There is one statement that we get on a fairly regular basis from people that we meet. Mostly, from the people that we meet after our shows.
That statement, often delivered to us in the form of a joke is “Well, I wouldn’t want to play cards against YOU!”
In my youth, my love affair with the ‘dark arts’ also lead me to a fascination with gambling techniques, and in particular how people have used sleight of hand to cheat during card games. Put a deck of cards in the hands of an expert con man and they wipe you for every penny you have!
The expert con-man sucks you in firstly by making you think that they are fairly inept at the game. They practise holding playing cards, shuffling and cutting like REAL people. Magicians show off with cards, they will instantly telegraph to their audience that they are a virtuoso with a deck. Not the card shark. Their pedestrian nature with the cards hides the real secret.
NEVER let them be the dealer! A casual shuffle and they have brought all four aces to exactly where they want to in the pack. Watch them deal, even an individual with ‘the knowledge’ can still miss the moment when a card is dealt from the bottom of the pack instead of the top.
There is a book that many people in our field regard as The Bible of card cheating, they study it the way an English student studies Shakespeakre. That book is called “The Expert at the Card Table” by S.W. Erdnase. First published in 1902 it fully exposes the false-cuts, false shuffles and bottom deals that were such closely guarded secrets of the crooked gamblers.
The author of the book chose to write it under a pseudonym. However, we can speculate that he clearly wanted people to know who he was. S.W. Erdnase spelled backwards is E.S. Andrews. The author was eventually tracked down, Milton Franklin Andrews, one of America’s most successful card swindlers.
He was notorious for having quite a temper and an enjoyment for other sins often associated with gambling – prostitutes. He was also wanted by the police for the murder of one of his ex-girlfriends.
Andrews was eventually tracked down by the police. They broke into his apartment where he shot both himself and the women he was living with at the time.
The book, strangely, contains some errors. His descriptions for some of the moves don’t really make sense. The illustrations, including Fig 11. are actually wrong! Speculation is that he did this deliberately, he explains an overly complicated way of dealing the second card from the deck. It is also said that he withheld certain techniques he knew. One thing I know for sure, none of these techniques would be of any use to him online at partypoker.
So to set the record straight; do we cheat at card games? Well, that is like asking a magician how he does his tricks, I can’t answer that. CAN we cheat a card games? Yes – who is up for a game of Gin?