Cheating at Poker

Getting caught cheating while playing poker in the wild west, would probably have meant that you would find a bullet or two somewhere in your body, usually resulting in your death.

Things are a little different these days, but cheating is still a very serious crime in the world of poker.

If caught cheating playing online, you can, at very least find your poker account closed and any money in your account confiscated. If the amounts are large, you may face a big fine, and or prosecution.

If caught in a B&M casino, I don’t want to even begin to think what could happen. Violence is less likely in an established licensed establishment, but anything is possible.

In online poker, the technology being used these days is pretty sophisticated, so cheating is almost guaranteed to be found out, but there are still ways for people to cheat at online poker.

In a B&M casino a cheater’s methods are more limited, but are also very detectable. Most, if not all B&M casinos, have spent a fortune on surveillance equipment, and it is watching all the time.

Some common methods of cheating at poker are:

Peeking at Cards

Peeking or looking at your opponents cards is probably the most used form of cheating in B&M casinos, but is pretty easily detected by just simply watching what the other players are doing.

Marking Cards

Marking cards is not easy to do. The B&M casinos are quite well aware of this form of cheating, and they are watching out for it. It is possible to us this method at home games a lot easier, and you can actually buy sealed decks of cards that are pre-marked with an ink that can only be seen by special glasses. Nicking or tearing cards is another method of marking cards, but that’s pretty easy to pick up.

Imported Chips

This can only be a problem in home games and to a lesser extent in B&M games. Having a chip set that is easily obtainable, makes it pretty easy to bring your own chips into the game. Marking your chips in a unique way is advisable. B&M casinos have their own special branded chips, so it is way more difficult to use this form of cheating in them.

Cheating Dealer

The dealer can cheat in many different ways, from dealing from the bottom to faking a shuffle. Having a dedicated dealer you can trust at your home games is a good idea. B&M casinos watch their dealers very carefully, so it’s not easy for them to cheat.


Collusion in its basic form is two or more players playing at the same table and communicating their hand values to each other without the target knowing it is happening, and is the most difficult form of cheating to perform and to detect. If you are playing in a casino where you suspect someone of colluding, just get up and leave the table.

Online is another story. The security teams at the hosting sites have sophisticated software what can detect where two or more players constantly play at the same tables and win. The difficulty with cheating in this way is that cheaters are generally not very trustworthy, and they tend to try cheat each other as well, so end up messing their scam up.

Colluding in a MTT is much more difficult because the participants never know what tables whey will play at and be moved to during the game.

Poker Bots

Bots are online software tools that are used to play poker for a player with set parameters. Bots are used in online poker, but because they have set parameters that they use to “play”, they are easy enough to spot and exploit by observant players. They are also not allowed on most poker sites. The big give away of bots are that any user being able to play for days on end without a break is usually a bot. Bots are difficult to set up and are unable to adapt to changing conditions like a real human player would be able to do.

Sharing Hand Histories

There are programs and websites out there that allow the user to obtain hand histories from a central database, collected from other players who use the same software. This gives them an advantage in knowing what sort of players they are up against, and what their style of play is. While it is not illegal to keep your own records of your opponents’ actions, it is illegal to share that information with others.

Back in 2009, there was the infamous Brian Hastings and Isildur1 scandal, when Hastings took Isildur1 for more then $4 million online. Just a few weeks after this high stakes cash game session, allegations were flying around the internet claiming that Hastings obtained advice on hands from a database of hand histories collected by Brian Townsend, which was against Full Tilt Poker’s Terms of Service.

When it is all said and done, cheating in any way while playing poker is just not nice. As in games like golf, it is up to the individual to remain ethical and to play by the rules.

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