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This Week in Online Poker History October 14th – 20th

A Look at Online Poker History
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The Absolute Poker super-user scandal gets blown wide-open, Black Friday adds to its impressive list of TV casualties, and a newbie seeks an explanation of “The Cashout Curse” – some spooky-sounding stories from the year’s spookiest month.

Unlocking the doors to the archives for our regular feature This Week in Online Poker History, we revisit these stories and more from Octobers past.

October 2003: What is this “Cashout Curse” you speak of?

After a half-dozen of these articles I’m actually pretty surprised this is my first reference to rec.gambling.poker, better known as RGP to those of us who were around before the poker boom.

While this one isn’t really an “all-timer” like some of the classic Daniel Negreanu vs. the Lederer’s stuff, it does give you a glimpse into how far back some of these online conspiracy theories go, whether it be cracked RNG’s, doom switches, or like this thread from October of 2003, the dreaded [switch to spooky voice] “Cashout Curse”:

“A number of people have reported the same bad experience with online poker: They win for a while, but once they cash out some winnings they seem to run bad and bust. To some people, this is solid evidence that online poker must be rigged; that by cashing out some winnings, players incur the wrath of the online operators, who will set a switch on the player’s account, dooming them to lose thereafter.”

October 17, 2007: PotRipper confirms online poker players’ greatest fear

Prior to October of 2007 anyone showing up at an online poker forum with accusations of insider cheating was laughed off the site within minutes with the regulars slinging insults at them like the ones below:

“Yeah, they only make $1 million an hour in rake, but they still want to cheat you out of $200!”

“Get lost Rigtard”

“How come every losing player thinks online poker is rigged!?!?!?!?”

But all of that changed when the Absolute Poker “PotRipper” scandal broke in the fall of 2007, and the poker community realized there were in fact “Super-Users” operating right under their very noses.

While the rigtards were able to snicker and say, “I told you so” to the regulars (who certainly got their comeuppance), the AP, and later the UB super-user scandals had a much greater impact than simply who was right and who was wrong.

All of this occurred a mere year after the passage of UIGEA. The super user scandals dealt online poker its first significant black eye and gave legitimacy to the passage of UIGEA in the eyes of the layperson, as virtually every news outlet covered the multi-million-dollar cheating scandals, from NBC to ABC, to 60 Minutes when the Ultimate Bet scandal came to light.

Also from the archives…

October 14, 2011: Black Friday causes the cancellation of NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship

Black Friday was certainly a tumultuous time for online poker players, but the effective shutdown of the US online poker industry by the Department of Justice had an impact that went beyond online poker, with its tentacles touching virtually every aspect of poker, including televised poker shows.

Popular shows like the PokerStars Big Game, High Stakes Poker, and Poker After Dark went the way of the dodo following Black Friday, as networks became concerned over the legal standing of the sponsors and advertisers of these big-buy-in cash games.

Another casualty –albeit only for a year—was the popular NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, with the 2012 tournament cancelled on October 14, 2011. The NBC Heads-Up Championship did return in 2013, but networks have stayed away from the made for TV cash games that dominated the airwaves leading up to Black Friday.

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.