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
Among the more modern appliances, the first to which we shall refer
is that known as the 'table- reflector.' As its name implies, it
is designed for the purpose of being attached to the card-table
during the game. It is thus described in one of the price-lists.
'Table-reflector, Fastens by pressing steel spurs
into under side of table. A fine glass comes to the edge of table
to read the cards as you deal them off. You can set the glass
at any angle or turn it back out of sight in an instant.'
From the many samples similar to the above with which one meets
in 'sporting' literature, the legitimate inference is that punctuation-marks
are an expensive commodity in certain districts of America.
The reflector to which this paragraph refers is illustrated in
fig. 20. It is a neat little contrivance, nicely finished and nickel-plated.
The mirror m, as usual, is convex, forming as usual a reduced image
of the card. A represents the position of the reflector whilst in
use. B shows the manner in which it is turned back, out of the way
and out of sight. The hinge is fitted with light friction-springs,
which enable the mirror to retain any position in which it may be
It should be noted that all good shiners are
convex. This ensures that the mirror will always catch the reflection
of the card, as long as the shiner is oriented in the general direction.
A flat mirror would be significantly more difficult to use, as the
mirror would have to be more precisely oriented and tilted. Also,
since a flat mirror does not reduce the reflected image, the surface
of the mirror would have to be larger, thus requiring a much larger
shiner, to catch the whole image.
The correct way to 'play' the reflector is to press the steel point
into the under side of the table, just sufficiently far back to
bring the hinge about level with the lower edge of the table top.
Whilst in use, the mirror, contrary to what one might suppose, is
not inclined downwards, but the inclination given to it is an upward
one as in the illustration. Thus, whilst the sharp is leaning slightly
forward, as one naturally would, whilst dealing, the cards are reflected
from the mirror as he looks back into it.
Used in this manner, the reflector can be played anywhere, and
even those who are familiar with 'shiners' will 'stand' it. Inclined
downwards, it may be easier to use, but in that case the dealer
would have to lean back whilst distributing the cards. A proceeding
such as that would be liable to attract attention and to arouse
suspicions which, all things considered, had better be allowed to
slumber if the sharp is to maintain that mental quietude so necessary
to the carrying out of his plans. It is possible of course that
nothing of the kind may occur, but, on the other hand, it might.
One cannot be too careful, when even the most innocent actions are
apt to be misconstrued. The world is so uncharitable, that a little
thing like the discovery of a bit of looking-glass might lead to
a lot of unpleasantness. Who knows?
Should anyone happen to come behind the dealer whilst the mirror is in view, it can always be turned out of sight with the little finger
in the act of taking up one's cards from the table, or by sitting very close it can be altogether concealed.