Cheating in games is almost as old as games themselves, but if you get caught, you will be instantly kicked out of the competition.
This trope however, is when a character is cheating in an obvious and blatant manner and all the other players and the audience can clearly see that. He may do something seemingly impossible that could be only be done with special equipment or supernatural powers that aren't allowed, or something that the game itself makes impossible. The best example is the name of this trope, named after the very common gag in media of a character playing Poker and having a hand of five aces, when a card deck has only fournote , or something similar like having a hand of six cards, when in Poker you can only get five.
In extreme cases, all the competitors are doing something impossible or that they can't do all at once, such as a card game in which every player has four aces, meaning all of them are cheating.note
This is pretty much a Paper-Thin Disguise version of cheating and it's almost always Played for Comedy. The more comedic version is when no one notices the obvious cheating and they maybe even think the character is just that good, or someone actually notices but does nothing about it. The less comedic version is when audience and other competitors notice it and complain, but the cheater still gets away, or doesn't. The Played for Drama version is when it's revealed or stated since the beginning that the whole game is rigged, and/or the cheater is such a powerful or dangerous person that nobody will risk standing up to him.
When adding examples involving supernatural powers, avoid cases where use of powers is allowed through Loophole Abuse or because all the characters regard "creative" use of superpowers as part of the fun.
- In Online Multiplayer Games, cheaters are usually subtle so other players will not report them, and many cheaters, rather than winning too much, will stop cheating for a while so they don't get caught. But there's always that dumb cheater that does stuff like headshotting invisible players, leveling up too fast, and making high scores that you can't possibly achieve. And there's always games with little moderation where cheaters almost never get banned, and you can find cheaters that make no effort to hide it, like using invincibility hacks, standing still, getting multiple shots, and never dying. Not to mention achievements unlocked at the exact same time when they have no business being able to do so.
- This was brought up when Team Fortress 2 did the WAR! Update, which involved a contest where Soldier and Demoman players would try to kill each other, with the winning side getting the Gunboats item. Naturally, the developers discovered that some players were getting outrageous kill counts—the highest scorer on either side had accumulated over 200,000 kills. Keep in mind that the contest lasted a week, so that translates to getting a Soldier or Demoman kill every three seconds, in an online FPS where only a fraction of the base plays Soldier or Demoman, and doing this every second of every day. Or, as the Administrator put it:
"He is either cheating, or he is a hallucinating sleep-deprived psychotic with severe constipation and unerringly good aim. In either event, I am confident he is ashamed of himself."
- Todd Rogers used to hold many high-scores in videogames, most of them achieved in the 80s. They didn't have any photo or video proof, but were still accepted by the organization Twin Galaxies, a partner of the Guinness World Records. A lot of these records were either impossible, way higher than the second place, or would take days of constant play to achieve. In 2018 all his records were removed. Here's a list of his suspicious records, with some notable examples below:
- His most famous example is a downplayed one, finishing the race in Dragster in 5.51 seconds, and that record stayed unbeaten for over 35 years, also giving him a record of longest-standing video-game world record, but he never managed to do it again in front of cameras even with so many people asking, and extensive analysis of the code claims that the minimum possible is 5.57, some players achieved 5.57 legitimately.
- Centipede (Atari 5200): An exact score of 65,000,000 points, when the second place was 58,078.
- Barnstorming: 32.04 seconds, even though that time is impossible even if you remove all the obstacles by hacking.
- Wabbit: 1698 points; not only does the game end when the player gets 1300 points, but the score counter increases in 5 point units.
- The Legendary Axe: 99,999,990 points, even though the score increases in fifty point units, and the second place was 30,068,300 points.
- Fathom: A claimed 1,110,500 points while the second place was 142 in 2.5 minutes. Doing the math, he would have taken over 325 hours to achieve it, meaning he should also have a record for most time without sleeping. Admittedly, the current record is now 19,566 points in 29 minutes with video proof, which drops it to a mildly less ridiculous twenty-seven-hour-straight marathon.
- The literal version of this trope can be averted with some specialty decks of cards which indeed have five or more suits.
- Karl Jobst's video "The Worst Fake Speedrun on Youtube" talks about a Badabun video where Tavo tries to fake a Super Mario Bros. speedrun by splicing together various runs, one of which is a TAS. Karl Jobst points out several mistakes that make it clear that the run is impossible:
- The game footage uses a TAS-only technique called "fast acceleration". It requires you to press left and right on the same frame, which is impossible to do with the regular controller Tavo is using in the video.
- The display is taken from the TAS and combined with gameplay from other runs. It sometimes appears too early or late, it may be misaligned, and at one point the coin counter (whose flashing does not match that of the coins in the level) increases by 12 even though Mario only collected 11. It gets worse when actual gameplay happens at the top of the screen, such as when Mario "disappears" while going for the Warp Zone in 1-2, or when stuff randomly appears there because it was there in the TAS.
- Between 4-1 and 4-2, Tavo reaches for a slice of pizza and doesn't manage to put his hand back on the controller before Mario starts moving again.
- Discussed when Karl Jobst points out that the timer is inaccurate. While he thinks the most likely explanation is that Badabun just used it incorrectly due to incompetence, he also proposes the explanation that they intentionally made the final time too long because it would be too obvious that Tavo's "run" was fake if they had used the true time, which is faster than the world record.
- Arguably the point of the Neopets game called "Cheat!" In that game, players place one to four cards of the same value onto a pile, facedown, claiming that they fit a certain criteria. The other players can accuse them of cheating and flip the cards. Since this is a 52-card deck, someone who plays more than four cards is obviously cheating, and it's possible to catch a cheater if they play cards that are currently in your hard (i.e. you have three fives and they play two or more fives).
- In the 2012 Olympics, several Chinese and South Korean badminton teams realized that if they lost in their first-round, they would face easier competition later. However, they tried far too hard in throwing the match, failing to even get the badminton over the net. This got both teams banned.
- Played for Laughs in this commercial, when the other players throw out over-the-top bets to call a wager of a bowl of avocados. The winner (the guy who bet the avocados) hauls in the pot with five aces, one obviously hand-drawn.
- One Wilkins Coffee ad had Wontkins produce a hand of five aces. Wilkins responds by showing a can of Wilkins Coffee, because nothing beats Wilkins... and a gun.
- Lucky Luke: 5-ace decks are a common sight when visiting the local saloon. In "Black Hills", the bad guy assigned to disrupt the scientific expedition gets them to play poker, then accuses them of cheating when they all have 4 aces.note The crowd nearly lynches them, until Luke shows up and asks why they were playing with a deck containing 48 aces.
- Played for laughs in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck with the poker game between Pothole McDuck and Porker Hogg. Porker lays down a full house of three kings and two aces, and Pothole responds with another full house of three aces... and two more aces. It turns out the "ace dispenser" up Porker's sleeve broke. Pothole then tells Scrooge that they were playing by "riverboat captain rules", in which not trying to cheat is an insult to the other players.
- During a poker game in This Bites!, both Zoro and Robin have a royal flush in the same suit. Likewise, Boss and Chopper each have a royal flush as well though of different suits.
- A scene in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks has the human Pinkie Pie and Applejack playing cards. Applejack shows four aces, which Pinkie counters with four Jokersnote .
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: Billy the Kid enlists Bill and Ted to help win more money in a poker game. (He gets all their winnings as well as his own.) The game goes wrong a few minutes in when Bill reveals that he has three aces, causing the other cowboys to suspect (correctly) that Billy cheated somehow.
- Space Jam has both teams go haywire with cheating during the Ultimate Game. The Monstars gang-tackle Granny, dogpile on Stan Podolak, incinerate Foghorn Leghorn and beat the stuffing out of the Looney Tunes. The Tune Squad attach explosives to the Monstar goal, shoot out one Monstar's teeth with handguns, partially denude another Monstar with a rod and reel, and bring an angry longhorn bull onto the court.
- The Dictator: Aladeen, the titular despot, hosts his own Olympic Games where he participates in the event. The only event we see is the 100 Meter Race, where he not only has the starting pistol (which he fires a good full second after he starts running), but he uses said pistol to shoot one of the competitors (as well as a few bystanders), and has the people with the finishing ribbon carry it over to him. Needless to say, he won fourteen gold medals.
- Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Planet of Judgment by Joe Haldeman. In order to stop an interstellar invasion, the senior crew of the Enterprise must engage in psychic duels with the invading aliens. Dr. McCoy's test involves a simulated poker game. In order to win a hand, the alien uses a non-standard card: the three of eagles. During the course of the game, McCoy and the alien use three non-legal cards: the king of green eagles, the king of oranges and the king of skulls.
- I'm In Love With the Villainess features a downplayed case: Yuu wins the round with a hand of four aces and a king, beating Claire's full house. However, Rei remembers that her own hand had an ace, which she got rid of in an attempt to make a straight. And then she notices that the dealer is Yuu's personal attendant.
- One novel in The Riftwar Cycle mentions a friendly game between four notorious card sharps. At the end of the evening, they examined the deck and discovered that it now had seventy cards in it, nine of which were aces.
- In El Chapulín Colorado, two mobsters "invite" an old man, Dr. Chapatín, to play pocker with them. He was asked to cut the deck and took a pair of scissors to cut one card. One of the mobsters was angry that he cut an ace, which he knew due to a little mark behind it, while the other said that's no problem since he had another one under his sleeve.
Dr Chapatín: Good thing that we are playing among honest people.
- Mission: Impossible has Rollin Hands reveals during a game that he has a winning hand: five pair. For the record, this requires a ten-card hand, which pretty much no version of poker allows.
- In The Wonder Years, Kevin and his friends have a poker night and Jeff is sweeping the table all evening long, until the last hand where Randy puts everything on the table and challenges his hand, calling out his cards as a bluff. Jeff congratulates him and folds. Later as Kevin is cleaning up, he notices that Jeff's hand is still on the table, face down. He starts flipping them one by one, finding one king after the other and realizing he had an unbeatable four of a kind of kings. He finds new respect in Jeff for yielding to Randy in a gentlemanly gesture no one would ever find out about... and then flips the fifth card that is also a king.
Adult Kevin: He was a CHEATER!
- The Curse of Monkey Island: One puzzle involves winning a poker game so Guybrush can get his hands on a Mineral Macguffin. The solution is to take five tarot cards and switch them for your rigged losing hand. They notice right away, and Guybrush is forced to steal the diamond in the ensuing struggle and run for it. It should be noted that if you lose over and again, your opponents will themselves engage in this, going as far and switching to completely different card games at random. Including the 'official' licensed Monkey Island card game.
- Neopets: In "Brucey B and The Lucky Coin", when Brucey B is playing Cheat with R.S., near the end of the game, R.S. plays a single four. Brucey calls him out on it, but R.S. reveals his card to be the four of diamonds. Brucey ponders how such a thing is possible when he had played four fours not too long ago.
- Batman: Arkham City: Victor Zsaaz's Start of Darkness was when he lost everything in a poker game with the Penguin. Zsasz had four sixes, but the Penguin had a straight flush that included a fifth six. Played for Drama in that, even years later and having a clear memory of the game, Zsasz never realizes that he's been cheated.
- In Golden Sun, there's a Tournament Arc where the player is encouraged to help Isaac cheat by having the rest of the party make his progress through an obstacle course easier. While psyenergy can't be seen by the other contestants or the crowd, he does well enough that the other contestants work out that he did something and show up as a boss battle in the sequel.
- A Black Comedy example in Fallout: New Vegas. In Jacobstown, you can enter the various resort bungalows there to loot the place. One bungalow contains a long-dead skeleton in a fallen chair, in front of a table where a card game was being played. There's also evidence of drinking and guns involved. It's quite clear that someone was shot for cheating... what makes it hilarious is what the cheater had tried to claim. As per the trope, five kings. Not just five kings, but five kings all of the same suit. And yes, the evidence points to only one standard deck of cards having been involved in the game. The collective IQ of the setting probably went up a point when the cheater was escorted off the mortal coil.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Shadi Smith conspired with crooked dealer Olga Orly to ruin Phoenix Wright's reputation as an undefeated poker player by planting a card on his person, then having Olga Orly deal five aces during one of their hands. The idea was to make it look like Phoenix had swapped out one of his cards for an ace, making him look like a cheater and thereby casting doubt on his previous wins. However, Phoenix managed to find the card planted on him and hid it in a grape juice bottle, so the plan failed.
- In the Questden quest The Oremor Trail, caravan leader Durk Nuuk'erm joins a poker table where everyone cheats, and he's commanded to "outcheat the table". When the time comes to reveal the cards, each player reveals four aces plus another card◊; true to this trope, Durk's fifth card is a fifth ace, from a fifth suit.
- In Freefall, Sam Starfall went gambling, added a few extra cards to his hand, and got found out when his four kings beat someone else's two kings.
- The Simpsons
- In "Bart the Murderer", we see the hands of a group of mobsters playing poker. The first one has four aces and a king. The second has five aces. The third has six aces. And then it pans over to the discard pile, which is nothing but aces. Most of them aren't even standard card suits.
- Happens accidentally on a deleted scene from "$pringfield", as seen on "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular". Homer is the dealer for a James Bond stand-in, who loses because Homer forgot to take the jokers and the "instructions to pinochle" cards out of the deck.
- Another example involving the Springfield mafia occurs in "Mayored to the Mob", when, during a poker game, Louie declares a hand of six Queens, only to be beaten when Fat Tony declares seven Queens.
- On a smaller-scale example, Bart's attempt to forge his grades was immediately spotted by everyone who looked at them because he gave himself straight A+'s. As Lisa put it, "Oh, Bart, couldn't you at least forge plausible grades?"
- In an episode of Quick Draw McGraw, the villain is having a Poker game, his opponent shows four aces, but the villain has five aces in his top hat.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: The episode "Swindlin Wind" ends with Eustace playing cards with the tick that Muriel had on her toe throughout the episode (Now on his toe), with the bet being that the tick could move up to his earlobe if he wins. Eustace goes in with five aces, only for the tick to go in with six aces.
- In one of the Futurama movies, this happens to Bender by accident during a Texas Hold'em Poker tournament. Only Fry and Bender are left in the tournament due to a combination of Fry having the ability to read minds, and Bender having stolen a lucky charm. Bender figures out what Fry is doing and opts to play without looking at his own cards. Fry has two aces, and the community cards are three kings and the other two aces (which means Fry would win regardless of what Bender has). Bender casually flips his cards over to find out that he has the fourth king...and a coaster from the bar that looks like a king (The kings of beers!). The judge (Penn Jillette) rules that this counts as five kings, winning Bender the tournament.
- Looney Tunes
Daffy: Beats me.
- In "My Little Duckaroo", Daffy Duck plays poker with outlaw Nasty Canasta. He deals one card to Canasta and takes the rest of the deck for himself, giving him "a royal straight flush full house with four aces high." Canasta only has the three of clubs... and a gun that he aims at Daffy's gullet.
- Bugs Bunny, dressed as a southern gentleman, is involved in a game of poker with a Col. Cornpone on a riverboat ("Mississippi Hare"). Cornpone shows five aces in his hand. Bugs shows six.
- "Bonanza Bunny", another one involving Bugs, has him play Blacque Jacques Shellaque in blackjack. Bugs draws his first card and chooses to stand. His opponent proceeds to blatantly cheat by drawing a 10 of Spades, and then pulling a second 10 of Spades out of his sleeve. Bugs flips over the 21 of Hearts.
- On the Disney short Sports Goofy, the Beagle Boys discuss their plan to beat Scrooge McDuck's soccer team while playing cards. Throughout the scene, an ace of spades keeps getting passed around, as each Beagle Boy keeps stealing it from the other. In the end, they all deal their hands and all the cards are the ace of spades.
- In one episode of the Dilbert cartoon, Dilbert, Dogbert and Dilmom are playing Scrabble. When Dogbert plays "Quizzing" for 188 points, Dilbert comments that he thought the Scrabble set only has one Z. Dogbert brushes this off by saying that that's the kind of thinking that made Dilbert lose 400 games in a row, but the next shot shows him carving his own scrabble tiles under the table.
- In Summer Camp Island, "Mr. Softball", to avoid doing a chore, Susie challenges all the campers to a game of softball where the loser has to the chore. Hedgehog tells Oscar that Susie will definitely cheat during the game but Oscar, who knows Susie will cheat, accepts it but wants to beat her fair and square. During the game, Susie blatantly cheats by using biases umpires and using her magic, such as freezing the players, slowing the softball to hit it, and reversing time to undo their first point. Oscar finally has enough and decides to cheat, too, after his team keeps telling him they need to cheat to win, and by doing this they're able to score.
- In a western-themed episode of The Harlem Globetrotters, the main villain cheats at poker in a recycling of the aforementioned Quick Draw McGraw example.
- In The Real Ghostbusters, "Ghost Fight at the O.K. Corral", Peter gets forced into a game of poker with the ghosts of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. After Peter deals the cards, all the ghosts reveal they have "Aces & Eights. Dead Man's Hand." Peter then shows his hand of four Aces. The ghosts say this means someone at the table is a cheat, causing Peter to dive out the saloon doors.
Peter: Good thing I didn't show them that fifth Ace.
- One episode of Fairly Oddparents has Cosmo and Wanda poof in another fairy to help Timmy out of whatever situation he's gotten himself into. Sans context, the fairy pops in with a hand of cards declaring "Yeah, five aces," as a quick shorthand to show that he's not exactly on the up and up
- In an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic plays strip poker against Scratch and Grounder and his first winning hand is five aces. Scratch and Grounder, both due to being idiots, dont realize that hes cheating.