the only other reasonably aggressive player at the table, and he could raise with a wide range of hands -- any pair, any A, K, or Q high, or any suited connector. I am not beating many of these hands, but he has a full buy-in and I have reasonable implied odds and can probably outplay him after the flop.

The flop fell 7h 4h 3d, and popov18 quickly bets $12 (the size of the pot). This is a huge flop for my hand, as I have a gutshot straight draw to the nuts, and a flush draw. Plus, three eights may make me the best hand, since at this point, I'm somewhat convinced popov18 has something like A7o.

I wait only a brief moment, and make it to $40 to go. popov18 quickly calls. Ok, A7o is still a vague possibility, but the fact that he called so quickly indicates he may have a draw. I get a bit worried he has a better flush draw. I eliminate overpairs, two-pair, and even the sets, because I am quite sure he'd protect such a strong holding with a reraise against a two-tone board.

The turn is the 4d. popov18 checks. I don't think this improves his hand, because A4 or some other such holding with a four seems unlikely. I have pretty much eliminated a set on the flop, so while he might check when he fills up, he's unlikely to have that holding. I pause for a moment considering if I should bluff and decide to check behind.

Checking behind is a bit of a tight-weak play. He needs to put me on a hand a strong as a set to believe that I might check (with the best hand). But, he's seen me play quite loose and show down some weak starting hands that connected with the board, so based on what he's seen, he can reasonably give me 74 as well as the sets. (And, BTW, he is capable of putting me on a hand.) However, I may have given up the pot here, but I am unsure what to do, because I am pretty worried he's drawing at a better flush. I hope for a black 5.

The river misses everything (but A5), with a 2c (final board: 7h 4h 3d 4d 2c). At this moment in the hand history, it reads: popov18 has disconnected, is dropped. There was, however, no indication that this had happened. So, not knowing my fate was already sealed, I had a decision to make. It's clear he has a flush draw, and now has at best Ace-high. He's not a crafty enough player to check-raise with a bluff on the river; a reasonable bluff wins here. After four seconds or so, I bet $30 into the $92 pot to make it look like a value bet. I wait and wait. As I wait, another player named ArogantBastid, who was previous annoyed at my bluffs that he couldn't call, shouts: "get him, popov18". This, of course, is a clear violation of the rules.

Meanwhile, popov18 times out, and I am totally confused when I see no call but my $30 returned and the pot shipped to his now exposed Ah 3h (third pair, and the nut flush draw I suspected).

"All-in"? What?

Now, over on Pokerroom they do not allow "all-in" protection here. There, as on most sites, at best, if you are disconnected while engaged in a NL or PL hand, you get extra time (three minutes or so) to reconnect, and you can use this extra time two or three times per day. On Ultimate Bet, you instead get what is called "all-in" protection. This practice, popular in online limit games, pretends that your last bet put into the pot left you with nothing, and it as if you are "all-in".

This is a huge problem in NL/PL games. Stack size in these games is a crucial factor. I wouldn't have made this bet if I'd thought popov18 was anywhere near all-in. Indeed, I would have played the flop and the turn differently if I knew he would be declared all-in on the river.

I am very happy with my play of the hand. It turned out my read was somewhat off (yes, he had an ace-high flush draw, but had paired one of his cards). But, I believe it is a completely unacceptable to allow all-in protection. Yes, network connections go down, and I don't play NL or PL (favoring limit, where all-in protection is much more bearable) when I have a spotty network connection. Why does Ultimate Bet do it this way? And, do you all think they should have to award me the pot, and should they do so now retroactively? Do you think ArogantBastid and/or popov18 violated the rules? What should their punishment be?

(Funny postscript to the hand itself: It was ArogantBastid (who violated the rules himself) who shouted that I should turn popov18 in. I have reported both of their behavior to Ultimate Bet member services. I will update this post once I have an answer.)

Correspondence with Ultimate Bet

Member Services said, on Saturday:

Thank you for letting us know about what you witnessed. We will forward your message to the appropriate department and deal with the player(s) accordingly. Let us know how we may further assist you.

I wrote back on Sunday to say that it was important to realize that I had probably lost a pot because of this abuse. They replied, on Monday:

Please excuse us for any delay resolving this situation. All hand histories and all in protection records were sent to my supervisor yesterday. Since these cases are personally handled by him please bear with us for a little longer while he works through the numerous cases that have been sent.

And, finally, they did the right thing, on Tuesday:

I have credited $90 into your account. Apologies for the delay but I was so bussy [sic] with previous cases

It seems silly to me that they simply don't switch to a better NL/PL disconnect handling system. I will probably never know if they took the money back from popov18 or just ate the $90 cost themselves.

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