The Crooked Gamblers
A 100+ year article explaining how crooked dealers used to gaff roulette wheels and cards to cheat players. Cheating faro and electronic wheel gaffs are explained in detail.
The Crooked Gambler
How He Gets The Money Of The Easy Mark - Tricks Of The Faro And Roulette Table
By C. W. Dunn
There is probably no profession which compels a person to enter all kinds of places and intermingle with all classes of people is much as that of a detective. It has been necessary for me to off and enter gambling places in search of persons wanted by Uncle Sam, and opportunity was afforded me to learn the many ways employed by which these slick gentlemen of fortune used to "skin" the "guys."
Spaniards, who are inveterate gamblers, are to be found in large numbers in the gambling halls of West Chicago. Soon after he learns to walk the child risked his penny and the gray haired man tottering into the grave stakes his coat or last dollar. I have also seen Americans plunge into games of chance with national recklessness. The honest and softhearted gambler portrayed by Bret Hart is it always has been, to my belief a fallacy. It is the nature of a professional shrewd gambler to do everybody. I believe that out of 100 men who played professionally at games of chance, at least 25 will cheat. Anyone who has seen a roulette table will agree with me that if it seems fair enough on its face. It was at a gambling hall in Cheyenne, WY that I was made acquainted with the secrets of roulette.
Thirty-eight compartments are made at the edge of a horizontally revolving wheel, and an ivory ball is sent whirling by the dealer around the circumference of the outer in stationary circle. Two of the compartments are numbered 0 and 00. The others are numbered from 1 to 36. The ball after spinning around the circle for 15 or 20 seconds drops into one of the compartments of the wheel which is moving in the opposite direction. If it drops into zero or 00 the wheel takes all the steaks on the board wagered our numbers, or colors, or odd or even, if it should drop into any other compartments the player if he should happen to have a steak on the right number when it's 35 times the amount of his steak, while the stakes of the players on all the other numbers or on “0” or “00” are confiscated. The legitimate percentage at roulette does not satisfy the average dealer. He wants all.
In order to accomplish this and several appliances are frequently used. I was secretly shown a roulette wheel which was a marvel of ingenuity. The under part of the wheel was as full of wires as a typewriter. They revolved with the wheel but were connected with the edge of the table where the dealer stood by other wires running from the axle of the wheel. On the edge of the table underneath the green blaze margin are several buttons that were practically invisible. By pressing one of these buttons the red compartments were widened and the blacks narrowed. By pressing another the odd number compartments were narrowed and the evens widen, or vice versa. This was done of course when the wheel was whirling so rapidly that it was impossible to tell black cups from red ones. The dealer would give the marble a rapid whirl one way and that wheel another, then stand with his fingers clasping the edge of the table in an attitude that was the perfection of carelessness. Down would go the money of the players and it would not take the dealer long to tell where the bulk of the betting lay. If it was odd numbers simple pressure on the button will throw the ball into an even compartment.
The schemes for cheating at cards are innumerable. There are marked cards, rings worn on the fingers with pen like projections which is indented in the corners of certain cards so they may be recognized by touch. Then there are the best holdouts, mirrors and reflectors. Faro is another game with several ways to beat, the uninitiated. A “Double Decker” Faro box is used on those absolutely green at the game. A person may be playing at Faro and there will be three or four coppering him. Legitimate advantage of the banker of Faro consistent splits that is the two cards of any denomination appearing together. In this case the banker takes half the stake.
The crooked dealer, if he is well acquainted with the player system uses “strippers.” A pack of such cards contains 28 cards cut to a and exact parallelogram in 24 cut with a curve on each side and slightly wider than the others. The box is arranged with a wide slot, so that with an extra dig the player can shove out two cards. If the player is a sucker and he places a bet on the Jack open and another on the tray coppered - that is he is betting that in two piles of alternate cards as they come from the box the Jack will fall on the outer pile and the tray next the box suppose the soda or card showing in the top of the box is aching. The dealer knows the cards are in alternate order, and that the next card must be lower than an 8. He knows the bet is all right, but he will not allow it to win. There is also “side still”, another way to cheat at faro.
Throughout the West the greatest amount of gambling with cards is in plain stud poker. The Chinese’s greatest gambling game is fan tan, which has a great fascination for the inhabitants of the Chinese district, and is rapidly becoming a favorite with American players. It possesses the advantages of being very easily learned and being equally adaptive to any number of players. The fact that very few professional games of chance are level. The best plan is to keep your money in your pockets and leave them alone.