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Poker and Card Cheats

With the explosion of Poker around the world it has become increasingly easy for a skilled card cheat to make a living off unsuspecting Poker players. The majority of these cheats can be used not only in Poker but in other card based games like Baccarat, Blackjack. In casinos to eliminate most of the cheating opportunities at card based table games the casinos have implemented a no touch rule. This means that the only person at the table allowed to touch the cards in play is the dealer. This means that the casino only has to worry about one person instead of many. Unfortunately there are still games that players can handle the cards and any time that happens the potential for a card cheat or sharp increases.

Perhaps the most recognizable form of cheating is the style of cheating done by a Card Mechanic or Card Sharp. These cheats rely on slight of hand to swap out undesirable cards in there hands for ones that are more desirable.

Other popular cheating methods are:
  • Bottom or second dealer in which the dealer is able to deal from the bottom of the deck or deal the second card in the deck all the while making it appear that the top card is being dealt.
  • Collusion - Where you and one or more people agree to fix the game so that either of you wins most of the hands and then you split the winnings after the game.
  • Marked Cards - These are cards that have been marked with either a 'invisible marker' a folded edge or a tiny tear.
  • Holdout device - a physical device use by a player to hide cards from their opponents.
Cheating in poker is any behavior outside the rules that is intended to give an unfair advantage to one or more players.
Poker cheating can be broken down into three categories, the first requires no skill but a lot of nerve and the second group requires just as much nerve but also requires a large amount of skill, the last involves the use of physical alteration to the cards or devices to hide cards.

No Skill Methods

No no skill methods are the most common form of cheating done at poker and other card games as they require no special skill or ability such that for example a slight of hand method would require. While these methods require less skill they do require a lot of nerve as they can be pretty obvious if someone is watching you closely. These methods include shorting the pot, avoiding house fees and snatching a look at your opponents cards. These cheats are pretty easy to pass off as a mistake the first time your caught using any of them but after that your probably going to get kicked from the game.

In non casino games you may find a cheat who folds and generously appoints him/herself as the guardian of the pot. They will stack the chips, count them out and deliver them to the winning player. But with the help of some odorless adhesive on the palm of the hand a chip or two can disappear from the stack as it's being delivered without anyone noticing. This cheating techniques is referred to a Chip-Chopping.

Another method called Ratholing or Going South is where a player removes some of their chips from the pot while staying in the game. This is done to prevent major losses in a big bet game.

These last two methods are all but impossible in Casino or tournament games as the players are not allowed to touch the chips after they have been placed in the pot.

Skilled Methods

These skilled methods are something you would expect to see a magician perform for their audience and not at a poker table. Unfortunately the same skills that, that magician uses to amaze their audience are the same skills that a Card Sharp uses to fool his or her opponents. Some of these cheats can be further masked by using a partner to be on the benefiting end. All of these techniques revolve around switching out a card or an entire hand or rigging the deal.

Hand Mucking - This technique involves the switching out of an entire hand for a secretly hidden hand (typically using a holdout device) or a single card for a more advantageous card. Using a partner for this technique can involve passing cards to one another or passing the hidden hand/card to them.

Dealing tricks are the next method in the skilled cheat methods. These methods require a lot of practice as they are performed out in the open while all the eyes are watching you and more importantly your hands. As this video shows, there are some very skilled dealers out there that can pull this off. A skilled cheat can deal the second card from the top, the second card from the bottom, the bottom card, the middle card in effect they can deliver any card they want without anyone noticing. Now being able to deal a card from the bottom of the deck or any other position doesn't help if you don't know what the cards are. First the cheat will need to place cards into specific positions in the deck so that they can be dealt to the proper players. This can be achieved during the shuffle.

Not only does the cheat need to make sure they or their partner get a winning hand they need to make sure that another player or two gets what they consider a winning hand. This ensures that the cheat or their partner will get the biggest pot possible. Having the best hand with 4 other hands that get folded after the deal is useless. This technique of delivering a strong hand to an opponent is called a 'Double Duke'.

One tip off to a possible bad deal is the way in which the dealer holds the cards. If the index finger is placed across the front edge of the cards there might be some funny business going on as the finger provides cover to the bottom dealing.

A different take on this is one in which the dealer introduces a deck that they have pre-loaded that hasn't been played yet. This 'cold deck' is slipped in just before they deal but just after they shuffle the real deck, or before the deal but before the shuffle in which they fake a shuffle. This method is very risky but has a good potential for a big pay-off.

These dealing cheats can happen in a casino but it would require a dirty dealer and a partner or two to pull off. With the level of security in a casino it is very unlikely that this type of cheating would go unnoticed for very long.

Physical Methods

Physical methods of cheating generally come in the form of card marking of some manner. From all but invisible inks/powders, to special bends, folds and holdout devices these techniques are far more labor intensive and run a high risk of being caught.

Inks and Powders - There are special Inks and powders that can be purchased that allow the cheat with special lenses in glasses or learning special eye tricks to see the markings while other players can not see these marks. Generally these cheating methods require some setup time which is not possible most of the time and not at all in a casino or tournament environment. There are work arounds to this that allow a player to mark cards while in play but this is a very risky endeavor and I would be surprised to see a skilled cheat using this method in a casino or tournament.

Bends and Folds - Bending or folding certain cards in slightly different ways will let the bender know what cards are where when they are dealt. The bends have to be small so they are not noticed by the other players and not all cards can be marked in this manner.

Holdout Devices - These are special devices that allow a cheat to hold cards unseen for future use. These devices are used by players who are mucking hands or switching out cards. There are many different types of Holdout Devices, here are just a few sleeve holdout, ring holdout, vest holdout and cuff holdout. All of these devices require a great deal of skill to use properly and are certain to get you ejected from a game or worse if they are found on your person.
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