Superuser Scandal at GGPoker

December 30, 2023
Mark Patrickson

A shocking superuser cheating scandal has shaken the online poker community after a player hacked the GGPoker software client to be able to crush his opponents with a win-rate approaching ten times the accepted norm.

A 2+2 thread was posted last night, detailing a number of serious accusations:

“User "MoneyTaker69" is alleged to be superusing on GG Poker.

“In December, Moneytaker won at 90bb/100 on GG Poker in 8,900 hands playing 53% VPIP. Soon after, he binked a $150 Sunday MTT for $47,586 while playing an extremely volatile strategy, which aroused a lot of suspicion.

“GG Poker has acknowledged the situation privately and is preparing to address it, but it's important for the public to know immediately due to the significance of superusing.”

The player, known as "MoneyTaker69", exploited a client-side vulnerability by reverse-engineering and altering the site's desktop client for Windows, intercepting and modifying certain gaming-related data packets being sent between players and GGPoker's game servers.

The exploit allowed the player to identify profitable betting situations with a high degree of certainty, leading to a 90bb/100 cash-game win rate.

The exploited data was derived from a "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" table-reaction feature first implemented in May 2022.

Although the player could not see his opponents' hole cards, the exploit allowed him to deduce his all-in equity during any given hand, indirectly knowing the odds of winning.

GGPoker Issues Statement of Admission

GGPoker's security team has investigated the issue, identified the client-side vulnerability, and fixed the problem.

“GGPoker recently spotted unusual game patterns and abnormal game client packets from a user nicknamed ‘Moneytaker69’.

“Our technical security team investigated the issue, identified a client-side vulnerability, and fixed what caused these unusual circumstances. We have banned the user and confiscated the unfair winnings, equating to $29,795.

“We sincerely apologise for the incident, which has caused many poker players to worry about the game’s integrity and shaken their trust in GGPoker to provide the best poker experience. We take this incident very seriously and continue to work hard not to disappoint poker players.”

The incident has sparked a debate across the poker community, particularly over GGPoker’s ban of third-party results tracking, which is often used to identify highly profitable and possibly cheating accounts.

Some members of the community have criticised GGPoker's approach to security, suggesting that the platform does not monitor for cheaters effectively.

In response to the incident, GGPoker issued an apology, acknowledging the significant impact on the game's integrity and the trust of its players.

The platform claims it is taking steps to enhance its security measures, including doubling the size of its technical security team and enlisting help from renowned security professionals.

There may be much more to come from this story. The old timers in the community will clearly remember the original superuser scandal 15 years ago when Russ Hamilton was able to see his opponents’ hole cards and took them for millions of dollars.

The difference with that incident was that the superuser mode was a feature built into the client. In the case of GGPoker, an outsider managed to break in.

And it could have been so much worse. The numbers estimated to have been unfairly won are small potatoes in comparison with what could have happened if they were much more careful to avoid arousing suspicion.

Starting off at mid-stakes, around 200NL, would have allowed the hacker to progress to the nosebleed games in no time at all while keeping the win-rate within normal limits.

Jason Mo wrote:

“Don’t know how super users ever get caught. Would be insanely easy to win at like 20bb/100 and not play one suspect hand for a huge sample.”

And Charlie Carrel asked the most worrying question: if one person gets caught, how many are getting away with it?

This was online poker’s greatest fear in the early days when security wasn’t up to today’s standards.

Already there are people talking about the harm this news could do to GGPoker’s business in the near future.

There was a prompt apology but of course this had to be done. The news was out there.

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