If everyone were as honest as you and I, we would not have to worry about cheating when we played poker. The fact is that the majority of players are honest and ethical. However, when money is involved there will always be someone looking for an angle to get more than what rightfully belongs to them. Unfortunately this is a fact of life and we must be aware of the possibility and take measures to ensure that it does not happen to us when we play.
In cardrooms where a dealer is supplied, you don't have to worry about being dealt seconds or some other form of manipulation on the part of the dealer to cheat you. What you do have to be concerned about are the other players at the table. There is cheating that can take place by a single person trying to gain an advantage over you. There is also collusion that takes place amongst two or more players.
The most common form of cheating by a single player is when the person sitting next to you tries to look at your hole cards. If he can see what you have, he has a big advantage over you, as he can fold a losing hand or raise if he has you beat. Fortunately, this is the simplest form of cheating to guard against. All you have to do is cover your cards with both your hands as you look at them for the first time. Practice looking at your cards while covering them. Have a friend sit next to you and try to peak at them. Make sure you are looking at your cards in a way so they cannot be seen by another player.
After looking at your cards, memorize them and don't look again. At this point when you put them back down, you want to cover them with an object such as a couple of chips or coins. Some players bring some sort of lucky charm to the table for this purpose. The reason you cover your cards is to protect them from getting mixed into the discards or getting fouled by another player's cards. This is another form of cheating that occurs when a player purposely throws his cards into yours. If your cards are not protected, they can be declared dead if the other player's cards touch them.
Sometimes a player will declare a hand that he does not have in hopes that you will throw your cards into the muck and the player will then win by default. As an example, suppose you have the winning pair. A player announces that he has a flush. You throw your cards into the muck and then see that this player only has a four flush. He might say something along the lines of, "Gee, I thought I had a flush." Since you threw your cards away, he wins. Always hold onto your cards until the winner is determined. Don't muck your cards just because a player announces that he has you beat.
Another move a player might use to gain information is to make a move toward the pot with chips in his hands pretending to bet only to pull it back once he sees what your intentions are. If he has a weak hand, and sees you reaching for your chips to bet, he might then check or fold. If he has a strong hand and knows you are going to bet, he now has the perfect opportunity to check-raise you. The way to combat this is to always wait a few seconds until the player has completed his action before you make your play.
There is a line from the movie Rounders that states: "If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table then you are the sucker!"
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Tags: hole cards, losing hand, poker