Friday, November 30, 2007

MCGEARY'S LAW: Never play in a game with more than half a dozen names for cheater.

Back in high school, we used to play friendly games of poker. I did pretty well, at first, but then I started consistently losing. We were playing for lunch money, in effect, so no big deal. But I got tired of not eating, so quit playing. Found out later that two of the guys playing were signaling each other.
Both went on to become lawyers, imagine that.

It occurred to me that there was very little I could do to detect cheating. I've not played poker for money since.

I've been amazed that poker took off like it did. Except for a few skilled players, most people will lose their money. People who can probably ill afford it. I have a feeling more than a few marriages will come to an end, mortgages won't get paid, jobs will be lost. But it's a free country.

Most people will lose at poker even if the game is square. But this is a game with immediate and significant rewards -- cash money -- that is extremely easy to rig, that if you get caught probably has very little official consequences (though I suppose, there's the danger of having your teeth knocked out in an alley.) Still, a game that can be easily rigged.

I'm reading DEADMAN'S POKER, a book in the Valentine series by James Swain about an expert at spotting cheats, and it reminds me again to stay away from poker despite it's allure to me. Just for an example, I'm listing some of the glossary in the front of the book.

BLEED: To cheat a game slowly.

CHEATER: One who practices fraud and deception. Also known as an advantage player, grifter, hustler, mechanic, rounder, or scammer.

CLASSMATES: Two people working in collusion in a card game.

COOLER: A prearranged deck that is secretly switched for a deck in play. Also known as iron man.

COOLER MOB: A group of cheaters who switch decks of cards.


FEEL A BREEZE: When you feel something unnatural is going on, but don't know what it is.

GAFF: A cheating device.

GIVING THE OFFICE: Communicating through a secret code.

GRIFT SENSE: The ability to spot a scam or hustle.

HALF SMART: Some who thinks he's smart, but isn't.

HOT SEAT: Where the sucker sits.

MUCK: To switch cards.

And on and on. That's half the alphabet, but you get the idea.

Never play in a game which has more than half a dozen names for cheaters.

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