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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Pipe Shiner

Another very efficient form of reflector is one so constructed as to be adaptable to the interior of a pipe-bowl. It consists of a small convex mirror, similar to the one used in the table reflector, which is cemented to a piece of cork shaped to fit inside the bowl of an ordinary briarroot pipe (fig. 21).

Pipe Shiner: poker cheating

FIG. 21

Such a device is more adapted to the requirements of the second or third-rate sharper, as it would not be available in a circle of cigarette-smoking 'Johnnies.' It is used in the following manner.

The 'shiner' is carried separately from the pipe, and held until required in the palm of the hand, with the cork downwards. The sharp having finished his pipe, stoops down to knock out the ashes, upon any convenient spot. As the hand is again brought up to the level of the table, the glass is pressed into the bowl of the pipe with the thumb. The pipe is then laid upon the table, with the bowl facing towards its owner, a little to the left of where he is sitting. In this position the mirror is visible to no one but the sharp himself. He is therefore at liberty to make the freest use of it without exciting suspicion in the least.

Fig. 22 is a photograph of pipe and mirror in situ, which will give a far better idea of the convenience of this arrangement than any amount of explanation could possibly enable the reader to form. The card which is seen reflected in miniature was held at a distance from the mirror of about six inches.


Pipe Shiner: card cheating

FIG. 22

Needless to say that the pipe shiner belongs in a museum, along with the snuff-box reflector that Maskelyne mentions above. Smoking in general is less popular than it used to be and most poker games today don't tolerate smokers. But for smokers that are still allowed to light up at the poker table there are still a few options available, such as a cigarette shiner (or cigar shiner). That is a small mirror attached to a nail, similar in appearance to a thumbtack, that is simply attached to the rear of a cigarette or cigar. A cigarette lighter is also another option for the smokers.

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