**Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Slamfist Media or any of the other Authors.**
I never thought I would have to write this article. I never thought I would have this happen to me. Awareness is not the same thing as experience. Hearing stories can’t compare to living it. I was cheated, but I caught him.
It was during round three of a weekly free Modern event at my favorite Local Gaming Store. We were moving to game two after a grueling game one that saw well over half of the round’s 50 minutes expire. Having lost the first game, I was acutely aware of the remaining time I had to come back and win the next two games. After sideboarding, my opponent begins pile shuffling, a long shuffle involving putting each card from your deck into a number of piles *one at a time.* Knowing full well he had three minutes to finish his sideboarding and shuffling, I couldn’t exactly complain. I did ask why he was pile shuffling for game two to which he responded, “I saw nearly all of my Lands in game one, I need to shuffle it well.” I explained to him, lightheartedly, the truth behind the myth. Pile shuffling is the least efficient way to randomize a deck. We see pro’s do it all the time so people assume it’s the best way to shuffle. The true purpose, however, is to count your cards before you present your deck to your opponent for a cut. You wouldn’t want to present a deck that’s only 59 cards as that game become the quickest loss you’ll ever get. He insists on going through the motions, so I patiently wait for him to finish with his three piles, do some quick riffle shuffles, and present his deck to me for a cut.
Except his three piles didn’t come out even like a 60 card deck should.
Red Flag #1. Not necessarily a big deal.
Before I pick it up, I ask him to count his sideboard. He asks why and I tell him I noticed his piles didn’t come out even and he may have mistakenly left a card too many in his sideboard. It would have been easy to rectify and we would have had no reason to get a Judge involved because I would have just told him to shuffle in one of them. It’s a very easy mistake to make and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
He gets visibly nervous immediately and defensively responds, “Uh… yeah… I went up to 62 cards.”
Red Flag #2. Now I’m a little suspicious.
It’s perfectly legal for him to have sided up to 62 cards, but it’s not a common practice. “Okay, “I replied, “then you’re board should have exactly 13 cards in it. Just count it out and we have no problem.”
Red Flag #3. Alarm bells are ringing loud and clear.
We went back and forth a few times and his story kept changing. He eventually counted out his deck (mixing it with his hand and being forced to take a mulligan) and it really was at 62 cards, but he adamantly refused to open his deck box. He tried explaining he had some extra cards in there from trades performed just before the event. I knew this to be a lie as he was on his phone with a group of us just before we started. Even still, despite still being illegal, I told him to show it to me and if they were in different colored sleeves we still wouldn’t have a problem. Still nothing. It was about this time one of a few spectators who was sitting next to him started reaching for his box. Multiple times he playfully grabbed it, and multiple times my opponent violently ripped it from his hands.
It was clear there was something shady going on.
I probably should have called a Judge right then and there. Instead, I decided I would try to play out the match and see how his demeanor would change as it progressed. I thought I would try to beat him legitimately before getting the free win I was sure to get. In retrospect, it doesn’t matter. The right thing would have been to get a Judge involved immediately and get the issue resolved straight away.
I proceeded to win game two rather quickly, but we were unable to finish game three before time was called. It was during turn five of extra turns when I finally called for a Judge. The Judge came over and asked, “Hey guys. What’s up?” to which I responded, “I have reason to believe my opponent has more than 75 cards between his deck and deckbox.” The Judge, who also works for the store, handled things extremely well. I told him the events as they had occurred and explained how I suspected him to have extra cards in the sideboard hidden in his deck box. Having heard my reasoning, the Judge calmly began counting my opponent’s deck. It came out to exactly the requisite 60 (he had apparently sided back down for game three) and he politely asked to see the deck box in question.
He opened the deck box and said, “Well, Sean, you had good reason to suspect that.” Inside were what looked to be over 30 cards, twice the legal amount, in the same color of sleeve as his deck. Apparently, my opponent was not simply dipping his toes into the cheating pool but was swimming around in the deep end. He turned to my opponent and started to say, “Well…” but that’s all he was able to get out before things escalated. I wish it had stopped at just cheating but…
My opponent stood up, reached across the table, grabbed my deck, and threw it across the room and out the front door. Into the rain.
I’m going to pause and let that sink in for you.
I was livid. I immediately stood up, got into his face, and yelled for the whole store to hear, “Now you’re getting sued. It wasn’t enough to cheat at a FREE Monday event?! You got caught and decided to take my property and damage it?! That’s taking low to a new low, dude!” The shock of the situation and his dirt-baggery double down made it quite hard not to hit him right then, I can’t lie. But I didn’t. And I’m very glad I didn’t. I’m not the guy who resorts to violence to solve his problems.
The Judge, probably seeing the potential for even further escalation, quickly tried to diffuse the situation. Knowing I needed to cool off, I stepped away to collect my things, leaving my opponent to stand in shame as the shop began whispering about what they had just witnessed. Luckily for me, some friends of mine had already begun saving my cards from further damage (thank you guys – you know who you are) and there wasn’t much left for me to grab. I took a few deep breaths and returned to the tables to count and make sure I had everything.
Everything was accounted for and the only thing damaged were my sleeves. Thankfully, I had the foresight to double sleeve my cards using KMC Perfect Fits inside of regular sleeves so there was no water damage to the cards themselves. Some needed a little drying in order to not stick together, but I was able to finish the night.
It took me a few minutes to calm down to a level where I could think well enough to begin the next round. Luckily for me, my next opponent was another Judge and could have given us a time extension if we had needed one and respectfully told me I could take as much time as I needed.
I don’t know what all else happened with the cheater as the night progressed. I know he disappeared for a little bit, but he came back during the round after ours and apologized to me for throwing my deck. Not for the cheating, though. He never once, not even during the investigation, acknowledged the cheat. I guess he was so obsessed with winning he felt he had to cheat and now has to disassociate it in his mind or else risk invalidating all the wins he accrued while running it. Like it somehow makes it okay or something.
The Judge who works for the shop made it a point to check on me later into the evening and make sure I was okay. He also assured me the cheater was given a thorough verbal beat down for his actions. I told him I was alright, because I truly was. I was still in shock that it happened, but I’ve practiced keeping myself off tilt and am very proud of my ability to cool off very quickly. The cheater was obviously disqualified from the event, but was allowed to remain in the store and did so, spending the remainder of the evening talking with his buddies in the back.
However, I feel there should be further consequences for this man’s actions. I am a firm believer in second chances, but I am also a firm believer that actions have consequences.
**EDIT: IMAGE REMOVED AT REQUEST OF THE ACCUSED**
N. B. (**EDIT: NAME ABBREVIATED FOR THE ACCUSED**) is the man who both cheated me and vandalized my property.
I call him out publicly to raise awareness so that, hopefully, no one else has to go through what I did. Like I said, I believe in second chances. So I don’t ascribe to the “once a cheater, always a cheater” mindset. But, in the future, I will be asking to see the contents of his deck box before any match I have against him. It’s perfectly legal and I suggest you do the same. I’m not going to assume he’s always cheating, but I am going to be on the lookout for it. To not be would be incredibly naïve.
The decision I’m having difficulty with is whether or not to report his activity to Wizards. If it was just the cheating, I wouldn’t even consider it. Not for cheating at a Casual event. But the fact that, when caught, he could not control his emotions and decided to abuse someone else’s property takes it to the next level. Actions like that are supremely detrimental to the community and Wizards takes them VERY seriously. Ban worthy even. People have been given bans for years for theft or lifetime bans for assault. I don’t know if I think these offenses here warrant months or years of banning necessarily, but not reporting it leaves no record for if there is a next time, and letting him off with a DQ and "Verbal talking to" doesn't feel like enough. I’m really torn.
Days have passed and I’m not still upset about what happened. I’d like him to replace my sleeves, but that’s about it. What I REALLY don’t want is to hear that he’s done something like this to someone else down the road and I did nothing to prevent it. I don’t think I could live with that.
What do you guys think? Before deciding whether to report him or not, I want gather as many opinions about it as possible. How would you respond? Do you think he should be banned from the store or from Magic? Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this? Let’s get a good discussion going in the comments on Facebook.