Protecting Yourself from Cheating

ShieldA relatively new poker player messaged me with a few questions today. Besides the usual questions about what site to play on and where to find the best poker advice, he asked how he could avoid being cheated or scammed. It is a hot topic in the poker world this week with the Jose "Girah" Macedo, Haseeb "Dogishead/InternetPokers" Qureshi and Chino Rheem cheating episodes being revealed. The poker world continues to have high profile cheating incidents come to light bringing a black eye to the whole industry. New players are particularly wary of getting involved in the game for fear of being taken.

Cheating in the live and online poker world comes in many forms; misdealing, bots, multi-accounting, super-user capabilities, and colluding which involves chip dumping, soft playing, and squeezing etc.

Here are seven concepts to help protect yourself from cheating.

1. Perspective

Poker is no different from any sport, business or life situation. There will always be people looking to take advantage of others. Some people will try to swindle you in the stock market, gain unfair advantage in sports by "juicing" or equipment enhancements, or con you in a relationship. Don't globalize or over-sensationalize the high profile poker cheating incidents to think that everyone is trying to cheat you. There are plenty of ethical, moral and fair poker players you can play against.

Take prudent precautions as you would in other areas of your life to avoid being cheated. For newer players, be aware that more incidents of cheating are found at mid and higher stakes, where there is a better return for the cheating risk taken. The lowest stakes are much less targeted. Prudence, not paranoia, is required.

2. Be observant and diligent

While the blame for cheating falls on the cheater, the ultimate responsibility falls on your own shoulders. There are steps to minimize or remove the specter of cheating in your poker world so take the necessary steps or precautions and don't simply blame others.

Pay close attention when you play, whether it be live or online. Notice any anomalies or out of the ordinary occurrences. If you know the math and probabilities associated with the game, you can better notice when things deviate from the expected percentages.

Cheating in live and online situations can often involve more than one person working together. Observe all relationships and interactions at the table. Noticing relationships and patterns of play between certain players can reveal signs of collusion.

Although online poker rooms have been cracking down on them, there is a risk of running into bots, computer programs geared to play a solid and repetitive style of play that grind significant volume to gain rakeback with some profit. These players will play a robotic style with very repetitive patterns that lack much creativity.

Online poker players have additional tools to detect possible cheating in the form of poker tracking software. If everyone is winning within a certain range, but one player is way above the norm, that is a sign something could be amiss. If showdown hands demonstrate that they are making "extraordinary" plays against you, it could be that they have an unfair advantage.

3. Laziness and apathy are the enemy of avoiding

How many players have chosen not to question a player when seeing a faint sign of trouble. They overlook it or minimize it because it would require work to investigate or prove definitively. Your life matters and so does your poker playing and the real money with which you play. Treat it with respect. Just as the best players need to work hard to improve their game, so must you work to be diligent about the possible cheating and manipulative relationships around you.

4. Cheating involves inequity

Any relationship where one party is gaining at the exclusion of the other party could be considered a form of cheating. If you notice a dynamic where a friend or another player is tilting your relationship towards their needs and not yours, it's time for review. If they want to borrow money, sweat you, learn from you, but return the favor freely that is a sign of being taken advantage. A poker relationship shouldn't involve being told what to do, bullied, or pressured into doing anything you wouldn't do naturally on your own. Stand up for yourself and establish boundaries that respect your beliefs and poker playing ethics.

5. If it feels odd, don't dismiss it. Investigate it

Your "gut" is a powerful and sensitive sense, so don't ignore it. If you feel something is off. Step back and review the action from a different vantage point to see if it makes sense or not. Just because you lose a few hands in a row or have a bad session doesn't mean you are being cheated, but it's still worth taking a break to evaluate. In almost all cheating scenarios that were evident early on that were overlooked or ignored. It's not about being paranoid, but rather giving due attention to the signs around you that something might be "off."

6. Trust is earned, not given

Scamming, conning and cheating are often various forms of confidence games. Don't give your trust easily. Have other players earn your trust over time by their tangible actions, not simply words. Observe their track record in the past. Any black mark or questionable decision in the past is rarely isolated, but rather demonstrating a likelihood or pattern of questionable judgment. Don't buy into the public hype or another person's voucher or word, unless you trust them explicitly as well.

Trust is something given more freely in the poker world than in many other areas of life. The poker culture is ripe with exchanges and transfers on poker sites, along with a lot of loaning and staking. Poker players make and lose money regularly and can be found asking for assistance often. Some players feel guilty if they don't join in that loosely monitored exchange of money. You don't have to participate in that exchange. It isn't compulsory. You can politely indicate that you don't.

7. You can't be cheated if you walk away or say No!

One doesn't have to be cheated before learning to say no. You are allowed to say no to requests. When you are losing a lot or feel a game seems "off" get up and walk away. You can't lose when you don't play.

As a poker site owner with thousands of members, I have had to maintain a firm zero-tolerance policy or it quickly gets abused. Your friends may be disappointed that you don't hand out money freely, but they need to respect that you have limits.

Just because you have seen that top players seem to have a disregard for the value of money doesn't mean you should. Most of us will never play at the nosebleeds and a healthy respect for every dollar you play with is the ultimate respect you can give the game and yourself.

One longstanding piece of advice maintains that you should never loan money that you expect back. The amounts should never be money that you can't do without and would put you in hardship if you don't get it back. That way you protect yourself in case you don't get it back.


Some argue that poker is a zero sum money game where predatory-prey dynamics can't be avoided. While I will agree that poker is a game where players seek an edge over others to assist their playing profitably, that doesn't mean any player has to abandon standards of decency and prudence.

Unfortunately greed, the merciless drive for money, leads people to cheat. The only way to combat the many forms of cheating you encounter is to be vigilant and firm in your conduct. Poker rooms lay out clear guidelines for most areas of poker. It is in the murkiness of the gray areas that some players hedge.

Without a doubt, it's best to avoid the appearance of impropriety so you can be safe and not sorry. As Jose "Girah" Macedo, Haseeb "Dogishead/InternetPokers" Qureshi and Chino Rheem have learned this week, your poker reputation once impugned is very hard from which to recover. Both the one who cheats and the one who is cheated ultimately lose. The sense of violation and vulnerability for the cheated and the shame and guilt of the cheater. Whenever there is a question of what action to take, I find it helpful if you ask if you would like that action taken against you first.

The same discipline that is required to study and play profitable poker is also required to ferret out potential cheating in live and online poker settings. The confidence and pride that you bring to the game will be greatly enhanced if you employ these seven concepts to ensure you minimize the potential of ever being cheated.


on 30/10/19
grt info
on 10/6/20
very nice
on 4/8/20