I'd been thinking all week about what to write. Then, wham, it came to me while I was observing Mike playing promotionally in the weekly, Wednesday bounty tournament online at Doyle's Room.
Doyle's Room just changed software. It's an excellent step forward. Unfortunately, Mike discovered one kink, to his dismay. Using the chat feature, an observer asked whether Mike had ever cheated at poker. Mike typed his response, but experienced trouble. Pressing Enter to finalize merely resulted in a beep, and he had to begin typing again. To add to the pressure, he was also involved in a hand. He feared appearing inept at handling both the chat and the action-something he had done routinely with the former software.
Playing the hand took about 30 seconds. After another 15 seconds, a second version of his answer was successfully retyped and his finger was pressing the enter key in another attempt to finalize his response.
Whisked away. Horror of all horrors, he was whisked away from the table before he could hit enter. He was transported, to his chagrin, to another table without registering his response to that oh-so-important question. Instead, the new table received the response, unaware of what the question had been. To say that Mike was unnerved, frustrated, and upset was the understatement of the century! A table full of players and countless others watching him handle his promotional duties as a bounty had just witnessed him seem to ignore the sensitive issue. He feared they would be left thinking he had done so deliberately. Here's what he had typed on the first try, as clearly as I can remember: "No, never. I believe it's up to us-as well as management-to monitor and protect games, to never tolerate cheating, and to never look the other way and allow it to continue."
The questioner probably wasn't aware of Mike's past history regarding keeping games honest. In 1984 Mike founded his Cheater Monitoring Service, with an office at the Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles. He told me that players started slipping out of the woodwork, confessing, confidentially, that they had been guilty of cheating, but were mending their ways, hoping to be allowed to play in the casino. Because of these experiences, and many others, Mike has acquired insight into the cheating world. One of my favorite Mike Caro quotes: "Barring or arresting cheaters isn't enough. They should be boiled and eaten."
Better methods. He says that poker today is more honest than in the past. But cheating has become more sophisticated technologically. I've been told that online cheaters can even purchase software that makes deceit easier. Fortunately, online sites are perfecting better methods to detect collusion. Mike sometimes helps with that.
At the Second Annual World Poker Conference Mike stood before the audience and declared how serious an issue cheating was, how it had gained momentum through poker partnerships, and how it was giving the poker world a bad name at the time. Later, he was involved in helping Planet Poker, the first real-money online poker site, pioneer collusion monitoring. I'm sure the industry, as a whole, has continued to build on those early efforts.
Mike is still working behind the scenes and is considering joining a group of programmers to make collusion monitoring a fact of life in the online poker community. Over the years, this has become a passion of Mike's. Beyond the obvious ethical benefits, he finds this type of programming challenging and intellectually rewarding.
Cheating at poker is worse than robbing a bank, Mike has stated. At least, when a bank robbery occurs you have the bandit standing before you in all his treachery. Not so with poker. You sit down with the assumption that everyone is agreeing to play honestly.
Mike believes, and I agree, that cheating at poker, including partnerships, should carry a hefty punishment with prison times of five or more years-mandatory! What do you think?
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. Her diverse career spans banking, promoting financial seminars and raising white-tailed deer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.