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Cheating in Poker

Poker-Cheats Poker is a gambling game above anything else. You can expect people to attempt cheating since it involves money. Back in the day when it started in Mississippi riverboats, the game was actually called “the cheating game.” Throughout history, while other players try to be more skilled, cheaters have developed their methods in order to win.

Many methods for cheating need a confederate, an accomplice that aids the cheating plan. Mostly, the dealer is aboard. Given the surveillance installed in modern casinos, crooked dealers are quite rare in such places. On the other hand, they are more common in less formal games. In cases of dealer rotation setups, the cheaters only have to wait for one of them to become the dealer.

Here are some cheating methods that are used in poker. Most of them can also be used in most card games.

Second Dealing/Bottom Dealing

To effectively pull these methods off, a lot of practice is needed. Between the two, second dealing is far more common perhaps because it is more useful, but bottom dealing is more known. Both methods involve dealing another card instead of normally handing out the top card.

Second dealing is done by the dealer pretending to deal cards normally. However, what is actually happening is the dealer holds on to the top card while he or she slides another card beneath it. He or she would only deal the top card to his or her partner, who will use it to win the round. Bottom dealing is done by dealing the bottom card instead of the top. The objective is the same. The top card can be marked or slipped on top by the dealer using a variety of methods, like false shuffle.

Marking Cards

There are different ways of marking a card, but the practice has only one objective. That is for the cheaters to know what the card is even without seeing the face. One common marking method is making an indentation on the corner of a card, may be via a fingernail or a small piece of metal. Another method is making a smudge at the back of the card, usually with a pencil lead or a piece of charcoal. Others are more complex, like subtle modifications on the pattern at the back of a card or tiny trims along the side. The dealer only needs to feel the card to find the cards they need.


Shiner is a term used to refer to anything reflective which a player utilizes to see the face of a card, usually during a deal. Some shiners might be in jewelry, fingernails, cigarettes, or on an object situated on the table.

poker player cheatHoldouts

A holdout is any tool used by a cheater to bring in a card to his or her hand from outside the game. To ensure the card matches the deck used for the game, the cheater would take it out from the actual deck before the game starts. The cheater would hide this card where it won’t be easily seen but easy to bring out when needed. The most common is the sleeve, thus the expressions “you got something up your sleeve.” Other places are under the table, the player’s chair, or other parts of the player’s clothing. Some cheaters go to lengths as to use a complex mechanical device that is utilized with sleight of hand.

False Shuffle/Cuts

These methods make the dealer appear to be randomizing the deck, but he or she is actually arranging the deck to fit his or her needs. Sometimes

Cold Deck

The method of cold decking is done by replacing the real deck secretly with a pre-arranged deck. The objective is the same as in false cuts and shuffles.


This cheating method would require at least two partners who have their own set of signals. These signals are exchanged between the partners to let each other know their hole cards. They then use this information to attempt to manipulate the other player’s bets.

Taking the Cheats Off Their Game

Now that you know the cheating methods in poker, it is good to know how to prevent the cheaters from succeeding with them.

Cut it

Cutting is probably the simplest but surest way to combat cheating. Do not even join a game that doesn’t allow cutting. Even if you don’t suspect cheating, make it a habit to cut the deck before every round. The recommended deck cutting is to separate the deck into three piles, take the cards previously at the bottom and stack them on top. Then, make another cut.

deckFresh Deck

In casinos, they mostly have a policy that a new pack of cards would be used for every new poker game. The dealer opens the pack straight from the plastic wrapper in front of all players. If this is not the case, you can also ask for a new deck. Remember though, that many manipulated or marked decks are manufactured at gambling supply houses and resealed in the plastic wrappers. Thus, there is no guarantee that it would help.

Leave the Table

If you feel the cheating is just too unrestrained, it’s time to leave the game. If the place you play in earns from the games, mostly through a table fee or a percentage of the pot, tell the manager your reason for leaving. A house that tolerates cheating will lose customers, the source of their revenue. So, if they don’t want that to happen, they will snuff out cheating.

Speak to the Manager

In major casinos, cheating is a big deal. The chance of getting away after committing an act of cheating is close to zero. The punishment is equally serious – it can land you in jail for a long time. If you have a suspicion of cheating, speak to the proper authorities, most likely the floor manager. Surveillance tapes can be reviewed to confirm if cheating actually happened. The casinos have it in their best interests to ensure poker, along with other games, is clean. Speaking to the manager is your best choice in the matter, unless the whole staff is involved in the cheating. That is an unlikely scenario if you’re playing in a reputable casino.