5 Ways Mines Games Bonus You Can Cheat at Poker and Why You Shouldn’t
If your only experience with the world of poker came from old-school movies like The Sting (1973), Maverick (1994), and Rounders (1998), you’d be forgiven for assuming every table is home to cheaters and thieves.
And back in the old days, they probably were…
Before the “Poker Boom” between 2003 and 2006, games like Seven Card Stud and Texas holdem were practically synonymous with organized cheating rings designed to bilk suckers out of their hard-earned bankrolls.
Mike McDermott said it best in Rounders, while quoting Canada Bill Jones, who famously proclaimed that “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.” And as you can see below in this epic montage of dealer “mechanics,” hand signaling, and other popular ways to get over on your poker home game, the cheater’s repertoire is as diverse as it is detestable.
Cheats of a bygone era literally hid Aces up their sleeves, slyly sliding them onto the table when the situation called to secure a guaranteed winner. Eventually, poker cheating evolved into formalized forms of collusion, with teams of pros subtly conspiring to ensure that the table “fish” had no legitimate shot to walk away with their dough. And in the modern era, online poker platforms have given rise to “bot” programs that always play perfectly, “superuser” accounts that can see your cards, and other automated methods of gaining an unfair advantage.
A little while back I covered the influence of cheaters on slot machines games, both in terms of how the deed is done, and why it’s never worth the risk. To continue this series on casino gambling cheaters and their methodology, the list below highlights five ways you can cheat at poker, along with five reason why those tricks should never be deployed in the real world.
1 – Marking the Cards to Figure Out What Your Opponents Have
Two years ago, during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, a scandal erupted over the threat of cheaters marking cards.
While specific culprits were never called out, several high-profile poker pros took to social media and complained about frequently finding marked cards in play. Most players blamed the manufacturer of the decks, a company called Copag, for producing flimsy card stock which was prone to scratching, denting, and bending.
When done delicately and on the sly, a player can subtly mark the back of certain key cards during the initial squeeze. At a Texas holdem table, Aces and face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) would be the key cards to mark. In a lowball game like 2-7 Triple Draw, poker cheats would instead mark that game’s key cards like the 2s, 3s, and 4s.
Once these key cards are marked, the cheater then hopes none of their opponents, nor the dealer, notices the defect. From there, all the card-marker needs to do is carefully watch each card as they’re dealt out around the table and taken by other players. When the Texas holdem cheat spots an opponent holding a marked card they know to be the Ace of spades, for example, they gain an invaluable piece of information.
With only two hole cards to a player in Texas holdem, knowing for a fact what one of those cards is makes playing perfectly against your opponent eminently possible. When another Ace hits the board and you don’t have one, knowing the other player does will save you a ton of dough. Conversely, knowing when to call down a big bluff becomes quite simple when you’re positive the bluffer doesn’t have a pair.
While a simple dig of the fingernail is enough for most poker cheats, many try to take a more high-tech approach when marking cards.
A few years back, a high-roller businessman in China accused several players of using invisible ink and specially designed glasses to mark cards – and bilk him out of several thousand dollars in the process. After the police were alerted, they raided the cheat team and discovered an array of card-marking tools straight out of a James Bond flick.
And in 2015, during the WSOP’s prestigious $10,000 buy-in Heads-Up No Limit Texas holdem tournament, a previously unknown player named Valeriu Coca left pros scratching their heads. Playing in his very first WSOP event, Coca proceeded to steamroll through one of the most difficult formats in poker, easily defeating a long lineup of elite pros to make the semifinals.
An amateur beating the best in an isolated instance is par for the course, the pros Coca beat had good reason to be suspicious. Coca wore darkly shaded sunglasses at all times, while paying close attention to the cards as they left the dealer’s hand. He also spent several seconds studying his opponent’s cards after receiving his own, even when first to act.
To cap things off, Coca always seemed to guess right, calling down bluffs with nothing but a high card, while folding whenever his opponents had the goods.
And therein lies the problem when it comes to this method of cheating a poker game…
Every poker player – from weekend warriors in a small-stakes cash game to top pros in a WSOP tournament – have a natural instinct for fair play. An opponent who never shows down a loser, never gets bluffed, and never misses a chance to extract value from their monsters will always stick out like a sore thumb.
Once the table becomes even slightly suspicious, all it takes is a polite request for a new deck to erase all of the card-marker’s “hard work.”
2 – Colluding or “Soft Playing” with Friendly Opponents to Ensure a Foe Loses
This is one of the most commonly encountered, and ethically debatable, forms of cheating in poker.
When two or more players who might be friends off the table get together, the temptation to “soft play” one another can be quite natural. Picture yourself making the final table of a big tournament alongside your sibling or significant other. After the initial celebration at your collective good fortune, it’s time to play some cards with the big bucks up for grabs.
But when you raise it up holding something like pocket Jacks – a powerful preflop hand you’d ordinarily go to war with against any other opponent – how would you respond if your girlfriend slid out a big-time three-bet?
Well, if you thought twice about it – asking yourself if maybe just calling here to keep the pot small and avoid elimination, or eliminating your gal, was the right play – you know exactly how poker pro Alex Foxen feels.
Last year, while playing three-handed in a $5,000 tournament with $439,000 guaranteed to the top-two finishers, Foxen held pocket Jacks against Kristen Bicknell and her pocket Aces. Bicknell is both a fellow pro and Foxen’s longtime paramour, which made the situation extremely tricky for all involved.
A bunch of people are asking me about this hand between @krissyb24poker @WAFoxen at the MSPT final table. I haven’t seen the rest of the action but I’m not sure this hand is that ridiculous?? Probably some sick relationship meta-game going on. What do you guys think? pic.twitter.com/0Mup9gqL11
— Joey Ingram (@Joeingram1) June 18, 2018
But sufficed to say, when Foxen flopped a set of Jacks and failed to go for the jugular by stacking Bicknell, audiences at home immediately cried foul over perceived collusion.
In poker, even the best of friends or close family members are expected to play the game fairly at all times. That means no soft-playing, or taking it easy on certain opponents you’d like to see succeed. Soft-playing takes many forms, but when you see two players who sat together check down an Ace-high board, only for both to turn over a pair of Aces, you can be sure they avoided confrontation with a friendly face.
Whether collusion is strictly cheating is up for debate, but as Foxen and Bicknell showed, the strategy has its pros and cons. The duo went on to finish 1-2 in that event, capturing the lion’s share of the prize pool for themselves, but their reputation suffered greatly as a result. When fellow players are calling you out for defying the game’s unwritten rules, whether collusion or soft-playing is technically cheating doesn’t matter all that much in the end.
3 – Creating a “Bot” to Play Online Poker Perfectly for You
Ever since poker went digital in the late 1990s, the online poker arena has been especially prone to cheaters.
But while scandals like the infamous “superuser” case on the Ultimate Bet poker site – owner Russ Hamilton designed a program which allowed him to see every card dealt to his opponents, then stole millions from unsuspecting pros in high-stakes cash games – get the headlines, “bots” are the most common form of cheating found online.
In poker parlance, a bot is simply a program designed to make optimal decisions based on the available information. Fold, call, or raise given every possible preflop starting hand; how much to bet after flopping top pair; and when to call big all-in bets on the river. By designing a poker bot well, cheaters can simply sit back and let the program play all day and night, constantly accumulating cash based on its inherent edge over human opponents.
For a long while, the concept of bots was considered to be an online poker myth, an excuse used by losing players who couldn’t accept defeat.
Today, however, online poker sites have taken extreme measures to identify bot accounts and pay back players who lost money to cheating programs.
With operators now wise to the scam, there’s just no good reason to try and rig the game by deploying an army of bots.
4 – Dumping Chips Late in a Tournament to Ensure One Player Takes it Home
In a riff on the collusion / soft-playing cheat described earlier, many tournament players have been caught “dumping” chips to help guarantee their partner wins in the end.
They might make a big reraise for most of their chips, only to fold when their partner goes all-in, or just shove with an awful hand and hope the better holding holds up. In any event, dumping chips to another player is an effective way to rig a tournament’s endgame.
After receiving a gift in the form of free chips, the dumpee can wield those weapons to win the big money, which is then split up with the dumper when everything is said and done.
Chip dumping can be difficult to detect when done correctly, but when suspicions arise, a disqualification from the tournament and a property ban are the most likely punishment.
5 – Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck and Other “Mechanic” Tricks
In the introduction up above, you watched Worm in Rounders work his magic as a poker “mechanic,” appearing to shuffle the deck randomly but really stacking cards to ensure he deals Mike McD a steady stream of monsters.
Learning how to cheat as the dealer is a dying art these days, thanks to casino card rooms using professionals in the box and cameras overhead.
But as this second scene from “Rounders” makes clear in brutal detail, trying to cheat private home games as a card mechanic presents certain occupational hazards – typically beginning with a punch to the nose.
Hollywood hasn’t done the poker world any favors by consistently portraying the game as a domain for cheaters and scoundrels to prey on unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately, those portrayals aren’t works of fiction by any means, as every era in poker history has had its fair share of scammers, hustlers, and hucksters.
Thankfully, the current era of regulated casino card rooms, constant camera surveillance from the “eye in the sky,” and increased knowledge on what to watch for has cleaned up modern poker in a major way. So now that you know about these ways to get over on a poker game, stay sharp and shield yourself from the scourge of cheating.