Galfond, Berkey and Ingram deliver verdict on ACR Poker’s new anti-collusion Reshuffle feature

Phil Galfond playing at the PokerGO Tour PLO Series in March 2023
Dave Woods
Posted on: October 15, 2023 08:05 PDT

Key poker opinion leaders Phil Galfond, Matt Berkey, and Joey Ingram have welcomed a new anti-collusion feature rolled out by ACR Poker.  

The ACR Poker Reshuffle is currently running as an option on limited Omaha 5 tables and, according to ACR Poker, ‘embodies our commitment to the integrity and spirit of fair play’. The feature kicks in automatically when a player folds. Cards are dealt one player at a time, with the next player not getting their hole cards until the previous player has folded and their cards reshuffled into the deck. 

There are immediate impacts to the way the game plays preflop: you can’t look at your hole cards until the player to your right has folded, and pre-action buttons are disabled. It also means that it’s possible you could get the exact same hole cards as players who have folded to your right. There are wider ripple effects in gameplay as well.  

Created in partnership with GTOWizard as a way to combat the possibility of online collusion, the idea was originally floated a little more than a month ago, leading to some fierce debate in the poker community with players trying to work through what impact it would actually have and whether, ultimately, it’s good for the game.

A spokesperson for GTOWizard told us, "We're proud of our collaboration with ACR on the reshuffle feature. The swift implementation highlights the shared commitment both our organizations have to game integrity. As we continue our partnership, we're eager to introduce more innovations that enhance the trust of online poker, ensuring a bright future for the game." 

We spoke to Owen Gaines, head of product at ACR Poker, to get the details on the feature, and then to respected players Phil Galfond, Matt Berkey, and Joey Ingram to get their verdicts.

ACR Poker explains the Reshuffle feature 

PokerOrg: Thanks for taking time out with us, Owen. The ACR Poker Reshuffle has been rolled out on limited Omaha 5 tables. If successful, is the plan to roll this out across all Omaha games? And do you see this going over to hold’em too?

Owen Gaines: The plan is to begin having the Reshuffle as an option for players to choose in Omaha 5.  Then we’ll repeat this process for all Omaha games. We will then introduce it to hold’em games. In time, we want this to be the only method we offer.

Does the Reshuffle kick in whenever cards are folded, whether that’s preflop, on the flop, turn, or river?

OG: The Reshuffle happens each time cards are folded. Preflop hands are dealt to only UTG first. After a decision is made, dealing proceeds. If UTG folds, the folded cards are returned to the deck, the deck is shuffled, and cards are dealt to UTG+1, and so on.

ACR Reshuffle has been added to the lobby and is a new feature designed to combat collusion ACR Poker Reshuffle is currently only featured on PLO 5 tables and sare identified with the blue shield icon

It’s a feature that’s caused a lot of debate, and some players have struggled with the complexities around its potential impact on the game. How did it come about, and how did you decide that all the effects combined were net positive for the game?

OG: Each top player who I discuss this innovation with sees its immense value. In terms of the game itself, there is no downside. It simply protects online players in a way that has previously been impossible for online poker providers. We’re very excited to offer this protection to players, and we hope to see other poker providers follow suit.

What would you say to recreational players who might think that cards they’ve folded turning up in other players’ hands or on the flop is something that looks bad? 

OG: There’s an education process that must take place. I’ve likened this player-protection feature to burning a card in live card rooms before dealing the flop, turn, or river. Most recreational players don’t know why this is done. Players need to be educated that cheaters exist, and the burn card is a measure to protect them.

We don’t burn cards online because that form of cheating isn’t a problem. However, online poker has its own problem that has never been addressed. A player can be on the phone with another player at the table and share the cards he has. This information is incredibly valuable, especially in games like Omaha 5, where many cards are dealt to players. Since we’re not in the business of tapping phone lines, we’ve addressed this problem with the ACR Reshuffle feature. 

Player verdict – Phil Galfond

Phil Galfond playing at the 2023 PokerGO Tour PLO Series Phil Galfond playing at the PokerGO Tour PLO Series in March 2023

“I’m all about increasing security by creatively altering game mechanics and structures, and this is a great example of that.

It’s not a silver bullet. There are still ways to use the knowledge of your cards to collude in a game like this, but there are far less of them, so the potential edge is lower. 

This is what we have to do. Chip away at the EV of cheating while also detecting and punishing it, which, if done well, can wholly disincentivize it.

The #1 question I have is whether players will be okay not seeing their cards until their turn. The absence of fast-fold will slow games down and not allow for as much multi-tabling. 

This also means fewer hands played and less revenue for the operator. I hope they and the players are willing to make these sacrifices for the sake of game integrity.”

Player verdict – Matt Berkey

Matt Berkey at the 2022 WPT World Championship Matt Berkey at the 2022 WPT World Championship Joe Giron/Poker.org

“I’m happy to see ACR playing around with some creative solutions to the collusion that’s taking place online. 

Most importantly, I’m happy to see them address the notion of the folded cards going back into the deck and that information still being relevant to the conversation as far as collusion goes. For example, if I fold a hand with the Ah under the gun, I can tell my friend who’s on the button when it comes two hearts on the flop that that card is back in the deck. 

It seems as though they’ve addressed this by dealing hands one at a time, then reshuffling. In other words, now, the Ah that was dealt to you under the gun could potentially show up in someone else’s hand later on through the preflop dealing.

I don’t really see much downside to this. We covered this extensively when the first idea of it rolling out was introduced. If anything, we thought that this was maybe just step one in the direction of taking the collusion issue a little bit more seriously. 

We weren’t positive as a group that this would be fully efficient or effective, but I don’t really think that’s as important as trying… as ACR taking this initiative and potentially understanding that they’re going to have to onboard and educate recreational players to explain away why a card that they folded also showed up on the turn. It’s a big undertaking, but one that I think is necessary for the health of online poker moving forward.”

Player verdict – Joey Ingram

Joey Ingram playing at the 2022 WPT World Championship Joey Ingram has said he welcomes new initiatives like the ACR Poker Reshuffle Joe Giron/Poker.org

"It’s great to see ACR Poker taking game integrity seriously. Collusion is a very serious issue in PLO formats, and I think it’s worth experimenting with something like this to see how it impacts the game.

If it goes well, it could be a game changer for preventing collusion in all formats, and if it doesn’t work, you can always revert back to the old system.

I’ll have my eye on how it might change in-game strategy and how recreational players react to seeing cards they folded preflop end up on the flop."

Feature image courtesy of PokerGO