Ethics and Angles of Poker

More than outright cheating, you'll see a lot of angle shooting or just a general lack of ethics. By "angle shooting" I mean an attempt to gain an advantage by a ploy, which is technically not cheating but is close to it. An example of angle shooting would be to make a vague wave of your hand on the river, indicating a check. Then if your opponent checks and shows down his hand, you claim you didn't check and you want to bet. This ploy often works if you're careful to wave your hand in a check when the dealer isn't looking at you.

This particular angle is fairly easy to protect yourself against. If there is any vagueness at all to player's movements, which you think might indicate a check, just ask the dealer if the other player has checked. If you do fall victim to this angle, by the way, you should usually call. Players who pull this angle will usually only bet after they've seen your hand and if they can't beat it.

Illegal Sharing of Information

One form of cheating, which is probably more of an ethical violation in the sense that it's an opportunistic form of cheating, is sharing information about others' hands with a friend. It's a form of collusion, which is cheating, but it sometimes arises at the spur of the moment, and isn't really part of a partnership play. It happens when you expose your hand to a player next to you who is not in the hand. That player may have a friend in the pot who is thinking about calling your bet.

If you have a very good hand, the player you exposed it to may indicate to his friend that he shouldn't call. Maybe he'll kick his friend under that table, or catch his friend's attention and glance at you, then look back at his friend and shake his head no. Technically a player who does that is cheating.

They'll rationalize it by saying that it's your responsibility to protect your hand, and it's not their fault that you let them see your hand. Technically you shouldn't have to concern yourself with whether someone who does not have an active hand sees your hand. The reality is that you do need to be concerned about that. Protect your hand, even from players who are not active in the pot and from passersby who are not in the game.

Cheating and On-line Poker

Playing poker on the Internet does not guarantee a cheat free environment. In 1999 there was a scandal at one of the first poker sites where their random number generator sequence had been cracked, allowing players to know what cards would be dealt. This is basically on on-line version of a cold deck. A few cheats did abscond with some money. The on-line cardrooms have since improved the randomness of the deals, and it's unlikely that anyone has cracked it again. Players are also monitored in an attempt to fashion an early warning system should their system be cracked again.

Player collusion is a potentially huge problem in on-line games. The cardrooms do monitor the games, and they have access to each player's hand, so there is some protection from collusion. Unfortunately, it's an ongoing problem that probably never be completely solved.

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