My First Time Catching a Cheat (Yes, Really) (1 Viewer)

slisk250

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Casinos do indeed run a suckers' game. The people who gamble on slots or craps or whatever are getting ripped off. But be really careful about feeling like Robin Hood. That's rationalization too, and it leads to no good ends.

there are sucker bets at a craps table But people who know how to play can reduce house odds to less than 1% easily by playing line/come bets with full odds behind. Everything in the middle are sucker bets but craps is the best odds you will ever get at any game in a casino really. All odds bets the house has no advantage.
 

CrazyEddie

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That's true, but playing craps is still a losing proposition, even if the house edge is less than one percent.
 

WedgeRock

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Playing craps smart is nothing like the house edge in slots, IMO.

I did see a guy plunk down $200 in greenies at NYNY on a hard six and hit it. That pays 9:1, right? Nice little score, even if it's a sucker bet.
 

DZPoker

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I did see a guy plunk down $200 in greenies at NYNY on a hard six and hit it. That pays 9:1, right? Nice little score, even if it's a sucker bet.
I know a guy who won 14k by betting the ‘never put your money here’ spot in three card poker too...doesn’t mean it was a good move outside of knowing the outcome!!
 

BonScot

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craps is the best odds you will ever get at any game in a casino
I remember years ago reading about a guy in England who sold his house, car and everything he owned then flew to Vegas to gamble it all.
He had worked out that the best odds you could get in Vegas was a single spin of the roulette wheel as your chances of winning are 18/37 (or 48.6%).
Anyway for anyone who doesn’t know what happened...

 

Kid_Eastwood

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I know it might not be normal, but when I finish dealing and have to wait on action, I like using the dealer button itself as kind of a card guard for the deck - I put the deck down and put the dealer button on top of it before I do anything.

Same here.
 

Mmerk1

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I caught a cheat last night at my weekly poker game.

For context, this is a self-dealt $0.25/0.50 NLHE game with a $20 max buy-in, rebuys allowed at $10 or less. That's right; I caught someone cheating at a short-stack micro-stakes home game, and it's a guy who does pretty well financially outside of poker too. Not only that, but he's a very likable guy who seems honest in general, and is legitimately good at poker. I don't doubt he'd be a net winner with or without cheating. I was really shocked when my suspicions first arose.

The group is made up of people who mostly work with each other, many of whom (including the cheat) have been playing together a very long time. The cheat himself has been part of the group for about 15 years, and he's friends outside of poker with many of the people in the game. He's also a very experienced player; I've played everything from NLHE to pot-limit Scarney and Route 66 with this guy, and he plays well and knows his stuff. I've been in the game for about 3 years, and I'm friends with the host and socialize with him and some of the other players outside of poker as well.

Let's call the cheat Chuck. Chuck is a fidgety type of guy. Very animated, talks a lot, gestures a lot with his hands, constantly moving. And he is the same way at the poker table. This is part of what allowed him to fly under the radar for a long time, in addition to the laid-back atmosphere of the game. Knowing what I know now, it makes me wonder if he's really that fidgety, or if it was all just subterfuge the whole time.

A few months ago, I was coming back from the bathroom during his deal, and I spotted him holding the stub under the table with both of his hands as I was walking behind him to get back to my seat. I could swear I saw him doing something with the cards too, not just holding them, but I'm talking a split-second, and I didn't see anything definitive. I think I blurted out something like "What the fuck?!" under my breath, and it seemed from his body language that he heard me. He brought the stub back out and continued dealing. Nothing remarkable about the hand; I don't even remember if he won it.

I started watching him a little more after that. I noticed that, in addition to occasionally taking the stub under the table, he'd riffle the top several cards of the stub with his thumb in between actions, e.g., when he was waiting for action to complete preflop or on the flop. He'd hold the stub with his left hand and bring his right hand over it, and then riffle with the thumb of his right hand. He'd do it in such a way that it looked like he was just absent-mindedly screwing around. It was only sometimes, and it didn't always correlate to him making any unusual actions or even winning the pot. But it was still unacceptable to me, so I showed up early one of the following weeks and mentioned it to the host, in an "I'm concerned but not sure what I'm seeing" tone.

The host told me that it had actually come up before, many years earlier. He also said that they'd made an effort to watch him after that, but after observing for a while, they didn't think he was actually cheating, and the issue was put to rest. He recommended that I keep an eye on him in future games, and I did.

The following 2 to 3 months yielded interesting results. During my first game of actively watching, I spotted Chuck riffling the stub and looking down at it while doing so. When his eyes came back up, he looked directly at me and made eye contact, clearly noticing that I had been watching him. He suddenly decided to fold his hand, and announced to the table that he was folding because he'd accidentally seen the top few cards. He showed his cards after the hand, revealing that he'd have flopped a full house. Well played, sir.

The remainder of the observation time, up until last night, revealed quite a few instances of riffling the stub and taking it under the table, but still nothing conclusive. He also seemed to hold onto the stub for an unnecessarily long time after completing the initial deal, and would sometimes pick it up at unusual times too. I reported back to the host on a few incidents that I found particularly sketchy, but nothing rose to the level of formally accusing him of cheating. Sometime in the middle, the host told me that another player who never speaks up about anything had come to him with the same concerns.

Chuck also seemed to catch me watching him a few times while he was handling the cards, and he seemed to cut back on the suspicious behaviors after a while. It made it really hard to watch him. Sometimes he'd win and sometimes he'd lose, even in hands where he'd engaged in the fishy behavior. After months of trying, I felt like I wasn't going to get anything conclusive short of running a surveillance camera on the guy.

Last night, I went to the game with the intention of not paying attention at all while he was dealing. No point if he was aware I was watching. Just try to play the game and see if maybe I can catch him unaware again at some point later.

And then it happened. In a big pot (relative to stakes), while waiting for the flop action, he picked up the stub in his left hand, and he brought his right hand over it. But this time, he didn't carelessly riffle the cards like I'd seen so many times before. He clearly and deliberately peeled up the corner of the top couple cards with his thumb, looking down at the stub the entire time. And then he peeled it up again as if to double-check, like people often do when they're peeping their hole cards. And then, as if that wasn't enough, he took the stub under the table with both hands. He completed his action and dealt himself a flush on the turn. One other player went all-in, he snap-called, and he took it down. (I believe the host was already all-in, but I wasn't paying as close attention to that.) Chuck at minimum knew the flush was coming. At worst, he switched the positions of the cards to give himself the flush. I suspect the latter, but either case is blatant cheating.

I left the table immediately and went to the porch upstairs. I had to call my wife for something, so I did that, and as I was wrapping up, the host came up the stairs with some dishes, on his way to the sink. I called him over and told him this time I was sure. I had watched him very deliberately peep the stub, and I couldn't know what he did under the table, but the stub peeping was totally unambiguous this time, and this guy needed to be out of the game.

We weren't sure what to do in the moment. It was an especially delicate social situation because on top of most of them working together, one of the regular players had just died the previous week, and his wife was there with us. We really did not want a blowout in front of everyone. I discussed how to handle it with the host, and he didn't want to do anything that night because of the situation. I wasn't even sure how to respond. And just that moment, Chuck came upstairs, opened the porch door, and said, "What's up, guys?"

I believe my response started with "You know what's up. I saw what you did," after which I laid out the story, more or less as I've told it here. The resulting drama went on far too long, TBH. No punches were thrown, or anything of the sort, and no one downstairs seemed to realize anything more than that we were upstairs talking a lot and arguing about something. He started off somewhat angry and offended, and it proceeded to begging for ways to regain my trust, letting me deal for him, one of us leaving, and so on, ad nauseam. In short, it was pretty much what you expect of a cheat who's been caught. He was clearly never going to admit it. What really sealed it for me was that he outright lied about things I know I saw. For example, he claimed he had his eyes on the other players in the hand while he was peeling the stub, which I knew to be false. I don't recall the exact other lie, but it was just as egregious. I remained firm in my accusation. I know what I saw.

Anyway, that went on a while, and then I went downstairs to play some more while Chuck talked to the host. I was expecting to hear him leave the house. Instead, he came back to the table and sat down like he was going to go right back to playing. My eyes must have said "What the hell do you think you're doing?" because he immediately asked me to come talk to him upstairs. Commence another 10 minutes of him begging and pleading, making ridiculous proposals like having someone else deal for him.

I eventually put it to this: he can leave, or I would leave, and they could have fun trying to explain why (I almost never leave before midnight, and it was like 9:30). I sure as shit wasn't going to keep playing with him. I could tell the host was struggling with it because he's generally not a confrontational guy, and he has to work with Chuck every day, so I took him aside without Chuck and talked a little more. Seemed like he needed some time away from him. He came to the conclusion that he would ask Chuck to leave that night, but he didn't want to blow up the whole issue in front of everyone. I shook his hand and thanked him for getting there; I know it wasn't easy. And then I went back downstairs and played while he talked to Chuck.

They came back 10 or 15 minutes later, and both sat, but Chuck immediately said he was planning to leave soon because he was tired from being up with his kid all night. He didn't play any hands, just folded without looking. Clearly he and the host had arranged this. After a few hands, he cashed out and left. (The host took a particular interest in how much he cashed out. I suspect he's going to make him give it back, but I haven't spoken to the host about it yet.) I don't know if the host will ever tell people; I hope he does, but I'm respecting his prerogative to handle his game as he sees fit, as long as the cheat is gone.

Chuck was all red-eyed from crying or something. He made it a point to go around the room shaking hands with everyone before he left. People noticed that he seemed in poor spirits, but he played it off. I did shake his hand, and I made firm eye contact with him while doing so. As a final garnish, someone randomly made a comment about him hosting a poker game at his place sometime, and he shrugged back with some noncommittal answer on his way out. I swear, you can't write this shit.

Truthfully, I don't hate the guy. This has been a really difficult thing for me. I still don't think he's a terrible person or anything, but then again, it's hard to say when the thing standing in the way is dishonesty. I can't empahsize enough that I really liked this guy before all this stuff happened. I just hope he learns a big lesson from this. He managed to destroy multiple friendships, including some over a decade long, not to mention his work relationships, and of course his access to a regular, fun poker game with good people (and actually multiple other games where some of us play).

And for what? A small advantage in a micro-stakes home game. Net gain over his non-cheating results couldn't have been more than a couple dollars here and there.

This still feels kinda surreal. I'm not sure if I'm happy with how I handled it. I almost wish that I'd recorded him or something, so I'd have definitive proof. But once I saw unmistakable cheating, I just could not play with him anymore, and I couldn't let him continue playing with my friends. Waiting for an opportunity to record him would mean letting him cheat people indefinitely until I could produce evidence. I can see a case for taking that approach, but I wouldn't feel right about it myself.

My whole life, I've thought that if I caught a cheat, I'd beat his ass, take all his money, and divvy it up among his victims. If only it were that simple.
This stuff blows my mind! Never understood what anyone could get out of cheating to win. Money, I get it but micro stakes?
 

Jimulacrum

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This stuff blows my mind! Never understood what anyone could get out of cheating to win. Money, I get it but micro stakes?
I know. And this is one of those cases where he was gambling something a hell of a lot more valuable than what he was gaining by the cheating. You wouldn't expect an otherwise intelligent person to do that, but I guess we all fuck up in our own ways.
 
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