Beating the cheaters

When you are playing high stakes poker, tensions could be running high, and the beads of sweat dot your forehead. It takes patience, a little bit of luck off the flop, and some betting savvy to force your opponents out, or win the pot. But, what do you do when the table is surreptitiously tilted in your opponent’s favor? Is there some sort of scam going on?

Poker cheating is not uncommon. The easiest way to put it is, if you have been playing poker for some time, you have probably run into a cheater. It has been happening ever since the game came to the United States. In poker, the line between deceit (mucking your 2, 3 off suit and telling everyone you had a pair of nines) and cheating is a fine one. Many players have flirted with that line on various occasions. So, how do you identify a person who is cheating at a table, and what do you do about it?

Oddly enough, most people would believe that the common cheater would be the beginner – the players who want to show their skill to the rest of the table. Or, the player who uses sleight of hand to magically have the right cards appear. In reality, much of the cheating is done by more experienced players who understand the advantage of appearing natural and unsuspecting of any cheating going on.

The key to identifying the cheater at the table is to be alert. If you have been playing poker for a while you should be able to identify the signs of cheating, such as illogical betting, increased speed of the game, rapid change of playing style or raises in unusual situations. Whether it is card-flashing, marked cards, culling or stacking a deck, or two players working off each other when betting, a confident and attentive poker player should be able to see what is going on.

So what can you do about it? Use the cheating against the cheaters. If you start to bet illogically because they should know the hand you have, then do the opposite of what you would normally do. That is the greatest position of power for a person who is suspicious of cheating. When you start winning hands, or not falling for traps when you have a pair of kings and the cheater across from you was dealt two aces, you have the upper hand.

You also could try to expose the cheating. This is a touchy situation because often times it is difficult to prove another player has been cheating unless you have insurmountable evidence to that effect. It might work if you are dealing with two players who are crossfire betting, but if the house or the dealer are involved, then you could be asking for trouble.

Leave the game. This is the best option. If you are losing your chips quickly, it is probably a good idea to leave the table anyway. One thing you can do is play the game for a while with the cheaters until you have no doubt in your mind something is going on, and just before you get up, subtly make them aware you knew what they were up to.

Unfortunately, there will never be a way to totally eliminate cheating as long as humans are involved. People are always looking for a way to gain an advantage over others, and many will stop at nothing. They have no respect for that line of deception versus cheating. So, arm yourself with knowledge about the game, and about how people are cheating and you won’t get bit the next time a snake plays at your table.

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