RFID implicated in live-streamed poker cheating scandal

I think this is the most current summary of what the internet detectives have been up to lately.


I’d say RFID is way too short-range to provide Postle the kind of information everyone think’s he’s getting. But intercepting a video feed that shows everyone’s cards, and getting that information to him over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, seems doable. Why he’s being so obvious about it, though, is mystifying. If you have the ability to cheat without a blatantly obvious method, you have the ability to add in enough error to avoid suspicion altogether. This is weird.


This isn’t like the turn around jump shot. There is a lot of conformity around how pros play but there is still a lot of personal preference and style. I remember watching Gus Hansen play and just being blown away by the hands Hansen would bet. But no one looked at Hansen making a big before-the-flop bet on 10-7 and said it was cheating, they said it was crazy aggressive, that it was head-games, etc.

But if you do know your opponent’s cards then the right way to play stops being about heuristics and preferences and starts being an easy to solve math problem. The accusations of cheating aren’t going to start when you vary from the norm, but when you conform to the ideal I-know-what-you-have play, which would be extremely bad play if applied when the cards are not known.

That’s not really a comment on this particular case just on the idea that we risk labeling innovation as cheating. I don’t think that’s a serious threat.


That seems pretty likely, you’re right.

And this is why he’s wasting his amazing talents at a relatively low limit local game instead of cleaning up on the international stage… it’s the only venue where he infiltrated the feed.


The venue should have run a little experiment where they ran a new parallel correct feed for livestream purposes and messed with his legacy feed on occasion to see how it would change his play.

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I’d he is reading the cards directly his reader doesn’t have to be much different than the one that the house uses. Now if the house is using multiple short range readers in the table surface that will be hard for one person to replicate. However if they’re using one or two that are above the table then it gets a lot easier for any one person to do the same.

Damn - If you are going to murder someone try to avoid standing over the body with a smoking gun in your hand. What you have there is essentially a statistical certainly - you would think a poker player would be better at statistics.

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The real takeaway here is how many tech companies have no idea about security. Building a hardware/software stack that would securely encrypt the data from the RFIDs is a well-solved problem with off-the-shelf parts. However, whatever company is serving the tiny niche of “RFID playing cards for TV broadcast” is a security dumpster fire, because of course it is. Everything is until someone breaks their system with $10 worth of hardware and a javascript blob they found online.

And if the rumors are true that this bro installed that system himself, well, that’s a security fail as well, not having had the system independently audited.

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According to that, it’s a vulnerability in the software that Stones Gambling Hall uses, that lets an outsider access their card data. No need to bring your own RFID reader when you can use the house’s.

Once someone has the data and calculated the best next play, you just need a method to get it to the player at the table in a discrete manner. (I guess wearing a Bluetooth earbud would be out. Vibrator butt-plug?)


That’s another thing. This guy isn’t a major poker player. He only plays in this one venue and only these particular streamed games.

This would be doubly effective as players would just chalk your wins up to presenting a highly peculiar poker face.


I’ll take your bet!

I am much more inclined to believe the information is being pulled off the network, having already been read by individual antennas at each player position, otherwise, how to know which cards have already been dealt and to whom?

Here’s a link to email interview with the maker of the system:

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If poker pros assumed phones couldn’t be used to cheat well, maybe they’ll change their minds now!

For chess, stockfish (free on iphone, various apps) would cream any human player at any time control and would never get near a competition table unless computer-supported play was the dealie. For poker, though, everyone being told the exacty odds might make for an interesting game.

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I wonder what it would have taken to conduct a sting to catch him (and any cronies) in the act? It seems likely from all the sleuthing that the weakness is the equipment that’s capturing the table data – there’s a server running a proprietary commercial software package. If that box (or the software) is compromised, all bets are off. He wouldn’t even need a spotter – just an open port and a zero-day.

Probably not a bad idea!

[EDIT: somehow responded to the wrong post, sorry]

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I would request the producer of the cards to make a couple decks where the identities of the cards via rfid were different from what appears on the cardfaces. It is, after all, in their best interests that the game remain honest.


That’s really clever. Gets the cheating player without having to worry about spotters or compromised hardware being in on the sting.

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No one, not even a mediocre non-pro player, ever needs to consult a “poker app” to compute pot odds. It’s just not that difficult a calculation. If someone were using their phone to do this, they’d be in immediate violation and be subject to a penalty. In any case, almost all tournaments require the player in a hand to be off their phone.

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