Players have tried to beat card games by cheating for as long as there have been cards!

Unfortunately, online poker is no exception. Players without ethics continually attempt to siphon money from the poker tables while using unfair practices.

In this article, we’ll discuss the current state of cheating in online poker and give tips for recognising and protecting yourself against poker cheats.

The Status of Cheating in Online Poker

A constant game of cat and mouse exists between a poker site’s security team and dishonest players.

Cheaters find a way to cheat ( perhaps with a form of poker cheat sheet) until they are eventually detected by the security team and banned. They then look for a way to continue cheating (perhaps by creating a new account). Alternatively, they give up and move on to target a new room.

The Status of Cheating in Online Poker
The Status of Cheating in Online Poker

Security teams, like 888poker’s, do a great job protecting the integrity of online games. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that dishonest players appear on the virtual felt at any given time.

So, how can we protect ourselves?

Protecting Yourself from Cheating

A logical first step when spotting suspicious activity is to contact the poker room and file a report of what you have seen.

In 2023 alone, 888poker refunded $362,893 to 4,068 players due to cheaters using artificial intelligence software to cheat at poker.

Making a report to the poker room helps to ensure cheaters get caught sooner rather than later.

However, it’s a good idea to be familiar with how cheaters operate so we know what to look for.

Protecting Yourself from Cheating
Protecting Yourself from Cheating

In this article, we’ll consider the following three areas -

  1. Collusion
  2. Hole card cheating
  3. Botting


Collusion refers to two or more players working together at the poker tables.

Poker is supposed to be a solo competition, not a team sport.

What to look for -

  • Two poker players are constantly involved in pots against a third player.
  • Two poker players are constantly sitting at the same table (especially from the same geographic location).
  • When involved in a pot together, the two players use suspicious poker combo lines —for example, continually min-raising to force a third player to invest more chips than ordinarily.

How to protect yourself –

  • Avoid games with suspected colluders.
  • File a report with the poker room, ideally including hand ids for quick reference.
Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Colluding
Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Colluding

In cases where two players appear to transfer large amounts of chips to each other - the poker term for this is chip dumping.

It is not an attempt to cheat the game but to launder money as if won in a poker game.

Chip dumpers may deliberately dump chips to innocent players to conceal the true target of their dump.

As a result, innocent players could potentially be implicated. So, it’s best to report this type of activity as soon as possible.

Hole Card Cheating

hole card cheater can access our hole cards and play a near-perfect game against their victim.

This issue is either a vulnerability in the poker client or, more commonly, a problem with the victim’s computer.

The victim has potentially installed a trojan horse that divulges their hole card information. In some cases, the victim is voluntarily sharing their screen with someone they think is their friend/study partner but is actually a hacker.

Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Hole Card Cheating
Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Hole Card Cheating

What to look for -

  • Making inconceivable call downs. For example, correctly making a Jack-high river call on a very wet poker board for a very large pot.
  • Never paying off our value hands. (Keep in mind that this scenario occurs in the short term purely due to bad luck.)

How to protect yourself -

  • Do regular anti-virus checks.
  • Avoid downloading untrusted software or clicking links in untrusted emails.
  • Be very careful with whom you share your screen, especially if your screen contains hole card information.
  • If streaming on a platform like Twitch, ensure a delay on the stream of at least 90 seconds.


Botting refers to playing poker in an automated way using a poker script or ‘bot’.

Bots have been a significant issue for most poker rooms for over a decade.

Although some bots are easily beatable, others are not. Some bots are RTA (Real-time assistance) bots, meaning they use GTO solver outputs to make real-time GTO-based decisions. 

Other bots are ‘profile’ bots, meaning they use opponents’ poker hand statistics to generate exploitative strategies.

Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Botting
Shield Yourself from Cheaters at the Poker Tables - Botting

Bots often operate together as a ‘bot ring’. So, they are not only botting but also colluding at the same time. Bot rings can share collated statistics on their opponents and also share card removal effects mid-hand to increase the profitability of their decisions.

888poker blocked 161 bot accounts in 2023 alone. This number is likely to increase as time goes on.

What to look for –

  • Poker accounts that play unrealistic amounts of volume over long periods.
  • Poker accounts that share extremely similar stats and tendencies (primarily if those accounts originate from a similar geographic location).
  • Tendencies that differ from those of an average player, especially if that same tendency is observed across multiple players in the pool (E.g., extremely high flop check/raise frequency or very specific bet-sizing patterns).

How to protect yourself -

  • It’s unrealistic to avoid playing against bots entirely. However, we can mark suspected bots and generate a counterstrategy.
  • If we are clearly losing against specific suspected bots, we should avoid them. Not all bots will be beatable.
  • Report suspicious activity to the poker room.

Cheating Does Not Prevent Winning

It may seem that the presence of poker cheaters should prevent us from making a profit, but this is not true.

In any poker environment, poker players can make consistent profits despite not being the best players. They know when to leave a game when they realise they don’t have the best of it.

In a similar way, if we have spent sufficient time honing our craft, we can still generate decent profits by avoiding games with suspected cheaters.

With over 10 million registered members worldwide, 888poker is the fastest growing online poker room, with a new player signing up every 12 seconds. 888 has been a forerunner in the online gaming industry and a pioneer of safe and responsible gaming since 1997. We are one of the biggest and most trusted brands in the world, providing one of the largest selections of games, high value tournaments and exciting live events for poker players around the globe.