Poker And The Art Of The Heart Attack Scam

2 weeks ago
Poker And The Art Of The Heart Attack Scam
08:58
22 Jun

How do you scam poker players who seemingly know every trick in the book? Fake a heart attack as part of the con! That’s what the Real Hustle crew did as an experiment, and it worked to perfection

The history of poker has shown there are a hundred ways to cheat, and with it a hundred ways to get caught – though as we’ve seen recently the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime.

Setting up a private game has long been a favourite of the scamsters, with seemingly easy-money at the table for the poker sharks.

For the ‘Real Hustle’ team, that meant throwing in a couple of fish with deep pockets as bait.

The ‘fake’ duo buying and re-buying in cold, hard cash was the ‘smoke’ required to put the ‘marks’ at ease – and get them sniffing blood and greenbacks rather than something altogether fishier.

As the evening in the plush rented suite wore on, there needed to be a way to get the team out of the game – with all the hard-earned money of course.

That’s where the fake heart attack came in – one of the scammers pretending to be breathless and ill and the other helping them outside for air.


The rest of the players were so keen to get back to the game that they had already missed the point of the scam.

After all, all the buy-in cash was in a clearly visible lockbox guarded by the waitress-cum-cashier wasn’t it? Exactly so, but the ‘heart attack’ commotion had allowed her to swap the box for an identical one, without the money of course.

This sleight-of-hand was followed by the old ‘drinks anyone? I’ll just grab some more ice’, and with that the ice bucket and the real lockbox full of money left the room, with no-one any the wiser.

Simple, effective, and very lucrative!

Of course, this wasn’t a real scam – the point was to show hardened poker players just how easy it is to fool even those who are wary of such things.

Time for the show’s producer to enter and explain to the now-raging players exactly how they’d been taken for a ride – and hand back their money of course.

The moral of the story? If things are too good to be true, they probably are – so keep your eyes on the ice bucket!


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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