Bat Masterson's Marked Cards

A description of the exact location of the marks on the back of a deck of cards Bat Masterson's alleged dealer used to cheat on a Faro game in 1902.


7/30/20221 min read

Made Use Of Marked Cards

June 10, 1902

How “Bat” Masterson’s Faro dealer was able to cleverly manipulate things to the house’s advantage. When “Bat” Masterson, who has just been convicted of running a crooked Faro game, was arrested the paraphernalia captured in the room in the W 69th Street flat included a deck of marked cards which are a marvel of their kind. The Faro box, as far as the detectives at headquarters could discover, was “straight”, though the springs seem to be a trifle week. The marked cards gave the dealer, providing he was a clever manipulator, an absolute advantage over the player.

On the margin of each card was a tiny speck, or two specs or three. No ordinary inspection would reveal the presence of these specks on the cards. The dealer must have eyes like a hawk to read them.

All of the ten spots have two specks on the vertical margin close to the corner. The nines have two specks 1/8 of an inch from the corner, the eight spots two specks are 1/4 of an inch from the corner the seven spots; have three specks; the six spots have one speck 1/4 of an inch from the corner; the fives one speck 1/8 of an inch from the corner; the fours one speck in the corner.

The Kings have two specks in the center of the vertical margin, the Queens two specks 1/8 of an inch from the center. The Aces have one speck in the center, the deuces one speck 1/8 of an inch from the center, and the treys have one speck 1/4 of an inch from the center.

In dealing the cards the crooked operator could workout the tiniest edge of the cards under the top one and read them by the specs on the margin. Then when he knew or winning play was coming for the player, he manipulated the box so the victim was deprived of the chance of winning.