After Fedor Holz accused two players of colussion after a single hand we look at how much proof is needed before making such a bold claim.
On Christmas Day Fedor Holz accused two brazilian poker players of collusion after a very questionable hand. Rodrigo Seiji and Rodrigo Selouan were part of the same high stakes stable and also had swapped percentages of each other in a $1,000 buy-in final table at 888poker.
Seiji raised under-the-gun with AJo, then Selouan shoved for 7 big blinds with A9s. Despite getting a favourable price to call, Seiji folded.
Fedor felt that this looked very much like collusion and most players in the high stakes community agreed that this was a very clear call. Solver analysis (you can see it in the video at the bottom of the article) also suggested this was quite a clear call.
A pretty obvious collusion spot including Seijistar on a big 1K FT vs his friend Selouan. They are part of a Brazilian HS group that work together called “9Tales”. Cheating sucks. I think every HS reg that doesn’t cheat should work together to bring up similar situations. pic.twitter.com/TZLT8BoHC7
— Fedor Holz 🐧 (@CrownUpGuy) December 25, 2021
The event was streamed and the video of the hand is below:
Heres the video! pic.twitter.com/WK9KScS7II
— MundoPoker (@MundoPokerBr) December 26, 2021
Not everyone agreed, however, some felt this could have just been an error, the type we all have made in high pressure spots. The two men involved defended themselves. Seiji posted screenshots of their conversation afterwards which seemed to indicate Seiji realised he had made a strategic error. He also put Selouan on a much tighter range than the solvers advocated.
Collusion is a very difficult thing to prove in poker for this reason, when the money is significant nobody can say for sure if the player was motivated by bad intentions or if the pressure simply caused them to make a mistake.
With that in mind, how quickly should poker players jump to accusing others of cheating? This was, after all, just one hand and it is very important to point out at this stage that the 888poker investigation uncovered no other suspect hands and found no wrong doing.
Don’t make accusations based on one hand
Historically the poker world has been bad at outing cheaters, especially when those players owe people money. In that respect it is probably not the worst thing that we have recently overcorrected in the other direction.
When the Mike Postle story broke part of me was worried that the poker world was going to develop a culture of everyone accusing everyone of cheating. The Postle investigation, carried out by poker players online, was so captivating that I was concerned that we would all get drunk on crowdsourced cheating investigations. Thankfully I don’t think that has happened.
It is not fair to make accusations after just one hand. There are so many nuances to poker that no single hand can be judged comprehensively. Even the best players butcher hands from time to time in high pressure spots. The recent Jungleman vs Ryan Leng hand from the WSOP being a great example. There needs to be an established pattern of sketchy behaviour before you out somebody for cheating.
Also for this reason the best approach is also to surely raise your concerns privately with the operator first. They have access to all the hand histories and have dedicated teams for spotting cheating and unusual play. Given that Fedor is a high profile player his accusation is going to spread like wildfire and it is very hard to get the genie back in the bottle. If the two men are innocent their reputations will never quite be perfect again after this.
This is not to say Fedor was wrong, some players have suggested they have seen this pattern of behaviour from the aforementioned players before. It’s good that we self police in the poker community these days. But with big accusations also comes a big burden of proof on the accuser. At a minimum there needs to be multiple dodgy spots to review, never just a single hand.
How many suspect hands would you need to see before you accuse a player of cheating? Let us know in the comments:
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy, PKO Poker Strategy & the new book Endgame Poker Strategy