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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2006 :  05:47:36  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Many and wondrous are the ways and means with which we rip off our fellows, and some of the most subtle are the inventions of gamblers. Being someone who greatly enjoys a few hands of poker now and again, I've managed to pick up a bit about how the mechanics work their trade. In this context, a ‘mechanic' is a card sharp; so called due to his slight-of-hand manipulations of the deck.

Professional stage magicians loathe the card mechanics because they use exactly the same tricks and they think that it all gives the whole slight-of-hand thing a bad name. They may have a point, there…, but slight-of-hand has always had a seedy reputation.

Here are a few of the myriad methods used by the sharps.

The flasher: This is any small, reflecting surface on the table that will allow the dealer to get a quick glimpse of the cards he is dealing. A typical flasher might be a polished cigarette lighter (a Zippo style works best due to it‘s perfectly flat sides). This is not all that effective, really, as while the dealer can determine face or number card, and maybe suit, the cards are still moving too fast to do much more than estimate an opposing hand. And the flasher can be spotted in a heartbeat by any alert player.

Stacked decks: Remarkably, this is done by the dealer during the shuffle and cut. The whole deck is not rearranged, rather a certain few cards are put into sequence to be dealt to himself or, as likely, a partner. It is most often used to deal seconds, bottoms, or even bottom-seconds. Or a combination of the three. And some highly skilled slight-of-hand artists can deal as much as thirds and even fourths. I have heard of fifths being dealt by magicians, but never, to my knowledge, seen it.

Dealing seconds: When I was in the Navy, we had some ferocious and marathon poker games, and I taught myself to deal seconds and bottoms. Got pretty good at it, too, but, not wanting to get listed as “lost at sea,” I never used these tricks nor even showed them off very much. But they were fun to play around with and I did learn what to look for.

It's really not all that hard. I found that the tips of my thumbs and right fore and middle finger should be just slightly sticky -- a tiny bit of saliva works perfectly. The left thumb moves the top card aside slightly and the card below it is slid out and dealt. This is done so quickly that it is all but invisible, and saves the worthwhile, top card for the dealer or his partner. Bottoms are done by simply moving the right thumb over the top of the deck as a distraction while the fore and middle fingers slip the bottom card out, and then the thumb drops to catch it. Meanwhile, the left hand is shrouding the deck as much as possible. There are other ways to do this, but that's what worked for me.

I learned to deal a bottom-second, but never got very good at it. It's done pretty much the same way except the ring and little finger do the left thumb‘s job. I never could reliably deal a third from either side of the deck.

It is advantageous to have a new or almost new deck for dealing these. Older cards won't slip out as easily.

Holdouts: These are cards that have been stolen from the deck and concealed. They are produced when needed to make a good hand and the card(s) from the hand takes their place, to be traded again for better at the first opportunity. The waistband is a favorite stash for these cards and one might speculate that it was a possible reason why so many of the professionals of yore wore cummerbunds of one sort or another. Handy place to keep a couple of derringers, too -- a highly desirable accessory for anyone pulling these shenanigans.

But science ever intervenes. I do not know if it was gamblers or conjurers who first came up with the mechanical, up-sleave holdouts, but to me, it represents a certain lack of skill and dexterity, not to say laziness. Ok, so call me a purist if you must…

Marked cards: It is a sad c

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!


Edited by - filthy on 10/30/2006 02:08:02

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2006 :  15:49:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
Thanks for a great and entertaining post, Filthy!

This one is worthy of an article status.

I'm not a great with cards, though I've dealt seconds to friends while playing poker at work. Though never when money has been involved.

My girlfriend made a slight-of-hand card trick on me once.
I recognized the starting layout of the trick, because it very much resembled a card trick from a book I read in my childhood: Mickey Mouse's Magician's Handbook (or something similar, it's a translation of a Swedish title). The problem was that the Micky Mouse trick was a mentalist trick (think Derren Brown) based on making the subject confused about what cards were actually shown from a pre-prepared deck, so I thought I had the trick figured out before my girlfriend executed the slight-of-hand.
Her trick had been executed with hesitation since she well knew I had a keen eye.
Her delight was great when a very confident Dr. Mabuse thought he had the trick figured out, only to comletely drop his jaw when he realised he'd been had.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2006 :  02:17:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Thanks Doc.

What brought it on was when I was observing a low-stakes poker game at the M/C clubhouse last month. My disability check being still a couple of days away, I had no money to play. I got in a conversation about cheats, and told them I could do seconds and bottoms, and got told to put up or shut up. So, I unwrapped a fresh deck and demonstrated the method. But when I tried to make the deal, I found that my hands were too bad to do it and the cheat was very clumsy -- the fact that I was some 30+ years out of practice not withstanding.

If you think it'll make a good article, please do put it up as such. I wrote it mainly because while everyone knows about card and dice cheats, very few have the faintest idea of how it is done; even among those who play regularly.





"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2006 :  15:49:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
There is a came called Screw the Dealer. It basically amounts to people guessing what the next card is, although it is a bit more complex. During this game, the dealer gets to look at the top card before flipping it over, revealing if the guess was correct or not. That, along with the fact that it's a drinking game, makes it extremely easy to bottom deal. But I have been caught twice doing it...

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2006 :  16:05:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Ricky

There is a came called Screw the Dealer. It basically amounts to people guessing what the next card is, although it is a bit more complex. During this game, the dealer gets to look at the top card before flipping it over, revealing if the guess was correct or not. That, along with the fact that it's a drinking game, makes it extremely easy to bottom deal. But I have been caught twice doing it...

That's the perfect time to deal a second. Drunks seeing double will never catch it, espeaclly if they are expecting a bottom.

Fake-out is the name of the game, even in the honest ones.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2006 :  20:10:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Okay, that's it. This one should also be an article here. Eventualy we will make it so. Great stuff, filthy!

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  00:51:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Thanks Kil. I hope everyone's enjoyed it, particularly those who like to play a hand. Then, I hope they'll have learned what to look for, because when anti's in and the pot's right, they have no friends at the table, not even their grannies.

I might add that the card-counters, blakjack specialists mostly, are not mentioned because they are geeks, not mechanics, and what they do is perfectly legal. How utterly dull!




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  14:10:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy
I might add that the card-counters, blakjack specialists mostly, are not mentioned because they are geeks, not mechanics, and what they do is perfectly legal. How utterly dull!

I beg to differ.
Check out Derren Brown playing Black Jack.


Edited to add;
Also note how the crupier interviwed conveniently forgets 'misses' and remember 'hits', just like believers do when they visit psychics like tarot card readers. (as you can read in Filthy's excellent article on Cold Reading)

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
Edited by - Dr. Mabuse on 10/11/2006 14:14:22
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  03:28:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Black jack has never been a favorite game on mine (unless I'm dealing ).

Here is a very good article from Wikipedia on the counters and the lengths casinos go toward discouraging the practice:
quote:
Card counting in blackjack
The fundamental principle behind counting cards in blackjack is that a deck of cards with a higher proportion of high cards (tens and aces) to low cards is good for the player, while the reverse is true for the dealer. A deck rich in tens and aces improves the player's odds because blackjacks (which offer a higher payout than other winning hands) become more common, and the dealer is more likely to bust a stiff hand. [1]

Card counters raise their bets when the ratio of high cards to low cards in the deck is skewed in their favor. They also make strategy adjustments based on the ratio of high cards to low cards. These two adjustments to their betting and playing strategy can give players a mathematical advantage over the house.

Contrary to the popular myth, card counters do not need savant qualities in order to count cards, because they are not tracking and memorizing specific cards. Instead, card counters assign a heuristic point score to each card they see and then track only the total score. (This score is called the "count".) [2]

And:
quote:
Countermeasures against blackjack card-counters
Casinos have made a great amount of effort and spent a great deal of money trying to thwart card counters. Among the countermeasures used to prevent card counters from profiting at blackjack:

Most simply, engaging a suspected card counter in a conversation to break their concentration.
Card counter identification using books of photos and new facial recognition technologies.
Computerized scanners in blackjack tables which can identify counting systems when in use.
Shuffling more often or shuffling when a player increase his wager size.
Changing rules for splitting, doubling down, or playing multiple hands. This also includes changing a table's stakes.
Harassment of suspected card counters by casino staff.
Some jurisdictions (like Nevada) have no legal restrictions placed on these countermeasures. Other jurisdictions, like New Jersey, limit the countermeasures a casino can take against "skilled players". [9]

Some of these countermeasures have a downside for the casino as well. Frequent shuffling, for example, reduces the amount of time that the noncounting players are playing and consequently loses money for the house. Some casinos now use automatic shuffling machines to compensate for this. Some models of shuffling machines shuffle one set of cards while another is in play. Others, known as Continuous Shuffle Machines (CSMs) allow the dealer to simply return used cards to a single shoe to allow playing with no interruption. Because CSMs essentially force minimal penetration they remove almost all possible advantage of traditional counting techniques. In most online casinos, the deck is shuffled at the start of each new round, ensuring the house always has the advantage.

As I said; not mechanics and if you ask me, the casinos are the ones resorting to cheating.

Anyone who does not do a little card counting in face-up games like black jack and stud poker is naive at best and a sucker at worst, and a pigeon to be plucked either way.

In casinos, the cards are usually dealt from a shoe, as mentioned in the article. In private games however, the dealer could well pick up a wrench and deal himself a bottom second from a lightly stacked deck. It is not unheard of, and I must ask: why risk it? If he holds the deck long enough, he will win without any cheats.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  05:28:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I've not commented before simply because I'm not a card player. Also, it's taken me a while to figure out all your terminology. But this is indeed fascinating stuff, filthy, even to a person who wouldn't be caught dead in a card game (especially now!)


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/30/2006 15:18:54
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  07:29:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Delighted that you enjoyed it. Although I haven't seriously played other than messing around at the M/C, in many years, I'm still a poker player at heart and at one time, I was pretty good at it. I think it's another version of being "hooked on the rush." The game is merely interesting to watch, but highly exciting when your money's in and you are holding a set of low trips (three of a kind, an ok hand but not impressive), and have just been raised.

What to do? Call? Fold? Or raise back every dime on the table and try to scare him out of the pot? It all depends upon how well you have read your opponent.

Thanks for the very pleasant compliments...




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Robb
SFN Regular

USA
1223 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2006 :  10:59:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Robb a Private Message
Thanks filthy, this is the reason I come back to read here, alot of good info and entertaining as well. I especially liked reading about the murderers.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. - George Washington
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