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
Closing Thoughts on Holdout Machines
By this time the reader will be in a position to understand the
nature of the 'reflector on machine,'
referred to in the last chapter, without needing to be wearied with
further details of this particular kind.
Having thus glanced at all the principal varieties of the modern
holdout, with one or two of the more ancient ones, it only remains
to add a few general remarks to what has been said.
Each class of machine has its own peculiar advantages and disadvantages.
Each sharp has his own peculiarities of taste and his own methods
of working. Therefore, there is no one kind of appliance which appeals
equally to all individuals. Some will prefer one machine; some another.
That, of course, is the rule in the world generally. A great deal
also depends upon the manners and customs of the country in which
the machine is to be used.
For instance, how many card-players are there in England who hold
their cards in the manner represented in fig. 34? Very few, I take
it. Yet it is a very good method of preventing others from seeing
one's hand. Further, it is the correct way to hold the cards when
using the Kepplinger sleeve-machine.
The cards are placed flat in one hand, the ringers of the other
are pressed upon them in the centre, whilst the thumb turns up one
corner to allow of the indices being read. To adopt this method
in England, however, would be to arouse suspicion at once, merely
because it is unusual. Therefore the vest machine is the best for
the English sharp; although no holdout can compare with the Kepplinger
in a game of Poker in America.
FIG. 34 -- Poker player's method
of holding cards
Although most of these contrivances are simple in operation, the
reader must not run away with the idea that their use entails no
skill upon the part of the sharp who uses them. That would be far
too blissful a state of affairs ever to be achieved in this weary
world, where all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Certainly, they
do not demand the dismal hours of solitary confinement with hard
labor which have to be spent upon some of the manipulative devices
and sleight-of-hand dodges; but still they require a certain amount
of deftness, which can only be acquired by practice. The following
instructions will represent the advice of an expert, given to a
novice who proposed to try his hand with a machine at the game of
'Practise at least three weeks or a month with
the machine, to get it down fine [i.e. to gain facility of working,
both of machine and operator]. Don't work the machine too much.
[Not too often during the game.] In a big game [that is, where
the stakes are high] three or four times in a night are enough.
NEVER play it in a small game [because the amount that could be
won would be incommensurate with the risk of detection]. Holding
out one card will beat any square game [honest play] in the world.
Two cards is very strong; but can easily be played on smart people.
Three cards is too much to hold out on smart men, as a 'full'
is too big to be held often without acting as an eye-opener. Never,
under any circumstances, hold out four or five. One card is enough,
as you are really playing six cards to every one else's five.
This card will make a 'straight' of a 'flush' sometimes; or, very
often, will give you 'two pair' or 'three' of a kind. If you are
very expert, you can play the machine on your own deal; but it
looks better to do it on someone else's.'
Having digested these words of comfort and advice precious jewels extracted from the crown of wisdom and experience we may proceed on our
way invigorated and refreshed by the consciousness of having acquired knowledge such as rarely falls to the lot of man to possess.