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Cheating in ACBL tournaments
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It is trivial to cheat in some ACBL events. I know, because I'm certain it happened against me in Chicago in August. The purpose of this article is to get ACBL to modify its rules to make it harder to cheat.

In my case it was in the 0-10K Swiss. Declarer finessed my Queen, turned his Jack vertical before my partner had time to play her card, turned towards me, smirked with an 'I got you' expression and then played to the next trick.

Here's a video showing what I think happened (1:02 duration, turn sound on)

This was filmed at the Atlanta regional about 6 weeks ago. I asked a caddy to film. Her face was priceless at the end of the video.

I didn't call the director. "Declarer smirked at me!!". I didn't file a recorder form (past experience shows little use). I could never prove what happened. There is no video in the room. I did make a mental note of who it was.

If you told a poker player that we play National events (Swiss) where one card is turned over, the deck is given to one player to shuffle and deal, and that no other player gets to touch the cards he/she would never play in that event. But that's what we do.

The solution is simple. All Swiss/KO events need to change from Shuffle/Play (SP) to Shuffle/Pass/Shuffle/Play (SPSP or SP^2).

One person shuffles, passes the deck to an opponent, who then does an additional shuffle before dealing.

Shuffle/Cut/Play does not work. See this video which also explains how the previous video works:

I did a third video which was showing what happens at a stationary table, where I had all the cards in my hand sorted - AQJ1082 K3 AQK J4 (yes the AQK was deliberate). After a 'sloppy' shuffle, where I kept all 13 of my known cards in order at the bottom of the deck, I now knew exactly where 13 of the 52 cards were. Unfortunately this one didn't record, so having to make my point in writing instead.

Back on August 19, I wrote that I was working on different things to stop cheating:

Three of the items were

1) Software to statistically detect possible cheating (was that ever prescient!)

2) Low cost (<$100) camera to monitor tables (used in Atlanta Regional)

3) Process related - change the way that Swiss/KO events 

For what I am fairly sure happened against me in Chicago, cameras won't work. It is easy to cover up what is happening with the bottom card - I tried to hide this on the first video. I don't think you could convict me from this video.

For anyone that has ever played against me: I hope there is video of me shuffling/dealing in tournaments. I try to make sure that I always put the turned card into the middle of a stack, never at the top or bottom. I've always done that. When I was a teenager, I was an invited guest on Paul Daniels (a UK magician) show. My parents drove me down, we spent the day in rehearsals, then the show was filmed in the evening. I learned a lot about camera angles, audience angles, misdirection. Even after several rehearsals and the actual filming, my parents still could not see how Paul did his magic. Trying to spot someone false-shuffle a deck is almost impossible.

So, here's a plea to change National Swiss/KO events from SP to SP^2 starting with the NABCs and then Regionals/Sectionals/Clubs. Honest players want a level playing field.

As Paul used to say, "You'll like this, not a lot, but you'll like this."



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