In many casino games a player is often forced to make decisions based on incomplete information. In Blackjack, for example, the dealer has one face down, and one face up card. The face down card is hidden information, and requires that the player place bets based on not knowing what that card is. This is by design, and part of what makes the games so fun and interesting.
The term ‘hole carding’ refers to a type of cheating in which a player learns the value of a hidden card and uses it to gain an upper hand against the house. Seeing this card is, of course, cheating, and as such a ‘hole carder’ could find themselves ejected from a casino.
Thankfully in the world of online casinos seeing a hole card is virtually impossible. In land base establishments, however, hole carding is still a problem.
How Does It Work?
Some who intentionally look for an artificial advantage over the house are known to go from Blackjack table to Blackjack table, looking for a poorly trained dealer. It is rumoured that as many as 200 dealers will be studied in various casino establishments, in attempt to find one that handles his or her cards poorly.
A badly trained dealer will peel a card up off the table surface in order to take a peek at what the card is. This is generally done to see if a hand is a Blackjack, prior to officially turning the face down card upwards at the end of a round. When this badly handled peek is performed, by extension, someone sitting in the correct position might also be able to steal a glance of the card.
Someone who knows the value of the dealer’s face down card may use the information as an advantage, and make bets according to information that is supposed to be hidden.
Which Games Is Hole Carding Possible In?
There are a few games that use a ‘hidden information’ system, and all can therefore be the victim of hole carding scammers. The most popular, and obvious, is Blackjack. By knowing what a facedown card is in advance, a cheater can gain as much as a 13% unnatural advantage over the house.
A similar situation exists in Caribbean Stud Poker. The dealer will have one card face up, and four cards face down. Although there is no instance in which the dealer is required to peek at the card, it is still possible for a poorly trained dealer to unintentionally flash the cards when drawing them from the card shoe.
Mississippi Stud Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Three Card Poker also have face down cards that can potentially be spotted.
Of course, as already said, it is not only unlikely that a dealer is badly trained enough to allow this to happen, but it also only ever occurs in land based establishments. Even still, some cheaters have an entire community based around stealing glances of cards, and using it to their advantage.