Players Cheating Faro

Not all cheaters on Faro table sat behind the table. Some clever players used a simple pin hole in 8 cards to rake in money. Before dealer's across the country finally "got wise"


New York Sun 1902

7/16/20222 min read

Players Cheating Faro

New York Sun 08/23/1902

Devices for cheating at Faro were not all invented for the assistance of the banker. Perhaps the best known of those meant to help the player is the pinhole scam.

Someone discovered in the 19th century that a pinhole in the back center of a card might be large enough to enable a sharp sighted man to tell the color of the card beneath, and yet small enough to escape the attention of the dealer.

This discovery was worth many thousands of dollars to the genius who worked it out. It broke several banks in the West, before the dealers discovered it through the carelessness of one operator. To put the scheme into operation it was necessary for the player to get possession of the deck of cards used by the house. Nowadays this is very difficult.

The pinhole-man got a deck and put a small hole in the center of the black aces, trays, fives and nines, eight cards in all. For he found that a mark showed more plainly than on the red ones. The hole had to be smoothly made, so that no white edges would show. These eight cards gave him the key to almost the whole deck. If through the whole he saw a tiny speck of white the card beneath was a deuce, four, eight, ten or seven spot. He had only to copper these five cards and he was sure to win. If through the pin prick he could detect that the next card was a picture card that occurred he would bet behind the queen, again betting on a sure thing.

The inventor kept his secret to himself for a long time. But he let in some friends finally and they went around the country beating the games. One clumsy man got hold of a deck in Denver and made the hole so large that it was remarkable that the dealer did not discover the trick at once.

The dealer made the discovery in this way: Business had been so brisk that he didn't have time to go to lunch, so he sent out for sandwiches. He was dealing and eating at the same time. When the ace of spades came up he saw a white blotch on its face. He thought he had dropped the crumb and tried to brush it off. It wouldn't be brushed.

“That was a very rich sandwich”, said the dealer, looking around the board. “It was worth some money to this house. We’ll stop this deal right here and shift the cards once for luck”.