Bluffing is an essential component of all versions of live poker, and although in short it means that you effectively lie to your opponent by misrepresenting your hand (ie. making it seem you have a significantly better, or sometimes worse, hand than you actually do), nobody frowns upon the bluffers.
In fact, successful bluffing is usually complimented by both the losing opponent and spectators alike.
Cheating, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game and isn’t allowed under any circumstances.
German-Turkish player Ali Tekintamgac found all this out for himself, the hard way, after his nefarious efforts were uncovered subsequent to a tournament in Spain, with the courts sentencing him to more than 3 years in prison!
Prior to his apprehension and conviction, Tekintamgac had been running really hot for a while, winning the aforementioned WPT Spanish Championship in 2010 and claiming 278,000 prize money on the way, and reaching the final table at the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes later that year.
It was at this last tournament where things finally started to unravel for the hapless Ali and his accomplices…
As it happened, Tekintamgac did not make it to the final table, and was simply eliminated from the tournament, as the organisers had already spotted what he was up to from security and video footage from the Spanish final and were satisfied they had proof that he had been cheating.
The plan was devilishly simple; Tekintamgac participated in the tournaments as a player and his accomplices infiltrated the press by posing as journalists and photographers.
During the course of play one of Tekintamgac’s partners-in-crime would try to assume an inconspicuous position behind the player who was facing him down.
Then, using the very camera which was ostensibly for reporting on the event, the ‘journalist’ would sneak a peek at the other player’s cards and use various prearranged signals to communicate the required information to Tekintamgac.
Naturally we don’t have access to the security video which the tournament organisers used to detect and later prove the cheating in court, but the following video (from the winning hand at the Spanish WPT Final) will give you a general idea of how the criminal group operated.
As you can see, the man standing in the grey shirt checks the opponent’s cards and gives the info to Tekintamgac, who is hiding behind a pair of sunglasses to make his eye contact with his accomplice less obvious.
The result of the hand itself is also highly suspicious, as Tekintamgac makes a big call holding only Q-5 against his opponent’s 7-8.
Tekintamgac subsequently went on trial in Augsburg, Germany, was found guilty, and he now faces 3 years and 5 months in jail.
One of his main partners in crime, named simply as ‘Dave’ during the trial, managed to avoid incarceration by cooperating with the police and spilling all the dirty details on Ali, which led to the ultimate conviction of his boss.
A third man, Kadir Karabulut, has reportedly been on the run from authorities since March 2013, having participated in similar scams.
So remember kids, bluff as much as you want, but never cheat at the poker table - or else you might end up having to demonstrate your poker face to your fellow inmates in a whole new and more hostile environment!