"It is a secret!" "It's not a secret!" "Some know some don't - best not to talk about it." "I know it is a half secret". "Like being half pregnant?" Not a very satisfactory position to be in. This is much better:-
SOME PLAYERS WHEN PLAYING BACKGAMMON ON LINE STEAL MONEY FROM OTHER PLAYERS. THEY USE A ROBOT PLAYER TO DO THIS. THE ROBOT PLAYER MAKES THEM SUPER PLAYERS - UNBEATABLE IN THE LONG RUN. IT IS EASY TO USE. NEVERTHELESS, THIS GROUP OF CHEATS ARE IN THE SMALL MINORITY. MOST BACKGAMMON PLAYERS ARE HONEST. ALL THEY WANT IS TO ENJOY A FAIR SQUARE AND HONEST GAME; TO BE SURE THEY ARE NOT BEING CHEATED AND TO KNOW THAT ONLINE BACKGAMMON PROVIDERS ARE WORKING HARD, DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO PROTECT THEM.
There that wasn't so bad was it? The elephant is in the room now and can really be looked at. Backgammon providers would be much better off if instead of mumbling about cheating and trying to keep it in the background they fully addressed the problem, brought it out into the open and got to work. Online money backgammon would enjoy far more players as a result. The good news for providers is that even though loads of players know they run the risk of being cheated they enjoy the online game so much they are willing to run that risk and keep on playing. The bad news is that some players won't. They have not and never will play online while the risk of being cheated is there.
So just how prevalent is robot cheating and how safe are we? The unfortunate backgammon provider Gammonitis Games provides some useful answers. Shortly after launch it came to their attention that out of a pool of about sixty players four were playing with a constant zero error rating - not even one slight little error over a large number of games and matches. They were following GNU all the way. This is as likely as not just winning the lottery but winning it every week. These individuals were clearly cheating using robot players and Gammonitis Games barred them from their site.
Over the next several months one of these cheats, who has an unwise attachment to her user name, was spotted playing on two other backgammon sites. On one she gamely battled through to the last rounds of a major tournament - what happened? - barred again. Next seen on another site willing to play thrilling head to head cash games - what happened? - barred again.
Gammonitis Games shows us that cheats are very active. They move around from site to site. Most importantly they also show us that backgammon providers are not working together to stop cheating. There is no communication. Every online provider should have known in short order about these cheats and they should have been stopped from playing everywhere. Not just allowed to carry on and on. A system has to be implemented to enable providers to share information on cheats and even player safety technology and working practices. This is where "Safe Backgammon" comes in. One player hurt by robot cheating damages every online site no matter where it happens.
Gammonitis Games also shows us worryingly, that these cheats felt they had no need to disguise there activities. There were no errors no blunders mixed in to their play. This probably means that they had been active on other sites playing the same way and had been successful. Some sites may very well have to do some hard work to bring their player safety measures up to scratch.
So for starters, out of a player pool of sixty we have four out in the open cheats. Next, it is fair to assume there will be another four who will be hiding their activities, possibly among them good players who will use a robot player occasionally for difficult chequer plays and cube decisions. We can take these figures and estimate that just under fifteen per cent of Gammonitis Games players were cheating. This is a truly frightening figure. If it was to hold true across all online money backgammon providers it would mean that every honest frequent player had been cheated pretty frequently as well. Having said that, the levels of player cheating are probably far less on established sites with good player safety measures in place.
Online backgammon is certainly far safer for players than it was several years ago. Some good work has been done by providers. Considerable work has been completed on detecting the running of robot players while you are playing online.They have also recently developed sophisticated software to detect robot player use. Online backgammon may soon be a very dangerous place for the robot player cheats.