Poker: How to Spot a Cheater

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A poker night with a cheater in the room does not make anyone’s day. The game becomes unfair

and imbalanced, and all of the fun goes away with the rules. Luckily, there are numerous ways to

spot a cheater, and easy methods to keep the game fair. This is a list of the most common types

of poker cheats and how to prevent them.

1. Marked Cards

Even if you are using your own deck, it is possible that someone has marked or is marking the

cards. The quickest way to mark a card during a game is to pinch the card between the thumb

and index finger, creating a mark with the fingernail. Cards can also be marked by folding over

the edges or scuffing the backs. The safest way to play is with a brand new deck that you know

hasn’t been tampered with, and keep an eye out for new markings as the game progresses.

Providing a new deck out of a sealed package will allow everyone to rest easy.

2. Shuffling Cheat

By keeping one or two particular cards at the top of the deck, a cheater can hold onto a lovely

pair of aces for the next round. It can be difficult to tell if a dealer is doing this, but the problem

can be mitigated by taking turns shuffling and always cutting the deck for each other.

3. Switching Out Cards

A deft-handed cheater can switch out their pocket cards with a new pair. They may have long,

loose sleeves for hiding their cards and fingers in, or accessible pockets for keeping cards in.

They may also cause a distraction or keep their cards out of sight. The best way to avoid this

problem is to have all of the players keep their cards on the table.

4. Dealing Cheat

There is a reason the dealer is required to pass out cards to everyone else first. It is too easy to

place a valuable card at the top of the deck and then keep it. If the dealer does anything strange,

from holding the deck strangely to passing out cards from both the bottom and the top, this is

suspicious behavior that might mean you have a cheater on your hands. A great way to mitigate

dealing cheats is to place a Joker at the bottom of the deck so everyone must deal in the same

safe way.

5. Prepared Deck

By organizing all of the cards in a particular order and refusing to shuffle, it is possible for a

player to sneak in a deck they cannot possibly lose with. The cheater may claim to have already

shuffled, or just start dealing and hope no one speaks up. It’s important to witness the shuffle

every time, and speak up if it doesn’t happen.

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