Card cheats & how they do it

Card cheating has been going on forever. You hear endless tales of the poker player with a card up his sleeve or the modern tactics like edging and card counting. It is something we all know exists, most of us would never consider doing it, but just what are some of the more savvy techniques used to make sure you win when gambling.

Cheating in card games isn’t only left to those playing fictional characters in films, rather there are quite a few players, experienced and new, all around the globe who participate in it when they go to land-based casinos. We take a look at what exactly card cheating is, who has done it and how they pulled it off, as well as why we recommend playing online instead of land-based casinos if you want to avoid being caught up in others doing this kind of behaviour.

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Even Bugs Bunny gets in on the act.

What is card cheating?

Card cheating is often only performed by the best in their game of choice, such as blackjack, baccarat, poker and more, as it requires an incredibly high level of skill. Many partake in the illegal activity in order to tip the game into their favour and win big. These cheats have to be experienced in the game before they can pull this type of behaviour off however there are many amateur players that get the heave ho from casinos around the world when they get caught out. There are a number of methods employed by card cheats which we will detail here so you can understand exactly how it is done.

Card marking: Card marking involves marking or altering the playing cards so you can tell certain cards in the deck are a specific card. The cheat can therefore notice which cards are coming next, which card may be strong cards for example, and more, which means they are altering the house advantage into their favour.

There are special marked cards which have been manufactured specifically for this purpose or even just for magic tricks and used for this purpose, or by the players doing it themselves during a game. If they are to do it themselves they can either buy the cards from the casino, doctor them, then reintroduce them, though many land-based casinos are onto this and do not accept used cards which are indicated via codes in place.

Or the cheat can mark the cards during the game, with the most common method generally imprinting the card with a nail mark. Other methods can include putting a dirty mark on the card or bending the corners. If you are playing at a land-based casino and notice these types of marks you can request a new deck and it will instantly be renewed.

You an also easily leave the game at any time if you think there is a repeat offender. There is a way you can get rid of players who may be marking cards but it applies specifically to poker. By using burn cards other players do not know what the next card will be even if they have marked certain cards, preventing them from sticking around for long.

Confederacy: This method involves more than just one cheat. Two players work together to make cheating a lot easier, and it can also be known as collusion. They can signal between each other covertly in order to indicate what their cards are for certain games and aim to change and influence other players and their bets.

They generally have a common strategy in that one player may not bet sometimes when they actually should, as they’ve indicated their partner would lose money. Another strategy involves the two raising and re-raising in order to get other players stuck in between.

It is also easy for players to do this online, but only if they are playing live games, such as as live online tournaments, as they can text or ring one another and discuss openly their bets without ay consequence of being heard or seen. There can even be the one player on two computers with two accounts in order to get the upper hand, but unlike land-based casinos, online gaming establishments have a record of every hand made and can quickly and easily detect certain patterns that are behind collusion and cheating.

Colluding can also involve two people, but only one plays. You will see an example of this in a high profile case below.

Cold deck: Also known as a stacked deck which means a deck pre-arranged in a certain order to get a pre-determined result and is deceptively exchanged with the original deck. It can be quite obvious if the cheat doesn’t switch smoothly, and thus is why they may perform a false shuffle.

False shuffles: Since a cold deck can be quite hard to pull off, a cheat may offer to shuffle, and then stack the deck during this shuffle to make their own pre-determined arrangement in an instant where a casino would not suspect it. For example, they can put any cards they want at the top of the deck and then do an overhand shuffle where the top cards get a certain amount of cards between them beneficial to the player so that when they are dealt they will receive the two cards they originally put on the top.

These can be quite easy to pull off, surprisingly, but if you notice it is happening every time the alleged ‘cheat’ shuffles, request a new deck that someone else shuffles, or leave the table.

There are several other ways for players to cheat, however these are the most common and can be quite easy to spot.

High profile card cheaters

There are many cheaters around the world, but some remain unnoticed due to their low-profile status or even because they haven’t been caught yet. Since professional card game players are generally quite high-profile due to their level of skill and ability to do well in live tournaments, it is often a surprise when they are caught cheating. One of the most recent high profile cases was when champion poker player Phil Ivey, who is also regarded as one of the best baccarat and blackjack minds, had money withheld by a casino after he was caught edge sorting and colluding.

The Phil Ivey case

Phil Ivey was found guilty in 2014 of cheating in the card variation known as Punto Banco when he played in 2012. Using the above cheating method of confederacy in conjunction with ‘edge-sorting’, Ivey and his companion, walked away with £7.7million.

Ivey’s friend spoke Chinese Mandarin and she spoke in this language while she convinced the dealer to allow some interesting changes in the game. After the two chose a private room and Ivey wore his lucky hat after being allowed by the dealer, the two were also granted the privilege of choosing a lucky pack of cards, a key part to the card cheating, and they ended up choosing the Angel brand cards, which all have a purple-coloured diamond pattern.

This pack however had a tiny, tiny flaw, which Ivey’s companion was very aware of. This flaw involved the pattern on the back of the cards not being symmetrical, as all packs are meant to be. Ivey’s companion then asked the dealer to turn the ‘strong’ cards which are the sevens, eights, and nines, 180 degrees, citing luck as the reason behind it.

They were then put back into the pack. This meant that the strong cards all had the flaw on the one side of the card, while the rest were different. This meant the pair could tell if the dealer was going to deal a strong card and Ivey could then place his bet dependant on what it was just by looking in the shoe, turning the house advantage to his own.

How to avoid card cheaters

If you notice anything unusual it is always a good idea to stop playing for a bit, if you can, and observe the gameplay with nothing vested in it, allowing you to see if there is something going on. Also pay attention to see if any players are revealing styles of collusion resulting in repetitive ways of play.

Generally, if you are playing at a reputable and trustworthy online casino or poker site, such as the many we recommend, then these poker rooms or live card games are being monitored for this kind of behaviour. They will ensure no one is abusing disconnections, which was designed to help poker players keep the money in the pot who may have a poor Internet connection, but has been abused by players who don’t want to make a decision; collusions; as well as other suspicious behaviour.

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