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Cheating in live poker. Part 1.

Whats up villains! We start a series of posts about different forms of cheating you may experience in live poker games around the world. This articles were originally posted by ZapahZamazki at the biggest Russian poker community Gipsyteam and afterwards translated by Worldpokerdeals.com.

Cheating in live poker. Part 1.

Part one. "Push" from a player.

I mean the individual "push" from a player without using marked card decks or the dealer's help (skills). It must be the most ancient kind of "push" that was born right after the gambling appeared. In fact, I have to admire this kind of "push" as it requires good acting skills and a high level of prestidigitation from the performer.

Playing with additional cards (popularity: 3/5, complexity: 4/5).

Hope I don't have to explain this one. The suspect plays Texas Holdem with a +1 card (sometimes +2) that he hides in his hand, as a rule. It requires the highest prestidigitation skill (like magician's) and a very serious training. I heard that they are trained by walking everywhere in real life with a card in the hand until it fits like a glove, to the point that they even sleep, eat and write with a card in the hand. On the face of it, it appears that it's best to leave an ace in your hand, so you could have АА when another ace comes, but the most efficient strategy is "stealing" middle straight cards (8–9) that will very often give you OESD postflop. Actually, this trick is very popular (more popular that you could have imagined), but I lowered its rating because these "prestidigitators" are often and easily exposed and black-listed (of course, if the cheater is not covered up by the house). He can use both additional cards that he brought with him (90% of the gambling dens use one and the same Fournier card deck now — with 2–3 different backs of the cards), and stolen from other card decks during the game.

Signs:

- The suspect sits on the 1st or the 9th box (desirable, but not necessary). The thing is clear — the closer you are to the dealer the easier it is for you to drop the additional cards when the dealer/deck is changed.
- The suspect surrounds himself with the chips in the form of the wall and, though not hiding the cards and not violating anything, he often looks at the cards he's dealt behind the wall, which makes it easier to change the card he needs.
- With generally adequate ABC game, the suspect often calls expensive gutshots and gets his outs.
- The suspect folds the cards right into the muck thus violating the rules. The thing is clear — this way he can fold three or one card instead of two. Thus, the experienced dealer must avoid that (the cards should be folded on the table and not in the muck), and, when the player folds his cards in a pile — say, in Omaha — must count the cards folded.
- After the dealer/deck is changed, the card deck — like, occasionally — lacks 1–2 cards. Or on the contrary — it has one or two extra cards, sometimes even with a different back.

Fast marking of specific cards (popularity: 2/5, complexity: 4/5).

It should be noted that we are speaking here about the situation when the sharper is not in collusion with the house or the dealers and he acts alone, otherwise in such cases it's much easier to use the card deck that has been marked beforehand. This is also an ancient trick with lots of options — scratches (for example, only on higher cards or pictures), needle holes (done, for example, with the help of a finger-ring), nail marks, card wrinkles (I've come across this method personally on one of the poker series — the sharper somehow unnaturally bended the cards with force in his fist when folding, sometimes inside, sometimes — outside, sometimes did not. He said it was for the tilt, but it all looked extremely unnatural — I suppose, it was his way of sorting the cards for small-middle-pictures by different ways of bending them). As the method is rather hard and it does not give you 100% result, it is not very popular, it's tritely easier to use other ways of cheating, but it can be used in some kind of home games where an old and smeared card deck is used, or in other places where the card decks are rarely changed, or in big MTTs with big prizes (I guess you have heard about this dirty story in the heads-up of one of the WSOP tournaments). The problem is solved with ease — just by frequently changing the card decks and not using the previous ones.

Signs:

- Rare change of card decks, old and smeared card decks.
- Scratches, holes, nail marks and wrinkles on the cards.
- Unnatural folds from a suspect.
- The suspect peeks in your cards at different angles, looks for flecks, asks you to remove your hands from your cards even if you are not violating anything and not covering the cards fully.

Substitutions, peeking and other dirty tricks

- Be extremely cautious when playing cash games without a dealer. Substituting a card, picking the last card from the deck instead of the first one, picking a helping card from the muck and so on, and so on — is a piece of cake for a sophisticated card-sharper. That is why I would strongly discourage you from playing, for example, OFC for good money without a dealer — the room for technical push is just humongous.

- I've seen this one several times from the sidelines. The sharper plays heads-up with a drunk opponent, and there is this shill "fan" running around with the table who peeks in the opponent's cards and sends signals to his accomplice at the table. Easy game. Of course, you should not let anyone sit or stand next to you during the game. One of options — "non-smoking" poker rooms, when people are constantly rushing to and fro to have a cigarette and they can accidentally (or intentionally) see your cards. If a player is absent at the table — ask the dealer to take his cards at once.

  I'll describe one more trick that I remembered most. On some street (not on the river) the cheater goes like all-in (leaving 1–2 chips behind, kinda "occasionally" hidden in the hand or let's say behind the ash-tray, and the dealer, knowing that, does not say "all-in", he just sounds the sum of the bet, letting the opponent happily call yelling "Come here, baby!" and reflexively open his cards that are suddenly taken into the muck as they have been open ahead of the game, against the rules. There are a lot of places where this trick does not work, like you can open your cards in the heads-up, but back in the casino times in one of rather reputable poker club it went off with a bang. GG

- Trivial stealing of the chips Your chips can be stolen both by your neighbor (for example, when changing them) and a passer-by. When leaving for the bathroom or the break, be sure to count your stack and make everybody see it. Never let any "fans" of yours touch your stack, pot or chips.

- UPD: I've just recalled one way of cheating that I had seen personally on one of reputable series. When series of tournaments are held, the sets of chips are often the same. The cheater, messing his stack, will steal tournament chips from expensive tournaments and slip them in even more expensive tournaments; or he will take chips of big nominal from the big stack tournament for the situation when in another tournament these chips would be of higher value. His collection of stolen chips could be envied.
 

To reiterate — all this cheating is done by the player independently of the house, as a rule. So don't be hasty in pinning the blame on the club if you see something like above. But you should grow very cautious is you see someone you know for the cheater and who is black-listed everywhere play in the club you are playing.

By ZapahZamazki

To be continued.

Timofey 24.08.16
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