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Subject: Define Cheating rss

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While browsing through IronMoss's list of what he tries to teach his children through games (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/18061), I came across the one about cheating. I can't imagine that many of us are cheaters when it comes to our games (I get the feeling we get more pleasure out of manipulating the game system than actually winning), but what about when you're accidentally given more information than you should have?

In my comment with that entry, I said something about not looking at people's cards when I get up from the table. If I did, then I would feel like I was cheating. By the same token, if one player is leaning too far forward and I can see his cards, I'll do my best to not get a good look, and let him know that I can see them. But if I chose not to, and chalked it up to him not protecting his cards well enough, is that cheating?

Here's another example: We were playing Medici one day, and at one point in the game, I picked up the card stack before drawing the cards on my turn. When I did that, I accidentally flashed the bottom card in such a way that one of the other players saw what the card was. Of course, no one else at the table KNEW that he had seen the card; in fact, none of us would have ever known if he hadn't said something about "pushing his luck" on the last draw because he knew what the last card would be. A couple of us were a little upset that he did this, and a couple of us even challenged him, saying that he should have let us know as soon as he had seen the card, so we could at least shuffle the remainder of the deck. Was it cheating for him to not say anything to us about it? Or was he just foolish to tell us anything at all about seeing the card?

Then there are the times when a player does something incorrectly in a game, such as throwing out the wrong card in a trick-taking game, or playing the wrong color in Ticket to Ride because he can't distinguish all of the colors. Is it wrong to immediately adapt your play, knowing that one player has the high trump, or where his next placement is going to be?

I'm just curious, because I've played with people who feel differently about these sorts of situations. When is someone cheating, and when is someone just taking advantage of a situation that will benefit him in the game?
 
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castiglione
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My definition of cheating is to do something to gain an advantage which should not be possible assuming the other players are mentally vigilant BUT taking advantage of due to lapses in physical dexterity, i.e. flashing cards, etc., is not cheating; however, in a friendly game among friends, attention should be brought to it.
 
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Charles Smith
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My take is that if you are deliberately doing things outside the accepted rules of the game you are cheating. So if you happen to see someone else's cards, that is just an accident, but if you are trying to see them to gain advantage you are cheating.

I think that in the cases that it can be corrected, like reshuffling the deck you should speak up. But since this is an inner motivation problem, I tend to avoid playing with people who feel winning is more important than playing fair.
 
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Alexander B.
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What I'd do is say, "hey, please don't flash me that bottom card like that". If someone then suggested the deck be shuffled, that is fine. Similarly, "hey, I can see your cards" if I was sitting straight and not accidently leaning, reaching for my lunch or something (in which case I'd try my best not to see anything and probably say nothing if I did just because it doesn't really matter).

For me, there are only two issues with cheating:

1) Unless there is money involved, I really don't care if people cheat or not. That is because I"m playing for fun, and if someone wants to be such a loser and is so in need of thinking that winning means something to cheat, that is in their own twisted world.

That said, if I noticed someone cheating, I doubt I'd play with them again and would indeed think much less of them (feel sorry for them mostly).

2) If I'm playing with people who are so uptight that winning means so much in general that a lot of bickering breaks out around worries about cheating, I'll try and find new opponents. It just isn't fun for me to even think about in my free time.

If money is involved and I catch cheating, that is a lifetime ban from every playing with me again, I'll point it out to everyone, and probably yell at the person. If it was serious cheating, I'd suggest that their entire stake be split among the table whether they like it or not. I also would not try to stop it if some minor physical violence broke out due to this as it is exactly the same as stealing from a friend: about the lowest possible behavior in my book.
 
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I think playing card games for a long time, and telling the same people over and over again "I can see your cards", after a while they know better or should and shouldn't be nagged to tell them constantly. Because when you can see someones cards, you have inside information, and that usually will be more hurtful to the person flaunting his cards carelessly. After a while if you're that person, you'll learn your lesson, and keep those cards tight.

I don't consider it cheating, because if they are in plain sight, it's nearly impossible not to absorb the information you see for just an instant. It's not your carelessness at fault.

I for one when someone gets up to pee, quickly hide my cards from sight. Mostly by habit alone.
 
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Andrew Cullen
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With games cheating has always felt like an empty win. Maybe when I was playing against my sister as a little kid I did, but I know of no adults who would ever cheat to win.

1. If I can see cards I politely inform the person that they are either leaning in such a way that I can see them, or if they lean over hte board and unknowingly flash cards to the table I will inform them. Since it rarely has ever happened again I consider it a non issue, can't think of a time one player has done this a lot so I don't know how I would react.

2. If I saw a bottom card while playing a game I would reshuffle it into the mix, it is unfair knowledge and effects strategy of the table if I know info in a common deck like that, as there is a remedy ie reshuffle the common cards no player should use that accident to their advantage, I wouldn't consider it cheating, they didn't try to do it on purpose but I consider it poor tact for not letting the table know he has the info so it could be fixed.

3. I think it is impossible to try and play differently once an accident has occured...ie I play a Jack of spades instead of my 7 of spades for a trump. People know I have it, life goes on, as long as the whole table gets said knowledge life goes on, accidents happen and I can't think that it is cheating, as this happens rarely I can't see it being an issue more then every once and again.

4. To Clarify from cheating to knowledge, if an ACCIDENT happens, ie miss play, cards leaned to far forward, what have you. Then it happens it happens and life goes on. If there is a table game faux pas like seeing the bottom card, or cards spilling over, things of that nature fix it if you can by reshuffling/informing all players of info if there is not a fix so no one has more knowledge then any other player.

That's my 2cp
 
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castiglione
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Unless there is money involved, I really don't care if people cheat or not. That is because I"m playing for fun, and if someone wants to be such a loser and is so in need of thinking that winning means something to cheat, that is in their own twisted world.

--------------------

Hmmm...to me this is odd. I care if someone is cheating (and I care more if money is involved). Basically, I care to the extent that I would refuse to play with a person who I know to be a cheater.

Even if you're only playing a game for fun, why bother playing if people are cheating? If cheating is going on and you're tolerating it, then you aren't really playing the game in question but a sort of cheating meta-game and if you're going to do that, you might as well settle who wins by smacking everyone over the head with a Louisville slugger.
 
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Alexander B.
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castiglione wrote:
Unless there is money involved, I really don't care if people cheat or not. That is because I"m playing for fun, and if someone wants to be such a loser and is so in need of thinking that winning means something to cheat, that is in their own twisted world.

--------------------

Hmmm...to me this is odd. I care if someone is cheating (and I care more if money is involved). Basically, I care to the extent that I would refuse to play with a person who I know to be a cheater.


Yes, I went on to write that if I caught them cheating, I'd not play with them again. That said, I still really wouldn't care that that HAD cheated in that one game since I don't care much if I win or lose.

My point is that I don't even think about cheating in non-money games. If someone sees my hand by accident, I simply don't care. If they are leaning over and looking, I still don't care, but wouldn't play with them: not because I don't want them to get an advantage that way, but because I don't like to hang-out or interact with people with extremely low self-esteem... it bores me and annoys me to deal with that whole trip.

I have compassion for emotional/social retardation, but that doesn't include my wanting to deal with it in my spare time if I can help it.
 
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John Rodriguez
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I tell people when I see thier cards because if I used that information to win, I personally would feel it wasn't a real win. If I found people looking at my cards and not at least warning me once or twice I probably wouldn't play with them again - because they want to win more than they want to play fair.

Same thing with flashing the deck. I only like to play with people who enjoy the game and the challange of winning - not those who will use a simple mistake to take advantage of other players.

I don't think people who do so are really "cheaters" by the strictst terms... just not people I want to play with.

When people make mistakes and show something they shouldn't I will often take advantage of that info because its pretty hard for me to just "forget" what I saw.
 
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Cheating intentionally breaking the rules/conventions (like not looking at an opponent's cards) of a game. If it is not intentional it is not cheating.

The honorable thing to do is to point out to another player who accidently revealing his cards and do something to help prevent accidental revelation of the card: rotating their seats, etc.

Actions like that prevent the appearance of cheating--which is just as important.

The only person a cheater cheats is himself. And in end being known as a cheater a harsh penalty.

Of course if you play a "cheating game"--where it is allowed and encouraged. Then go ahead. (You'll find their is surprisingly little cheating in a cheating game--everyone watches everyone else like a hawk!)
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IMHO, seeing an exposed card (bottom of deck example) and not speaking up is always cheating if the player alters his play because of it. He has gained additional knowledge and an advantage in the game through no skill or luck within the rules of the game.

Looking at cards when returning to the game table is just as bad. There is some responsibility on the player holding them to protect them, but there is also an expectation that the returning player will make a reasonable effort not to look.

If someone is exposing their own cards, I always point it out to them and try not to look, but there's no way to erase the memory of what is exposed.

If the player continues to flash cards, it gets tricky. I have no problem taking advantage of a careless player who has been warned. However, often this advantage comes at the expense of not just the flasher, but other players as well, who may not have the same amount of information exposed to them. This can really ruin a game for innocent by-standers.

Consider a game of Clue. If Flasher Flo is carelessly passing her cards, even after being warned, I may see a couple key pieces of evidence that another player may not. The cards may as well be in my hand, which throws the balance of the game. Plus, the advantage gained by the player receiving the card is diminished or even negated.

BTW, If someone in our group exposes cards in a deck, we usually re-shuffle. If someone accidently draws and sees an extra card, we either re-shuffle, or sometimes just let it go. It really depends on the game.
 
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Jeff Bakalchuck
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Verkisto wrote:


When is someone cheating, and when is someone just taking advantage of a situation that will benefit him in the game?


Issac:

Whenever the subject of cheating at boardgames comes up, I always think of the game of Bridge. Back in 1986 the American Contract Bridge League(ACBL) , which is the governing body of tournament bridge in North America, published a code of Active Ethics. The idea was that Bridge would be a better game if players actively tried to make the game more equitable. Unlike most board games, bridge has 100+ pages of laws and rules, and has specific penalties for rules infractions. This, however, wasn't enough.

If anyone would like to read the full code of active ethics, it is at:
http://www.acbl.org/play/activeEthics.html

The code has 4 major principles:
# Principle of Full Disclosure
# Social Behavior
# Slow Play
# Statement on Conventions

Of these, the 1st best covers the situation you describe. The code opens with the following:

The philosophy of active ethics tells us that winners should be determined solely by skill, flair and normal playing luck. Actively ethical partnerships take pains to ensure that their opponents are fully informed.

A major tenet of active ethics is the principle of full disclosure. This means that all information available to your partnership must be made available to your opponents.


 
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John So-And-So
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I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it.
 
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To me it comes down to your motivation for playing the game. Cheaters are usually focused on winning and gain satisfaction from winning no matter how they came by that win. Winning by gaining an unfair advantage doesn't feel empty to these people because all they care about is the fact that they won.

If your motivation is to make the best decisions that you can, and employ solid planning and tactics to strategize a victory then cheating is out of the question. People who gain satisfaction out of carrying out a solid strategy would not feel like they won by stealing extra resources or victory points or peeking at secret information.

Personally I think that any person who reaches adulthood and still cheats is pathological and if you catch them you should ban them from your group because they will never stop.
 
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CapAp wrote:
I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it.


 
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Yep, I always feel cheated if I see someone elses cards. I also feel compelled to play in such a way as if I were not aware of that information, which can lead to me overcompensating sometimes.

Aside: when playing bridge long ago, my partner would arrange his hand, bid, then shiffle his cards just before the play began, so opponents couldn't infer anything from his card order. This is a subtle case, and I have found folks arguing about whether inferring this kind of information is cheating or part of the game. Personall, I wouldn't use this information consciously, but I'm not sure what my subconscious may be up to!
 
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The rules of a game specify how a win is to be achieved, and anything done deliberately to win in any other way is cheating. Whether it's peeking at information that is supposed to be secret, or moving pieces around when other players aren't looking, or making 'deals' with other players in a non-negociation game, if it isn't spelled out in the rules as a legitimate way to win, it's cheating.

As for accidents that reveal information, correct it if possible or give the information to everyone and get everyone's agreement on what to do about it. Deliberately using the accident to advantage without the other players knowing about it and agreeing to it is cheating. "I saw his cards." "That's ok, let's finish the hand." No problem. Seeing someone's cards and saying nothing is probably cheating.

Sometimes giving the information to everyone is not good enough. Say for example that the Gold card gets turned up in Saboteur so everyone knows where it is. You may as well throw in the whole round. Or if a hidden marker got turned up in a 'treasure hunt' game so now everyone knows there's nothing of value in that location, but only one person had access to it anyway. I'd call it fair if the other players required him to waste time going there and flipping over the useless tile. The solution, as I said, is to get everyone's agreement on what to do about it.
 
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mrraow wrote:
Aside: when playing bridge long ago, my partner would arrange his hand, bid, then shiffle his cards just before the play began, so opponents couldn't infer anything from his card order. This is a subtle case, and I have found folks arguing about whether inferring this kind of information is cheating or part of the game. Personall, I wouldn't use this information consciously, but I'm not sure what my subconscious may be up to!

This brings up an interesting question... Obviously metagaming (to a degree) isn't cheating, but to what degree does it give a palyer information about the game state that was not intended to be gained according to the rules?

For example, when playing cribbage against my mon, she ALWAYS says something like "I hate to give you this" when giving me cards for my crib that total 15, and almost always those cards are a 5 and a value 10 card. Am I cheating if I dump a few 5's or a few 10's or one of each on my own crib? It's clearly not stated in the rules that I can't.

The question is when does taking advantage of a situtaion become cheating? If someone flashes me their cards by accident, I'm with the crowd that warns that person and tries not to see any cards. I'm also in the crowd that can play as if I hadn't seen their cards. But what about meta-information?

Aside: As a child, I used to cheat sometimes (I guess to see if I could get away with it). The easiest way to cheat against most of my family was to see the reflection of their cards in their glasses (I was the only one that didn't wear glasses).

If they didn't hold them tight enough for me to see a reflection, I'd tell them that their cards were showing (when they weren't) so they'd hold them tighter. (Sorry, bro, it was a sickness... I couldn't help it!)
 
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Jeff Bakalchuck
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mrraow wrote:
Yep, I always feel cheated if I see someone elses cards. I also feel compelled to play in such a way as if I were not aware of that information, which can lead to me overcompensating sometimes.

Aside: when playing bridge long ago, my partner would arrange his hand, bid, then shiffle his cards just before the play began, so opponents couldn't infer anything from his card order. This is a subtle case, and I have found folks arguing about whether inferring this kind of information is cheating or part of the game. Personall, I wouldn't use this information consciously, but I'm not sure what my subconscious may be up to!


In bridge it is a clear rule violation(thus cheating)

Law 74C Breaches of Propriety:

Looking intently at any other player during the auction and play, or at another player's hand as for the purpose of seeing his cards or of observing the place from which he draws a card(It is appropriate to act on information acquired by inadvertently seeing an opponent's card).

One note, it is legal to use information acquired from inadvertently seeing an opponent's card after the auction begins. If this seeing occurs before the auction begins, then it is considered "unauthorized information" under Law 16B.

If it's your partner's cards you see, then making a play based on that "unauthorized information" would be illegal.

 
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I cheated at a game of Monopoly last weekend, in fact, I also helped another player cheat at Monopoly.

And now I'll tell you why.

I work at a residential treatment facility for troubled boys. Typical age range is from 9 to 15. Two of the clients wanted to play Monopoly and so I and another staff agreed to play with them. Due to staffing and facility design, we played in the front room where we could keep an eye on the other clients while they watched TV and did other things.

Now, things went fine for a couple of turns and everyone played a straight game. (Yes, even with the correct rules.) Then, the TV became interesting to the clients and things deteriorated. We began having to remind the clients to take their turns as they came up. The banker was a client and frequently had to be asked to pay attention and hand out money or make change when it was asked for. In short, their focus and concentration was not on the game they had asked us to play.

So, after 20 minutes of constant reminders that they were playing a game and should pay attention to it, we staff stopped reminding them. When their turns came around, we waited a few seconds for them to take it, and when they did not, we simply skipped them and took our own turns. Sometimes this would occur 4 or 5 times in a row before a commercial came on and they would look at the board again. If we were buying houses, we'd buy one or two more than we could afford and place them on the board anyway. We snuck money out of the bank in wildly outrageous amounts. In short everything a cheating Monopoly player could do, we did. At no time did they ever notice what was going on even though when they did look at the board it would be completely different than the last time they looked.

Okay, I can hear some of you saying "That's no excuse, you should still play fair." Well, yes, you should play fair no matter what the circumstances. But (and you knew there would be one), we look for teachable moments and opportunities to teach these kids appropriate social skills and behaviors. This game of Monopoly provided some distinct opportunities to achieve those goals.

If you invite someone to do something, have the courtesy to remain interested in it and pay attention.

You will open yourself up to being taken advantage of if you do not pay attention to what you are doing. (And that's a big one for these kids.)

If you want to be successful in something (win a game for example) you will have a much higher chance of success if you focus on what you are doing.

At the end of the game, we talked about why staff was able to do what they did and how that made the clients feel as well as how staff might have felt. Then we asked them what they could have done differently.

So yeah, I cheated at Monopoly. I cheated to teach.
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Verkisto wrote:
But if I chose not to, and chalked it up to him not protecting his cards well enough, is that cheating?


Yes, it is cheating to get information outside of normal game play and not reveal that you have it. This is a misdemeanor form of cheating, not felony cheating. Felony cheating would be picking up their cards and looking at them while they are in the bathroom.

Verkisto wrote:
Was it cheating for him to not say anything to us about it? Or was he just foolish to tell us anything at all about seeing the card?


Yes, misdemeanor cheating again.

Verkisto wrote:
Then there are the times when a player does something incorrectly in a game, such as throwing out the wrong card in a trick-taking game, or playing the wrong color in Ticket to Ride because he can't distinguish all of the colors. Is it wrong to immediately adapt your play, knowing that one player has the high trump, or where his next placement is going to be?


No. This is not cheating, but is negligence. You cannot be prosecuted for this, but you can be taken to civil gamer court for redress. For example, if someone is sufficiently upset, they can declare the hand null and void and all results are taken back and done over. Often, parties reach an out of court settlement and continue with play as normal.

Verkisto wrote:
I'm just curious, because I've played with people who feel differently about these sorts of situations. When is someone cheating, and when is someone just taking advantage of a situation that will benefit him in the game?


You are cheating when you take or get unfair advantage over your fellow players in the game using methods outside the defined context of the game. It is a form of cheating to bribe someone into throwing their turn in exchange for cookies. It is a form of cheating to steal money from the bank when no one is looking. It is a form of cheating to stack a deck of cards, re-roll dice, or use a lucky peek at an opponent's cards.
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Issac,
The guy who saw the card cheated.
Are you going to play games with him again?
 
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SiskNY wrote:
This brings up an interesting question... Obviously metagaming (to a degree) isn't cheating, but to what degree does it give a player information about the game state that was not intended to be gained according to the rules?


Tipping your hand is also a form of cheating. Giving or receiving information outside the normal context of the game is cheating. Circumstances of the case in question must be used to decide the difference between misdemeanor and felony cheating.

There is a metagaming problem, however. If it is understood among the people present that duplicitous talk and wheeling and dealing are acceptable in the general context of game play, then it is acceptable to engage in such. This can be considered the "mutual consent" clause in the law of cheating.

For example, the core rules of Illuminati specifically provide for rules dealing with people cheating. ("If you get caught stealing extra money tokens, you have to put them back.") Thus, it is implicitly part of the game to attempt to cheat. However, this is still a sensitive topic and the game rules recognize this by making an optional rule to allow cheating.

A further example; you and your friends are playing Risk. A friend announces he will attack your position. You tell him that you will relentlessly seek revenge against him in the game if he should dare to assault your borders. Perhaps you even hint that you have a matching set of cards for extra armies that you will use to fuel your revenge (although explicitly showing those cards would be wrong). This type of negotiation is not cheating as it is a social interaction in the context of the game. Telling the attacker he may no longer be invited to play games at your house if he attacks you would probably be felony cheating, however.

{cue dramatic music and patriotic gamer flag waving}

Friends, the true gamer, that person whose heart and soul are uplifted through engaging others in the play of a game, these people will never cheat. For the true gamer knows that the joy of the game is in the playing, not the winning. And cheating ruins playing. You will know yourself as a true gamer when you can graciously accept a loss as easily as a win, never consider cheating, and share the love of games with others of all creeds and nations. Thank you.

This message paid for by the True Gamer Society.

{fade to black}
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Joe Geerkin
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I think your Medici example borders on cheating, if he changed his strategy based on that information.

I don't think I'd accuse anyone of cheating, however, unless I saw a pattern of it. Does your Medici player do this all time? He might just not take the game as seriously as the others and thought it was no big deal that he saw the card.

I think it's hard to play games for 4-5 hours without something this this happening. Plus, people forget minor rules, draw from the wrong deck by accident,play out of turn, etc, not because they are trying to cheat but because they just made a dumb mistake.
 
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Eric Nielsen
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rri1 wrote:
Cheating intentionally breaking the rules/conventions (like not looking at an opponent's cards) of a game. If it is not intentional it is not cheating.


Intent is irrelevant. Consider this situation:

You are the banker in a game of $game_with_money. Accidentally, you drop a payment to the bank into your own stack. By the time you realize your error, you have already spent your windfall.

If you did not halt the game and explain the situation once you realized the error, I would consider that just as bad as skimming money straight from the bank.

When honest mistakes disrupt a game, I will gladly agree to creative solutions to keep the game going, even if they go well outside the formal rules, but anything short of open and complete disclosure I would consider cheating.

To me, a cheater is the type of player who, when seeing an illegal move by an opponent, first considers if it benefits his position before speaking up. Cheating is a mentality. I don't care if you can control it or not. I'd simply rather play with someone else.
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