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The Elaborate Casino Cheating Plot on The Irrational, Explained

Behavioral scientist Alec Mercer stepped up for a friend to expose the mastermind of a rigged poker match on the latest episode of The Irrational.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

How to Watch

Watch The Irrational on NBC and Peacock

More than smart advice, that’s the key to unlocking a case behavioral scientist Alec Mercer takes on for a dear friend in need of help on The Irrational, airing Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

When Alec (Jesse L. Martin) gets a distress call from Camille (Joceyln Hudon), a former research assistant-turned-poker-player who's desperate for his help, he’s on the next flight to Las Vegas. He even brought his sister Kylie (Travina Springer) and current researchers Phoebe (Molly Kunz) and Rizman (Arash DeMaxi) with him.

Relying on gut instinct and what she learned about human behavior and game theory from Alec, Camille has been riding high and raking in cash as a poker champ. Suddenly, she’s on a losing streak.

The cheating plot on The Irrational, explained

Camille suspected that Ethan (Curtis Lum), her unbeatable opponent, isn’t playing fair.

He went from a run-of-the-mill mid-level player who’s never made it to a tournament finals to a sensational one. He’s been winning with “super marginal hands,” Camille said. “I keep coming back to the idea that he’s cheating.”

Posing as a book publishing pro, Alec chatted with Ethan, who attributed his success at the table to a mermaid keychain he recently found.

Hank Riddle (Stew McLean) sits at a poker table

“It's like I know what to do, and when,” Ethan said.

Alec and Kylie hatched a plan to covertly snatch the mermaid, but when Ethan won without his confidence-boosting lucky charm, Alec was convinced he’s cheating.

But how? Figuring it out was urgent. Camille revealed she's actually in deep debt to dangerous loan sharks.

Alec and the team determined that Ethan must have had access to the other player’s cards. Alec talks to the tournament organizer, Linda Fields (Deb Podowski), who said she’ll have her team look into the situation.

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But in a twist, Ethan dropped out of the match. Camille advanced in the tourney and faced off with Hank (Stew McLean), who confidently beat her with a super marginal hand.

Alec suspected that Hank was cheating as well, so Alec persuaded Ethan to come clean. He explained he struck a deal to be part of an elaborate scheme to rig the tournament.

The cheaters relied on live feed footage of poker games to see players’ cards and a signaling device in the accomplice’s shoe.

“One buzz to play, two to fold,” Alec mused.

Alec Mercer (Jesse L. Martin), Phoebe (Molly Kunz), Kylie (Travina Springer), and Rizwan (Arash DeMaxi) stand together in a scene

So Alec’s team turned the (poker) table. They covertly secured a signaling device and sent so many signals to Hank he didn't know what to do.  

They exposed the brains behind the cheating scandal using behavioral science and free iced coffees for everyone watching Camille win the tournament final.

“People of all ages drink faster when they’re surprised,” said Alec, adding that they would watch to see who was most caught off guard when Hank didn't perform as expected.

Linda Fields, it turns out, drank like her life depended on it. Alec saw to it that that local FBI agents dealt with her.

Find out more about Alec and The Irrational, airing Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.