Saturday, July 29, 2006

Amit the Cheater (Craigslist threads)

There has been some interesting back and forth regarding the unfortunate "Amit The Cheater" threads on Craigslist.

Here is the original post from John (whose home game Amit was at and allegedly cheated):

I know that there is a community of homegame players in Manhattan, so this is a warning to all of you. There is a guy named ### Amit Shah ### that we met on craigslist, who had become a regular player at our holdem game. LAST WEEK, HE WAS CAUGHT RED-HANDED CHEATING, in front of 4 other players. As the dealer, he was fixing the deck up to have "set up" hands where he would take down huge pots.

Here is the last hand of the night that was played in a 3-way pot:

Amit (dealer): A,4 off
Me (small blind): QQ
Dan (big blind): KK

Our game is very low limit -- the blinds are 50 cent / 50 cent.

Amit: Calls 50 cents.
Me: Raise $5.
Dan: Re-raise to $5 (to $10.50 total).
Amit: Calls.
Me: Re-raise $30 more (to $40.50 total).
Dan: Re-raise, all-in (to $250+ total).
Amit: Calls... CALLS!!! With 4 reraises, an all-in, and a player behind him.
Me: Easy fold.

The flop is A,5,6.

Amit was in $700 that last night, so he was clearly desperate. My guess is that he was hoping that the pre-flop action would be a bit tamer, and that way, it would look like he was just making a "gambling" call, for maybe $20 preflop. But the preflop action didn't go that way. And, my guess is that, because he's a (proud, self-confessed) pothead, and maybe because his judgment was a bit off, he decided he would go through with it anyway at the end of the night.

I'll leave out the details of how it is that all 4 other players INDEPENDENTLY came to the conclusion that Amit was cheating, but this last hand, I think, really speaks for itself. By the end of the night, we had pretty much caught him in the act, stacking the deck under the table -- so much so that one player was dealt AK suited preflop and refused to play the hand. (Alas, the other player was also dealt AK and lost his entire stack. He flopped AKQ against Amit's QQ.)

Our best conservative guess at what Amit-the-scumbag has taken off of our table is something like $2000-3000. He has sat at our hold em table I'd say about six times, and the pattern is the same every time: First, he goes in pretty deep, about $400-500 of buyins each time. Second, he climbs out of the hole and makes a profit late at night when we he is the dealer.

Amit Shah is Indian by ethnicity (though he doesn't really look too Indian; maybe latin; maybe something else), and speaks fluent English. He is about 5'9", has slightly dark skin, and has short curly dark brown hair. His most distinguishing feature is a scar under his right (left?) eye. His cell-phone is (267) 250-0010, and his email is He lives in lower Manhattan, on Wall Street. He has been spotted at the Straddle Club playing the 1/2 NL and 2/5 NL games. He is a cheater, he is a scumbag. He is the person that smiles and shakes your hand as if he were a friend, only to stab you in the back when he can.

If you would like more details, please email me with your number and I can give you a call to talk to you about it (because I do have other information about him and his whereabouts). I know from a few different players that I've met on craigslist that he does frequent some of your home games, so at the very least, you need to be particularly careful when he is dealing -- make sure that somebody cuts the deck, and I would also count the deck fairly often to ensure that there are 52 cards.

I wish that I had it in my DNA to hunt him down and take a baseball bat to his head, but alas, I'm just not built that way. I've never been a violent person. But if any of you happen to run in to him...
Here is Reponse #1:
I hope you realize the stupidity laced in your post.

A. If you saw the cheater stacking the deck, why would you allow it to continue.

B. If he was dealing and you did not cut the deck, it is your own fault.

C. You are playing for such small stakes that it does not make a difference.

D. You are an idiot.
Here is Response #2:
hope you realize the stupidity laced in your post.

A. If you saw the cheater stacking the deck, why would you allow it to continue.

B. If he was dealing and you did not cut the deck, it is your own fault.

C. You are playing for such small stakes that it does not make a difference.

D. You are an idiot.

a. I must agree. Anytime someone suspects any kind of shenanigan's, they should say something. If you are afraid someone might get violent, you simply get up and leave the game.

b. again, I agree.

c. I disagree. They may be playing $.50 blinds, but obviously the action picks up quickly.

d. Uncalled for, my guess is you are the guy he is accusing, but that is neither here nor there.

As for the original poster, I have played in many home games throughout the area, and have hosted games. I am assuming you are using two decks being rotated around the table. The cards should NEVER leave the table. The idea that he held the deck under the table to stack is ridiculous. Once that was done, the deck should have been changed and the cards shuffled. If you knew he had the cards under the table, then it is your own damn fault.

I know a guy who is a floor person in AC and knows how to stack a deck. One night we were playing and to goof with us he ran a few practice hands. Took a quick look at the deck then began to shuffle and would say something like, "3's and 9's will be wild here", then he would deal 5-card draw and deal himself 3-3's and 2-9's. He did this a few times. Basically, the tip he gave us was to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS cut the deck if you are not using paid dealers. Mechanics can stack the top or the bottom, but stacking the middle is impossible, since you never know where someone will cut the deck.
And here is John's response back to the both of them:
Got some comments from two random people about my posting re: Amit the cheater. Just thought I'd respond back:

You called me an idiot -- and to be honest, I think you're right. Trust me, I sit back and think about it, and I really do feel stupid for not seeing the cheating sooner. So, maybe I deserved what I got.

But in my defense, the fact of the matter is that the tone at our low-stakes table is very friendly, and no one is sitting around thinking hard-core poker. In the same way that you would be relaxed at a home game among 5-6 of your good friends, we simply didn't have our radars up. You have to understand that. I mean, if I was sitting at a 1/2 or 2/5 home game (which I consider to be stakes that are "high" enough to give a damn about), I would have my radars up and would be suspicious of everyone at the table - especially if I didn't know them. But at our 50cent/50cent table, with guys that were becoming regulars at the table, and with the friendly banter both on and off the table, I just didn't see it coming. By that time, Amit had been at our table several times, and to the best of my (bad) judgment, the guy was cool, trustworthy.

So that's why when I did see him with the deck under the table... it really didn't even REGISTER in my head. It just entered my brain for a second and I didn't think anything of it. I know how stupid that sounds. So I'm guilty as charged: It's my (our) own fault. And then, even when I did end up suspecting it, I wasn't 100% sure... and I don't want to be blaming someone for something I'm not sure about. In the end, I was a sucker and too nice (stupid) of a guy to call the guy out when I first smelled a hint of it.

It's true that the guy to the right of Amit-the-cheater's was not consistently cutting the deck. And that is definitely the table's fault. Again, it's this laid back game where everyone is friendly. No one really was acting like a poker-Nazi -- "Hey, cut the fucking deck, dude..." We were just playing for fun. And it was certainly house rules that you cut, but it wasn't strictly enforced.

That's it. That's my defense.

In the end, my original posting was not put up to brag about what an idiot I was. Or how smart we were for finally catching the guy. It was simply to warn other people that might be playing similarly low-stakes games that might become potential victims to this asshole. That's it.

Maybe playing chess is the way to go...
A pretty decent mea culpa. I still think Amit wasn't cheating, but we'll never know. In any case, the old maxim stands: "Trust your friends, but cut the cards".

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