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
The Needle-Tell Gaffed Faro Box
The second kind of tell-box, which is used for the same purpose
as that we have just investigated, we have already referred to as
the 'needle-tell.' This box is also used with prepared cards, but
the preparation is of a very different kind. In this instance there
is no roughening of the surfaces of the cards, but those which are
required to tell are cut to a slightly different shape to the others.
In some respects the needle is an improvement upon the sand-tell;
the cards are more easily shuffled than is the case with the 'sanded'
ones, the clinging of which might arouse suspicion with an intelligent
dealer. The dealing-box, however, is more complicated in its construction.
The tell-cards are cut with a slight projection at one end. Fig.
43 will give an idea of the exact shape. The projecting end will
be noticed at a. Needless to say, in the cards actually
used the defect in the card would not be more pronounced than is
In the chapter on prepared
cards Maskelyne exposes an apparatus, called card
trimmer, used to trim the edges of the cards for various purposes
(not necessarily for cheating. That apparatus produces a straight
cut, so it is not the tool used to prepare the cards for a needle-tell
faro box. It's a pity that Maskelyne did not provide any descriptions
of the apparatus used to prepare cards for a needle-tell. It's also
a pity that there are no illustrations of the needle-tell box.
The dealing box is so constructed that when either of the tell-cards
arrives at a certain position (usually the fourth or eighth card
from the top) the projecting corner presses against a light spring
and causes a little 'needle' or point to project from the side of
the box. Frequently one of the rivets with which the box is put
together is made to push out a little. Whatever the index may be,
however, it does not move sufficiently to attract attention. It
is only those who are looking for it who know when it 'tells.' A
movement of one thirty-second of an inch is ample for the sharp
eyes of the swindlers to detect.
The mechanism of the needle-tell, however, is not used solely in
connection with cases where the players cheat the bank, it also
forms a very necessary accessory to the 'two-card'
box to be presently explained. Then it is used to let the dealer
know when he is coming to the 'odd,' or fifty-third card.
It should be noted that there used to be yet
another type of a needle-tell box that was fitted with a different
mechanism. The other type of needle-tell box would also require
the cards to be prepared in a different manner. Instead of marking
the card with a projecting ear, as in fig. 43, the cards would have
small indentations at the sides. The apparatus used to prepare the
cards in that manner was a special card punch. The base of the punch
would have an alignment guide that enabled the user to make fine
adjustments, for heavy or light work. The cards would be placed
against the guide, one at a time, and the punch would clip off a
miniature portion of the edge. As a result, some of the cards would
be clipped at the sides; when these cards were placed inside the
needle-tell box, the miniature needles (pegs, actually) would fall
into the miniature crevices, whenever they pressed against the edge
of a clipped card. On the outside of the box there would be a fake
rivet that moved in an out.
This kind of needle-tell box used more than one needle (or peg); there would be as much as four pegs, at slightly different
positions that would read various valued of cards (or groups of cards). Of course, the playing cards would be prepared in such way that different
values of cards (or groups) were clipped at different positions along the edges.