Is facial recognition the next big thing against cheaters?


Rob Yong is not only the owner of the biggest brick and mortar casino in the UK (Dusk Till Dawn) but he has also has been behind the most crucial decisions made by partypoker recently, including the ban support software and the addition of real names to high stakes games. Recently, Yong proposed another controversial measure to fight cheaters: Facial Recognition.


Facial recognition to stop cheaters?

When George Orwell wrote the famous dystopian novel "1984", facial recognition technology was nothing more than a distant idea. But, after Apple released Face ID in 2017, everyone talks about it, and many people are unlocking their phones just with a blink.

It's undeniable that in the last years, this technology has progressed tremendously; but those systems aren't new, and migration offices use it widely around the world.

Last week, Rob Yong did a public poll on his Twitter account:

Rob Yong Twitter Poll

"I am going to ask partypoker to implement Facial Recognition on Sign in [+ randomly when ITM/Final Tables + Higher Stakes Cash Games to 1) stop cheaters/bots opening/buying new accounts 2) stop multi - accounting 3] Stop ghosting - Do you support this ?"

In the end, 85% of the 5,460 voters supported the idea, and the comments were diverse:

  • Some people concerned about if this technology could be implemented well, without becoming a nightmare for players; Rob itself addresses this and said he use the same tech in other business;
  • Yong supported that facial recognition should be implemented at each login. "It's quicker than signing with password";
  • It's clear that partypoker is willing to take the risk of losing players who don't have a webcam or just don't accept to pass facial recognition process; in fact, Yong stated that the only reason why online poker rooms have not implemented this measure is because they are afraid of losing revenue.

What is true is that many banks and other online services that handle money use facial recognition systems, and it's becoming the norm for some industries.

What are the main cheats that affect online poker?

It's no secret that one of the main reasons for the current crisis in the online poker industry is cheaters. With the progress of the technology, cheaters have found in our business a way to find "easy money":

  • Bots: a bot is a piece of software that plays online poker by itself. There are fully automated bots and "semi-bots," that say players where to click or what to do;
  • GTO-scam: recently, it became public how cheaters used an arrangement with several PCs and GTO software to scam in HU SnG. You can find more details in this article;
  • Ghosting: This is perhaps one of the most complex cheats to identify; in short, ghosting is when another player makes decisions for you, or plays pretending to be you;
  • Multi-accounting: there are many reasons why cheaters use several accounts; to collude in cash games or tournaments, or to play again after being caught by a security team.

As a note, cheating is not exclusive to the online poker industry, poker analyzers have been used to scam in live games.

How will facial recognition help in the fight against bots and other scams?

Implementing this security measure will surely boost the partypoker image, as it will stand up as the site that actively fights against cheaters. However, the site might pay it losing a few customers.

Of course, facial recognition will stop some cases of multi-accounting/bots/ghosting, and combined with the current technology will make the games safer.

Nevertheless, cheaters are always looking for a way to improve their techniques, but if this new measure is successful, most likely, they'll migrate to other sites with less security until everyone adopts it.

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