This has been troubling me for some time now and I think I finally dug up the reason why poker rooms insist that a player have their hole cards covered, be it by use of poker card protectors or a poker chip. The reason is simple, it protects the poker room from collusion on the part of poker players. Think about it, let’s say that there are two players working together at the table. If player one folds his cards on top of player two’s cards then player two can quickly switch out one of player one’s cards with his own giving him a stronger hand.
Chip signaling is a popular way to give your partner an idea of the strength of your hand. Let’s say player two signals to player one that he has an ace with a weak kicker. Player one also has an ace with a weak kicker. Player one folds his cards over to player two, allowing player two to switch out his kicker with player one’s ace. Now player two has pocket aces, a much stronger hand.
The card rooms must protect their game from cheaters and insisting that players use some sort of card cover ensures that this kind of cheating cannot take place. What happens nowadays if a player folds his cards on top of another players who isn’t using a card cover? The player who was still in the hand not using the card protector must now fold as well. It doesn’t matter how great of a hand that player had or whether or not the sloppy fold was intentional, all four cards go into the muck.
While deck manipulation and chip signaling can still occur during a game, the trading out of hands cannot if all players must keep their hand protected at all times while in the hand. Deck manipulation can be easy to spot if you know what to look for, as can chip signaling. Chip signaling is when a player puts a certain color chip, or combination of chips on top of his hole cards to signal to his partner the strength of his hand.
While cheating will always exist when there’s money on the table, rules have been put in place to try and control the game to ensure no one is cheated. Most poker rooms use automatic shufflers nowadays to ensure a proper shuffle. The eye in the sky keeps an eye out for chip signaling and other various misdeeds.
Nowadays poker card guards are becoming more popular simply to give you that “unique” look at the table. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, materials, and weights. Just like the sunglass and hockey jersey craze card protectors are all the rage. They also make for a great conversation starter when you sit down at the poker table. So which poker card protector is right for you? Well you could always just use one of your poker chips but that’s not as fun.