The latest saga to get the online poker world buzzing is the purported hacking of Absolute Poker by one or more players, who, according to accusations made in exploding threads at 2+2, Pocket Fives and maybe elsewhere, has somehow gained access to information on the server, decoding said information and receiving insight into opponents' hole cards.
The information, if the accusations are true, has been used by at least three accounts to rake in many thousands of dollars during high-stakes cash games and at least one big tournament. While the claims seem outlandish on their surface, supporting Poker Tracker data examinations and hand histories from some of the question suggest that something really may be amiss.
Odd as it may seem, it wold not be the first time that an online poker client was hacked, though in the first case, it was done by a team that was in essence good-hearted, and which immediately published their findings. That case was back in 1999 and involved Planet Poker, one of the first online sites. In that instance, the players who cracked the code demonstrated that Planet's card-shuffling algorithm was insufficient to generate anything even close to randomness, and used that information to build a database which accurately predicted which cards would come off the deck after the flop.
In that old, old episode, Planet took a big publicity hit while all other sites verified that their own algorithms were more advanced, and indeed did provide true randomness in the shuffle. Planet quickly fixed its own algorithm but never regained its early edge, passed by sites such as Party, Paradise and Stars.
In this case, it's not the cards off the deck that seem to be an issue, but the apparent cracking of the opponents' hole cards... with expected disastrous results (assuming the whole thing isn't the biggest spoof ever, which it does not appear to be). In order to be viable, it likely means that the hacker(s) have somehow gained access to Absolute's host software server, because it is not believed that Absolute or any poker site transmits information about an opponent's hole cards to any player's computer before a showdown, encoded or not. This raises questions as to whether the situation, if real, was hatched by a disgruntled tech employee. The 2+2 thread includes many screengrabs and other evidence which, if not faked, makes this a serious matter.
We'll come back to this entertaining tale as more information develops....