Cheating At Poker

So, you're interested in cheating at poker? You want to know how to cheat at poker? You are highly interested in poker cheating?


This article is NOT about cheating at poker. It's about how you can be better at recognizing those engaged in poker cheating at your games and tournies and have them thrown out on their butts, which in their cases may be indistinguishable from their heads.

People who want to know how to cheat at Texas Holdem or any poker game are not only losers, they are probably stupid and lazy (which is why they are losers). Now, they won't be that hard to recognize. Unfortunately, there is a small minority those who cheat at poker who may be lazy, but they are not stupid--they are very smart. They are, thus, mastermind criminals who want to steal your money rather than earn it (so, never play poker with a politician...). Maybe it thrills them, or maybe they just can't stand to lose, or maybe they can't accept that bad luck happens to the best of us, or they think the "evil" casino deserves to have its money stolen. Whatever their reasoning, they are criminals and must be stopped.

The good news is, there is no conflict of interest between you and the casino with this matter. They probably want these masterminds hanged from a higher tree than you do.

Now, one tip off for when and where you want to look for smooth operating cheaters has to do with the kind of game you're playing. Casino tournament poker does not have as much cheating as casino ring game poker. You see, random seating cuts down on collusion, and every ring game hand offers an opportunity to steal.

These are the most common methods of cheating at poker ring games:

  • splashing or shorting pots to snare extra chips to which one is not entitled--a cheater might even behave as if he's put a chip in but with deft fingers palms a higher-value chip as he withdraws his hand
  • sneaking peaks at opponents' cards (believe it or not, the most common form of cheating!)--this cheater takes advantage of times when there are close quarters and takes advantage of players who forget to keep their cards covered against even accidental glimpses
  • ignoring casino fees
  • playing with marked cards, most commonly aces and jokers--most commonly this involves small dog-ears of corners or corner scratches on the backs of cards
  • when dealing, playing with extra cards which the cheating dealer gives to himself
  • bottom dealing or "hanging", which involves a player dealing cards from the bottom of the deck, cupping them in his hand in such a way that others don't see what he's doing and letting him see what everybody gets--this can also be used for the extra cards trick
  • deliberately breaking the rules--this is typically used to cause confusion and during that confusion the cheater puts another plan into play, such as stealing chips or preparing extra cards

As you can see, most cheating is highly disingenuous. The thing is, they happen all the time and, as with violence on the TV news, people tend to just adapt to it and become indifferent to it, which is a terrible and costly mistake. Mastermind cheaters will take advantage of this.

But the mastermind is much more likely to use collusion to cheat at poker. Sadly, this is typically, but certainly NOT always, done by two or more "minority" players. One tell-tale sign that these players are colluding is they will "show respect" for each other by "soft playing" (failing to bet or raise in a situation that merits it) against each other; this is, however, a form of cheating in its own right even if there is no criminal intent. They "play the race card" (pun intended) in the hope that their collusion will be accepted out of fear of the white players looking guilty of racism. But women might do it, too, or so might white players who share some kind of noticeable disability. Cheating soft players use a real or perceived shared "handicap" trait to excuse taking it easy on each other--but you need to know that this is against poker rules.

When watching for collusion, also beware of the following:

  • Dumping chips: Deliberately losing to a partner (perhaps someone you are backing financially or with whom you have traded a percentage stake).
  • Hand-mucking: Switching or altering hands. Two people sitting next to each other might try to switch hands or alter them in some way to gain unfair position advantage.
  • Hot-seat: A new player is invited to a game, only to play against a team of players all secretly working together.
  • Signaling: Trading information between partners. Signals can take many forms, from the placement of the chips on the cards, to coughing, to Morse code rappings on the table. The key ingredient in all signaling systems is repeatability, so look for patterns of behavior that don't look or sound like "poker moves". But remember: when a cheater is signaling the value of his hand to his partner(s), he is also signaling the value of his hand to everybody else at the table. You could use that to turn on him!
  • Whipsawing: Partners raise and re-raise each other to trap players in between.

Interested in cheating at poker? You want to know how to cheat at poker? You are highly interested in poker cheating? Don't come to my table--I'll turn you in.

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