Various Methods Poker Players Use To Cheat

Four of a Kind Poker Hand with chips

The game of poker is particularly vulnerable to cheating since their are lots of ways a player can be duped. In order to ensure that the game is played fairly it’s best to play it in a legal casino.

If you play in private games you must be aware of the many methods players can use to cheat. In this article I’m going to explore just this.

Holding Cards

This is when the player steals a card from the deck, usually an ace and keeps it up his sleeve until needed. The cheat will always acquire the card from the hand that is folded. Instead of putting all the cards in the discard pile only one card will be kept. When it gets matched it’s switched into play. If you suspect this form of cheating, you can check for held cards by counting the number of cards in the deck.

Since aces are the highest cards, a quick method is to check if all the aces are in the deck-if they’re not then someone is cheating. Before shuffling and dealing fan out all the cards on the table. This will only take a few minutes.

Reflective Surfaces

Don’t play in rooms that have mirrors or in areas that contain reflective objects since it allows cheats to see the cards you’re holding. Check the light fittings as some glass lampshades can act as mirrors. If the table has a highly polished glass or marble surface it’s easy to see the cards that are being dealt. Rather play on a table that’s covered with a blanket or cloth. The dealer only needs to pass the cards over the top of a shiny object to see their value. If you wear glasses, be aware that if you hold your cards close to your face your glasses may reflect the cards you are holding.

Dogs playing poker.

Betting Light

One of the easiest ways a player can use to cheat is to not contribute fully to the pot. If the pot already contains a lot of chips, it’s difficult to ascertain how many chips a particular player contributed to it. You may see a player drop a few chips into the pot and palm the rest. Some cheats bet so quickly you don’t see the chips he stole.

Marked Cards

In poker it’s advantageous to know what cards the other players are holding since they’ll know when to fold or when to bet. The easiest way to accomplish this feat is to mark the cards in such a manner so that they can only be read by the cheat. Most card designs often have intricate patterns. It’s possible to add small dots or shading to certain cards.

Even if the dealer opens up a sealed pack of cards they might still be ‘marked’. It’s quite a simple task to open the pack, mark the cards and reseal it again. Professionally marked cards can also be purchased. Although the designs are exactly the same, certain cards have a slightly thicker border on one side. It’s important to carefully study the cards before you start playing. Pay special attention to the corners. Cheats mark the corners of the cards since it’s easier to see.

When a game is in play it’s easy to mark the cards. When a cheat gets an ace in his hand, he may crease the corner so that he can recognize it when another player holds the same card in subsequent games. Before and during the course of play it’s essential that the cards are checked since they can become marked, be it intentionally or accidentally.

Dealer dealing cards from a poker deck.

Keep An Eye On The Dealer (Technician)

Most players will never suspect a dealer of cheating but they can be the proverbial fox in a hen pen. Someone who is skilled at manipulating the cards is also called a technician. A skilled technician can easily place the desired cards at the bottom of the pack. How does the dealer accomplish this? He can deal his hand from the bottom of the deck and the other players’ hands from the top.

Another method is to spot a good card while shuffling and to place it at the top of the deck. The dealer then saves this card for himself and deals from the second card down to the other players. A player can use a spiked ring to make an indentation in the cards. When the cards are dealt he simply feels which cards are the best ones.

Dealing Additional Cards

A dealer can give himself an edge over the other players by dealing himself an extra card. Another way of doing this is by colluding with another player by giving his partner an extra card. The extra card may get dropped ” accidentally” on the floor or gets shoved into his pocket. If you see a low-value card on the floor then the chances are pretty good that someone has used this method.

Five-card draw with extra cards is quite prone to this type of cheating. A player can simply call out that he is exchanging three cards and put only one or two in the discard pile. To counteract this you must always separate the cards from the discard pile.

Cutting The Cards

To stop the dealer from cheating, one of the players must always cut the deck of cards. However, if the dealers is a smart cheat, he might bend one of the cards in the middle so that it’s slightly curved. He’ll then cut the deck at the curved card. I suggest you try it yourself with a pack of cards-you’ll note that it’s easy to grip the curved card but the ones below will slip through your fingers. This method won’t work every time but if it does, the dealer is guaranteed a win.

Some players will just tap the top of the deck to show that they don’t want to cut the cards. This method should be discouraged since it makes it easier for the dealer to cheat. Even if the player has cut the cards the dealer can reverse it. This can be accomplished by sleight of hand in a number of ways.


Be on the lookout for players stealing chips from the pot. Some players pretend that they’re adding chips to the pot when they’re actually taking them. Watch out for players who pretend to help you collect your winnings. It’s easy for a cheating player to palm a high-value chip and to add it to his chip stack. Also be wary of distractions-when other players are distracted it’s easy to steal chips from the pot or from fellow players.


Poker relies heavily on the fact that another player must not know your hand. When two or more players are colluding, they can ensure that their best hands are always played. The colluding players have a set of signals which they use to notify the other player’s hand. It could be anything from lighting a cigarette, from the position of the fingers or to the way the chips are placed. The player with the poorer hand will simply fold. At times it can be so bad where an entire team could be colluding-everyone at the table is working against you. They may even let you win a couple of hands to give you confidence. Their ultimate goal is to win your bankroll, if they succeed the profits are shared equally between themselves.

Cold Deck

This is a deck of cards that has been arranged in a preset order that will give the dealer or a colluding player the winning hand. The cold deck is prepared before the game starts and kept hidden in the player’s pocket. The cold deck is prepared by the cheat that he gets a royal flush or four-of-a-kind. The other players will also be dealt good hands to encourage them to bet heavily. This helps to maximize the pot.

False Calling Of Hand

This normally happens when there’s a showdown. A player with a straight may declare a straight flush and quickly clear away the cards before the other players have a chance to see his cards. If you’re involved in a showdown always check the other player’s cards just to make sure that they have beaten you fair and square.

Modern Technology

Modern technology has provided new ways to fix games. Cameras are smaller and easier to conceal as such their images can be transmitted wireless. The player is notified about an opponents hand via an earpiece. This type of scam is easily detected in a casino but not in a private game.

How To Combat Cheating

If you enjoy playing in private games be wary of playing cards against strangers. A group of cheats working together can easily make a game look legitimate. Always play with a deck of cards that’s new and sealed. Make sure that the cellophane is still intact. Before you start playing count the cards in the deck. Insist on checking the cards for any marks before and after each hand. Watch the dealer carefully. Is he holding the cards in an unusual way?

Always cut the cards by inserting a card that’s not used, like the joker for instance. This gets around the problem by someone bending one of the cards. Before the cards are dealt insist that they are cut and keep an eye how much money goes into the pot. Before the cards are dealt insist that they are cut. Carefully watch other players when they place their bets and make a rule where only the winner touches the winning pot.

During the game players must keep their hands above the table at all times. If the player wants to get something from his pocket (like a handkerchief), or under the table during a game, make a rule that his hand is declared dead. The moment you suspect a player of cheating, stop playing immediately.

Burning Of Cards

After the cards have been shuffled and cut, the top five cards of the deck are removed and not used in play. This is a tried and tested method to stop the dealer from cheating. The problem is a skilled technician can still shuffle the cards in such a way that it favors him.

Ensuring Fair Play

Always play in legal casinos. This is the only way you’re guaranteed a fair game. Here new cards are used every day and they are checked for marks before and after use. If cards become marked during the course of play, they’re replaced with new ones. The dealer controls the play and ensures that all the players bet the correct number of chips.

Each table has a camera on it. If a player is caught cheating his winnings will be confiscated, escorted off the premises and he will never be allowed to set foot in the casino again. His details will also be passed off to neighboring casinos and he may even face prosecution.

Four of a Kind Poker Hand

Shuffling And dealing The Cards

The overhand style of shuffling where a number of cards are picked up from the back and dropped a few cards at a time, to the front of the pack is most prone to abuse. The dealer can easily see the faces of the cards while they are being shuffled. To ensure that the cards are properly shuffled, it’s best to use a combination of methods. A good method of shuffling is laying the cards face down on the table by giving them a good mix.

To stop the dealer from cheating, a card shoe can be used to hold the cards while the cards are being dealt. This stops the dealer from dealing from the bottom of the deck or dealing a second card in a deck. It’s important that players don’t see the card at the top or bottom of the pack or any discarded cards. If a player sees the other cards he can use this information to his advantage. Suppose the player sees that the card at the bottom of the pack is a queen. If you are dealt a pair of jacks, the player already knows that the odds of being beaten by a pair of queens is reduced.


When you play poker that’s not in a regulated environment make it a rule that exposed cards are dead and are automatically shuffled. Take particularly care that the bottom card cannot be seen by fellow players. When you deal the cards angle them down towards the table. Burn the top five cards and don’t reveal the discarded cards.



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