Chip Stacking Cheaters: How to Spot a Poker Cheat

The other night I went to play a home game of poker with a friend of mine who we shall refer to as Ben. It was the first time we'd ever played in the game and we made it there at about 10:00pm. The house was probably about 2,000 square feet and as we approached it there was a barking Doberman Pinscher who nearly scared the cash right out of my wallet.

We went up to the door and a guy with a long bushy beard let us in; he must have been 30 years old, but he was a badass. The house was dimly lit and there was a nice new poker table in the dining room area with a chandelier above it. Ben and I are both very solid players and we expected to rake in the dough all night against these "chumps," but during our stay we noticed some very peculiar activity at the poker table.

Beat But I Didn't Know It

Both Ben and I are very quiet people when we are playing poker. The only reason that we would ever talk is to pry some information out of our opponents and play our angles. We sometimes talk to each other like we are out to get each others' money or play the "good guy /bad guy" role during a hand. We know how each other play and we have good reads on one another. Pretty much, when I raise he gets out and when he raises I get out. I never want to be in a pot with him and vice versa because we are both winning players.

After playing completely rock solid and folding about 90% of his hands, this player to my left started getting a rush of cards. He had previously raised pre-flop twice as I recall and then he suddenly raised three pre-flop hands in a row and nobody got to see his cards. I stared down at AQ and decided to raise and see where I was. He flat called me and the flop came down A-Q-J.

Hand Reading Skills Put to the Test

As you'd expect, I bet hard because the last hand I would have put him on was K10. My read was that he had AK and was going to run with it; however, he just called. At this point I felt like I was being trapped because he called my large bet rather than raising me. The turn card came a 7 and I was sure it didn't help either of us, but this time I checked my hand because I had this really weird feeling.

Ben looked over me amazed that I checked after betting so hard. He must have thought that I was running a bluff and got caught. The final card was another 7 so I figured that I was still in good position with top two pair and I put a healthy bet into the pot. This time the other player raised, but only a minimum amount so I just called. He had been holding onto pocket aces the entire time and had me completely smashed.

The Invisible Poker Tell

I began to think about how this hand played out and who was dealing. I looked over at Ben and shrugged my shoulders as I bought in for another $50. I got dealt right back in and was given 69 on the big blind. The guy who had recently beaten me was fumbling around with a stack of chips and I began to study him.

Over the course of the next 20 hands I was watching the stack of chips that he was playing with and shuffling around as he would call, raise, and fold. His chips were near his stack when his hand was weak and he would stack a chip on the top of his chips and push them out farther than normal when he held a strong hand. I felt like I was a kid in a candy store after I picked up on his "tell." Shortly after finding this unique pattern I went to the bathroom and text messaged my friend Ben about what I had caught on to.

We went outside and spoke about the game while he smoked his cigarette. He went on to say that he too noticed that the guy was doing this with his chips. I asked him what he thought of it and he said, "I don't know, but he takes his hat off and wipes his head a lot too." "What? His hat?!" I exclaimed, "The player who is doing this with his chips is not wearing a hat!" At that point in time both of our mouths dropped and we knew that we had been the fish all along.

Poker Cheaters Game is Up

The reason that they posted so many flyers and were so inviting is because they were cheating and "telling" each other the value of their cards by the way they stacked their chips! Ben and I pondered as his cigarette flew out of his hand and into the yard. "Let's work their system against them and we'll each pool our winnings tonight," I proposed. "If that doesn't work, we will have some head bashing to do." Ben agreed and we went back inside to play.

Different people started hitting cards left and right and I tried to pinpoint which dealer was a mechanic and which players actually knew what they were doing when it came to stacking chips. Everybody at the table except me, Ben, and another player were using their chips to tell others their hand values. However, little did they realize that Ben and I had caught on.

We went on to steal pot after pot and disappointed people when we would fold hands we knew were strong but not quite strong enough. It was so easy! The night had come to an end and my original $100 investment and Ben's $50 starting bankroll had grown to almost $400!That just goes to show that cheaters never win and, moreover, people who are smart enough to bust poker cheats can win against the odds.

Look for Signs of a Poker Cheat

If you are a card mechanic and are doing the same thing as these guys did , be aware of the consequences and know that we let them off easy because it was their house, they had a big dog, and we ended up winning in the end. If you're a poker player, be careful out there. Poker is all about deception, but not cheating. While you should always been looking to disguise your hand and throw your opponents off the scent, using illicit tactics to steal their money is never acceptable.

The next time you visit a live poker game, make sure you look out for poker cheats by studying their every move. Don't just focus on your own hand, look out for tells, suspicious movements and unusual conversion. Just like an FBI profiler, study your opponents and pick out anything that will not only help you read what hands they might have, but also whether or not they are trying to cheat you and your tablemates.