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    Online Gin Rummy, Poker, Chess and Computer Assistance

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    In one of online poker forums, a player asked whether the games like gin rummy that require greater skill (as opposed to poker) were more susceptible to computer assistance online.

    Here's what the answer was:

    With pure 100% skill games like chess or reversi or checkers, computers are now beating the strongest humans. It is hard (but not impossible) in these games to figure out online whether you are playing a computer or a human. Sites like would not allow users to connect any external programs (like chess computers) to the game. However, computers can still be used as external assistants.

    Those who use such programs online for chess, for example, will have to consult these programs externally, and repeat their moves thereby losing valuable game time. To avoid external computer assistance in such 100 skill games as chess, online chess players prefer very fast games only.

    Now, let's take a look at a game that has a good skill content and, yet, allows some element of chance. Gin rummy, for one, is a legally recognized game of skill -- an excellent card game where a smaller element of chance or 'fuzziness' is present as well. The skill-to-chance ratio in gin rummy according to some estimates is approximately at 70% skill versus 30% chance.

    With this skill-to-chance ratio (and a thousand of other game nuances), it is no accident that the only available gin-rummy program plays on the level of the most average of all human players -- computers cannot yet stand up yet to the combination of thousands of nuances and 'fuzzy' factors. Thus far and for the nearest future, humans deal much better with 'fuzzy' factors in card games of skill than computers.

    New technologies for outside game assistance are being increasingly used in face-to-face games for cheating in seemingly innocuous situations. In Dec 2006, an Indian chess player was banned for 10 years for cheating after he was caught using his mobile phone's wireless device to win games.

    The player, Umakant Sharma, had logged rating points at a rapid pace in the last 18 months and also qualified for the national championship, arousing the suspicion of officials and bemusing rivals.

    Sharma was finally caught at a tournament when officials discovered that he had stitched a Bluetooth device in a cloth cap which he always pulled over his ears.

    Per Indian Chess Federation's D.V. Sundar, Sharma had communicated to his accomplices outside the hall, who then used a computer to relay moves to him.

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