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
THE GAME of FARO
Cheating at Faro
The swindling which is practiced in connection with this game,
and for which it affords ample scope, may be divided into two kinds.
Firstly, where the players cheat the bank; and secondly, where the
bank cheats the players. This latter class may again be considered
under two heads, viz. cheating with fair cards and fair boxes, and
cheating by means of prepared cards and mechanical arrangements
connected with the faro-box and other appliances of the game.
We will take, first of all, the methods employed by the players
to cheat the bank. This is done where the players are professional
sharps who have contrived to 'put up a mug' (i.e. to persuade a
dupe) to take the bank. The general practice is for one of the conspirators
to have a room of his own laid out for the game, and into this very
private room the victim is decoyed. In a case of this kind the 'rig
is worked,' or in other words the swindle is perpetrated, by means
of a dealing-box, so constructed as to enable the players to know
what cards will win for them, and what will win for the bank. With
this knowledge they run no risk of staking their money on the wrong
cards. The contrivances for effecting this desirable result are
known as 'tell-boxes.' Broadly speaking, these are of two kinds,
the 'sand-tell' and the 'needle-tell.'
The sand-tell box is so called because it is used in conjunction
with prepared cards, which have been 'sanded' or roughened on one
side, or both sides, as the case may be.1 The cards which
are intended to 'tell' are left smooth on their faces; all the others
are slightly roughened on both sides. The effect of this mode of
preparation is that, whilst the cards which are roughened on both
sides will tend to cling together, any card which lies immediately
upon the smooth face of a 'tell-card' will slip easily.
It has been said, many times, that the faro box is the predecessor of the dealing shoe, now used in blackjack and baccarat.
It is debatable whether the faro box is a predecessor of the casino dealing shoe, or just a close cousin, but we would like to point out the
fact that there is yet another gambling accessory that is closely related to the dealing shoe; that is the "marble block" that used
to be used in casinos, in games of baccara en banque. This gaming accessory is described in the 1905 book The Stealing Machine, by Eugene
Villiod. With the continuing advancements in gaming technology, nowadays, casinos around the world are replacing their dealing shoes with
automatic shuffling machines. The leading manufacturer of automatic shufflers for the casino industry is ShuffleMaster.
Dealing boxes have supposedly been invented
to make the game of faro safe, so that the dealer would not be able
to manipulate the cards, during the deal. Interestingly, these dealing
boxes actually made it easier for the dealers to cheat, because
instead of spending countless hours (and days, and weeks, and months,
and years) practicing and perfecting sleight-of-hand techniques,
now anyone could just purchase a gaffed faro box that would do the
dirty work, with minimal skill requirements from the part of the
Images of antique faro boxes can be found in the Virtual
Museum of Crooked Gambling page, on CARDSHARK Online.