Secrets of the great cheaters
40, Kiev, Ukraine

As you know, cards were invented in the 9th century in China.  In Europe, they became widespread only at the end of the XIV century, and almost immediately scammers were found who used speckled cards in the game.


 In the middle of the sixteenth century, a book on gambling was published in England, which described in detail the methods of applying cards that were hardly visible to prying eyes on cards.


 Manufacturers of playing cards immediately began to invent ways to deal with this evil.  A special, completely opaque paper was developed.  The cards were made of two layers of thick glossy paper, which were glued together with black glue based on soot.  A map made in this way under no lighting conditions was visible to the light.  In addition, it was impossible to bend it, apply dents, wrinkles or scuffs to its surface.  The gloss that covered the cards did not allow marking on them with paints or ink.  Even more inventive in this matter were those for whom dishonest game turned into a profession.


 Cheating has become a rather dangerous occupation.  In the sixteenth century, a gallows awaited exposed cheaters.  The American court provided victims of cheaters with the right to physically kill criminals, up to and including murder.

 In 1849, a magistrate of one of the French cities requested the famous magician Jean Robert-Uden to study one hundred and fifty card decks that had been seized from a suspiciously successful professional player.

For two weeks armed with a magnifying glass, the magician carefully explored each map, but he failed to detect anything suspicious. It should be noted that the reverse side of the cards produced in those days, had a picture and was white. It was thought that the open field is much more difficult to cause ticking.


Frustrated, the magician has decided to accept his failure, stood up from the chair and angrily threw on the table the last deck of cards. "And suddenly it seemed to me that the shiny back of one of the cards I noticed a pale spot, wrote Robert-Houdin. – I came a step closer, and the stain was gone. But then he came back, when I stepped back again".


Finally, the magician realized how Sharpie methyl card. Probably putting on cardboard drop of water he removed from a certain portion of the surface gloss. Obtained in this way a label could be distinguished only from a certain distance under a certain angle and under lighting. Place spot was chosen not by chance: match each suit and rank of cards. Robert-Houdin was interested in this issue, and he continued its study, and several years later wrote and published a book, which he dedicated to the working methods of card cheaters.


Since 1850, on the back and began to apply a complex pattern. The idea of manufacturers was thus to hide the perceptible contaminants that could accidentally get on the map in the course of its use, for example a drop of coffee, wine or scrapes, which are dishonest or merely observant player could distinguish a familiar map.


However, drawing a card fraudsters have learned to exploit, causing him subtle warning strokes, dots or tones.


Manufacturers of cards at all times had to constantly develop new ways of polishing to prevent all sorts of labels. Schuler in response to this, always managed to make such recipes paints and inks, which could cause subtle marks on the shiny cardboard.


The state produced a net deck of cards that was shipped to customers in sealed wrappers. Crooks have developed ways to substitute these decks labeled.


Sometimes they had to crank and large-scale operations: deliberately lowering the prices, they were sold to merchants party labeled cards that they have bought the owners of the hotel and club stalls and restaurants. Thus preparing the ground, the gamblers went to play in these institutions.


In the mid-nineteenth century Spanish Sharpie Bianco bought a large number of high-quality card decks.Having marked each card in the most thorough manner, Bianco sealed the decks in their original packaging and resold them cheaply to Havana, which was known at that time as the capital of gambling.  Then he went to Cuba to reap the fruits of his labor.


 Having landed in Havana, Bianco not without pleasure discovered that his plan was being implemented: his decks marked with a guarantee of cleanliness were sold to all the best casinos.  Visiting in turn in these gambling houses, Bianco every time tore down huge banks.


 In order not to arouse suspicion, in the next casino or club he eloquently complained about a major loss, which allegedly had just befallen him in a neighboring gambling house.


 However, the ingenious swindler did not take into account only one fact.  Unfortunately, he was not the only one who dreamed of making money in the same way.  Some time later, a card sharpie Lafarcade arrived in Havana from France.  He managed to get into one of the aristocratic clubs in the Cuban capital, where he stole several card decks to put marks on them and put them into the game in the same club.  But, alas, Laforkada was disappointed.  When he came to his hotel room and printed out the stolen decks, he discovered that someone was ahead of him: all the cards were already marked.  Buying fresh decks from Havana suppliers and finding the same marks on them, Laforkad realized that he had stumbled upon a grand scam.

The French crook had nothing to do but to make inquiries. He visited casinos and gambling clubs, pursuing the only goal: calculate enterprising swindler. Finally, Laforkad noticed a rather strange behavior of Bianco, to whom constantly carried, but with all this he never ceased to complain of the losses. And here in a cozy corner of one of the clubs Laforkad made with Bianco private party in ecarte, which caught him in the organization of fraud and put before a choice: if Bianco will not share with him half of all their cheating income, his deception will be revealed here. Discouraged by the Spaniard, of course, chose to take the Frenchman to share.


But in the end, Bianco tired of sharing the money, and he fled Cuba.


Laforkad tried to continue the Scam alone, however the introduction of the Spaniard in Havana casino poker playing cards deck is gradually out of use. Himself Laforkad was not so experienced in order to start a game in your marked product.


Soon he was accused of cheating and arrested. But, as the investigation failed to find evidence that he was marking the cards and tossed into game labeled deck (Laforkad really didn't do it), he was acquitted.


Many gamblers were able to mark cards during the game. The spots or scratches, tangible touch, discreetly applied to their surface with a sharp nail, the tip of the needle, soldered to ring, or with a special ink made from olive oil, camphor, wax and aniline. When necessary, the sharper your slightly moistened finger paint, a small amount which kept buttoned suit, or a special pillow, like stamp, is sewn in the lapel. In order not to leave evidence, after the game, a spot of ink marked cards easily deleted.


Long there are other ways of card fraud. Schuler does not have to mark the cards. And you can see what the card holds the opponent. Of course, in rare cases, the unlucky partner could sit with his back to the mirror, lacquered Cabinet or other reflective surface. When playing with an experienced opponent, the gamblers resorted to more subtle methods, for example, to use the glass surface of the table polished cigarette case or even puddles for this purpose spilled a drink on the table.


The previously mentioned Robert-Houdin described in his book, cheating the box. On its cover was located hidden button, when pressed, oval portrait of a lady was replaced by a concave mirror. Such a thing was allowed by its owner in the distribution of cards to see who goes.Such mirrors were hidden in smoking snuffboxes, matchboxes, on rings and even on the tips of cigarettes and toothpicks.


 According to one American expert on cheating art, an experienced fraudster is able to earn a ton of money knowing a place in the deck of just one card.  But there are more interesting options when the sharpie not only knows the location of the cards, but can also manage it by slipping the right card at the right time or removing the disadvantageous one.


 In the simplest cases, the substitution of cards was based only on sleight of hand.  The card was hidden in a sleeve, under a knee, under a shirt collar.  In addition, craftsmen invented mechanical devices with springs, which have the ability to remove a card from a sharpie’s hand in a sleeve or bosom, and then throw it into the game.

In 1888, a San Francisco sharpie P.J. Keplinger, nicknamed the Happy Dutchman, made a real revolution in cheating, developing his ingenious mechanism based on previous inventors.

A steel retractable clip was placed in the double sleeve of a specially tailored shirt, which, at the request of the player, could grab a card or several cards from his hand and draw them into the sleeve.  Likewise, cards could return from sleeve to hand.  The whole system was powered by a cable running under clothes through a series of tubes and pulleys to the knee of the Happy Dutchman.  Sitting at the card table, the player groped for the end of the cable, brought it out through the cut in the seam of the leg and fastened to the other knee.  The thin cable connecting the player’s knees under the table was almost invisible.  When the knees were bred, the steel clamp was extended and unclenched, and when brought in, it was pulled back into the sleeve.  After several hours of intensive training, Keplinger learned to masterfully hide and issue any card he got, and people around him had no idea about his activities.

The brilliant invention acted silently, imperceptibly and without fail.  The partner in the game could look into the sharpie in the sleeve and not see anything suspicious there.  The use of such a very original device could provide Keplinger with a comfortable life-long existence if it were not for the greed, and perhaps the excitement of a professional player, that dominated him.  The happy Dutchman began to use his system in the most famous gambling houses in San Francisco in poker against the same inveterate scammers as he himself.  And he took this risk not from time to time, but, forgetting all caution, almost constantly.  This could not go on indefinitely, and soon Keplinger's unprecedented luck in all the games attracted the suspicion of his experienced rivals, who decided to expose the Happy Dutchman.


 After waiting for the signal, three opponents seized Keplinger and searched him from head to toe.  The invention, of course, was discovered, so the Happy Dutchman, in order to avoid being exposed and Lynch’s court, which would hardly have left him alive, agreed to make the same device for each of his whistleblowers.  As a result, after several years, Keplinger's mechanical arm became the property of cheaters around the world.  At the end of the 19th century, specialized companies sold his device for $ 100 apiece.  For those years, it was a considerable amount, but a magical device, you should give it its due, it was worth it.


The twentieth century brought to light many outstanding new products in the field of card cheating.  One of the options for a mechanical arm is attached to the chest and is driven by a deep breath or exhale.  In the USA, cards sold with such a pigment that only someone who wears contact lenses of a certain color can see on the open market can be found.  The police have no right to confiscate such goods, because these cards are sold in joke and raffle shops.

Professional cheaters also resort to the help of special gunners armed with binoculars and walkie-talkies.  So, in 1949, the famous American sharpie Nick Dandolos, nicknamed Greek with the help of such a gunner, won as much as 500,000 dollars.  Opposite the building of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, where the game was taking place, a room was rented in which a man was hiding, armed with strong binoculars and a walkie-talkie.  To avoid exposure, Greek partners were seated with their backs to the window.  Subject to this single simple condition, the enterprise was simply doomed to success.

The first mention of card games in Russia at the beginning of the XVII century. Presumably the cards were introduced into our country in the time of Troubles from Poland. Surely immediately there were people who wanted to benefit from this. However, to judge how many there were gamblers and what punishment they were subjected to, these days is difficult, because the map in Russia was banned by Royal decree. In "the code" by Alexis gamblers are mentioned in the same line with murderers and thieves, so originally in mother Russia punished not only hunted fraud, but the honest players. However, there were exceptions to General rules. So, preserved to the present time the inventory of the Palace property, drawn up after the death of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, indicates the presence, among other things, several dozen card decks, which allowed to conclude that in the Royal Palace of cards still played.


But a legitimate leisure activity, they were found only under Peter I.


In the novel, Thaddeus Bulgarin "Ivan Vyzhigin", which appeared in 1829, describes some ways of card cheating, applicable at that time in Russia. Here is how one of cheats dedicates the hero of the novel in the secrets of his craft:


"Seresin took from a drawer in the Desk snuff box and handed it to me.


– Do you see anything? he asked.


– Nothing, except that it is heavy and very well made, ' I replied.


– It is hard because the middle of the gold and the top platinum and that the severity of this very necessary. See, that's the bottom floor is marked by a scar or frame, and on the middle of the bottom of the flower, finished Mat? Now look: here I am, for example, banker (the one who deals the cards and play against someone partners, called the punter).


Herewith Sarazin sat at the table, took the cards in his hands and continued:


Now I see that the second map to win the big jackpot. Put the cards on the table, cover the deck box, as if out of precaution that the punter did not see the cards; take out a handkerchief, wiping the nose, and then open the box, take snuff, take off the box, continue to throw, and you see: seven, which was to go to the left, falls to right.


– What does that mean?


– And here is how. In the box the bottom two. This plug-in flower in the spring, and spread on the Mat with wax or glue. When I pick tobacco, pressed against the middle finger. The top card adheres to the flower and kept in a frame. The second is the top. Now there is another card that I need to be put right. I'm exactly the same order I put the box on the card, press the bottom and the card behind the flower and goes upstairs, but the one that was supposed to win in the first hand loses, the punter in the second."

Then Sarazin shows another miracle of technology, the so-called guillotine. "The word is French," he says, "but a Russian invention, and not as bad as the French mechanism of the same name".

The guillotine was a card suit and glasses which changed with the movement of your finger. Any card with points (but not curly) was carefully split in the middle to create two pieces. Between them was inserted a device to change points, whose role was performed thin steel spring from a clock mechanism. One tip is barely noticeable protrude from the side of the card and the other was glued glasses cut from other cards.


Sometimes in such a device a spring was replaced by a flat lever which is made from flattened out on the anvil of a thin sewing needle. Then place the points in front a piece of split card carved Windows, and then the entire map glued. This invention worked well, because in the dim light of candles, the partners could not consider as a cheat move nail protruding tip clock springs to put in slotted boxes he needed glasses.


One time card was a strong passion of Nikolai Gogol. It is no coincidence that his play "the Players" contains a description of several ways of tossing the game with marked decks. "Come on yarmonku our agent – says one of the characters experienced a Sharpie. – Stops under the guise of a merchant in the town tavern. The shop still did not have time to hire, chests and packs keep in the room. He lives in a tavern, isderived, eat, drink, and suddenly disappear to nowhere without paying. The owner fumbles in the room. See, there was one pack: extract – a hundred dozen cards. Maps, naturally, immediately sold at public auction. Merchants suddenly snapped into their shops. Four days later it lost money the whole city!"


So using the trick with the missing agent loaded team spread all around the city deck of marked cards.


And here's another clever trick. Having decided to Rob a wealthy landowner, a group of visiting gamblers sits in a cart drawn by three horses, and at full speed, flying past the merchant's house. To be more convincing passengers pretend to be drunk. They cry and loudly sing the songs. From the wagon drops the suitcase. Yard people waved after receding Schuler, shouting, but they allegedly did not notice and rush away. The suitcase, of course, lay hold of and consider its contents. Among some clothes find forty decks of cards that, by design of the scammers, are on the master's table. The next day the owner and all his guests are left without a penny in his pocket. Rip them off, of course, the gamblers who threw them a suitcase with a deck of marked cards.


In the book "the Life of the player, described by himself, or the Opening tricks in card games", published in 1826, the author of which, for obvious reasons chose to remain anonymous, is the story narrating about how passionate gambler and music lover beat card with a violin.


The two sat down to play in Boston, and the third, virtuoso violinist, and began to walk around the room and simulated improvisation ostensibly for the entertainment of the players. The musician studied the cards of both players and handed his accomplice the details about the suits of the cards that were in the hands of his partner. So, if the violinist started to play the bass strings, it meant peaks for high tones – clubs, etc.


Another way of conveying information are code words. For example, knowing which cards are in the hands of the partner, the cheater is drawn to the assistant in these words: "What do you think? Go!" or "my Friend, you are lucky!" It turns out that such phrases carry certain information: first word starting with the letter "H" is an indication to go with worms, "B" – with a tambourine, etc.


Been to Russia and the international speculators who owned shulerskih techniques. Short-term favourite of Catherine II, General-Lieutenant S. G. Zorich was known as a passionate gambler, who is introduced at court game on such amounts, on which no one before him never dreamed. That's about it mentions Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin the Queen of spades.


The controversial hobby cards Queen sent Zorich from the court. He went to the Ukraine and settled in his estate in Shklov, where he engaged in the big game.


Some time later, the town became an international center for card games, something like the European of Havana. This town attracts adventurers from all over Europe.


Among them were known in those days cheats – Austrian counts, Banovici brothers, close friends of the famous Casanova, the highest title which helped them organize card scams. Knowing that a fresh deck brought to Zorich the carts, the column replaced in one of the transports on these decks poker playing cards and began to win consistently.

There, in the Ukraine, Banovici went on to produce not only the marked cards, but also counterfeit banknotes, for which he was arrested once in Shklov found a fake Russian banknotes for a total amount of 700,000 rubles. Graphs disgrace, was expelled from Russia. It is likely that not without the help of such partners General zoric amassed gambling debts at two million rubles.

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