Cheating At Poker

Published on Thursday, March 04, 2010 in , , , , ,

Playing cardsIt's time to cheat at poker!

OK, I'm not actually advocating cheating anyone at poker. However, examining the following scams does provide a rather unusual perspective on the game of poker.

First, let's make sure we're all on the same page. Each of these scams will focus on 5-card hands, and I want to make sure that everybody reading this knows what beats what. Here's a simple mnemonic.

If you break it down into 3 parts, it will be easier to remember:

• "Hi! (high) 1-2-3-straight!". Appropriately, we begin with a straightforward instroduction.

• In the second part, they all begin with f, and double in the number of words as they get better (I think of the word count as easier than the letter count at the link): flush (1 word), full house (2 words), four of a kind (4 words)

• The final two hands, straight flush followed by royal flush, are easy to group together.

Alternatively, you could also try remembering Lumpyhead's Poker Hand Mnemonic song. Amusingly, it's set to the tune of Jesus Loves Me.

Let's start with the most basic of 5-card poker games, 5-card stud (stud means that you don't draw any cards):

This is very intriguing, as the placement of a single card determines the winning hand. The deceptive nature of getting that single card into the other person's hand adds to the impressive nature of this feat.

What happens when we move on to 5-card draw poker? Believe it or not, you can scam this, as well:

This time, the first bet teaches an amusing lesson, while simultaneously setting up the proper psychology for the second bet.

Those first two scams are based on classic forms of poker, and exist largely because those games have been around long enough to study and develop fraudulent versions. The most popular version of the game today, however, is Texas hold 'em. Although it's been around since the early 20th century, its popularity didn't develop until the latter part of the 20th century.

For anyone not familiar with Texas hold 'em, here's a great introductory video, which includes some important poker basics at the end.

So, with the increased complexity, is scamming Texas hold 'em possible? Let's take a look.

This work on scamming Texas hold 'em is very recent, and was made available by Ben Joffe just 5 months ago! Since the above video was made, he's made and received discoveries that allow a specific player to win up with up to 21 hands in the game. At this writing, there have been stacks created that allow the dealer to win in any game from 2 to 6 hands.

If you try out these versions on your friends and family, with nothing at stake, that's really the best way to learn about how these seemingly impossible scams work. I'd like to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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