Sharps and Flats: The Secrets of Cheating
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foreword to the online edition


I. introductory

II. common sharpers and their tricks

III. marked cards and the manner of their employment

IV. reflectors

V. holdouts

VI. manipulation

VII. collusion and conspiracy

VIII. the game of faro

IX. prepared cards

X. dice

XI. high ball poker

XII. roulette and allied games

XIII. sporting houses

XIV. sharps and flats










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WITH this chapter we strike out into fresh territory. We have passed through the land of those who trust their fortunes to the turn of the card, and arrive now among the aborigines, whose custom is to stake their worldly possessions upon the hazard of the die. As to which custom is the more commendable of the two, it is somewhat difficult to decide. They are both 'more honored in the breach than the observance.' Readily, as we have seen, the innocent pieces of pasteboard are made to serve the purposes of cheating; and no less readily are the tiny cubes of ivory or celluloid falsified, and made the instruments of dishonesty.

This of course is no secret. The name of 'loaded dice' is familiar to all; but it is the name alone which is familiar; the things themselves are, to the vast majority of mankind, absolutely unknown. In some respects it is quite as well that it should be so; but it is far better that these things should be generally understood, and that the signs and tokens of their existence and their employment should be known to all. In this chapter then, we shall deal with the subject in its entirety, describing the different systems of cheating, and some of the so-called games to which these methods are applied.

Broadly speaking, cheating at dice maybe classed under two heads the manipulation of genuine dice, and the employment of unfair ones. From this it will be gathered that the 'loaded dice,' so often spoken of, are by no means necessary to the sharp who has made this line of business his specialty. Loaded dice, in fact, are very puerile contrivances, compared with some of the devices which are about to be brought to the reader's notice. They are one of the landmarks of cheating, it is true; but they are not the high-watermark, by any means. The modern sharp has to a great extent risen above them, although they are still useful to him at times. They have one very great defect they will not 'spin' properly; and that militates very greatly against their use, in circles where the players are at all 'fly.'

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