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Protecting Your Poker Game: Can You Pass The Card Cheat Quiz?

Former Card Mechanic Explains How You Can Be Cheated At The Poker Table

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Houston Curtis Shows Off His Card Manipulation Skills If you’ve followed my articles thus far or have read my book, Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist, then you know about my history as a card mechanic and poker hustler. Throughout my career playing high-stakes poker in Hollywood, I’ve seen just about every scam that could ever be perpetrated with a deck of playing cards.

Today, I consult with casinos and individuals who run high-stakes poker games in order to help them protect their players from all sorts of cheating tactics. And while it doesn’t pay nearly as well as running over a game like in the old days, I suppose it’s a respectable side hustle that keeps me close to my love of card manipulation.

Then again, maybe helping detect cheaters is my penance for so many years developing and deploying what I like to call “skills of a misspent youth.”

To truly understand the way cheaters approach rounding games and scamming private games, it’s good to understand some of the basic methods used by traditional card cheats. Even given the vast amount of poker information available today on the internet, it’s surprising how little (truly accurate) information is out there about card cheating.

There are a lot of magicians who teach card manipulation, but few of them have ever used the skills they teach under fire in a live game, and those who truly know what they are talking about are few and far between. The most knowledgeable person on the subject that I know is my dear friend Steve Forte, author of Casino Protection, Poker Protection, and the newly released, Gambling Sleight of Hand – Forte Years of Research, which is a two-volume masterpiece sold for 300 bucks!

When the hold’em craze hit in the early 2000s an interesting thing happened. Poker players began to multiply like never before. Suddenly there were people playing high-stakes hold’em without even knowing how to execute a standard table riffle shuffle, or deal a hand of seven card stud. To me, these players were like children who understood how to ride in a car strapped in the child safety seat, but had no idea how to drive. If you get behind the wheel, you want to know how to control the car right? The same should be the case with poker.

One big aspect that poker players count on is a straight deal. Another thing they count on is the honor and integrity of the man sitting next to them. I always look for and expect the best out of people, but in the immortal words of S.W. Erdnase, author of the 1902 classic, Expert At The Card Table, “Men who play for any considerable amount of money are looking to get the best of it.” And for many of today’s modern era poker players, it’s safe to say, they can go for a ride in the car, but there are few who know how to drive it.

Now, don’t get me wrong… it’s not necessary to learn how to cheat in order to spot a cheater. But in this writer’s humble opinion, knowing the methods of a cheat are just as important as knowing how many outs you have on the river, or whether or not you are being laid the right price to call after a three-bet.

In order to determine whether or not you are well-versed in the ways one can get cheated at the poker table, I have provided you with an introductory card cheater’s assessment. Take the quiz seriously and answer the questions honestly. Otherwise, you’ll just be cheating yourself! HAHA

The answers will be revealed in a video at the end of quiz. The video will also provide tips and examples of ways you can protect your home game, and protect yourself when playing live poker.


1. At a recent book signing, someone asked me if Tobey Maguire and I had “paper down” when we ran the big game. What was he referring to?

a) Keeping a paper trail of wins and losses
b) Posting the buy in with cash
c) Making a list of fish to hustle
d) None of the above

2. To spot someone base dealing is to notice they are…

a) Dealing from the button
b) Stealing chips from the pot while no one is looking
c) Dealing cards off the bottom of the deck
d) None of the above

3. What did the player mean when he said, the dealer had been dealing deuces all night long and no-one ever noticed?

a) Dealing the second card from the top of the deck
b) Stacking the deck to flop two pair to a partner
c) Dealing low cards on purpose
d) None of the above

4. Why did the player get worried when he noticed the dealer continuously doing a short shuffle?

a) Because the dealer could have been controlling a slug
b) Because the cards weren’t being fairly shuffled
c) Because he feared the dealer was culling card to the bottom.
d) All of the above

5. The Overhand Run Up, Riffle Stacking, Short Shuffles, Push Thru Shuffles, and Zarrow Shuffles are all forms of what?

a) Casino shuffling procedures
b) Card control
c) Second dealing

6. What is a Double Duke?

a) Doubling up with a pair of jacks
b) Losing a huge hand to a bigger hand from a stacked deck
c) Dealing the second card off the top of the deck
d) None of the above

7. The Crimp, the Hop, and the Shift are all ways to do what?

a) Cheat at cards
b) Control a slug to the top or bottom of the deck
c) Nullify the cut
d) All of the above

8. What does it mean to “ring in a cooler?”

a) To invite a hustler to your card game
b) To stack the deck during a shuffle
c) To switch the entire deck after or during the cut
d) To play poker in an igloo

9. What is cold stacking?

a) Arranging your chips in a way that signals your hand to a partner
b) Switching the deck after it has been shuffled
c) Stacking the deck on the fly
d) Maintaining the entire deck order using a false shuffle

10. What is the form of cheating known as a Hold Out?

a) When you wait for one big pot and then cheat in order to win it
b) When you short the pot by palming off chips during a call
c) When you secretly hold on to cards that should have been mucked
d) All of the above

To check your answers, watch the video below.

I also have autographed copies of Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist now available at my website for those interested in reading the true story behind the biggest poker game in Hollywood history.

Until next time, stay sharp… stay KardSharp!

Houston Curtis Houston Curtis, founder of KardSharp.com and author of Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist has lived a successful double life as both a producer and card mechanic for nearly 30 years. His credits include executive producing gambling related TV shows such as The Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS, The Aruba Poker Classic on GSN and pioneering the poker instructional DVD genre with titles featuring poker champion Phil Hellmuth.

Barred for life from Las Vegas Golden Nugget for “excessive winning” at blackjack, Houston is one of the world’s most successful card mechanics and sleight-of-hand artists of the modern era. Curtis, who rarely plays in tournaments, won a 2004 Legends of Poker no-limit hold’em championship event besting Scotty Nguyen heads-up at the final table before going on to co-found the elite Hollywood poker ring that inspired Aaron Sorkin’s Academy Award-nominated film Molly’s Game.

Curtis resides in Phoenix, Arizona where in addition to running a production company and independent record label, he is also a private gaming/casino protection consultant to clients across the globe seeking insight into master level card cheating tactics via advanced sleight-of-hand technique. To reach Houston for a speaking engagement, consulting or production services send email to stacked@Kardsharp.com.

All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Card Player.