Do you think this is cheating?

upNdown

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When there's a sloppy dealer, do you think it's cheating to watch his shuffle and follow cards through the deck? A good box will usually put the kibosh on this. But with a sloppy riffle and a clunky box, often times you can identify a card or two that are unlikely or likely to come into play.
I don't think I've done this at a home game, where typically we're having a lot more fun between hands, but I know I've found myself doing it in cardrooms, often times out of boredom, or spite toward a crap dealer.
This question is inspired by the thread about a cheater by @Taghkanic - in his game, the offending player was doing it on his own shuffle and also manipulating the deck, so it's a different issue, but maybe there's some overlap?
 

justsomedude

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Doing it on your own shuffle... yes, I would constitute that as cheating, especially if it results in deck manipulation.

At my first casino tournament, my brother taught me the trick you described. And I've tracked Aces and face cards by sloppy dealers. When the dealer collects the cards, faces them out, and does the standard riffle-riffle-box-riffle-cut-deal, it's easy to follow a card or two through the shuffle. It's difficult to put a card on an exact placement in the deck, but you'll have a good idea idea if it's been dealt out or is still in the stub.

If my brother and I have done it, I'm sure other players do it too. It's part of the game. And I don't consider it cheating.
 
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Darson

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If you can do it, your fellow players can do it too. Would you be wanting to play in a game where other players had this information as well?

I would complain about the dealing and if they don't fix it, leave.
 

Shaggy

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What happens if you specifically look to play in games where that dealer is dealing... and taking a specific seat where you have the best opportunity to view cards?

Back in my blackjack days, this was called hole-carding. Not cheating... but certainly gray. Is poker different because you are playing against other customers... rather than the house?
 

justsomedude

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What happens if you specifically look to play in games where that dealer is dealing... and taking a specific seat where you have the best opportunity to view cards?

Back in my blackjack days, this was called hole-carding. Not cheating... but certainly gray. Is poker different because you are playing against other customers... rather than the house?

I don't think it's dealer specific...

Standard casino procedure is to collect the cards, face them out to the table while you align/stack the cards, then shuffle. If a player sees where an ace or face card is during the stacking/shuffling process, and ballparks its location in the deck through the shuffle, that's just information anyone can use (except the 1, 2, 9, or 10 seats). It's kind of the nature of the beast.

I'm not sure it's possible to eliminate this from the game....

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trigs

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I've considered this before as well.

Something else I've considered is noticing the possibility of what card(s) someone was holding after they muck. For example, while I'm dealing (in a self dealt game), if I have the time I will gather up all the folded cards (not including the burn cards) and stack them nicely so they can easily be added to the rest of the deck for the next hand. This means that when I collect the player's hole cards after they muck following the end of the hand, as I gather them together with the rest of the deck, it could be possible to get somewhat of an idea of what was mucked. Because of this, I always gather the deck together with the cards facing out so I can't be charged with cheating, but if others were to pay attention they might be able to gain information.

Should one be gathering the cards facing inward instead then (and obviously not try to cheat)?
 

justsomedude

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Should one be gathering the cards facing inward instead then (and obviously not try to cheat)?

I think dealers arrange the deck face-out to show they are not manipulating the cards/order. It's an open invitation to observe what they are doing to help insure the integrity of the game.

Facing cards in would likely be viewed as more suspect than facing them out.
 

justsomedude

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The muck can always just remain face down. Wash, gather, shuffle/riffle all face down. Unless you are playing on the kitchen table or a hard surface, the cushion of the table should allow for this.

Hmmmm good point. Makes you wonder... what's the deck-lift for anyway??
 

Saoliver

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what's the deck-lift for anyway??
Good dealers will never need to do this. But, I have seen many dealers do it (where there are auto-shufflers) probably because it is faster for them. Just get all the cards straight and drop it in the shuffler so you can get onto the next hand.
 

nitzilla

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If you proceed like @Saoliver mentions above, AND use the deck's Cut Card, you should have nearly 0% visibility of the cards....that's what the cut card is also for....
 

Al Azouri

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Cheating? Definitely not.
Ethical? That depends on where you draw that line personally.
If it was me I would feel justified to use this information because it’s available to everyone at the table. In fact I might feel obligated to use it if I suspected others were using it too.
 

justsomedude

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Cheating? Definitely not.
Ethical? That depends on where you draw that line personally.
If it was me I would feel justified to use this information because it’s available to everyone at the table. In fact I might feel obligated to use it if I suspected others were using it too.

Yea. My brother told me 5 years ago, and another player told him about this dealer "information" 10 years before that. I doubt we're breaking any new ground here.

Also, it's insanely difficult to track cards consistently, repeatedly, and reliably through a shuffle. If you get a ballpark idea of what half or third of the deck an Ace or King *might* be in for one specific hand, are you really gaining any demonstrative statistical advantage?

I'm guessing the people working hard to follow a card in every shuffle would be better served by just focusing on playing their game a little bit better.
 

Taghkanic

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While being observant of other players is a big part of the game, and it’s a skill, the deal itself is supposed to be neutral and fair.

So I don’t think it is in any game’s best interest to let this one slide — whether in a casino or a home game.

Saying nothing about the dealer to gain a short-term advantage lets others off the hook for exploiting you.

Say you are in a seat where the card exposure can’t be seen; you aren’t failing to notice, you just don’t have the same view of the dealer. The information isn’t available to everyone.

By saying something, you’re both correcting a major problem and signaling to the table, “Hey, we may be here to try to take each other’s money, but let’s at least agree to having some basic honor and fairness.”
 

trever

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Also, it's insanely difficult to track cards consistently, repeatedly, and reliably through a shuffle. If you get a ballpark idea of what half or third of the deck an Ace or King *might* be in for one specific hand, are you really gaining any demonstrative statistical advantage?
It won't have much benefit in an average hand, but it will, occasionally, be extremely valuable for one particular hand. For example, if you have KsJs in your hand, do you think you'd like to know where in the deck the As happened to be?

If this info helps you win just one big pot more (or lose one fewer) all night, it gives a huge bump to your overall win rate.
 

slisk250

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The few posts that suggest certain seats have the advantage makes me think this is certainly unethical, not everyone can get the same info. Ask yourself this question. If you had a great seat with this information and a few of your buddies across the casino table, would you do it?

That should answer the OPs question.

If I felt the dealer was sloppy and players could get an advantage I'd take a break and talk to the floor...or leave.
 

Taghkanic

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A slightly different situation:

I was at a casino sitting to the left of a loud, sloppy, abusive player. Right away, he started insulting pretty much everyone at the table — though not me, only because I’d played in a private game with him before where we had talked about his health issues. I also since learned he went to jail for a not-at-all nice offense. But that isn’t so relevant, really.

Anyway, he was so busy insulting people and talking himself up that he was not being at all careful about exposing his cards. To avoid seeing them I’d have to turn my head all the way to the left, it was so bad.

I told the guy twice: Be careful, you’re exposing your cards — loudly enough that the rest of the table could hear. I wasn’t sure if I should say what I saw, but I would have if anyone asked. On both of the first two occasions I had garbage and was folding anyway, so I didn’t face any ethical dilemma.

The next time it happened, we were heads up on the flop, so there was no need to alert other players. And TBH I felt no further obligation to help this guy protect his hand. I had already warned him twice, and he didn’t adjust; plus he was being a dick to people. The information gleaned did help me win a nice pot.

I think this was the correct way to proceed: Warn the guy a couple times. Then any further errors are his responsibility.

The only remaining qualms I had at that point was whether I had an ongoing obligation to let other players know what I was seeing, at least if I was in the hand. It didn’t come up before the guy busted, but I could’ve gotten into a multiway situation where seeing his hand might help me not just against him, but against another player in the pot (say by being able to subtract cards from the third player’s range/odds).
 
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justsomedude

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If this info helps you win just one big pot more (or lose one fewer) all night, it gives a huge bump to your overall win rate.

If I felt the dealer was sloppy and players could get an advantage I'd take a break and talk to the floor...or leave.

Honestly, what's the solution?

The deck "scoop, show, and square" process is standard MO at probably every single dealer school across the country. And since auto-shufflers typically aren't used in tournies, how does this get fixed? Should we bring this up to PokerNews.com? Post it up on 2+2? BTW, I'm being dead serious - not being a smartass.
 

JRReynolds6181

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Personally I would state out loud that I just saw a card, name the card, and make sure everyone knows what just happened. We have one of those in the home game I regularly play in, I hate the idea of having an angle on friends so I personally would bring it up. At a casino? Hmmmm.....
 

Lemonzest

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Honestly, what's the solution?

The deck "scoop, show, and square" process is standard MO at probably every single dealer school across the country. And since auto-shufflers typically aren't used in tournies, how does this get fixed? Should we bring this up to PokerNews.com? Post it up on 2+2? BTW, I'm being dead serious - not being a smartass.

I would mention it to the floor manager where you play. If you explain that you are able to ace track between deals that should warrant their attention.

Its also incredibly easy to fix.
 

Taghkanic

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@JRReynolds6181 At a home game, definitely, though at some point if it kept happening over and over again, I might switch to a policy of “ask me if you are curious what dipshit here is holding” rather than having to do play-by-play every hand...
 

shorticus

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After thinking about this for a couple of minutes, I came to the conclusion that you have 1 of the following options.

1.) Say nothing and utilize the information - I find this to be unethical, but not cheating. It's not "in the spirit of the game" so I'd say it's equivalent to "unwritten rules" in sports.

2.) Say nothing and not utilize the information - While this is very noble of you, taking this route puts you at a disadvantage if someone else who is less ethical has the same advantage and chooses to go with option 1.

3.) Say something - Going this route keeps your conscious clear and it prevents others from taking advantage of the issue. Worst case scenario, the dealer thinks you're a PITA, but at least you're doing your part to keep the game fair.

Personally, I go with option 3. For me, if I won a tourney using that tactic, I think that in my mind I'd feel like cheated to gain an advantage. My conscious would then continue to screw with me until I won another event.
 

JustinInMN

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Also, it's insanely difficult to track cards consistently, repeatedly, and reliably through a shuffle. If you get a ballpark idea of what half or third of the deck an Ace or King *might* be in for one specific hand, are you really gaining any demonstrative statistical advantag

This, IMO, I think shuffle tracking sounds better in theory than it works in practice. But I play somewhere that always had automatic shufflers, so maybe I just don't worry about it.
 

upNdown

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To the folks suggesting speaking to the house and reporting the sloppy dealers and/or walking away if the problem isn't fixed - in a perfect world, maybe, but here are my thoughts:
1) the floor knows their shitty dealers. They do. So complaining to the floor is accomplishing nothing unless maybe they think they're gonna lose customers, but
2) they're unlikely to lose my business over a crappy dealer or two. I choose where to play based on proximity, games (or structures) offered, and player pool - that's about it. Other factors like comfort, food and drink, quality of dealers - are very minor considerations. At least for me.
 
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