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Table feel vs Cheating

This story is made up and I am not very good at constructing hypothetical hands so bear with me.

Let's say a pair consistently win imps over opponents' preempts. Every time opps bid 2 - P - 3 they can find 4 when it makes, even hands that need a lot of stretch, and if 4 goes down they seem to never bid it. Feels like cheating right? So you go ask this pair, and one player tells you this:

 

 [Quotes starts here]---------------

Cmon, I'm not a cheater, I'm just good at table feels and it works out for me. Let me give you an example:

Let's say I held this hand at last seat

South
74
QJ953
AK32
K5
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
?

Now I look at both opponents' faces.

When I look towards my left, hmm, his looks like someone who think he accomplished something. It feels like opener really wanted to stop me from bidding , he's probably short in , he could have just 5.

Then I look towards my right, hmm, he looks uneasy, probably 3 was a tough call and he's not sure what to do if I bid 4. Now my p is bound to have 3-4 with me. I can table xxx AKxx xxx Axx and make 4 easy, if they have 5-3 fit it all makes sense, tough for p to X with that hand.

so based on my table feels, I bid 4. All Pass. 

West
AJ10986
8
65
QJ108
North
K3
K102
QJ4
97432
East
Q52
A764
10987
A6
South
74
QJ953
AK32
K5
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I didn't hit partner with 4card but his spots were great, plus two well played K we made +620.

Opponents made no comment about the hand. Overbid and got lucky, that's all.

Other table 3SW= 140. +13 IMPs to us.

Yes I do hold better hands and pass sometimes in this situation, but it's because this guy on my right was smirking and it's kinda written on his face that he has a 3-5-4-1 12 count or something like that. When I see that I won't bid 4 with even x AKTxx QJxx AQx. I won't even X because my partner will pass with 3 card and they probably still make 3.

And I mean I don't win ALL the time. I win like 60% and lose 40% (Note: maybe in reality it's 80% vs 20%, but people overstate/understate all the time), it's just people only remember the hands that they lost on.

 [Quote ends here]-------------------

 

So what do you feel? Do you believe that a player could be this good at "table feel"? Let's say statistics showed this pair is actually winning on this kind of boards with statistical significance, can you accept the explanation that this pair's "table feeling" skill is good enough to make a statistical significant difference?

The point of this post is not to accuse or defend anyone or anything, but to raise the question and discussion on whether some type of intangible skill which are traditionally disregarded, such as "table feel" bids and leads can be eligible for causing statistical deviation, instead of cheating which is the easiest explanation.

Justin Lall's comment in "The Blue Team Rule" echoed a long time feeling that I had, that "Bridge is fundamentally flawed as a competitive game due to the inability to avoid, prevent and recognize cheating" (This is my take, probably not what Justin thinks). I'm interested to finding solutions to the game so that it can overcome such obstacles in the future.

 

 

 

"table feel" matters. But it is easy to distinguish "table feel" and cheating based on records and statistics, if we have enough sample size.
I do not believe "table feel" could have this much impact. A statistical deviation points towards cheating, at least most of the time.
Currently it is hard to tell if someone is cheating or just have good "table feel". There might be methods in the future to figure that out.
It is hard to tell if someone is cheating or just have good "table feel". Nothing we could really do but to guess.
Let's have bridge trials and use lie detector on cheat suspects.
Other (please suggest)

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