There are two sets of skills and abilities that are used for the purpose of cheating at cards: mental skills and mechanical skills. By comparison, only one set of skills is used to play any card games (if we ignore the fact that cards players do need some mechanical skills to handle the cards). It has been said that poker is a game of skill, and by skill we mean mental abilities alone. So, having said that, we should accept the notion that cheating without any manipulations is a superior form of card cheating. Not only that this form of cheating use only the kind of abilities that are normally used to play card games; this form of cheating also leaves no real evidence, because it all happens in the mind.

It should be noted that most forms of poker cheating that use mental skills do in fact also use some kind of kinetic abilities, although we cannot quite call these mechanical skills. These kinetic abilities include some form of sing language that enables poker cheats to communicate. In other words, if we stated that all forms of cheating that use mental skill are purely mental, in the true meaning of the word, we would have to believe in mind reading and thought transposition. So, when we talk about mental skills, from now on, we do have an understanding that those do require some kinetic abilities that extend beyond what happens in the mind.

Some readers may have a hard time accepting the notion that cheating with mental abilities is superior form of cheating than cheating with mechanical skills. After all, many arguments can be made to support the contrary. So, let's see what some of these arguments are.

One could argue that riffle stacking is a skill that takes years to learn and perfect, that it can only be learned through rigorous training, that only a few card mechanics ever develop that skill and therefore should be considered to be a superior cheating method. No one argues the fact that riffle stacking is in fact a superior cheating method, but because it uses mechanical skills, it is automatically downgraded because it falls into the category of mechanical cheating, which as a whole ranks below the category that uses mental skills.

One can further argue that the only thing that matters is the destination and not the ride. Meaning that since the sucker has no idea what the cheat really did to win the pot, it doesn't matter how we got there, as long as the results are the same. This is a good argument, but the fact is that it only stands true if we assume that the cheating is not detected or suspected. As a general rule cheating with sleight-of-hand manipulations stands a greater chance of being detected, so because of the risk factor, we have to downgrade the category as a whole.

One can also argue that riffle stacking accomplishes the objective much faster than any kind of cheating method that uses our mental abilities alone. Furthermore, one can argue that in the same amount of time, riffle stacking can generate more money. That's all true and the reason why that's true is because cheating with your mind alone does not interfere with the cards. So, when one is able to deal the favorable cards at will, it cuts out a lot of wait time. But there is a flip side to that. When a poker cheat relies solely on riffle stacking, he will be dealt monster hands more frequently than anyone else. Eventually that kind of exceptional luck gets noticed, so a careful cheat will try to keep the number of showdowns to a minimum, and be content with taking a few smaller pots, by forcing his opponents to fold (discusses in the article Controlling the Showdowns). So, once again, there is a counter argument to downgrade this method of cheating.

There are probably many other arguments that could be made to support the notion that some mechanical cheating strategies have unfairly been downgraded. I would actually have to agree with that, at least partially. The truth is that some mechanical cheating methods are in fact superior to some of the mental methods. This still doesn't mean that we should use this statement as an argument to upgrade the category as a whole.

We should also recognize that mechanical cheating is not completely void of mental abilities. In fact, I will argue that the level of sophistication rises with the level of mental skills that need to be used to cheat.

If we examine any bottom dealing scam, we can conclude that it takes almost no mental abilities to pull it off. If we can deal the cards from the bottom, without being detected, it's pretty much all we need. With this method we don't even have to bother learning anything beyond the basic rules of the game.

How does that compare to some location play strategies? With most location play strategies we only know a short sequence of cards (most often a random one). Remembering these sequences is the first mental skill a poker chat needs to learn. Then, there is minimal manipulation used to control this sequence during the shuffle and avoid mixing it with other cards. Most false shuffling techniques that are required to keep a small slug of cards intact are so simple the can literally be learned in one sitting; and some may argue that they shouldn't even deserve to be called manipulations. So, the mechanical skills are minimal. Then, the deck is cut either by an accomplice, at the right place (which would require minimal mechanical skill), or by any player, at a random spot (which requires the mental ability to estimate the cut). Once the cards are dealt the slug has either been dealt out, or will be dealt out during consecutive rounds of betting, or will not be dealt out at all. A cheat using this strategy has to be a very good poker player, to know how to exploit the information. So, in this case, the mental skills play a bigger role than any mechanical abilities. Also, since in most cases locators are still dealing with random cards, they will be dealt the kind of hands that no one would ever set up for a bottom dealing scam. So, their overall action will appear more natural.

All this leads to the only logical conclusion. Poker is a game of skill, so they say, and the skill required to play a winning game is purely mental and has nothing to do with manual dexterity. So, if the mind is the only true tool of a winning poker player, the mind should also be the preferred tool of a poker cheat.

Speaking of tools, there is yet another set of tools that are available for the poker cheat. Those are various gaffs and crooked gambling equipment. Since, once again, no such tools are used to play the legitimate game of poker, the use of these gaffs should further downgrade any of the cheating strategies that use them. The biggest problem with gaffs is that they are hard evidence, should they ever be discovered.

So in this chapter we will examine the cheating techniques that can be categorized either as "skilled" or as "refined." It should be noted that "skilled" does not necessarily mean "refined." Bottom dealing is definitely a skilled technique, but as a cheating strategy it can't exactly be categorized as refined, by any stretch of the imagination. So, because it does take some serious skills to pull off a bottom dealing scam, it will be included in this chapter.

It should come as no surprise that advanced cheating methods take a great deal of effort to learn. Along the way the "student" or "apprentice" is likely to lose some money, sometimes quite a bit. That's because skill and experience are two different things.

There is a big difference between learning and practicing some skills at home and using the same skills under fire, in real time. A poker cheat really need to go through three phases of learning. The first phase is the acquisition of the necessary skills and knowledge. This basically involves learning, practicing and rehearsing. After a great deal of practice, at some point, the student will feel confident that he can just go out there and use these skills under fire. nothing could be further from the truth. All the practicing and rehearsing is just a foundation, but at this point the student is still far from obtaining the title of an expert poker cheat. In fact, there is a whole phase of training that cannot be skipped.

The next phase of training involved the ability to be able to use these skills in front of other people, without being detected, but also without any actual gambling involved. If a person is being trained by a tutor it will be natural part of the training process to demonstrate the newly acquired skill to the tutor. But that's not really enough because it doesn't help cross the psychological barrier. One way to do it is to apply these skills in social games that don't involve any gambling at all.

The final phase of training involves the actual use of these skills in games where actual gambling is involved. One may think that there couldn't possibly be any difference when it comes to actual gambling. But the difference is actually overwhelming. So, the final state of learning comes from real experience and there is really no substitute for that. A good analogy would be to talk about a musician. First, the person has to learn to play the instrument, either alone or alongside a tutor. The next step is to play in front of an audience, perhaps in school or inviting some friends at home. But the final stage is playing for money, whence people have actually purchased tickets and there may be sponsors involved and all the additional pressure that comes with any serious professional gig.



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