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Cheating: Texas Holdem’s First Deadly Sin

Don’t do it. Not at the Texas Holdem table. Not anywhere else. ‘Nuff said. Right? Oh, you already don’t cheat? Well congratulations and good for you (and for the rest of us too). But as honest as you may be, cheaters do abound, as much in Texas Holdem as in any other game, and you’ll need to know their tricks in order to spot them before they turn them loose on you.

Fortunately, many forms of cheating at Texas Holdem are subverted in online play by the nature of the internet. Online players, for example, can’t miscall their hand, manipulate the deck, short pots, or practice any other form of devious sleight of hand. Online Texas Holdem players can however collude, and collusion is cheating just the same. Collusion is when two or more players partner up to mislead the other players at the table and unfairly take their money . There are a number of ways that online Texas Holdem players can do this, including: Codes Using the chat window, the colluders communicate in a pre-established code, right in front of the other players’ eyes, whereby they compare their two hands and then fold the weaker of the two, only playing the stronger Sandwiching The colluders take turns betting and raising heavily into a third player, forcing him or her to either keep calling ridiculous bets or keep folding out of every hand.

Signaling In offline Texas Holdem, this can occur as hand gestures, bodily cues, or careful arrangement of one’s chip stack, but in internet play this occurs by communicating through some alternate method -- telephone, private email, or an instant message. Cheaters don’t always travel in pairs, however. In fact, one of the most common forms of cheating in online Texas Holdem is when a single player sits down in multiple seats at a single table. How? Simple. Multiple computers. Now this one player is able to perform the same dirty tricks as a couple of colluders, except more efficiently since they have no one else to try to subversively communicate and strategize with. And the lone cheater is doubly motivated by the fact that he doesn’t have to split his “winnings” either. Now, there are those who protest that the very nature of Texas Holdem is the art of deception and as such they are free to use whatever means necessary to be the best deceivers they can be. This is a fallacy, a clever rationalization designed to deceive (go figure) -- nothing more. Don’t be fooled.

Cheating is an offense to the game of poker. And it has no place at the Texas Holdem table. One of the great appeals of Texas Holdem is that anybody -- expert of beginner -- can win. And that is as it should be. By sitting down at the Texas Holdem table you are implicitly consenting to play by the same rules as everyone else there. That too is as it should be. Cheating is the bad apple that spoils the whole bunch. It gives Texas Holdem a bad name. Cheating is stealing -- plain and simple. That’s why it’s incumbent upon honest players like yourself to call out cheating whenever you spot it.

Report it with a vengeance. And get yourself to a different Texas Holdem table as fast as you can. With the help of honest players like yourself, a cheater can only “win” at Texas Holdem for so long before eventually getting found out. And you can take that to the bank. ******.


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