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Hands Up! How a poker-cheating virus reveals your poker hand

Players’ confidence is challenged again after the story of a virus revealing hands on poker tables hit the news. Is it another proof that poker is rigged? είναι στημένο;
Hands Up! How a poker-cheating virus reveals your poker hand

Those who constantly are not among the winners in online poker games – the great majority of poker players that is – often put the blame on the poker operators, implying that the games are rigged. Sometimes they argue against the poker room that hosts the game, other times they criticize the software and yet some others they end accusing their rivals of ripping their money. They tend to always accusing some others but themselves. Lately, they can add one more option on their list of excuses for not finishing winners in poker games: a computer virus!

Have you ever heard of the security software (aka antivirus) by the name NOD32? This is one of the most popular computer’s security suite on the market today. Well, the company behind the software, ESET, discovered a new virus that targets online poker players.

Acting as Trojan horse, the malware embeds itself on well-known applications, such as μTorrent and Daemon Tools, when installation files do NOT originate from the respective websites of the software makers. The moment you agree to proceed with the tweaked install pretending to be completely harmless, your computer is doomed to be infected. The virus remains unnoticed, patiently waiting for you to load the lobby interface of Pokerstars or Full Tilt Poker, the poker rooms which the malware is coded to attack. Fortunately, other poker operators and leading US poker sites are safe at this moment. Next, the job is simple as that: the virus sends pictures of your poker desktop to its malicious creator.

Then, all he has to do is locate your game table online and join in to snatch as much cash as he can from you, since your cards are known to them!

According to Robert Lipovsky, who released the news, the company is in no position of knowing for the time being whether the hacker participates on the game himself or if he uses some kind of an automated bot instead. Robert said that the virus was identified in March. However, only lately the spyware raised concerns after hundreds of gamblers were victimized, mainly in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Classified as Win32/Spy.Odianor, the tricky virus may have already infected popular poker applications, such as Tournament Shark, Poker Calculator Pro, Smart Buddy and Poker Office.

The mindblowing story is not only published on the niche-targeted poker blogs, but also hit the headlines on mainstream media outlets, including BBC and BusinessInsider.

If you believe the game is rigged, how come you continue playing?

Surely, this is not the most pleasant story to hear about in the poker industry. However, let us not forget the hundreds of dozens of malware and scams that are plaguing other industries and services. For example, you might have heard about the frauds that are being constantly pinpointed in banking transactions, on the internet or physical locations such as ATMs.

What happened then? Did you stop using the banking system?

Similarly, the news about this malicious virus should not worry us that much. On the rare occasion you have been already one of the virus’ victims, all you have to do is scan your computer with decent antivirus software in order to get rid of the threat. Furthermore, you had better contact the relevant poker rooms and let them know your computer was infected, so the perpetrator is located and the loophole closed. By a small chance, we may see a portion of your money back in your wallet.

Of course, that report will have an impact on the game, because confidence is traumatized among poker players as regards the efficiency of operators that run poker rooms. On top of the unverified plots and conspiracy theories that trouble the minds of a number of players, the story now comes to fuel anxiety further.

“There you are, you see? It’s rigged. I knew it! And, this is what hit the news. Who knows what else goes on in online poker…”

I understand. However, since you think you were already scammed once, twice, or five or ten times, as you say, how come you come back for more, playing poker again, if you truly believe this? There is no way of winning. You’ve said that yourself.

“But, I like playing. Don’t I have the right to play in fair, square-and-straight environments?”

Absolutely! This is why multiple safeguards are put in place to guarantee clean and proper operation of the games. Nevertheless, something seems to have slipped through the net jeopardizing the integrity of the system. Surely, this is not the first time something like this happens.

Not everything happens for a reason. Sometimes life just sucks.ALEXA CHUNG

Life itself isn’t fair.

On the other hand, joining a game thinking that it is engineered to produce flushes, straights, or sets for the villains and not us is beyond logic. It’s like putting money on a bank knowing for sure we won’t see it again. Why don’t you keep your cash at home instead?

Poker is a fantastic game. No doubt about that. But, along with poker come the risks, especially online. Crooks and fraudsters are everywhere, not only in the poker industry. Still, poker players who win tournaments one after another and cash games all the time are among us, walking on the street or posing as celebrities on TV. Aren’t for real? You think they have to snoop on their opponents’ cards with special glasses in order to cheat the game and come out as constant winners?!

Photo courtesy of Victor Perex