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Conspiracies

OK: This is short and sweet: We know of none - at least we know of none involving any Internet poker casino we've heard of as this site goes to press. Not one conspiracy. Zero.

This also is short and sweet: Internet poker casinos make a handsome profit by raking millions upon millions of virtual hands. Why, then, would they stoop to criminal activity, which, once detected, would preclude years of future handsome profits?

Now we realize some folks will continue to believe in rampant conspiracies no matter what. But allow us to state this one more time: We know of no Internet poker casino conspiracy. There have been complaints here and there about rake policies, software glitches, and delayed checks - things of that nature, yes, along with a few start-up companies that went belly-up before they ever got off the ground. But a conspiracy bilking clients through rigged games or pre-determined hand outcomes, or rings of managers and players absconding over the cyberspace horizon with stolen client funds? No.

Could there ever be such a conspiracy? Even between the time this site goes to press and whenever you read it? Or sometime thereafter? Well, we suppose there could, just as there might be another Enron type of scandal, a major earthquake in Los Angeles or San Francisco, a nuclear war, or any number of other unsavory happenings. We simply don't stay awake at night worrying about these things that haven't happened yet. Do you?

Our Ten-point Program For Assuring Yourself an Honest games

1. If you're new to online play, be kind to yourself. Give top priority to finding play-money games or small-limit games where you can acclimatize to the graphics and games programming with minimal risk. Choose among well-established, user-friendly sites offering scads of tables and games of all sorts around the clock.

2. Become a regular reader of an online poker forum like rec.gambling.poker, where you can easily compare the reputation of various sites for trouble-free cash-outs, security consciousness, and financial accounting. If a site develops problems, you'll be among the first to know.

3. Stick to the games or games you're most familiar with - you'll spot unusual betting patterns indicative of collusion or other cheating far more easily if you have a feel for the games.

4. If you decide to play for real money, wager only what you can afford to lose.

5. Don't jump into a cash-stakes games immediately. You're usually better off waiting for another you find appealing - preferably one with enough waiting players to allow adequate reconnaissance time. a game with a long waiting list is likely to be a good games as well, so you've covered two birds with one stone.

6. Compare the player roster on the lobby screen with your notes (yes, you should have these) from prior games. Are you already suspicious of any players listed? If so, move on to another games.

7. Observe at least a couple rounds of the games before joining it: By going to the games screen while still on the waiting list, you can observe all aspects of the games anonymously from what amounts to a perfect eagle's eye view perspective. It's hard to scout a game this unobtrusively in a brick and mortar casino, so by all means take advantage of the unique observational "window" afforded online!

8. Whether observing or playing, don't forget to take notes! Again, this is something that's hard to do unobtrusively during in-the-flesh games - so take full advantage. Note anything suspicious, including hand numbers and screen names of any players involved. Then continue to observe, or exit the games.

9. Ask for a hand history - carefully noting the games's hand number in the upper corner of the table screen - whenever you're suspicious of the betting action. In many cases, it's easy to determine if anything was amiss in the hand simply by taking time to examine the hand history. Take special note: Although a player may muck his hand on the last card, hand history details reveal all holdings involved in a called pot.

10. Whenever necessary, ask support at the site for an investigation. More and more sites are offering live "floor assistance" through instant messaging; others require you to fire off an e-mail detailing your complaint. Make sure you know the procedure beforehand. Provide as many details as possible about a perceived incident and the reason or reasons you're suspicious. All reputable sites guarantee an investigation of any reported complaint, and someone will usually respond to your grievance within twenty-four hours

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