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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The Bug Holdout

'The Bug' would appear to be an insect which may be relied upon at all times, and in whose aid the fullest confidence may be placed. In fact, there is a saying to the effect that the bug has never been known to fail the enterprising naturalist who has been fortunate enough to secure a specimen, and that it has never been detected in use.

Bug Holdout: poker cheating

FIG. 24 -- 'The Bug'

This entomological curiosity is illustrated in fig. 24, and is thus described in the catalogue of one indefatigable collector.

'The Bug.' A little instrument easily carried in your rest pocket, that can be used at a moment's notice to hold out one or more cards in any game. Simple yet safe and sure. Price $1,00.

Such then are the general characteristics of the species; but since the reader will probably desire a more intimate acquaintance with its habits and its structural details, the following description is appended.

In its essential features the bug is simply a straight piece of watch spring, bent as Paddy might say at one end. The end nearest the bend is inserted into the handle of a very small shoemaker's awl. There is nothing else 'to it' whatever. The point of the awl is stuck into the under side of the table, in such a manner that the spring lies flat against the table top, or nearly so, the point of the spring projecting beyond the edge of the table to the extent of about one-eighth of an inch.

The cards having been dealt out (say for Poker), the sharp takes up those which have fallen to his hand, and stands them on edge upon the table, with their faces towards him, holding them with both hands. The card or cards which he wishes to hold out are then brought in front of the others, and with the thumbs they are quietly slid under the table between it and the spring. In this position they are perfectly concealed, and may be allowed to remain until required. When again wanted, these cards are simply pulled out by the two thumbs, as the sharp draws his other cards towards him with a sweeping motion. Thus, by selecting a good card here and there, as the succeeding hands are played, the sharp acquires a reserve of potential energy sufficient to overcome a great deal of the inertia with which he would otherwise be handicapped by the fluctuations of fortune.

The next form of holdout which falls beneath our notice is that known as the 'Cuff Holdout.' Let us see how the genius of the maker describes it.

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