October 2007
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Proving Sklansky right

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.

— David Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker

It’s now pretty much a certainty that at least one player on Absolute Poker has been able to play real money games while being able to see all of his opponents’ hole cards. 

Absolute are saying publicly "this never actually happened" but privately "oh shit, we’re fucked".  I’m speculating, obviously, but it seems likely.   This is a poker site that used to dominate the newsletter with their almost-daily reload offers, but now they are top of their blacklisted sites list. have also stopped taking their advertising money, and I’m sure this is only the beginning.  Nobody with any sense will ever play there again for an amount of money that matters.

If you want to see the damning evidence and don’t want to trawl through many very long forum threads, jump straight to the latest updates on 2+2 or read this excellent summary on Nat Arem’s blog.

Or you could just hit play on this video.  Thanks to an administrative cock-up of gigantic proportions, Absolute have given out a master hand history that shows player POTRIPPER winning a $1000 buy-in tournament while playing just about every hand perfectly.  It really is just like he can see what everyone else is holding, over and over again.

This is just part 1.  Get parts 2 to 4 here.

Sure, he gets sucked out on a couple of big pots, but it’s exactly like Sklansky says: if you can see everyone’s cards, you’re going to win money. 

The basic strategy is to see a flop with any two cards, and then:

– If your opponent has a huge hand, just check and fold.
– If there is any hand you can represent to scare your opponent, bet or raise.
– If you have a monster or your opponent has nothing, let them catch up or give them chance to bluff.

The chances of this playing style being legitimate are as close to zero as you could possibly imagine.

3 comments to Proving Sklansky right

  • The AP thing is really rocking the online poker world.. It sucks also for online players because this is just more ammo for those that want the anti-online-casino laws stronger…

    Anyway, I’ve written about the whole AP event on my blog and I saw your post on another blog and wanted to comment!

    What happened at WCOOP is another story – it’s hard to police those things but PokerStars did a pretty good job of reacting to it.

  • I dunno. I’ve only watched the first couple but I’ve not seen anything that wouldn’t be explained by standard hyper-aggressive play and careful attention to players’ tendencies.

    Do you have some hand numbers which you think are really obvious?

  • Well it’s definitely real, Absolute have admitted foul play and given refunds. is probably the best place for the latest info.

    There’s not one hand alone that would convince you that he has extra information, you have to look at the whole picture. This was Absolute’s prestige weekly tournament, small field, very strong players. He played almost every hand, won most of them but – most importantly – never made a mistake. Not once did he try to bluff against a made hand. He never called a bet on the river, it’s always raise or fold.

    Hand 31 is the bestest. There’s a bet and a raise ahead but nobody has anything so he moves all in with air and takes it. That’s not even a move normally, it’s suicide!

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