Poker Cheating Techniques – How to Spot Cheats and Avoid Their Tricks

poker cheating techniques

8 minutes

Last Updated: January 28, 2023


Ever since the Wild West days, poker has been known as one of the games that are notorious for cheaters,

Although there are a lot more rules, regulations, and tools that help spot cheaters in the modern day, it seems that this approach only made cheaters develop more sophisticated poker cheating techniques.

As a poker player, you should learn to recognize if something fishy is going on in your games. This will help you save a lot of money and prevent you from losing your hard-earned bankroll to those cheating at poker.

So without further ado, here are some of the most popular poker cheating techniques.

Collusion in Poker

Collusion or “soft playing” is a term that is used in poker to describe a poker playstyle in which two or more poker players are playing in a way that ensures them a victory against the third party.

For example, imagine a situation where you are playing a tournament with three players left: you, your friend, and a third player.

If you are making unconventional plays to avoid eliminating your friend, i.e., adapting your game to eliminate the third player and ensure that you play heads up against your friend, you are soft-playing.

There are two main things that separate collusion from other forms of cheating in poker.

First, collusion in poker is more a question of poker etiquette than cheating, since there are no exact rules that say that you can’t change your playstyle when you are playing against a friend.

The second reason is that it can be hard, especially for amateur players, to play with the same motivation against their friends as they do against unknown players.

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However, there is one form of colluding in poker that is widely recognized as cheating by the poker community as well as the online poker platforms. This is when players decide to play in a game or in an event with the intention of colluding.

For example, five players organize a six-handed poker game in which their goal is to take money from the sixth player by colluding with each other. Another example would be if multiple players agreed to go easy against each other before they enter a poker tournament.

Putting it simply, entering a poker game with premeditation to collude is much worse than letting your emotions get the best of you and changing your style of play in one poker hand against your friend.

Finally, to avoid getting cheated in this way, you should always do your research and check if you are playing against players with a shady background. If you are an online grinder then make sure that you are playing on sites that have methods in place that prevent collusion.

Poker Cheating by Marking Cards

Card marking is a cheating method in which poker players use different techniques to mark high-value cards like aces and face cards in Texas Hold’em or low cards in lowball games like 2-7 Triple Draw.

Most poker players think that card marking is an outdated poker cheating method that they will not encounter in their games. However, they are wrong.

While cheaters might be using different methods to mark cards than they did 50 years ago, this is still a popular way of cheating in poker.

One of the most high-profile cases of marked cards happened on poker’s biggest stage – the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

A few years ago, several well-known poker professionals complained that they encountered bent, marked, and scratched cards in their games and requested that the organizers use high-quality cards in the future.

While card marking methods like scratching and bending might be the most popular, there are also much more sophisticated methods that cheaters use to gain an edge over their opponents and scoop some easy money.

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A few years ago in Asia, one businessman went to the authorities after suspecting he had been cheated in a poker game. In the police action that ensued, the authorities found high-tech gear that allowed the perpetrators to mark cards with invisible ink and use special glasses to recognize which cards were marked.

If you are playing live games, one of the best ways to spot-marked cards is to always check your hole cards for unusual scratches or markings. If there are any suspicious cards, report it to the dealer.

Another more difficult way to spot players who might be using more advanced equipment is if they are paying too much attention to the cards their opponents are holding.

However, to successfully recognize this behavior, you will need to have a lot of experience in live poker games.

Poker Cheating & Bots

Although most poker players who are new to the game or have tilt issues will not waste no time calling an online poker room rigged after a losing session or a couple of bad beats, this is almost never true.

Online poker rooms have no interest in cheating players because they make money for whoever wins. However, this does not mean that you can’t encounter online poker players that are cheating.

One of the most popular methods of cheating in online poker in recent years has been poker bots.

Poker bots are programs that are designed to make optimal poker decisions based on available information. Cheaters program poker bots with predetermined actions for as many possible scenarios as they are capable of.

This way of cheating allows the cheaters to employ multiple poker bots to play for hours and days without ever getting tired and without ever making wrong decisions based on fatigue or tilt. This automatically gives them an edge over human players.

They are not made to make some cool moves and outplay human opponents. Instead, their goal is to grind as much as possible and make small winnings against the pool.

For the most part, these bots are not too sophisticated and if you have been playing in online games for some time you should not have any trouble recognizing them. Just pay attention to unusual patterns that players might be following each time they play a hand.

With this said, most online poker sites do a pretty good job of recognizing and banning poker bots.

Chip Dumping in Poker

Chip dumping is a form of cheating in which players use different methods to “give” chips to their partners in order to increase their chances of winning a poker tournament.

The important thing to note here is that chip dumping always includes collusion but collusion does not always include chip dumping.

There are a couple of methods that cheaters use to transfer chips to their partners.

The first method is making big raises (almost their full stack) but then folding to an all-in from their partner. This method is the fastest and most efficient but is also the easiest to spot.

The second method is to go all in with bad hands when a partner has a good hand. This method is less efficient than the first because sometimes the board might run out in favor of the player who is meant to lose the pot, but it is also harder to spot than the first one.

cheating at poker

Finally, the third method is intentionally losing small pots by folding. This approach is the slowest and the least efficient but it is also the hardest to spot.

After the chips have been transferred, the player with the chips has an advantage over the field because of his massive chips stack, which makes this way of cheating profitable for cheaters in the long run.

After the tournament ends, the prize money is split between all of those who were involved in the collusion.

Chip dumping might be easiest to spot when playing online because most players will use one of the first two methods. They hope that no one is paying attention to the action since most online grinders play multiple tournaments at the same time.

In live tournaments, chip dumping is harder to spot since players do their best to use the third method. You will have to pay attention to every hand in order to find out if there is something fishy going on.

Card Signaling

Card signaling is a method in which one or more poker players use different methods to give information to their partners about which hole cards they are holding.

In online poker games, poker cheaters use third-party communication apps to tell their friends which cards they have. In most cases, this is impossible for you to know.

When it comes to live poker games, some of the most used methods of signaling cards are card placement, chip placement, and hand placement. These three methods can be used in countless variations depending on how skillful the cheaters are.

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For example, a player can signal to his partner that he has an ace by placing one chip on his cards, or he can be signaling that he has a strong pocket pair by placing two chips on his hole cards.

All in all, the efficiency of this method will depend on how experienced and how good poker players the cheaters are.

If you think that card signaling might be happening at your table, pay attention to the actions of the suspects. Try to figure out if they are placing their chips in different places each hand or if they are making some unusual gestures with their hands or body.

Final Words on Poker Cheating

Most poker players never cheat, and you shouldn’t, either. However, this does not mean that you should not learn what some of the most common cheating methods are.

By learning what you can expect from poker cheaters, you are protecting yourself and your money. We hope that you never have to use what you learned from this article in your games, but if you do, we certainly hope this information will come in handy!

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