The politics of dealing with a cheater

aaronroch

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@Taghkanic , thank you so much for the details of this sorry episode in your game.

Please do let us know how it all finally turns out. Our collective fingers are crossed for you in hopes that you’ve managed to minimize the fallout, both in your game and your group of friends.
 

MattyMatt

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For what it’s worth, and if it helps others to suss out such players, here are some aspects of the con which have less to do with the pure mechanics of it, and more to do with how the player managed his role and image in the game to avoid detection/deter accusations.

The big problem is, both of us and the group all consider him a great guy and a friend.

I have to say - since you were asking people for opinions - that I can't for the life of me understand how a person that you describe as belittling and cheating is "a great guy". I just don't. I almost feel like you need to print out your description of him, forget about it for a month, have some coffee and re-read it.

Or how about this: What do you think the response would be in your group of poker friends if you told them you were thinking about inviting a new player, and you then proceeded to characterize him the way you did this guy? Do you think the response would be something along the lines of "Yeah, invite him. He sounds like a great guy and we would probably be friends"?

Of course not. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything but I really wonder if you've thought about this from a more objective perspective. To me friends aren't just people I've encountered that went from 'new person' to 'acquaintance' to 'friend' by virtue of just being in the same space together repeatedly, to me it's people I can trust and people who are genuinely nice. A cheater can't be trusted. And he sounds like he's a bully, or straight up psychopath (or sociopath).

So all I'm saying is that I think there's something to be said for reevaluating just what this person really should mean to you, and what friendship really is.

I've had people act unethically towards me, people I thought of as friends, and once I realized that they were pretty egotistic and prone to lying I just stopped hanging out with them. I felt more a loss of my gullibility than that I lost a friend.
 

Taghkanic

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1) Well, you just haven’t met the guy. As I’ve tried to describe, he’s a mix of charismatic and bullying. His ability to liven up the game and (what we assumed was) his talent compensates with many people for his table antics.

And he’s not that way off the tables: he golfs and goes to dinner and even vacations with some of the other regs, who as I mentioned may be scheduled to attend his upcoming wedding.

As I tried to capture in a post above, this love/hate mixture of feeling toward him I now see as a component of his con.

2) I didn’t bring this person into the game, of which I am the fourth host. He was already in it years ago.

He began as a good friend of host #1, who moved to another state after several years of hosting. The the cheater became an even closer friend of host #2, who continued the game until he got divorced and had to give up his big home (which was perfect for cards, I must say).

Host #3 was a short-lived anomaly: A very bad player who himself can be abrasive. He refused to invite the (now recognized) cheater, though not because of any suspicion of cheating, but just because their two personalities clashed. The cheater loved to target that guy.

About half the group boycotted this brief version of the game because of these exclusions, which shows some of the loyalties at play. Host #3 could never get more than one table together for the tourney, and actually went bankrupt and lost his home to the bank during this brief, misbegotten interlude.

I was them approached by the group to take the game back over and reunite the wider list of regs. It was understood that the mission was to include everyone. Which I did.

3) At this point, it is not what this person meant to me. It’s been about managing how his necessary ejection will affect the group. As stated, I think the damage will be limited. But if I lose more than expected, so be it. I’ll just have to rebuild a better list.
 

WedgeRock

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I get where you are coming from @MattyMatt, but as in a divorce with a spouse, just because you've come to the realization that you can't continue in a relationship with this person, it doesn't take away from the shared experiences away from the toxic behavior.

@Taghkanic described this guy in a few paragraphs and was discussing the behaviors that were relevant to the situation at hand. He was not describing the entire depth of this guy's character.

Just my 2¢.
 

APatHand

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To cure the cut apathy, I would suggest that once a player passed on the option to cut the deck, that the deck be passed around the table until someone cuts it. At most, it will get to you and you will certainly cut it.

Also, always use a proper cut. Deck on table, cut card on table cut deck on cut card, stub on top. Always flat to the table - no waving it around in the air.
 

MattyMatt

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3) At this point, it is not what this person meant to me. It’s been about managing how his necessary ejection will affect the group. As stated, I think the damage will be limited. But if I lose more than expected, so be it. I’ll just have to rebuild a better list.

I understand. What I wrote certainly wasn't meant as criticism, just to offer a different perspective. I guess the gist of what I wrote was that if you do end up with some other people leaving with him then if it were me I'd probably just shrug it off pretty quickly, for the reasons I mention.

But certainly not critique or anything. I get how you feel about it.

I also get that you in a way got this guy as part of the package, so it's not like I blame you for choosing him in the first place.

--- the below is just more of the same from me, you can disregard it ---

As for the first point you made (below), I actually still would say that the personality type you describe could be pretty bad in general. The type I'm talking about is perfectly able to often be personable and likable etc but fundamentally doesn't have the same value system as the rest of society or the ability to empathize. So on a golf outing it might not come across as bad behavior (assuming there's no cheating there too) and in other social settings as long as it conforms on the surface (where people might agree on the issue at hand but for different reasons) it might also seem like just another opinion - but point being that the root of it is different.

A lot of times we end up making choices, and they do tell us something about our personality: What's more important - winning more at poker at the expense of essentially bad behavior, or the opposite? I think the answer says something about the individual.

1) Well, you just haven’t met the guy. As I’ve tried to describe, he’s a mix of charismatic and bullying. His ability to liven up the game and (what we assumed was) his talent compensates with many people for his table antics.

And he’s not that way off the tables: he golfs and goes to dinner and even vacations with some of the other regs, who as I mentioned may be scheduled to attend his upcoming wedding.

As I tried to capture in a post above, this love/hate mixture of feeling toward him I now see as a component of his con.

2) I didn’t bring this person into the game, of which I am the fourth host. He was already in it years ago.

He began as a good friend of host #1, who moved to another state after several years of hosting. The the cheater became an even closer friend of host #2, who continued the game until he got divorced and had to give up his big home (which was perfect for cards, I must say).

Host #3 was a short-lived anomaly: A very bad player who himself can be abrasive. He refused to invite the (now recognized) cheater, though not because of any suspicion of cheating, but just because their two personalities clashed. The cheater loved to target that guy.

About half the group boycotted this brief version of the game because of these exclusions, which shows some of the loyalties at play. Host #3 could never get more than one table together for the tourney, and actually went bankrupt and lost his home to the bank during this brief, misbegotten interlude.

I was them approached by the group to take the game back over and reunite the wider list of regs. It was understood that the mission was to include everyone. Which I did.
 

BGinGA

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The guy is an asshat loser, and probably cheats at golf, too. Those tendencies typically run deep.

The game is better off -- both short-term and long-term -- without him, including losing any delusional players that leave due to his exclusion.

Hat's off to @Taghkanic for how it was all handled. Not an easy task being a host.
 

Moxie Mike

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1) Well, you just haven’t met the guy. As I’ve tried to describe, he’s a mix of charismatic and bullying. His ability to liven up the game and (what we assumed was) his talent compensates with many people for his table antics.

And he’s not that way off the tables: he golfs and goes to dinner and even vacations with some of the other regs, who as I mentioned may be scheduled to attend his upcoming wedding.

As I tried to capture in a post above, this love/hate mixture of feeling toward him I now see as a component of his con.

Abuse victims have the exact same mentality.

I haven't met this person, but your description is pretty spot of a narcissistic sociopath. They build you up, then they break you down... up and down. It's abusive behavior - it isn't charming. How he treats people he perceives as weak is very telling - as is the fact that he was brazen enough to repeatedly cheat in your game. That should tell you everything you need to know about how he sees you.

Those types of people surround themselves with sycophants and other people they can easily manipulate, but you'll notice he doesn't act this way toward everyone. His behavior is tolerated by those who want to be accepted into his good graces, like others seem to be.

Now that he's gone (good job BTW), don't EVER let him back in.
 

Taghkanic

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I would just add... I’ve been able to identify and deal swiftly with people like this in other areas of life — I learned long ago not to tolerate certain behaviors in business or organizations, and to nip any sign of them in the bud.

But I think the adversarial nature of poker, and its “outlaw” image, is especially prime for personalities like this to get away with stuff and push boundaries way longer than they ever could in more normal contexts.

It’s way more common for gamblers to razz and needle each other, make inappropriate jokes, get frustrated, lose their cool for a while, etc., than in other settings. I certainly don’t get together with friends for the explicit purpose of trying to take each others’ money... except in poker.

Plus, some of the appeal of home games, especially for guys of a certain age, is often to blow off steam. So a borderline sociopathic personality has more room to operate than usual. Our game is pretty sedate, overall, but it’s definitely a different atmosphere than Sunday supper with the family.

I’m not making any excuses for him or for our slowness to catch on. Just trying to think through how it all went down.
 

Taghkanic

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FWIW, we had a well-attended game last night, the first since the ejection. The person closest to the player in question was there. Despite my misgivings that he might attempt to be disruptive by making the evening all about the cheater, he seemed to be in a good mood and did not utter a word about the missing regular.
 

toynoob

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I can hear the friend of the cheater now, "those idiots are donks making excuses, I'm never going to play with them again since they banned you."

Week later, "when is the next game?"
 

GenghisKhan

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Glad to hear all went well.
I came here today for an update.

I was forced via group vote recently to kick out 2 regulars (no cheating involved though).

I haven't been able to put a full table together since. And I've had quite a few cancelled nights due to not enough players.

It was so difficult for me, and I didn't even have the cheating factor.
I kept thinking how much more difficult this must be for you. To get the message across to him and everyone else.

Glad you figured it out and got through it. Hope your next games continue like last night's.
 

Taghkanic

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With hope your game will grow back to its old size with time.

Was it due to bad behavior? You’ve piqued my interest.
 

PlayerADK

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Same - I'm also interested to hear the reason why.

"They kept winning, everybody hated it" haha

Obviously kidding, I'm sure there's a good reason. Sucks to have those players that ruin the night with bad attitudes.
 

GenghisKhan

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Well I'm the host. Been hosting 20+ years. All are friends going back 20+ years as well.

The 2 guys in question were coworkers one of the guys brought in 3 or 4 years ago.

One night when I couldn't play they held it at someone else's place. And I was informed the group had a vote, and majority wanted them out.

I investigated the reasons myself, and they varied. But I think the biggest one was the 2 guys would talk about private stuff discussed around the table at their work place, which my friend of 20+ years had asked them to stop doing. What happens outside of work should stay outside of work. Also some of the other guys around the table have jobs that intersect with these 2 guys, which means when they'd shoot off their mouths everybody knew who they were talking about. My friends are guys that own or manage businesses etc that thought their conversations were among friends and would not become public.

My wife has since come up with a no coworkers rule. She doesn't even play, lol. She just wants no drama in our circle of friends. (All the wives are friends. We do couples stuff together almost weekly. A real circle of longtime friends, not just acquaintances).

So the 2 guys were nice and fun guys, but didn't know when to shut their mouths I guess. Gossip type shit lol.

Not everyone agreed, so I'm wondering if that's having an impact. I sure hope not.

I'll pick long time real friends over acquaintances any day.
 

PlaidDragon

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Responding to the OP:

The “trusted reg” AND yourself need to have a private meeting with him and explain why he is being barred. It shouldn’t just be you. Facing a consolidated front might reduce his willingness to push back or create waves that he’s being treated unfairly.

Pretty much directly afterwards, your remaining players need to be contacted and told what was happening, how you detected and verified it, and the action you took. You worry about what will happen to your game as a result, I get it. However, indecision and allowing the game integrity to suffer further will likely be worse over time.

Who decides to leave with him is out of your control. Regardless, I’d raise an eyebrow at any who willingly decided to stick with a known cheater anyway.
 

Coyote

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In general, players should never talk to each other, 'cause you 'll never know if they 're talking about business, love and sex, or the hand currently in play.
Whatever serious or funny announcement, at a poker table, has to be done in public, addressed to all.
I have parted ways with players who did not observe this, however cute they may have been otherwise.
 

MattyMatt

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FWIW, we had a well-attended game last night, the first since the ejection. The person closest to the player in question was there. Despite my misgivings that he might attempt to be disruptive by making the evening all about the cheater, he seemed to be in a good mood and did not utter a word about the missing regular.

Seems you handled it well!

:)
 
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