This modded phone helps you secretly cheat at Poker

Pick a card. Any card… from a tampered deck, that is.

This modded phone helps you secretly cheat at Poker

You can purchase a specially-modified smartphone online that uses infrared light to spot cards and helps you cheat at gambling.

Elie Bursztein, leader of the anti-abuse research team at Google, purchased a cheating device for the discounted price of US $1,300 (they usually go for US $5,000) from a factory based in China.

As Bursztein told the DEF CON 24 conference, he thought he'd be getting some piece of hardware that looked but didn't function like a smartphone.

Poker device

That's not what he received at all, as he explains in a blog post:

"However, to my surprise, the device, showcased in the picture above, far exceeded my expectations by being a fully functional phone with extra hardware dedicated to cheating. Also to my surprise, the device not only allows to cheat at Poker but to cheat at almost any kind of card games you can think of."

The modified phone runs with a custom Chinese 4.2.2 ROM and allows the user to access its cheating features via a dedicated Android app called "Game," which is password-protected.

A cheater can use the app to activate the device for a number of games and configure the phone for a specific scenario based upon the game type, number of players, etc.

Activating the device during a game looks something like this:

Game capture

So what's going on here?

Essentially, the modified phone takes the game's configuration settings and reads the cards while they're face down to tell the user what the top two cards are: the six of Hearts followed by the eight of Diamonds.

How does it do it? With the help of three hidden infrared LEDs, that's how. They read a specially marked deck of cards based upon each card's unique surface pattern.

Card marki

It's not even that difficult to get one of those special card decks. The researcher, who also presented some troubling research on users' trust in USB drives at Black Hat USA 2016, elaborates:

"An interesting question is how they get the markings onto the cards. At first, I would have ventured that they would create a deck from the ground up, but after closely inspecting a few decks, it is clear that they use a real Bicycle deck (or any brand you want) and use a dedicated machine to mark them."

Here's a demo of the device in action:

That the modded phone works so quickly is no small feat. Its algorithm must look for pixel-wide markings on cards that are continuously changing in angle and position. No doubt that's why cheats built the device using a top-of-the-line phone.

Cheating in poker and other games has never been so easy! Given the availability of devices like the one analyzed by Bursztein, users should be skeptical if they're ever in a game and someone has their phone in a position where its camera could spot other players' cards.

If something seems fishy, point your own phone camera at the device. You just might see three IR lights shining back at you.

You can watch a video of the talk below or view the researchers' slides.

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5 Responses

  1. Wayne

    October 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    A marked deck with a modern day technology twist. When they can do it with an unmarked deck then you'll have something

  2. Michael Ponzani

    October 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    It is amazing how people will find opportunities to steal. As soon as a security feature appears multiple sources are looking to defeat it. Same thing goes for counterfeiting.

  3. drsolly

    October 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    Very neat. So – don't play cards for money with someone using their own deck.

  4. Dana Freeman

    October 27, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Why they are doing it, they are ruined the poker game! And where is the spirit of honest game? I must move to the roulette, the physic of the game can give some true play – http://en.casinoz.me/content/roulette-physical-systems-part-1-visual-ballistics-593.html According to this theory only 40-50 individuals all over the world mastered visual ballistics. So that the lowest rate for cheating. That modded phone can broke the romantic atmosphere of playing piker with old friends. If this gadget will possible to buy on eBay, someone will always suspect somebody.

  5. Krist

    October 27, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    Oh, come on, they have ruined the poker game! And where is the spirit of the honest game? I must move to the roulette, the physic of the game can give some true play – http://en.casinoz.me/content/roulette-physical-systems-part-1-visual-ballistics-593.html According to this theory only 40-50 individuals all over the world mastered visual ballistics. So that the lowest rate for cheating. That modded phone can break the romantic atmosphere of playing poker with old friends. If this gadget will possible to buy on eBay, someone will always suspect somebody.

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