An implementable P2P internet poker protocol, with the ability to transfer value depending on game flow results, would allow poker to be played over the internet without the need for a trusted third party.
Current state of poker
Today over 70% of the ipoker industry is controlled by one entity Amaya gaming.
Players complain daily about server problems: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip-sponsored-online-poker-report/pokerstars-servers-awful-1524525/
Status quo effective rake is at an all time high: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip-sponsored-online-poker-report/pokerstars-servers-awful-1524525/
Many competing sites can’t get traction and are suffering from ddos/server attacks, bot rings, player collusion and a difficult barrier to entry and compete because of heavy licensing and regulation fees and costs.
A relevant history of mental poker including historical limitations and proposed solutions: https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/4022/
A few proposed implementations of mental poker: https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/a-relevant-overview-of-mental-poker-implementations/
Why bitcoin/blockchain is necessary
Since a poker hand can be thought of as a complex transaction based on some per-determined but unknown, or determined, or probabilistic event, it is observable that poker also suffers from the same double spend problem that S. Nakamoto solved.
Lightning Channels and Duplex Channels
LC’s provide a sufficeiently rapid feasible method of ensuring payments are being made without the ability to reneg. LC’s support full dropout tolerance and malicious actors because of the credible threat of posting reneged transactions to the block chain. The solution is off-chain, but relies on the block-chain for its effectiveness.
“How to Use Bitcoin to Play Decentralized Poker” proposes a protocol solution whereby any player that refuses to participate for selfish gain forfeits a substantial fee to each player that is playing honestly. This removes any possible economic incentive for such dishonest action.
Collusion, Bots, Hud’s, and Other Possible Types of Cheating
We can think of two types of collusion: Sybil and Player collusion.The proposal and protocol here is secure against the traditional concept of a Sybil attack (ie players sharing secrets to expose cryptographic security leaks).
There is still the difficulty, from the players perspective, in understanding how a P2P environment can police collusion, bots, hud’s, and other types of cheating. A secure implementable P2P mental poker protocol provides the necessary infrastructure and tools for many competing poker sites to arise and to solve these problems. Rake can be paid to these sites to provide any, all, or none of the historical solutions that the centralized server model generally included.
The introduction of a secure mental poker protocol which handles security of chips, dealing, gameflow, and cashout/deposits removes the need for a trusted third party. The problem of player collusion is solved removing the barrier to entry to provide a poker site solution thereby fostering a competitive market place for players. The implementation of the protocol is secure from Sybil attacks, trustworthy, allows effectively instant game flow, and is exponentially cheaper for emerging sites who can now offer a superior product at a reduced cost because of a drastically reduced overhead.