I've gotten behind on my Pokerati reading, trying to catch up today. The above photo (and two more nearly identical to it) accompanied this post from a few days ago:
Attempted Cheater Caught on Tape
These shots were taken on Day 2 [of the World Series of Poker Main Event],
and they show the player sitting to Pat Poels’ left trying to sneak a peak at
his hole cards. I told Pat about this, btw, and like Tommy Grand or Joey Greco,
I showed him the surveillance footage of the disappointing truth.
“It’s better that you know,” I told him.
But Pat reassured me that it’s OK, his opponent didn’t see anything,
because “I’m very good at looking at my cards,” he said with a straight face as
if he were being totally serious about a practiced skill. “Just ask Robert, he’s
told me before when trying to sweat me he can’t see my cards.”
Pat is currently on break in Day 4 of the main event — 450k in chips with
350 players remaining, one of whom is not the guy at right.
Posted by DanM at 4:04 pm
I have some problems with this.
First, I'm guessing that the phrase "surveillance footage" is tongue in cheek. I assume that DanM doesn't have access to actual Rio surveillance cameras. I also doubt that the Rio has any of its security cameras situated at an angle that low.
Second, even if we assume that the guy pictured is attempting to sneak a peek at Pat Poels's hole cards, that is not cheating (a point which, the instant post's headline notwithstanding, DanM conceded in a follow-up post the next day). I think it's scummy, and I do just about anything I reasonably can do to avoid the situation (as I've detailed here), but it's not cheating.
Third, I don't think it's at all clear that the man pictured is attempting to look at another player's card. Sure, that's possible, but it's also possible that his gaze is actually somewhere else, for example, watching the hands of the player to Poels's right. I tend to watch other players' hands much more than their faces. This is for several reasons: (1) I think that hands give off as much information as faces do, and maybe more. (2) It's less confrontational than looking at others right in the eye. (3) It's a lot easier to follow the action and know when it's my turn by watching the movement of chips and cards.
This practice of mine means that if the player to my right, or the one two to my right, has a habit of not looking at his hole cards until it's his turn to act (a common thing), then I'm nearly always going to be looking right there while he's checking his cards. It might appear that I'm trying to sneak a peek, but either these players are ones who already know how to block views--intentional or otherwise--or it's a problem that I've already dealt with. In other words, if looking at his hands is giving me a look at his cards, I'll handle that in some manner. In fact, when it's an issue, I usually explain to the player that I have to be looking right there so that I know when he has acted and it is my turn.
All of which is a long way of saying that the guy in the photo could be completely innocent, doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing in order to follow the bets and folds. I therefore disapprove of the rush to judgment, as if something nefarious is the only possible explanation for where his gaze appears to be. Yeah, maybe he's a low-life cheating scum-sucker, but this photo is awfully weak evidence for such an accusation. I can easily imagine myself being caught in an identical posture, having neither done nor even attempted anything the least bit shady.