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Implicit Collusion

What is Implicit Collusion?

Implicit collusion, or implied collusion, is the unspoken agreement between poker players to work as a team against a single opponent, in order to ensure that the best hand at the table does not win the pot. The term suggests that all players are aware of the situation and play accordingly, though it can also be applied where the teamwork occurs naturally and the players are unaware that they are ‘colluding’ against an individual.

Implicit Collusion Explained

In poker, players are aiming to hold the best hand at the table. When the game’s showdown comes around and the hands in play are revealed, the best one will take the pot. However, a weaker hand can still win the game, if they can convince several stronger hands to fold.

Through bluffing, or making bets and using behaviors that suggest a stronger hand, a player can act their way to a win. When a bluff or a weak hand goes up against one or two players, they have a fair chance of succeeding. However, when the whole table stays in play, that bluff or bold play becomes far riskier.

In a game where one player is making strong plays with a small stack, such as making a high raise or an all-in bet, a player willing to match that bet in a bidding war can cause the rest of the table to quickly fold – and give the bluffer a chance to win. However, if all players opt to check or call instead, they can ensure that the all-in bet is not taken further – and they reduce the chances for that player in the process. This is known as ‘implicit collusion’. Despite no verbal agreement being made between the players, all choose (either consciously or subconsciously) to play in a manner that prevents a single opponent from dominating that round.