Direct access to poker games through television and the effective marketing strategy of today’s poker industry has greatly increased the popularity of poker, and more people are now hosting poker nights at home. What most of the poker amateurs don’t know is that not only are they risking their and everybody’s money to savvy cheating players, but also risking police raids, and in worst-case-yet-real-scenarios, losing their lives. If you enjoy playing and hosting poker nights, there are some basic things you need to know for the safety of everybody involved.
One of my previous series of articles dealing with poker tragedies featured 4 home game tragedies out of 9 that happened during the last century and the beginning of this one, and not every player that ended up killing their poker mates was an experienced criminal. Some of them were average people who wanted to have some fun but found themselves in a situation and reacted impulsively and regrettably. Therefore, home poker games can certainly be dangerous and prone to the unthinkable if people are not cautious.
According to Richard Marcus, a now retired professional casino cheater, talks about the alarming increase of home-game cheating that can lead up to dangerous incidents.
“If cheating is blowing up sky-high on the Internet, it’s gone nuclear in home games. How do I know? You’d only have to read my e-mails. Eighty-five percent of them querying me about cheating in poker ask about incidents occurring in the senders’ home games.”
Thus, what signs or traits would a poker host look for when suspecting of the honesty of some player? Whether a poker host would like to get rid of their cheating buddy or learn everything about cheating before hosting his/her first poker party, there are 4 important facts to consider about poker cheats, according to poker player and author Marc Wortman.
Cheats will do anything rather than admit they cheated. If you think that confronting a poker cheat about their shady practices is going to embarrass them and make them admit and repent of their actions, then, you definitely don’t know much about poker cheats.
Even if you or others at the table catch a cheater red-handed, they will deny it with all their might. The only thing you can get out of confronting a cheater is a nasty argument, which may escalate into something more unpleasant, depending on the circumstances and the feelings of the other players.
Low stakes won’t discourage cheaters. Some cheaters are more driven by the challenge of tricking others than by profit. They can’t play without the thrill of changing the game’s course to their advantage and winning. Most home cheaters look for home games in which there is a balance between the profit stakes and the ability for the other players to catch the cheater. Therefore, keep in mind that even when playing for pennies, you might be hosting a cheater who just likes fooling everybody.
Cheaters will try to continue playing after being caught. Even after an embarrassing moment at your poker night, the cheater will continue trying to get invited to future games, especially because they will always deny their involvement, and expressing any kind of shame by not coming back would be like admitting the suspicion was accurate.
Cheaters won’t get scared when warned by a knowledgeable host. If you ever thought that warning a cheater that you know what they are up to could deter him/her, you will only be daring the cheater to improve. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of waking the cheating beast!
According to Richard Marcus, the cheating technique that wins the #1 prize in home games is marking cards.
Marcus claims that nowadays, the marking trend for home cheaters involves a Mission Impossible style move: buying several new decks, taking the cards out without damaging the plastic packages or the sealing blue sticker on the box openings, marking the cards, putting everything back, and ironing the plastic cellophane wrappings to seal the decks back. Then, the cheats take the decks to a store near the game’s location, especially a store that stays open until late, and when the vendor is distracted, the cheaters replace the new decks with the marked ones. Then, at the game, the cheater goes on “tilt” and tears the cards in their bad hands out of apparent frustration. When all the decks available at the host’s house are ruined, someone will try to go and buy a deck at the nearest store, the one that is open until late and is now selling the marked decks. And to everybody’s surprise, there is no more deck tearing by the cheater for the rest of the game, only the tearing through everybody’s stacks.
Therefore, it is important for game hosts to know how far cheating players are willing to expend time and energy for the thrill of fooling everyone, even close friends. Hopefully your own cheater’s secrets have been exposed in this article, and you will be able to expel them from your home poker fun.
Next: Home-Game Cheating Awareness, Part IV: 8 Home-Protection Rules