Kinds of Cheating in Poker

Cheating can take as many forms as your imagination can come up with, but I'll talk about three common ones: cold-decking, hold-outs, and player collusion.

Cold-decking "Cold-decking" is when the deck is preset and introduced into the game with a false shuffle. Of course, the idea is to give you a very good, but second-best, hand. You don't see cold-decks in cardrooms much, because the players don't get a chance to get their hands on the deck when the house provides a dealer, but this form of cheating is starting to make a resurgence in jackpot games.

In a jackpot game, there is a special prize pool kept for bad beats. A bad beat is defined as getting a good hand (like Aces-full in most jackpot games) beaten. The prize is awarded to the two players involved in the bad beat. Sometimes this prize can get very large, $40,000 or more. A lot of money tends to attract a lot of thieves. There have been a few cases recently of teams of players and dealers colluding to cold-deck jackpot games.

Hold-outs A hold-out artist holds cards out of the game. When he's dealt a card like an Ace, he'll just try to keep it, so that from that point on he's playing with an extra card. The best defense against a holdout artist is for the dealer to frequently count down the deck and make sure he's got fifty-two cards. You'll often see dealers counting down the stub of the deck when they are finished dealing a hand. Some dealers do it habitually, other dealers only do it when they suspect a hold-out artist is in the game.

Collusion Collusion by good players is very tough to win against. Player "collusion" is when two players use prearranged signals to trade information about their hands. They can get small edges this way by folding when their cards cancel each other in some way, for example, if they both have two Hearts. One edge that colluding players get is when one of them has a very, very good hand and they trap you in between them while they raise and reraise each other. However, such behavior will likely be noticed rather quickly. The really insidious, and difficult to detect collusion, is simple signals that allow them to fold one of the hands and play the best hand. If good players are colluding, it's very hard to defend against it. Luckily, most colluding cheats don't play well and often don't use the extra information they obtain from the signals correctly.