A sandbagger is someone who

One who sandbags (misleads about his/her ability level in order to win bets)

And sandbagging means

hiding the strength, skill or difficulty of something or someone early in an engagement

with examples from different sports like grappling, racing and poker. The German wikipedia also has an entry saying it derives from boxing and is also used to refer to chess players deliberately keeping a low rating.

I don't know any good German equivalent of sandbagger, though.

  • Langenscheidt has no useful entries for either sandbagger ("Segelboot mit Sandsäcken als Ballast" or "Verbrecher, der jemanden mit einem Sandsack niederschlägt") or sandbagging (redirects to sandbag).
  • It's mentioned in a discussion on LEO about a Tiefstapler, but the description of Tiefstapler doesn't fit: "Er ist ein angenehmer Tiefstapler, trotz seiner Expertise stellt er die nicht so zur Schau oder gibt an."
  • PONS doesn't even know sandbagger, but has an interesting entry on sandbagging: "Sich zurückhalten"
  • I looked up Tiefstapler in the Duden ("Untertreibung; Abschwächung, [falsche] Bescheidenheit, Herabspielen, Understatement, Unterbewertung, [vornehme] Zurückhaltung, Zurücknahme") and the DWDS and found die Tiefstapelei. I miss the aspect of hustling a bit (while hustler is too broad).

Is there a German equivalent of sandbagger - someone who makes themselves appear weaker to fool their competitors?

  • 14
    Interestingly enough, Sandbagger is German for sand excavator Jul 19 '19 at 14:35
  • 14
    Tiefstapler is the correct term, it's built analog to Hochstapler and conveys the same meaning.
    – Janka
    Jul 19 '19 at 15:13
  • 5
    The description in LEO is not a good one, because Tiefstapler does not fit angenehm - if one considers the other person's pudency pleasant, the would rather call that person bescheiden. Jul 19 '19 at 15:22
  • 1
    @infinitezero: Absolutely, and when reading the term "Sandbagger" (in this question or elsewhere), I would definitely assume this refers to a children's toy for use in a sandbox (or at the beach). Jul 20 '19 at 8:57
  • 1
    "Sandbagger" goes back to stockcar racing. You'd hide sandbags (loaded with sand) in your car while running the trials. This slows you down to a certain extent, and gets you a better place in the starting lineup. For the race itself, you remove the sandbags - better acceleration and higher speed.
    – JRE
    Jul 22 '19 at 10:07

Der Tiefstapler is built as an analogon to der Hochstapler.

  • Der Hochstapler is someone who deceives people e.g. by faking knowledge, wealth or contacts. Die Hochstapelei is the whole setup of smoke and mirrors. It's hoch + stapeln == stack high, about building a stack of abilities higher than one would expect so it seems to be a good opportunity to start a business with this person. Note hochstapeln is mostly about business and jobs. There are distinct words for people who just brag (Angeber) and people who fake a love interest (Heiratsschwindler).

Der Tiefstapler also deceives people, but not by stacking high but instead by stacking low. That's the whole idea behind this word formation.

Ich verstehe nicht viel davon. – Du elender Tiefstapler hast ein Buch darüber geschrieben!

In contrary to der Hochstapler, der Tiefstapler isn't about serious business but about social interaction. What makes it a bit complicated is a certain grade of modesty is the default way of ranking your own abilities in interaction between Germans, Austrians, Swiss Germans. That's why Duden gives falsche Bescheidenheit as an explanation.

So, die Tiefstapelei is a really gross kind of understatement, so extreme it cannot be tolerated silently.

  • How does Tiefstapler fit to "makes themselves appear weaker to fool their competitors"? As far as I understand your answer, the Tiefstapler has no intention to fool any competitor or to beat them while they thought to be on winner's side. Given example has no "cannot be tolerated silently" or forces the Tiefstapler to change his behavior because the others would have a disadvantage if he keeps doing so. It simply says the second speaker knows and claims that first speaker should speak out his opinion. Jul 21 '19 at 19:16
  • It's a book about golf, no?
    – Janka
    Jul 21 '19 at 21:25
  • Hochstapler hat auch eine völlig andere Bedeutung: Fork lift truck. Wird im Warenhaus benutzt um Paletten hochzustapeln.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 22 '19 at 8:24
  • 1
    A "Tiefstapler" is guilty of "hiding his light under a bushel" rather than guilty of "cheating" as the word "sandbagger" implies.
    – JRE
    Jul 22 '19 at 12:12
  • @Janka: no, I see no limitation or at least a connection to golf or a book mentioned in the question. I had no idea "tiefstapeln" could have a different meaning in Golfing than in general. Jul 22 '19 at 13:28

Regarding the aspect "appear [weaker] to fool" I would say it is simply a Täuschung / Täuschungsmanöver.

That is not specific to "appear weaker", it is just to appear as someone else to make a different impression than you would if you show your true being.

As you read about Tiefstapler/ Tiefstapelei it is more a "polite behavior", like you don't talk about your abilities, you just show them once they are needed.


In games, in particular in card games with a bidding phase such as skat, this behaviour is called "mauern". Note that this meaning of "mauern" is more or less restricted to gaming, though.

  • 5
    "mauern" may be the best translation available, but it's still not quite fitting - it means playing unnecessarily defensively rather than weakly. A good defense in e.g.soccer can require supreme skill. Jul 19 '19 at 14:52
  • 2
    @KilianFoth It's not "playing weakly", but it's "pretending to have a weak hand", or more precisely, "not bidding (enough) in spite of having a strong hand".
    – Uwe
    Jul 19 '19 at 16:55

The most similar I can think of is

Bluffer (compare bluffen, Bluff)

Related: Simulant, Heuchler

  • true, bluffen is much more gaming specific than my broad täuschen Jul 20 '19 at 11:46
  • 1
    Ein Bluff ist das Voräuschen einer nicht vorhandenen Stärke. Hier geht es aber um das Verschleiern einer vorhandenen Stärke, also genau um das Gegenteil. Daher gebe ich hier -1. Jul 20 '19 at 16:14
  • @jonathan.scholbach: Ein Bluffer will etwas erreichen, je nach Zweckmäßigkeit stellt er sich stark oder schwach; »bluffen« heißt täuschen.
    – Pollitzer
    Jul 20 '19 at 19:30
  • 1
    Das ist in meinen Augen halt wirklich falsch. Ein Bluff ist immer das Vortäuschen einer zu stärkeren Hand. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluff_(poker), de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluff Vgl. auch die Etymologie von dwds.de/wb/Bluff Aber vielleicht hat sich der Begriff gewandelt, und ich habe es nicht mitbekommen. Der Duden hat die allgemeine, in meinen Augen ungenaue Definition als bloße "Täuschung". Kannst du mir vielleicht Beispiele der Verwendung von Bluff nennen, in denen damit eine vorgetäuschte Schwäche bezeichnet wird? Jul 20 '19 at 19:59
  • Im Englischen jedenfalls scheint es diese Bedeutungserweiterung nicht zu geben: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bluff Das heißt natürlich nicht, dass sich das Deutsche Wort Bluff nicht eigenständig weiterentwickelt haben könnte. Aber ohne eine relevante Anzahl von Beispielen fällt es mir schwer, das zu glauben. Jul 20 '19 at 20:03

I don't think there is a fitting German word, but there is an idiom

mit angezogener Handbremse spielen

mit angezogener Handbremse fahren

etwas mit angezogener Handbremse machen

meaning you aren't doing something the best you can in order to save your energy or because you don't have to.

So you could paraphrase a sandbagger as

Jemanden der (absichtlich) mit angezogener Handbremse spielt (um seine Gegner in Sicherheit zu wiegen)

And to add a few words to your list




You may even think about the english word


as some movies and TV-series already introduced this word and it's meaning to some Germans.


Langenscheidts Slang-Wörterbuch has only the verb to sandbag and gives the translation:

täuschen, über den Tisch ziehen

Unfortunately Täuscher is far too general (and Looking dated) and there is no snappy substantive for über den Tisch ziehen.


The most likely pejorative term to be used in this context is "Abzocker" even though it does not imply the particular way in which someone is getting better odds than the other party is aware of. Another is "Schauspieler" in a derogative manner, like "Was falle ich Depp auch auf so einen Schauspieler herein?!".

  • Ich dachte einfach an „Zocker“. Jul 20 '19 at 19:54

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