Three-Card Monte

 

Everybody knows what three-card monte is, so I am not going to explain it. There probably isn't a large city in the world (except perhaps Pyongyang) where there hasn't been a three-card monte mob. Typically when the mob senses that there may be cops approaching, they just split and often leave their cards behind. I've witnessed this a few times, but one day it occurred to me that I ought to pick up their cards and add them to my collection of crooked gambling. Of course, I can easily make a set of cards my self, but there's nothing like owning an authentic set of cards that had actually been used in a swindle.

 

Three-Card Monte

 

These cards were used by a three-card monte mob in New York City, in the summer of 2007. This is perhaps a bit surprising because things had really changed in New York after 9-11 and three-card monte mobs have become very rare. I remember in the 1990s, though, how it was almost impossible to walk down Broadway on a summer day and not encounter at least one mob - often there would be a few in a row, actually, all part of the same mob, of course. Then these mobs became rare and eventually all but disappeared. But every so often I still encounter these mobs in the streets of Manhattan. In the summer of 2007 I saw a mob working the streets and as I walked up to them they just happened to split (not because of me, of course) leaving a couple of suckers confused. The makeshift cardboard box table was just left there along with this set of cards. That was my lucky day because I got to add an authentic set of three-card monte cards to my gambling collection.

You may have noticed that these cards do not have a visible crease for the bent corner trick. This is not unusual, in fact many hustlers are able to do the bent corner trick without actually making a visible crease in the cards. It is enough to just soften-up the paper by bending the cards back and forth over the same spot many times (but without actually producing a visible crease). The up-side-down card is also a king of clubs. I wasn't there when the guy was tossing the cards, but I am assuming that part of his "spiel" was a phrase along the lines of, "Lucky Seven, Lucky Seven. Watch the Lucky Seven. Lucky Seven win. Black King take it away. Put your money on the Lucky Seven." There may have also been a rhyme about the seven of diamonds and how diamonds are the girl's best friends. The fact that both black kings are of the same suit would tend to suggest that the hustler was using the switch when he actually shows the same king twice, right before the last toss, while apparently showing two separate (but identical) kings of clubs.

 


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