card shark you might feel different. They are both criminals, they both steal money and rip people off but you still feel different about them. So, what’s the difference?
A mugger uses physical force, a knife, and perhaps even a gun to get your money. They attack helpless old people, women, kids or anyone who seems to be weaker than they are. Really, they are cowards with a gun and an IQ to match.
It takes years to become a real card shark and believe me, every single one of them at one time or another had to pay for an expensive lesson. When they were young and foolish with less experience they were also victims of bigger sharks. In their case it’s more or less like paying for college. It could actually be considered an investment into a future career. From a purely financial point of view it really doesn’t make much difference if you pay someone for a private lesson or if you loose your money learning. One way or the other you pay to learn.
This site offers you the privilege to learn for free. Many of the cheating strategies exposed here are closely kept secrets of the gambling community. It took me years to research this science and believe me, the learning never ends. Part of the reason for building a web site as opposed to writing a book is the fact that I always lean something new. This medium makes it easier to update the information and make changes. The book format does not offer this flexibility.
Another reason for a web site is to make it accessible to many people for free. The goal of this site is to educate honest players about the dangers of card play. True, some cheats will learn from it too and use some of the ideas they learned from here. However this is exactly the point. They accessed the information on the web, but so did millions of other players. Some of them are their potential victims. Believe me it is a lot harder to pull a fast one on someone who knows the trick.
At one point I would still like to put all this into a book. I like books and if that ever happens it would just be a hard copy of my work. A nice thing to have. I am sure many readers of this site will also feel that it would be nice to own the actual book. It feels different than virtual information. You can feel it, take it on a trip, to a party Š you know what I mean. With your support this may even happen one day.
As I already mentioned many of the cheating methods revealed on this site are closely guarded secrets. In fact, some of the information here was never before revealed to the general public. Up until now they were the cheat’s most prized possessions. Professional cheats depend on them to be able to survive and hence are not willing to spill the beans for someone who just wants to know how it’s done. They use money making strategies and as a general rule you have to provide some form of payment to learn the real secrets. The pros want to be sure that you won’t just go around telling everybody their secrets. One way to be sure you won’t do that is to make you pay for the information.
I am in a different type of business. My life doesn’t depend on whether or not I can rip you off. I am a professional entertainer with a big interest in crooked gambling. Since I do not want to become a criminal but still want to be involved in crooked gambling in some capacity, I offer gambling lectures. In a sense I use the same skill as card cheats and use that skill to make money, except I do not have to worry about getting caught, beat up or killed. People gladly pay me to do what I do. And that’s the way I like to keep it.
Some people like to play cards honestly. They like to win against good players. They like the challenge that the game presents. So if you are an honest card player and wish to continue to play honestly then you should read these pages. You should also always come back and check for updates.
I do not claim to know everything there is to know about the subject. In fact, I welcome your input. If your goal is the same as mine, which is to promote honest play (the way real players play) then by all means feel free to elaborate with me. If you know anything you wish to share with other card players around the world devoted to the real game please write it down and send it to me. However you must realize that I might have omitted something simply because I didn’t get to it yet, so check with me first.
For the same reason I will assume the cheat is right-handed. Whenever I describe certain moves I will explain them as for a right-handed person.
The information given in this site is intended to be used solely for the purpose of informing people about the possible risks involved with card play. It is not in any way an instructional manual for those who wish to learn how to cheat.
Crooked card moves, gaffs and techniques will be discussed only to the extent to which I find it necessary to inform people about what to look for. No practice exercises will be given.
When it comes to magic I am very much against any type of exposure. Out of respect towards my fellow magicians I do not wish to reveal any methods that might hinder their shows.
In any case magicians are in a completely different business than cheats. A card cheat who accomplishes miracles during a game would soon be out of a job. They are not performers and they can’t afford any glamour. On the other hand a magician who doesn’t accomplish miracles is boring and would also soon be out of a job. Those are two different worlds and they simply do not mix.
The Mind of a Card Cheat
. A shark is definitely a cheat, but a cheat is not necessarily a shark. A cheat may be someone who just happens to take advantage of a situation. Or it may be someone who just likes to gain advantage by cheating, but doesn’t really know how to cheat. Eventually both of these kinds of cheats will get caught, simply because they are not good strategists.
Sharks come in all shapes and colors. For example, take the three card monte guy. He is a smelly street guy in worn out clothes, who probably lives in a dump (or at least it looks that way). There is not much appeal in this guy. In fact from his appearance you would not be surprised if you found out, that he has a criminal record and never did anything decent in his life.
. He is obviously a card shark, but this type of shark you like. He is your hero and you do not care much that he is a criminal. This is how Hollywood portrays card sharks. In real life there may be a handful of charismatic sharks who look like movie stars, but the real-time sharks look a lot more like average guys, from any background.
So lets talk about cheats in general. What makes them tick? Why do they cheat?
A cheat doesn’t necessarily have to cheat. In fact, the best cheats will only cheat when it is absolutely necessary to do so. This way they decrease the odds at getting caught. Even if they play a square game from beginning to end, they are still cheats, simply because they entered the game with the intention to do so.
All a smart cheat wants is an edge other players don’t have. This edge translates into a profit over a long term play. It is like a tank full of water with a miniature hole on the bottom. If you put a container under it, all the water will eventually end up inside it. The same kind of edge brings millions of Dollars into casinos every year. Except casinos, don’t have to cheat, the rules of the games are set up so that they have a mathematical edge. Some people would consider this not fair play and they may argue that this is a form of cheating, other people may disagree with that. Those are just different points of view.
Three card monte mobs operate at a totally apposite principle. They take your cash and run. After that you never see them again. You eventually figure out that you were cheated but there is very little you can do. Plus you kind of get over the twenty Dollar loss. They don’t want to establish a relationship with you — all they want is your cash, they want it fast and then they want to deal with another sucker (all right, let’s call him a customer). You will never get a Christmas card from any one of them and they don’t give a damn if your feelings are hurt. Sure, if you are dumb enough to come back, they will be willing to take more cash from you, but if you make too much noise, they will walk away from you or even push you away.
Professional and Amateur Cheats
One can categorize cheats in any way he/she wishes. There is no real right way to do so. However, I made up a few categories, which make sense to me.
Anyone who takes advantage of an opportunity and acts upon it is a cheat. Sometimes a seemingly innocent opportunity may mean loosing your entire bankroll to a cheat, who just acted upon the knowledge gained through such opportunity. For example it won’t do you any good to bluff on a possible spade flush in five card stud, if your opponent (the opportunist) happened to accidentally catch a glimpse of a red card being dealt as your hole card.
The opportunist is a dangerous cheat. It is impossible to catch him, since the critical information happened to land into his lap. He didn’t plan it, he didn’t make any sleight-of-hand moves and neither is he using any gaffs. In fact, he may have even not had any intention of cheating, he just couldn’t resist.
The name says it all. The main motive this type of cheat has is to satisfy his ego. Usually the ego cheat will improvise as the game progresses. Perhaps he hates one of the other players, so he wants to make him pay? Perhaps he just can’t stand loosing? He is not a pro — his livelihood doesn’t depend on it, but he does it anyway, just to feed his ego. What a lovable guy!
The first example describes an enthusiast who happens to win money because this is how you play the game. The other example is a person who actually needs the extra cash. They are both semipros, but their motives are completely different.
A typical street corner professional is a three card monte cheat. This is by no means an amateur. However these cheats are most likely not sophisticated. They don’t really finesse their strategies and as hard as it may seem to believe it, they don¹t really care if they end up hurting your feelings. These guys have one or two fast plots that work for them and they do the job fast — and then they move on to the next client.
There is however another kind of card cheat who knows exactly what and when to do it and knows how to do it not to get caught. This is of course an expert card shark. All the cheating strategies a shark would apply are premeditated and well rehearsed. If you are a recreational player you may not stand a chance against a real pro.
Standard Crooked Moves
Sleight-of-hand is usually practiced by professional cheats. This doesn’t necessarily mean sophisticated cheats. Again, a three card monte mob is hardly sophisticated, but they are professionals — not just a group of card shark enthusiasts who get together on the weekends. Sometimes amateur cheats will use sleight of hand. Some manipulative techniques are not even too difficult to do I doubt that the best professional cheats ever resort to sleight of hand. First, hardly any sleight of hand is undetectable. If something is not undetectable, it is just a matter of time when someone will detect it. Cheats who wish to be in this risky business, can’t afford being detected. When you play against strangers all the time, you don’t know how educated some of them may be. It is also not easy to guess how aggressive some of these strangers may be, nor can you know how they will react if they catch you cheating. A pro, who wants to stay in the business wants to avoid these risks, so common sleight of hand may not be the best choice. You could divide card manipulation into two groups: pure manipulation and manipulation with gaffs. Most gaffs require some degree of manipulation in order for the gaff to do what it is supposed to do. Although many techniques associated with certain gaffs are valid manipulative techniques this chapter focuses on sleight of hand techniques, which are done without the use of any crooked equipment. FALSE SHUFFLES AND CUTS
Sleight-of-hand is usually practiced by professional cheats. This doesn’t necessarily mean sophisticated cheats. Again, a three card monte mob is hardly sophisticated, but they are professionals — not just a group of card shark enthusiasts who get together on the weekends. Sometimes amateur cheats will use sleight of hand. Some manipulative techniques are not even too difficult to do
I doubt that the best professional cheats ever resort to sleight of hand. First, hardly any sleight of hand is undetectable. If something is not undetectable, it is just a matter of time when someone will detect it. Cheats who wish to be in this risky business, can’t afford being detected. When you play against strangers all the time, you don’t know how educated some of them may be. It is also not easy to guess how aggressive some of these strangers may be, nor can you know how they will react if they catch you cheating. A pro, who wants to stay in the business wants to avoid these risks, so common sleight of hand may not be the best choice.
You could divide card manipulation into two groups: pure manipulation and manipulation with gaffs. Most gaffs require some degree of manipulation in order for the gaff to do what it is supposed to do. Although many techniques associated with certain gaffs are valid manipulative techniques this chapter focuses on sleight of hand techniques, which are done without the use of any crooked equipment.
FALSE SHUFFLES AND CUTS
There is no fundamental difference between a shuffle and a cut. Both change the position of every single card in the deck, so the cards end up in different hands when dealt out.
There is however one main difference between the two. After a shuffle all the cards end up thoroughly dispersed throughout the deck, while a cut only mixes groups of cards. You could say that a cut is a form of a shuffle, but a shuffle is not necessarily a form of a cut.
In the cheat’s hands cards may not end up being mixed at all after a shuffle or a cut. This is because cheats have various methods of faking shuffles and cuts. A false shuffle may be a blind shuffle or a stacking method. If it is blind, it means that the deck remains in the same order after the shuffle. A shuffle can be 100% blind or just partially blind. Each will serve its own purpose. However if a shuffle is a stacking method, the cards will end up in a predetermined order (to benefit one of the cheats) after the shuffle is over.
In an honest game, all the cards are supposed to come off of the top of the deck when being dealt. This may not be the case if the cards are being dealt by a cheat.
The most popular crooked deal is the second deal. The cheat will deal the card second from the top of the deck instead of the top one. The second deal is frequently being used in conjunction with marked cards — this is how the cheat knows which card to deal.
Another popular crooked deal is the bottom deal. As the name suggests, the cards are being dealt from the bottom of the deck rather than the top. The bottom deal is mainly used when the cheat assembles a slug (a group of good cards) on the bottom of the deck. When a round is dealt, the cheat will deal cards from the top to every player except himself (or the accomplice).
There are some other crooked deals which are very difficult to learn and therefore are not widely spread out. The center deal is a technique of dealing cards from the center of the deck. The third deal is almost like the second deal, except that the third card is dealt instead of the second one. The Greek deal is basically the second deal from the bottom of the deck. This deal is used in games such as single deck blackjack, because a face-up joker is kept on the bottom of the deck — to avoid bottom dealing and/or flashing the bottom card.
All the crooked deals described above are techniques used to deal a card other than the top card. There is one more false deal, which serves a totally different purpose — the double deal. This deal is used to get a hold of an extra card. There are two basic types of double deals. One deals a double card as one from the top of the deck, while the other takes a card simultaneously from the top and from the bottom of the deck.
It is really difficult to argue about any kind of crooked move taking place. The problem is, once the move is over all the evidence of the move is gone. This is even the case if the move goes wrong and cards end up in an unusual state. The crook will of course have an explanation for the unusual state of the cards and will not know what you are trying to prove. How do you argue with that? You don’t! The truth is, if someone is cheating at a card table, the odds are that this person is not alone. Your suspects, in this case, are all the other people in the game — unless one of them is someone you trust 100%. Even if you are allowed to prove your argument you may not come out a winner. Will you try to collect your money? What will happen when you try to leave?
When you play cards with fast company and you think you caught a cheat you are better off not making any waves. Any emotional reaction can get you in more trouble than it may be worth. If you fell into a trap against a card mob, the odds are that they are prepared for trouble — if things go wrong. The problem is that you are not prepared for it. Or are you?
If you educate yourself and anticipate trouble you will probably be ready if it happens. Then you will probably not act on emotional instinct and you may do the right thing. Even if you just end up walking out of a crooked game on time to cut your losses, it may be the best thing to do.
THE FALSE RIFFLE SHUFFLE
As was the case with the overhand shuffle, there are many ways in which a riffle shuffle can be faked. Again, to explain all of them would take too long, however, I do want to shine some light on the most basic ones.
if you know how to riffle shuffle, you already know how to fake this one. If you desire to retain the bottom stack all you have to do is start your riffle with the pile, which has the original bottom stack. After a few cards have been riffled off you just continue to shuffle regularly. This is very easy to do and it is completely undetectable and impossible to prove.
As you see neither one of these two shuffles are 100% blind but again they do the job and that is all that counts.
at the beginning. Spotting this slip cut may be your only chance of detecting a Zarrow in action.
this is another 100% blind shuffle. It is, however, totally different from the Zarrow shuffle, just described. In this case, the two piles are riffled together and pushed together under an angle. During the fake squaring action the piles are pushed slightly beyond the squaring point, thus cards of opposite piles end up protruding from the sides of the deck. This irregularity is covered by the fingertips which keep holding the deck by the corners at all time. Right after this squaring action is faked, the cheat fakes a cut. During this fake cut the cheat will pull the opposite piles by gripping them by the opposite corners, thus stripping the two piles free of each other At the completion of the cut the two piles are reassembled in the same way they were divided. Then the deck is squared.
I already gave you many clues to what you need to look for. First the action of pushing the piles through. Then the strip-cut. However there is another clue that gives this fake shuffle away, when executed poorly. Sometimes the cheat may not do a really good stripping action. When this happens some cards will end up trailing out of the sides of the opposite piles. This is a definite giveaway. The stripping action is supposed to mimic a cut — there is no way that cards would end up trailing out of the middle of the piles after a cut.
similar to the push-through just described, except that the action of pushing through is omitted. Instead, the cheat will slightly angle the two piles as the squaring action is being faked. One side of the deck will be totally squared, while the other side is left not completely squared. This will allow the cheat to grab the piles apart and strip them out as faking a cut. You should look for the same giveaway signs.
You should always pay attention when the deck is shuffled and cut. Even if you don’t know what to look for, the cheat will notice this and may not want to take a risk — depending on his skill and confidence level.
It may be difficult to ask to shuffle the deck on every round. This is another reason why you should pay very close attention to the cut.
Also pay attention to how cards are picked up by players after the showdown. If a player has any hesitation in the way he is picking up the cards you have reasons to suspect cheating.