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Sep 22, 2015

Weekly Flop: Hellmuth on Reddit, PokerStars Spyware Scare, Your Poker

By RTR Dennis

Face analyzed

If you're going to ask a poker pro questions, Phil Hellmuth is definitely a good one to provide the answers. So it's little surprise that Hellmuth got lots of attention during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session....PokerStars does their best to keep controls on cheating and bots. But a new threat has arisen that allows hackers to see your hole cards....Think your poker face is hard to read? It might not be thanks to new software that can scan your facial expressions and tell what you're thinking.

Phil Hellmuth opens up on UB, Ménage à Trois, Legal US Poker

The Poker Brat recently did a very interesting AMA session on Reddit, with dozens of questions being hurled his way. As a guy who's been around the game for almost three decades, Hellmuth definitely had some interesting things to say. Here are his thoughts on just a few questions.

Q: What do you think needs to be done to ignite another "Moneymaker Effect"-style boom of poker interest?

PH: A bigger BOOM is coming when the USA legalizes online poker again! We have witnessed this in Italy, France, and Russia when online poker was actually legalized, and the operators were shocked because they had 10 times as many people play (10X) than was expected.

Q: Have you ever done 2 chicks at the same time?

PH: no, but I'm not complaining cause Ive been happily married for 25 years!

Q: Could you have done more to help recover player's money on Ultimate Bet?

PH: I was proud to have had a big role in forcing an investigation at UB, which led to $25 million being returned to the players. People said I should have left the site, and that would have been easy to do as I was wanted by Full Tilt. But I saw another pro get haunted for years because the site he repped DID NOT pay the players back. Staying was the right move, and I was happy when the players were paid back.

Spyware Scandal uncovered at PokerStars and Full Tilt

IT security researcher Robert Lipovsky recently discovered that hackers are using spyware that can reveal opponents' hole cards. Think Russ Hamilton, except more complicated than sitting in the UB office staring at everybody's hole cards.

This Trojan virus, Win32/Spy.Odlanor, can be installed on a player's PC when they download unregistered versions of Poker Calculator Pro, Smart Buddy, Poker Office and other programs. When the malware is on a player's computer and launched, it takes screenshots of their PokerStars or Full Tilt window(s). The hacker can then gather the player's ID and hole card information, join their table and start victimizing them.

Lipovsky warns that hackers from any country can use this spyware to unfairly win money. But it seems that the largest concentration of hackers are from Eastern Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine; most victims live in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

This Program can analyze Your Poker Face Immediately

Much is made about having an expressionless poker face so nobody knows if you're bluffing or you have the absolute nuts. But if you're up against the face-reading program from start-up company Emotient, you have no chance to hide what you're thinking.

Emotient's software was recently put to test at a McDonald's, where it monitored customers to see how stressed they were when waiting on lunch. Using emotion detection and sentiment analysis based on facial expressions, the company could tell which people who were okay with waiting for food, and those who were about to blow their lids.

There's no talk of bringing the Emotient creation to the poker tables to read Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu. But we might expect it in court rooms and retail stores in the near future.