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Cheaters!

Our collection of sordid confessions and defensive tales

We cheat. We cheat in gambling, sports, relationships, politics. We cheat death, cheat on our taxes, on our mileage reports, our homework. Many a cottage industry has been born with the sole purpose of cheating: college essays—buy them online; drug tests—drink this cleansing powder. Google the phrase “How to cheat” and get 438,000 relevant responses, from “How to cheat on your wife” to “How to cheat at Monopoly.”

We get cheated, too. Certainly credit card companies screw us out of money without being totally forthcoming; maybe a car dealer cheats us by selling us a lemon, or maybe some of us were cosmically cheated out of charm and good looks.

Vegas has a particular place in the milieu of cheating—something about the billions of dollars rolling around the city makes attempts at cheating a given. Note the cameras in every corner, or the book Bringing Down the House by MIT students whose claim to fame was cheating (or just beating?) the casinos by counting cards.

Also, our culture attaches the presence of con men to Vegas; for years careful people from out of town would think twice before dealing with a Vegas businessman; there just seemed to be something slicker and shadier about a guy who made deals in Vegas.

Whether it was true or not, cheating’s certainly not something Vegas has cornered. Recent national headlines reminded us of the breadth of cheating—from Bill Belichick’s cheating in the NFL to Marion Jones’ cheating at the Olympics. We found, when assembling this package of stories, that cheating is so pervasive it’s often difficult to differentiate from stealing or lying—we argued about whether certain acts were really cheating, or whether they was more outright stealing, or breaking the law, than cheating—until we came to the somewhat obvious conclusion that these are often not mutually exclusive. And sometimes, what first seemed like egregious cheating turned out, after further examination, not to be cheating at all.

In the end, it seems, it’s a personal judgment. So judge for yourself.

***

Cheatin’ heart: Confessions of an adulterous husband

By Damon Hodge

 

Guilty. You feel guilty. But not a deep, abiding guilt, Milt says, which makes it easier to do it again.

Milt’s a cheater. A philanderer. An adulterer. Has been for the majority of a fairly lengthy marriage that’s produced several children (the exact number, along with his real name, is being kept secret). Before this goes any further, he asks a favor. Don’t call it cheating, or him, a cheater. That’s too harsh. Sowing your oats is more like it, he says; he’s doing what men do, what they’ve done throughout history, from African tribal leaders to Mormon preachers. “We like to f--k!” He says there’s research out there to prove that we’re not programmed to be monogamous.

“See that?” It’s a woman. Tall, brunette, hair down to the middle of her back, in tight-fitting jeans; she’s filling out a parlay card in the sports book of a casino. He traces her form with his right hand, outlining the circular shape of her butt. “That ass. It be callin’ me.”

The first time was shortly after he got married. He knew the girl. They’d kicked it off and on. The sex wasn’t the end-all. You do it for the thrill, he says, to see if you still got it. “There’s no coochie like new coochie.”

The first time is always the hardest. Your conscience nags at you: when you’re driving to the rendezvous spot (did anybody see me?); calling her from your cell phone (did I block my number?); creeping to the room (did anybody see me?); once you’re inside (did I forget the condoms?). There she is. Ready. You’re ready, too. Nervous, like a virgin, but ready. Other thoughts pop up: Will I fizzle out or deliver a virtuoso performance? Think she’ll get attached? If she tells, what’s gonna happen? I wanna go bareback, but should I? Can I pull out in time? Will I get pussy-whipped?

Kissing leads to hugging leads to ... “When you’re in them drawers, it’s all good,” he laughs. “Shit got easier and easier after that.”

Easier to ignore his conscience and come up with alibis, easier to decide which potential paramour is worth the time, effort and risk. Interview them if you’re unsure. She can’t handle the fact that you’ve got a wife and kids, move on. More often than not, he says, the wedding ring is a magnet. Tell them what not to expect—dinners, movies or public appearances together. And what to: booty calls and no contact for weeks. Some will be like the woman who came alone to the Strip nightclub. “Baby girl,” he told her, “you already know what it is.” She did. “Hit the skins that night.”

Cheating’s fun. Vegas makes it easy. So many single ladies. When a new girl gets hired, Milt and the boys compete to see who’ll bag her. They go about it several ways. Most popular is getting at her at a company outing. See where her head’s at, he advises. Is she lonely, newly single, a transplant to Vegas? Go to lunch. Check on her at work. Tell her guys in Vegas ain’t worth a damn and take care to build yourself up. Call your marriage “a situation.” Let her know you aren’t leaving, but you’d like to get to know her better, help her acclimate. Tough town, this place. Particularly for a young lady. You need companionship. You need to live life. I’m living it. Then take it there, he says: Talk about sex. Her reaction will let you know if she’s game or lame. “Most of them fall for it.”

But don’t make a habit of bedding co-workers, or at least not too many or all at the same time. Even the best players slip. “Several times the wife has caught on. She found an e-mail, or one of her friends told her they saw me. I chilled for a minute. I started messing with people she would never come in contact with. At work, I’d get a woman’s girlfriend to tell her I was interested. I tell women at work how to cheat. They help me out, too.”

Success requires vigilance: “Don’t put yourself in a position to get caught. Whatever it is you’re not doing at home, make sure you do it. If you’re not cooking dinner, then cook dinner. If you’re not cleaning up the house, clean up the house. If you’re not spending time with the kids, spend time with the kids. If you’re staying out late, come home early. Handle your responsibilities. Be where you say you are. You can be at the casino. Just have her get the room.” He laughs.

Players are always on the lookout for potential bedmates: disgruntled girlfriends (he’s caught a few); women you’ve been chasing for years (“older ladies are happy that someone wants them”); nondrinkers (“I had one girl. We went to a nice bar for some drinks 10 years ago. I’m still hitting it today. Her husband doesn’t even know.”). Married women are prime targets. Since both of you have lots to lose, the theory is that no one’s gonna get too attached or do something stupid.

Meeting women in bars or clubs is usually good for short-term hook-ups. “For long-term ass, go to a nice event. Jazz night or poetry reading. Chat up a single lady. Court her like a girlfriend. Chase her.” It’s how he met the relative of a big-name athlete in town. Because of his line of work he has to stay in shape, dress nicely and be out on the town (he’s tall, broad-shouldered and of indiscriminate age; in his 40s but could pass for 25); he meets lots of women in civic and fund-raising arenas. “They love caring men.” He laughs.

Back at the sports book: The betting brunette is walking away. Too many people around to make a move, Milt says. They talked about sports. It seemed to relax her defenses. Is a connection possible? He admires the switch in her hips. “I could’ve got the number if I wanted,” he says. “Women know in 10 seconds if you’re the type. They’re just waiting for you to talk your way into their panties.”

****

Counting cards: Throw ’em out, fine, just don’t call ’em cheaters!

By Spencer Patterson

“We used to take guys like him out into the desert.”

That pointed remark followed Jeff Haney out the doors of Arizona Charlie’s moments after the local blackjack player had been barred from the establishment. “He was one of those grizzled dinosaurs you see at those joints, and he was totally trying to scare me,” remembers Haney, a Las Vegas Sun reporter and columnist by day. “To me, it was far more funny than anything, such a hackneyed ploy like that.”

Just what variety of cheating had Haney employed to draw the ire of that casino, not to mention some 40 others over his eight-plus years in town? Actually, by all modern definitions, he’s never cheated at all. He’s simply become skilled at counting cards, a legal technique that swings blackjack odds to the player’s favor and one which, he says, is still too often misidentified as a form of cheating.

“Linking cheating and card-counting hits a nerve in skilled blackjack players,” he explains. “You can throw a guy out for card-counting—send over a couple guys in suits while he’s playing blackjack and say, ‘Sir, your blackjack game is too strong for us. We’ve decided you’re not allowed to play here anymore.’ Just don’t say he’s been cheating. Cheating is, and should be, a serious breach of law, but it’s a whole different thing. If a security goon thinks card-counting is cheating, he might be more likely to rough somebody up or level some threats, and a card-counter shouldn’t be treated like that.”

Casinos could be better served following the example of the Fiesta, which once awarded Haney a $60 comp to its Mexican restaurant even as it backed him off its blackjack tables. “I actually honored their command not to come back, because they were so cool,” he says. “At the time the Fiesta was dealing a great blackjack hand, and I could’ve snuck back a few weeks later when different people were working and continued to hammer it, but I didn’t. Since they were so cool, I decided to be cool with them.”

****

On beauty: Chicks cheat By Xania Woodman

I cheat. Yep, I’m a cheater. Right here, folks—cheater.

That’s right, I wear makeup to enhance my features and heels to appear taller and hoist the tush up for better viewing. I dye my dishwater-blond curls a shade of auburn not natural to my DNA, and from time to time have gotten tips put on my deadline-ravaged nails. I have been known to wear control-top pantyhose under an evening dress, and I have one secret photo of me in a “phony-pony.” I’ve whitened my teeth, dieted occasionally and worked out till I dropped—and all in an attempt to give myself the body God surely intended me to have but was too busy with the rocks and trees and fish and stuff to bother about. And I will happily swear on a Victoria’s Secret Miracle Bra in court.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry, you’re in good company. We all cheat on our genes in some way. What you see tonight may not be what you will see in the morning.

Then there’s the gray area wherein lies the issue of permanence and semi-permanence. Makeup and lashes may last 24 hours, tooth whitening a year and breast implants a decade. I may diet, work out, whiten my teeth, touch up my roots, have a funky mole removed and at some point far, far down the road, bring my bust line back to the level where I have photographic evidence that it once occupied, but when I step into the shower, it’s the makeup that will wash down the drain. I don’t personally condone overdoing it on elective surgery, but if we’re speaking candidly about the simple question of what is cheating, then I have to say that it’s the truly temporary enhancements that deceive the most.

Bottom line: If it can’t come with you naked into that shower or requires glue to stay in place, then it technically is a cheat. But who are we cheating, really? Others? Or the inevitable? All enhancement is temporary. Even the ancient Egyptians couldn’t cheat death in the end.

So assuming we all cheat a little, which is the greater crime—breast implants or bra implants? I’d say it’s those “chicken cutlet” bra inserts and those horrific false butts meant to give one a J. Lo-esque posterior. At some point, that getup is coming off, and the truth, along with your true measurements, will come out. But if wearing it at work gives you more confidence, then go for it. Just think long and hard about whether or not it will set up false expectations on a first date, lest you find yourself stopping off at the ladies room to remove those cutlets before someone gets their sure-to-be-shocked hands on them. Not that I’ve ever had that happen to me or anything.

Oh and guys, you are not entirely innocent either. You remember the spray-on hair, don’t you? And don’t even think about ever putting a sock where a sock doesn’t have any business. It’s all just gonna come out in the wash anyway.

****

Cheating: 101

By John Katsilometes

His first name was Isaiah and that’s how it is spelled, with the spare “a” jumping in before the “I.”

The misspelling of that name helped abruptly end the college basketball career of star-crossed Runnin’ Rebel Isaiah “J.R.” Rider. The misspelling was discovered in a most egregious fashion, on at least three assignments turned in by Rider himself for a course he needed to pass to remain eligible to work his magic as a UNLV point guard. Eagle-eyed officials noted the discrepancies (especially after they were reported by the Review-Journal), and deduced that Rider might not have actually performed the work he turned in under his own almost-name.

Oh, and the handwriting didn’t appear to belong to this “Isiah” Rider, either. Nor did the relatively high quality of work, which instructors surmised had actually performed by a tutor.

So in his attempt to pass English 102, Rider flunked Cheating 101. Consequently, on March 16, 1993, then-UNLV president Robert Maxson announced that, amid mounting circumstantial evidence that Rider had turned in work that was, at best, suspect, suspended the Rebel star. Rider went on to a checkered pro career, with a proclivity of causing trouble that nearly matched his scoring output. He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Atlanta Hawks, L.A. Lakers and Denver Nuggets, averaging 16.8 points per game over his nine-year career. But he also lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and suspensions, many involving marijuana possession. In one remarkable incident with the Timberwolves. Rider was ordered off the court by his own mother, who trudged to the court from her seat behind the Minnesota bench, after popping off to officials.

Most recently, in January 2006, Rider was arrested in Marin, California, on kidnapping charges stemming from an incident in which he argued with a female acquaintance and drove away with her in his car against her will. He was speeding, probably.

****

I was cheated on

By Courtney Lefkowitz, as told to Richard Abowitz

 

I was working the front door at Empire Ballroom, and he tried to get a table one night. I’ve met bullshitting guys, celebrity guys, guys who just want to do you, and I always read them before I greet them, and I don’t fall for them. He was a short guy with a velvet jacket. I thought, “This douchebag, I’m never going to let him in. No way.” He stalked me at Empire Ballroom for three nights, the entire time he was in town. But then he left a message on my phone, and it was the sweetest message I’d ever heard in my life: “Courtney, you have the most amazing eyes I have never seen in my whole life. When you smile, you smile with your whole heart.” You know, all this crap I should never have listened to.

We talked on the phone every day for two months. And on my birthday he told me to come to New York. We went shopping, got a mink coat, everything you can think of. I had the best birthday of my life. We didn’t even have sex. But I fell in love with him.

So, we had a long-distance relationship. We talked on the phone. We saw each other once in a while. He’d come here, or I’d go to New York. For Valentine’s Day we went to South Beach. He asked me to move in with him Valentine’s Day. He said he loved me. He wanted to marry me. He wanted to take care of me. I even quit work. Whatever. I felt great. But then I got sick. I got really sick. He did everything he could do. He came to the hospital to see me every day. He was the sweetest guy ever. When I got out of the hospital, I moved in with him. After a while he was telling me, “I don’t want you to talk to your family and you aren’t allowed to work.”

He said it was because he didn’t want me to get sick again, and I chose to`believe him. Dumb. But he was my first love.

Anyway, we got engaged. I knew he was married, but he was getting a divorce, getting a divorce, getting a divorce, always getting a divorce. He never got a divorce. Then I came to find out he had two other girlfriends who he was engaged to as well.

He paid for all of our apartments in the financial district of Manhattan. We all lived within 10 blocks of each other and nobody knew. I finally found out earlier this year. And I left him after that.

 I don’t regret it. I still cry every night. I talked to him yesterday. When I met him I thought he was so unattractive, and now I think he is the most gorgeous guy I have ever seen in my whole life. But I learned a lot. I learned I should be No. 1 in my life.

As soon as I learn to love myself again, I will remember that. I can’t believe I fell for a Wall Street bastard guy!

•••••

Cheating in kids’ sports

By Damon Hodge

One recent Thursday afternoon in a typically voluble southeast Vegas barbershop, shop talk is even louder than normal. Cheating is the topic of conversation, keyed by the New England Patriots’ recent Camcordergate controversy. NFL officials caught the three-time Superbowl champs videotaping signals from New York Jets coaches.

Someone turns up the volume on the televisions. The ESPN talking heads babble, setting up clips of smirking Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s emotionless mea culpa and of star San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson’s spiteful commentary: “I think the Patriots actually live by the saying, ‘If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.’”

An argument ensues between a particularly excitable barber and a local high school football coach, the latter accusing everyone in sports of cheating at one point in time; be it pros juicing with steroids, professors passing college athletes who never showed up for class or prep coaches offering to find employment for parents of star high schoolers. Breaking the rules is the way of American athletics. The barber lights into him. “People gon’ cheat, okay. But why you gotta cheat at the kid level?”

He’s talking about the alleged chicanery in youth football, played every weekend by hundreds of helmeted and padded 9- to 14-year-old boys on fields throughout the Valley. Several barbers coach teams and say rule-breaking takes many forms.

Coaches overlook the academic and behavior requirements of talented kids. Or they skirt rules demanding that every player gets a certain amount of plays. “They’ll have the kids switch jerseys,” says a barber-coach whose two children play on separate teams. Another common trick is players using someone else’s address, allowing, say, a team in Green Valley to nab a stud player from the northwest. The case of the parents who put their 10-year-old boy on a diet, so he could lose 20 pounds and play with kids his age, may not rise to the level of cheating, but is a sad commentary nonetheless.

Parents of one 12-year-old created a fake birth certificate so he could play with 11-year-olds, build his stats and get recruited by a better team. Recruited?

“Coaches recruit,” one barber says. “They’ll tell a parent or a kid, ‘It costs $160 to sign up, but you don’t worry about that.’ Or, ‘We’re going on this trip out of state to play and it costs $150, but you don’t worry about it. We got you.’”

The allegations would be laughable if they didn’t involve children and if youth football (particularly Pop Warner) were squeaky clean. The 2004 Pop Warner playoffs in Arizona were cancelled over residency issues involving players. Sports is supposed to strengthen character, build camaraderie and foster teamwork, not emphasize cutting corners. Like the barber said, “... why you gotta cheat at the kid level?”

•••••

Super muscle through chemicals

By Joshua Longobardy

I don’t know about Marion Jones. I never paid much attention to her after she won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, because none of that other stuff—the steroid accusations, the steroid investigations, the steroid confession—ever interested me.

Just as I don’t understand the fuss over Barry Bonds and the other two dozen athletes who, like Jones, have been linked to the infamous BALCO laboratory in Northern California. Steroid use doesn’t seem to me to warrant the opprobrium—the disgrace reserved for cheaters: a public shame tantamount to the old scarlet letter—that professional athletes who’ve used steroids incur these days.

Steroids, in essence, permit their users to recover faster, and stronger, from training. They permit an athlete to train harder, and more often; and because it is in training that champions are made, athletes who use steroids, in short, have an advantage. 

But athletes, who are by nature and definition competitors, have been on the eternal quest for an advantage since the first two sportsmen got together, barefooted and unregulated, in the name of competition. Shoes, weightlifting, dietary supplements, technology—they all, at some point along the advancement of athletics, gave their initial user an advantage over his competition. Steroids are yet another along that endless line.

Those who’ve created the fuss over steroids say Barry Bonds had an unfair advantage over the baseball icons he surpassed when he broke the major-league home-run record this year. They would tarnish his achievement with an asterisk mark. But one of those men, Babe Ruth, had the great advantage of never having to play a night game and the even greater advantage of never having to face a pitcher of color in his time. And the other man, Hank Aaron, had the advantage of never having to face competition who had the advantage of weightlifting, dietary supplements, specialized coaching, technology and steroids.

They say people who win with steroids will force everyone else to use steroids to level the paying field. What if Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather Jr.—all quintessential champions famous for their superhuman work ethics—were banned and persecuted because they forced their peers to go the extra mile?

They say steroids are unnatural. But so is the extreme training athletes must undertake from a prepubescent age to be competitive these days, and they’ve yet to design a steroid able to put in the sweat and dedication required to win gold medals or break home-run records.

 

•••••

Supreme moments in sports cheating history

By John Katsilometes

Some athletes go to great lengths to win, whether it’s shaving a mile or 25 off a marathon or loading a bat with rubber balls. Following are a half-dozen of our favorite sad/funny/tragic cheating moments in sports:

• Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 1980 Boston Marathon. She should have been; she cut into the race in the last half-mile.

• Sonny Liston applies liniment in an odd fashion: Liston had been peppered by Cassius Clay for the first three rounds of their heavyweight title bout in Miami in February 1964. In the fourth round, the young Ali began pawing at his face, unable to see. It is widely assumed that Liston had liniment rubbed on his gloves to slow down the cat-quick challenger.

• Craig Nettles wields a rubberized bat: In 1974, Nettles hit a home run. In his next at-bat, he hit a broken-bat single and six hard-rubber “superballs” bounced across the infield. Plugging the barrel with the balls gave it more power, like “corking.” Nettles said the bat was a gift.

• Joe Niekro is caught with a manicuring tool: While pitching for the Minnesota Twins against the California Angels, Niekro threw a slider that broke about four feet. The umpire walked to the mound to see if Nero might be “doctoring” the ball and asked the pitcher to empty his pockets. Out flew an emery board. Oops.

• Hope doesn’t spring eternal for Glenn Dunnaway: On June 19, 1949, during the first NASCAR Strictly Stock race (an event that was the pre-runner of today’s Nextel Cup), Dunnaway led from laps 151 to 200. But a post-race inspection showed he had illegally modified the rear springs on his Ford, a practice that Cup organizers are still watchful of.

• Hurricanes’ playbook winds up on the Internet: After the team won the national championship in 2001, two of the Miami Hurricanes’ playbooks (one for the offense and the other for the defense) were stolen from a coach’s office and posted on the Internet. The binders were mailed back to the school in manila envelopes. No return address was listed.

   

•••••

Illegal downloading

By Josh Bell

Everyone does it. That was probably my justification for illegally downloading music the first time, when I was in college. The files were right there, on the internal college network, and all I had to do was drag them to my desktop. It was so easy, and besides, all I was getting were songs that I would never have paid for in the first place: throwaway fluff that I sometimes enjoyed hearing on the radio.

Then Napster came along, and I started downloading more than just familiar radio songs. But if I liked something, I would still go and buy a CD; I couldn’t give up the excitement of heading to the record store at midnight on a Monday to pick up a new release from a favorite band. I remember buying the third Rage Against the Machine album and asking the clerk, who was also an acquaintance from school, if it was as good as I hoped. “Yeah,” he said, “but I’ve been listening to it for weeks.”

Now I get most of my CDs for free thanks to my job, and that thrill of the midnight sale is long gone. But downloading music still feels like cheating, if not on the money due to the artists then on the aesthetic integrity of my CD collection (a bunch of files don’t create much of an impressive tableau). I still can’t stop myself, though; everyone does it.

•••••

Cheating in J-School?! Say it isn’t so.

By Aaron Thompson

Mary Hausch, journalism profesor at UNLV, recalls an instance in which a student in her advanced reporting class had a Jayson Blair moment.

“A student who made up many of her sources all semester in a reporting class  got away with it,” Hausch says. “After the semester a classmate told me what the woman had done. A few days later that student came to me for a reference, and I told her she better hope I never knew where she applied for a job.”

The student, Hausch says, never asked for another referral from her again.

•••••

The seven greatest cheat-singers (lip-synchers) in recent history 

By Julie Seabaugh

7. Oasis

Sayeth Wikipedia: “The band Oasis has done this on several occasions. Often lead guitarist Noel Gallagher replaces his brother Liam at the microphone stand, impersonating him, emphasizing his mannerisms and playing the tambourine, while Liam stands in the background pretending to play the guitar.”

6. 50 Cent

This year’s BET Awards featured a flubbed “Amusement Park” chorus, which Fiddy responded to by walking around the stage and into the audience until the song re-cued.

5. Milli Vanilli

Though they were caught when a backing disc skipped at an MTV-taped Bristol, Connecticut, show, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus won a 1990 Grammy for Best New Artist seven months later. The following November it was revealed the dreaded duo never sang a note on Girl You Know It’s True.

4. Jessica Simpson

After performing “live” on a September 2006 episode of The View, Simpson attempted to talk to new co-host Rosie O’Donnell with a dead mic.

3. Paris Hilton

As singer Joshua Radin reported of his November 18, 2006, evening at Tao, “Paris, who had been swilling straight vodka from [a] Grey Goose bottle for hours, gets up on stage, has the people in charge throw her ‘record’ on the house stereo for her to lip-sync two of her songs,” wrote Radin. “She gets up on the stage, pukes, leaves. ... I find the music business charming.”

2. Ashlee Simpson

While she attempted to perform “Autobiography,” on October 23, 2004’s Saturday Night Live, “Pieces of Me” lyrics began playing overhead. Simpson jigged, left the stage.

1. Britney Spears

This one you may already be aware of ...

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