What if somebody is cheating at home poker games?

Cheating at home poker games does occur. The point is, do you know about it and what can you do to stop it?

Read our article about home poker rules and etiquette for advice on what happens if you think players are not acting fairly when they contest a pot together.

Often friends will not bet against each other, raising suspicion of their acting in collusion (sharing profits at the end of a session is quite common). This IS cheating, but if you make it politely known that it won't be tolerated, usually it comes under the heading of house rules.

But there are forms of cheating that you may come across during home poker games. Here's how to tell if a player is cheating at home poker.

Marked cards

Be careful if somebody is "thinking" hard while staring at the backs of your cards. The best way to check for this is NOT to confront the suspected cheat.

Without being too obvious about it, occasionally cover your hole cards with your hands and make a show of 'peeping' at them. See whether the player suddenly loses interest in your dark cards!

If so, the next time make a point of leaving your hands well away from your cards and observe his actions again..

It's unnatural to have a lot of interest in somebody's dark cards, so this could be a sign of a marked deck.

If you suspect a marked deck, bring your own pack of sealed playing cards along. Ask the house owner/host to change the deck and hand over your sealed pack of cards.

If anybody accuses you of trying to introduce a marked deck, especially the person who was so interested in your dark cards (it takes a liar to call a liar!), you should stand up and leave. Never play with that person again.

Obvious collusion

While collusion (acting as a team instead of an individual) is most definitely a form of cheating at home poker games, it's a close call as to whether this should be grounds to break up a game altogether.

If the players are totally obvious about it, ironically that is less worrying than if you simply suspect collusion but have no proof. Pay close attention to the cards exposed by the players you suspect of acting as a team.

If the players expose some really fishy holdings and the hand just didn't play out naturally, then your suspicions are probably correct. An example might be Player A reraising to drive you out of a pot, then Player B showing down a fair hand and Player A's is garbage.

Ask to see the hand of the other party if this kind of thing happens often and they are not in the habit of exposing their losing hand. If they object too much, look for another game.

Dealing off the bottom

This is sometimes quite tricky to spot. Anybody who saw the movie Rounders knows that it can be done. Indeed, I spent many years playing a home game with a guy who was an expert at dealing off the bottom. Only when I realised this did I instigate the Bottom Dealer Blocker.

This is quite simply a plastic card, the exact size of a playing card but 2-3 times as thick. You place this on the bottom of the deck before each hand is dealt. It's now impossible to deal off the bottom, so this form of cheating at home poker games is a thing of the past. It's a very good idea to introduce this from the first hand of the first session, negating any dealer's ability to cheat in this manner before they have a chance.

Read all the books on cheating

Some of them are linked from this page to Amazon.com.

If you suspect other players are cheating at home poker games you play in, read the guides on the most common cheats so you know what to expect.

And don't try to cheat yourself! It takes years of practise, time you could spend improving your Texas Holdem game instead.

Plus if YOU get caught, somebody might break both your arms. You never know who you're sitting down with... Some people are far less tolerant of certain behaviour than others.

If all else fails...

Move away from that poker game and find another to play in.

Learned how to spot people cheating at home poker games? Click here for more home poker game advice!