How do you prevent yourself from being cheated? What can you do about it? Check out this article!
04/01/2015 by David Hochmann
“I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.”
How do you prevent yourself from being cheated?
The problem is that not everyone thinks about cheating in that way and some people just want to win by all means. So, while playing a card game competitively, you will have to face people who are trying gain an unfair advantage.
“But what can I do about it?”
That is the question I am trying to answer in this article.
Table of contents
The official Pokemon Penalty Guidelines say:
“Cheating Players who intentionally commit infractions are looking to gain an unfair advantage over other players at the event. The Head Judge should carefully consider whether an infraction was intentional or not before applying this penalty. If the Head Judge feels that an infraction was unintentional, this penalty should not be applied.
Examples of Unsporting Conduct: Cheating include:
- Drawing extra cards.
- Taking cards from the discard pile and adding them to your hand or deck.
- Offering some form of compensation to an opponent for a concession.
- Altering match results after the conclusion of the match.
- Playing with marked cards.
- Lying to event staff.
- Arbitrarily adjusting the Special Conditions or damage counters put on any Pokémon in play.
- Use of dubious game actions intended to deceive your opponent into making misplays.
- Attempting to manipulate a random result.
- Stacking your deck.”
So besides some examples, we don't really get a good definition of what is considered cheating, but we do know now that cheating players are people who intentionally commit infractions and that these people are looking to gain an unfair advantage over other players.
The first thing I want to focus on, is that these infractions have to be “intentional”. From my personal experience, I can say that every player makes mistakes: drawing 6 instead of 5 cards after an N, placing the wrong amount of damage counters amongst others.
Often it's easy to tell if something was intentional or not, but in some situations it's very hard.
Please keep in mind that in the following article I don't care if something was intentional or not, but writing “someone who cheats” is just easier to read than being politically correct and having to write: “someone who is committing an infraction which gives him an advantage over other players” every time.
Lying is one of the easiest, but one of the shadiest ways of cheating. There are a lot of situations where lying can get you an advantage, but usually people don't get away with this.
- if a supporter or an energy card was already played that turn or not
- effects of cards
- who won a game or match
- which face of the coin was chosen at the beginning of the game
- game play errors
- the game state
Preventing this is impossible and dealing with it can be very annoying. The best thing you can do is calling a judge and being attentive during the whole game. When you are able to explain the situation like it actually happened, usually everything turns out fine. Once I witnessed a situation where a person took a dice off a Pokemon without his opponent noticing. But when he announced the attack, the opponent saw that the damage was incorrect and called the judge. The judge asked how the exact amount of damage was done to the Pokemon and the guy cheating simply answered that he didn’t remember. However his opponent was able to explain how the Pokemon got damaged and the judge believed him. Just call the judge every time when these things happen and you can't agree with your opponent.
Another important tip is: When a game is finished, don't pack up your cards until the result was written on the match slip. After a game in a best out of three match, there are three little numbers under each players name on the slip, you can mark who won which game. Please use them. After the last game, wait until your opponent signed the paper.
If you think a card has another effect than your opponent uses it for, just call the judge.
You shuffle a lot in this game. At least, once or twice every turn (potentially even more). However, everyone knows that you can gain an unfair advantage by shuffling in a way where the cards aren't random and they are forced to be in a certain place.
Here are the some of the most common ways to shuffle plus a short description on how this way of shuffling affects the position of the cards.
- Pile Shuffle
This is very easy, you make 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 piles and then start putting your cards on to those piles, after this you put the piles on top of each other again. Most players use 6, 7, or 8 piles, but you should go for 7 piles, since 6 is dividable by 60 and 8 is an even amount, so 7 isn't likely to create a pattern.
The problem with this shuffle is that the order of the cards follow the same pattern each time, so you predict where the cards will end up. This allows you to prepare your deck so the cards will end up in the order you want. You can see this in the GIF below. Because of this, you need to shuffle your deck afterward using another method. The advantage of the pile shuffle is that groups of cards are being separated. When you have 4 DCEs on top of each other, for example, after 6 pile shuffling your deck there will be 9 other cards between the DCEs. This is the reason, why just pile shuffling your deck is in fact stacking.
- Overhand Shuffle
This is what most people do during the game, you just throw a few cards from top of the deck into your other hand and then throw some some cards from top of your deck on top of the new pile. This shuffle alone isn't enough, although the position of the cards changes, the groups don't get separated. So, when there is a Seismitoad EX on top of every DCE, chances are very high that they still are stacked that way after shuffling your deck during this method. You need to combine this shuffle with another method.
- Hindu Shuffle
This is pretty much the same as the Overhand Shuffle, but it looks a little bit different.
- Weave Shuffle
This is when you take approximately half of your deck and put it into the other half like shown below. This is one of the best ways to shuffle, if your repeat it often. When you do it only a few times, groups of cards will be separated, but the position of the top 10 cards usually stays about the same. So while performing a Weave Shuffle, you should do a few Overhand or Hindu Shuffles.
- Riffle Shuffle
Technically the same thing as the Weave Shuffle, but the way you put the two halves into each other is slightly different.
Of course there are other ways to riffle your deck, but you should look out that your opponent isn't able to see the cards like shown below.
As you can see there is a lot someone can do wrong. My advice is: Look at your opponents deck while he shuffles. You aren't allowed to look at your own deck anyways so that shouldn't be a problem. When they don't shuffle sufficiently, just take their deck and shuffle it. When they only used a Hindu or Overhand Shuffle, use a Weave or Riffle Shuffle and the other way around.
Otherwise just cut their decks. Ensure that you do not to cut the deck at the same place every time. Do not take the upper half all the time, but take the upper quarter sometimes or the lower quarter. It isn't that hard to shuffle a card to a certain position in the deck.
Another thing, pile shuffle your opponents deck before the first game. While doing this there are a few things that you can fix. Especially look out for:
- upside down cards
When certain cards are upside down, they are marked. This is bad because when your opponent cuts his deck, he can put the flipped card on top. Another advantage might be that a group of cards is marked, for example, supporter cards, when placing the flipped card as prize cards. This allows the player to recognise which cards are supporters and gives him the opportunity to take a certain prize card when he didn't have a supporter of example. This works for cards like G Booster as well.
- marked cards
When there are a few sleeves that are very easy to spot, you can just ask your opponent to replace them.
- not 60 cards
Often people forget their stadium cards or things like Head Ringer and start the round with less than 60 cards. I never believed that someone would ever do this on purpose, however I heard there was someone playing more than 60 in his deck, so Pile Shuffling just makes sure the deck is correct.
- most stacking vanishes
When someone stacks his deck, after a Pile Shuffle the cards should be randomized again.
Drawing 2 instead of 1 card at the beginning of the turn is a huge advantage. There are plenty ways of getting an extra card, but these are the methods mostly used:
It might sound very obvious, but a lot of people just take 2 cards at once. This is very easy when you aren't able to see the thumb of your opponent. There is a rule saying that the deck has to be facing north. Then the player's thumb should be located at the long side of the deck so that both player get a good view of what is going on.
Another thing you should look at is that the cards of your opponent’s deck are always in a neat pile, especially the top cards. When there is space between the cards it's easier to take two at once. Refrain your opponent from putting their hand on top of their deck when it's still your turn.
If you ensure your opponent draws cards this way you should be fine. Here are some examples to show how hard it is to see how many cards your opponent draws when the rules above aren't used.
The Bottom Draw was one of the things I became aware of at a Judge exam, and I was astonished how hard it is to notice if someone is doing it. When you do this, you put your thumb under your deck and the other fingers on top of the deck. Then you just take the top and the bottom card of the deck. When done very fast it's nearly impossible to see, there is a GIF below showing the move.
The is important that the thumb needs to be under the deck, this is usually done when you hand your opponent their deck after he played an N or Colress, they take the deck and then perform the Bottom Draw for the first two cards and then usually draw until they have the right number of cards in their hand. The advantage is that when they know the bottom card is useful they can get it. Drawing two cards at the beginning of the turn is possible, but I don't really think anyone would do this.
The easy solution is that you just need to ensure that the deck is on the table before they start drawing.
Knocked Out Pokemon Trick
This one is very nasty and I saw it on a life stream once (I don't remember when and where). When you knock out your opponent's active Pokemon, there is a moment without him having an active Pokemon and you draw your prize card. In this moment your opponent just draws a card. When you don't see this, they put their Pokemon active and draw another card.
But when you see it you need to call a judge. This is important and you should do it even when the information from knowing the top card doesn't matter in the situation. And beside that it shows you are a bit more attentive.
The Ace in the Hole
Not just Archie, but pretty much everyone can have an ace in the hole, or on their lap or under their shoes or where ever. Just check if the amount of cards is correct after your opponent dropped his hand and after the game you can check the total amount of his cards.
If you want to ensure to draw the right amount of cards, just draw your cards like this: You don't take too much cards if cards are sticking together and your opponent has time to tell if you took too much cards.
Ask your opponent how many hand cards they have regulary and check if it fits with what happened, this will make your opponent be aware of being spottet if he takes too many cards.
In case you didn't know, here is what the official rules say about Dices and Coins:
Players are permitted to use two types of randomizers during a Pokémon TCG match: coins or dice. Players are always permitted to use their opponent’s randomizer. A head judge may choose to disallow any randomizer if there is reason to believe that the randomizer is unsuitable based on the criteria below.
- Any coin released with any Pokémon TCG product from EX Ruby & Sapphire on should be considered fair and impartial.
- Any other coin (such as local currency) brought by a player to be used as a randomizer must be approved by both players. Players should consider whether or not the coin in question is light enough not to damage or mark cards it lands on and whether or not heads or tails can be determine at a glance.
- When flipped, a coin should be held at shoulder height, and fully rotate at least three times before landing on the table.
- Coins should land as flat on the table as possible. If both players cannot agree on the result of the flip, a judge may be called to determine whether the result is conclusive or if the coin must be flipped again.
- Coin flips that land outside the playing area (off of the table or in another game’s playing area) are considered invalid and must be flipped again.
- Once players have agreed on the result of a coin flip, it cannot be redone.
- Once a judge has ruled that a result is conclusive, it cannot be redone.
- 6-sided dice are permitted for use as randomizers, so long as each die is a cube, where each side has the same surface area.
- Dice must have well-rounded corners to ensure that they roll on the playing surface.
- Dice should be of an appropriate size that the result can easily be understood by both the players and the judges. This includes size and lettering or numbering on the die.
- One side may have custom-precision etching in place of the 1 or the 6 as long as all custom dice being used by that player have the same side customized and both players approve the use of the die.
- The numbers or pips on the opposite sides of the die must add up to 7 (i.e., 1 must be opposite of 6). A custom-etched side uses the number replaced when determining if the opposite sides add up to 7.
- Dice used as randomizers must be transparent or translucent.
- When rolling a die, the player should shake the die in an open, cupped palm so that both players can see the die bouncing around in the player’s hand. The die should then be rolled along the table in a manner that forces it to bounce several times before stopping. Alternately, the die can be flipped into the air from shoulder height, so that it spins at least three times before landing.
- Dice used as randomizers must be clearly distinguishable, either in size, color, or marking, from dice being used as damage counters by either player.
I highlighted the most important facts, however there isn't much I need to say about it. When there is something wrong with the dice, just ask your opponent to use another one and when you think his flip wasn't done the right way, just ask him to re-do it and call the judge if he refuses.
Even though it's very easy not to fall for it, it happens quite often. This includes things like playing VS Seeker or Random Receiver for N and you shuffle your hand into your deck, and then your opponent tells you that he never intended to play the card and you get a game loss. Another example I had during testing last weekend was that I played a VS Seeker and announced I would take Lysandre’s Trump Card, my opponent shuffled his discard pile into his deck, but my Trump Card wasn't in the discard pile.
So the only advice I can give you is:
When you think that your opponent plays a card, just ask if he did play the card. And when there are cards like N or Trump Card played wait for your opponent to shuffle the cards in and then ask again.
One of the most annoying things can be rushing opponents. Here is what the Penalty Guidelines say about it:
Rushing involves a player trying to get his or her opponent to play faster. This can cause the opponent to lose his or her concentration, making the player more likely to make a mistake. Rushing is often a symptom of an opponent’s Slow Play, but it can also occur when a player is excited to get to his or her next turn.
Examples of Game Tempo: Rushing include:
- Placing your hand near your deck to draw a card during an opponent’s turn, indicating that you are ready to start your turn.
- Making exasperated noises or comments regarding your opponent’s actions.
- Rushing through your opponent’s attack step by putting damage on your Pokemon before your opponent announces which attack is being used, or the total damage being done to the Defending Pokemon.
Rushing is more unsporting than cheating, but both should be prevented to ensure the spirit of the game. One thing that isn't mentioned is that your opponent might rush because there isn't a lot of time left and he doesn't want the game to end in a tie.
Another example is, when your opponent asks you frequently if it's his turn already. The best way to deal with rushing is just telling your opponent to calm down and if he continues just call a judge.
It is worth mentioning that "Placing your hand near your deck [...] during an opponent’s turn" is considered illegal and like I said in the drawing extra cards section, you should call a judge and your opponent might get a penalty if he already did this.
And once again I will just quote the Penalty Guidelines:
7.4.1. Slow Play
Players should take care to play in a manner that keeps the game pace lively, regardless of the complexity of the situation. A player who takes too long to make decisions about game play runs the risk of putting his or her opponent at a disadvantage due to the round’s time limit. In addition to the recommended penalty, the judge may issue a time extension to offset this disadvantage. Slow play penalties should escalate at a faster rate than other penalties, but should not exceed a Prize Card penalty.
Examples of Game Tempo: Slow Play include:
- You are excessively slow when deciding which Pokemon to attach an Energy card to.
- You take an unreasonable amount of time deciding which Basic Pokemon to take from your deck after playing a Poke Ball card.
- Counting or searching your (or your opponent’s) deck or discard pile more than once in a short time period.
- Repeatedly searching your deck, hand, or discard pile while performing a card effect.
- Attempting to engage in extraneous conversation that interferes with timely play.
All of these examples are important, but what most people forget is that checking your hand more than once while playing a card like Battle Compressor is considered slow play, so you should think ahead when deciding what to do and you should practice your recognition skills.
When you think your opponent is slow playing, tell him. Pretty much ever player will play a bit faster after being told. If your opponent starts playing slower again just say something like “please make a decision now” and when they still take too much time call the judge.
The problem most people have is that they fear losing time when calling a judge, because you don't get a time extension when you called the judge for slow playing. The sad truth is that you actually do lose time when you call a judge, so you should try to fix the problem on your own. However do not rush your opponent unnecessarily and you should still call the judge if your opponent doesn't take up pace and since “Slow play penalties should escalate at a faster rate than other penalties” there is a good chance of getting this sorted.
Another important piece of advice from me is: Don't be a d*ck
I faced some very impertinent people and please don't become one of these. If your opponent takes a bit more time searching their deck for the first time, just let them. If your opponent took 5 seconds for most of the moves during the game and then takes about 30 seconds for a difficult decision, please don't interrupt them. There is one very important thing in the Pokemon Card game called “Spirit of the Game” and this includes being fair and not being overly attached to the written rules.
Even though it's very hard to be attentive the whole time and keep an eye on all the things I've mentioned, you should try to follow my advice.
Since Pokemon is a Card Game mainly to have fun, I don't really get why people would cheat each other. If they are after the prizes there are much better ways to earn money. If they are after the fame, how can one be pleased by winning while scamming other people? If you don't like the luck factor in the game, you should try games like Star-craft or LOL. The most important thing is having fun with all the other people who share the same hobby as you.
Another thing I need to repeat is that a lot of the situations in which a player makes a mistake, might be considered a cheat, are just mistakes which weren't intended. Let's be honest we get up at 7:00 am to get to a tournament starting at 11 am, which lasts until midnight and then getting up the next morning at 7:00 again to play day two, at least I am very tired during these events and I believe pretty much everyone is.
I've doing this “overly attentive” stuff for a while now and what I found interesting that some people actually became kind of angry when I started pile shuffling their decks. For some reason some people don't like going after the rules this way, but I don't care to be honest.
If you didn't want to read the whole article or just want the things to watch out for again, here is a list of the most important things:
- Pile Shuffle your opponent's deck at the beginning of the match
- Shuffle or cut your opponent's deck
- Make sure your opponent's deck is facing north
- Make sure your opponent draws cards in a proper manner
- Look what your opponent is doing
- Wait for your opponent and ask before performing cards like N or Lysandre’s Trump Card
- Call the judge if your opponent is rushing you
- Try to fix problems on your own when your opponent is playing very slow, but call the judge if he repeats doing this
- Don't be a D*ck
- Have fun
Thank you fro reading. If I forgot something or you have any advice to share with the world feel free to comment.
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