Collusion Poker Term

Collusion Definition - Partner Cheating

by Jesse Knight


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 agents 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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