foreword to the online edition
II. common sharpers and their tricks
III. marked cards and the manner
of their employment
VII. collusion and conspiracy
VIII. the game of faro
IX. prepared cards
XI. high ball poker
XII. roulette and allied games
XIII. sporting houses
XIV. sharps and flats
SHARPS AND FLATS
COLLUSION and CONSPIRACY
The London Club Incident
It is not with this sporadic kind of cheating, however, that we
now have to deal, but with the systematic banding together of individuals
to swindle at play. As a notable example of this kind of thing,
the reader will do well to peruse the recital of the following incident,
which occurred a few winters ago at one of the leading clubs in
the West End of London.
At this club a very favorite game was écarté, played generally
'ŕ la galerie.' That is to say, the bystanders were allowed to bet
among themselves, or with the players, as to the result of the game.
In this case, the lookers-on form themselves into two parties, one
behind each player, and lay wagers upon the chances of their respective
For rules of écarté (and other
card games) please visit the Rules
of Card Games page on Playing
The doings of this club, then, afforded an opportunity for cheating
which was too good to be missed. Certain unprincipled members therefore
proposed, and managed to get elected, two clever French card-sharpers.
The method of procedure adopted was to place these two men opposed
to each other at a card-table, and let them play écarté.
As large a 'gallery' as possible was assembled, and then the fun
began. There was nothing of refinement or delicacy of operation
in the method employed. All that took place was simply that one
or the other of the players lost to order. According to how the
betting ran, that is to say, according to the player whose winning
would put the most money into the pockets of the conspirators, so
would the result of the game be. Certain signs were made to the
players, unobserved of the outsiders, and in response to these signs
the game was made to go in one direction or the other.
The favorite plan appeared to be for all the conspirators to station
themselves behind one of the men, and, of course, other members
of the club who wished to join in had to take up their position
behind the other. The secret brotherhood then made as many bets
with those across the table as they could. When this had been effected,
their player was sure to win. If the cards were not running favorably
to him, he would put up hands for himself, make the
bridge, and give the cards to be cut. No doubt, out of pure
courtesy, his opponent would obligingly cut at the required place.
At the end of the evening the proceeds were divided among the conspirators.
Well, this little game had gone on for some time, and had doubtless been the means of putting in circulation a good deal of capital which
otherwise would have remained locked up, when a most unforeseen and regrettable incident occurred. Among the newly-elected members of the
club was one who had some little knowledge of sleight-of-hand. Chancing to be a spectator of the proceedings one evening, he at once 'tumbled
to the bridge.' He might well do so, for, as one of the fraternity remarked, the players had latterly become so secure in the ignorance of
the members that, owing to their carelessness, the structure referred to had become not so much a bridge as a veritable 'Arc de Triomphe.'
Through the enlightenment which was thus brought about, the matter came to be laid before the committee. The result was that écarté
ŕ la Galerie was prohibited. Those who are familiar with club matters will doubtless remember the circumstance, and know the club to which
allusion is made.