Collusion - A cheating conspiracy between two or more players.
When two or more people engage in coordinated cheating in a poker game, it is called collusion. Collusion takes many
forms, and it runs the gamut from relatively benign to malignant. For example, a milder form of collusion occurs when
two players agree to “check it down.” This means that both players agree that neither will place any bets for the
remainder of the hand, and at the end of the hand they will simply turn their hands up to see who wins. Sounds
harmless, right? Actually, this is a form of collusion and is technically considered cheating. Here is why.
Consider a situation where player “A” and player “B” are friends, and they have a standing agreement to check it down
whenever they are heads up. This
agreement can affect the way the action transpires to the detriment of the other players in the game. For example, imagine
that player “A” and player “B” take a flop with a third player, player “C.” If player “A” bets, player “B” knows that if
player “C” mucks his hand, player
“A” will subsequently check for the remainder of the hand. This provides an incentive for player “B” to raise, even
with a lousy hand, in order to eliminate player “C.” So you can see that the latent agreement between players “A” and
“B” can harm player “C.” This is a textbook example of collusion. Even if the collusion is so mild that it has no
discernable impact on the game, it is harmful because it puts the integrity of the game in question, which in itself
has a negative impact. Additionally, there may be consequences to collusion that are hidden or not immediately apparent.
More malignant types of collusion include the formation of “teams.” These teams consist of two or more players who act
in the interest of the team as a whole rather than in a self-interested manner. Often, these teams will use secret
signals to covertly communicate and coordinate their actions with other team members. They will share information such
as betting instructions, and hand content. The damage that this type of collusion can cause is more obvious that of milder
forms. In between these extremes, collusion can take many forms, but they all have one thing in common: players cooperating
when it is not allowed. This is why the rule which states “one player to a hand” is a constant in the poker world.
A partner in cheating is called an "agent". It is difficult to cheat by yourself in a poker game, because it must
involve manipulating cards or chips. It is much easier for two or more people to cheat, because they now have a third option
of manipulating the action. This type of cheating is easier to pull off, and harder to detect, because one or more of the
cheaters is usually betting or raising, and then mucking their hand unseen. This creates an incentive for cheaters to form a
team. Anyone on the team of a cheater, actively helping him to cheat, is called an agent.
An agent is usually another player in the game, but could also be a mechanic (a dealer skilled at manipulating the deck), or a
floorman (by way of an intentionally incorrect
ruling). Most commonly, a cheater will covertly signal the agent that he has strong hand. The agent will bet to generate action
from the other players. The cheater will reraise the agent, building the team a large pot. The agent will be sure to muck his hand
before the showdown. Since the content of the agent’s hand is not exposed, it is very difficult to determine that cheating has
occurred simply because one player raised the pot and then subsequently mucked his hand.
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