Peek-a-boo! I can see your hole cards online!

computer peek-a-booIt’s every online poker player’s worst nightmare come true.

Rumors have circulated for years about software that exists which allows a third party to view your hole cards while you’re playing online poker. Now, it’s been confirmed by top computer security experts that malware of this nature exists and that it’s targeting accounts of players at Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.

I was alerted to the existence of Odlanor malware a couple of days ago by two cybersecurity experts with whom I’m friendly and have been thinking about how to address it. You can read the official alert, issued by WeLiveSecurity.com, yourselves.

In a nutshell, the malware takes a screenshot of the player’s screen and sends it to the attacker’s remote computer. The attacker then retrieves the screenshots, where he can see the player’s ID and his/her hole cards.

Shatters the Aquarium

aquarium shattered

If you think recreational poker players are going to stick around and have their hole cards monitored…

There’s an old saying in poker that you don’t want to “tap on the aquarium”, lest you scare the fish away from your table.

News of malware like this existing completely shatters the aquarium.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts have already been infected with the Odlanor malware. Would anyone dare sit at a table knowing that opponents could see their hole cards? I sure wouldn’t.

Though I can’t speak for anyone else, I’m reasonably certain that as news of the Odlanor malware continues to spread (it has gone WAY beyond poker media at this point, being reported by mainstream news outlets such as the BBC and Daily Mail) more and more online poker players simply won’t bother logging in to play. I’ll bet we’ll see a statistically significant decline in player traffic once PokerScout.com releases their latest numbers.

A Solution Exists for Better Online Poker Security

We’ve tackled the issue of online poker security a number of times here at the Cardplayer Lifestyle poker blog. Our resident expert, Eddie Harari, has written a number of articles discussing online poker cybersecurity issues.

In fact, just a couple months ago, we published an article by Professor Avi Rubin, which proposed a solution to this type  of malicious attack. Here’s Avi’s video with a brief rundown:

Maybe Now, the Message Will Be Clear

It’s in nobody’s interest to have cheating prevalent in online poker. Surely, plenty of grinders and sharks will also stay away from the pool once they realize that someone can see their hole cards.

Learning about the existence of HUDs (heads-up displays) that gather player data is what scared me away from playing poker online many years ago. I wanted to play poker; not a video game against math wizards. There’s obviously a fine line between a HUD and “peeker” malware, but I feel the outcome is the same: it scares away people who just want to have fun and enjoy playing poker. At least I have nothing of that nature to worry about when I play in my home games or step into a poker room.

To me, the message is clear – PokerStars, Full Tilt, and all online poker operators ought to make this a priority #1 issue. Make every effort to immunize your sites from malware of this nature, and if you REALLY want to make sure players feel safe, you ought to ban HUDs as well.

If you want to get players like me back at your tables, nothing less will suffice.

4 Comments

  1. Matthew Carter
    Matthew Carter September 21, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    in this article you compare a hud to being able to see someones cards. you also call hud users math wizards.

    have you ever used a hud? did you move out of the country to play on stars and full tilt?

    as a writer who i doubt is playing these games anyway it must be easy for you to spew at the mouth.

  2. Robbie Strazynski
    Robbie Strazynski September 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I specifically state that there is a fine line between a HUD and peeker software. I don’t live in the US, so no, I never had to “leave the country”. No, I don’t play professionally. Yes, I have tried using a HUD a couple times.

    Yes I do think that those who use HUDs well are “wizard-like”. No, poker writing is not “easy”, and no, I didn’t spew, I offered an opinion…as have you.

  3. David Huber
    David Huber September 23, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Interesting read, Robbie. I especially agree with the “Message Will Be Clear” part and hope online poker sites step up.

    -David Huber

  4. Let’s Just Calm Down About Odlanor -
    Let’s Just Calm Down About Odlanor - September 23, 2015 at 3:23 am

    […] immediate action by the online poker industry in order to stop the scourge that is Odlanor. Over on CardplayerLifestyle.com, excellent poker writer Robbie Strazynski expressed the opinion that Odlanor, even if it doesn’t […]

Leave a Reply