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Home | Poker

Is Poker a Cheating Game ? - Part II

By: Kenneth Bateman

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The introduction of the 52-card deck meant that the poker tables could now accommodate more players and there were more cards left over to draw, with each player having the chance to improve their hands. As the game of poker became more complex with the introduction of straights and flushes, so to did the complexities of cheating, as crooked gamblers had to adjust to the changing games and perfect new strategies and methods to fleece the suckers.

Collusion, whereby two or more poker cheaters would secretly partner in a game, using a series of signals to let each other know what cards they were holding, became popular with gamblers looking for a distinct advantage at the tables. The notorious marked deck was a commonly used ruse to give gamblers a secret advantage in the games. Decks of cards were “marked” in various ways, such as using undetectable markings on the card backsides, or nicking the edges of certain key cards in a way noticeable only to the cheater.

Some cheaters spent long hours perfecting the “art” of deftly manipulating cards to their advantage by second dealing or so-called bottom dealing, meaning that these experts could, for instance, hold back the top card in the deck, using the thumb of the hand holding the deck and unobtrusively deal every second card or bottom card to the other players and dealing the top card – the card that would improve the cheaters hand – to himself. Certainly, these maneuvers were meant for private games, and only possible to use when the gambler is dealing. and not possible in well regulated casinos where cards are dealt from “shoes” and multiple decks are commonly used.

But let’s give the crooked gambler his due. The ability to manipulate cards to one’s advantage under the direct gaze of other players requires not only a high degree of skill, but nerves of steel as well. Some cheaters take an easier path and devise ways of stealing chips from their fellow players. One method is to closely observe the players on either side and watch for an inattentive player. Then, with the use of a sticky substance hidden in his palm, the chip thief will casually lay his hand on a stray chip near the other players main stack, or palm a chip while pushing a pot toward that round’s winner. Slipping these chips into his own pile is easy, since the cheater’s chips are purposefully not neatly stacked.

These various methods of cheating, among countless others, such as card counting, the use of electronic devices and a myriad other ways to cheat at cards are very difficult to accomplish in a modern casino, where the staff is well trained and observant. However, there have been occasions when crooked gamblers and casino dealers worked together, with the dealer aiding his partner in various ways, one of which was to cleverly lift the corner of each card as it is dealt, allowing the cheater to see what was being dealt to each player. Assuredly, the chances of being cheated in a well-run casino are small, but when you are gambling alertness pays off, regardless.

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Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of poker and its players. To read more player profiles, visit online poker at XL

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