With the explosion of interest in poker as a hobby, many home games have been springing up across the country. Friends get together to play a friendly game and after a few drinks and a few hours everyone is tired and had a good time and congratulates Bill on taking the big money home, again. No one suspects that Bill was cheating and no one knows what to watch for to spot potential cheaters. Well, follow these guidelines and you can feel a little safer at the poker table. These rules will ensure that your Pkv games do not become a source of stress.
Rule 1. Never play with strangers
Now I know that this advice has been given out so many times that it makes you feel like pounding your head against a rock every time you hear it, but don’t play poker with anyone you don’t know, but time after time a cheat slips into a game with just an introduction from a regular player. Remember, just because he is your friend’s friend doesn’t mean he isn’t a cheat.
Rule 2. Never let the cards leave the table.
Now this one should be obvious. At no point should the cards ever be out of sight. Ever. All it takes is a second for one deck to be switched out for a stacked one. Insist that all players keep their cards above the table in plain view.
One way to spot a switched out deck is if the cards feel cooler than they did the last round. The reasoning behind this is that through shuffling and dealing, the cards warm up above room temperature while a stacked deck has not been handled and is still at room temperature. Thus after switching it in, a stacked deck will feel cooler.
Rule 3. Insist that players keep their hands on or above the table.
Another thing that needs to be said is that players should keep their hands above the table at all times. Once again, all a cheat needs is just a few seconds and if the cheat has cards that he has been holding out, he can switch them in invisibly if he can get his hands below the table for a few seconds before and after the switch.
Rule 4. Count the cards and replace the deck.
The deck should be counted every few hands, or even better, a new deck with a different back design should be introduced. Counting the cards prevents cheats from holding cards out to be switched in later, and replacing the deck nullifies any hold-out cards or stacked decks the cheat may have.
Rule 5. Always cut the cards.
The old saying “Trust your mother but cut the cards” is completely true. Always cut the cards. This helps to insure that if a cheat has stacked the cards while shuffling that the stack is not on the top of the deck. This forces the cheat to find a way to reverse the cut, so watch carefully during and after the cut, before the cards are dealt, and if you see any suspicious movement, insist on a re-shuffle by another player.
Rule 6. Don’t let anyone help you pick up your chips.
The way a cheater defines a successful night is if he walked away with your money. He doesn’t care about winning if he can steal some of your chips while kindly pushing them towards you after you win a big pot. If someone starts pushing chips towards you simply tell them that you can manage it yourself. Also be sure to keep track of how big the pot should be and how many chips you actually got.
Rule 7. Don’t drink.
At all. End of story. Do not drink any sort of alcoholic beverage while you are playing cards. Doing so depresses your system and not only will you play worse, but you have made the cheaters job easier.
A tactic that many cheaters will use is to have a glass of ‘gin and tonic’ and drink several of them and begin to show signs of drunkenness, but don’t buy it. That gin and tonic is just tonic water. That gin you smell? The rim of the glass was dipped into some to give it the alcohol smell and taste.
Rule 8. Walk away
If you suspect someone of cheating in your game, simply walk away. While you can deter cheaters from trying to play in your game, the best way to protect your wallet is to leave the game. Don’t mention that you suspect someone is cheating. Cheats can get very protective about their identities as honest card players.
Taking these steps and countermeasures will help prevent anyone from trying to cheat, but no game where money is involved is cheat proof. The only fool proof way to guarantee that you won’t be cheated at a card game is to not play.