Cheating - The Methods

Miya Lee

In card games the methods for cheating are various and they occur no only in friendly games, but in casinos as well. The cheating includes methods like collusion, the so called sleight-of-hand, which can be referred to both bottom dealing and stacking the deck. Physical objects such as holdout devices or marked cards are also commonly used.

As for the cheaters, they may operate in small groups, but sometimes even one person is enough.

Marked Cards

Playing with marked cards is the preferred cheating method for most of the gamblers. Although it is possible to buy specially manufactured marked cards, in most cases the cheaters mark the cards themselves during the game. The marked cards are also known as ‘readers' and a deck of such cards can easily be identified by looking at their backs. So a whole deck of cards can easily be spotted fairly quickly. On the other hand a common practice among the cheaters is to mark the high value cards only.

There are many methods of marking, but the most common one is to put just a nail mark by squeezing the card between the thumb and forefinger. Crimping the corners of the cards, putting dirt or grease marks on them, are just a small part of the other methods. So, if you play a lot of live poker, keep a close eye on the cards, as there is a real possibility that at least once you had been involved in a game with marked cards. Sometimes even the best playing cards can get marked naturally, but if you spot a marked card, you should better immediately request a new deck. Our advice is to even leave the game, in case you are not completely sure and have doubts about the cards.

There are, of course, some hints in order to prevent cheating with marked cards. We recommend that the deck is kept square on the table and not spread out as some people prefer. If the deck is spread, even slightly, then the corners of the cards are exposed and it gives the card cheater an opportunity to see where the marked cards are. You should also better use the so called ‘burn cards' when you play poker. In this way the cheater would not know what the next card is. If there are players who discard the burn card before finishing of the betting round, you should keep an eye on them, as it is a bad form of playing. It would be even better if you ask them politely to leave the game.

The Cold Deck

The cold deck is a prearranged deck and the cheater tries to bring it into the game at an opportune moment. It has at least two hands that are already setup and ready for dealing. There is a little skill required to use this method, as sometimes the cheater should give the deck a false shuffle before dealing his winning hand. When using the prearranged cold deck, the cheater always has the best hand. So, be careful, no matter how good your hands are. Although the cold deck has its limitations for the cheaters.

False Shuffling

Another cheating method is to 'stack' the deck and it is performed during a seemingly legitimate shuffle. The shuffle is seemingly legitimate as the desired cards are shuffled into the needed location in the deck.

Most of the people think that it is very difficult for the card cheater to stack a deck. Unfortunately we have to disappoint them, as the deck can be stacked very easily, especially when performing a simple overhand shuffle. The cards can be pulled off one at a time, breaks can be formed between packets, and the sequence can be easily repeated. Notice that it is far more difficult to perform such manipulation when using the riffle shuffle technique.

Now, let us give you a simple example. Imagine a five handed poker game in which the dealer has secured the two Aces at the top of the deck. The next step is to perform a simple overhand shuffle during which the cheater has just separated the Aces by putting four cards between them. In this way, one of the Aces is always on top. After the second overhand shuffle, the Aces are laying 5th and 10th in the deck, and when the cards are dealt, the cheater has its pocket Aces.

Sometimes the technique is different. Very often, when it comes to card shuffling, the deck may have already been prearranged. Not the whole deck, of course, but just the cards on top of it. This method is even easier for the cheater, as he just shouldn't interrupt this part of the deck. Top stock control is the name with which it is known and it can be done with the riffle shuffle, too. On the other hand, it is pretty easy to detect that kind of cheating, as it is not hard to detect how the shuffler is trying not to disturb the top cards.

Another type of shuffling the cards is the so called riffle shuffle, but cheating here is far more difficult and requires years of practice and considerable skills. Those who practice the riffle shuffle actually don’t need to perform the overhand shuffle. So, be aware if the dealer changes and starts using the overhand shuffle, after performing the riffle shuffle.

And, one last tip, always be careful when playing poker or other hazard games, as the clever cheaters will never show off their real skills. So, keep an eye on the clumsiest players, who sometimes turns out to be a great surprises.

False Dealing

When it comes to false dealing, the main methods are two - ‘dealing seconds' or ‘bottom deal’.

In ‘dealing seconds' the card cheater has the desired card on the top of the deck. During the deal that card will remain on top, and is dealt when it gets to the turn of the cheater. The plus here is that it is very difficult to spot this technique when done properly. The minus is that it is a quite difficult card sleight, and requires some good practice. Also the card cheater only has the advantage of dealing himself just one desired card. You should know that when performing this method, the top card is pushed over very slightly, so as the right thumb comes in and clips the second card out, while the other thumb simultaneously pulls back into position the top card.

The bottom deal is far more effective than the ‘dealing seconds'. When using it, the cards are dealt from the bottom of the deck. As it is extremely hard to perform, a very few people can practice it properly, so you shouldn't worry too much. If you play carefully, you will notice the signs, for sure. The biggest give away sign here is the so called ‘mechanics grip', as it is not a natural way to hold the deck of cards. If the cheater is holding the deck like that, it is very easy for the middle finger to come up and take the bottom card from the deck. When the cheater is experienced, the whole trick is done in a very fluid manner.

So, if you don't want to be tricked, watch out not only for the ‘the mechanics grip', but also for the noise made by the bottom card when it is dealt. The bottom card can also wedge out slightly, if the performance is not clear enough. And if you have a postilion (the plastic card) at the bottom of the deck, the bottom deal is almost impossible to perform.


Confederacy is when two or more cheaters are working together. Obviously the difficulty of cheating here is reduced, especially if someone else (not the shuffler) has to cut the cards. It is clear that the cheater's partner will cut the deck at the proper location. And before the cut, the desired cards are secured and shuffled into the desired positions.

The question that comes out here is how the other cheater knows where to cut the cards? Sometimes the first cheater bends the deck and then cuts the deck himself. In this way the top half of the deck is bent backwards. When the cut is completed, there is an arch between the two halves, which is where the 2nd cheater will cut. After cutting, the deck is brought back to its original position. This method should be performed very quickly, as the give away signs are easy to spot.

Another popular method is to out jog slightly when the first cheater is cutting the deck. In this way the deck slightly overlaps, and the second cheater just has to cut there. The cards are again in the desired positions, ready for dealing.

When it comes to confederecy, there are a variety of methods to cheat, so watch out!

Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published