Spotting a Cold Deck

Another of A.D. Livingston's stories revolves around a cold-deck cheater who got too ambitious. Not only was the new deck he put into the game stacked to give him a great hand, but it gave all the other players great hands, too -- great enough that they'd bet their stack, but not quite great enough to beat the cheat. Everyone was suspicious off the bat (the reason it's called cold-decking is because a deck in play for awhile gets warm from constant handling). Suspicions grew, and when the showdown came around, the cheater was not-too-gently asked if he had another deck of cards in his pocket. Looking around nervously, he admitted to having three or four. Livingston reports that the cheat was ushered away from that game without injury, but that he was shot and injured at another poker game a few weeks later.

Stopping a Cheat

There is one sure way to defeat a cheater most of the time -- cut the deck. Players should be allowed to cut the deck before the deal. If you suspect cheating, feel free to cut before every hand. It is your money, after all. The favored method requires taking two separate packets of cards from the middle of the deck, putting them in a pile together, and placing the rest of the deck on top of that pile. Then, you cut the deck again. If the deck seems especially suspicious, ask for a new deck -- one fresh from the plastic wrapper. This is no guarantee, however, since many marked decks are made at gambling-supply houses and then resealed in the wrappers.

If cheating seems rampant and unchecked, simply leave the game. If you're playing at a place where the house makes money from the poker games (usually via a table fee or a percentage of each pot), let the manager know why you're leaving. When the house tolerates cheating, it loses paying customers.

Cheating is no small matter at a casino. It's almost impossible to get away with, and can result in lengthy jail terms. If you suspect cheating, speak to the floor manager. The surveillance tapes can be reviewed to see if cheating occurred. It's in the best interests of the casinos to run a clean game, so unless the entire casino staff is in on the scam (not likely), speaking to a manager is your best option.

Poker can be a fun pastime with family and friends, and even can be a way to make money. However, poker and other forms of gambling can also be a way to lose tremendous amounts of money. Gambling addiction is a serious problem. Take Kenny Rogers' advice: "Know when to walk away."

For more information on poker, other card games, gambling addiction, and related topics, check out the links on the next page.