What is a poker analyzer?
A poker analyzer is a device (or devices) with special software, which can be used by poker players to cheat at the tables. It’s not as easy as it sounds, it involves several devices such as infrared cameras, micro-headphones, all hidden "James Bond" style, plus a set of marked decks. On the Internet, a poker analyzer can cost from $5,000 although we have read in forums about people who have bought it for less ($2,000 +/-) or even DIY manuals to build your own analyzer.
How does a poker analyzer work?
Picture this: a high-stakes game, an innocent mobile phone by your side, a lot of money on the table, the dealer winks at you, and a small hidden headphone in your ear telling you the cards and the hand winners. It sounds like a perfect crime, isn’t it? This is the 007 scenario with a poker analyzer: once the dealer shuffles up and deal the marked cards (which of course are not bad looking cards, you can get Bicycle or Copag marked decks) to the players, the infrared camera will read the invisible "barcode" printed on the card, the "phone" process the data, and send a voice message to a micro-earpiece with the hand results and hand winner, cards, etc. All analyzers require setting up the number of players, it can be done by remote control.
What are the main risks to home poker games?
Setting up a poker analyzer isn’t cheap or easy, but once the device is running up, it can literally ruin the games as the cheat works and it's hard to notice any difference: the cards are very well-made and devices like the fake phones look real and even work or allow making phone calls. Of course, in almost all cases the dealer and the cheater (not to say the club itself) work together.
How to protect yourself and the poker rooms from poker analyzers?
Many people, for example, Elie Bursztein, has deeply studied this subject, and according to his experience and the comments from forums, we share a list of countermeasures you can apply in home games or local club games in order to be safer against poker analyzers:
- Asking for dynamic shuffle (this is, shuffling the cards again after the flop is dealt). This will change the hand results; therefore, the poker analyzer will be useful.
- Electronic defense: Bursztein made a full software study and identified some bugs on the analyzer software, which can lead players to build themselves an electronic device that will constantly change the number of players at the table (remember that the cheater must set the number of players by remote control) therefore the hands results will never be right, plus the cheater will get crazy as the analyzer sends a confirmation message every time the number of players changes :).
- Ask for a card deck change: you always can ask for a card deck change, or even bring a new pair and ask the dealer or club management to change it; of course, if they refuse it's an alarm sign.
- Exposing the infrared light: almost all mobile phones cameras are sensitive to IR light, which is emitted by the analyzer in order to read the cards. You can test the table using your camera and if you see a weird flashing light, you are maybe sharing a table with a cheater.
Poker analyzers aren’t new to the market. But still remain today as a risk for home poker games and underground clubs; if you feel like your aces are constantly being cracked by 72 and you have no idea why apply a countermeasure and observe the results.
In the old days, counting cards or cautiously marking them during the game (Phil Ivey would say: that's a good idea!) was the preferred cheating method, but today high-end cheating devices are available online and taking into account the cost (over $5,000 as we said before) and the number of issues that need to be sorted out (for example, how does an analyzer manufacturer get the infrared ink?) we can conclude that this is a millionaire business.
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