White-on-white work consists of tiny colorless spots on the white (blank) areas of the cards. This work is visible only when viewed from a proper angle and is often used to mark the white borders of playing cards. Proper white-on-white work will not stain the card in any way, but rather just permanently alter the surface of the card, so that a small area of the finish appears dull. When the card (or deck) is tilted so that the glossy finish catches a reflection of the light, the white-on-white marks will become visible because they will look frosted and contrast with their surrounding area.

A widely-known substance used for this type of work is typist's correction fluid, which will leave a white dull mark. However, since correction fluid actually contains white pigment, I personally think that this approach is too strong and obvious to even be considered by good cheats. The area painted with correction fluid will also appear to be of a different kind of white in addition to having a matt surface. There is, however, another substance that can be used with better results, except that it is truly colorless. That other substance simply corrodes the finish and produces good white-on-white work that contrasts with the surrounding area. Unfortunately, I am not a liberty to disclose this ingredient.

There are two practical applications for white-on-white work. One is in a hand-dealt game, if the dealer is the cheat. In this case the dealer can easily control the angle at which he is looking down onto the deck. He can bring the marks into view simply by tilting the deck and then maintaining the correct angle.

The other practical application is in a shoe game. This makes a lot of sense since the dealer will not move the shoe once it is in place. The cheats (usually a team of cheats seated around a blackjack table) will be able to read the marks with ease once they settle into appropriate sitting positions. In blackjack the cheats are able to make better hit or stand decisions based on the knowledge of the top card in the shoe.

White-on-white work is not limited to marks on the white borders. In fact casino cards do not have any white borders at all. If the cards are marked for a shoe game then the white-on-white marks will be painted to cover up some of the white diamonds. In effect some white diamonds will appear dull so different marking patterns can be worked out to facilitate the marking of several groups of cards.




This is a scam that must have cost suckers a nice bundle over the years. These types of marks are not meant to be seen, but rather felt. In this case a small impression is put on the cards and it creates a minute bump, also known as a blister, which can be felt while the deck is in the cheat's hands; hence the expression "dealing a blister". Basically the cards are read by feel as they are being dealt.

The earliest reference of pegging appeared in a pamphlet from 1552, by Gilbert Walker, entitled A Manifest Detection of Diceplay. So, puncture marking seems to be one of the oldest tricks in the book. Once again, it proves that grifters don't necessarily need a new cheating method, all the really need is a new sucker, and there always seems to be an abundance of those.

A cheat who is apt at second dealing will be able to fully benefit from this marking method. For example, a bustout dealer working a blackjack table can retain a favorable card on top while pitching cards to the players, or take a chance at dealing a second to himself if the top card does not happen to be a favorable one. In fact, this cheating strategy gives the bank such a fat edge that the dealer can not really take full advantage of all the blisters on every round without raising eyebrows within a few betting intervals. A smart bustout dealer will only take full advantage of the punch deal (as it is called) only when large bets are down, just to make sure no one gets too lucky. The rest of the rounds will be dealt on the square (relatively speaking) since most of the gamblers have a tradition of losing their bankrolls anyway in the long run.

The obvious advantage of this method is that it enables the cheat to read the cards without looking down at them. Since the blister can be felt the cheat may read the marks while having a casual conversation with the players. In effect, "dealing the blister" is almost like reading the Braille script. This gives the cheat the advantage of looking his opponents in the eyes while dealing, so he may be fully aware of where others happen to be looking at all times. This takes some pressure off of the dealer as he may decide not to take the risk of dealing a second if one of the players happens to be staring at the deck.

card pegger (card punch)The gimmick used to put a blister on the cards is called a card punch. There are two basic kinds of card punches: one is a hand punch that can be used during a game (see pricking), and the other is a pegger, which is a small device that resembles a miniature stapler. The card is inserted into the open space and the pegger is squeezed. Peggers usually have the possibility to adjust the height of the blister. The adjustment is made by controlling the height of the needle or pin.

The disadvantage of punch work is obvious. In most hand-dealt games the players also touch the cards. This puts the scam at risk as there is always a chance someone might discover the blisters.

Alternatively, pegged cards may be used in shoe games if the joint uses a holdout shoe*. In this case the bustout dealer would be able to feel the top card and, whenever needed, push it upwards and deal the second card instead.

Some cheats prefer to mark cards with Epoxy **. In some cases this may be better because it looks less mechanical than punch work, if discovered. The amount of Epoxy used is very small and it may be applied either as a streak or a dot. Epoxy can also be put on the edge of the card. This makes it easier to hide the work as there is less chance anyone might realize that there are microscopic bumps right on the edges of the cards.

* A holdout shoe is a gaffed dealing shoe that enables the dealer to deal the second card by pushing the top card upwards, and exposing the back of the second. There are two basic kinds of holdout shoes. One kind uses an optical prism that enable the dealer to see the index of the top card, while the other does not have a prism. In the later case the dealer would have to rely on some kind of marked cards; either by feel, or by visual marks if working with an agent who's task is to signal the value of the top card.

** Epoxy is a two-component resin that solidifies through a chemical reaction between the two components, rather than through a drying process. When solid it permanently binds to the surface onto which it was applied.




In this case a cheat will use fine sand paper to remove part of the ink from the edge of a playing card that has an all-over back pattern. Rubbed off ink on the edge of a card may appear to be a result of wear and tear. This method is clever because the cheat may read several cards into the deck, at the same time. This is easily achieved by beveling the upper left edge of the deck to the side, as it is held in the left hand in dealing position.

The print may also be scraped off with a sharp blade, a jeweler's file, or a piece of broken glass. This type of work may also remove the glaze from the surrounding area of the mark, which could be a sign that the absence of the ink is a result of deliberate tempering.




Any type of work that can be read by looking at the edges of the cards is generally called edge work. The previous example falls into this category. However, there are also other ways of producing edge work.

One simple method involves pencil marking the edges of the cards. A light pencil mark will look like dirt. However, most likely there will be another identical "dirty" spot at the same place on the opposite corner of the card. Furthermore, other cards of the same value will most likely bear the same "specks of dirt" at the same places. If discovered, some players may conclude that this mechanical distribution of dirt spots may be more than just coincidence.

Another type of edge work would be achieved by scraping off the dirt from the edge of a used card. This is a better marking system because it looks more natural. It may be done during a game with a fingernail or a concealed tool, such as a small piece of fine-grade sand paper. One strong point of this type of work is that no substance is being used and the marks could look, once again, like natural wear and tear.

The strongest point of any type of edge work is that the cards can be read deeper into the deck. This alone is an enormous advantage over other marking methods because the approximate positions of certain cards can be noted before the first card is even dealt.




A sucker can "take this deck to the movies" all day long but these marks will not show up. You can even let the FBI lab run a spectral analysis of the backs and no one will ever discover any marks. That is because those cards are not even marked on the backs, they are marked on the fronts. Obviously, no one thinks of marking cards on the fronts so that they can be secretly identified by looking at their faces, once they've already been dealt out. Instead, those cards can be identified by the dealer as they are being dealt to the other players.

Although the cards are not marked on the backs, the work can be felt by the tip of one of the fingers that will naturally wrap over the edge of the deck, while the deck is in dealing position. The cheat will create a fine incision along the outline that frames the face of a picture card. A short cut is usually positioned along the vertical line near the index corner of a picture card. When the deck is held in the left hand and a card is pushed off to be dealt, the face of the card will rub against the tip of the left middle finger. A slight pressure will enable the cheat to feel the incision.

It should be noted, however, that although the method is called black line work, many brands of playing cards use blue lines to frame a border around picture cards. Furthermore, if the cheat is left-handed, therefore holding the deck in the right hand while dealing, these marks would be positioned on the non-index corner. In the unlikely event that you discover black line work at the non-index corners, and there happens to be one left-handed player in the game, at least you'll know who put the work in. At least you'll know who to split the profits with (only in the event that the cheat has something to share at the end, naturally).

This not widely-known method of marking court cards is useful at Blackjack, and even more at Lowball. Court cards play an important role in these games and knowing if the top card is or is not a picture card gives the cheat a good edge during the course of the game. In Lowball high cards (such as picture cards) are unwanted. The cheat may decide to second deal, or better yet, take advantage of knowing which player(s) caught high-ranking cards.


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