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Title: Fools of Fortune - or Gambling and Gamblers
Author: Quinn, John Philip
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_. The location
of images are given here as [Illustration: caption], and merely
[Illustration description], where no caption was given. Those for full
pages, as well as several full page tables, have been moved to the
nearest paragraph break.

Minor errors, reasonably attributable to the printer, have been
corrected. Please see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for
details regarding the handling of any textual issues encountered during
its preparation.

[Illustration: _John Philip Quinn_]

                            FOOLS OF FORTUNE

                         GAMBLING AND GAMBLERS,


                       GAMBLERS, “CONFIDENCE MEN”
                         AND “BUNKO STEERERS.”


                           JOHN PHILIP QUINN,



                       ROBERT MCINTYRE, OF CHICAGO.

                             G. L. HOWE & CO.

                           COPYRIGHTED, 1890,
                           BY JOHN P. QUINN,
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

          W. B. CONKEY,                        ELECTROTYPED BY
          BOOK MANUFACTURER,                   G. M. D. LIBBY,
            CHICAGO.                               CHICAGO.

                        HON. CHARLES P. JOHNSON,

                          LAWS OF THAT STATE;

                              THE CITIZEN,

                         SOCIETY AND THE STATE;

                             THE STATESMAN,

                     ITS “PROFESSOR” AS A CRIMINAL.

                              THE LAWYER,

                              INSCRIBED BY

                                                         THE AUTHOR.

[Illustration: WHICH WAY?]


Of all the vices which have enslaved mankind, none can reckon among its
victims so many as gambling. Not even the baneful habit of drink has
blighted so many lives or desolated so many homes. Its fascination is
insidious and terrible, and its power is all the more to be dreaded in
that it appeals to a latent instinct in nearly every human breast. In
view of these considerations it appears strange that English literature
contains no authentic work specially devoted to this subject; while
there exists literally no exposition of its allurements and its dangers
written from the standpoint of one on the inside.

It is to fill this vacant place in literature that the author offers
this volume to the public. For a quarter of a century he has witnessed
and practiced every variety of gambling known to the professional. From
the shores of the Atlantic to the canons of Colorado, from the frozen
lake of the North, drained by the mighty Mississippi, to the sunken
bayous that skirt its delta, he has journeyed to and fro, plying his
nefarious calling. At times realizing the success of his schemes, at
times a penniless wanderer, he has tasted all the joys of a gambler’s
career and drained to the dregs the wormwood which lurks at the bottom
of the cup of illusive, hollow happiness. No art of the fair gamester is
unknown to him, nor is there any device of the sharper with which he is
unacquainted. With shame and remorse he confesses his fault, and it is
in the hope of measurably atoning for his wrong doing, that the present
volume has been prepared.

On the general question of the evil of gaming, there is no difference of
opinion among reflecting men. The problem is, how to check the alarming
increase of the vice? The pulpit fulminates denunciations of its
sinfulness; the press points out its folly; and the legislators affix
penalties to its practice. Yet gambling houses multiply and flourish,
and the yawning jaws of the “tiger” are daily closing upon fresh
victims. The clergy are powerless to restrain young men from tasting for
themselves the fascination of the green cloth; the public prints serve
but to whet and stimulate curiosity; and the professional gamblers
openly set at defiance laws which have long since become dead letters
upon the statute books.

Where, then, is the remedy? In the opinion of the author, it is ready at
hand. Gaming-hells cannot prosper without new victims; show men that
success is impossible in an unequal contest between inexperience on the
one hand and skill and chicanery on the other, and the ranks of the
victims will soon be thinned through the lack of new recruits.

Curiosity has ever been peculiarly a characteristic of youth since the
day when the arch tempter wrought the downfall of the race through an
appeal to the desire for “knowledge of good and evil.” Young men are
anxious to investigate, to discover, to “find out for themselves.” Give
them a certain knowledge that loss is the inevitable consequence of
entering upon any designated path, and they will hesitate long before
entering upon that path. Satisfy their curiosity as to what is concealed
behind a closed door, and the chief temptation to open that door will be

Herein consists what the author cannot but believe will make these pages
a powerful agency for good. In them are faithfully portrayed the
vicissitudes of a gambler’s wretched life, while at the same time they
present a full and true disclosure of all the dishonest artifices
employed by professionals to delude and victimize their dupes. It is not
only a thirst for excitement that leads men to gamble, another powerful
incentive is the hope of winning. Convince any man, young or old, that
instead of having a chance of winning he is confronted with a certainty
of loss, and he will place no wager. This is the conviction which must
be brought home to the intelligence and reason of every thoughtful man
who carefully reads the exposition of dishonesty which this book

No graver responsibility can be conceived than that which rests upon the
shoulders of the parent to whom is intrusted the training of a young
man. Upon the manner in which is fulfilled this sacred trust, depends
not only the economic and moral value of the future citizen, but also
the welfare, for time and eternity, of a priceless human soul. The
gaming resort opens wide its doors, the entrance to which means ruin, of
both body and soul. Of what vital importance is it, therefore; that
around the youth of the Republic every safeguard should be thrown, and
that they should be shielded from temptation by exposing its fatuous
character. “Forewarned is forearmed.”

The volume is not only a recital of personal experience and an
embodiment of the lessons to be derived therefrom. It also presents a
history of gambling from remote antiquity, and a description of the vice
as practiced in every clime. The latter portion of the work is the
result of careful and painstaking research among the best sources of
information available, and is believed to be at once authentic and
complete. It has also been the aim of the author to add to the interest
of Part II by imparting to it, as far as practicable, a local coloring
through incorporating a succinct view of the vice of gaming, as
conducted at the chief American centres of civilization and commerce.

Rev. Professor David Swing, of Chicago, the eminent thinker, has
contributed an interesting chapter on the nature and effects of gaming,
and Rev. Robert McIntyre, of the same city, who has held spell-bound so
many audiences throughout the land, has added one in which he eloquently
and forcibly portrays the moral aspects of this soul-destroying vice.

The author desires to return heartfelt thanks to those who have aided
him in his self-imposed task. He acknowledges his indebtedness for the
words of encouragement which he has received from the many eminent
clergymen and educators who have endorsed his work.

                                                 _John Philip Quinn_

CHICAGO, 1890.

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.

 DEDICATION.                                                           5
 PREFACE.                                                            7-9
 INDEX.                                                            19-25
 INTRODUCTION:—BY CHARLES P. JOHNSON.                              26-28
       ”       BY REV. JOHN SNYDER, D. D.                          29-30
 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN PHILIP QUINN,                               33-64
 THE THREE STAGES OF A GAMBLER’S LIFE,                                65


                               =PART I.=
              =...._Gambling Historically Considered_....=


                               CHAPTER I.


 Gaming Indefensible—A False Idea of Happiness—Oriental
 Knowledge of Ethics—Origin of the Gaming
 Instinct—Blackstone’s Definition of Gaming—Gambling and
 Commerce Contrasted—The Gambler’s Philosophy—His End—The
 Gaming Table an Incentive to Suicide—Gambling Subversive of
 Social Order—The Gamester an Ishmaelite—Hereditary Vice—The
 Practice Condemned by Legislative Enactment—Jewish and
 Egyptian Statutes—How Gaming was Regarded by the Greeks and
 Romans—The Code of Justinian—The Common Law and Statutes of
 England Compared—The Enactments of American Legislatures
 Examined and Compared—The True Theory of Repression               67-73

                               CHAPTER II.


 The “Lot” Among the Hebrews—The Putative Sacred Origin
 of Gaming—Egyptian Legends—Mercury Gambling With the
 Sun—Artaxerxes and Paracletus—An Assassin’s Life at
 Stake—Gambling Prohibited by the Mohammedan Code—Gaming
 Among the Hindoos—Worship of the Goddess of Wealth—Ancient
 Dice Throwing—Antiquity of Loaded Dice—A Game For a Kingdom
 and a Wife—A Persian Legend—The Wrath of Duryodhana—The
 Vengeance of the Pandavas—Gambling Among the
 Chinese—Favorite Frauds Among the Celestials—Chinese
 Gambling Implements—The “Poetical” Game—Gaming Prohibited by
 Chinese Statutes—Oriental “Hells”—The Tan-Koon, the N’gan,
 and the Ho-Koon—Favorite Chinese Games—“Ching
 Low”—“Nim”—Women as Gamesters—How “Koo Yan” is
 Played—Betting on Enigmas—Frauds—“Striking the White Dove”—A
 Substitute For the Lottery—Cards and Dice Prohibited in
 Japan                                                             74-86

                              CHAPTER III.


 Gaming a Factor in the Fall of Greece—Dicing at
 Athens—Gaming an Aid to Despotism—Encouraged by
 Alexander—Cocking Mains Among the Greeks—Origin of
 Dice—Roman Dice—Value of Throws—Odd Customs—Roman Laws
 Regarding Gaming—Infamous Character and Practices of Roman
 Gamblers-“Cogged Dice”—Ancient Writers Deplore the
 Prevalence of Dicing—Caligula as a Gamester—Claudius and
 Nero—Cato’s Infatuation for Play—Corruption of
 Children—Fighting Quails—Rome at the End of the Fourth
 Century—Skill in Gaming an Introduction to Society—Gambling
 a Cause of the Fall of the Empire—The Vice Universally
 Prevalent—Gambling Among the Modern Greeks—Tricks of
 Sharpers—Shifting the Cut—Methods of Stocking—The
 “Bridge”—Fraudulent Dealing—Crimping—Palming—Tricks of
 Confederates—The “Roof”—The Cold
 Deck—Finettes—Costieres—Marked Cards—The Bug—Pincers as a
 Gambling Implement—Strippers—The Chaplet—Degradation of the
 Turks and Modern Greeks—Gambling a Source of Poverty and
 Squalor—Wagering One’s Liberty as a Stake—Street
 Gambling—The “Comboloio”—A Water Jug as a Dice Box—Gambling
 Hells in Greece—A Multiplicity of “Joints”—Cheating Not
 Regarded as Disgraceful—False Bottoms—Perils of
 Travelers—Surprising Cleverness of the Greek
 Gamblers—Personal Reminiscences—An Ancient Gaming House—A
 Gambling Hell at Corinth                                          87-94

                               CHAPTER IV.


 Gambling among the Ancient Huns—Ancient German Warriors
 as Gamesters—Playing For One’s Liberty—Selling the Loser as
 a Slave—Modern Germany—Famous Gambling Resorts—The Gaming
 Season—The Games Played—The Growth of Homburg—The Blanc
 Brothers—A Venal Prime Minister—The First Roulette Wheel at
 Homburg—A Heavy Tax—The First Cure-Hall Built—A Great Gaming
 Company—A Gorgeous Resort—“The Temple of Fortune”—Gambling
 in the Balkan Peninsula—Gaming Among the Bulgarian and
 Servian Peasants—Playing for Bread and Milk—Gamins Gambling
 for Candy—Street Gamblers—Peripatetic Fakirs—“Doubles or
 Quits”—Gaming Preferred to Manual Labor—A Successful
 Gamester—Suicide and Starvation—“Tag Alek” A Hell in
 Belgrade—Scenes of Debauchery—The “Shades”—Lightly Clad
 Women as Attendants—Female Gamesters—The “Lurley”—Opium
 Smoking as an Adjunct to Gambling—A Dangerous
 Resort—Licensed Gambling—Large Revenues Enjoyed by
 Principalities—Baden Baden—Heavy Expenses and Enormous
 Profits—Wiesbaden and Ems—Spa—A President of a Council
 Leases His Mansion to a Gaming Company—The attractions at
 Wiesbaden—The Cure Hall—A Mixed State of
 Society—Blackmailing Courtesans—Beauties of Baden—The
 Conversation House—Gorgeous Appointments—Attractive
 Promenades—The Gambling Rooms at Baden—Heavy License Fees
 and Running Expenses—An Interesting Scene—Playing for High
 Stakes—The Cure Hall—Reckless Playing—Infatuated Women—A
 Ruined Gamester—A Cosmopolitan Assembly—Venturesome
 Spirits—A Woman’s Passion for Play—Characteristics at Ems—A
 Noted Croupier—A Checkered Career—Russian Society—Easy
 Morals—Aristocratic Debauchees—Gaming in Roumania                95-112

                               CHAPTER V.


 Gaming in Italy—At Naples, Under the Spaniards—Cardinal
 Zapata’s Prohibition—High Stakes and Heavy Losses—Monte
 Carlo—The Famous Casino—The Handiwork of Blanc—A Palace
 Built at the Expense of Dupes—The Tables and Their
 Games—Public Resorts and Private Clubs—French Disgrace—An
 Enormous Rental—The Hours of Play—A Meeting Place For
 Gamesters of all Nations—Are the Games Fair?—The Limit of
 the Stakes—A Trente et Quarante Table described—The Bank’s
 Advantage—Famous Gardens and Drives—An Ornate Theater—Free
 Musical Entertainments of Rare Merit—Hotels and
 Cafés—Depravity of the French Aristocracy—A Royal
 Gambler—Historic Reminiscences—Cards and Dice in the
 Louvre—Professional Gamblers Hired by a King—Reckless
 Prodigality—Fortunes Lost and Won—Efforts to Suppress
 Gambling in Paris—Spread of the Vice Among the French
 People—The Reign of Louis XIV—Licensed Gaming
 Houses—Gambling at the Mansions of Ambassadors—Hospitals
 Founded and Supported by Fees Paid for Gambling
 Licenses—Women Allowed to Play in Public Houses—Crime,
 Misfortune and Scandal—Frequency of Suicides and
 Bankruptcy—Fouche’s Enormous Revenue from the Sale of
 Licenses—Gamblers as Police Spies—Abolition of the License
 System—Gambling by high Officials of the Republic—Frascadi’s
 and the _Circle des Etrangers_—Loans Without
 Security—Suppers and Balls as Attractions at the
 “Hells”—Anecdotes of French Gamblers—A Resort For Noblemen,
 Mechanics and Loafers—French Usurers—French Women’s Love For
 Play—French Club Houses—Cheating at the Parisian Gambling
 Dens—“The Chaplet”—Stocking—A Snuff Box as a Shiner—Cold
 Decks—Marked Cards—Celebrated Frenchmen Ruined by
 Gambling—Shameful Stakes—The Reign of Napoleon
 III—Demoralization Caused by Gambling—Police Surveillance of
 Club Houses—Playing for Ready Money Stakes Prohibited—Sad
 Experience of a Proprietor of a Club—A Million Lost in Four
 Years—Profits of Baccarat Houses—High Sounding Names for
 Gaming Hells—French “Steerers”—Dishonest Play the
 Rule—Spanish Love For Gaming—Liberality of the Grandees of
 Ancient Times—Prodigality of the Duke of Lima—Gambling
 Universal and Open—Noblemen Who Live by Gaming—A Spanish
 Countess’ Shame—Women Who Conduct “Banks”—Gambling Dens in
 Madrid—Gambling a Characteristic Feature of the Latin
 Races—Mexico, Central and South America—Dice and
 Cards—Popularity of the Lottery—Publicity of Gambling in the
 Central and South American Republics—A Mexican
 Fandango—Mexican Gaming Booths—Chusa—Gaming the Favorite
 Amusement of All Classes                                        113-137

                               CHAPTER VI.


 Gambling at the time of the Crusades—The Reigns of
 Richard I and John—Dice Throwing among the
 Barons—Restrictions placed upon the Limit of Stakes among
 the Crusaders—Gambling During the Reign of Elizabeth and the
 Stuarts—Gaming in 1668—Practices of Sharpers—A Game with a
 King for the Bells of St. Paul’s—Cromwell’s Efforts to
 Suppress Gaming—Prevalence of the Vice Under Charles II—A
 Gamester’s Suicide—A Duke Loses £230,000 in a Night—The
 Reign of George III—Fox’s Heavy Losses—Faro in the Houses of
 the Nobility—Decline of Gaming with Cards and
 Dice—Universality of Turf-Betting—Characteristics of English
 Gamesters—Gaming at Clubs and Coffee Houses—Vile
 Dens—White’s—Brooks’—Crockford’s—Fishmonger’s Hall—The
 Berkely Club—St. James’—Melton
 of a London “Hell” in 1824—A Successful Gambling
 House—Palatial Appointments—An Aristocratic Resort—Reckless
 Playing—Dean Swift’s Strictures on White’s—Titled
 Dupes—Inveterate Gamesters of High Degree—A Fortune Lost at
 Hazard—A Novel Betting Book—Strange Subjects for
 Wagers—Heartless Bets—Celebrities to be Found at
 Brooks’—Almack’s—Heavy Stakes—Pitt as a Gambler—Wilberforce
 and Gibbon at Almack’s—The Waiter’s
 Club—Dishonesty—Prevalence of Gambling in the Eighteenth
 Century—Ruin, Disgrace and Despair—Multiplicity of Gaming
 Rooms—The Official Staff of an English Gambling House in
 1751—Gaming in Theatrical Green Rooms—Among the Lower
 Classes—The “Devil’s Walk”—Dangerous Dens—Dissolute Women as
 “Steerers”—“Quadrant” Clubs—London “Hells” in 1844—Gamblers
 “Following the Races”—The Eldorado at Doncaster—Unlimited
 Play at Warwick—Open Solicitation—A “Groom-porter”—English
 and French Hazard—The Proprietor’s Winnings—Vile
 Resorts—From Rags to Affluence—Infatuation and Ruin—A “Hell”
 Early in the Nineteenth Century—Plundering Drunken and
 Belated Players—Odds at Hazard—Provisions Against Police
 Raids—Bullying Patrons—Disgusting Scenes—Staking
 Apparel—Debauchery Run Riot—Various Grades of Gaming
 Houses—Fortunes for the Proprietors and Ruin for the
 Dupes—Subsidizing the Police—Force and
 Cunning—Steerers—Dishonest Servants—Friend Betraying
 Friend—The Nobility in League with Swindlers—Blacklegs at
 the Tables of the Aristocracy—Base Stakes—Fashionable Ladies
 as Gamesters—A Minister Conducting an Illegal Lottery—The
 South Sea Bubble—Lotteries and Their Debasing
 Effects—History of Ante-Gaming Legislation in
 England—Curious Evidence Given Before the House of
 Lords—Prosecutions for Keeping Gaming Tables—A Salesman’s
 Confession—Defects in Legal Administration—Gambling English
 Statesmen—Chevalier and Mad Ogle—Noted London
 Gamblers—Germain—Hughes—“Beau” Nash—“Whig”
 Middleton—Bennett—O’Kelly—Dick England—A Noteworthy
 Trial—Wilberforce and George Selwyn—Sir Philip
 Frances—Anecdotes of “Beau” Brummel                             138-182


                               =PART II.=
              =...._Gambling Historically Considered_....=


                               CHAPTER I.

                          PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

 Gambling Spirit in the United States—The Features Which
 Characterize It—The Green Cloth and the Stock Exchange—Greed
 for Gain and a Spirit of Recklessness—“Margins” and
 Stakes—“Profits” and Winnings—Various Forms of Gaming—Bucket
 Shops—Policy Playing—The Louisiana Lottery—Aim of Part
 II—Gambling in “Hells” and on Fair Grounds—“Banking”
 Games—Their Popularity—Percentage of the Proprietors—“Draw”
 and “Stud” Poker—“Square” and “Brace” Houses—“Plucking
 Pigeons”—Dishonest Devices Employed at “Square” Houses—Tacit
 Toleration of Gambling Rooms—Poker a National
 Pastime—Gambling at Fashionable Clubs—Play at Semi-Private
 Club Rooms—Police Indifference—Itinerant
 Gamblers—Inefficiency of Prohibitory Legislation—The Johnson
 Law—Gambling and Drunkenness Twin Relics of Barbarism           185-190

                               CHAPTER II.

                       FARO GAMBLING AND GAMBLERS.

 Origin of Cards—Origin of Faro—Its Antiquity and
 Popularity—A Fruitful Source of Misery—Faro Compared to the
 Tiger—The Principles of the Game—Playing on a “System”—The
 Dealer and the “Looker-Out”—The “Plain” and “Running”
 Limit—“Parleeing” a Bet—The Lay-Out—The “Big Square”—The
 “Second Square”—The “Pot”—Method of Dealing in
 Germany—Invention of Dealing Boxes—“Soda” and “Hock”
 Cards—Mum—“Coppering” a Bet—A “Turn”—“Splits”—“Barring” a
 Bet—“Calling the Last Turn”—A “Cat Hop”—“String Bets”—“Cue
 Cards”—The Chances of the Game—Fraudulent Methods and
 Devices—”Side Strippers”—“Rakes”—“Hollows and
 Rounds”—“Squares and Rounds”—“Faked” Dealing Boxes—The
 “Screw Box”—The “Lever Movement, or End Squeeze”—The “Needle
 Movement”—The “Sand-Tell” Box—“Case Keepers”—The “Put-
 Back”—The “Hair Copper”—“Snaking” and the Various Methods
 Employed—The Card Punch—Marking the Edges—The “Odd”—Playing
 With Fifty-Three Cards—The “Double-Odd”—Other Schemes of
 Fraud—Incidents—Misadventure of a “Brace” Dealer—“Cappers,”
 “Steerers” and “Ropers”—Their Shameless Practices—A
 “Steerer’s” Benevolent Act—“Brace” Houses Opened by
 “Square”(?) Gamblers—Schemes of Rascally Confederates to
 Defraud One Another—“Throwing Off” a Game—A Unique
 Establishment—The Great “Hell” at Pueblo—Short Faro—Police
 Protection to Gambling—Devices for Defeating an Honest
 Raid—Personal Recollections—Deplorable Results of the
 Gambling Mania—Sad Fate of Prominent Professional Gamblers—A
 “Dip”—Heartlessness of the Blackleg                             191-213

                              CHAPTER III.

                        POKER AND POKER PLAYING.

 Essentially an American Game—Its Great and Growing
 Popularity—Dangers of Its Insidious Fascination—Method of
 Play—Relative Value of the Hands—Definition of Technical
 Terms Employed—Frauds
 Practiced—Strippers—Briefs—“Stocking”—The Top Stock—Bottom
 Stock—Jog Stock—Palm Stock—False Shuffles—False Cuts—Running
 Up Two Hands—Crimping—Cold Decks—Marked Cards—Despicable
 Devices—Partnerships—Double Discard—Flushes, Fulls and
 Fours—Holding Out—The “Bug”—The Sleeve Hold Out—The Table
 Hold Out—The Vest Hold Out—Convexes and Shiners—The “Nail
 Prick”—“Second Dealing”—The “Telegraph”—A Sure Hand—Stud
 Poker—Incidents and Reminiscences                               214-242

                               CHAPTER IV.

                              SHORT GAMES.

 Why Called “Short”—Rouge et Noir—The Lay-Out—Method of
 Play—The Enormous Preponderance of Chances in the Bank’s
 Favor—Schemes of Fraud—Barefaced Robbery—Doubles or
 Quits—Turning Up Jack—“Ropers” and “Steerers”—Comparative
 Popularity of the Game in America and Europe—Roulette—The
 Table and Wheel—How Bets are Made—Heavy Odds Against the
 Player—Various “Faked” Wheels Described—The “Double
 Centre”—Players at the Mercy of the Proprietors—Keno—How
 Played—“Rollers” and “Collectors”—The Percentage Exacted on
 Winnings—Fortunes Won With Keno “Globes”—Collusion with
 “Cappers”—Rolling Faro—The Wheel Explained—How Played on
 Fair Grounds, and How at Gaming Houses—The Natural Odds in
 Favor of the “Bank”—How the Wheel is “Faked”—Rival
 Gamblers—A Personal Reminiscence—High-Ball Poker—How and
 Where Played—The Proprietor’s Percentage—The “Square” and
 “Skin” Game—“Cappers” and “Pluggers”                            243-255

                               CHAPTER V.

                           VARIOUS CARD GAMES.

 Seven-Up, or Old Sledge—Principles of the
 Game—Fraudulent Methods—Strippers—Briefs—Half Stock—The
 Whole Stock—Crimping—Marking the Edges—The High Hand—The
 Long Hand—The Short Hand—Holding Out—Marked Cards—Whist—Cold
 Decks—A Dupe’s Good Hand—Casino—“Canada Bill” as a Casino
 Player—The Use of
 “Bug”—Palming—The “High Hand” at Euchre—Cribbage—Various
 Schemes of Fraud—How Cards Are Trimmed For Cribbage—The
 “Telegraph”—Vingt-un, or Twenty-One—How Played—Devices of
 the Professional Blackleg—Confederated Rascals                  256-272

                               CHAPTER VI.

                         DICE AND THE DICE BOX.

 Antiquity of Dice Throwing—The Sport Declining in
 Popularity—Hieronymus—The Game Explained—The “Bowl” and
 Dice—A Heavy Percentage Against Players—Deception and
 Trickery—Substitution of Dice—The “Spring Board”—Fraudulent
 Dice—Chuck-a-Luck—An “Old Army Game”—An Inexpensive
 Outfit—Method of Betting—How Greenhorns are Cheated—A
 Favorite Game for “Ringing In” Loaded Dice—Holding Out the
 Cubes—An Artful Device—The Work of a “Side
 Partner”—“Craps”—Personal Introduction to the Game—“Come,
 Seven or Eleven”—A Rather Expensive Experience—Mode of
 Play—Favorite Frauds at “Craps”—Substitution of Unfair
 Dice—Cubes Made of Sugar—The Police Foiled—Eight Die Case—A
 Gift Enterprise—The Prizes—Why they Cannot be Won—How Dupes
 are Defrauded—“Representing”—A Shameful
 Deceit—“Cappers”—Poker Dice—“Over and Under Seven”—How
 Played—Modes of Cheating—“Top and Bottom”—A Bold Scheme of
 Fraud—How Victims are Fleeced—Dice Tops—Grand Hazard—Heavy
 Odds Against an Impossible Contingency—The Use of
 “Ringers”—“Mustang”—Loaded Dice                                 273-283

                              CHAPTER VII.

                      GAMES AT FAIRS AND CIRCUSES.

 How Licenses are Obtained—The Directors’
 Disgrace—Personal Experience—Collusion With the
 Authorities—Officers of the Law as Blackmailers—The Author’s
 Aim—The Needle Wheel—Its Construction—How Operated—The
 “Faked Element”—“Cappers” as an
 Adjunct—“Representing”—“Corona,” or “Mascot”—“Cappers,”
 “Bookkeepers” and “Suckers”—Nursing False Hopes—The “Wheel
 of Fortune”—Its Principle—Mode of Betting—“Playing for
 Prizes”—The “Six Number Wheel”—Defrauding Greenhorns—A
 Manipulator a Victim—The Board of Trade Wheel—The Squeeze
 Spindle—How Operated—Disadvantages of “Suckers”—A
 Reminiscence—The Discomfiture of a Countryman—Fraudulent
 Spindles—A Countryman’s Enforced Demand—Tivoli, or
 Bagatelle—The Game Explained—“Representing”—“Cappers”—The
 Jenny Wheel—The “Faked” Devices—The Profits of the
 Machine—The O’Leary Belt—Its Fraudulent
 Winnings—“Cappers”—Risks of the Operator—“Hap-Hazard, or
 Bee-Hive”—Box and Balls—An Unfortunate Experience—Miniature
 Race Track—Striking Machines—Top and Bottom Boxes—The
 Swinging Ball                                                   284-310

                              CHAPTER VIII.

                          GOLD BRICK AND BUNKO.

 Ingenuity of the Gold Brick Swindlers—Inadequacy of
 Newspaper Explanations—The Victim’s Taciturnity—Three
 Confederates Necessary—A Small Capital Required—Selection of
 a Victim—Shameless Practices of Reputable Citizens—The
 “Miner”—The “Rockies”—The “Indian”—“Tom Jones”—Cupidity an
 Aid to Deception—“Mr. Jones” as an Amanuensis—The Nugget and
 the “Medicine Shop”—“Smoke Water”—A Tempting Bait—The
 “Miner” and Mr. Jones Fellow Travelers—The “Trailer”—A
 Duplicate Purchase of Acid—A Suspicious “Redskin”—“Sleepy
 Water”—Substituted Borings—A “Sucker” Over-reaching
 Himself—A Hasty Departure—“Every Bit True”—Dr. Snyder’s
 Experience With a Gold Brick Swindler—Bunko—Millions Won
 Through the Fraud—Its Methods Explained—The “Chart”—The
 “Steerer” and the “Sucker”—Heartless Scoundrels—The “Capper”
 and the “Dupe”—The “Send”—The “Trailer”—A Substituted
 Package—A “Bunko” Game at Eureka Springs                        311-332

                               CHAPTER IX.

                            CONFIDENCE GAMES.

 Depravity of Confidence Men—Why they Succeed—Their
 Dupes—Misplaced Sympathy—Three Card Monte—Bogus Checks—Over
 Issue—“Dropping the Pigeon”—The Tobacco Box—Knife—“Padlock”
 and “Safe”—“Quarter Under Foot”—The “Shot Gun”—“Give
 Away”—“Five Cards”—Top and Bottom Boxes—Foot Racing—The
 “Shell Game”—“Dollar Store,” or “Drop Case”—Minor Confidence
 Games—The Grandmother Trick—The Soap Game—The Foot
 Race—“Flim-Flam”                                                333-359

                               CHAPTER X.


 Ruined by a Funeral—“Fly-Loo”—The “Top Stock” Beaten—A
 Woodsman Known by His Chips—The “Morning” Principle—A
 Friend’s Bad Faith—Influence of Money on Parental
 Disapprobation—Timidity of Professional Gamblers—“Old Black
 Dan”—Effects of a Sensitive Conscience—How an Old Scout Had
 an Ace “Full”—The Failure of a Telegraph Wire—A Queer
 Stake—Dan Rice’s Big Poker Game—A Discouraged Speculator—The
 Luck of a One-Eyed Man—Bottom Dealing—A Whiff For a Nickel—A
 Good Swimmer—A Hungry Trio—A Case of Mistaken Identity—The
 Would-Be Confederate Disappointed—Five Equal Hands—A Change
 of Demeanor                                                     360-380

                               CHAPTER XI.

                                MY WIFE.

 Her Family—Parental Opposition to Our Marriage—Our
 Elopement—Our Marriage—Her Parents’ Anger—A Pitiful Appeal
 to Maternal Love—Our Married Life—Poverty and Affliction—A
 Dress for a Burial—Heart Yearnings—A Mother’s Regret—The
 Agony of Separation—My Wife’s Death Bed—Mutual
 Devotion—Unavailing Regrets—Taken Away From the Sorrow to
 Come                                                            381-386

                              CHAPTER XII.

                             LOCAL GAMBLING.

 Celebrated Gamesters and Gaming Houses—Gambling in the
 “Hell” and the Policy Shop, on the Race-Track and the
 Exchange—Incidents—Biographical Reminiscences—Historical
 Facts—When, Where, and How Far Tolerated by the
 Authorities—Public Sentiment—Rise, Progress and Status of
 the Vice at Commercial Centres—Chicago—Laxity Versus
 Repression—Wentworth’s Famous Raid—Gambling Under Various
 Municipal Administrations—“Skin” Gamblers—Notorious
 Characters—The Gamblers’ Sad End—Players and their
 Characteristics—Present Status of Pool Selling—A Chicago
 Dealer’s Catalogue of Gambling Goods—St. Louis—Prevalence of
 the Gaming Mania—A Poker Hand as “Collateral” Security at a
 Bank—Famous Houses and their Proprietors—“Skin” Games—Sketch
 of Ex-Governor Charles P. Johnson—The Gambling Houses of New
 York—Street Gamins—The “Bowery”—Elegant Resorts—Low
 Dives—Coming Home From the Races—A New York Gambler’s
 Catalogue—Gambling at Newport—A Quiet House—San
 Francisco—Early Argonauts—Women as Dealers—A Gambler’s
 “Nerve”—Legislation—Famous Capitalists and Noted
 Gamblers—Mining Stocks—Chinese as Gamblers—Odd Games—The
 Chinese Lottery—Mongolian frauds—The California State Fair—A
 Perplexing Legal Question—New Orleans—Gambling Among the
 Creoles—The License System—Famous Resorts—Streets Named
 After Games—New Orleans Under Military Rule—Indirect
 License—The “Shakspeare Almshouse”—Keno—Negroes as
 Gamesters—The Louisiana Lottery—Policy Playing—The Cotton
 Exchange—Milwaukee—“Tom” Wicks—Saratoga—Morrissey’s Club
 House—The American Monte Carlo—Efforts to Suppress
 Gambling—Cincinnati—“Eph” Holland and Other “Sports”—The
 “Queen of Spades”—Cleveland—Municipal Policy—Perfunctory
 Raids—Salaries Paid to Employes—Capital Invested—Chinese
 Laundrymen—Gambling in Stocks and
 Grain—Mobile—Charleston—Curious Advertisements—The
 Charleston Club—Policy Playing—Computation Table—Facsimiles
 of “Slips”—Charleston Faro Banks—Austin—A Trusted Employe
 Disgraced—Negroes Defrauded—Hartford—A Fire in a “Hell”—A
 Raid—Policy—Quebec—The “Quebec Whist Club”—A Shameful
 Revelation—Kansas City—Buffalo—Early Gambling—Canal
 Street—Noted Professionals—Policy Playing—St Paul—The
 Gambler’s Luck—Minneapolis—“Brace” Games—Bucket
 Shops—Policy—Gambling at Home—Peoria—Indianapolis—The Union
 Depot—Springfield, Illinois—A “Pigeon Plucker” at a Private
 Club                                                            388-547


                              =PART III.=
    =_Forms of Gambling Tolerated by Public Sentiment—Arraignment of
                 the Nature and Effects of the Vice._=


                               CHAPTER I.

                                THE TURF.

 Evils of the Race-Course—Antiquity of Horse-
 Racing—Ancient and Modern Times Compared—Racing in
 England—Blacklegs on the Track—A “National Sport”—The
 American Turf—Colonial Days—Puritans and Cavaliers—Famous
 Tracks in New York—The National Association—The American
 Association—“Board of Review”—American Trotting
 Association—Racing at Sheepshead Bay—A National Vice—Betting
 on Races and Lottery Gambling Compared—The Duty of
 Congress—The Pool Room—Its Methods—A “Betting Book”—The
 “Book Maker’s Odds”—The “Combination Board”—The “Friendly
 Tip”—Depreciation of Turf Gambling—Never a Local Affair—Pool
 Room Habitues—Features Peculiar to the Track—The Lady
 Gambler—The Confidential Stake-holder\—“Skin” Games Outside
 the Track—“Dosing” Horses—Ways That are Dark and Tricks that
 are Vain—The Jockey—The Handicap Fraud—Officially Protected
 Crime—Effects of the Mania—A False Guide                        553-576

                               CHAPTER II.

                              THE EXCHANGE.

 The Exchange of the Ancients—Royal Exchange—New York
 Chamber of Commerce—American Boards of Trade—Scope of the
 Exchange—“Speculating” and Gambling—“Corners”—The Operator
 and the Speculator—An Incident—The “Scalper”—The
 “Guerilla”—“Longs” and “Shorts”—“Forcing Quotations”—“Flying
 Kites”—“Puts,” “Calls,” and “Straddles”—Fictitious
 News—Tempting Bait—A Day’s Session on a Western
 Exchange—Regrets versus Stoicism—Interior Arrangement of a
 Great Mart—Extraordinary Judicial Powers—A Travesty on
 Equity—Bucket Shops—The Exchange as a Factor in
 Civilization—The “Clock”                                        577-606

                              CHAPTER III.

                      NATURE AND EFFECTS OF GAMING.

 By Rev. Professor David Swing                                   607-608

                               CHAPTER IV.


 By Rev. Robt. McIntyre                                          611-640


 AGE, THE, 216, 217, 218.
 AMERICANS, why predisposed to gaming, 185.
 AMES, MAYOR, his policy toward Minneapolis gamblers, 534.
 “ANTE,” 217.
 AUGUSTUS, as a gamester, 88.
 AUSTIN, TEXAS, gambling at, 505 _et seq._;
   political influence of gamblers in, 507.

 BACCARAT, as played in Paris clubs, 131.
 BADEN BADEN, 101, 104;
   a visitor’s description of, 106, 107;
   the effective government of Paris, 118;
   compared with San Francisco, 441;
   with Saratoga, 484.
 BANKER, at faro, his duties, 193.
 “BEARS,” 578, 585.
 BELGRADE, a gaming hell in, 98.
 BETTING BOOK, copy of a, 561.
 BLANC, MONS., mentioned, 114, 116, 118.
 BLIND, THE, 218.
 “BLUFFING,” at poker, 216.
 BOARD OF EXCHANGE (San Francisco), 448.
 BOAS, LILY, 47.
 BOOK-MAKERS, 541, 563, 565.
 BOX AND BALLS, 305, _et seq._
 BRIEFS, among the Greeks, 90;
   at poker, 219, 221;
   at old sledge, 259;
   at euchre, 266;
   at cribbage, 268.
 BROOKS’, 142, 147, 180.
 BROWN, MAYOR, his policy toward gambling in Milwaukee, 480.
 BRUMMEL, BEAU, 180 _et seq._
 BUCKET SHOPS, in Cincinnati, 490;
   in St. Paul, 531;
   in Minneapolis, 539;
   their origin, 595;
   an American institution, 596;
   character of their patrons, 597;
   compared with the Stock Exchange and the gaming hell, 598;
   how business is done at, 598, 599;
   frauds practiced by, 600.
 “BUCK,” THE, at stud poker, 240.
 BUFFALO, Gambling in, 517.
 “BUG,” THE, among the Greeks, 91;
   at poker, 234;
   at euchre, 267;
   at cribbage, 268;
   at vingt-un, 271.
 BULGARIA, gaming in, 97.
 “BULLS,” 578.
 BUNKO, 326 _et seq._;
   cappers at, 326;
   how played, 327;
   bunko chart, 328;
   list of prizes at, 329;
   frauds at, 329, 332;
   cards sometimes used at, 332.
 BUNKO MEN, in Chicago, 401, 403.
 BUTLER, COL., tolerates gambling, 461.
 BUTLER, GEN. B. F., his attitude toward gambling in New Orleans, 461.

 CALIFORNIA STATE FAIR, gambling at, 452.
 CALIGULA, as a gamester, 88.
 “CALL,” THE, 216, 218, 585, 586.
 CANTON, gambling at, 83.
 CAPPERS, at high ball poker, 255;
   at the “eight die case,” 279;
   at “top and bottom,” 281;
   at the needle wheel, 287;
   at corona, 288;
   at tivoli, 298;
   at the O’Leary belt, 302;
   at bunko, 326, 328, 329, 331;
   at three card monte, 334;
   at hap-hazard, 305;
   at miniature race track, 308;
   at the shell game, 349, 350.
 CARDS, surmises as to origin of, 191.
 CASINO, 265.
 “CAT-HOP,” 195.
 CATALOGUE OF GAMBLING TOOLS, 406 _et seq._; 430 _et seq._
 CATO, his infatuation for gaming, 89.
 CHANCE, worshipped by gamesters instead of God, 618.
 CHANCES, at faro, 192;
   at rouge-et-noir, 246;
   at roulette, 248, 249;
   at stud poker, 240.
 CHAPLET, THE, 92, 129.
 CHARITY HOSPITAL, (N. O.) THE, built from lottery taxes, 473.
 CHARLES II, his reign an era of gaming, 139.
 CHARLESTON (S. C.), history of gambling in, 497 _et seq._;
   stock and club gambling at, 499;
   faro gambling in, 503;
   lotteries and policy playing at, 500.
 CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE, 578, 581, 587, 592.
 CHICAGO, GAMBLING IN, in early days, 389 _et seq._;
   under Wentworth, 390, 397;
   under Haines, 393;
   a sad story concerning, 395;
   under Ramsay and Sherman, 397;
   under Rice, 400;
   under Medill, 401;
   under Colvin, 401, 402;
   successful, 404;
   salaries paid to employes of houses, 405;
   under Heath, 402, 403;
   under Harrison, 403;
   under Roche, 404.
 CHINESE, gambling among, 81;
   laws prohibit gaming, 83;
   a peculiar game with the, 84.
 CHINESE GAMBLING, in San Francisco, 449;
   in Cleveland, 493;
   in Hartford, 509, 510.
 CHUCK-A-LUCK (at dice) how played, 275;
   frauds practiced at, 275, 276;
   a favorite game with negroes, 468.
 CINCINNATI, gambling in, suppressed in 1886, 487;
   in war times, 487;
   in bucket shops, 490.
 CIRCUSES, games at, 284.
 CLAUDIUS as a gamester, 89.
 CLEVELAND (O.), GAMBLING IN, policy of municipality toward, 491;
   raids upon, 491;
   extent of, 492, 493.
 CLOTHING, staked at the card table, 155.
 CLUBS, a cloak for gaming, 142 _et seq._;
   see also POKER CLUBS.
 COLD DECKS, among the Greeks, 91;
   at poker, 229;
   at whist, 263, 264.
 COLORS, at rouge et noir, 243 _et seq._
 COLVIN (MAYOR) H. D., his “wide open” policy, 401, 402.
 COMSTOCK ANTHONY, his efforts to suppress gaming, 485.
 CONFIDENCE GAMES, why they succeed, 332.
 CONVERSATION HOUSE, at Baden Baden, 104.
 “CORNERS” on the Exchange, how originating, 579;
   how manipulated, 581.
 CORONA, 287.
 COVINGTON (KY.) gambling at, 487.
 CRAPS, how played, 277;
   frauds practiced at, 277, 278;
   a favorite game with negroes, 278, 468, 496, 540;
   sugar “cubes” used in playing, 278.
   frauds practiced at, 267, 268;
   not a favorite game with gamblers, 269.
 CRIMPING, at poker, 228;
   at old sledge, 260;
   at euchre, 267;
   at cribbage, 269.
 CROWN-HOUSE, an English, 157.
 CRUCIFIXION, gamblers unmoved by, 621.
 CUE CARDS, 198.
 “CUE-KEEPER,” THE, 201.
 CURE HALL, at Wiesbaden, 102.

 DAKOTA, author runs brace game in, 38.
 DEALING BOXES, used at faro, 194;
   how constructed, _ib._;
   various fraudulent kinds of, 199;
   the first used, _ib._;
   the screw box, 200;
   the “lever” movement, 201;
   the needle movement, _ib._;
   the “sand tell,” _ib._;
   not always in good order, 206.
 DICE-THROWING, among the Hindoos, 75;
   among the ancients, 87;
   early frauds at, 88;
   among the Greeks, 93;
   antiquity of, 273;
   games of, 273;
   in English gaming houses, 154-155;
   at San Francisco, 444.
 DICE TOPS, high and low, 282.
 “DIP,” defined, 212.
 DISCARD, at poker, 218.
 DOMINOES, the Chinese game of, 451.
 DONCASTER RACES, betting at the, 149, 151.
   Discard, 232.
 DRAW, THE, at poker, 218.
 DROP CASE, 351.

   frauds practiced at, 278, 279;
   chart used in, 279.
 ELIZABETH (of England), gaming during reign of, 139.
 EMBEZZLEMENT, induced by gambling, 167, 487, 494, 567, 547.
 ENGLAND, “DICK,” 177 _et seq._
 ENGLAND, gambling in, 138 _et seq._;
   the aristocracy of, as gamesters, 142.
 ENGLISH CLUBS, FAMOUS, 142, 145, 146, 147, 148.
 EUCHRE, its popularity, 266;
   frauds practiced at, 266, 267.
 EUROPEAN PRINCIPALITIES, license of gambling by, 186.
 EXCHANGE, THE COMMERCIAL, a favorite mode of gaming, 185;
   historically considered, 577;
   classification of members of, 578;
   manipulation of prices in, 587;
   inconsistency of a Western, 594 _et seq._;
   a day’s session on, 590;
   its true mission, 601.

 FAIRS, games at, 284 _et seq._
 FAIR DIRECTORS, their venality, 284, 285.
 FAIRCHILD, GEN. LUCIUS, lesson of a gaming house, 479.
 FALSE SHUFFLES, 224, _et seq._
 FAN TAN, 451, 493, 510.
 FARO, a popular American game, 188;
   its antiquity and supposed origin, 191;
   Rules of, 192;
   the lay-out in, 193;
   doctrine of character as applied to, 196;
   frauds practiced at, 197 _et seq._;
   how cards are marked for, 198;
   see also SHORT FARO.
 FARO GAMBLING, in New York, 420;
   at San Francisco, 439;
   at Austin, 506;
   at Minneapolis, 555.
 “FILLING,” at poker, 218.
 FISHMONGERS’ HALL, 142 _et seq._
 FLATBOATMEN, as gamblers, 455.
 FLIM-FLAM, 358.
 FLY LOO, 361.
 FOUCHE, as Minister of Police, 123.
 “FOURS,” at poker, 217.
 FOX, CHARLES, as a gambler, 171.
 FULL HAND, 215.

 GAMBLER, THE, three stages in his career, 65;
   falsity of his theories, 69.
 GAMBLERS, as police spies, 123;
   admitted to English society, 158;
   their defense as based upon the exchange, 186;
   itinerant, 190;
   professionals die paupers, 211;
   timidity of professional, 366;
   spendthrifts by nature, 468;
   political influence wielded by, 477, 507;
   ashamed of their trade, 607;
   unmoved by the crucifixion, 621;
   heartlessness of, 621;
   an appeal to, 635 _et seq._
 GAMBLING, indefensible, 67;
   its roots, _ib._;
   provocative of suicide, 69;
   subversive, of social order, 70;
   a prop of despotism, 87;
   a cause for the fall of Rome, 89, 90;
   in France, 120;
   among English lower classes, 150;
   at English race courses, 151;
   legal aspects of in England, 168;
   police protection to, 210;
   a cause of suicide, 414, 478;
   Heaven’s curse upon, 415;
   a cause of embezzlement, 487, 494, 507, 547;
   a cause of murder, 528, 546;
   its nature and effects, 607, 614;
   a source of intellectual loss, 607;
   dethrones God, 618;
   degrades man, 620;
   destroys the soul, 626;
   religion the surest preventive against, 626.
 GAMBLING HOUSES, list of employes at in England, 149;
   a low class of English, 150, 153, _et seq._;
   banking games favorites at, 187.
 GAMBLING IMPLEMENTS, catalogue of, 406, 430.
 GAMBLING STORIES, 360 _et seq._
 GAMES OF CHANCE, growth of the passion for, 607;
   danger attending, 613.
 GAMESTRESSES, Miss Trollope’s description of, 110;
   see also WOMEN.
 GARNIER, MONS., mentioned 114.
 GENEVA, 101.
 GEORGE III (of England), Gambling during the reign of, 141.
 GIGS, 476, 540.
 GIVE AWAY, 346.
 “GOING BETTER,” 215, 216.
 “GOING IN,” 215, 231.
 GOLD BRICKS, 311 _et seq._;
   Rev. Dr. Snyder’s experience with, 318.
 GREECE, gambling in ancient and modern, 87, _et seq._
 GREEKS, a nation of Sharpers, 90;
   frauds practiced by, _id._, _et seq._
 “GROOM-PORTER,” duties of the, 153.

 HAINES, MAYOR, his policy toward gambling, 393.
 HAP-HAZARD, explained, 303;
   how used, 303, 304;
   the fake element in, 304.
 HARRISON (MAYOR) CARTER H., his policy towards gamblers, 403.
 HARTFORD, CONN., history of gambling in, 508 _et seq._;
   raids in, 509;
   policy playing in, 510.
 HARVEY, MISS MAY, 39 _et seq._
 HAZARD, French and Eng. games of, 152.
 HEATH, MAYOR, suppresses gambling in Chicago, 402, 403.
 HEAVEN, The curse of, rests upon money won at gaming, 21.
 HENRY VIII, an unscrupulous gamester, 139;
   his reign an era of gambling, 140.
 HIERONYMUS, method of playing, 273, 274;
   odds against players at, 274;
   frauds practiced at, 275.
 HIGH-HAND, THE, at old sledge, 260;
   at euchre, 267.
 HINDOOS, gambling among the, 75;
   a legend, 76 _et seq._
 HOCK CARD, THE, 194, 195.
 HOLDING-OUT, at poker, 233, 241;
   at old sledge, 262;
   at euchre, 267;
   at cribbage, 268;
   at vingt-un, 271.
 HOMBURG, 101, 118.
 HORSE-RACING, in England, 554;
   in America, 556;
   a national vice, 558.
 HOURS OF PLAY, at “hells,” 208.
 HOYLE, his explanation of faro cited, 192;
   his doctrine of chances, 196.
 HUTCHINSON, B. P., 606.

 INDIANAPOLIS, gambling in, 545, _et seq._
 ITALIAN SOCIETY, vices of, 114.
 ITALY, gaming in, 113.
 JAMES I (of England), gambling during the reign of, 139.
 JAPAN, games prevalent in, 86.
   the table used for, 298.
 JEWS, gambling among, 71, 74.
 JOCKEY, THE, 571.
 JOHN (of England), gaming during reign of, 138.
 JOHNSON, EX-GOV. CHAS. P., introduction by, 26;
   letter from endorsing author, 59;
   sketch of, 417.
 JURISDICTON (State and National), conflict of, 454.

 KANSAS CITY, (Kas.), gambling at, 514.
 KANSAS CITY (Mo.), gambling in, 514.
 KENO, how played, 251;
   the “globe,” _ib._;
   percentage of the game, _ib._;
   frauds at, 252;
   large winnings by proprietors of, 252;
   a favorite game in New Orleans, 467;
   popular at Austin, 506.

 LAY-OUT, at faro, how arranged, 193, 194.
 LEGISLATION AGAINST GAMBLING, 71, 72, 73, 75, 83, 138, 163, 165, 189;
   in Louisiana, 457, 461, 462, 463, 464, 477;
   in Milwaukee, 481;
   in New York, 484;
   in Ohio, 491, 492;
   in Texas, 508;
   in Minneapolis, 39;
   absolutely essential, 608.
 LEVANT, gambling in the, 92 _et seq._
 LICENSE OF GAMBLING, by European principalities, 94, 101, 186.
 LICENSE SYSTEM, THE, of gambling, 457, 461, 462, 463, 464.
 LIMIT OF BETS, at faro, 193.
 “LONGS,” 584.
 LOOK-OUT, at faro, his functions, 193.
 LOTTERIES, early, in New Orleans, 472, 474;
   in Charleston, 500.
 LOTTERY TICKETS, their sale in San Francisco, 445.
 LOUISIANA, the disgrace of the State, 187.
 LOUISIANA LOTTERY, a favorite among San Francisco citizens, 445;
   its origin, 462;
   evils of, 472, 631;
   history of, 472 _et seq._;
   dividends paid by, 473;
   table of drawings in, _ib._;
   disposition of revenues from, _ib._;
   its sale of tickets in Cleveland, 493;
   its victims in Buffalo, 526;
   in Minneapolis, 542;
   as patronized at Peoria, 544.
 “LUCKY” BALDWIN as a gambler, 443.

 MADRID, gambling at, 135, 136.
 “MAKING GOOD,” 215.
 MARKED CARDS, author’s success with, 44;
   at poker, 229, 230;
   a game with, 241;
   in old sledge, 262;
   at euchre, 266;
   at cribbage, 271.
 MARTIN, SAMUEL, a partner of author;
   Sundry reminiscences of, 42 _et seq._;
   as a marked card player, 241 _et seq._
 MASCOT, 287.
 MEDILL (MAYOR) JOSEPH, his policy toward gamblers, 401.
 MEXICO, curious gambling customs in, 136, 137.
 MILWAUKEE, Gambling in, 479 _et seq._;
   under O’Neill, 480;
   under Brown, _ib._;
   legislation against, 481.
 MINING STOCKS, speculation in, 447.
 MINNEAPOLIS, Gambling in, 533 _et seq._;
   under Rand, 534;
   under Ames, 535 _ib._;
   under Pillsbury, 554, 557.
 MISTAKEN IDENTITY, a case of, 377.
 MOBILE, Gambling in, 494 _et seq._
 MOHAMMEDAN laws against gaming, 75.
 MONACO, suicides at, 69;
   gambling at, 116.
   the casino of, 116;
   house of play at, 117;
   character of games, 117;
   limit of bets, 118;
   season of play at, 119;
   compared with Saratoga, 212;
   with New Orleans, 462.
 MORRISSEY’S (JOHN) N. Y. club house, 212;
   Saratoga club house, 483;
   same compared to Baden Baden, 484.
 MOSCOW, 111.
 MOUND CITY (Mo.) author’s experience at, 236.
 MUNICIPAL AUTHORITIES, Relation of to public gambling, 189, 190.
 MURDER, caused by gambling, 528, 546.
 MUSTANG, 283.
 MUTUAL POOLS, 563, 564.

 NEEDLE WHEEL, THE, 286, 287.
 NEGROES, as gamesters, 467, 506, 540.
 NERO as a gamester, 88.
 NEW ORLEANS, history of gambling in, 455 _et seq._;
   effect of civil war upon gambling in, 461;
   an American Monte Carlo, 462;
   number of gaming houses in, 467;
   table showing extent of gambling in, 477.
 NEW YORK, Gambling houses of, 420.
 NEWPORT (Ky.), Gambling at, 487.
 NEWPORT (R. I.), Gaming at, 437.
 O’LEARY BELT, THE, explained, 300;
   fake element in, 301;
   devices used in connection with, 302;
   a favorite with itinerant gamblers, 303.
 O’NIELL, MAYOR, his policy toward gambling in Milwaukee, 480.
 ODD, THE, 204;
   its advantage, 205.
 “OLD BAILEY” (England), THE, gamblers at bar of, 155, 159.
 “OLD BLACK DAN,” 367.
 OLD SLEDGE, how played, 256 _et seq._;
   frauds at, 258.

 PAIRS, TWO, 217.
 PALMING, among the Greeks, 91;
   at euchre, 267;
   at cribbage, 268.
 PARLEEING, the term explained, 193.
 PARTNERSHIPS, at poker, 222, 223, 228, 231;
   at vingt-un, 271.
 PAUPERS, gamblers become, 211.
 PEORIA (Ills.), gambling at, 543.
 PERSIANS, gaming among, 74.
 PILLSBURY, (MAYOR) GEORGE S., attitude toward Minneapolis gamblers,
    534, 537.
 “PLUGGERS,” at high ball poker, 255;
   at San Francisco, 440.
 POKER, a so-called national pastime, 189, 214, 507;
   its defenders, _ib._;
   terms used at, explained, 215, 217;
   frauds practiced at, 219 _et seq._;
   a favorite game in San Francisco, 442.
 POKER CLUBS, 189, 493, 520, 531.
 POKER HANDS, their relative value, 217;
   as collateral for a loan, 411.
 POLICE, protection to gambling by the, 210, 427;
   in New Orleans, 461, 467;
   on the race track, 573.
 POLICY-PLAYING, prevalence of in United States, 186;
   at San Francisco, 449;
   at New Orleans, 468;
   in Cleveland, 493;
   at Charleston, 500;
   in Hartford, 510;
   in Buffalo, 524;
   in Minneapolis, 539.
 POOL ROOMS, at San Francisco, 445;
   in St. Paul, 529;
   in Minneapolis, 541;
   how business done in, 560, 568.
 PRIVILEGES, sold on steamboats, 254;
   at fairs and circuses, 284.
 PRODUCE EXCHANGE (San Francisco), 448.
 PUEBLO (Colorado), An immense gambling house at, 208, 209.
 “PUTS,” 585.
 PUT-BACK, THE, 202.

 QUEBEC, Gambling in, 511.
 QUEBEC WHIST CLUB, its character, 512.
 QUINN, JOHN PHILIP, autobiography of, 33 _et seq._
 QUINN, MRS. MAY HARVEY, courtship and marriage, 41;
   her death, 45;
   sketch of, 381.
 QUINN, MRS. LILY, her letter to author, 60;
   author’s reply, 61.

 RACE-TRACKS, sale of privileges at, 566, 567;
   features peculiar to, 568;
   various frauds at, 570, 572.
 “RAKES,” 197.
 RAKE-OFF, 219.
 RUMSEY, MAYOR, his toleration of gambling in Chicago, 397.
 RAND, MAYOR, his policy towards Minneapolis gamblers, 534.
 RELIGION, the surest preventive against gambling, 626.
 “REPRESENTING,” at “Eight Die Case,” 279;
   at the needle wheel, 287;
   at bunko, 327, 329, 330.
 REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESSIONAL, exponents of average morality, 187.
 RICE, MAYOR, his policy toward Chicago gamblers, 400.
 RICHARD I, gaming during reign of, 138.
 ROCHE, (MAYOR) JOHN A., his policy toward gambling, 404.
 ROOF, THE, 91.
   the fake element in, 253;
   percentage against players at, 253.
 ROUGE ET NOIR, as played at Monte Carlo, 117, _et seq._;
   a popular American game, 188;
   the game explained, 243, _et seq._;
   odds against players, 242, 245;
   different ways of betting at, 244, 245;
   frauds practiced at, 245, 246;
   steerers employed for, 246.
 ROULETTE, as played abroad, 117;
   bets at, 119;
   a popular American game, 188;
   how played, 247;
   odds at, 248, 249;
   frauds practiced at, 249, 250.
 “RUNNING IN,” 198.

 ST. LOUIS, Gambling in, 408, _et seq._
 ST. PAUL, Gambling in, 527.
 SACRAMENTO (Cal.) Gambling at, 452.
 SADDLES, 476, 540.
 SAFE, THE, 344.
 SAND PAPER, as a means of fraud, 204.
 “SAND-TELL BOX,” THE, 198, 201.
 SAN FRANCISCO, Gambling at, 438, _et seq._;
   compared with Baden Baden, 441;
   stock speculation at, 448;
   policy playing at, 449.
 SARATOGA, compared with Monte Carlo, 212;
   gambling in, in early days, 482;
   racing at, 483;
   club-houses, 483;
   openly conducted, 485;
   raids upon, 486;
   public sentiment, 486.
 SCALPER, A, 584.
 SECOND DEALING, at poker, 237;
   at cribbage, 271.
 “SEEING A BET,” 216.
 “SEND,” THE, 337.
 SEQUENCE, A, 217.
 SHAKSPEARE (MAYOR) JOSEPH, his plan for indirectly licensing gaming,
    464, 469.
 SHERMAN, MAYOR, his toleration of gambling in Chicago, 397
 SHIFTING THE CUT, 225, 267.
 “SHINERS,” 235.
 SHORT GAMES, 243, _et seq._
 “SHORTS,” 584.
 SHOT GUN, THE, 346.
 SIGNING UP, at poker, 222;
   at whist 263.
 “SINGLE PAIR,” A, at poker, 217.
 “SNAKING,” 202, 203.
 “SODA” CARD, THE, 194.
 SOUTHERN INDIANA PENITENTIARY, author’s incarceration 55;
   his discharge 60.
 “SPIELER,” THE, 334, 335.
 “SPLITS,” explained, 197.
 SPRINGFIELD (Ills.), Gambling at, 548, 549.
 “SQUEAL,” A, 585.
 “SQUEEZE,” A, 585.
   faked element in, 292;
   sale of a, _ib._;
   a magnetic, 293.
 STAKE HOLDER, The confidential, 569.
 STEERERS, English, 157;
   at rouge-et-noir, 246;
   at faro, 207, 208;
   in St. Louis, 410.
 STOCKING, at faro, 197, 198;
   at poker, 221, 233;
   at euchre, 266;
   at cribbage, 268.
 STOCK EXCHANGE, Its influence on national morality, 186.
 STOCK GAMBLING, its results, 448;
   in San Francisco, _ib._;
   at New Orleans, 469;
   in Cleveland, 493;
   at Charleston, 499;
   in Quebec, 513;
   in St. Paul, 531;
   its deplorable effects, 581;
   “slang” used in, 584.
 STRADDLES, 585, 586.
 STRIPPERS, among the Greeks, 91;
   at faro, 197;
   at old sledge, 258;
   at euchre, 266;
   at cribbage, 268.
 STUD-POKER, 219, 239;
   San Francisco, 444.
 SUICIDE, Gambling leads to, 69, 414, 478;
   because of failure of lottery prize, 625.
 SURE HAND, A, at poker, 219, 238.

 TELEGRAPH, THE, 237, 269, 271.
 THREE CARD MONTE, how-operated, 334, _et seq._;
   railway conductors’ share in profits of, 336.
 “THREE OF A KIND,” at poker, 217.
 TIVOLI, the machine explained, 295;
   the chart used in, 296;
   how played, 297;
   frauds at, 297, 298.
 TOP AND BOTTOM, at dice, 281.
   beating the, 362.
 TOUTS, 446.

 UNITED STATES, Gambling in, 549;
   why gambling popular in the, 185;
   various modes of gaming practiced in, 185 _et seq._;
   policy playing in, 186.

 VAN HENNESY, gold brick swindle, 49.
 VINGT-UN, how played, 270;
   frauds practiced at, 271.

 WASHBURNE, CHIEF OF POLICE, his war on gambling, 399.
 WENTWORTH, “LONG JOHN,” his mayoralty of Chicago, 390, 397.
   the faked element in, 290.
 WHIST, Dean Swift’s opinion of, 149;
   not popular with gamblers, 263;
   frauds practiced at, 263, 264.
 WHITE’S (London), 142, 144, 149, 180.
 WIESBADEN, 101, 111.
 WILBERFORCE, as a gamester, 180.
 WOMEN, as gamesters, 107, 123, 127, 130, 158, 440, 569;
   as dealers, 441.



It is now several years since I first met Mr. John Philip Quinn, the
author of this book. During my contact with him in a professional way, I
became well acquainted with him. During the necessary association of
professional duty, I became convinced that there were many good
qualities in Mr. Quinn, and all that was necessary to make a worthy
citizen of him was to induce him, if possible, to overcome the effects
of early experience and eschew, the indulgence of pernicious habits.
With no indications of inherent badness, he had supinely drifted into
indulgences that blunted his moral perceptions and weakened his will
power. Chief among these was the vice of gambling. As is well known to
all reflecting men, there is no more enervating and morally disastrous
vice than this. It seems to have, when enthralling a man peculiarly
susceptible to its fascinating allurements, a strength and tenacity
surpassing all the other vices to which society is a prey. It
insidiously lures its victim in the track of exciting indulgence, until
every emotion and passion of the soul becomes subject to its control and
mastery. In its final assumption it becomes a most relentless tyrant,
making the will powerless to resist. I found Mr. Quinn completely under
the control of this vice, and recognized the herculean effort he would
be required to make to break from its thralldom. However, I appealed to
him to make the effort, and he finally decided to attempt it.
Circumstances were favorable to the success of the effort, though at the
expense of privation and disgrace. Some time after Mr. Quinn’s
determination to reform, having found it difficult to make a living in
St. Louis, he was induced to accompany a traveling show in a tour
through the Middle States. While stopping at a town in Indiana, he met a
couple of his former associates at one of the hotels. A few days before
this a farmer in that locality had been swindled out of a large sum of
money. These parties were arrested as also was Mr. Quinn, and though he
was only partially identified by the victim, he was taken into custody,
tried, convicted and sent to prison at Jeffersonville, Indiana. He was
so confident of his innocence that he made no preparations for a
defense. He was not aware of the unreasonable prejudice that frequently
exists in the jury box against one charged with a certain kind of
offence, be he ever so innocent. There was no legal evidence warranting
his conviction, but several offences of like character of that charged
against him had been lately committed in that region of the country, and
the community demanded a victim. He was made one. I knew nothing about
it until a week or more after it occurred. His wife called upon me and
related all the facts. I immediately undertook an investigation of the
case, and discovered without the shadow of a doubt that Mr. Quinn was
innocent of the crime of which he had been convicted. I even traced the
guilt home to other parties, and they were arrested and brought to trial
in the same locality where Mr. Quinn was tried, and only escaped by a
disagreeing jury, caused by the former statement of the prosecuting
witness. But the community in which these trials took place were
convinced of the wrong done Mr. Quinn and were anxious to make
reparation. In due time, as soon as the facts in full force and tenor
could be laid before Gov. Gray, of Indiana, he promptly accorded the
justice of a pardon to Mr. Quinn. Of course it was an outrage that
should never have occurred. The sufferings of Mr. Quinn during his
period of incarceration were most unendurable. Aside from the degrading
punishment and consequent disgrace, he suffered from the poignant
reflection that he was innocent and unable to have that justice and
protection given him which is the boast of our system of government. But
notwithstanding his unfortunate condition he seems to have kept a
courageous heart and turned his attention to his surroundings, drew
instruction therefrom, and will give to the world a graphic account of
prison life, which may be of benefit to the philanthropist and the
legislator. A more elaborate and unique work, perhaps, is his book on
the gaming vice, to which it is my desire these words should be
prefixed. It is peculiarly interesting to me, and replete with
information. The subject is considered in a way that leaves little, if
anything to be said, either of instruction or suggestion. This book
should be in the hands of every young man in our land. As a usual thing
injustice of this kind sours the temper of men and discourages them from
striving to accomplish higher and nobler aims in life. In Mr. Quinn’s
case it had the opposite effect. Since his release he has shown by his
work and conduct this fact. He seems stronger to-day in his
determination to carry out his decision of reformation than ever.
Transferring his residence to another sphere, he has already gained the
confidence and esteem of his fellowmen, and is fast broadening his field
of usefulness. He is worthy of encouragement in his work; my sincere
wish is that he will liberally receive it.

[Illustration: Chas. P. Johnson.]



I am intensely interested in Mr. John Philip Quinn’s book on Gambling. I
met Mr. Quinn several years ago in St. Louis. I became convinced that
this book is the fruit of an earnest purpose to set before the young men
of this country the radical evils which so closely cling to the gambling
habit. I was especially pleased with the practical notions which Mr.
Quinn entertained respecting the wisest methods of reaching and
eradicating the evil. While he is himself convinced of the immorality of
gambling, he is conscious that the mere presentation of the moral aspect
of the vice will do little to arrest its growth in American society. For
the social gambler appeals to the theory of the absolute right of the
individual to dispose of his own property as he sees fit. Such a man
says: “Have I not just as much moral right to stake my money on the turn
of a card, as I have to use it in any other form of harmless enjoyment?”
This argument will be effective and even conclusive so long as society
entertains its present loose notions respecting the obligations of
wealth. But Mr. Quinn approaches the matter from another side. He shows
the evil and disreputable associations into which the gambler is
inevitably thrown. He speaks of the reckless use of money which the
gambling habit engenders, and shows how helpless the average business
man really is in the hands of the professional gambler. I claim to be a
man of fair intelligence, and yet I felt intellectually humiliated when
Mr. Quinn demonstrated to me, how easily I might be tricked out of my
money, by the shallow devices to which he says the ordinary gambler
resorts when he cannot rely upon what he calls “luck.” For illustration,
he showed me what appeared to be an ordinary pack of cards, but by the
simplest method in the world these cards had been so changed that he was
able to tell the denomination of every card by glancing at the back. Of
course the social gambler always asserts that he “plays with gentlemen,”
but the easiness of cheating offers a constant temptation on the part of
gentlemen, who are pressed in money matters, to resort to this method of
relieving themselves of their financial embarrassments.

I am convinced, then, that Mr. Quinn’s book will be of the utmost value
among the young people of this country. I am sure that the gambling
habit is doing more to undermine the character of our young men than any
form of vice in which they are likely to fall. The drinking habit has
been measurably controlled. Drunkenness has grown to be disreputable.
But in thousands of respectable, cultivated and virtuous households, in
this land, fathers and mothers are quite unconsciously educating their
boys into that pernicious habit of gambling, which will, if not
arrested, destroy the very roots of commercial life.

[Illustration: John Snyder]

                                PART I.


Early education, family training, and circumstances often apparently
accidental are potent influences in the formation and moulding of
character. Yet not infrequently an event of seemingly little consequence
may overturn the best considered plans for a successful career and alter
the entire tenor of a man’s life. The invisible power “that shapes our
ends,” to-day, lifts one born in a humble station to a pinnacle of fame
and power, while to-morrow, it casts down from his exalted position the
man intoxicated by the fumes of the incense of popular adulation. The
Scottish bard puts this truth in those oft-quoted words:

                “The best laid schemes of mice and men,
                    Gang aft aglee.”

This aphorism may be significantly applied to the lives of thousands. It
is true of my own career. However upright may have been my intentions at
the outset of life, they were early turned aside through the influence
of my surroundings and of a seemingly inborn propensity for gambling.
After a long and eventful experience, I have turned to a better life. My
past has not been without interest to those with whom I have been
brought in contact. It is here reviewed, not in a spirit of braggart
egotism, but with the earnest hope that it may prove a warning to many,
who are now bent upon a similar journey.

Biography is usually a simple and suggestive record, pointing its own
moral, and treating, as a rule, of the scenes and actions of that
everyday life, of which the subject forms a part. An autobiography
should be, of all others, sincere and candid, and its writer should

            “Naught extenuate nor aught set down in malice.”

To those who may think that the publication of the life of so obscure an
individual as myself, and one, too, who for so many years has been a
social pariah, can be productive of neither interest nor profit, I would
say, that the eye of the fly is in many respects a more interesting
study than that of the eagle, and the light-house of more service to
humanity than the pyramids. A great artist once painted a wonderful
picture. Of one of the faces in that immortal work, it was said, to him:
“that countenance is ugly and revolting.” Thoughtfully gazing upon it,
the artist replied: “There is more of beauty in every human face than I
can comprehend.” So, in the life of every human being, there is at once
more of tender charity and vicious selfishness than can be portrayed in

If the record of my life shall prove an example to deter even a few of
those who are sporting upon the outer waters of that whirlpool whose
vortex is destruction;—if its recital shall serve to open the eyes of
but one of that vast host who are staking fortune, friendship, family
affection, honor, even life itself, in the vain pursuit of an illusive
phantom, this sketch will not have been written in vain.

I was born on the 19th day of March, 1846, three miles east of Roanoke,
in Randolph County, Mo. My father was a prosperous farmer and stock
raiser. He was a man of sound judgment, indomitable pluck, tried
courage, generous disposition, and staunch integrity, kind and
charitable to his neighbors, and a man whose “word was as good as his
bond.” He was deservedly held in high esteem in the community, which he
represented in the State Legislature during 1861-3. He owned some twenty
slaves at the time of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. No
sooner had it appeared than he called them together, read the
proclamation aloud, and informed them that they were at liberty to go or
stay. A slave trader named John Robertson, who was present, at once
offered fifteen hundred dollars in gold for four of the men, which my
father promptly refused. The trader then offered each of the former
slaves fifty dollars to go with him, but my father peremptorily declared
that a million dollars could not buy one of them unless he or she
voluntarily chose to return to servitude.

My mother was a “gentlewoman” in what has been, to me, the best sense of
that often-abused term. Faithful to all her duties as a wife and mother,
her tender devotion to her children was the controlling impulse of her
life. Her generous self-sacrifice and her all but unlimited capacity to
forgive, none can know so well as the wayward son, who numbers among his
most bitter regrets to-day the recollection of the years of anxiety and
grief which he brought upon that mother’s head and of the numberless
pangs which he caused that mother’s heart.

The only early educational advantages that I enjoyed were those incident
to an irregular attendance upon an ordinary border State, district
school, presided over by a pedagogue whose scholastic attainments were,
directly, in an inverse ratio to his zeal as a disciplinarian, and who
seemed to think that ideas which could not find a lodgment in the head
might be forced to germinate from the back by dint of persistent
application of the rod. As a boy I was mischievous and wayward; a
ringleader in all “scrapes,” and the terror of the orderly. Indeed, my
reputation as an evil doer was so well established, and my name so
thoroughly synonomous with every species of boyish deviltry, that I was
often compelled to bear the blame of escapades which I had not
conceived, and in which I bore no part.

At the time of which I am speaking, the principal diversions in country
districts in Missouri were horse-racing, card playing and other
amusements to which the element of a wager lent excitement. It was
naturally easy for a restless boy of my temperament and disposition to
contract the habit of gaming for such small sums of money as I could
command, or for other property of trifling value. But the passion of
gambling, above all others, fattens on what it feeds upon, and I soon
began to find my native village too narrow a field for the realization
of my ambition, and the few pennies of my schoolmates too small stakes
to satisfy my desire for acquisition. At the age of fourteen years,
accordingly, I left home without my father’s consent or knowledge, with
a view to enlarging my sphere of operations. I took with me one of his
horses, which might not only serve as a means of transportation, but
also stand me in stead in the unknown world with which I felt myself
well qualified to grapple. My life and habits, even as a child, had been
so erratic, that my absence from home excited no comment; indeed, it
awakened no anxiety, except in the tender breast of my gentle mother.
Upon reaching Kansas, I sold the horse, and entered boldly upon the
execution of my project, to lay the foundation of a colossal fortune,
through the (to me) alluring career of a gambler. Then followed what
might have been expected. Having watched the manipulations of a three-
card monte man, until I had satisfied myself that I could beat him at
his own game, I staked my all and—lost it. My only recourse then was to
apply to my father for relief. He sent me money with which to return
home, and in the same letter informed me of the serious illness of my
sister Laura. Like the prodigal, I returned to find a welcome, but in
time only to receive my sister’s last farewell.

The impression on me created by her death was but fleeting. I soon
recommenced gambling with the boys of the neighborhood, at first playing
poker for pennies, though the “ante” soon increased and the stakes
sometimes amounted to a dollar, which was considered high play for boys
in the country. Of course, I soon learned the slang of professional
gamblers and was otherwise rapidly fitting myself for my subsequent
career of knavery and disgrace.

Among those with whom I associated and played poker at Roanoke in those
days, were Ed. and Dod White, John Pruitt, Whit Tyrell, Tom Walton, Bill
Drinkard, Bob Holley and the Finney boys, all well known in Randolph

About this time occurred an incident which made a lasting impression
upon me and aided in my initiation into the tortuous ways of the
confidence man and cheat. As I was leaving the village one morning for a
squirrel hunt, I fell in with a man who professed to be a billiard
player. He invited me to accompany him to Fayette, where he would—to use
his own expression—“throw a man off to me.” I assented with alacrity,
went with him to Fayette, and was there “thrown off” myself for all that
I was worth. The game was played in Charley King’s saloon and billiard
hall, and the man who played it was Sam Majors, afterward a prominent
lawyer and Member of Congress from Missouri.

I spent that night at Fayette, and on reaching home next morning found
that every spring and well on my father’s farm had been poisoned, and
that the entire family were violently ill from drinking coffee prepared
from the contaminated water. This villianous attempt at wholesale
poisoning resulted in the death of my only remaining sister Roma, the
manner of whose taking away, no less than the sad event itself, cast a
pervading gloom over our little family circle. For a time I was deeply
impressed; solemn thoughts of my past and future crowded upon my brain,
and I resolved to abandon my evil course, and to enter upon a new life.
But I was young; my nature was volatile; I was keenly alive to the
fascination of gambling; and even at that early age the habit had
acquired over me a power not easily broken. My surroundings, moreover,
were not of a nature either to promote reflection or encourage better
impulses. That portion of Missouri was at that time over-run by bush
whackers. Assaults and depredations were the rule, while robberies and
murders were of frequent occurrence. Bands of from ten to twenty armed
men were wont, from time to time, to ride through the streets of
Roanoke, and the clatter of horses’ feet, the firing of guns, and the
yells and oaths of demons in human form, converted a peaceful settlement
into a pandemonium.

Among other notorious characters who visited our village, I well
remember one desperate gang, armed to the teeth and flushed with
pillage, who one night alighted at my father’s grocery store for rest
and recreation. Among that band were the James boys, Bill Anderson, the
Younger brothers, and Tom Hunter. The party was quiet, even
“gentlemanly,” as that designation was then applied, inasmuch as they
departed without killing or robbing anyone. They played poker, and I can
well recall the cupidity awakened in my breast at the sight of the roll
of bills which they staked upon the game. The play ran well up into the
thousands, and never before had I seen such piles of money upon a table.
I was much impressed, nor was I able to divest myself of the idea that
money fairly won at cards was honestly earned. And, indeed, as compared
with the outrageous robbery of unoffending, defenceless citizens, by
marauding bands of armed ruffians which I saw constantly going on about
me, gambling seemed an innocent recreation. Over and again, during those
memorable years of the war, have I seen such gangs of desperadoes
forcibly enter my father’s homestead, and with a pistol leveled at his
head demand his cash. My father was determined, resolute and brave, but
more than once have I seen him forced to purchase his own life and the
lives of his family by partial submission to these threats.

I recall another incident of my early life, which occurred during the
war, and which is worthy of mention only so far as it may serve to
illustrate to what a degree of intensity my passion for gambling had
developed. The battle of Silver Creek, which was a short but spirited
engagement, was fought at night. In the morning I was sent with needed
supplies for the wounded to the Union camp, which was located only three
miles from my father’s store. After distributing the supplies, I opened
a game of poker with a party of soldiers in a store kept by one Jas. T.
Wallace. The appalling sights witnessed in the midst of the dead and
dying were powerless to restrain or curb a passion which was even then
stronger than death.

At the close of the war I felt myself a man and qualified to engage in
business. So at the age of twenty, I went to Keytsville, in Chariton
Co., Mo., and started a hardware store. I found myself unable, however,
to forego the amusement of gaming, nor could I reconcile myself to the
abandonment of my hopes of winning a fortune at the card table; I
therefore combined gambling with business (sadly to the detriment of the
latter), I divided my time between my own store and Dan Kellogg’s saloon
and gambling resort. Among my associates there were such well-known
gamblers as Bill and Tom Binford, Rives Williams, Jube Hurt, French
Blakey, besides many others. I remained at Keytsville for a year, but
failing to make any money by either legitimate or illegitimate methods,
I closed out my business and returned to Roanoke.

Here, in my native village, my next venture was to start a tonsorial and
bathing establishment. I had one bath-tub and one assistant. As I knew
nothing about shaving (except at cards), and one of the rules of the
shop was that when a customer was cut he need pay nothing, I was glad to
confine my operations to transient callers, relegating regular patrons
to the tender mercies of my assistant. As might have been expected, no
profits materialized, and after the business had dragged its miserable
length along for some twelve months, I spontaneously and cheerfully
abandoned it.

My next business move was the formation of a partnership with one James
Bird, familiarly known as “Slim Jim.” The firm was to manufacture and
sell piano dulcimers, for which, at that time, there was a great and
constantly increasing demand throughout that entire section. I was the
senior partner, and furnished the capital; Jim was the practical man and
had the experience; we united the two and the result may be very briefly
told. To facilitate delivery of the goods, I purchased a carriage,
horses and harness. I then went to St. Louis to buy materials to be used
in the manufacture of the instruments. Upon my return, I found that
“Slim” (it should have been “Slick”) Jim had been to Sedalia, Mo., where
he had sold out the horses, carriage, etc., pocketed the proceeds, and
had secured a tolerably fair start on his way to California. I trust
that I may not be regarded as unduly revengeful if I frankly admit that
when, thirteen years later, my _quondam_ partner was arrested by
Detective Henry Hutling while playing three card monte along the line of
the Chicago and Alton Railroad, I hastened to the scene of his
misfortune, and relentlessly made him disgorge by way of settlement,
seventy-five dollars in money, a gold watch and chain and a diamond pin.

In the year 1868, in company with my uncle Tom, my brothers Sidney and
Robert and a man by the name of Keen Viley, I went as far west as the
southern portion of Dakota. For several months we located ourselves at
Benton City, on the North Platte River. Here the mayor of the “city,”
one A. B. Miller, in conjunction with a man named Charles Storms,
conducted what is known in gamblers’ parlance as a “brace” faro game;
that is to say, players could win nothing except at the option of the
proprietor, and the latter lost only such trifling sums as might serve
as an allurement to continued and heavier play. In this establishment I
held the position of “case-keeper;” in other words, I kept the record of
the game. This was my first regular employment in a gambling house. Life
in the territory at that period was primitive in its comforts, but
decidedly exciting in its uncertainty. Our party slept in a canvas tent,
lined with slabs to about the height of three feet as a protection
against the stray bullets, which came, with unpleasant frequency, from
whence no one knew and went none could tell whither. During the progress
of the fusilade, no sleeper in any tent ever thought of raising his head
from his pillow, and the wisdom of lying perfectly still was abundantly
demonstrated by the many bullet holes in the upper part of the canvas.

From Dakota I again gravitated to Roanoke, where I once more embarked in
business, this time in the custom shoe trade. Being utterly ignorant of
that, or any other business, I employed a shoe-maker who, after the
manner of his kind, made it a point of honor to fill himself with
whiskey every time he lasted a pair of boots. Naturally the business
languished, and I soon sought a more congenial pursuit.

Going to Columbia, Mo., I opened a saloon; not from any desire to
indulge my appetite in this direction, inasmuch as I can truthfully say
that I never drank any intoxicating liquor in my life. My chief aim was
to conduct a gaming establishment, for which the sale of liquor might
serve as a blind. While at Columbia I used to gamble—chiefly at faro or
poker—with the Hume’s boys, of whom there were six or seven with Dr. Ed.
Compton, Sam Reader, James I. Brewitt, the Jacobs boys, Arthur
Charleston, Jesse Forshay, Alex Bradford, Billy Booth, and many others
who have since attained local prominence.

Like other young men, I was not unsusceptible to feminine charms, nor,
wicked as I was, was I incapable of appreciating true womanly worth. I
first felt the afflatus of the “divine passion” when I met Miss Fannie
White, a fair maiden of Roanoke. For a time it seemed to me as though
the sun shone only through her eyes. I prosecuted my suit with all the
ardor of a first attachment, but the young lady’s parents promptly and
forcibly interposed. My reputation was notoriously bad and a marriage
between their daughter and myself was, they said, not to be thought of.
Thus the affair was nipped in the bud. For a time I felt the blow
keenly, and bitterly realized the disgraceful position which I occupied
as a suitor rejected for such a cause. Time, however, and a sort of
sullen resentment came to my aid. I succeeded in tearing from my heart
the hopes which I had formed, as an idol is wrenched from its pedestal,
and entered upon the vice of gaming with redoubled vigor.

But a few years later I formed an attachment for a beautiful and
captivating lady, the accomplished daughter of Dr. Wm. C. and Mrs. L. A.
Harvey, who enjoyed a position of social pre-eminence in the community.

Little May Harvey was a girl suited to fill the ideal conception of a
far better man than I. Of attractive form and feature, she was modest,
truthful, and a universal favorite with her acquaintances. That I should
presume to lift my eyes to such a girl was enough to excite the
apprehension of her parents, who at once became most bitter and
unyielding opponents. But, fortunately or unfortunately, I had a
powerful advocate in May’s own heart. In affairs of the heart young
people are not always disposed to brook parental interference. They are
apt to regard themselves as best qualified to judge of what will be for
their own happiness, and to constitute themselves the sole arbiters of
their own destiny. My affection for May was deep and true, and, which is
a no less vital point, it was thoroughly reciprocated. An engagement to
May followed as a matter of course; and, also as a matter of course,
there followed an insistent demand on the part of Dr. and Mrs. Harvey
that the engagement be suddenly and finally broken off. A most plausible
excuse was found in my arrest on an utterly false charge for highway

The facts connected with this episode in my life may prove not
uninteresting to the reader. A farmer by the name of Jesse B. Hudson,
living about five miles east of Roanoke, had been robbed of a large sum
of money by bush whackers. One of the robbers rode a horse belonging to
John Emery, which he had taken from a hitching post in the town while
Emery was on a spree. The horse was accidentally shot. Owing partly to
the existence of a neighborhood feud, and partly to my bad reputation, I
was arrested as a participant in the crime, and taken to Huntsville for
trial. There I gave bonds in the sum of $3,000 for my appearance when
wanted, two reputable farmers—W. H. Lockridge and Geo. Aulthouse—signing
my bond. Among the men suspected of the crime were such notorious
outlaws as the James boys, Quantrell, Anderson, Hunter, Clingman, Lyons,
and others, yet I was the only one arrested. At different times before,
while I was living at home, the bush whackers had aroused me at night
and ordered me to supply them with liquor from my father’s store. This
fact may have given rise to a suspicion that I was a member of the gang,
and may have led to my arrest. Be that as it may, my innocence was
easily established at the trial, and the jury promptly rendered a
verdict of acquittal.

May’s fidelity was unshaken by my arrest, and my vindication was hailed
by her with triumph. Shortly afterwards she was sent as a pupil to the
Convent of the Visitation at St. Louis, and peremptorily forbidden by
her parents to hold any communication with me. Similar instructions were
given to the Mother Superior and her assistants. The sisters faithfully
obeyed Dr. Harvey’s behest. Under these circumstances I had recourse to
strategem. I had followed her to St. Louis, where I had engaged in
gambling with many well-known sporting men of that city. Calling at the
convent I asked for an interview which was refused by the Mother
Superior. I had told the latter that I was from Roanoke, Miss Harvey’s
home. I had expected a refusal and was not unprepared. Producing a
package, I handed it to the convent Cerberus, and brazenly informed that
suspicious individual that I had been commissioned by the young lady’s
parents to convey it to her. The package contained a volume of
Longfellow’s poems and a pair of kid gloves. In one of the fingers of
the gloves was a neatly folded note, written on tissue paper, calling
attention to the fact that a letter was pasted between two of the book’s
pages. The scheme was well laid, as I thought, but failed to work. The
bundle was opened and examined by the Superior; its contents sent to
Mrs. Harvey, and the letter burned. My efforts to hold an interview with
my inamorata upon the streets proved equally fruitless, it not being
permitted to her to take her “daily walks abroad” unless accompanied by
a watchful attendant. Despairing of seeing her alone, I started with a
small party on a gambling tour to the far west, visiting Colorado and
Wyoming. The trip was uneventful, and I returned to Roanoke to find that
May had been at home and had been sent to school at Columbia, Missouri.
Thither I followed her, only to be again denied an interview. Returning
home, I forwarded to her as present from her mother, a box of fruit. A
portion of the core of one of the apples had been extracted, and its
place deftly filled by a letter written on extremely thin paper. No
suspicion was aroused by the receipt of the fruit, which was handed to
Miss Harvey. She examined every apple in the expectation of finding a
letter from me but failed to discover the right one. While sharing the
fruit with her schoolmates, one of them, in biting an apple, was
surprised to find a pin in her mouth; the mystery was solved, and the
letter reached its destination.

In due time I received an answer, full of love and encouragement,
showing that neither absence nor intimidation could conquer her faithful
spirit. To be near her I went to Columbia, where I opened a saloon and
resumed gambling. Every Sunday I was made supremely happy by seeing her.
About this time she received a letter from her mother severely
reprimanding her for encouraging my attentions. Smarting under this
rebuke she impulsively returned all my letters and presents, among which
was the engagement ring. This blow fairly overwhelmed me. To accomplish
what had now become the chief aim of my existence, any and all means
seemed to me justifiable. Accordingly, on the following Sunday evening I
attended the church at which I knew she would be present. At a favorable
moment I sank to the floor in a simulated swoon, and was carried to the
hotel by four men, whither was summoned a physician, who made me four
visits. Probably he suspected the sham, but he kept his own counsel. The
ruse had the effect desired. May’s sympathy was aroused, a
reconciliation followed, my presents and letters were again accepted,
and the engagement ring once more found a place upon her finger.

To hope for the consent of her parents to our union was, we both knew,
to expect the impossible. We therefore laid our plans for an elopement.
About nine o’clock on the evening of an August day in 1870 we met at the
appointed place of rendezvous. I was accompanied by a friend, Frank
Payne, who was to act as witness and best man. May mounted behind me one
of my father’s best saddle horses, and our little party set forth in
quest of some clergyman or justice of the peace to tie the nuptial knot.
After meeting with sundry rebuffs, and riding all night, we reached
Renick, a small town in Randolph county, about eighteen miles from
Roanoke. Here we found an accommodating magistrate in the person of
Esquire Butler. After Payne had sworn that Miss Harvey was eighteen
years old on August 24th, and therefore of lawful age, the magistrate
consented to perform the ceremony. That evening we returned to the home
of my father, who was living alone, my mother having died on Oct 12,

Great was the sensation which our marriage created in our little
village, and greater the indignation of my bride’s parents. Dr. Harvey
promptly caused the arrest of Frank Payne for false swearing, and of
Esquire Butler for solemnizing the marriage. The prosecution of Payne
was soon dropped, but the magistrate did not escape so easily, being
sentenced to pay a fine of $300 and to be imprisoned in the county jail
for three months. Both these penalties, however, were soon afterward

For two years we lived at Roanoke, my wife’s parents refusing to
recognize us even on the streets. At the end of that time we removed to
Moberly, Missouri, where I lived by gaming, finding all avenues of
respectable employment closed against me.

Among those with whom I gambled during this period were Joe Woods, Si.
Beatty, Levi Perkins, James F. Wallace, Bill Robertson, Pat Carmody,
Perry McDaniels, John Guy, Bill Williams, Dave White, and Judge Worden.

While at Moberly I formed the acquaintance of one Sam Martin, a jovial,
good natured man, who first taught me the use of marked cards. I found
him a congenial companion, and during the eight years from 1873 to 1881
we were partners in gambling. In the latter year Martin’s health failed
and he had recourse to the waters of Hot Springs, where he died in 1885,
at the early age of thirty-five.

Perhaps I may be pardoned for relating here a few incidents of our life
at this time, which may serve to illustrate both Martin’s character and
my own. On one of our gambling expeditions we arrived at Columbia,
Missouri, and went to a hotel kept by Jim Hume. Placing a carpet satchel
upon the counter, Martin blandly demanded the best room in the house.
Being informed that the hostelry was full, he thrust his hand into his
empty vest pocket and offered to settle in advance. This audacious piece
of assurance won the confidence of the clerk, and we were assigned to
the parlor for the night. At the end of a week a bill for $12 was handed
to Martin, who excused himself from payment by saying that he had handed
all his money to me, and that he would go and find me. It was after dark
before he came across me and explained the _modus operandi_ which he had
devised. He was to lower the antique satchel from the window of our room
by a string upon receiving a signal from me that I was below. I assented
to the plan, and returning to the hotel, told the landlord to go out and
give the prearranged whistle. This he did, and down came the string with
the satchel attached, which was removed by Hume and carried into the
hotel office. Here it was opened in the presence of a large crowd of
“fakirs” who had been drawn to Columbia by the fair then in progress.
Its contents were found to be as follows: item, one deck of cards; item,
one pair of socks; item, one dirty collar; item, one rock (for ballast).
Sam’s wardrobe was regarded as unique, but of hardly sufficient value to
liquidate his bill. One of the amused sporting men present proposed
taking up a collection for Martin’s benefit. The proposition was hailed
with favor and twelve silver dollars soon jingled on the counter. The
landlord joined in the merriment, and in the exuberance of his mirth
offered to treat the crowd if someone would fetch Martin to participate
in the festivities of the occasion. Sam was soon found, and a general
jollification followed. When asked why he had not paid his bill, he
replied, “What for? Why, I could go to St. Louis and board at the
Lindell or Southern by paying for it.”

On the following day we started for St. Louis. On the train Martin
formed the acquaintance of an old gentleman, whom he courteously invited
to dine with him on reaching the refreshment station. The invitation was
accepted. Martin hurried through his meal and politely excused himself
to his companion. At the door he was asked for seventy five cents;
pointing towards the old gentleman, he said: “Father will settle.” When
his traveling acquaintance returned to the car he sought out Sam and
took a seat by his side. “Pretty good dinner for seventy-five cents,”
said Sam. “I should say so,” remarked the old gentleman. “I paid a
dollar and a half for yours and mine, and I want seventy-five cents.” At
this Martin started up in great apparent indignation, and in a loud
voice asked the conductor, “What sort of a man is that who keeps the
eating house? He has collected from both of us for our meal.” Before the
conductor could answer, the old gentleman exclaimed, “I want you to give
me that seventy-five cents that I paid out for your dinner.” Sam said
that he had no small change, but the old man assured him that he could
make change for “any sized bill.” I comprehended the situation and
quietly remarked, “Mr. Martin, this gentleman ought to be paid. I have
not enough money with me to cash your draft, but he should be paid.” My
companion at once perceived his opportunity. Producing from under the
lining of his hat a draft for $500, he said, “Now give me $499.25 and
you are paid.” Thinking that this was an attempt to “bluff” him, the old
gentleman reached down and pulled from his boot leg a large roll of
bills, from which he triumphantly counted out the “change,” as he called
it. Martin gave the conductor $20 to slow up and we jumped off the
train. The draft was, of course, utterly worthless, but the old man
apparently never made any effort to find either Martin or myself.

At St. Louis we were moderately successful in the prosecution of our
nefarious enterprises, making frequent excursions into the adjacent

Our next objective point was Texas. At Houston, Martin won nearly $100
from a man by playing with marked cards. The dupe discovered how he had
been victimized and related the circumstances to a friend giving a
description of the man who had won his money. The next morning a typical
Texan called on Martin and said, “I am out making collections this
morning, and have a bill against you for exactly $96.50.” Without saying
a word, Martin opened his wallet, and counting out the amount demanded,
quietly handed it over to the “collector.” As an argument, a six-shooter
is more convincing than rhetoric.

During the Centennial year, Martin went east, visiting Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Washington. When he said good bye to me at St. Louis, he
said that he was going to wear either diamonds or shackles. A few weeks
later he wrote that it was shackles; he had been in jail three days.

In September, 1876, I went to Philadelphia myself, to join Martin. On
arriving at his hotel I found that he was temporarily absent in
Baltimore. The second night after reaching Philadelphia I was invited by
the hotel clerk to take a hand in a game of poker. I found the cards
were marked, but as the marks were very familiar I said nothing, I found
the game exceedingly interesting and rose from the table a winner by
$300. I telegraphed Sam to return to Philadelphia at once, which he did.
On opening his valise, which he had left at his hotel in Philadelphia,
he found some of his cards missing. That afternoon the clerk of the
house came to him and apologized for taking a few decks of cards from
his valise, they being convenient for use. “That is all right,” said Sam
Martin; “you are at liberty to help yourself to them at any time,
provided my friend and myself can play in the game. I only carry them
with me because they are the Hart brand of cards and are “square.” They
are a protection to me when I play for a little amusement. They won’t
cheat me.”

Of course, every pack which he had was marked, and had laid the
foundation of a great financial success. None but his celebrated “Hart”
cards were used in the games at that hotel afterwards, and in less than
three weeks we had won at poker something over $3,000.

While in Philadelphia I formed the acquaintance of a man named Anderson,
who confided to me his troubles. He told me that he had resided in the
coal regions of Pennsylvania, where he had been involved in a terrible
fight, and that he was afraid to return. He offered me $100 if I would
go down into that section and bring his family to Baltimore. This I did,
and in the evening of our arrival in the Maryland metropolis, while
Anderson and I were walking about the city together, we were both
arrested and locked up. The next morning a gentleman from the place
where my new acquaintances resided came to the jail and identified
Anderson as the man who had recently fled from that town with $3,000 of
his money. Of course, I was discharged. The gentleman from Pennsylvania
was profuse in his expressions of regret at my arrest, paid my hotel
bill, and gave me twenty dollars. I did not enjoy the experience,
however, and as the poker games at the Philadelphia hotel showed decided
symptoms of coming to an end, I determined to return to St. Louis.

But to revert to my life at Moberly. In 1874, feeling dissatisfied, I
made a trip to Hot Springs, where I passed a few months, but found
little opportunity of making money in the only way which I understood.
Accordingly, in the autumn of that year I went to reside at St. Louis.
There I was joined by my wife. Many times had I resolved to quit
gambling, but as often had my determination failed. The sight of my
wife’s sweet, patient face when I met her at St. Louis rekindled my
desire to reform and pursue some honorable vocation. The thought that I
had brought her to the shame of being a gambler’s wife was bitter. But I
overcame these reflections by arguing with myself after the manner of
those gamesters whose desire to reform is half hearted, being founded on
impulse rather than on principle. I had tried several kinds of
legitimate business and failed in each. Who would trust me in any honest
employment? How was I to provide for my wife, to say nothing of myself?
To these questions I could formulate no answer, and hence it was that
during the six years of my residence in St. Louis I played at any and
every game that promised to pay me money. In order to preserve a
semblance of respectability at home, I rarely gambled in the city.
Excursion boats, country towns, and county fairs formed the theater of
my gaming. That description of games known to professionals as “brace”
comprised those in which I engaged. My pursuits included the use of
marked cards, “squeeze spindles,” roulette, monte tricks, and “bunko
steering” for “brace” faro banks. When I could not win the entire stake
for myself, I was content to accept a percentage. Thus I lived until
April 29, 1880.

On the date last mentioned I was residing with my wife on an upper floor
at No. 1517 North Eighth Street. At about eleven o’clock in the
forenoon, as my wife was starting from home to carry aid to a former
servant who was at that time sick and destitute, her foot became
entangled in her clothing as she reached the head of the stairs and she
fell headlong to the foot of the flight. She was at once carried to her
room and placed upon her bed. Her eyes opened, and during a single
moment of consciousness she placed both hands upon her head and
exclaimed, “Where is John? O, mother! mother! you won’t forgive—you
break my heart!” She then added, “take down my hair; I am dying.”
Respiration ceased, and the loving, faithful heart that had for so many
years beat only for me was at rest.

That morning, her mother was returning from a three days’ visit at St.
Louis to her home in Roanoke; her father had just reached the National
Stock Yards at East St. Louis with two car loads of live stock; and I
was at Cote Brilliante Park, in training for a foot race with “Hank”
Wider, and Jim Bensley for a purse of $10,000. I was not apprised of the
great calamity which had befallen me until my return to my desolate home
that evening. I will not attempt to depict the emotions of remorse,
anguish, almost despair, which struggled for mastery in my heart. There
are sorrows too deep for tears and griefs too sacred to be revealed.

I at once notified Dr. and Mrs. Harvey of the death of the daughter,
whose last, agonized cry had been for a mother’s forgiveness. My
preparations for the funeral completed, the form that had been so dear
in life and was so sacred to me, in its sleep of death was carried to
Roanoke and reverently laid to rest in the family burying ground. Revs.
Talbot and Johnson conducted the last sad religious rites.

The night following the funeral I passed under Dr. Harvey’s roof, and
for the first time in my life, was kindly entertained by my wife’s
parents. Soon after leaving the village, I arranged for the erection of
a suitable monument to mark the last resting place of my loved one.

The foot race for which I was in training at the time of my wife’s death
had been declared off, out of respect for my bereavement, and when I
returned to St. Louis I was without anything to engross my thoughts.
Then how many good resolutions did I form to abandon the vice, which in
the mood of repentance induced by my wife’s death, had grown not only
distasteful but actually abhorrent to me. I saw the degradation into
which I had fallen, and I resolved to make another effort to raise
myself from the slough into which I had sunk.

After remaining in St. Louis for about six months, in the fall of 1880 I
went to Little Rock, Arkansas, where I stumbled across the Mabel Norton
theatrical troupe, then under the management of John Hogan. The
combination had become financially stranded, and I advanced the
necessary funds, taking the position of treasurer. After visiting the
principal towns in the valley of the Arkansas river, we went to Eureka,
where I severed my connection with the company and returned to my evil
courses, opening several gambling houses. Here I formed the acquaintance
of a number of persons who I initiated into the mysteries of “brace”
games with a view to their becoming of assistance to me in the pursuit
of my nefarious calling.

While I was at the last mentioned resort I wrote to Mrs. Harvey,
recommending the waters for the use of her invalid daughter. Mother and
daughter both visited the springs, and while there treated me with
kindness and even cordiality. Their visit constituted the second
occasion on which I was allowed to associate with any of the family
except my wife. I felt that I was never justly entitled to their
consideration, yet they always demanded my esteem, if not my affection.

I remained at Eureka Springs for seven months, encountering varying
fortunes, when I again returned to my old home in Roanoke.

In the early fall of 1881, I received a despatch from Jem Sanford, a
professional gambler, to come to Chicago. The dispatch conveyed a
proposition to “take in” the fairs then being held in the surrounding
country. The proposal I readily accepted, and going to Chicago I united
my fortunes with the redoubtable Jem. Together we visited many county
fairs in the states of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. Our outfit
consisted of marked cards, dice, spindles, a hap-hazard, and other
devices to defraud the unwary. Considered solely from a money making
standpoint our jaunt was a successful one. No games involving large
stakes were played, but we reaped a constant harvest of small sums from
the ignorance and stupidity of the country people.

At Marion, Indiana, however, while I was running a game of “hap-hazard”
on the fair ground, the game was discovered to be “skin.” I was
arrested, tried, and fined $25. I paid the fine and left the place
without delay.

At the end of the fair season we returned to St. Louis. I had determined
to locate in Chicago and thither I went later in the autumn. There I
became a member of the commission firm of Stockton, Young & Co., who
referred by permission to Wm. Young & Co., then the leading general
commission house of that city. I found operating on change different
from running a “squeeze spindle,” but the “squeezing” was effectually
accomplished in both cases. In the spring of 1882 the composition and
title of the firm was changed; Ben Demint was admitted to membership,
and the firm name became Stockton, Quinn & Co.

While a member of the firm, I was causelessly arrested for defrauding a
Mrs. Morgan out of $700. By way of defence I produced her receipt, and
was thereupon honorably discharged.

One day, while business was dull, Demint and I were chatting in our
office, when one of us (probably myself) proposed, in a spirit of
deviltry, to advertise for a wife. The suggestion was adopted, and the
day following the insertion of the advertisement we received fifty-six
replies. At the end of a week we had received answers from points as far
distant as New York and later from California and New Orleans. From the
beginning I regarded the whole project as a mere matter of passing
sport. Little did I think how potent an influence it was destined to
exert over my future life.

Among my correspondents was a handsome, petite Jewess, named Lily Boas,
whose acquaintance I formed, and by whom I was captivated at once. On
July 3, 1882, we went together to Milwaukee, where we were married. My
former experience in the matter of securing parental consent had not
been of a sort to encourage me to ask for it in this instance, and as my
fiance was content without it, we agreed to regard it as a needless

I was determined that my second wife should not be subjected to the
humiliating circumstances which had embittered the life of May. I
determined to abjure gambling then and forever. To remove myself from
the temptation, I determined to withdraw from business in Chicago, and
once more to take up my residence on my father’s farm. The monotony and
ceaseless toil of a farmer’s life were irksome to me, but I hoped to
find in them a refuge from my overweaning passion. Better the dullness
of a plodding routine than the fitful excitement of a gambler’s
checkered life; better an aching body than a ruined soul.

For a year I led a rural life, and in September, 1883, I removed to St.
Louis. There I found employment with McDonald’s Detective Agency, whose
proprietors I faithfully served for two years, retaining their
confidence at the termination of our relations. While with this concern,
I returned to my former pursuits, running games at fairs, picnics, etc.,
and on excursion boats.

While living in St. Louis at this time, I became involved in two or
three transactions which brought me into some unpleasant notoriety. The
first was in connection with the sale of a saloon, known as the “White
Elephant,” on 6th Street, near Chestnut. I had an interest in this
place, jointly, with a man named Henry W. Huthsing. Huthsing sold out
the business to one Fred. Beckerer, of East St. Louis, for $1,900.
Payment was made in nineteen $100 four per cent. U. S. bonds, and my
partner, finding that the premiums and accrued interest amounted to $375
gave Beckerer his check for that sum, greatly to the latter’s surprise.
Becoming dissatisfied with his bargain, the purchaser set up the claim
that the bottles and barrels in the place were chiefly filled with
water, a statement which was utterly untrue. He brought suit against us
and caused our arrest. Our experience before trial was not of a
character seriously to impress us with respect either for the
administration of justice or for the integrity of some of the legal
luminaries of the St. Louis bar. We gave bonds in $1,000 each, signed by
Henry W. Godfrey, an old-time gambler and well-known in the courts of
that city. We retained as counsel ex-judge Wm. Jones and C. R. Taylor,
paying them retainers of $50 and $100 respectively. When the case was
first called, Jones demanded $50 additional, having ascertained that
Taylor had received $100. The demand was accompanied with a threat of
withdrawing from the defense and allying himself with the prosecution,
and we complied with his request. The case was continued, and soon
afterward we gave Godfrey $300 upon his representation that the
prosecuting attorney, R. S. McDonald, had agreed to dismiss the suit.
What became of the money I cannot tell, but Godfrey repeatedly told us
that he had given McDonald $250, and we supposed that the matter was
settled. Several months later we were surprised to learn that the case
was about to be called again. Huthsing was obliged to give Judge Jones
his note for $100 to appear and defend. The day before that set for the
trial Jones wrote to Mrs. Huthsing that the note must be paid at once or
he would refuse to appear. The money was not paid and we were
accordingly deprived of the valuable services of the “Hon.” (?) Judge
Jones. I gave another attorney, Col. Nat. Claibourn $10 to move for a
continuance, which was granted, and subsequently retained ex-Governor
Charles P. Johnson, as our attorney. The case was called on January 16,
1887, and at the request of my counsel, I was granted a separate trial.
At the suggestion of Gov. Johnson, the evidence was submitted without
argument to the jury, who re-entered the court room in exactly nineteen
minutes with a verdict of acquittal. The case against Huthsing was then
dismissed. Thus the “White Elephant” was disposed of and the cheerful
prophecy of the St. Louis _Globe-Democrat_ came to naught; that paper
had said before the trial, “the way things look, it appears that softly
the cuckoo is calling for Quinn to come up the road.”

Another unpleasant experience of mine while sojourning in St. Louis was
in connection with the Van Hennessey-Wolff “gold brick” swindling case
in 1885, in which one U. S. Wolff, of Madison, Indiana, was defrauded of
$5,000. The victim offered a reward for the apprehension of the man who
had defrauded him. The matter received wide publication and attracted
general attention. A detective named Page, came to St. Louis with the
papers necessary to secure the extradition of Van Hennessey.

I knew Van Hennessey only too well, and had no reason to regard him with
affection. I had advanced to him some $1,200 to embark in the business
of running a Wild West show, no part of which sum had been returned, and
he had given me a note for $700, which I yet hold. I had pawned my own
watch and chain and my wife’s diamond ear drops to obtain the money. The
stock was to have been mine, but I discovered too late that Van
Hennessey and his brother John had mortgaged it for its full value.
While my child was ill I asked John Hennessey for money with which to
buy medicine, and was refused, although I knew that he had several
hundred dollars in his pocket at the time. When the Indiana detective
appeared upon the scene I thought my time had come. I accordingly
proposed to point out his game, knowing that the man he wanted was in
Tennessee. The result was an arrangement that Page (the detective), one
Backenstoe, and my brother should proceed to Tennessee, where they
should collect my note and then allow Hennessey to go. The amount to be
collected was to be divided equally between Page and myself, after
Backenstoe had been reimbursed for the money he was to advance for

In the meantime, a wealthy man of Nashville, Tennessee, by the name of
Oscar F. Noel, had been swindled out of $6,000 by the gold brick scheme,
and when they arrived in Tennessee they found that Hennessey was then
engaged in a similar enterprise to defraud a man from Marietta, Georgia.
They soon found their man, whom my brother captured at the point of a
pistol. On their return trip they stopped at Nashville, where Hennessey
said that he could raise the $700. They placed him under the care of my
brother, and Page went out for a little while on “business.” About ten
o’clock that evening the latter returned with an officer, representing
the authorities of Nashville, to whom he turned over Hennessey, on the
charge of swindling Noel, receiving for his services in that connection,
it was said, the sum of $1,150. The Indiana requisition was returned and
Hennessey was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the Tennessee
penitentiary for a term of five years. After serving two years in prison
Hennessey was pardoned. He was brought to St. Louis a hopeless
consumptive, and died in a few days. The next result of the expedition
was that Backenstoe was “out” the money advanced for expenses. I found
the amount of my note to be a permanent investment, and my brother was
obliged to pawn his pistol to obtain money with which to get home. The
detective, after the manner of many of his class, “sold out” not only
us, but his state as well, and was probably well satisfied with himself.

This was the era when the gold brick swindlers were reaping a rich
harvest, and I was induced, through cupidity and vicious propensities,
to embark in that line of operations myself. I soon got into trouble. In
September, 1886, in company with a party known as “Doc” Kerns, I was
arrested at St. Louis, charged with attempting to sell a bogus brick to
one Bob Basket, of Howard County, Missouri. While we were held in jail a
Jew named Levi Stortz, a small manufacturer of jewelry, came to the Four
Courts and identified me as one of the men from whom he had bought one
of these fraudulent articles. A formal charge was thereupon made against
me, and Kerns was liberated. I was released on $1,500 bail, John Vittie
becoming my surety. Ex-Governor Johnson being absent from the city, John
I. Martin was employed as my attorney on the strength of his
representations that he “could influence” the judges. Stortz had sworn
that he paid $3,700 for the bogus brick on July 15. Mr. Martin and I
went together to St. Paul, Minnesota, where we obtained depositions from
the proprietor of a hotel where I had stopped, and from the cashier of
the city water works, and several other business men to the effect that
I was in that city on July 12th, and for two weeks thereafter.

Several months after my arrest, two men, named Frank Aldrich and “Billy”
Adkins called on me, and the former told me that he had been the cause
of my arrest. He said that he had induced Stortz to make the charge
because he had understood that I was endeavoring to have him sent to the
penitentiary. He added that he had offered $100 to a grocer on Jefferson
Avenue to go to the jail and identify me as the swindler who had tried
to defraud him in a similar way. The latter part of this story was
corroborated by Adkins, who said that he had been present at the time.
Aldrich also stated that he had endeavored to retain Governor Johnson to
assist in my prosecution, but that the latter had refused to entertain
the proposition. He went on to express his deep regret for all this,
saying that he wished to “bury the hatchet,” and as an earnest of his
desire to make atonement he handed me two ten dollar bills. Before going
to St. Paul I had myself retained Governor Johnson as counsel and he
forwarded a letter from Aldrich sent in his care, offering to establish
an alibi for me by swearing that I was with him in Chicago at the time
named by Stortz. This offer was indignantly rejected. All the facts were
brought to the notice of the prosecuting attorney, and as a result the
case was dropped.

I now come to the recital of the gloomiest chapter in my life’s history,
a chapter of legalized intimidation, of perjury and the subornation of
perjury, and of gross and wanton outrage upon personal liberty committed
in the name of justice and under the forms of law. I refer to my arrest,
trial and incarceration in the Southern Penitentiary of Indiana for a
crime of which I was as innocent as any of my readers and the
perpetrators of which, were to me entirely unknown. On August 7, 1887,
accompanied by “Doc” Kerns and John Forbes, I left St. Louis by way of
Terre Haute, at which place our party stopped for a few days. While
eating supper at a restaurant, two strangers, who afterwards proved to
be detectives, entered and accosted Kerns, who soon called me forward
and introduced me. These men, whose names were Vandeveer and Murphy,
placed us under arrest and took us to police headquarters, whither
Forbes was soon brought by Vandeveer and Chief Lawler.

Some two months before this a farmer by the name of Zach Deputy, living
near North Vernon, Ind., had been victimized by three confidence men to
the tune of $3,000, and it was this offense which was laid at our door.

Upon our arrival at headquarters, an effort was made to extort money
from us under the guise of “a compromise.” Had we been actually guilty,
this would, of course, have been an attempt to compound a felony, but
for that, these zealous officials, who had been sworn to enforce the law
whose majesty they so flagrantly violated, cared little. The proposition
was declined, and we were searched, when it was disclosed that our
entire cash assets aggregated $8.65.

After we had been placed in jail, we were visited by an alleged lawyer
calling himself Thomas Harper, who was permitted to interview us by the
grace of the police authorities. He wanted $100 for services which he
offered to render in the capacity of attorney. We declined his proposal
and he indignantly spurned our suggestion that $10 were probably all
that his services were worth. On the following Sunday Vandeveer called
on us, but we refused to recognize him, and on Monday morning the
authorities telegraphed to Webb Benton, a North Vernon detective that
they were holding the men who had fleeced Deputy. On receiving the
telegram Benton took with him a livery stable keeper named Burge and
started to convey the tidings to the old farmer. He had previously
offered a reward of $200 for the arrest of the guilty parties, and was
easily persuaded to enter into a written contract to pay the sum of $300
if Benton and Burge would point out to him the men who had robbed him.
This having been done, the trio went to Terre Haute, and the three
prisoners were brought before Deputy for identification. After he had
looked us thoroughly over, Benton asked him if he recognized us. The old
man shook his head, but pointing to Kerns said: “That man looks some
like one of them, but he is too small.” Thereupon Chief Lawler and
Vandeveer sent for Kerns and advised him to settle the matter by paying
$1,500. “Doc” replied that he had nothing to settle. Then the officers
suggested $1,000, but Kerns still proved obdurate. In order to secure
the $200 reward it was absolutely necessary that Deputy should identify
us as the men who had swindled him. To induce him to do this, Lawler and
Vandeveer told him that we had just robbed a country bank of $6,000, and
that if he would swear that we were the right parties, we would gladly
settle with him. This line of argument overcame his scruples and he at
once swore out warrants for us. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to add that
the $200 reward was promptly demanded and eventually paid.

The next day (Tuesday) we were arraigned for the preliminary
examination, Tom Harper, the alleged lawyer aforementioned, who had
indignantly shaken the dust of our cells off of his feet a few days
before, now appeared in the role of our attorney and asked for a
continuance. We promptly repudiated him, and Forbes told the court that
we would waive examination. Accordingly we were remanded to jail, and
the next day were taken to Brownstown, the county seat of the county in
which the crime had been committed. It was a slight mitigation of our
condition to be placed in the custody of Sheriff Wicks, whose kindness
was in delightful contrast to the blackmailing tactics of the police
officials of Terre Haute. Thomas Harper, Esq., who had so magnanimously
volunteered to ask for a continuance which we did not wish, easily
obtained possession of the watches taken from Kerns and Forbes by the
police, and retained them, alleging that he had a lien of $200 upon them
for his professional (?) services. They were subsequently redeemed by
Al. Burkey, of St. Louis, who paid that amount to the over-zealous
practitioner, when the watches were sent C. O. D.

At Brownstown we retained Lon Brenneman, a lawyer of some local
reputation. The next morning we telegraphed to Lieut. Governor Smith, of
North Vernon, who came to us at once, and agreed to appear in our
behalf. The Friday following, we had a preliminary hearing before a
justice of the peace. At that examination Deputy, under oath, identified
Kerns, because he was “bald-headed,” although he admitted that he was
smaller in stature and lighter in build than at the time when he alleged
that he committed the crime. He explained this discrepancy by swearing
that he believed the prisoner’s clothes were stuffed when he first saw
him, and added that on that occasion Kerns wore false whiskers. On
cross-examination the witness admitted having been instructed by Lawler
and Vandeveer to identify us as the men who had robbed him, because he
would thus recover his money and also admitted the making of the
contract with Burton and Burge. On this evidence we were held for trial
on September 12, in bonds of $3,000 each.

Gov. Smith, our counsel, strongly urged us to retain Jason B. Brown,
Esq., to which suggestion we assented. He himself went to Kansas City
and St. Joseph, Mo., to obtain depositions in our behalf. These were
secured from reputable citizens of those cities, and established the
fact that we were not in the state of Indiana at the time Deputy swore
that we had defrauded him.

The trial came off on the day appointed. Our consciousness of innocence
made us confident, and we asked for no delay. Deputy repeated his story
as told at the preliminary hearing, adding this time that when he first
saw us we all wore false whiskers and wigs and all had our clothes
stuffed out until we must have resembled a group of veritable Daniel
Lamberts. He not only made the same damaging admissions as before on
cross-examination, but also acknowledged that he had agreed to pay the
prosecuting attorney $500 in the event of our conviction, or 25 per
cent. of any money that we might pay by way of compromise.

Burge, the North Vernon liveryman, from whom the three swindlers had
hired rigs, swore that we looked like the precious trio. He also
testified to the fact that a gray horse was attached to one of the
buggies. In this latter statement he was corroborated by all the
witnesses but one, who, however, was positive in his identification of
us. Others swore to having seen us in the neighborhood about the time of
the robbery. This constituted the case for the state.

For the defence, were read the depositions taken in Missouri, which have
been already referred to as establishing an alibi on the part of Kerns,
and in addition witnesses were introduced in behalf of Forbes and
myself, who swore positively that we were both at St. Joseph, Missouri,
on the day when the complaining witness was defrauded. Among these were
Harry Trimble, now the clerk of Judge Baker’s court in Chicago, and
James Whitten, a responsible real estate owner of St. Joseph, both of
whom were well acquainted with me. It is worthy of remark that Mr.
Trimble was immediately arrested on the charge of perjury after giving
his testimony, but it is needless to add that he was never tried.

In addition, a number of prominent citizens of North Vernon who had seen
and remembered the men who had swindled Deputy were positive that we
were not the parties. Among these was a Mr. Curtis, a wealthy stock man
and the marshal of the town; another was a responsible merchant, and yet
another Mr. Douglas Snodgrass, proprietor of the Snodgrass House at
North Vernon, where the swindlers had stopped on the day of the
perpetration of the crime, and where one of them had stayed for a week
previously. The latter was corroborated by his wife, mother and three

After being repeatedly urged by me, my counsel, Honorable Jason B.
Brown, called for the production of the contract between Deputy and the
prosecuting attorney, in which demand he was sustained by the court. The
attorney, Douglas Long, rising with flushed face and hang-dog air
admitted the existence of the contract but stated that it was not in his
power to produce it. This satisfied the court and the matter was not

While the trial was in progress, I observed in the court room the
presence of a man whose name and residence were subsequently learned. He
was one Higgins, and he came from Detroit. It was also afterwards
ascertained that he had attended in the interest of Charles Stewart, Ed.
Rice and “Punch” Mason, the actual robbers. He appeared nervous and
deeply interested, and before the proceedings were over left the town,
ostensibly for Detroit, saying that he was going for the purpose of
raising money to clear the three innocent men then on trial. Although he
did not return, this incident furnished a clue to the guilty parties and
their whereabouts. After the rendition of the verdict, I laid these
facts before Sheriff Byrnes and warrants were obtained for the arrest of
the parties named.

Our trial consumed five days, and during its entire progress popular
sentiment against us ran very high. In the streets of Brownstown, the
demonstrations were almost riotous. Bonfires were lighted in the evening
and threats of violence were freely and openly made. The jurymen were
undoubtedly aware of these facts and were probably not uninfluenced by
them. We were informed that no man charged with crime, however innocent
he might be, could be acquitted in Brownstown “unless he brought his
jury with him,” and were asked to advance thirty-five dollars to be used
in “convincing” seven of the jurors.

After the evidence was all in, my counsel, Col. Brown, addressed the
jury in stentorian tones. His plea was alleged to be in our behalf, but
at its close I found it necessary to ask him on which side of the case
he had been speaking. The prosecuting attorney demanded a conviction (in
which he was ably seconded by the howling mob outside), the jury, and
the twelve “good men and true” withdrew from the courtroom, ostensibly
to weigh the evidence, but in reality to formulate a predetermined
verdict of guilty. Their foreman announced their conclusion (?) upon
their return, and the farce was over. For some unexplained reason Col.
Brown had retired from the room, during the absence of the jury, and it
devolved upon Lieut. Gov. Smith to make the stereotyped motion for a new
trial, which was promptly over-ruled.

The verdict fell with crushing effect upon my wife, who had been at
Brownstown throughout the trial, and whose natural grief at the
conviction of a husband whom she knew to be innocent, was rendered more
poignant by the reflection that she and her only child would be now
thrown upon the “cold mercy of an unfeeling world.”

I made a personal appeal to the presiding judges to defer sentence,
urging that I would be able to introduce additional and stronger proof
of my innocence, and in all probability to trace the parties really
guilty. My prayer was of no avail, and we were then and there sentenced
to three years’ imprisonment in the penitentiary at Jeffersonville. I
forbear to comment upon what I feel satisfied the reader will agree with
me in regard to the indecent haste of these proceedings.

That night we passed in the county jail, which was doubly guarded, with
a view to our protection against the angry, yelling crowd outside, which
surged backward and forward through the streets, rending the air with
demoniac shouts and clamoring for our execution by the light of the
great bonfire, whose livid flames danced fitfully upon the walls of our
prison. The next morning, in charge of Sheriff P. T. Byrnes, one of
nature’s nobleman, we started for Jeffersonville. We were permitted to
stop at the Snodgrass House, to say good bye to the family who, at the
risk of their own popularity and that of their hostelry had so zealously
yet fruitlessly identified themselves with our cause. They had kind
words for us in that hour of our humiliation and distress, and their
generous sympathy stirred us as nothing yet—not even the murderous mob,
thirsting for our blood—had stirred us; we broke down and wept. At
Seymour the train was boarded by that matchless orator, that eminent
jurist, that advocate without a peer, the great, the only Col. Jason B.
Brown. Words of honeyed cheer fell from his lips like rain, but alas,
they were not as “water to a thirsty land.” We had lost faith in the
redoubtable Colonel, and his assurance that he would “have us out of
prison in a week” fell upon our ears like the hollow echo of a mocking

Arriving at the penitentiary, we went through the customary routine. The
necessary descriptions were entered, the formal minute of our
conviction, the county from which received, the crime charged, length of
sentence, etc., etc., was made. We were given the regulation bath, duly
shaved by the convict barber, and then we donned the stripes, that badge
of infamy which burns into the soul as the branding iron into the
quivering flesh. We were assigned to labor in the shoe-shop.

I feel that it would be folly for me to hope to convey to the reader who
has never tasted of the bitterness of prison life even a faint idea of
the feelings of him who for the first time enters the gloomy gates of a
penitentiary to do the State involuntary service as a felon. The
overwhelming sense of shame, the sickening feeling of isolation from all
that makes life sweet, the bitter memories of the past that crowd, like
a horde of mocking demons, upon the brain—all these might well plunge
into an agony of despairing grief, a stouter heart than mine. Nor is the
unvarying routine of prison life calculated to draw a man from that
self-contemplation which is at once the most tiresome and the most
dangerous of all mental exercises. I shall never be able to recall
without a shudder those wearisome days of bootless toil, rendered all
the more unbearable by the alternation of those dark nights of
loneliness;—nights whose bleak shadows were deepened rather than
dispelled by memories of home, of wife and child, and of all that the
heart holds dear. It is out of the utter agony of such a life that the
helpless soul turns to its Creator as its sole remaining refuge, or in
the bitterness of its torment curses even Him who made it.

After Sheriff Byrnes had safely landed us in the penitentiary, he
proceeded to Indianapolis with the warrants for the arrest of Stewart,
Rice and Mason, for the purpose of securing requisitions for their
surrender. I had had a surfeit not only of Indiana justice but of
Indiana lawyers as well. I therefore wrote to St. Louis and retained the
services of Ex-Gov. Johnson. He came to the prison and learned from me
all the facts of the case. Forthwith he set about securing the
extradition of the guilty parties from Canada, whither they had fled.[A]


Footnote A:

  In her anxiety to secure the release of her husband, Mrs. Kerns went
  to Detroit to see Higgins. Stewart was there in Windsor, Can., where
  Mrs. Kerns and Higgins found him. He politely handed her twenty
  dollars and told her to return home as “as every one must skin his own
  eel.” That was the only satisfaction she obtained.


It will not be out of place here to recount the heroic and magnanimous
(?) zeal which Col. Jason B. Brown displayed in our behalf in due time.
Some three weeks after our incarceration he made his appearance at the
penitentiary and requested an interview with us. He did not leave us
long in ignorance as to the object of his visit. He told us that old
Deputy had been in debt to the amount of about $6,000 before that
unlucky day, when, at one fell swoop, he lost both his $3,000 and his
confidence in mankind. “If,” said the Colonel, “Mr. Deputy’s debt could
be squared up, I could arrange to have you pardoned in about ten days.”
This generous proposal being “declined with thanks,” he suggested
$3,000, and later $2,000 as a sum the payment of which might at once
convincingly prove our penitence and measurably solace Mr. Deputy under
his existing weight of misfortune. Finding his mission fruitless he left
us, but subsequently opened a correspondence, in the course of which he
offered to accept $1,000, which sum he gradually reduced to $300, as the
price which we were to pay in consideration of being pardoned for an
offense which we had never committed. These letters, of course, were
read by Mr. James Patton, the warden of the prison, who advised us to
have nothing to do with Col. Brown, inasmuch as he was quite as likely
to oppose our pardon as to champion it.

Meanwhile, requisition papers had been obtained from the Governor and
sent to Detroit by Sheriff Byrnes. The Detroit authorities showed great
vigilance. A watch was placed upon the houses in that city where the
families of the guilty parties resided, as well as upon their accustomed
haunts. The result was that one night in November, 1887, Stewart and
Rice were arrested at their homes and Mason at a gambling hell. Although
a messenger was despatched to Rice to warn him of the impending danger,
the police were on the alert, and he was brought to headquarters within
a few hours after his confederates. Sheriff Byrnes was notified and went
to Detroit at once. For five weeks the rascals fought extradition in the
courts, and the sheriff was offered $1,000 to drop the prosecution, an
offer which he indignantly spurned.

While in jail, the prisoners were photographed. Rice was obstinate and
had to be held during the operation, in consequence of which the picture
obtained showed him with closed eyes and open mouth. Poor as the
likeness was, however, it was recognized by no less than ten persons as
that of the man who had stopped at the Snodgrass House in North Vernon
on the day when Deputy had been victimized. The other two were easily
identified, and Stewart was recognized as the man who had boarded at
that hotel for a week preceding the crime. When the Detroit court
finally directed the surrender of the prisoners to the Indiana
authorities, there ensued an attempt to rescue them by force, but the
officers succeeded in placing them in a wagon in which they were driven
to the Indiana State line. Albert Boebritz, a detective, and James J.
Houston, a deputy sheriff, both of Detroit, accompanied the party to

The best legal talent of the State, including such eminent advocates as
United States Senator Dan Voorhees and John Lamb, of Terre Haute, were
engaged for the defense. The trial was had in January, 1888. The accused
were positively identified by twenty-three reputable witnesses, among
them all the members of the Snodgrass family. The fact of their driving
out of town on the morning of the day of the robbery with two of Burge’s
teams, was also established, and a liveryman from Kentucky testified to
their having hired a rig from him.

It grieves me to say that the aged Deputy and Colonel Jason B. Brown did
not appear in a favorable light in connection with the investigation.
Relying upon the assurance that the nature of his evidence should be
kept secret, the old farmer went before the grand jury and identified
the men then accused, virtually admitting that he had lied while giving
his testimony at our trial. It was also learned afterwards that the
unsophisticated old man, under the tutelage of the astute Col. Jason B.
Brown, had received from Stewart and company $1,000 not to appear as a
witness against them at the trial, and had been promised the remaining
$2,000 of his loss immediately upon their acquittal. Kerns, Forbes and
myself were brought from the penitentiary to testify that we were not
within the State at the time the crime was committed. Upon our parole to
accompany the officers quietly and make no attempt to escape, we were
permitted to go without hand-cuffs in custody of Deputy Warden Barnes
and Mr. Lemons, one of the guards. At Brownstown we were kindly treated,
occupying a private room in the sheriff’s house.

After the case of Stewart, Rice and Mason had been submitted to the jury
and that body had deliberated for thirty-six hours, a ballot showed
eleven for conviction and one for acquittal. Finally the jury returned,
announcing that an agreement was impossible and they were discharged. It
was understood that the final vote was nine to three in favor of
conviction. Sheriff Byrnes had predicted a disagreement from the first.
He had himself been offered $500 if he could induce the court to reduce
the prisoners’ bonds to $1,000 each, and afterward said that he had
learned that Philip Davis, one of the jurors, had been promised $300 and
an increase in his pension if he would “hang” the jury. It is
unnecessary to state that the sheriff rejected the offer, but the judge,
Collins, saw fit, of his own motion, to make the desired reduction. The
prisoners then gave bail and fled the country, their bonds being
declared forfeited at the next term of court.

The officers of the penitentiary now took an active interest in securing
our release. A strong petition for pardon based upon the allegation of
our innocence, was addressed to Governor Gray and was endorsed by
Senator Voorhees and John Lamb, counsel for Stewart, Rice and Mason, who
not only wrote to, but also personally called upon, the executive,
Governor Johnson of Missouri, rendered invaluable service in securing
favorable action upon the petition. He demanded, not clemency, but
justice. He had sifted and weighed all the evidence bearing upon the
case, and he spoke with no uncertain sound. Words such as his, prompted
by the deliberate judgment, unerring instincts and warm heart of one of
the greatest criminal lawyers of the Mississippi Valley, could not fail
to carry weight. The result was inevitable. The executive of the State
in whose so-called courts of justice we had suffered such a grievious
wrong, restored to us our liberty and citizenship by his pardon. But to
remove from us the stigma of the felon, to atone for the weary months of
suffering which we had undergone, in a word, to put us back where we
were upon the morning of that day when we first became entangled in the
machinations of that diabolical plot,—these were boons which even this
great seal of the Sovereign State of Indiana could not bestow.

In a private letter written by Governor Johnson some months ago in
reference to this matter he says:

                                             ST. LOUIS, May 4, 1889.

  _Dear Sir_:—Your letter of inquiry as to Mr. John Quinn is received.
  Permit me to say in response, that if ever there was a case of
  judicial wrong and oppression, he has the misfortune of affording the
  illustration. At the solicitation of his friends I became his attorney
  after conviction and sentence, and visited him in prison, at
  Jeffersonville, Indiana, where I heard the statement of the facts in
  his case. I immediately went to work to find out the truth of the
  recital. I examined into the matter exhaustively and became convinced
  of his innocence of the perpetration of the crime charged against him.
  I collected all the facts and circumstances going to show that my
  opinion was correct and worthy of consideration, and in laying them
  before Gov. Gray, of Indiana, he righted a great wrong and pardoned
  him. He is not the first man in my experience who has suffered so
  great a misfortune. I am very truly yours,

                                             CHAS. P. JOHNSON, Atty.

Of my prison life I care to say but little here. Not that my memory of
it has grown indistinct, or that I might not say something that would
awaken interest. To dwell upon it in detail in this place would swell to
too great dimensions a sketch which has already outgrown my original
intention. It is enough to say that I was what is known as a “good”
convict, respectful in my demeanor to the officials and yielding
unhesitating obedience to every command. I think that I do not
exaggerate when when I say that I won and retained the confidence of the
officers, from whom I received every kindness compatible with the
necessarily inexorable discipline of a penal institution. I shall always
recall with gratitude the generous words of encouragement repeatedly
spoken to me by the warden and his deputy and by many of the guards, and
notably from Messrs. Miller and Wilkinson. In the solitude of my
workbench and cell I had ample leisure to reflect upon the follies of my
youth, and the graver offences of my maturer years. My wasted life, with
its miserable vacillation of purpose, passed before me in all its
shameful reality of color. While cleaning out the rubbish from under my
bench one day, I picked up a battered Testament, upon the fly leaf of
which were written the words, “From your broken-hearted wife.” The
entire sacred volume contains no more touching epitome of a blighted
existence than was laid before me in this inscription, with its pregnant
suggestion of early love, girlish confidence, marriage, womanly love,
home, perhaps paternity, crime, misery, punishment, and, at the end, the
despair of a broken heart. But I do not intend to moralize. It is enough
to say that within those four stone walls in which I passed so many
sleepless nights, and behind that grated door which so effectually
barred all communication with the outer world, I felt the first emotions
of what I still believe to have been true penitence. To prove it such
shall be the aim of my future life. Acting under these newly found
impulses, I became the teacher of a Sunday school class, and was one of
the ten convicts who founded, under the supervision of Chaplain
Bornhill, a Young Men’s Christian Association within the prison walls. I
was made assistant librarian—under Mr. Martin, a lifetime prisoner—and
entrusted with the writing of a considerable proportion of prisoner’s
letters to their friends.

I entered the penitentiary on Sept. 19, 1887, and just two months
afterwards I received the most severe blow of my life. It happened on
Thanksgiving day. On the recurrence of anniversaries such as this, one’s
mind naturally reverts to thoughts of home and kindred. On this
particular day I was lying upon my prison bunk, lost in a day dream of
my wife and child, when my musings were suddenly broken off by the
abrupt announcement of the death of my darling, my only, boy. The shock
of the awakening was too great for me to endure, and I fell senseless on
the stone pavement of my cell, nor was I able for days to realize the
overwhelming force of the blow that had stunned me.

I have already said that my wife was with me during my trial at
Brownstown. She also visited me twice during my imprisonment in the
penitentiary, and on both occasions had expressed unshaken confidence in
my innocence and had assured me of her unswerving fidelity to her early
love. Very precious to me were these pledges of undying constancy, and
on my part I had vowed that not even death itself should ever abate my
love for her. Her letters, down to April 15, 1888, overflowed with
tender sentiment. She gently chided me for even seeming to question her
devotion to me in my hour of darkest need. It may conceived, therefore,
with what mingled emotions of astonishment and grief I received from
her, on May 5, the following letter:

                                            “CHICAGO, May 5th, 1888.


  Yours received. I had hoped your attorney would inform you of my
  intentions. * * * I have studied long and earnestly, and have
  concluded that this is best for me. I do this of my own free will. It
  was my intention to wait until you were free, but it is best to be
  candid with you now. You know the way we have lived in our six years
  of married life. There was nothing but sorrow and poverty. You took me
  from a good home, to which I have returned, and I hope you will leave
  me in peace. Heaven knows I pity you, but look deep into your heart,
  and see if you can drag my young life further, as it has been. I don’t
  wish you to blame anyone for this but myself, and I don’t wish to have
  further correspondence with you. If you have anything further to say
  you can say it through your attorney; but don’t expect a reply, as I
  have filed for a divorce. Wishing you good luck and a speedy release,
  I am,

                           Yours respectfully,
                                                   MRS. LILY QUINN.”

This blow, following close upon the death of my little boy, well nigh
prostrated me. I saw that I was also to lose my wife. Only the Searcher
of all hearts knows the depth of my affection for the mother of my
child, since whose death she had seemed doubly dear to me. The thought
of her had been, next to my newly found trust in an all-merciful
Providence, my main-stay amid the misfortunes which had engulfed me; and
when I had thought of my release from prison (and at what hour of the
day did I not think of it?), I had looked forward to her affectionate
companionship as the only refuge and solace of my earthly life.

I well knew on what grounds she would demand her divorce. The State of
Indiana had branded me as a convict, and this was enough, in the eye of
the law, to release her from a yoke which she had come to regard as
galling. Defence was impossible. Nor did I hope to be able to move her
heart by entreaty. Yet I could not forbear to write to her once again,
even if only to say farewell. As this last letter of mine embodies my
inmost feeling at the time, I venture to hope that the reader who has
honored me with his interest up to this point of my narrative may pardon
me if I transcribe it here. It ran as follows:

                         “JEFFERSONVILLE Penitentiary, May 13, 1888.


  I feel that I cannot say anything to do justice in this case. But as
  an act of justice to God and our child in heaven; to you in Chicago,
  to myself in the penitentiary, I will make this feeble effort.

  I am alone in my little home—a cell of 6 by 8 feet,—suffering my own
  afflictions, and knowing it is far beyond my power to touch your
  strange heart in sympathy; after what you have done to one you once
  loved, and one who loves you still.

  I do not blame you for trying to get my attorney to impart the sad
  information to me, for your own conscience’s sake. I know it was a
  hard trial to tell me what you have written, knowing I am innocent of
  the crime for which I am placed here.

  You tell me you did it with your own free will. Let us not question
  the cause, but the effect. It is—that much we know. You say: “Heaven
  knows I pity you.” If this is what you call pity, Heaven forgive those
  who despise. You say, “I took you from a good home, and from a father
  and mother who love you.” You ask me to look deep into my heart; that
  I have done. Never did I forsake a friend while in trouble.

  Let me ask you to seek seclusion in your own unhappy reflection. Sit
  down quietly and let conscience penetrate the deepest recesses of your
  heart, and you will right this terrible wrong. You act as though God
  was asleep, and his all-merciful care was dormant.

  You say you do not wish any further correspondence with me. Are you so
  cruel after exchanging so many testimonials of affection with me
  during the past six years? There is a letter in the office, addressed
  “Dear Wife” to you. There is a little boy above us, looking down on us

  You have clung to me in many trials of adversity, and have proved to
  be a brave, sweet little woman. I have neglected God for you, and it
  may be better that this has happened now, for the day might come when
  I would be dependent on you, and you cast me into the poor house.

  When I go out of this prison I shall begin a new life; as the woodsman
  in the forest hews out a new home. Where, I do not know, but will
  trust to the kind hand of Providence to direct me. You conclude your
  letter by saying you wish me “good luck and a speedy release.” I thank
  you for that. You know I am overpowered, I surrender. I am not a
  William Tell, and feel that any attempt to keep your affections would
  be ineffectual.

  I have had many trials. I have dwelt in the mansion of sorrow and
  pain. I have associated with the neglected and forsaken here, and have
  listened to the sad stories of those whom their wives have forsaken,
  with tears in my eyes. But the husbands of these wives were guilty.

  But that my own dear wife, whom I love so devotedly, should forsake me
  in the hour of trouble, when she knows I am innocent, is a heaviness
  of sorrow of which there can be no avoidance,—the severity of a mental
  torture from which there can be no escape. It forms a complication of
  horrors that will impel me to a convict’s grave.

  Since you have turned from this scene of distress, it has shown me
  that interest alone moves you, since by your actions you punish
  misfortune as crime, and raise crime to a level with misfortune. Have
  you forgotten the last night in the jail at Brownstown, where you said
  you would never forsake me, knowing that I was not guilty? Did you not
  tell Mrs. Withy you would never forsake me? No, never; that I had been
  so good to you? And so many letters I have received to the same
  effect. Your letter before the last one addresses me as “Dear
  husband.” * * * Quite a change in so short a time.

  Let us hope that mamma, Georgie and papa may some time occupy one of
  those beautiful mansions prepared by the Friend of sinners, which will
  prove as happy as the one at 1405 Olive Street, four years ago the
  29th of last April, when our child was born. O, wife; if you could
  only stand at the foot of my old straw bed and hear my cries, you
  would weep for me.

  Did we then think that this would ever happen? No, no, no. If I had
  thought so, you would have heard the cries and groans, and witnessed
  the streaming tears, and more than mortal anguish of a broken-hearted
  husband, who is now in the penitentiary, innocent, yet forsaken by the
  mother of his child, my wife.

  The fatal blow falls hard upon me. In this hour of my deepest woe,
  weakness seems to have seized upon me for my total destruction. Every
  poisoned shaft, which malice could invent, has been hurled against me.

  Our child has been dead nearly six months, and I have not yet heard
  the story of his sickness. You began it in one of your letters (now
  before me) when the doctor came in and told you that he would not live
  thirty-six hours. You screamed, and the poor little darling put his
  arms around your neck and said: “Mamma, don’t cry; I won’t die.” You
  then walked him over and showed him my picture, and asked him who it
  was. “That’s my papa,” was the reply. * * *

  When I realize that you know I am innocent and utterly powerless, I
  shrink with pain to think that the wound of my child’s death has only
  began to heal when it is made to bleed afresh from the blow of an iron
  hammer in the hands of my wife, the mother of my child. * * *

  You have filed an application for divorce. Now comes the struggle. I
  love you too well to oppose it if you ask for it. If you have asked
  for it because I am in the penitentiary, change your complaint, for
  you will have to make oath, and you know I am innocent, to which you
  must swear. * * * Place it upon any other grounds and I will sign the
  necessary papers.

  Of course it is nothing to you now whether I stay here or not. I may
  tell you that Mrs. Forbes and Mrs. Kerns will be here to meet their
  husbands at the old iron door, and take them back to their affection.
  Who will meet me and take my hand? I will stand alone. Where will I
  go? * * * If you won’t come send Fankie (an adopted boy). I will let
  him tell me what to do.

  May God forgive and direct you in the path of virtue and truth, is the
  prayer of your affectionate husband.

                                                         JOHN QUINN.

  P. S.—I will say good-bye with the last words of our baby’s prayer:
  ‘God bless mamma and papa, grandma and grandpa, and everybody. Amen.’”

I was pardoned November 9, 1888, and two days later, when the long hoped
for document reached the prison, I was discharged. I was at liberty, but
carried in my heart a double desolation. Not for me did the sun shine
and the face of Nature smile. In a cemetery at St. Louis was a little
grave that held the sacred dust of the being once dearest to me on
earth, and in my heart I carried the tomb of a buried hope.

My foreman in the prison shop, Mr. George H. Eastman, welcomed me to
liberty, and invited me to his house, where I was most hospitably
entertained for a week. I next went to St. Louis, but remained only one
day; long enough to gaze once more at the home where I had last lived
with my wife and child, now gone from me forever. A sense of utter
loneliness came over me; the world seemed strange; my identity was all
that I could call my own.

From St. Louis I came to Chicago, where I sought out my old friend and
quondam partner, Ben Demint, whose warm greeting was a cordial to my
heart, and under the influence of whose genial encouragement I began to
look upon the world as not altogether lost.

Two objects were uppermost in my mind. One was to prepare and deliver a
lecture, in which I might demonstrate my innocence of the crime of which
I had been convicted; the other was to publish a work on gambling,
through which I might, by exposing the cheats and frauds of the
professional gamester, deter others from entering upon the path “whose
gates take hold on Hell.” My first lecture was delivered in the
auditorium of the First M. E. Church, at Chicago, on the evening of
Monday, May 20, 1889. My book (the present volume) is before the public.

The fact that I was contemplating issuing the present volume became
known to some members of the “profession” in Chicago a year ago, and on
June 27, 1889, about ten o’clock in the forenoon, I was arrested by
detectives Kehoe and Flynn, without the shadow of a charge having been
preferred against me. For five hours I was deprived of my liberty. What
a commentary upon the nature of the relations existing between the
“profession” and the custodians of public morals.

In this connection I desire to return thanks to John Cameron Simonds,
Esq., and Mr. Matthew W. Pinkerton, of Chicago, for their generous
intervention in my behalf. To their kind efforts I owe my speedy

During my lifetime I have thus far been called upon to mourn the loss of
father and mother, three brothers—Dick, Robert and Victor—and two
sisters—Laura and Roma. Of eight children, but three of us survive,
George Sidney, who still lives in Randolph County, Missouri, where he
was born and reared; Hatsel Seldon, at present at Hot Springs, Arkansas,
and myself.

To the press of Chicago, which so kindly encouraged him in his early
ventures in the lecture field, the author desires to express his
grateful acknowledgements. Unknown and friendless, he felt the timidity
incident to one inexperienced in public speaking, and who carried in his
breast the knowledge of his own past wrong-doing. But the journals of
the city in which he made his maiden effort, those leaders and exponents
of public sentiment, sustained him, and their words of commendation
imparted to him fresh courage.

I hardly know how better to close this recital of a part whose shameful
recollections might well overcome a stouter heart than mine, than by the
following quotation from an old verse-writer, which have long floated
through my memory. They present, in homely language, a truth which
strikes a responsive chord in the heart of every man who is not
panoplied in serene satisfaction with his own virtues. The lines run as

              “Thou may’st conceal thy sin by cunning art,
              Which will disturb thy peace, thy rest undo;
              Yet conscience sits a witness in thy heart;
              And she is witness, judge and prison too.”

[Illustration: John Philip Quinn]



The foregoing illustration presents, in a form calculated to strike the
eye and impress the mind, a view of the gradations in the downward
career of a gambler.

Starting out, with high hopes of pleasure to be derived and wealth to be
gained through a life devoted to the ruin of his fellowmen, he boldly
enters upon the way whose end is death and whose steps “take hold on
hell.” Costly is his attire and elastic his step as he at first ventures
upon the road whose path is a quagmire and whose downward course is
beset with thorns.

As he advances, he finds the declivity growing steeper; his feet are
sore and his raiment torn. Too late he perceives his error, and realizes
that it is far easier to descend than to climb the tortuous, slippery
path. The illusion is dispelled; the glamour has gone out in darkness.
No longer the jovial, roystering, “hail-fellow-well-met,”—he has become
the midnight prowler, dependent for his very subsistence, upon the
scanty earnings which he derives from the percentage doled out to him by
more prosperous members of the same villainous craft for betraying the
confidence of his friends and luring the unwary to their destruction. He
realizes his situation, only to curse it; he would retrace his steps if
he knew how, but his chosen sin holds him with a grasp as close as the
coil of the deadly anaconda.

In the figure of the forlorn tramp, a destitute, penniless wanderer, a
pariah and an outcast, we see him approaching his wretched end. The
pitiless storm that beats in his face is but the sighing of the summer
wind as compared with that which rages in his breast. The wind that
howls in his ears seems to chant the requiem of home, happiness, hope,
honor,—all that men hold dear. And yet he must go on; on, into the
blinding sleet; on into the unknown future; on, until he reaches the
Potter’s Field; on until he stands before the bar of God.

Certainly it can be no mistake to call such an one a “fool of fortune,”
a fool enslaved by his own degraded instincts and besotted passions, a
fool who, in the words of Scripture, “has said in his heart there is no
God.” But professional blacklegs are not the only “fools of fortune.”
The young man, just entering upon the path of life; the middle aged man
of family, who squanders at the gaming table the money which should go
to buy luxuries, comforts, perhaps even necessaries for those dependent
upon him, the old man, who, about to sink into the grave, finds it
impossible to overcome the fascination of the vice which has reduced him
from affluence to penury—these, one and all, are fools. The savings of a
lifetime, dissipated in an hour, the cherished hopes of years blighted
by the turn of a card—these are every day occurrences in the hells where
one class of fools worship “Fortune,” and another class delude
themselves by the belief that it is possible for money dishonestly
acquired to bring with it anything but a curse.

It is with the hope that those who have not already entered upon this
course may be deterred from entering upon it and that those who may have
already tasted the false pleasures of an unhealthy excitement may be
induced to pause before it is too late, that the author has made his
frank confession of his own follies and his revelation of all the secret
arts of the gambler’s devil born art.


                               CHAPTER I.

Only gamblers defend gambling. Those who play faro, roulette, hazard;
those who buy mutual pools or “puts and calls;” and even those whose
instinct for gaming is satisfied with a partly legitimate business, go
on with their practices without an analysis of their actions. It is the
object of this work, not only to trace the history of gaming, so far as
is recorded, but to expose to the mind of the most casual reader the
sophistries upon which the art of gambling is based. In other words, the
author will show that if men seek for happiness in games of chance they
find sorrow; if they hope for gain, they fall into penury; if they flee
from care, they suffer unending perplexity; if they be honorably
ambitious, they forfeit all public regard.

It is a sad fact that ethics—the science of human duty—had reached its
summit long before the Roman Empire was founded. The philosophers of
Africa and Asia taught to the students of Greece all that this work can
teach to English-speaking people. Aristotle classed the gambler with the
thief and robber, and so just was the mind of Alexander’s preceptor,
that he hated even usury. If man studied ethics, with any other purpose
than for mental relaxation, there could be no gambling; there could be
none of the gross selfishness and competition which shames our
civilization, and in reality gives to the barbaric spirit of conquest
that relief which it finds in gambling.

We have, then, only to repeat the warnings of the sages of the world,
and to reinforce them with the history of the gaming vice in all ages.
Thousands of years have elapsed since man learned that gambling was
morally wrong. Why, then, does he gamble? Because he does not know that
all wrong is a source of unhappiness. No man wishes to be unhappy. All
men _are_ unhappy; they seek peace. In the fact that argument has failed
to carry home to the human mind this conviction, that gaming cannot give
peace, the author finds his reason for writing. Only by patient
iteration of the principles which Aristotle accepted, and only by a
persevering recital of the evils which gambling has wrought on men, can
it be hoped that the young student will accept as a truth, without
personal proof, that doctrine which, to prove, would cost his fortune
and his happiness.

Why, then, is gambling wrong? Why did Aristotle denounce it? Why does
the young man of to-day need further proof that gambling is wrong and
disappointing—why does he lose years of time, hazard his respectability,
acquire dangerous habits and diseases, and regret the experiment he has
made? To answer these questions requires this volume.

Blackstone cleverly calls gaming “a kind of tacit confession, that the
company engaged therein do in general exceed the bounds of their
respective fortunes; and therefore they cast lots to determine upon whom
the ruin shall at present fall, that the rest may be saved a little
longer.” This statement, which has stood the criticisms of centuries,
leaves to the gamester the unhappy knowledge that some one in his
company is to be destroyed. Instead of sitting at an entertainment,
then, he is a pall-bearer. He carries away the dead because he himself
is not dead. To begin, therefore, the gambler who thinks must have
throttled pity. He knows it is a funeral; he is so selfish that he cares
only for his own welfare. When two or more men gamble, the winners win
and the losers lose, but there is no productive labor; therefore, nobody
profits except it be the owner of the premises who has put his building
to an unproductive business—a business closely allied with other vices
that at once rob their agents of honor, health and fortune. Commerce,
when flying almost in the face of nature, will, if successful, benefit
man and alleviate his needs, but the gambler spends his time and his
energies in that which (as this work will carefully show) is of enormous
evil. It is more than a waste of time. It is more than a waste of money.
It is more than a waste of health. It is more than a waste of thought.
For gambling, as Charles Kingsley has said, is almost the only thing in
the world in which the honorable man is no match for the dishonorable
man. The scrupulous man is weaker, by the very fact of his scruples,
than he who has none. When a man begins to play he may have a high
feeling of honor, but what right has honor to sit at a gaming-table?
There’s the rub. When he wins he will consider it folly not to extend
the hours of play, and will begin an expense that he did not indulge
before. With greater expense, he will be keener at the game—more zealous
to win. But he will lose anon, and further anon his losses and gains
will be equal. Then his increased expense—the luxury of late hours, with
dinners, carriages, and personal service—must be paid from the income
that was deemed insufficient to support a more modest mode of life. As
this manifestly cannot be done, recourse in hope must be had to the
gaming-table once more, where, with losses and gains so far equal, the
increased disbursements must be made good. To win, the tricks of the
gambler must be used; friends must be inveigled to their ruin;
advantages must be seized; a sight of the opponent’s cards must be used
for whatever it will win, and one step after another gradually reduces
the player to a condition in which he secretly knows he is a rogue.
Others about him have long known it. The true philosopher knows it the
moment the “high-minded player” sits down to the game.

But ignorance does not depict a scene so deplorable. The gambler in his
best days, is lured by a brighter vision. He does not value money, and
gathers that reward which comes from a princely generosity and a
reckless patronage of all who desire to serve him. But of real humanity
he has none, because his business, veil it as you may, is robbery. The
man who plays against the gambler is called a “producer,” and what can
that mean but fool or victim—a victim whose greed is his ruin. Despising
respectable men who play with him as greedy fools, the gambler must
oppose honest men (who will not play) as foes. Hating all men, he must
hate women; therefore marriage is rare among the “profession.” If he
secures a fortune, so that he may “retire” from hazard, it will be seen
that he owns and enslaves both men and women, and never aids the
emancipation of society. Sensualism and materialism are his
characteristics. If he loves power in his community, it is for private
aggrandizement. The hand of society has been against him; he cannot
forget it. Reform would be forgiveness, and the gambler never forgives.
True respectability would be forgetfulness of the past, and the gambler
never forgets. Such is the successful gamester—the “retired gamester.”
And to secure that much of success how many thousands of victims are in
his train? His charities are a sham, like the subscriptions of Monte
Carlo on Riviera; like the proffered relief to flood sufferers by the
Louisiana lottery. While the wail of the unhappy and the lost is heard
at the wheel, the cruel game goes on without mercy. The very existence
of these splendid dens of dishonesty and inhumanity, are a menace to

But success in this crime is as rare as success in any other. The
ordinary gambler does not “retire.” He dresses extravagantly, he lives
in ignorance, he pursues the existence of an ape. The mere sensualist
sins and repents, but the reformer who toils with the drunkard and the
fallen woman despairs of the gambler. He lives his short life, and dies
alone in his garret or in prison. His fellow-gamblers are glad he is
dead. They say he was unfit to live, and they know.

Of all acts, gambling induces most often to suicide. It is believed that
the number of “the profession” is not relatively large considering the
total population, yet the suicide of the professional gambler is a
matter of the most frequent note. In England eight persons out of
100,000 kill themselves in a year. At Monaco, a solitary gambling
establishment, one hundred suicides were reported in one season. The
German tables of play have sent thousands out to death. The reason why a
gambler should kill himself appears to him in the aspect of lost honor.
If he joins to this a loss of money—the only thing for which he has
striven—he cannot summon fortitude to live. He goes out of the world,
impelled by a just nature, that thus removes his life from the earth
which he has encumbered.

The strain of gambling is a sharp one. It breaks the nerves and
prematurely ages the face. Losses, if they do not paralyze the mind, at
least enrage it against circumstances and events, turning the man to a
veritable horned beast, or to a poisonous serpent, bent on inflicting a
blow though it be on its own body. The natives of India call this
passion “hot heart,” or inner rage without vent. The revulsion has been
severe to the extent of our conception. Fortune was near, nor is it far.
The loser feels that fate is a sentient being—a hag whom he must tear
with his nails. Her blow has been twice as harsh as if he had not hoped,
and it falls on one ill-prepared to receive it. There lies but one
escape, and that is death. Hence the excitement with which professional
gamblers behold the loss of their means of livelihood. Where suicide
does not follow, the most painful blows are often delivered by the
gambler upon his own temples and forehead. He has no pity on himself for
losing money that he ought to have kept.

Gambling is closely allied with forces which tend to the subversion of
social order; it is directly conducive to various crimes of frequent
occurrence. The gambling mania is at war with industry, and therefore,
destructive of prosperity and thrift. Devotion to the gaming habit will
in time hush the voice of conscience and is a constant menace to honor
and happiness. Once possessed of the passion, an individual is lost to
every sense of duty as husband, father, citizen, and man of business.
His heart becomes the prey of emotions at enmity with affection and
sound morality. In this condition, a man is unfitted for any
responsibility requisite to the welfare of society. In spirit, if not in
fact, he is an Ishmaelite—an outlaw; then, expediency is his only
principle, and necessity his only law. In heart, at least, he is a
criminal. As a result, the man is false to every confidence, recreant to
every trust! Is this not true? Look about you and see! How many bloody
tragedies are directly traceable to the gambling “hell?” How has this
vice fed the mania for homicide, the tendency to suicide? The business
world is rife with forgeries and defalcations, which may be directly
ascribed to gambling. Widows and orphans are plundered by their
trustees, corporations wrecked by their officers, one partner made the
victim of another, the employer betrayed by his employee, all because of
this terrible passion. But is this the end? Is it even the worst? In
gambling, as in other forms of evil, are not the “sins of the father
visited upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation.”
It would seem so, if Dr. Ribot is an authority. Descending from sire to
son, from ancestor to posterity, the vice enters into the very _fiber of
the soul_. Ribot asserts of gambling, as of avarice, theft and murder,
that the propensity is subject to the law of heredity; that the “passion
for play often attains such a pitch of madness as to be a form of
insanity, and like it transmissible.” And Da Gama Machado says: “A lady
of my acquaintance, and who possessed a large fortune, had a passion for
gambling, and passed whole nights at play. She died young of pulmonary
disease. Her eldest son, who was very like his mother, had the same
passion for play. He, too, like his mother, died of consumption, and at
about the same age. His daughter, who resembled him, inherited the same
taste, and died young.” Justified twice over, then, is society, in
protecting itself against a practice so terrible, so deadly, so far
reaching in its effects.

In course of time, this seems to have been realized by all nations
pretending to civilization, whether ancient or modern. Whatever may have
been the private practice of rulers and statesmen, in this respect,
their public policy and legislative enactments were against gambling.

Some of the laws of the ancients against gambling are worthy of adoption
to-day, and are well calculated to check the destructive evil. Amongst
the Jews, for instance, a gambler could not act as a magistrate, or
occupy any high or honorable office, nor could he be a witness in any
court of justice. Such disqualifications, at the present day, would
largely decimate the judicial ranks and deplete the government roll. In
ancient Egypt, again, a convicted gambler was condemned to the quarries
of Sinai, there to expiate his offense. Would not a kindred punishment,
now, be effectual with the “genteel” gambler—with ye “gentleman” gambler
of the gilded “hell” and “club house.” Yea, extended, even in a general
sense, to all persons, whatever their position in life, convicted of the
offense of gambling, would it not go far toward a reduction of this
great and growing evil?

No where is the capriciousness and inconstancy of the ancient Greeks
more manifest than in their policy toward gambling. Denouncing it in the
abstract, they were universally addicted to the practice. At one time
the object of legislative prohibition, with them, at another it would be
granted a license, or permitted to flourish without “let or hindrance.”
To the Romans has been ascribed a talent for political organization; a
genius for jurisprudence. Strangely inconsistent, however, was their
position on the subject of gambling. By the Roman laws, ædiles were
authorized to punish gambling, except during the Saturnalia—a time when
every passion was allowed to run riot. In other respects, the Roman law
on this subject resembled that now obtaining in England and America.
Money lost at play could not be legally recovered by the winner, and the
loser could recover the money paid by him to the winner. Under the
Justinian Code, according to Paulus, a master or father had a remedy
against any person inducing the servant or son to play. This must have
been a wholesome measure. Why may it not be on every statute book in the
United States? The most radical feature of the Roman law, perhaps, was
that by virtue of which a gambling house might be forfeited to the
State, and this equally so, whether it belonged to the offender, or to
another person cognizant of the offense. Had this Roman law of
confiscation been some years since ingrafted on the law of each State in
the Union, it may be a matter of speculative opinion, of course, how
many “club houses” would have passed into the hands of the government.

If wagers did not violate any rule of public decency or morality, or any
rule of public policy, they were not invalid by the common law of
England. And such was the principle of law inherited by the English
colonies in America, and recognized by the courts of the respective
States of the Union.

In England, however, dating from the middle of the eighteenth century, a
series of statutes has been enacted, aimed not only at gambling in
stocks, but at all wagering contracts. In 1834, the well known statute
of Sir John Barnard was enacted. This act was intended to prevent what
it styled the “Infamous Practice of Stock Jobbing.” This statute was
repealed by 23 and 24 Victoria, Ch. 28. By the act of 8 and 9 Victoria,
Ch. 109, S. 108, “all contracts or agreements, whether by parol or in
writing, by way of gaming or wagering, shall be null and void, and no
suit shall be brought in any court of law or equity for recovering any
sum of money or valuable thing alleged to be won upon any wager.” This
statute is now in force. These enactments aside, the English courts were
wont to reprehend such contracts, and frequently expressed regret that
they had ever been sanctioned.

The authorities in this country are far from uniform on the common law
doctrine; some leaning decidedly against wagering contracts. Others, on
the other hand, have countenanced them. Such contracts have been
sustained by the United States courts, and the courts of New York,
California, Texas, New Jersey, and Delaware. In Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, a wager was never a valid
contract. Now, by the revised statutes of New York all “wagers, bets, or
stakes, made to depend upon any race, or upon any gaming by lot or
chance, casualty, or unknown or contingent event whatever, shall be
unlawful. All contracts for, or on account of, any money or property, or
a thing in action, so wagered, bet or staked, shall be void.” Similar,
and even more stringent, legislation of like character, exists in Ohio,
Iowa, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, New Hampshire, and

In many states gambling is a misdemeanor only. Where this is the case,
the gambler is allowed to prey upon the community at his pleasure, and
compelled to pay only an occasional fine. In not a few of the states,
however, the offense is a felony which may be punished by imprisonment
in the penitentiary. May it become the law in all the states. More than
this, the penalty should not be an alternative between a fine or
imprisonment. The prison door should be open to every convicted gambler,
without hope of escape.

From all this it will be seen not only that gambling has long been
denounced, and with good cause, as a great social evil; but that it has
been an important object for legislation. It will clearly appear, also,
that all laws, provisions and penalties have been ineffectual to
suppress it, prevent its growth, or counteract its demoralizing
influence. That gaming is an evil of the most pernicious character in
society, no man can have the effrontery to deny; but a doubt may be
reasonably entertained whether the propensity be not too strong to be
controlled by law, and too human for any legislative enactments.

More than human wisdom and effort is required to master the ruling and
inherent passion of universal man. Moreover, if the law is to
successfully suppress public gambling, it must be by enactments falling
with equal weight, and operating with just severity on all practitioners
of the principle which it is the object of the law to discountenance;
and not by measures protecting one class of offenders and punishing
another; not by exempting those high in social position, while those of
lowly estate are made to feel the heavy hand of authority. If at all, it
is to be accomplished only by striking at the whole system of gaming, as
far as the law can effect the object, upon one great principle, letting
law go hand in hand with justice, in the work, so that it err not in the
principle of its enactments or in the equity of its administration.

                              CHAPTER II.

The Hebrews, in resorting to the casting of lots, believed it was an
appeal to the Lord. It was not thought to be gambling. It is useful that
the reader should understand this. Thus by lot it was determined which
of the goats should be offered by Aaron; by lot the land of Canaan was
subdivided; by lot Saul was chosen to wear the crown; by lot Jonah was
discovered to be the cause of the storm. It is well to note that herein
gambling had its sacred origin. Man cannot easily surrender the idea
that Heaven directs the casting of a die. It is possible that man founds
his passion for hazard upon his love of the mystic. Yet no laws are so
exact as the laws of chance, and none are so sure to seize on those laws
as the professional gambler. The priests of Egypt assured Herodotus that
one of their kings visited alive the infernal regions, and that he there
gambled with a large party. Plutarch recites an Egyptian story to the
effect that Mercury having fallen in love with the earth, and wishing to
do the earth a favor, gambled with the moon, and won from the moon every
seventieth part of the time she illumined the earth. Out of these
seventieth parts Mercury made five days, and added them to the earth’s
year, which had formerly held but 360 days.

The examples of these gods could not but move the people to gamble. We
know that the vice prevailed because we discover the existence of heavy
penalties against it. In Egypt, if a person were convicted of the crime
of dice-playing, or of being a gamester, he was sent to work in the
quarries, to recruit those vast companies which were continually engaged
in public enterprises, such as the pyramids, the labyrinth, the
artificial lake and the lesser monuments.

PERSIANS.—We gather that gaming with dice was a fashionable diversion at
the Persian court 400 years before Christ, from the historical anecdotes
recited by Plutarch in his life of Artaxerxes. The younger Cyrus, son of
Queen Parysatis, had been killed at the order of Artaxerxes by a
favorite slave of the king; and the queen, who was the mother also of
Artaxerxes, burned secretly for revenge on the slave, whose name was
Mesabetes. But as the slave had merely obeyed the monarch, her son, the
Queen laid this snare for him. She excelled at playing a certain game of
dice. She had apparently forgiven her elder son, the King, for his cruel
deed, and joined him continually at play. One day she proposed playing
for a stake of $500, to which the King agreed, and she, feigning lack of
skill, lost the money, and paid it on the nail. But affecting sorrow and
vexation over her ill-luck, she pressed the King to play for a slave, as
if her cash were short. The King suspected nothing, and accepted the
stake. It was stipulated that the winner should choose the slave. Now
the Queen resorted to all the arts of gaming, which easily procured a
victory. She chose Mesabetes, the slayer of Cyrus, and this slave, being
delivered into her hands, was put to the most cruel tortures, and to
death. When the King would have interfered, she only replied with a
smile of contempt: “Surely you must be a great loser, to be so much out
of temper for giving up a decrepit old slave, when I, who lost $500, and
paid on the spot, do not say a word, and am satisfied.”

To properly understand this story, it must be remembered that a slave
had no rights whatever, being treated simply as cattle. Should a man
express pity for a rat in the teeth of a terrier, he would be on a par
with Artaxerxes if he pitied Mesabetes. The grief of the outwitted King
was unmanly, from the ancient standpoint, but it is notable that dice
ministered to the plot of revenge and murder.

The laws of the modern Persians, who are Mohammedans, prohibit all
gambling. The Persians evade the sin by making alms of their winnings—a
sorry device, for it is only the robbery of Peter to give larger to
Paul. Like all other evasions, even this practice soon degenerates into
gambling pure and simple, the excuse being that skill more than chance
has to do with the game. The public spirit, however, is happily adverse
to the practice, and any gambling-place is called in detestation, a
morgue, a carrion-house, a “habitation of corrupted carcasses.”

THE HINDOOS.—At the “Festival of Lamps,” in honor of the goddess of
wealth, the Rajpoots make a religion of gambling. At such a time vice
may indeed prosper. Easy was the conquest of a people whose sensuality
and superstition could be so well united in the service of the
priesthood. The specialties of Hindoo gambling are interesting. The hot
climate stimulates the passion, and the greater the Raja, or King, the
longer the tale of his fortune at play.

The ancient Hindoo dice, known as _coupeen_, were similar to modern
dice, and were thrown from a box. The practice of “loading” is plainly
alluded to, and there was opportunity for skill in handling the box. In
the more modern Hindoo games, called _pasha_, the dice are not cubic but
oblong, and they are thrown like printer’s quads in “jeffing”—that is,
out of the palm of the hand. The throw may be made either directly upon
the ground, or against a post or board, which will break the fall and
render the result more a matter of chance.

A story of a Rajah’s insane love of play forms a striking passage in the
great Sanskrit poem of the Veda. The famous gambling-match was the
outcome of a conspiracy between two brothers, Duryodhana and Duhsasana,
and their uncle Sakuni, of the family of the Kauravas, for the purpose
of robbing Yudhisthira of his Raj, or the kingdom of the Pandavas. The
poem deals with the conception of a Nemesis. Envy and love of conquest
led the conspirators to invite Yudhisthira to a game of _coupeen_ at
Hastinapur. The Veda is translated as follows:

“And it came to pass that Duryodhana was very jealous of the pomp of his
cousin Yudhisthira, and desired in his heart to destroy the Pandavas and
gain the Raj. Now Sakuni was the brother of Gandhari, who was the
brother of the Kauravas, and he was very skillful in throwing dice, and
in playing with dice that were loaded, insomuch that whenever he played
he always won the game. So Duryodhana plotted with his uncle, and then
proposed to his father, the Maharaja, or Great Raja, that Yudhisthira
should be invited to the Festival, and the Great Raja was secretly glad
that his sons should be friendly with their cousins, the sons of his
deceased brother, Pandu, and so he sent his younger brother, Vidura, to
the city of Indraprastha to invite the Pandavas to the game.

“And Vidura went his way to the city of the Pandavas, and was received
by them with every sign of attention and respect. And Yudhisthira
inquired whether his kinsfolk and friend at Hastinapur were all well in
health, and Vidura replied, ‘They are all well.’

“Then Vidura said to the Pandavas: ‘Your uncle, the Great Raja, is about
to give a great feast, and he invites you and your mother and your joint
wife to come to his city, and there will be a match at dice-playing.’

“When Yudhisthira heard these words he was troubled in mind, for he knew
that gaming was a frequent cause of strife, and he was in no way
skillful in throwing the dice, and likewise knew that Sakuni was
dwelling at Hastinapur, and that he was a famous gambler. But
Yudhisthira remembered that the invitation of the Great Raja was equal
to the command of a father, and that no true Kshatriga could refuse a
challenge either to war or play. So Yudhisthira accepted the invitation
and commanded that on the appointed day his brethren and their mother
and their joint wives should accompany him to the city of Hastinapur.

“When the day arrived for the departure of the Pandavas, they took their
mother Kunti, and their joint wife Draupadi, and journeyed from
Indraprastha to the city of Hastinapur, where they first paid a visit of
respect to the Great Raja; and they found him sitting among his
chieftains, and the ancient Bhishma, and the preceptor Drona and Karua,
who was the friend of Duryodhana, and many others were sitting there

“And when the Pandavas had done reverence to the Great Raja, and
respectfully saluted all present, they paid a visit to their aunt
Gandhari, and did her reverence likewise.

And after they had done this, their mother and joint wife entered the
presence of Gandhari, and respectfully saluted her; and the wives of the
Karauvas came in and were made known to Kunti and Draupadi. And the
wives of the Kauravas were much surprised when they beheld the beauty
and fine raiment of Draupadi; and they were very jealous of their
kinswoman. And when all their visits had been paid, the Pandavas retired
with their wife and mother to the quarters which had been prepared for
them, and when it was evening they received the visits of all their
friends who were dwelling at Hastinapur.

Now, on the morrow the gambling match was to be played; so when the
morning had come, the Pandavas bathed and dressed, and left Draupadi in
the lodging which had been prepared for her, and went their way to the
palace. And the Pandavas again paid their respects to their uncle, the
Maharaja, and were then conducted to the pavilion where the play was to
be; and Duryodhana went with them, together with all his brethren, and
all the chieftains of the royal house. And when the assembly had all
taken their seats, Sakuni said to Yudhisthira: “The ground here has all
been prepared, and the dice are all ready: Come now, I pray you, and
play a game.” But Yudhisthira was disinclined, and replied: “I will not
play, excepting upon fair terms; but if you will pledge yourself to
throw without artifice or deceit, I will accept your challenge.” Sakuni
said: “If you are so fearful of losing you had better not play at all.”
At these words Yudhisthira was wroth, and replied: “I have no fear
either in play or war; but let me know with whom I am to play, and who
is to pay me if I win.” So Duryodhana came forward and said: “I am the
man with whom you are to play, and I shall lay any stakes against your
stakes; but my uncle Sakuni will throw the dice for me.” Then
Yudhisthira said: “What manner of game is this, where one man throws and
another lays the stakes.” Nevertheless he accepted the challenge, and he
and Sakuni began to play.

At this point in the narrative it may be desirable to pause, and
endeavor to obtain a picture of the scene. The so-called pavilion was
probably a temporary booth, constructed of bamboos and interlaced with
basket work; and very likely it was decorated with flowers and leaves
after the Hindoo fashion, and hung with fruits, such as cocoa-nuts,
mangoes, plantains, and maize. The chieftains present seem to have sat
upon the ground, and watched the game. The stakes may have been pieces
of gold and silver, or cattle, or lands; although, according to the
legendary account which follows, they included articles of a far more
extravagant and imaginative character. With these passing remarks, the
tradition of the memorable game may be resumed as follows:

So Yudhisthira and Sakuni sat down to play, and whatever Yudhisthira
laid as stakes, Duryodhana laid something of equal value; but
Yudhisthira lost every game. He first lost a very beautiful pearl; next
a thousand bags, each containing a thousand pieces of gold; next a piece
of gold so pure that it was as soft as wax; next a chariot set with
jewels and hung all round with golden bells; next, a thousand war
elephants, with golden howdahs set with diamonds; next a lakh of slaves
all dressed in good garments; next a lakh of beautiful slave girls,
adorned from head to foot with golden ornaments; next all the remainder
of his goods; next all his cattle; and then the whole of his Raj,
excepting only the lands which had been granted to the Brahmins.

Now when Yudhisthira had lost his Raj, the chieftains present in the
pavilion were of the opinion that he should cease to play, but he would
not listen to their words, but persisted in the game. And he staked all
the jewels belonging to his brothers, and he lost them; and he staked
his two younger brothers, one after the other, and he lost them; and he
then staked Arjuna, and Bhima, and finally himself, and he lost every
game. Then Sakuni said to him: “You have done a bad act, Yudhisthira, in
gaming away yourself and becoming a slave. But now, stake your wife,
Draupadi, and if you win the game you will again be free.” And
Yudhisthira answered and said: “I will stake Draupadi!” And all
assembled were greatly troubled and thought evil of Yudhisthira; and his
uncle Vidura put his hand to his head and fainted away, whilst Bhishma
and Drona turned deadly pale, and many of the company were very
sorrowful; but Duryodhana and his brother Duhsasana, and some others of
the Karauvas were glad in their hearts, and plainly manifested their
joy. Then Sakuni threw the dice, and won Draupadi for Duryodhana.

Then all in that assembly were in great consternation, and the
chieftains gazed upon one another without speaking a word. And
Duryodhana said to her uncle Vidura. “Go now and bring Draupadi hither,
and bid her sweep the rooms.” But Vidura cried out against them with a
loud voice, and said: “What wickedness is this? Will you order a woman
who is of noble birth, and the wife of your own kinsman, to become a
household slave? How can you vex your brethren thus? But Draupadi has
not become your slave, for Yudhisthira lost himself before he staked his
wife, and having first become a slave, he could no longer have power to
stake Draupadi!” Vidura then turned to the assembly and said: “Take no
heed to the words of Duryodhana, for he has lost his senses this day.”
Duryodhana then said: “A curse be upon this Vidura, who will do nothing
that I desire him.”

After this Duryodhana called one of his servants, and desired him to go
to the lodgings of the Pandavas, and bring Draupadi into the pavilion.
And the man departed out, and went to the lodgings of the Pandavas, and
entered the presence of Draupadi and said to her: “Raja Yudhisthira has
played you away, and you have become the slave of Raja Duryodhana: So
come now and do your duty like his other slave girls.” And Draupadi was
astonished at these words, and exceedingly wroth, and she replied:
“Whose slave was I that I could be gambled away? And who is such a
senseless fool as to gamble away his own wife?” The servant said: “Raja
Yudhisthira has lost himself, and his four brothers, and you also, to
Raja Duryodhana, and you cannot make any objection. Arise, therefore,
and go to the house of the Raja.”

Then Draupadi cried out: “Go you now and inquire whether Raja
Yudhisthira lost me first, or himself first; for if he played away
himself first, he could not stake me.” So the man returned to the
assembly, and put the question to Yudhisthira; but Yudhisthira hung down
his head with shame, and answered not a word.

Then Duryodhana was filled with wrath, and he cried out to his servant:
“What waste of words is this? Go you and bring Draupadi hither, that if
she has aught to say she may say it in the presence of us all.” And the
man essayed to go, but he beheld the wrathful countenance of Bhima and
he was sore afraid, and he refused to go, and remained where he was.
Then Duryodhana sent his brother Duhsasana; and Duhsasana went his way
to the lodgings of Draupadi, and said: “Raja Yudhisthira has lost you in
play to Rajah Duryodhana, and he has sent for you. So arise now and wait
upon him according to his commands; and if you have anything to say, you
can say it in the presence of the assembly.” Draupadi replied: “The
death of the Karauvas is not far distant, since they can do such deeds
as these.” And she rose up in great trepidation and set out, but when
she came near to the palace of the Maharaja, she turned aside from the
pavilion where the chieftains were assembled, and ran away with all
speed toward the apartments of the women. And Duhsasana hastened after
her and seized her by her hair, which was very dark and long, and
dragged her by main force into the pavilion before all the chieftains.

And she cried out: “Take your hands from off me.” But Duhsasana heeded
not her words, and said: “You are now a slave girl, and slave girls
cannot complain of being touched by the hands of men.”

When the chieftains thus beheld Draupadi, they hung down their heads
from shame, and Draupadi called upon the elders amongst them, such as
Bhishma and Drona to acquaint her whether or no Raja Yudhisthira had
gamed away himself before he had staked her; but they likewise held down
their heads and answered not a word.

Then she cast her eye upon the Pandavas, and her glance was like the
stabbing of a thousand daggers, but they moved not hand or foot to help
her; for when Bhima would have stepped forward to deliver her from the
hands of Duhsasana, Yudhisthira commanded him to forbear, and both he
and the younger Pandavas were obliged to obey the command of their elder

And when Duhsasana saw that Draupadi looked towards the Pandavas, he
took her by the hand, and drew her another way, saying: “Why, O slave,
are you turning your eyes about you?” And when Kama and Sakuni heard
Duhsasana calling her a slave, they cried out: “Well said! well said!”

Then Draupadi wept very bitterly, and appealed to all the assembly,
saying: “All of you have wives and children of your own, and will you
permit me to be treated thus? I ask you one question, and I pray you to
answer it.” Duhsasana then broke in and spoke foul language to her, and
used her rudely, so that her veil came off in his hands. And Bhima could
restrain his wrath no longer, and spoke vehemently to Yudhisthira; and
Arjuna reproved him for his anger against his elder brother, but Bhima
answered: “I will thrust my hands into the fire before these wretches
shall treat my wife in this manner before my eyes.”

Then Duryodhana said to Draupadi: “Come, now, I pray you, and sit upon
my thigh;” and Bhima gnashed his teeth and cried out with a loud voice:
“Hear my vow this day: If for this deed I do not break the thigh of
Duryodhana, and drink the blood of Duhsasana, I am not the son of

Meanwhile the Chieftain Vidura had left the assembly, and told the blind
Maharaja, Dhritarashtra, all that had taken place that day, and the
Maharaja ordered his servants to lead him into the pavilion where all
the chieftains were gathered together. And all present were silent when
they saw the Maharaja, and the Maharaja said to Draupadi: “O, daughter,
my sons have done evil to you this day. But go now, you and your
husbands, to your own Raj, and remember not what has occurred, and let
the memory of this day be blotted out forever.” So the Pandavas made
haste with their wife Draupadi, and departed out of the city of

Then Duryodhana was exceeding wroth, and said to his father: “O
Maharaja, is it not a saying that when your enemy hath fallen down, he
should be annihilated without a war? And now we that had thrown the
Pandavas to the earth and had taken possession of all their wealth, you
have restored them all their strength, and permitted them to depart with
anger in their hearts; and now they will prepare to make war that they
may revenge themselves upon us for all that has been done and they will
return within a short while and slay us all. Give us leave, then, I pray
you, to play another game with these Pandavas, and let the side which
loses go into exile for twelve years; for thus, and thus only, can a war
be prevented between ourselves and the Pandavas.” And the Maharaja
granted the request of his son, and messengers were sent to bring back
the brethren, and the Pandavas obeyed the command of their uncle, and
returned to his presence; and it was agreed upon that Yudhisthira should
play one game more with Sakuni, and if Yudhisthira won the Kauravas were
to go into exile; and that if Sakuni won, the Pandavas were to go into
exile, and the exile was to be for twelve years, and one year more; and
during that thirteenth year those who were in exile were to dwell in any
city they pleased, but to keep themselves so concealed that the others
should never discover them; and if the others did discover them before
the thirteenth year was over, then those who were in exile were to
continue so for another thirteen years. So they sat down again to play,
and Sakuni had a set of cheating dice, as before, and with them he won
the game.

When Duhsasana saw that Sakuni had won the game, he danced about for
joy; and he cried out: “Now is established the Raj of Duryodhana.” But
Bhima said: “Be not elated with joy, but remember my words: The day will
come when I will drink your blood, or I am not the son of Kunti.” And
the Pandavas, seeing that they had lost, threw off their garments and
put on deer-skins, and prepared to depart into the forest with their
wife and mother, and their priest Dhaumya; but Vidura said to
Yudhisthira: “Your mother is old and unfitted to travel, so leave her
under my care;” and the Pandavas did so, and the brethren went out from
the assembly hanging down their heads with shame, and covering their
faces with their garments; but Bhima threw out his long arms, and looked
at the Kuravas furiously, and Draupadi spread her long black hair over
her face and wept bitterly. And Draupadi vowed a vow, saying:

“My hair shall remain disheveled from this day, until Bhima shall have
slain Duhsasana and drunk his blood; and then he shall tie up my hair
again, whilst his hands are dripping with the blood of Duhsasana.”

Such was the great gambling match at Hastinapur in the Heroic age of
India. * * *

The avenging battle subsequently ensued. Bhima struck down Duhsasana
with a terrible blow of his mace, saying: “This day I fulfil my vow
against the man who insulted Draupadi!” Then setting his foot on the
breast of Duhsasana, he drew his sword and cut off the head of his
enemy; and holding his two hands to catch the blood, he drank it off,
crying out: “Ho! ho! Never did I taste anything in this world so sweet
as this blood.”

CHINESE.—Many gambling games have been invented by the Chinese and
gambling houses are numerous in their cities and towns. Into these dens,
as is the case in other countries, the inexperienced are enticed by
sharpers, there to be plundered of their money. It is the old story; the
sharper pretends friendship for the unsophisticated visitor and a desire
to show him the notable sights. Once in the den, the victim is permitted
to win a small sum, several perhaps, but the result is always the
same—he is fleeced of his ready money, which may not be all his own, but
entrusted to him by neighbors and friends with which to purchase goods
for them. With money gone and character ruined the poor Chinaman, in
many cases, becomes a vagabond, in process of time, a beggar, or a
thief, and finally ends his course in suicide.

A common gambling instrument in China, consists of a circular board,
some 18 inches in diameter, which is divided, either into 8 or 16 equal
parts, with lines drawn from the center to the division points at the
circumference. In the center is a standard, or post, some 8 inches high,
upon which two or three inches from the top, is placed a slender wooden
stick in such a manner as to revolve easily. At one end of this piece of
wood is tied a string, which hangs down nearly to the surface of the
board. Being turned by a sudden movement of the hand, the horizontal
stick will continue to revolve for sometime. When it stops the string
indicates the division of the board which wins. The player places his
bet on any division he may favor and whirls the stick himself. If the
string stops over any other place than the one upon which he placed his
money, he loses. If he wins, the proprietor of the concern pays him in
money, or sweetmeats, as he may prefer. This gambling device operates
upon the same principle as the modern “wheel of fortune.”

Another method of gambling may be called the “literary” or “poetical.”
The “banker,” or gambler proprietor, having provided himself with a
table, seats himself behind it, in the street. On the table, for the
inspection of those who may wish to gamble, is written a line of poetry
of, say, five or seven characters, one word of which is omitted. A list
of several words is furnished, anyone of which, if inserted in the blank
place, will make good sense. In betting which of these words is the one
omitted consists the gambling. He who guesses the right word receives
five times his stake. Yet another method of gambling is this: Provided
with three slender slips of bamboo, or other wood, eight or ten inches
long, the gambler seats himself by the wayside and, grasping the slips
at one end, holds them up so that they diverge from each other. A red
tassel, or string, hanging from the hand which conceals from sight the
lower ends of the slips, is supposed to be attached to one of them. He
who wishes to play the game bets that he can guess the slip to which the
string is attached. If he fails, he loses his stake; if he succeeds he
receives back his stake and twice as much more. The game is often
dishonestly operated, and the operator seldom forfeits any money.
Frequently, the red string is attached to all three of the slips, but in
such a way that when one of them is pulled from the hand which grasps
it, it will slip off and remain on the other two. If, then, one of these
is pulled, it slips again and remains attached to the one still held in
the hand. Then the gambler opens his hand to show that everything has
been conducted “fairly” and the thread is seen to be attached to the
slip that was not drawn, thus everything seems to have been honestly
managed. Of course, the man who operates deceitfully and unfairly does
not allow the condition of the string on the ends of the sticks in his
hand to be seen or examined at the beginning of the game.

In China, gambling is forbidden by law. It is tolerated by the
government, nevertheless, and considerable sums of money are realized by
it from this source. Indeed, certain magistrates at Canton once actually
converted their spare rooms in their respective “yamuns” into gaming
houses. But, as a rule, the dens are in back or side streets, for, there
as well as here, the more respectable trades people object to such an
establishment. In 1861, all the shop-keepers in a particular street in
Canton closed their shops and refused to open them, until the Governor-
General of the province promised to issue an order directing the
district ruler to close a gambling house which he had permitted to be
opened in the street. It appeared, however, that these merchants did not
object to the gambling establishments on moral grounds, but through fear
that their business would be injured.

There are various kinds of gaming houses in China. Some are conducted by
joint-stock companies, consisting of ten or twenty partners. In such
houses there are usually two apartments. In the front room is a high
table, in the center of which is a small square board, the sides of
which are numbered one, two, three and four. The game in this room
requires the presence of three of the partners. One is called the Tan-
koon, or croupier; the second, Tai-N’gan, or shroff, and sets by the
side of the former with his tables, scales and money drawers; and the
third, the Ho-Koon, who keeps account of the game and pays over the
stakes to the rightful winners. The gamblers and their patrons assemble
around the high table, on which the Tau-Koon, or croupier, places a
handful of “cash,” over which he immediately puts a cover so that the
gamblers cannot calculate the amount. The players are then requested to
place their stakes on such side of the square as they may choose. When
this has been done, the cover is removed by the croupier, who, using a
thin ivory rod a foot long, proceeds to diminish the heap of coin by
drawing away four pieces at a time. Should one piece remain the gambler
who placed his stake on the side of the small square marked one is the
winner. If two or three remain he saves his stake; if four, he loses it.
This game is called Ching-low and the player has one chance of winning,
two of retaining his stake and one of losing it. Another game, called
Nim is played at the same table. At this game the player has one chance
of winning double the amount of his stake, two of losing it and one of
retaining it. Should his stake be placed on that side of the board
numbered two, and two pieces of money remain of the heap after
successive removals of four, his winnings are double the amount of his
bet. If three pieces remain he retains his stake, but if either one or
four remain he loses it. Yet a third game played at this table is called
Fan, in which the player has one chance of winning three times his stake
and three chances of losing it. Still another and similar game at this
table is known as Kok. In it the stake is placed at a corner of the
board, between two of the numbers, and if either of them corresponds to
the number of pieces left of the pile of money, the player wins the
amount of his stake; if either of the other two numbers corresponds he
loses his bet.

In the inner apartment of these establishments, the stakes are all
silver coin, and here also three of the partners are required to conduct
the game. The stakes are often heavy and the money is not placed on the
table for fear the vagabonds or desperate characters in the place should
make a rush and seize it. The players and their stakes are therefore
distinguished by corresponding cards from different packs. Because of
the large sums paid monthly to the mandarins by the proprietors the
expenses of the latter are very heavy and they exact from the players
seven per cent. of all the winnings. Sometimes gaming establishments are
started by prostitutes, but they are generally closed by the authorities
as soon as detected.

One peculiar mode of gambling is called Koo-Yan, or “The Ancients,”
sometimes known under the name of “Flowery Characters.” This game, it is
said, originated in the department of Chun-Chow, and was introduced in
the 28th year of the reign of Taou-Kwang. The term “ancients” means a
number of names by which thirty-six personages of former times were
known. These names are divided into nine different classes as follows:

1. Four men who attained the highest literary distinction. In a former
state of existence these men were respectively a fish, a white goose, a
white snail, and a peacock.

2. Five distinguished military officers. These men were once
respectively a worm, a rabbit, a pig, a tiger, and a cow.

3. Six successful merchants. These were once respectively a flying
dragon, a white dog, a white horse, an elephant, a wild cat, and a wasp.

4. Four persons who were conspicuous for their uninterrupted happiness
on earth. Respectively, in former state, a frog, an eagle, a monkey, and
a dragon.

5. Four females. Respectively a butterfly, a precious stone, a white
swallow and a pigeon.

6. Five beggars. Respectively a prawn, a snake, a fish, a deer, and a

7. Four Buddhist priests. Respectively a tortoise, a hen, an elk, and a

8. Two Taouist priests. Respectively a white egret, and a yellow
streaked cat.

9. The name of a Buddhist nun who, in another world, was a fox.

The company selects a person who has an aptitude for composing enigmas,
to whom they pay a very large salary. New enigmas are constantly wanted,
as the houses where this game is played are open twice daily, at 7 A. M.
and 8 P. M. Each enigma is supposed to refer to one of the creatures
enumerated. When an enigma is composed, it is printed and sold to the
people, the sale of itself bringing in a considerable revenue. When the
purchaser of an enigma thinks he has discovered the creature to which it
refers, he writes his answer on a sheet of paper, and at the appointed
hour hastens to the gambling house and gives it into the keeping of a
secretary, together with the sum of money he is prepared to stake upon
the correctness of his guess. When all the answers and stakes have been
received, the names of those who have answered correctly are recorded by
the secretary. Suspended from the roof of the chamber, where the players
are assembled, is a folded scroll containing a picture of the creature
to which the enigma refers. At the proper time this scroll is unfolded
by the secretary, and as soon as the picture is seen it is greeted with
a loud shout of exultation by the successful few and with murmurs of
discontent from the many who have guessed wrong. “It is hardly necessary
to add that the managers take care to provide enigmas of such ambiguous
character that the majority are always wrong in their conjectures. The
amount staked in these places is limited.”

Much money is lost at such establishments by ladies, but as they are not
allowed to appear in public, they are represented by their female

Large sums are daily lost by all classes in a game called ta-pak-up-pu,
or “strike the white dove.” A company is formed of fifty partners,
having equal shares. One acts as overseer, and, for reasons which will
presently appear, is required to live in strict retirement. To him is
given a sheet of paper on which are eighty Chinese characters,
representing, respectively, heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, etc. In his
private apartment, he makes twenty of the characters with a vermilion
pencil. The sheet is then deposited in a box, which is carefully locked.
Thousands of sheets of paper, containing eighty similar characters, are
then sold to the public. Marking ten of the eighty characters, the
purchasers next morning, take their papers to the gambling establishment
to have them compared with the one marked by the overseer. Before they
give them up, they make and retain copies of them. When all the papers
have been received, the box containing the overseer’s paper is unlocked,
and when taken out, the player’s papers are compared with it. If a
player has not marked more than four of the characters marked by the
overseer, he receives nothing. If he has marked five, he receives seven
“cash;” if six, seventy “cash;” if eight, seven dollars; and if ten,
fifteen dollars. A person can buy as many as three hundred copies of the
gambling sheet, but he must make them all alike. There are never more
than two establishments of this kind in large cities and their winnings
must be very great, judging from the number of sheets sold daily.

There are also houses in which cards are played night and day, and in
them many persons are brought to ruin. To elude the vigilance of the
authorities, these establishments are more or less private, but card
players experience little trouble in finding such haunts. Gambling by
means of oranges is also practiced at fruit stalls, the wagers being
made upon the number of pips or seeds an orange may have. At fruit
stalls, also, it is common to gamble for sticks of sugar cane. The cane
is placed in a perpendicular position, and he who succeeds in cutting it
asunder from top to bottom with a sharp edged knife, wins it from the
fruitier. Should the attempt fail, the fruitier retains his cane and
wins more than its value in money. Gambling by means of a joint of meat,
or pork, or fish, is a very common pastime. The joint or fish is
suspended from the top of a long pole and bets are taken as to its

The games prevalent in Japan closely resemble those practiced in China.
Cards and dice are strictly prohibited, and, although the law is said to
be transgressed by the gambling houses, at home the Japanese respect it.

                              CHAPTER III.

It is probable that the fall of Greece was due to the license that
prevailed as to gaming, and consequently to all other and lesser forms
of dissipation and corruption. Philip of Macedon was planning the battle
of Cheronea at the very time when dicing had reached its most shameful
height in Athens. Public associations existed, not for the purpose of
defending Greece against her foes, but for the encouragement of the
basest passions that surge in the human breast. Both Philip and
Alexander knew the value to despotism of vice among the people.
Alexander put a fine on those of his courtiers who did not play, for he
had a jealous fear of subjects who were engaged in more serious

But dice alone did not furnish the implements of gambling. The ancient
Greeks had the equivalent of Cross and Pile, and gambled at cocking
mains. The Athenian orator, Callistratus, notes the desperation of these
practices when he says that the games in which the losers go on doubling
their stakes “resemble ever-recurring wars, which terminate only with
the extinction of the combatants.”

It was a practice of the ancients to put the invention of vicious acts
or games upon foreign nations. Thus we have Plutarch’s indignant answers
to Herodotus; but no Grecian ever resented the story that dice was first
made by Palamedes, at the siege of Troy. Dice were called _alsae_ by the
Romans, and there were two kinds, the _tali_, or four-sided
knucklebones, and the _tesserarae_ or six-sided bones. The _tali_ has
four sides long-wise, the two ends were not regarded. Up one side there
was an ace, or _canis_; on the opposite side six; on the other two sides
four and three. On the _tesserarae_ the numbers were from one to six.
But on both sides of _alsae_ or dice the numbers on the upper and lower
side would make seven, as now-a-days on dice.

The game was played with three _tesserarae_ and four _tali_. They were
put into a box made into the form of a tower, with a straight neck—wider
below than above, called _fritillas turris_, _turricula_, _orca_, etc.
This box was shaken, and the dice was thrown upon the gaming board,
_forus_, _alvenus_, _tabulalus oriae_. The highest or most fortunate
throw was called _Venus_, or _jactus venereus_, or _basilicas_ (the
King’s throw.) It consisted of three sixes on the _tesserarae_, and
differing numbers, as two alike, on the _tali_. The worst throw, the dog
throw, was called in Latin _jactus pessimus_, or _jactus canes_. In this
throw, the three _tesserarae_ must be aces, and the _tali_ all the same
number. The other throws were valued according to the numbers. Cocked
dice nullified the throw, as now-a-days. While throwing the dice it was
customary to name the desires of the player, and this practice still
holds with negroes in their game of _craps_. Old men were specially fond
of the game. _Jacta alsa, esto!_ Let the die be cast! was Cæsar’s cry at
the Rubicon when he betrayed the Roman republic. The law prohibited
dice-playing, except in the month of December, during the Saturnalia,
and the character of gamesters was then as infamous as now, although
there was much gambling. The works of Horace, Cicero, Suetonius,
Juvenal, Tacitus, Plautus, Varro, Ovid, Pliny, and Paulus, show by
direct reference and by metaphor, the familiarity of dice in the public
mind, and the evils they involved. Persius, in his satires, speaks of
the practice of cogging the dice, and cheating the unwary.

Augustus, the first Roman emperor, was an habitual gambler, and,
notwithstanding the laws prohibiting the practice, gambling was
prevalent at Rome in all ranks of society. Although the emperor was a
passionate gambler—as devoted to the vice, at least, as his cold and
deliberate nature would permit—yet he was nothing if not a politician,
and in frequenting the gaming table, he had motives other than cupidity.
For example, he wrote Tiberius: “If I had exacted my winnings during the
festival of Minerva; if I had not lavished my money on all sides,
instead of losing twenty thousand sestercii (about $5,000) I should have
gained 150,000 sestercii (about $37,000). I prefer it thus, however, for
my bounty should win me immense ‘glory.’”

If Horace may be credited, they could “cog” a die in the Augustan age,
if they could not “secure” it, as in this.

The emperor, Caligula, converted his palace into a gambling house, and
while indulging his passion for play, this human monster conceived his
most fiendish deeds, and resorted to falsehood and perjury in his
efforts to escape the tide of ill-luck that set against him. When
frenzied by losses, this wretch would vent his cruel spleen upon those
about him, and to make good what he had lost he did not hesitate at
murder most foul and confiscation most wanton. On one occasion, it is
related, after having condemned to death several Gauls of great opulence
and confiscated their wealth, he rejoined his gambling companions and
exclaimed, “I pity you when I see you lose a few sestercii, whilst, with
the stroke of a pen I have just won six hundred millions” (about
$150,000,000). Although the author of a treatise on gambling, yet the
emperor Claudius played like an imbecile. In gaming, as in all else,
Nero was a veritable madman, and would stake hundreds of thousands on a
single cast of the dice. In ghastly humor the imbecile, Claudius would
play against the estates of his murdered victims. In his caustic
description of the hypotheosis of Claudius, the great Seneca brings the
emperor finally to hell, and represents him as there condemned to play
at dice forever with a bottomless box, always in hope, but ever balked.

            “For whenso’er he shook the box to cast,
              The rattling dice delude his eager haste;
            And when he tried again, the waggish bone
              Insensibly was through his fingers gone;
            Still he was throwing, yet he ne’er had thrown.”

Cicero is authority for the statement that Cato, the censor, was an
inveterate gambler. If so, how inappropriate the appellation which has
brought to his memory an ill-deserved fame? With what consistency could
a man addicted to gambling censure the conduct of his fellow man?
Domitian was blamed for gaming from morning till night and without
cessation even on the festival days of the Roman calendar. But this is
scarcely notable in a man who was brutal in every instinct, base in
every passion. In his satires Juvenal exhibits children playing dice in
imitation of their fathers, and in his third satire they are represented
cheating in their games. The fighting quails of the Romans are mentioned
by Plutarch, and to him we are also indebted for the lament of Marc
Antony, that even the very quails of Octavius Caesar were superior to
his own. Was this a foreboding of the fate of Cleopatra’s lover at the
battle of Actium? Returning to Juvenal we find this graphic picture:
“When was the madness of games of chance more furious? Nowadays, not
content with carrying his purse to the gaming table, the gamester
conveys his iron chest to the play room. It is there that, as soon as
the gaming instruments are distributed, you witness the most terrible
contests. Is it not mere madness to lose one hundred thousand sestercii,
and refuse a garment to a slave perishing with cold?” This inexorable
and terrible satirist was the contemporary of eleven Roman Emperors,
including Domitian.

Gibbon, quoting from Ammianus Marcellinus, thus describes the situation
at Rome at the end of the fourth century: “Another method of
introduction into the houses and society of the ‘great’ is derived from
the profession of gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play.
The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of
friendship, or rather of conspiracy. A superior degree of skill in the
“tessarian” art is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of
that sublime science who, in a supper or assembly, is placed below a
magistrate, displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation
which Cato might be supposed to feel when he was refused the prætorship
by the votes of a capricious ‘people.’”

All authorities who mention the subject agree that gambling made fearful
havoc in society and government under the Emperors, and the conclusion
is irresistible, that the “decline and fall” was due in a large measure
to the prevalence of this infatuating and demoralizing vice. It is
asserted, on good authority, that at the epoch when Constantine
abandoned Rome, never to return, every inhabitant of that city, down to
the populace, were addicted to gambling.

The Greeks are to-day famous for the number of sharpers that ply their
trade, both with dice and cards, but especially with cards. To cheat in
this way the Greek relies on shifting the cut, which is done in many

1. As the Greek lays down the pack to be cut, he is ready to seize that
part of the deck which his opponent leaves on the table, and lay it on
the other so that the upper part projects over the lower and toward him.
This offers a niche for the insertion of the little finger of the hand
which raises the pack. It is possible for a player having his little
finger thus in a pack, to twirl the two parts and restore them to their
original or uncut position. All that can be seen is a whirring movement,
and even this cannot be seen if the hand falls for an instant beneath
the table.

2. To pass the cut, the sharper replaces the top part of the deck
himself, but so quickly that it is impossible to see that he puts the
top part almost half way back off the deck. With the right hand he
raises the misshapen pack to the palm of his left hand. As the back of
his left hand obscures the vision, he clutches the forward or lower half
of the pack and brings it to the top, the appearance being that he is
straightening the pack, in order to deal. He now has the cards as he
stocked them in the first place. This trick is called the _straddle_ and
other names.

3. A wider card is introduced from another pack, and placed exactly over
the stocked portion of the deck. As this card is about half-way down,
and as it offers a salient edge for the fingers, the victim usually
makes the cut precisely where the sharper designed it.

4. The _bridge_ is formed by bending half the deck convexly and the
other concavely. Thus, if the other half be convex at the face of the
card, it is difficult for the victim to lift any of the lower half, and
he will make the cut in precisely the same place as if there were a
wider card to aid him.

In dealing, the sharper can at any time retain on the top of the pack a
card which he does not wish to deliver, and it is impossible to detect
the cheat until after a long study of the motions of the player. When
gamesters play with each other, they are constantly on the lookout for
this trick, which is aided by the crimping or denting of important
cards. A gambler examines his aces closely to see if his opponent has
crimped them. If not, he crimps them. If two gamblers confront each
other in a game where “producers” are present, the two gamblers “take
the office” and cheat together, dividing stakes after the play.

The palming of cards is practiced where two of the sharpers sit together
in a large game. The dealer holds a “hand” in the palm of his right
hand, dealing to himself a hand at his extreme left. As he lays down the
deck he lowers his left arm upon his fair “hand” and pushes it along,
meanwhile pretending to pick up the “hand” which has been in the palm.
The confederate stays out of the play and with his right arm receives
the fair “hand” and throws it in the rejected cards along with his own

The _roof_ is a large number of cards which the sharper holds from a
deck of thick cards. The decks are changed by consent from very thin
faro-cards to very thick cards. At the first deal of the victim the
_roof_ is placed on in the act of cutting, and the victim cannot detect
the difference in thickness because of the change of decks. Thus the
victim deals himself four kings and his dishonest foe four aces.
Counting the cards, he finds the deck complete. Vain in the belief of
his acuteness, he bets and loses.

The _cold deck_ is a pre-arranged pack, introduced under the tray of a
waiter at the call for liquor, or carried in rear pockets called
_finetles_. Pockets called _costieres_ are in front. To mark the cards,
the Greek will buy the stock of a tradesman and exchange the goods on
some excuse, often preparing and sealing the decks. Then, at some future
time, he has the satisfaction of being asked to play with cards bought
by his victim, every one of which carries a mark known only to the

The Greek carries a tin-box under the fore-arm, in his coat sleeve. This
is called _the bag_ in English. Projecting from the sleeve is a pair of
pincers which will seize and withdraw any card that may be desired.

Basiled cards, or _strippers_, were one of the most effective methods of
cheating in the eighteenth century, when the secret was known only to
sharpers. _Strippers_ are made by cutting the cards so that they are
wider at one end than at the other. Now, if one of the cards be turned,
it will present, at the narrower end of the deck, the feeling of a wide
card, and can be _stripped_ out of the deck in a twinkling. In the hands
of an expert, the basil may be scarcely perceptible to the touch, and
the further advantage of a variety of basils may be obtained. Thus, with
a convex basil or ax-like edge, the gambler may feel for a court card,
while with a convex basil, or razor-like edge, he may detect a low card.
Thus he may cut high or low with only a few cards turned, and those by
accident in the hands of his victim. Basiled cards cannot be detected
without a delicate touch and close scrutiny, implying suspicion and
inviting a quarrel if the rogue be vicious, as none is so jealous of his
honor as a thief.

The _chapelet_ is an arrangement or stock of cards by the order of
certain words. One of the oldest _chapelets_ is found in Latin, and each
word means a certain card of the pack of fifty-two.

The poverty, squalor and filth among the Turks and the Greeks is due, in
a considerable degree, to gambling. Men gamble away their money, their
merchandise, their household, their clothes, and not infrequently they
hazard themselves, on the chance of a die.

“One of my sudri, or carriers,” writes a gentleman to us, “when I was
going from Jenidscheh up into the Rhodope mountains, had lost himself in
this way and had become the property of a wealthy ‘Broussa’ merchant,
but on the death of the latter he again became free and resumed his
precarious gambling life. That is only one instance out of hundreds to
be found in the Turkish Peninsula, of men becoming so degraded by this
mad passion for gaming.

“I remember once stopping at a street corner in Zante, the capital of
the Island of Currants, the Zacynthus of the ancients, and watching a
party of ragged idlers, who had chosen a shady corner of a colonnade as
they played ‘comboloio.’ The ‘comboloio’ is a rosary, or bead string,
and the game is played with the loose beads and a ‘Kanate’ or earthen
jar, with a long, narrow neck, generally used for water. I didn’t
understand the rationale of the game, but it seemed to consist of
betting on which of the colored beads would come out successively, after
being shaken up in the ‘Kanate.’ Presently one of the party went off to
fetch some wine and I strolled away down to the harbor. I had occasion
to pass the same spot in the evening, about dusk, or rather the short
twilight that answers to dusk in those latitudes, and the group was
still there, rolling the colored beads out of the water vessel, and
passing little copper coins to and fro. They were always good humored
and merry. Indeed, amongst the lower classes in Greece, and particularly
amongst these loafers of the street, one rarely meets with any strong
display of feeling over losses or gains at play. They have become
largely imbued with the spirit of the Turk, and take everything that
comes with a dull resignation to fate. There are few large gambling
houses in Greece, as far as I know, but every town has plenty of little
‘dens’ and ‘joints’ where gaming is openly practiced and allowed.

“The spirit of hazard is inherent in the Greek, and everywhere one finds
the dice box, the wheel, the ‘Koulai,’ or card tables. Cheating is
regarded, I will not say as legitimate, but at least as justifiable. If
a man is fool enough to allow himself to be cheated, he must suffer the
consequences, and his acceptance of these consequences is always
graceful and blended with a sort of admiration for the cheater. Speaking
of this, I remember seeing in the museum at Athens (I think it was) a
number of the Kanatii mentioned above, with false bottoms carefully
fitted to them. They are a standing puzzle to the ceramist. If they were
used simply as vessels for holding water or wine, the use of these false
bottoms seems inexplicable, but I believe this was only a device used by
the gamblers in the game of ‘comboloio.’

“The American gentleman, traveling in Greece, had better beware of
sitting down at the card table with delicate handed Greeks. He is sure
to be invited wherever he goes, and unless he knows his company well, he
is sure to lose his money, no matter how skilled he may be in the tricks
common to the fraternity in his native land in the west; and if he
should take a hand and find that he is being plucked, the only way is to
ignore it, and withdraw from the game at an opportune moment. It would
never do to treat the Greek in the manner that certain parties once
treated Ah Sin when playing ‘The game he did not understand.’
Everywhere, through the Grecian Islands, one will find these dens kept
by Levantines and Greeks, and fitted up with all the modern
paraphernalia of gambling.

“This is the most beautiful part of Europe. The waves of the glorious
Mediterranean wash eternally on the ‘Shores of the old Romance.’ No spot
of the land, or the sea, but has a history, a legend, or a poem. Here in
old Salonica, the seven-towered citadel, once the Acropolis, still
watches o’er the town, its rugged cliff facing Mount Olympus across the
gulf. Down below, in the town itself, is many a temple, but little
attended since the days when Olympus was the abode of the gods. What a
great pity that the people should have become so degraded.

                  ‘We have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;
                  ‘Where is the Pyrrhic-phalanx gone?”

“Sings Byron. Yes, the Pyrrhic-dancer and the Pyrrhic gambler meet one
at every step. Some of these old houses that I have mentioned were
pointed out to me as noted gambling hells, and they have probably been
so for centuries.

“One house that I went into at Corfu, just off the Italian-looking
Spianata, or Esplanade, had scratched on the tiled walls of the rooms
some jokes and ribaldries, which must have been hundreds of years old.
Among other things there was a representative of the old tessara, or
marble game, a sort of pocket billiards, now to be found only in the
lowest dives, and usually played with biased balls.

“At Milon, a suburb of Corinth, is a magnificent gaming house, worthy of
Monte Carlo, and it would seem as if a special Providence watched over
it. The street in which it stands has been twice almost entirely
destroyed by fire, but the house has escaped; earthquake after
earthquake has left the place intact; and while I was in the city there
was a very severe shock of earthquake, which desolated the entire
suburb, but did not even disarrange the mirrors in the ‘Glass Room,’ a
chamber where only high play is permitted, and whose very floors and
ceilings are of plate glass. By the way, there is an ugly hole through
one of these very mirrors, a little round hole, which has not starred
the glass, telling that a certain Russian Prince once shot himself with
a revolver in that room, and in his death agony pressed the trigger
again, firing another shot which pierced the mirror behind him.”


                              CHAPTER IV.

“The Huns,” says St. Ambrose, “a fierce and warlike race, are always
subject to a set of usurers, who lend them what they want for the
purpose of gaming. They live without laws and yet obey the laws of
dice.” The Father adds that when a player has lost he sets his liberty
and often his life upon a single cast, and is accounted infamous if he
does not pay his “debt of honor,” as a debt of dishonor has always been

We are told by Tacitus, in his history of the Germans, that the warriors
gambled without the excuse of being drunk, which was probably an
ironical indictment of the Romans, who did the same thing. The practices
noted in a later age, by St. Ambrose, are described by the great Roman
scholar, who says that a German who loses his liberty, submits to be
chained and exposed to sale. The winner is always anxious to barter away
such slaves.

Let us now look into the Germany of to-day. In 1838, the government at
Paris abolished the public salons of play, and then arose Baden,
Weisbaden, Sissingern, Wilhelmbad, Koethen, Hamburg, Ems, Spa, Geneva
and Monaco. The gaming season began in the spring, when the leaves were
green and closed in the late autumn. The opening and closing days of the
tables were like the saturnalia of the Romans. _Rouge-et-noir_ and
_roulette_ were the games.

[Illustration: _The Garden at Wiesbaden._]

In 1842, Homburg was an obscure village, the capital of the smallest of
European countries. Its inhabitants were poor and unassuming. There was
one inn, the “Aigle.” To this, a few German families came to drink the
waters of a mineral spring. In the year 1842, the famous Blanc brothers
arrived from Paris, from whence they had been driven. Frankfort had
refused to receive them, and hearing of Homburg, they traveled thither
in a diligence, and put up at the “Aigle.” The prime minister, who
governed the Landgrafate of Homburg, at a salary of $300 a year, was
open to the offers of a visitor so rich as the elder Blanc. Permission
was given to set up a _roulette_-wheel at the inn and an old and
skillful croupier of Frascati turned the wheel. No one could beat this
wheel. So successful was the summer’s business that Blanc, at its close,
obtained from the prime minister an exclusive concession to build a
cure-hall, lay out a public garden, and pay into the national exchequer
40,000 florins (over $17,000) a year. With this concession Blanc went to
Frankfort, and the Jews aided him in forming a company with a capital
stock of about $175,000. Of this sum the Jews took half, and the Blancs
half. During the winter a small cure-hall was built, and advertisements
of the sanitive properties of the waters filled Europe. Next year
visitors poured into Homburg in large numbers, and they were offered
fully as much gambling as mineral water. From this beginning arose the
great “company.” In 1867, the place was the most noted gaming resort in
Europe. Nature and art had conspired to make it attractive. On one side
are the mountains; on the other the river plains; the stream being the
Main. On the mountain-side is a forest, with walks for the visitors.
Gardens, lawns, groves, lakes, fountains, swans, music, and perfume, all
united to dull the sense of right, and make a heaven of hell, for hell
was what Homburg had come to be in 1867.

Fronting on the main street of the town, built of brown freestone in the
fashion of a palace of Florence, was the “Temple of Fortune.” A spacious
vestibule, paved with Roman mosaic, led to the great _salon_, whose
walls and ceilings were laden with gilt and sculpture, mirrors and
curtains of velvet and satin. Sofas and chairs of damask appeared to
invite to rest, but there was no rest in that dread chamber. The rattle
of the balls went on. Money sounded and checks clicked. There came
regularly the cries of the croupiers, the cappers and the recommenders:
“Make your play, gentlemen and ladies;” “The play is made; nothing more

As he entered, the visitor must remove his hat, as if he were in St.
Peter’s. The goddess of fortune was a jealous and very exacting deity.

From a gentleman once connected with the “_Levant Herald_,” we are
indebted for the following glimpses of gambling as it obtains in the
Balkan Peninsular to-day:

“In Bulgaria and Servia I have seen the peasants throwing dice, or
coins, or even a notched stick, to decide the point as to who should pay
for the morning meal of ‘yekmek e’ soot’ (bread and milk.)

“The gamins of the street gamble for ‘Loukouni,’ little sticks of what
looks like ‘Turkish Delight.’ In all the towns one may see at the street
corners, the ‘hakimal,’ or ‘fakirs,’ with their packs of greasy cards,
wheels of fortune, and little cunning traps of dingy brass work into
which you drop small pieces of money and see whether it will ever reach
the bottom. Unfortunately that happy event rarely occurs. The coin
almost invariably becomes intercepted in its tortuous path and is
claimed by the swarthy proprietor of the “faki.” Very often these men
carry jewelry, and will match their wares against some property of your
own; then play you ‘double or quits’ at ‘djini,’ which is practically
the same as three card monte, only both parties have the privilege of a
throw. While in Belgrade I came across an Arab, a most intelligent man,
who had been a courier in Europe for years. I remarked to him upon this
passion for gambling, and denounced its results in very strong terms.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but what would you have? These people are happy; they
enjoy themselves. Why should they work when they can earn money so
easily?’ ‘_Ed djunya djifetun ve talibeha khilab_’ (The world is an
abomination, and those that work thereon are dogs.) This man had a
supreme contempt for manual labor, and would spend days and nights in
gaming houses. He was a master of the art of cheating, and told me he
never employed any but fair means. ‘I know enough to guard myself from
others,’ he said, ‘but why should one waste one’s talents on cattle like
these?’ pointing to a long-bearded, venerable ‘hakimal’ near by. I
think, however, that he did use his ‘talents’ pretty freely, for I
noticed that he never came away from the table empty-handed.

“Now here was an instance of a man with remarkable natural intelligence,
a fine linguist, well read, cultivated, a most agreeable traveling
companion; but he was a gambler, and all his thoughts and energies were
directed to one object—the winning of money by unfair means. He won
immense sums, and if he had kept them, would have been a very wealthy
man. But ‘light come, light go,’ and every cent was squandered in
pleasure, often of the vilest, most revolting kind. I told him how it
would probably end in a horrible death from starvation. ‘No,’ he replied
quietly, ‘not like that. There is always a way out of life,’ and he
pointed significantly to a small Malay creese which he carried in his
belt. I went with him one night to the ‘Tag Alek’ in Belgrade, a hell of
the worst reputation, and where I would not have ventured alone for a
kingdom, but I knew I was safe in the company of ‘Le Brulant,’ as the
courier was called. We passed through a dimly lighted court yard and
entered by a little arched door-way, which opened into a small stone
hall with a little fountain in the middle. My companion spoke a few
words to the man in charge (cawass), who supplied us with felt sandals,
and also gave me a loose gown to put over my European dress. Then we
passed into a long, low room filled with little tables, each occupied by
its group of card players, who were waited on by nearly nude negroes.

[Illustration: _The Old Castle, and View of Baden-Baden._]

“There was almost perfect silence, broken now and then by a muttered
oath or exclamation. The players were well, and even richly dressed, and
seemed to embrace many nationalities. We went through noiselessly, and
into another small room fitted up with divans and lounges. This was a
conversation room, and there were two or three men talking in a Slav
dialect in one corner. From here one could pass by separate doors, to
the rooms where roulette, rouge et noir, and other games were played,
but my companion refused to enter these, saying we should only disturb
the players. We sat down, and an attendant brought us some coffee, black
and bitter as gall, then handed us each a ‘tcihbouque’ (pipe), to light
while a little boy dressed as an Albanian, brought us a piece of red hot
charcoal on a platter. After a few minutes ‘Le Brulant’ proposed that we
should see the rest of the house. I agreed, and we arose. ‘Let’s go to
the Shades first,’ he said. I asked him what he meant. ‘Well,’ was the
reply, ‘the rooms over these,’ pointing to the way by which we had
entered, ‘are nothing. The men who play there are quiet, steady people.
They are not initiated. Look here,’ and he drew back a heavy gold-
embroidered curtain which concealed the end of the passage we had
traversed. It was a magnificent room which lay beyond, gorgeous with
gold and silver, and all the vivid colors of oriental furnishing. At the
different tables were men and women seated, and apparently absorbed in
their game. The attendants in this room were young girls dressed in a
single fold of a fabric so fine and transparent that the white flesh
gleamed through like pearl. My companion dropped the curtain and said:
‘Ah, there’s no one there to-night but the Lurley (mentioning the
soubriquet of a woman infamously known all over Europe) and she seems to
have a new victim.’ The Arab ground his teeth together savagely, as he
hissed: ‘They may well call her the Lurley.’ We looked into a number of
other rooms, where the same scene was being enacted, with variations.
These were the public rooms, but there were also private dens, some of
which were set apart for opium devotees. ‘But,’ I said to ‘Le Brulant,’
‘I don’t see any danger in coming here. Everything seems quiet and
orderly. How is it that the house has such a fiendish reputation?’ ‘Yes,
you see the fair side to-night,’ he answered, ‘but if I was to leave you
now, you might never get out of this place alive, if you had any money
or jewelry about you. One of those sirens yonder would soon lure you to
a nice, cool resting place at the bottom of the Danube.’ He said this so
fiercely that I shuddered, and the thought struck me that the gambling
fever might flash out in his veins at any moment and leave me without a
protector in this hell upon earth. He saw my disquietude, and said
gently: ‘Come, let’s go; its best not to stay too long.’ We passed out
by another door opening on the same dark court yard, and I breathed more
freely when we reached the open air, and I could see the stars above my
head and feel the fresh breeze blowing down from the mountains, sweeping
away the sense of languor and enervation imbued by the heavy scented
atmosphere of the Tag’ Alek.”

At the German watering places the gambling houses were required to pay a
heavy tax by the several principalities, which licensed them,
notwithstanding games of hazard were forbidden by the laws. Moreover,
the respective governments were so perfectly conscious of the ruin
caused by gaming that they prohibited their subjects from patronizing
the licensed establishments. In Homburg the law even forbade citizens
from living intimately with gamblers and visitors, under a penalty of
from 30 to 150 florins.

“The bankers” of Baden-Baden paid an annual license of 300,000 francs
($60,000), which was expended in constructing and beautifying the baths.
The “bankers” were at an annual expense, in addition to this license, of
700,000 francs ($140,000), yet, notwithstanding this, the net profit of
one season amounted to 2,000,000 francs ($400,000).

At Wiesbaden and Ems, the tables belonged to a joint stock company,
which paid 115,000 florins for the double license. So profitable was the
business that the company offered 100,000 florins more for the privilege
of keeping the establishment open during the winter. The expenses of the
company, for the season of 1860, were estimated at 750,000 francs, yet,
from the net profit of the year, a dividend of 49·30 francs was paid on
each one of the 25,000 shares of stock, showing an aggregate net profit
of 1,232,500 francs ($246,500). At Wiesbaden there were two tables for
roulette and two for rouge-et-noir, and at Ems one for each.

Homburg paid a license of 50,000 francs ($10,000), for which it had the
privilege of keeping the tables in operation throughout the year. The
society, or company, defrayed the expense of all buildings and
embellishments. Its capital was divided into 10,000 shares, each of
which earned a dividend of fifty-three francs.

Spa, for a time one of the most flourishing gaming resorts, paid a net
annual profit of more than 1,000,000 francs from the operation of one
roulette and one rouge-et-noir table. Geneva, like Spa, paid no license.
The gaming “sessions” were held in a mansion of the President of the
Council, for which, in 1860, a rental of 25,000 francs was paid. The
general expenses that year were about 125,000 francs, and the net
profits 300,000 francs ($60,000). Towards the end of the last century,
Aix-la-Chapelle was a great rendez-vous of gamblers, and play there was
generally desperate and ruinous. The chief banker paid a license of
4,000 Louis. The gaming profits in 1870 were 120,000 florins ($70,000).

Wiesbaden is in the Duchy of Nassau, being three or four miles farther
from the historic city of Frankfort, to the westward, than Homburg is to
the northward. Situated on the spurs of the Taunaus, about 100 feet
above the Rhine, it is environed by beautiful villas, remarkable for the
picturesqueness of their gardens—the residences, for the most part, of
the wealthy bankers of Frankfort, the financial center of continental
Europe. Wiesbaden is one of the oldest watering places in Germany. The
locality is referred to by Pliny, in his natural history, and the
remains of a Roman fortress were discovered some twenty years ago in the
Heidenburg, north of the city.

Among the noteworthy buildings of the place are the Ducal Palace, built
in imitation of the Alhambra, the ministerial building, once occupied by
the Florentine Consulate, and the Catholic Church. Until 1872, the
architectural and social center was the Cure Hall. In this structure the
principal hall once contained copies of the Apollo, Venus, Laocoon and
other celebrated productions of ancient art, and was embellished with
pillars of red and gray marble quarried in the region. Outwardly, the
Cure Hall is a reproduction of the immortal Pantheon, with its imposing
portico fronting upon a charming square, wherein fountains play in the
sunlight or beneath the soft rays of the moon, glinting through the
leaves and branches, all of which makes beautiful shades and contrasts
of color. On each side of the square are broad colonnades lined with
fancy shops. The interior of the Cure Hall was furnished and adorned in
a sumptuous and florid manner, as at other German Spas, and the pleasure
grounds in the rear presented a charming prospect of walks, grottoes,
and miniature lakes.

When gambling was in the ascendant at Wiesbaden, society there was in a
very mixed and deplorable state. The fast were in full possession,
almost, and as late as 1872 respectable women dared not take a stroll in
the grounds outside the Cure Hall. When gambling, with “hideous mien,”
stalked through this fair scene, the aged, broken down courtesans of
Paris, Vienna and Berlin made Wiesbaden their autumn rendez-vous. A
correspondent of the London _Daily Telegraph_ described them as “arrayed
in all the colors of the rainbow, painted to the roots of their dyed
hair, shamelessly decollette, prodigal of “free” talk and unseemly
gestures, these ghastly creatures, hideous caricatures of youth and
beauty, flaunted about the play rooms and gardens, levying blackmail
upon those who were imprudent enough to engage them in “chaff” or
badinage, and desperately endeavoring to hook themselves onto the
wealthier and younger members of the male community. They poison the air
around them with sickly perfume; they assume titles and refer to one
another as “cette chere comtesse,” their walk was something between a
prance and a wiggle; they prowled about the terrace whilst the music was
playing, seeking whom they might devour, or rather whom they might
inveigle for their devouring. How they did gorge themselves with food
and drink when some silly lad or aged roue allowed himself to be bullied
or wheedled into paying their scope, their name was legion and they
constituted the very worst feature of a palace which, naturally a
paradise, was turned into a seventh hell by the uncontrolled rioting of
human passions. They had no friends, no “protectors.” They were
dependent upon accident for a meal or a piece of gold to throw away at
the tables; they were plague spots upon the face of society; they were,
as a rule, grossly ignorant, and horribly cynical, and yet there were
many men who were proud of their acquaintance, always ready to entertain
them in the most expensive manner, and who spoke of them as if they were
the only desirable companions in the world.

[Illustration: _The Conversationhaus, Exterior and Interior._]

In all the world cannot be found an inland watering place so charming as
Baden. The climate is invigorating, the situation unequalled and the
locality, from every point of view, exceedingly beautiful. Situated on
the confines of the “Black Forest,” in the beautiful valley of the
Oelbach, and surrounded by green and graceful hills, Baden resembles
both Heidelberg and Freiburg, but is more lovely than either.
Overlooking the town are the fine old ruins of a castle, dating from the
11th century. This castle was for centuries the residence of the
Margraves of Baden, and was destroyed as late as 1869 by the French.
From the ruins a beautiful panorama is unfolded to the view. In the
distance can be seen the broad valley of the Rhine, from Strasburg to
the ancient town of Worms. Nearer lies the delightful valley of Baden,
with its green pastures, and groves of fir trees and charming villas.
Near the castle are huge and irregular masses of porphyry, which seen at
a distance, reminds one of ruined towers and crumbling battlements.

The pleasant walks and drives, which are numerous about the town, lead
one to pretty villages and fine views of old Roman ruins. Baden has only
about 8,000 inhabitants, but the annual influx of visitors has been
known to reach 50,000 or 60,000.

Prior to 1873, the central attraction of Baden was, of course, the
conversationhaus (Conversation House); so called, it is presumed,
because no one was permitted to speak there above a whisper. Applying
the name “conversationhaus” to a gambling hall must have been due to
some Teutonic vagary in which irony was uppermost. The conversationhaus
contained drawing, reading, dining, concert and gaming rooms, all
elaborately gilded and frescoed and richly furnished. Great mirrors, on
every side, reflected all that transpired and made the place appear
larger and the players more numerous than they really were.

The promenades of Baden, during the afternoon and evening, when an
excellent band played before the gambling hall, presented a very
animated and attractive scene. There representatives could be seen from
all quarters of the world and of every nationality claiming to be
civilized. The great majority were faultlessly attired in the latest
fashion, and many very elegant toilets were to be seen. No better
opportunity could be imagined to show a pretty face, a fine figure, or
costly jewels and gowns, and the women were therefore happy. The men
struggled to express that grand insouciance which indicates the final
fathoming of all social profundities. The pleasantest feature of Baden
were the walks and promenades where one could stroll leisurely with the
bright sunshine overhead, soft and perfect music in the ear, and a gay
panorama of pretty women and well dressed men before him.

The gambling rooms at Baden usually had six roulette and rouge-et-noir
(trente-et-quarante) tables running. The games opened daily at 11
o’clock in the morning, and ran continuously until 11 o’clock at night.
The place was almost as public as the street. Everybody went in or went
out, played or refrained from playing, as he pleased. There was no one
to question or interrupt, to invite or discourage, any respectably
dressed or decently behaved stranger, who, from curiosity, inclination
or other motive might desire to enter and look about. It was contrary to
the rules for one to wear his hat or to take a cane or umbrella into the
gambling rooms, and in the vestibule, lackeys were stationed to relieve
visitors of these articles. These lackeys wore livery not unlike a court
costume and were most obedient, obsequious and ready to do any one’s
bidding, with the expectation of course, of receiving a “tip” for their
trouble. The Directors paid a license of $75,000 a year and paid out as
much more for the running expenses of the establishment, yet reaped
immense profit. The season extended from May until October and was at
its height from the middle of July until the first of September.

The Baden salons during the height of the season, were attractive to the
mind and interesting to the eye. The contemplative spectator, the
student of human nature, saw much relating to cosmopolitan society which
he could scarcely find elsewhere. The _roulette_ and _trente-et-
quarante_ tables were always crowded, while the games were in progress.
Well dressed men and women, young and old, notables and nobodies, many
of distinguished bearing, sat around the tables, or leaned over from
their standing posture behind, and placed their bets, raked in their
winnings, or scowled and muttered curses when they lost. All the players
were absorbed in the game. Around each table, also, were to be seen,
scores of persons, whose despondent countenances told, as plainly as
words could express it, that their last louis had been swept away. The
“banker” or dealer, and the croupiers, his assistants, occupied seats
raised above those of the players, that they might the better see what
was transpiring on the table, and not to be interfered with by the
movements of the bettors.

No attache of the establishment was ever known to ask any one, even in
the most indirect manner, to take part in the game. All seemed
indifferent on that point, and visitors were free to play or not as they
pleased. Dealers, croupiers, and lackeys—all maintained an air of good
breeding and never allowed themselves to exhibit emotion or even any
particular interest. Thousands were raked in, or paid, with each deal or
roll of the ball, and all proceeded in a marvelously mechanical way. The
players did but little talking and rarely spoke above an undertone. The
chink of the coin could be distinctly heard, as the dealer tossed it
adroitly to the winning stakes, or as the croupiers raked in the losses.
Over all, like a sad refrain, was heard periodically, the dealers
direction to the players, “faites votre jeu, messieurs,” “le jeu est
fait,” and “rien ne va plus.” (“Make your play, gentlemen!” “Nothing
more goes!”)

Baden was the most dangerous of all gambling resorts, though the most
respectable. On arriving from Homburg or Wiesburg, say in 1860, and
entering the Maison de Conversation, at Baden, one could hardly believe,
for the moment, that he was in a gambling house, for the interior was in
striking contrast with that of most places devoted to this purpose. The
attendants were neatly attired and quite courteous. The company was
elegantly dressed and no one over-stepped the bounds of strict decorum.
The professional gambler was a rarity. The titled aristocrat was there
and potentates arrived in their elegant carriages, from the city, or the
country. Representatives of the _demi-monde_ were there, but they
differed little, in outward aspect, from the most respectable.

Writing of the interior of the Conversationhaus in 1870, Mr. Whitelock
said: “How shall I describe to my readers, in language sufficiently
graphic, one of the resorts the most celebrated in Europe—a place if not
competing with Crockford’s in gorgeous magnificence, use, and display,
at least surpassing it in renown, and known over a wider sphere? The
metropolitan pump-room of Europe, conducted on the principle of
gratuitous admittance to all bearing the semblance of gentility and
conducting themselves with propriety, opens its Janus doors to all the
world with the most laudable hospitality and with a perfect indifference
to exclusiveness, requiring only the hat to be taken off upon entering,
and rejecting only short jackets, cigar, pipe, and meerschaum. A room of
this description, a temple dedicated to fashion, fortune, and
flirtation, requires a pen more graphic to vivify and depict. Taking
everything, therefore, for granted, let us suppose a vast salon of
regular proportions, rather longer than broad, at either end garnished
by a balcony; beneath, doors to the right and left and opposite to the
main entrance, conduct to other apartments, dedicated to different
purposes. On entering, the eye is at once dazzled by the blaze of lights
from chandeliers of magnificent dimensions, composed of lamps, lustres,
and sconces. The ceiling and borders set off into compartments showered
over with arabesques, the gilded pillars, the moving mass of
promenaders, the endless labyrinth of human beings, assembled from every
region in Europe, the costly dresses, repeated by a host of mirrors, all
this combined, which the eye conveys to the brain at a single glance,
utterly fails of description. As with the eye, so it is with the ear; at
every step a new language falls upon it and every tongue with different
intonation, for the high and the low, the prince, peer, vassal and
tradesman, the proud beauty, the decrepit crone, some freshly budding
into the world, some standing near the grave, the gentle and the stern,
the sombre and the gay; in short, every possible antithesis that the
eye, ear, or heart can perceive, hear, or respond to, or that the mind
itself can imagine, is here to be met with in two minutes. And yet all
this is no Babel; for all, though concentrated, is admirably void of
confusion; and evil or strong passions if they do exist, are religiously
suppressed—a necessary consequence, indeed, where there can be no
sympathy, and where contempt and ridicule would be the sole reciprocity.
In case, however, any such display should take place, a gendarme keeps
constant watch at the door, appointed by the government, it is true, but
resembling our Bow street officer in more respects than one.”

We here append what a traveler witnessed within the Cure-hall at Baden
in the summer of 1854:

“Almost immediately on our entrance our attention was attracted to a
young Englishman, fashionably dressed, but yet of such rakish and
sinister aspect that I set him down at once as a black-leg who had
figured at Epsom or Newmarket; a London roue, who, having lost character
and means at home, now formed one of that base band of English sharpers
who are to be found on the continent, and who initiate our young bloods
into the mysteries of the gambling tables, or fleece them at private
gaming parties. In eager excitement this person pressed through the
crowd, and, bending over the table, repeatedly deposited a handful of
silver florins, until nearly every yellow line or space had a stake
placed upon it. It seemed as if he had set his life upon the cast and
was resolved to take the bank by storm. Within a few minutes, however,
his entire cash was lost, and as the croupiers remorselessly gathered it
in with their little rakes, he turned abruptly away.

“But whose are the small gloved hands and rounded arms which, just at my
left, are suddenly thrust forward to obtain silver for the Napoleon d’or
which she gives to the markers? I look around and see a tall and
elegantly dressed French lady standing at my side. She cautiously
deposits one or two florins on the board, and with subdued excitement
watches the progress of the game. At length the silver pieces are all
staked and lost. Now, with gloved hands, she unfastens the string of her
purse and other gold is produced and changed, until all is gone, and
she, too, suddenly disappears.

“The game has progressed but a few moments when our countryman returns
and proceeds as before, with the same result, and then disappears again.
Now, here is also the French lady again, with her silk purse containing
gold pieces, and playing with greater excitement than ever; but after
some winnings, she, too, loses all.

“Yonder stands a tall, thin lady, who seeks the table on which small
sums can be played. See how anxiously she glances over the table, and
how cautiously she deposits her little sum. Once or twice she wins, and
her pale cheeks become flushed, and her eyes kindle; but in a short time
it is all gone, and then, leaving the place, she retires to one of those
garden chairs sitting apart from the rest of the people, her cheeks more
wasted, her eyes duller, apparently broken-hearted, as if the thought of
her confiding husband and little ones far away oppressed her spirit. But
look again and you will see another lady with a younger lady by her
side. It is her daughter, and she is initiating her into the mysteries
of gambling. Who would like to marry such a woman, thus trained into the
mysteries of such a game as this?

“A man now enters the room. His dress and person are neglected, his face
is unwashed, his long and curly hair falls wildly over his forehead,
seamed and furrowed with deep wrinkles, A little girl is by his side.
She, too, is miserably dressed, and his rank seems to be that of a
peasant. He is an inveterate gambler and cannot do without his
excitement. He takes a seat at the foot of the table, deposits a florin
from time to time, and carefully examines a small marked card on which
is marked the result of each revolution of the deal. For a time
familiarity with the game seems to give him an advantage, and with a
calm satisfaction he rakes in his winnings in a heap, on which the
little girl bends her glistening eyes. And there he sits until the
evening closes, when he departs, having passed an evening of feverish
excitement and lost all. The face of that gambler and the little girl,
who was always with him and who seemed as if she were the only one left
of a ship-wrecked and ruined family, haunt me to this hour.

“At rouge et noir is a more select class than is generally found playing
at roulette. English, French, Germans, Russians, and Poles, and the fire
of Mammon always burning on his altars and the doomed flies buzzing
about them, some with already scorched-off wings; it is a scene of
external gaiety with all that is internally hollow and deceiving.

“The lights are burning brightly overhead, the players nearly all
seated, and a large number of people forming an outer circle.

“Here are two gentlemen who are bold players. They never stake silver. A
pile of Napoleons lies at the side of each. One player is about sixty
years of age, tall and robust; the other a little, dark haired, black
eyed man, and both appear to be habitues of the place. Three gold pieces
formed the first stake, and the player winning, the same was doubled.
Five more Napoleons are won.

“At this moment one of the proprietors can be seen talking with some
friends nonchalantly, and apparently uninterested in the game, in the
background; but if you will watch him carefully, you can see that he
ever and anon casts a searching glance toward the table, for this
evening the game is going against the bank. But soon caution on the part
of the player is gone, and golden visions beckon onward. One of the
gentlemen leaves ten gold pieces on the cloth, another turn and all is

[Illustration: _Gambling Saloon at Wiesbaden._]

[Illustration: _The Kursaal at Wiesbaden._]

“It was here that an Englishman played one night until he lost £180,000,
and announced his determination to win it back or to lose everything;
but he was doomed to drink, and justly too, the cup of bitterness: he
lost everything.”

Mrs. Trollope has thus described two specimens of the gamestresses, who
were wont to frequent the German watering places:

“There was one of this set,” she says, “whom I watched day after day,
during the whole period of our stay, with more interest than, I believe
was reasonable; for had I studied any other as attentively, I might have
found less to lament.

“She was young, certainly not more than twenty-five, and though not
regularly nor brilliantly handsome, most singularly winning, both in
person and demeanor. Her dress was elegant, but peculiarly plain and
simple—a close white silk bonnet and gauze veil; a quiet colored silk
gown, with less of flourish and frill, by half, than any other person; a
delicate little hand, which, when ungloved, displayed some handsome
rings; a jeweled watch of peculiar splendor; and a countenance
expressive of anxious thoughtfulness—must be remembered by many who were
at Baden in August, 1833. They must remember, too, that, enter the room
when they would, morning, noon or night, still they found her nearly at
the same place at the rouge et noir table.

“Her husband, who had as unquestionably the air of a gentleman, as she
had of a lady, though not always close to her, was never very distant.
He did not play himself, and I fancied, as he hovered near her, that his
countenance expressed anxiety. But he returned her sweet smile, with
which she always met his eye, with an answering smile; and I saw not the
slightest indication that he wished her to withdraw from the table.

“There was an expression in the upper part of her face that my
blundering science would have construed into something very foreign to
the propensity she showed; but there she sat—hour after hour, day after
day, not allowing even the blessed Sabbath, that gives rest to all, to
bring it to her;—there she sat, constantly throwing down handfuls of
five-franc pieces, and sometimes drawing them back again, till her young
face grew rigid from weariness, and all the lustre of her eye faded into
a glare of vexed inanity. Alas! alas! is that fair woman a mother? God

“Another figure at the gaming table, which daily drew our attention, was
a pale, anxious old woman, who seemed no longer to have strength to
conceal her agitation under the air of callous indifference which all
practiced players endeavor to assume. She trembled, till her shaking
hand could hardly grasp the instrument with which she pushed, or
withdrew her pieces; the dew of agony stood upon her wrinkled brow; yet,
hour after hour, day after day, she, too, sat in the enchanted chair. I
never saw age and station in a position so utterly beyond the pale of
respect. I was assured she was a person of rank; and my informant added,
but I trust she was mistaken, that she was an Englishwoman.”

Ems is a quiet village in the Duchy of Nassau, fifteen miles north of
Wiesbaden, situated picturesquely on the river Lahn; it is surrounded by
green hills, beautiful landscapes and delightful drives. The discovery
of ancient vases and coins in the vicinity indicates that, like
Wiesbaden, it was known to the Romans. Ems has a population of less than
5,000, but entertains about 8,000 visitors each summer. When gambling
flourished at Ems, years ago, there was a croupier whose life had been a
most adventurous and checkered one. The illegitimate son of a German
Margrave, he was educated a soldier and served with distinction. Leaving
the army, he traveled through the East—was in succession a Mohammedan, a
member of the Greek church, an Israelite, a Roman Catholic, a Buddhist
and an Atheist. By his father’s death he inherited a large fortune.
Married three times, he had quarreled with and separated from each wife.
Becoming an epicurean and dilettante, he was soon a sensualist and a
sot. Broken down with dissipation, and reduced to poverty, he found
himself at Ems. Thoroughly familiar with gambling, he was given a
situation as croupier, provided he would give up drinking. This he
agreed to do, and kept his pledge. A man of exceptional ability, and
unusual opportunities, he had, in twenty short years, ruined his
prospects and his health, and settled down to the monotonous and
hopeless career of a croupier in a gambling house.

The Russians, late to learn civilization, but keenest of its students,
have begun—so say the English, their enemies—by learning all the vices.
Like Alexander the Great, the Russian autocrat permits a dissolute life
among the nobility, in order that the empire may not have to confront
the resolutions of more honorable men. Ennui wears upon the gentry. At
Moscow and St. Petersburg, the man of the fashionable world dwells in a
state of social license that contrasts sharply with his political
restrictions. Moscow is filled with men in disgrace, who are here
allowed to live in splendid exile. Gaming, racing, intemperance, and
libertinism are the most striking features of the Russian realistic
novel. If we read “Anne Karenina,” by Tolstoi, we shall be outraged with
the gross treatment of an honest husband, at the hands of an author who
pretends to follow the practical teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The
minister of state, who suffers from the incursions of a libertine, is
dwelt upon, and held up to ridicule, while the inner life of a villain
who steals away the love of a bad wife, is glazed over and made
entertaining to low minds. It may be said that this was necessary, in a
land where a betrayed husband was the butt of ridicule; but why should
the life of a woman offer a field for the apologetics of Tolstoi? Why
should the noble author who toils like a peasant in the field, have no
word of praise for a husband whose every act was visibly an attempt to
do justice and serve the state? Why should not gambling and racing
receive a stinging rebuke at the hands of an author who is not afraid to
rebuke all other iniquities? Possibly “Anne Karenina” would have had a
very limited sale, if gamblers, libertines, and a wicked woman had not
figured as the principal characters.

In Roumania, lansquenet, makaw, baccaret, and other games are the
pastimes of old and young, and consequently the Shylock flourishes. All
Roumanians play, and it is difficult for the visitor to resist the
epidemic. The Roumanians lay the blame on the Russians and declare that
gambling sprung up during the two military occupations. Exiles like the
emigrants from France, weary of absence from their own vodki, introduced
games of chance; and card playing is now the only social entertainment
of the salons. “Every drawing-room in Bucharest is an unlicensed cure-
halle,” say a recent writer.

[Illustration: VIEW OF EMS.]

                               CHAPTER V.

Histories, accessible to the author present but few glimpses here and
there of the gambling vice as it has prevailed in modern Italy. He found
but few allusions to the subject by historians, and only an occasional
word in books of travel. However, from what is generally known of Italy,
and Italians, it is beyond question that in gaming this people are not
behind the rest of their fellow men. In Naples, while under the Spanish
dominion, there was scarcely one viceroy who did not issue a decree
against games of chance; but all their efforts were in vain, for the
governor of the Vicarial Court farmed out the gaming tables to the
nobles, the people and the soldiers. The nobility at that time,
especially, were passionately devoted to every sort of gaming. When in
1620, A. D., Cardinal Zapata assumed the government, he forbade the
further farming of the gaming table by the governor, who complained
loudly. This prohibition remained in force, only until a _son_ of the
Cardinal was appointed to the gubernatorial office. Thousands of ducats
were staked upon cards and dice during this period. In the year 1631,
the Duke of St. Agata lost ten thousand ducats at tarocchi. Vencinzio
Capece, the natural son of a Knight of Malta, acquired sixty thousand
ducats by lending money to be used in gaming. His income, from interest
on such loans, amounted to fifteen and even twenty ducats daily. When
the Neopolitan people revolted, in 1647, they complained that gaming had
been encouraged by the nobility. On the 29th day of July, of that year,
the people assembled in groups to visit the gambling resorts—even the
Royal Palace was not spared. A mob entered the house of one Belogna,
where the nobles of highest rank were accustomed to meet for gaming
purposes. “Ye lord cavaliers,” called out one of the leaders, “do you
think that you will be allowed to go on with such doings? For what else
but to indulge in your evil passions for dice and cards, have you sold
the poor citizen to his arch-enemy? For what else have you sold your
votes to the Viceroy that he may burden us to his heart’s desire?” The
mob then set fire to the house, which was destroyed, together with its
contents—household furniture, tables, cards and dice. It has been
estimated that more than one hundred gaming houses were at this time
consumed by fire. Not only the nobility, but numerous adventurers gained
a livelihood at these licensed _redoubts_, (as the gaming resorts were
named). For instance, under the Second Duke of Alcala, a Calabrian
cavalier, Muzio Passalacqua, kept a house of this character, where the
play was so high that Bartholo Meo Imperiali lost sixty thousand ducats
in one evening. We are told that during the time under consideration a
similar state of affairs prevailed throughout the Italian Peninsula.

The picture given reflects the vices of Italian society, which had then
prevailed for more than four hundred years. Sismondi and John Addington
Symonds, clearly indicate that during the twelfth, thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, the gaming vice spread amongst all classes of
Italians. In the princely castle, the ducal palace, the lowly cot, and
even the monastery, dice and other gaming devices held sway. From such
views as we obtain from the later Latin historians, of their barbarian
neighbors in the north, we know that with their invasion of Italy, was
introduced the gaming vice in its most persistent and pernicious
features. How prone the modern Italian is to the fascination of gaming,
is evident from the papal lottery system as it flourished in all parts
of the country.

Passing to the northwest, we reach the little principality of Monaco,
and the notorious Monte Carlo. Monaco is now reduced to a square mile or
two, but has a malodorous reputation greatly exceeding its political
importance or geographical dimensions. Leaving the city of Nice, by
train, and passing through a tunnel, you come full upon the beautiful
little bay of Villa Franca. Go under ground, again, and you presently
emerge upon a rocky headland jutting out into the sapphire, sea. This
cape bears aloft the little town of, Monaco. On the extreme southern
side of the headland is a deep bay, beyond which, at a distance of less
than half a mile, stands Monte Carlo on another and lesser promontory.
The bay is lined with hotels, cafes, shops and lodging houses. The
famous Casino crowns the slope of Monte Carlo, and contains the gambling
rooms, concert hall, and theatre. Near this massive structure are more
hotels and the enclosures for pigeon shooting. The walks are shaded by
orange trees and cacti, while a velvet turf spreads like a verdant
carpet under the trees. All this was the work of the late M. Blanc, who
established the Casino and its environs, after his enforced departure
from Baden-Baden. But in reality this stately palace was erected, and
the surrounding grounds laid out, at the expense of the dupes, the
blacklegs, and the courtesans of Europe. M. Garnier, who planned the
Grand Opera House, at Paris, designed the architecture of the Casino in
its sensuous detail. But this devil’s university of Monte Carlo, with
its classic rooms, and chairs for Professors Belial and Mammon, is, in
sober truth, the erection of those named. The fortune is always with
_roulette and rouge et noir_.

[Illustration: _The Casino at Monte Carlo, Monaco._]

There are six tables in the Casino for _roulette_, where the lowest
stake is twenty-five francs. Two _rouge et noir_, where the lowest stake
is twenty francs. These tables are always crowded, Sundays and week days
alike. Some persons, it is true, make lucky coups, but the majority
lose, of course. Some years ago a British dowager won four hundred
pounds, and a German two thousand pounds the same day.

By some Europeans, it has been insisted that while Monte Carlo may not
have moral or elevating influence, yet men will play, and it is not
worse there than at the club. This plea is specious and superficial. The
club is private; it is not open to women and children. The mischief that
might occur there is not an example for the public, and therefore not
contagious. The club does not exist for the sole purpose, and is not
supported by the profits of the play. It is not an instrument of
wholesale demoralization, as is Monte Carlo. The latter is a curse, a
public scandal, and an unmitigated evil. In these times of spirited
foreign policy, a more wholesome exercise of diplomacy cannot be
imagined for some influential European power, than bringing pressure to
bear on France for the extinction of Monte Carlo. It is a disgrace to
the French Republic that under its protecting wing this pandering to
European vice should be allowed, or that Monte Carlo should be a shelter
for the sharpers expelled from other haunts on the continent, there to
fatten on the wages and spoils of iniquity. If Monaco and Monte Carlo
were cleansed of this blot, they would be among the most alluring
resorts of the world. The demoralizing tables, and the vicious crew
should not be allied with such delightful scenery and salubrious
climate. Let us hope that the report is not true that an American
syndicate has offered eight million francs for the right of keeping a
gambling house at Taft-chi-dar, Hungary, like that at Monte Carlo.


M. Blanc, now dead, obtained the lease of the place from the Prince of
Monaco, agreeing to pay him an enormous rental, one-tenth of the profits
of the game, and to defray the expense of maintaining the standing army,
the police, and the menials of the principality. M. Blanc’s widow now
enjoys the profits accruing from the bargain made by her husband. The
games at Monte Carlo are kept running from noon until 11 o’clock at
night, every day in the year, Sundays not excepted, and are patronized
by the titled and most aristocratic personages in Europe. In the height
of the season, from December to April, Monte Carlo is one of the most
cosmopolitan places on earth. English, French, Germans, Russians,
Americans, Spaniards—all nationalities, almost, are to be seen about its
gaming tables. Elegantly dressed women, young and old, some of them the
wives, or members of the families, of the most reputable men in Europe;
some representatives of the demi-monde mingle with the throng and engage
in the play. The interior of the Casino presents the appearance of a
grand drawing room feté. Monte Carlo is the last and sole representative
of the class of gambling resorts of which Baden Baden, Wiesbaden,
Homburg; and Ems, were formerly notable examples.

It is said that the game at Monte Carlo is undoubtedly fair. This may be
true. The eyes of the greatest scoundrels in Europe, it is argued, are
bent upon the dealers, and that ought to be a sufficient guarantee
against any fraud being practiced. But this does not certainly follow.
The powers of a Professor of Legerdemain are admitted, and knowing this,
it would be childish to guarantee the integrity of any professional

[Illustration: ROUGE ET NOIR.]

At the Casino eight roulette and two trente et quarante, or rouge et
noir tables, are kept running. Roulette is not played precisely as in
America, the player has less odds against him, from the fact that the
tables have only one zero instead of two. The heaviest play occurs at
the trente et quarante tables. This game is played with six packs of
cards of 52 each. Having shuffled the cards, the dealer passes them to
the nearest player, sometimes the nearest female player, to be cut. It
is a gamblers superstition that bad luck attends the one who cuts the
cards, and accordingly the professional often shirks that duty. The pack
is not cut as in the United States. The operation consists of inserting
a blue card in the sextuple pack. Two rows of cards are dealt on the
table, the first representing black and the second red. The ace counts
as one, and court cards as ten each, and the tailleur, or dealer,
continues to turn cards for the black row until the aggregate number of
their spots exceeds thirty. Suppose he deals three “court” cards, or
tens, he must deal another. If it is a deuce he calls “_deux_,” and then
proceeds to deal the red row, which, perhaps, aggregates thirty-five.
“_Cinq_,” exclaims the dealer. The black row being nearest to thirty
wins, and accordingly, all who have bet on the black win the amount of
their stakes, and the bank rakes in all that has been bet on the red.

Should the two rows tie, on thirty-one, the bank takes half of the
stakes, but ties on any other number are considered as a stand-off and
the player is free to withdraw or shift his bet, as he pleases. Bets may
also be made on “_couleur_,” or “_envers_,” the former winning, when the
winning color is the same as that of the first card dealt; and the
latter, when it is not. In the time when Baden-Baden and Homburg
preserved the air of Paris; when Meyerbeer played at Spa, and while
Tamberlik was losing his Louis, _trente et quarante_ was played with a
_quart de refait_, which only gave the bank a quarter, instead of a
half, of the money on the table, in case of a tie at thirty-one. This
was the practice, also, at Monte Carlo, until these other public
gambling establishments were closed. These ties, like all other
manifestations of chance, occur with great irregularity. On some days
there will be scarcely one; on others they will occur with terrible
frequency. M. Blanc invented a system of insurance against these ties at
thirty-one, and heavy players generally avail themselves of it. It
consists, simply, in the player paying to the bank one per cent. of his
bet, which being done, the bank does not take any of his stake when such
tie occurs. In such case the player pays one per cent. for the privilege
of playing a game in which the chances are precisely even.

At Monte Carlo no bet of less than a Louis (four dollars) is taken at
the _trente et quarante_ tables, and no bet larger than 12,000 francs
($2,400). The smallest bet allowed at _roulette_ is five francs, and the
largest 5,000 francs. On a single number, nine Louis, or 180 francs, is
the largest bet permitted. Roulette, compared with _trente et quarante_,
is a very unfavorable game for the player.

Formerly, at European gaming resorts, the game was played with two zeros
and thirty-six numbers; that is, two chances out of thirty-eight were
reserved for the bank. With the advent of M. Blanc at Homburg a more
liberal policy was inaugurated, and only one zero was employed. When M.
Blanc went to Monte Carlo he made the game still more favorable to the
players by taking, when the ball struck zero, only half, instead of the
whole of the bets on the colors, odd or even, etc. Including the zero,
the Monte Carlo roulette table has thirty-seven numbers, and the player
on a single number is paid thirty-five for one. The advantage which the
bank has, is easily seen. In backing two numbers with a single bet, one
is banking one eighteenth of the table, and is paid seventeen times his
stake. In backing four numbers, “_en carré_,” as it is called, he bets
on one-ninth and is paid eight for one. Accordingly, as he places his
bet, the punter, even though he stakes but a single coin, can play one,
two, three, four, or six numbers at once. He can also bet on the first,
second or third twelve in the thirty-six numbers, or one of the three
columns in which the numbers are arranged on the board, or on the
colors, or odd or even, or on what is called “_manque et passe_,” the
former signifying the numbers from one to eighteen, and the latter those
from nineteen to thirty-six. Betting on the columns, or the dozens,
against which the bank pays two to one, is a favorite game for punters,
who potter about the room with a handful of five-franc pieces, and
struggle all day long to win or lose a Louis or two. Twenty francs is a
Louis, in the language of the gamester. However he may bet, the
advantage is ever preserved by the table.

Though the games at Monte Carlo are kept running throughout the year,
the great rush of visitors occurs between December and April, during
which period hundreds of thousands from all parts of the civilized world
visit the Casino. Very many stay at the hotels or villas in Monte Carlo,
but the majority come and go on the trains from Nice, Menton, San Remo
and other Riviera resorts. Particularly is this true of the sports of
both sexes, who, for the most part, make Nice their headquarters. The
gardens and drives about Monte Carlo are as famous as those of any other
Riviera towns, and share, with the Casino, the attention of visitors.

Connected with the Casino is a spacious and richly adorned theater, in
which an orchestra of about seventy-five instruments furnish, each
afternoon and evening, as fine music as can be heard in Europe. These
entertainments are free, and are always crowded. The most stylish hotel
and café, the Hotel de Paris and the Café de Paris, which flanks the
Casino on either side, respectively, are both under the same management
as the Casino. The café, particularly at night, is a gay place, and
couples are continually emerging from the “lair of the tiger” to while
away a few minutes in the enjoyment of ices and liquid refreshments
under the cool awning of the café. This is a favorite resort of the
courtesans, who are ever on the watch for men who have made a winning,
and who, in consequence, are often in a mood to be lavish in spending
their easily procured gains.

In French story and song we read much of the chivalry—the valor and
honor—of their Kings and nobles in the days of old.

Here, again, “distance lends enchantment to the view.” If we are to
credit the impartial annalist, bad is the pictures of the _noblesse_ in
early France, addicted as they were to violence, drunkenness and gaming.
In spite of the admonitions of the virtuous St. Louis, his brother was a
determined gamester and, while in prison, gambled away his estates. We
have it, on authority of Froissart, that the Duc de Touraine, a brother
of Charles VI, set to work eagerly to win the King’s money, and was
transported with joy, one day, at having won five thousand livres; his
first cry was: “Monseigneur, faites-moi payer!” “Please pay me, Sire.”
Gambling went on, not only in the camp, but even in the face of the
enemy. In their devotion to the practice generals squandered their
property and imperiled the safety of their country. While in command of
the French army before Florence, under Charles V., Philibert Chalon,
Prince d’Orange, lost at play the money with which he had been entrusted
to pay the soldiers. As a result, he was obliged to capitulate to those
he might have conquered. During the reign of Charles VI, the Hotel de
Nesle was made infamous by a series of gaming catastrophes, in which,
among the nobility and opulent men of the day, who alone were allowed to
frequent it, not a few lost their fortunes and their honor and some even
their lives. In the following reign, that of Charles VII, a wonderful
reformation in the matter of gambling was effected among the lower and
middle classes, and by the preaching of an Augustinian friar, at whose
instigation the people lit fires in several quarters of Paris and, with
the greatest enthusiasm, threw into them their cards and other gambling
instruments. This reformation did not reach the royal Palace and
mansions of the nobility, where gaming continued as before, but it seems
to have quite effectively checked the gambling mania among the common
people for a number of years.

Louis XI, according to Brantome, being desirous, one day, of having
something written, called to him an ecclesiastic who had an inkstand
hanging at his side, and bade him open it. As the later obeyed a set of
dice fell out.

“What kind of sugar plums are these?” asked his majesty.

“Sire,” replied the priest, “they are a remedy for the plague.” “Well
said,” exclaimed the king, “you are a fine paillard,” (a word he was
wont to use) “you are the man for me.”

Thereupon the king took the priest into his service, for he was fond of
bon mots, and sharp wits, and was not adverse to tempting dame Fortuna
himself with the dice.

Henry III established card and dice rooms in the Louvre, and information
to this effect having been sent to a coterie of Italian gamesters by
their representatives in Paris, they gained admission at court and won
thirty thousand crowns from the king. Henry III, according to Brantome,
was very fond of play, but not through cupidity or avarice. He was wont
to play tennis and, if he won, distribute his winnings among his
companions, and, if he lost, would pay, not only his wager, but the
losses of all engaged in the game. At that time, the stakes were not
usually above three or four hundred crowns. Later, play ran much higher,
and bets of ten or twelve thousand crowns were not uncommon.

It is related that a French Captain, named La Roue, once offered a bet
of twenty thousand crowns against one of Andrew Doria’s war galleys.
Doria took the wager, but immediately declared it off, fearing the
ridiculous position in which he would be left should he lose. “I don’t
wish this young adventurer,” he said, “who has nothing worth naming to
lose, should he win my galley, to go and triumph in France over my
fortune and my honor.”

Henry IV, when very young and stinted in ready money, used to raise
money with which to gratify his growing passion for gaming by sending
his own promissory note to his friends with the request that they should
cash it, an experiment that almost invariably succeeded, as his friends
were only too glad to have the prince beholden to them. The influence of
Henry IV was exceedingly pernicious in the matter of gaming, as in other
vices. Gambling became the ruling vice, and many noted families were
brought to ruin by it.

In a single year the Duc de Biron lost over 500,000 crowns (£125,000).
The celebrated D’Audigne wrote: “My son lost twenty times more than he
was worth, so that, finding himself without resources, he abjured his
religion.” Henry IV was, indeed, the gambling exemplar of France. He was
very avaricious, and those who played with him had either to lose or to
offend their sovereign.

The Duke of Savoy, it is said, once sacrificed 40,000 pistoles (about
£28,000) rather than incur the king’s enmity. The king always wanted
“revanche,” or revenge, when he lost, and often used his royal authority
in exacting it. The extent of gambling in France at this period was
astonishing, and Paris swarmed with gamesters.

Bassompierre says in his memoirs that he won 500,000 livres in a single
year, and that his friend, Pementello, won more than 200,000 crowns
(£50,000—$250,000). It was at this period that, for the first time, were
established “Academies de jeu,” or gaming academies, as they were
called. They were public gambling houses, to which all classes of
society, even to the lowest, were admitted. Scarcely a day passed
without its suicide or scandal arising from the ruin of somebody through

Upon the accession of Louis XIII the laws against gambling were revived,
and a vigorous attempt was made to enforce them. Nearly fifty licensed
gaming houses in Paris, which had been paying half a sovereign a day to
each of a number of magistrates, were closed. As a consequence of this
movement, gaming among the lower classes was checked to a considerable
extent, but little, if any, effect was produced upon the progress of the
vice among the nobility and the rich, beyond causing the practice to be
carried on with much greater secrecy.

It is said that the favorite stake of the Marechal D’Ancre was 20,000
pistoles (£10,000—$50,000). Louis XIII was opposed to gambling, and
indeed to all games, with the single exception of chess, of which he was
exceedingly fond.

Gambling became furious and universal again under the reign of Louis
XIV. The revolutions effected in morals by Cardinal Richelieu were
entirely nullified, at least so far as gambling was concerned, by
Cardinal Mazarin. He introduced gaming at the court of Louis XIV in
1648, and, according to St. Pierre, induced the king and queen regent to
not only countenance, but engage with much interest in various games of
chance. Everybody who had expectations at court learned to play cards as
a prerequisite to success. Games were often continued all through the
night, and the gaming mania quickly spread from the court to the city,
and thence to the country. One of the evil effects of this was shown in
the marked decrease in the respect shown to women. Under the infatuation
of the play they would remain up all night in company with their male
fellow gamesters and would give up their honor to pay their losings, or
to secure a loan with which to continue the indulgence of their passion
for play.

From the time of Louis XIV., gambling again spread among the French
people, even the magistrates becoming inveterate gamesters. Cardinal de
Retz stated that in 1650, the oldest magistrate in the parliment of
Bordeaux, also reputed the wisest, staked his entire property at play
one night, and that so general was the gambling mania, the act was in no
wise thought to his discredit.

Madame de Sevigne, familiar as she was with all that transpired at the
“iniquitous court,” as she calls it, has left more than one picture of
the disgraceful state of the gambling habit there present. In the
private houses of the crown officials, even the nobility gambled for
money, lands, houses, jewels and wearing apparel. Gourville, in his
memoirs, writes that within a few years he won more than a million
francs, while a few won considerable amounts, many more brought ruin
upon themselves and their families.

In addition to the licensed gaming houses, others were maintained in the
mansions of the ambassadors and representatives of Foreign Courts.
Indeed several gamesters of quality, in fullness of their temerity
offered to hire a hotel for a certain plenipotentiary and to defray all
expenses incident to the establishment, if he would but permit one
apartment to be used for play, and allow their valets to wear his
livery. In 1775, Sartines, lieutenant of police, licensed gambling
houses in Paris, and directed that the fees thus obtained should be
applied to the foundation and support of hospitals.

Women were then allowed to visit these houses two days in the week. So
numerous became the crimes, misfortunes and scandals directly
attributable to gambling, that it was prohibited in 1778. At court, and
in the houses of the ambassadors, however, it continued to flourish,
soon the public houses re-opened their doors, and the vice was even more
rampant than before, because of the temporary check. Suicides and
bankruptcies became so frequent, that the attention of parliament was
called to the subject, and it placed the gambling houses under rigid
regulations, which the proprietors were forbidden to violate, under
penalty of the pillory and whipping post.

Gambling was a conspicuous vice during the reign of Louis XVI. Fouche,
the minister of police, received an income of £128,000 ($640,000) a year
for licensing, or “privileging” the gaming establishments. These
furnished employment for not less than 120,000 persons, and, it is said,
they were all spies of Fouche. In 1836, so long, so scandalous and so
disastrous had been the rule of licensed vice, that public opinion
revolted at a further continuance of the policy, and all gambling houses
were ordered closed from January 1st, 1838. Since that time none have
been licensed, and gambling in France is on the same footing as in
England,—prohibited by law, but protected in secret.

In the French world M. Vernon was both influential and conspicuous in
his day. He has given to the world an interesting sketch of gambling in
Paris, from the Consulate to 1840. When a young man he sought the
allurements of the gaming table, and for several years was addicted to
the practice of this vice. His experience as a gamester would be a
lesson, in itself, for every thinking man, could it be here given in all
its masterly analysis. So elaborate is it, however, that it cannot be
given the necessary space.

Under the _regime_ of 1840, M. Thiers, then president of the cabinet,
offered M. Vernon several places in the employ of the government. The
latter, however, requested the _Maître des Requêtes_. “The thing is
impossible,” replied Thiers; “the traditions of the country would not
allow an ex-manager of play to such a noble position,” and M. Thiers
instanced, among others, a State Counselor, whose name and virtue then
commanded the highest respect. M. Vernon smiled and left M. Thiers to
his allusion. This very virtuous statesman, like M. Vernon, had been one
of the most assiduous frequenters of the gambling houses. One day,
thereafter, M. Vernon placed twenty francs on the _rouge_; he won, and
was paid by the banker; wishing, soon after, to take up his twenty
francs, he found they had disappeared. When the “deal” had ended, a
player stepped up to M. Vernon, and said: “See here, Monsieur, here are
the twenty franc pieces you are looking for. I took them up by mistake.”
This absent-minded player was none other than M. Thiers’ virtuous State

Two popular gambling resorts in the Paris of that day were Frascadi’s
and the _Circle des Etrangers_. In both places visitors were required to
leave their hats with the servants, in the vestibule, for which they
were given a check. Servants also brought sugar and water gratuitously;
while at Frascadi’s refreshments, in large variety, could be ordered. At
the _Circle des Etrangers_, the visitor was permitted to sup with the
person or persons he had invited to the resort. In some gambling houses
of the lower order, money upon personal credit was loaned to the patrons
by the inmates. At Frascadi’s and the _Circle des Etrangers_ as well,
large sums were loaned to known players without a receipt. Such loans
were always recompensed at the will of the borrower. One could bet as
low as ten cents in some houses of the second and third class, but at
_roulette_, as a rule, the first stakes could not be under two francs,
and at _trente et un_, the first stake could not be less than five
francs. In all games, the first or the highest doubling stakes, could
not exceed 12,000 francs. All gambling houses opened at noon and closed
at midnight. At the _Circle des Etrangers_ gambling commenced at eight
o’clock only on the days that dinners were given, and on all other days
at ten o’clock. At Frascadi’s and the _Circle des Etrangers_ suppers,
were occasionally given, with balls.

“I often met at one resort,” said M. Vernon, “a literary man with
powdered hair, who in his lucky bets, would rejoice over his winnings in
Latin. He was a poor wretch, and the least loss would make him
penniless. One day he touched me on the shoulder and led me out into the
hall: ‘See here,’ said he, ‘take this Persius and this Juvenal, and give
me forty cents.’ I refused to pay less than a dollar for these two Latin
poets. His joy was excessive, but in half an hour he returned to me, and
putting his hand in his pocket said, ‘take that pair of black silk
stockings, and give me what you please.’ I had consented to diminish his
library, but I would not consent to wear his old clothing.”

“At one time a young man, who was about to be married, came up from the
provinces with 1,500 francs to purchase his wedding gifts. He returned
home, at the end of the week, empty-handed, having lost everything at
play. His fiancee, on learning the facts, broke the engagement.

“The bank is not completely protected from swindlers. Two young men
entered Frascadi’s one evening. One staked on the _rouge_ fifty Louis
d’or in double Louis. The other staked on the _noir_, the same sum in
similar coins. The _rouge_ won and the fifty Louis were paid. The stakes
and money won were immediately taken away. The banker took up the stakes
lost on the _noir_, and saw that these double Louis were merely forty
cent pieces well gilded. The player who had won had instantly departed.
The other was arrested, whereupon, he was not at a loss for argument. ‘I
did not say,’ he said, ‘that I staked fifty Louis. I have not given you
counterfeit money; nay I lost a hundred francs. It was your business to
be more careful about paying the party beside me.’ The affair ended
here, and the bank lost its 900 francs.

“A celebrated general invented a trick which still bears his name. One
day, during the empire, he staked at the _Circle des Etrangers_, at
_rouge et noir_, a small rouleau sealed at both ends, which looked
exactly like a rouleau d’or of 1,000 francs. After he lost, he took up
the rouleau and gave the bank a thousand franc notes. He won, and said
to the banker who in turn offered him a thousand franc notes, ‘I beg
your pardon, I staked more than that.’ He opened the roll, and drew out
of the midst of some gold pieces it contained, fifteen or twenty
thousand franc notes. The general was paid, but the lesson was never
forgotten, and no one was allowed to play except with his money open and
with limited stakes.”

Before 1779, public gaming was authorized in France, but was afterwards
abolished. Under the Consulate, Fouche farmed out the gambling
privileges to a certain Perrin, and enjoined him especially to open a
_Circle des Etrangers_. However, this offer was not gratuitous. Benazet,
who was a farmer of the gambling houses during the Restoration, said
that Perrin gave to Fouche fifty Louis d’or every morning without taking
a receipt. Not satisfied with this, Fouche frequently made police drafts
on him of ten or twenty thousand francs.

The _Circle des Etrangers_ frequently gave balls, known as the _Bals
Livre_. During the Directory and under the Consulate, _Bals_ were all
the rage. Baron Hamelin, Madam Tollien, and indeed all the distinguished
ladies of society were invited to these _Bals_. During the Consulate and
the first days of the Empire, Napoleon, in company with Duroc, one of
his most intimate generals, visited them for a few hours, on several
occasions, both being masked. The president of the _Circle des
Etrangers_ barely allowed Perrin to show himself. If the unanimous
testimony of all contemporaries of the Directory and the Consulate can
be trusted, nothing can give an idea of the pleasures, the brilliancy
and the intoxication of this period of revival.

Perrin, who was made colonel, in order that he might deal Pharaon before
the queen without offense, was succeeded by Chalabre. Marie Antoinette
played Pharaon nearly every evening at the Tuilleries, at Versailles and
Trianon. Subsequently, the farming of the gambling houses was public,
and the four successive farmers were M. Bernard, Chalabre, Boursault and
Benezet. In every respect Chalabre was a man of the old _regime_. He
powdered, and was a man of fine manners. Boursault, on the contrary, was
a man of the times, with a marked face, heavy voice, violent and
passionate. He made himself heard, perhaps applauded, in more than one
club during the Restoration. It was his aim to participate only in that
which gave large profit. He therefore contracted for the mud, for the
night-soil and for the gambling houses of Paris. His house was
splendidly arranged, and he had also a rare collection of plants and
flowers, which in those days were a luxury. Benazet, the last farmer of
the gambling houses, was an ex-attorney, a man of talent and enterprise,
and both obliging and generous. At the revolution of July, he was
elected the commandant of one of the legions of the National Guard of
the environs of Paris. He was subsequently appointed chevalier in the
Legion of Honor. When alone with his intimate acquaintances, they called
him the “Emperor.” At the Cheque office of the Theatre _Francais_, they
invariably said to him “Mon Prince.”

While M. Benazet was farmer, all the gambling houses in Paris were open.
Said M. Vernon, “the leases each contained the following provisions. The
farmer paid the treasurer by equal monthly instalments, the annual sum
of 5,500,000 francs. Upon this sum appropriated to the city, the
Minister of the Interior, and under the Restoration, the Minister of the
King’s Household, received annually, and by equal monthly instalments
the sum of 1,660,000 francs, as an appropriation to the theatres and
other places of amusement. The Minister of the Interior took from it
also a good deal more money for the political refugees, or the disasters
in the department, and for charity and all sorts of misfortunes.

“The expenses of the gambling houses were fixed in the lease in the sum
of 2,400,000 francs. The farmer also received out of the net receipts
100,000 francs as his interest, and was obliged to have always either
upon the gaming tables or in his safe, 1,219,000 francs. The result of
gambling per day, and per gaming table was stated in a formulated
journal. The total capital at the beginning and at the end of the
gambling, was written in the presence of the cities’ controllers, and
showed the net proceeds. The ninth article of the lease stated that all
expenses of the administration to the annual sum of 5,550,000 francs
appropriated to the city being there paid, should further be
appropriated to the city, all the net profits when there were profits,
one-half when the total annual net profits did not exceed 9,000,000
francs belonging to the farmer. On the 31st day of December, 1837, the
gambling houses of Paris were closed by vote of the Chamber of Deputies.
From 1819 to 1837 the gambling houses cleared from 6,841,838 francs to
9,008,628 francs per year, making a grand total from 1819 to 1837 of
137,313,403 francs, and the money of foreigners formed a greater part of
this sum.”

Gambling was universally prevalent in Paris during 1829-30, and the
houses were very numerous and varied in character. Of the higher order,
were the Salon and Frascadi’s; specimens of the lower class were to be
found in the Palais Royal. The Salon and Frascadi’s were on the Rue
Richelieu, near the boulevard. They were of pretentious appearance,
externally, and magnificently furnished. They pretended to be exclusive
and to admit only such as were vouched for by some person of recognized
standing. Access was not difficult, however, and at Frascadi’s
particularly, admittance was rarely refused to those who were decently
dressed. This most popular resort opened for business at one o’clock.
Rouge et noir, roulette and dice, were played in different rooms, the
first named being most popular. In addition to the elegant furnishings
of the establishment, which included everything conducive to the comfort
and convenience of the patrons, the directors provided another feature
“for the good of the house.” They admitted a number of the demi-monde,
and, in fact, encouraged their presence. The beauty, rich toilets and
engaging manners of these females were an attraction to young men, who
would not otherwise have visited the establishment.

These women played more or less, and naturally their example was
followed by the rich scions who sought their favor. Five francs was the
smallest, and 12,000 francs the largest wager permitted at Frascadi’s.
These rooms were frequented by the nobleman, the mechanic, and the
loafer, provided their apparel was tolerably presentable. A large
proportion of the patrons were foreigners, the English predominating.

The lower class of gambling houses, in the Paris of that time, were
supported mainly by mechanics, clerks, draftsmen, and the like, men
whose character would have been ruined had it been known that they were
addicted to play, and who would not have gambled, probably, had not the
law thrown its protecting arm around the gaming dens.

In an English work on ecarte, the author says of gambling in Paris: “In
no capital of the world, are the exigencies of the needy and dissipated
made more an object of speculation than in Paris. As for our Jews, or
usurers, they are not only honest, in comparison, but far inferior, both
in their number and in their practices, to the wretches who are
everywhere to be met with in the French capital, ready to advance their
money at an extortionate interest, provided the security afforded by the
parties is such as to preclude all possible risk. With the natives of
the country themselves, these people are not only limited in their
advances, but scrupulous to a nicety in regard to public credit, since,
as by the loss of friends, a debtor for a term of confinement not
exceeding five years, is entitled to his liberty, and becomes exonerated
from any pre-existing claim, it not infrequently occurs that those who
are heavily laden with debt, prefer to be incarcerated for a few years,
to giving up property which constitutes their whole fortune and the
means of their future subsistence. The money lenders keep a regular list
of names noted down in their books, to which, in cases of necessity,
they usually refer and advance or withhold in proportion as their
employers have been more or less forward in their liquidation of former
engagements. This caution has only reference to the gay and dissipated
of their own country. But with foreigners, and Englishmen in particular,
the case is widely different, for upon these they have a hold which is
equal to all the mortgages and freehold securities in the world, being
in the event of defalcation almost certain of the debtor and for life.

“But the principal auxiliaries of these people are the dashing, splendid
females, who frequent the salons d’ecarte. Although the greater number
of these women have independent incomes, and form attachments for young
men, they usually meet in these haunts, without any view of personal
interest. Still there are many who are often without any other gifts
than those afforded by their natural attractions, and on whom the
irresistible impulse of play operates a desire to produce, in any
possible manner, the means of gratifying their favorite propensity. Most
of these also have some sort of liaison, either with their own
countrymen or with strangers. When, therefore, as the natural result of
the play and lavish expenditure of his chere amie of the moment, the
immediate finances of the young man are exhausted, and he has no longer
the means of gratifying his favorite passion, or of conducing to the
amusement of the mistress, she kindly suggests the possibility of his
procuring a sum of bills on such and such terms. These are ever in favor
of the money lender, and furnished with the necessary powers, she
instantly repairs to one of them and bargains for a present for herself
in proportion to the amount required. Then when the money is all
expended, either wholly ruined, or what is nearly the same thing, thrown
into St. Pelagie, at all events, unable to command further resources,
the young man can no longer please his fair enchantress; she forsakes
him without the least ceremony, and looks out for some other lover whose
prospects are yet in a flourishing condition. Very frequently these
women have for their lovers young men moving in the first sphere of
Parisian society, yet rendered nearly as indigent as themselves from
play, whose credit with the money lending race has long been ended.”

Gambling in Paris is carried on mainly in resorts of three distinct
kinds,—regularly established clubs, places called “clubs,” but which are
open to the public solely for gambling purposes, and the illegal
gambling houses. At all the clubs properly so-called, play runs high.
Strange as it may seem, at first thought, the danger of being cheated is
greater at these “clubs” than elsewhere, for the reason that occasional
visitors do not suspect dishonest methods in such a place. Knowing this,
sharpers manage to introduce themselves and then fleece the members as
rapidly as is possible, without exciting suspicion. This cannot be so
readily accomplished in the so-called “clubs,” which are maintained
solely for gambling, owing to the constant watch maintained by the
crooks, sharpers and professionals who frequent these resorts. The same
state of things prevails at the illegal gaming houses. The French are
quite as fond of gambling as they ever were, though there has been a
change in the manifestation of the propensity. They now seem to gamble
more for pleasure than gain, and to prefer games of the simpler sort. In
betting they are excitable like the Italians, but show better judgment.
The English surpass them in coolness, and the Americans in shrewdness
and audacity.

The most approved methods of cheating are practiced in the Paris
gambling dens. One is by arranging a “chaplet,” that is, putting the
cards into the deck in some particular order, the succession of which is
retained by the memory of the dealer; “stocking” the cards, as it is
called in the United States. The collusion of a card room attendant is
necessary to affect this. With a “chaplet” the dealer knows, of course,
what each card is before it is turned. Dealers have been known to obtain
an unfair advantage by having on a table in front of them a highly
polished snuff box, or cigarette case; which, serving as a mirror,
enables their quick and practiced eye to catch the reflection of the
cards, as they are dealt.

In American parlance, the same device is called a “shiner.” The time
honored fraud of “ringing in a cold deck” is still occasionally
practiced, and the utmost watchfulness does not always prevent it. The
dealers are sometimes the losers at this game, for, through bribery, or
otherwise, sharpers now and then succeed in having attendants supply
decks of marked cards. An instance is told of a sharper who obtained a
supply of marked cards of fine quality and then succeeded in selling
them in large quantities to persons who supplied such goods to gaming
establishments. Waiting until the cards were in use, the sharper won
many thousands of dollars before the fraud was discovered. From time to
time the same trick has been successfully played in many parts of the
United States.

M. Des Perriers, it is stated, once saw a friend of his playing ecarte
with a stranger and after watching the game for awhile perceived that
his friend was being cheated. Watching his opportunity Des Perriers
warned his friend of the fact, and the latter coolly replied “Oh that’s
all right, I know perfectly well that he is cheating me, but it is
agreed that every time I catch him at it, I shall score an extra point.”
This recalls the story of the game on a Mississippi river boat, wherein
one friend warned another that the latter was being cheated by a certain
gambler in the game. “Well, what of it, Isn’t it his deal?” the friend

The number of celebrated Frenchmen who have been ruined by gambling is
great. Of the number were Coquillart, a poet of the 15th century, Guido
the great painter, Rotrote, Voiture, M. Sallo, counselor to the
parliament of Paris, and Paschasiur Justus, a celebrated physician.
Montaigne and Descartes, the philosophers and Carden the scientist, were
all gamblers at one stage of their life, but each succeeded in
conquering the passion.

Previous to the reign of Louis XIV., women could not gamble openly, and
retain their reputation. If it was known that they were addicted to
play, they lost caste. Before the end of the reign of Louis XV., the
wives of aristocrats, generally, played heavily in their own houses
without exciting much, if any, adverse criticism; and, by the close of
the last century, gambling among women of the higher classes was almost
universal and viewed as a matter of course. It has been often remarked
that with the so-called respectable there has been less honor among
women gamesters than among men; many of them, indeed, not hesitating to
claim unfair advantages, and even to engage in downright lying and
cheating. Many women of wealth and title have by heavy losses at the
gaming table, been brought to a state of desperation and degradation
most surprising. Instances have been numerous where they have sacrificed
their virtue in order to obtain money with which to continue the
indulgence of their passion for play. Cases are not unknown where they
even sacrificed the virtues of their own daughters to the same end. The
beautiful Countess of Schwiechelt, it is said, after losing 50,000
livres at Paris became so desperate that she resorted to the robbery, of
a friend, Madame Demidoff, in order to repair her losses. The latter
possessed a magnificent coronet of emeralds which, at a ball given by
her, was stolen by the Countess, who next day proceeded to raise money
with the coronet as collateral. She was detected and convicted of the
crime. She had many influential friends who tried to induce Napoleon I.
to pardon her, which he steadfastly refused to do.

Towards the close of the Reign of Napoleon III., the circles or clubs,
became greatly demoralized by card gambling. Heavy play, which had been
confined chiefly to the mansions of the rich, places of considerable
privacy, began to be common at the clubs and be talked about in public.
Disregard for the gambling laws gradually increased, until after the
Franco-Prussian war, and numerous “clubs” were organized solely as
gambling resorts. The authorization of the Prefect of Police was
necessary, whenever a circle or club was started, and one of the
stipulated conditions was, that no play for ready money stakes should
occur at such club. It is unnecessary to say that this regulation is now
scandalously ignored and that the authorities wink at the infraction.
Baccarat is the favorite game at these resorts, as it is in the more
aristocratic and legitimate clubs of the city. In this connection, by
way of illustration, the following experience of a once prosperous
founder of one of these circles, or clubs, told by himself, is

“I had never been in a gambling club in my life,” he said, “until one
evening in 1872, a friend took me to the circle de —— in the Place de
l’Opera. I had a capital dinner and a cigar of the first choice, and
after this everybody went into the card room. “Cincq cents louis en
banque,” (five hundred louis in the bank) were the first words I heard,
and then I watched the people play. I understood nothing of Baccarat at
that time, and my friend had to explain to me how it was played, how
much the different counters were worth, and how the man sitting in the
centre of the table opposite the dealer, and passing the cards to the
players with a sort of lath, and paying out counters or raking them up
after each coup, was an attendant, called a croupier, specially engaged
for the purpose of conducting the play. I was struck by seeing this
croupier at each bank, about every ten minutes on an average, drop
several counters, representing a louis each, into a small slit in the
table within easy reach of his hand. “Why is he doing that?” I asked my
friend. “That is the percentage which the house takes on the banks,” he
replied, “ostensibly for the use of the cards. That slit you perceive
into which the money is dropped is called the “cagnotte.” Not wishing to
play myself, and having nothing else to do, I thought I would see
exactly how much the croupiers would put in this “cagnotte” within a
given time, and I found that in an hour twenty-nine louis had been
levied on the various banks. “But at this rate,” I said to my friend,
“the house must take in an immense lot of money in the course of a few
months.” “Rather,” he replied. “It is one of the greatest money-making
concerns in the world.” “And how do they manage to start these clubs?” I
asked. “Well, you see, it all depends upon the Prefecture; if you can
only get an authorization you will find any number of capitalists to
give you what money you want to carry on your club with.” I said
nothing, but I determined to get an authorization for a club myself, if
I could. I spoke about it to some of my friends—you must know that I was
then a fabricant de brouges, and got my decoration just after the war
for having allowed them to convert a lot of my bronzes into a cannon for
the defence of Paris—I spoke to my friends, and we formed a committee,
and then I waited on the Prefect’s secretary with a document setting
forth that a few commercial gentlemen of the —— arrondissement wished to
open a club where they could meet after the business of the day, etc.
“Yes, but you are sure you will have no cards?” said the secretary,
“Monsieur le Prefect won’t hear of gambling.” I said: “Only a little
Piquet, perhaps, or ecarte; nothing more.” Well, after waiting a few
months I got my authorization, and then that scoundrel, Theodore, who
cheated me out of seventy thousand francs later on, come in with capital
as cashier. Ole Z., the usurer, came in too, and we took that apartment
on the boulevard—only 16,000 francs rent. We sent out our invitations to
the press, and to the leading players, and gave a grand dinner for the
opening night. Well sir, you may believe me if you like, but we made
12,000 francs cagnotte in that one evening, and the first year I made
300,000 francs for my share, and ought to have had more, only Theodore
and Z. swindled me. But then, of course, I had to play; I had to keep
the game going, and the luck was always against me. I had to sell out my
share in the club. I lost that, and now you see where I am.”

“It was unnecessary for the narrator to finish for the one to whom he
was speaking knew “where he was.” He had gambled away nearly a million
francs in four years and exhausted his credit, and finally had been
forced to take a position as “commissaire des jeux,” or steward in
another den similar to the one at the head of which he had formerly
prospered. He had dealt “banks” at a thousand or two thousand louis, and
won and lost time and again a hundred thousand francs in a night. Now he
was receiving in his menial position only a few guineas a week and his
one consuming desire was to wager these at the table as soon as he got
possession of them. This was not easy to do, for the commissaires are
expected to refrain from playing. But he managed it in some way or
another and invariably lost them before the evening passed. During the
rest of the week, until his next wages were due, his only pleasure
consisted in rehearsing to whoever would listen to the experiences of
his halcyon days.”

Many men of like experience are to be found in the baccarat clubs of
Paris. Some are in the height of their short-lived prosperity; the
greater number, however, are wrecks. The class includes unsuccessful
speculators on the Bourse, ex-government officials, and men who have
failed in the legitimate callings in life. Gambling dens, the world
over, are peopled by a horde of broken down, disreputable, and degraded
beings, and those of Paris are not an exception.

So profitable to their managers are these baccarat clubs, that it is not
surprising their number increased rapidly, until, at one time, there
were nearly a hundred of them, the majority of which occupied
pretentious and well-appointed quarters, until, a few years ago, in
obedience to public indignation, an attempt was made to close them up.
Many were compelled to shut their doors, but, as the movement was not
thorough, a score or more remained, defiling and corrupting the best
quarter of the city, prospering the more because of the diminished
competition. As a rule, these clubs bear high-sounding names, not
calculated to arouse suspicion in the mind of a stranger of the
iniquitous business going on within their walls. The Cercle des Arts
Liberaux, Cercle des Arts Industriels, Cercle des Artistes Dramatiques;
such were and are specimens of these names. Standing side by side with
clubs of genuine respectability, are some of these dens, in which it is
unsafe to leave anything of the slightest value in an over-coat pocket.
As a rule the baccarat clubs are managed with great shrewdness. Rules
regarding entrance fees and dues exist, but merely that they may be
cited when necessary in support of a claim that these institutions
partake of the character of genuine clubs. “Members” are rarely asked
for either fees or dues. Invitations by the hundred are sent to
frequenters of the boulevards, and each one is given to understand that
he may take his friends. Practically, these cercles are open to all who
have money. Emissaries, known variously as rabatteurs, racoleurs, or
rameneurs, or, as the English would call them, “bennets,” frequent
public places, in order to specially invite rich foreigners and
greenhorns with whom they may become acquainted. Journalists are always
welcomed and treated handsomely, in order that they may puff the musical
or other attractions offered, and that they may refrain from exposing
the real character of the places. Elaborate dinners and luncheons are
served at nominal prices; the rooms are richly furnished and adorned;
there are reading rooms, containing a wide range of current literature,
and writing rooms replete with all that convenience could suggest;
liveried attendants, deferential and polite to a nicety, attend to all
possible wants, and, in short, almost every conceivable attraction is
provided. Those who enter and, amid all these seductions, resist the
temptation to play, are exceedingly few, and to play is to lose.
Visitors naturally infer that they are in the private club house of a
company of gentlemen. The elegance is substantial enough, but the
company in reality is largely composed of genteel scoundrels and
thieves, who scruple at no dishonesty, provided the chances are fairly
against detection.

These Paris clubs are exceedingly demoralizing, not only to the members
and visitors, but to their attaches. Hundreds of persons, employed at
first when mere boys, as pages, and rising (rather descending) to be
croupiers, dealers, cashiers, etc., and gradually acquiring the desire
to own houses and carriages, and keep mistresses, can attribute their
ultimate ruin to these dens.

Dishonest playing is probably more rife in the Paris clubs now than ever
before, and is carried on with skill never before equaled. Once in a
while, as in the case of the very “respectable” Cercle de la Rue Royale,
an expose is made of a system of cheating that has been pursued for
months, perhaps, and for a week or two all Paris talks of the scandal.
If the truth were known it would be found that similar practices obtain
in nearly every gambling club. Only collusion between a menial, a
croupier, the dealer, and perhaps one or two others, is necessary for
marked cards to be introduced. Those in the secret, divide the ill-
gotten profits and detection is not probable, unless a quarrel arises
over the division of plunder. Cheating at baccarat is general, and
organized bands of sharpers scour the cities of Europe, reaping a rich
harvest from each one. The mechanism and methods of cheating at gambling
have been perfected wonderfully within the last twenty or thirty years,
as the reader of M. Hector Malots’s novel, “Baccara,” can well
understand, and nowhere has this perfection manifested itself to a
greater extent than in Paris. That Gambling is having a most
demoralizing effect in Paris is indisputable.

The time is ripe for a reformation in Paris, and many are praying that
it may come soon and be sweeping and thorough in character.


The Spaniards are as much addicted to gambling, at least, as any
nationality. There is a tradition that they were once very liberal in
their gaming, and Voltaire says: “The grandees of Spain had a generous
ostentation; this was to divide the money won at play among all the
bystanders of whatever condition.” Montefiero tells of the liberality of
the Duke of Lima, Spanish minister to the Netherlands, who, when he
entertained Gaston (brother of Louis XIII), with his retinue, was
accustomed, after dinner, to put two thousand louis d’or on a large
gaming table, to be gambled for by the Prince and his attendants. Such
open-handedness certainly does not characterize the Spanish gamester of
this day. He is as greedy as any gamester, judging from appearances.
Gambling in Spain is general, and has always been practiced more openly
than in other European countries. “I have wandered through all parts of
Spain,” writes a traveler, “and though in many places I have scarcely
been able to procure a glass of wine, or a bit of bread, or any of the
first conveniences of life, yet I never went through a village, however
mean and out of the way, in which I could not have purchased a pack of

The nobility of Spain, for centuries, have been especially addicted to
gambling. Not a few of this class, indeed, are said to live from the
proceeds of the gaming table, and that, too, without any apparent loss
in reputation. The condition of things in Spain thirty years ago, is
thus described by another traveler: “After the bull-feast, I was invited
to pass the evening at the hotel of a lady who had a public card
assembly. This vile method of subsisting on the folly of mankind is
confined, in Spain, to the nobility. None but women of quality are
permitted to hold banks, and there are many whose faro banks bring them
in a clear income of a thousand guineas a year. The lady to whom I was
introduced is an old countess, who has lived nearly thirty years on the
profits of the card tables in her house. They are frequented every day,
and though both natives and foreigners are duped out of large sums by
her, and her cabinet junto, yet it is the greatest house of resort in
all Madrid. She goes to Court, visits people of the first fashion, and
is received with as much respect and veneration as if she had exercised
the most sacred functions of a divine profession. Many widows of great
men have kept gaming houses, and lived splendidly on the vices of
mankind. If you be not disposed to play, be neither a sharper nor a dupe
you can not be admitted a second time to their assemblies. I was no
sooner presented to the lady, than, she offered me cards, and on my
excusing myself, because I really could not play, she made a very wry
face, turned from me and said to another lady in my hearing, that she
wondered how any foreigner could have the impertinence to come to her
house for no other purpose than to make an apology for not playing. My
Spanish conductor, unfortunately for himself, had not the same apology.
He played and lost his money—two circumstances which constantly follow
in these houses. While my friend was thus playing the fool, I
attentively watched the countenance and motions of the lady of the
house. Her anxiety, address and assiduity were equal to that of some
skillful shop-keeper, who has a certain attraction to engage all to buy,
and diligence to take care that none shall escape the net. I found out
all her privy counsellors, by her arrangement of her parties at the
different tables, and whenever she showed an extraordinary eagerness to
fix one particular person with a stranger, the game was always decided
the same way, and her good friend was sure to win the money. In Madrid
one is scarcely welcome in polite society, unless he engages in play,
and, it may be added, unless he loses much more than he wins. In the
capital there are resorts where all classes meet and play together. In
these places the tables are managed by suspicious looking men, who
insist that you will be almost certain to win, if only you engage in
play: They even go so far, in inviting you to play, as to assert that
they themselves do not play for gain but for pleasure.”

Gambling is perhaps more distinctively a characteristic of the Latin
races than of any other. Not only is it almost universal in Spain, but
it seems to cling to Latin blood wherever it is found, however much it
intermingles with that of other peoples. In Mexico, Central America, and
the countries of South America, gambling thrives as in the mother
country. “Chusa,” dice, cards, and lotteries are the principal means of
indulging the vice, but there are many other devices and games in use.
The lottery is an especial favorite, and no Mexican, Nicaraguan or
Brazilian neglects taking one or more chances of getting a fortune in
each drawing, as it occurs. Gambling in these countries is carried on
with more publicity than in England, France or Germany. In none of the
Spanish Republics on our South, is it acknowledged as one of the most
debasing and ruinous vices to which humanity is addicted; indeed, by
many, it is scarcely thought to occupy a place among the vices at all.
It is regarded scarcely to the injury of a person’s reputation that he
gambles, and it will doubtless be many years before serious attempts are
made in these countries to suppress the evil.

In this connection may appropriately be appended a picture drawn by a
tourist in Mexico, a Mr. Mason, illustrative of the gambling
propensities of the Spanish Americans in that country. He writes: “This,
being Easter Eve, was the first of those days especially set apart for
gaming and idleness, and at about nine o’clock I went to the Plaza—an
open space near the church—where I found many hundred people already
assembled to amuse themselves. A large circle, surrounded by spectators
and dancers, was especially set apart for fandangoes, which, whatever
they may be in Spain, are in the New World much inferior in grace and
activity to the common American dances, though the latter, it must be
confessed, are usually to the sound of tin pans and pots and empty
gourds. Here the music was somewhat better, though not less monotonous,
and consisted of a guitar, a rude kind of harp, and a screaming woman
with a falsetto voice. Beyond the fandango stood a range of booths
beneath which men and women of all descriptions, old and young, rich and
poor, officers in full uniform and beggars in rags, were gambling with
the most intense interest, and individuals who, from their appearances,
might be considered objects of charity, were fearlessly staking
dollars—some even venturing a handful at one time. The favorite game was
called “Chusa,” which is played on a deep saucer-shaped table, and
resembled the “E. O.” of England.

“When the oppressive glare of the sun had ceased, and the cool evening
breezes set in, Donna Francisca announced to me her intention of
visiting the “Chusa,” and invited me to accompany her. She walked there
in good state between Don Antonio and myself, preceded by her three
servant maids, one of whom was in her Indian dress and had charge of the
cigars for her mistress. We found our way to the largest gambling table,
at which Francisca, having elbowed some ragged women off the only bench
in the place, established herself in full play. Even ladies with mock
jewels, and women of all shades and colors, with every variety of mien,
crowded around their favorite game, and my landlady having succeed in
getting the balls in her hands, became entirely occupied in throwing
them, with such gestures, or turns of the arm, as, in her opinion, would
insure success. Before leaving the Plaza, where Francisca remained
playing until nearly daylight, I made my way through the crowd to take a
last peek at her, and saw a fellow to whom I had paid a real (the eighth
of a dollar) in the morning for sweeping before my door, and who was
almost in rags, standing beside my fair friend, acting as banker to the
table, at which I suppose he had been successful. He ventured his dollar
at every turn with the most perfect sang froid. The apparent
indifference to losses, and apathy when successful, is very remarkable
with all classes of Mexicans, but they gamble so incessantly that I
should conceive all excitement in this dangerous fashion must be
deadened and that love of play at last becomes a disorder, rather than
an amusement. I have frequently seen a couple of poor porters, who had
not a farthing of money, sit gravely down in the dust with a greasy pack
of cards, and anxiously stake their respective stock of paper cigars
until one or the other became bankrupt.”

This picture of life in Mexico is typical of all Spanish America.

[Illustration: owl]

                              CHAPTER VI.

Under the second Henry, when the courtiers grew weary of the minstrels
and jugleurs, or when they were not occupied in making love, they
beguiled the lagging moments by gaming in every form then known. Before
the third crusade, there was no check upon the gaming vice, and no limit
to the stakes. The gamester, when he had been defrauded of his
patrimony, in turn preyed upon the unsuspecting youth. He lived upon the
weaknesses of human nature then as now, and watched with pleasure the
trembling fingers and flushed cheeks of his victim, led on, as they
were, by apparent carelessness, to risk a larger sum after losing a
smaller. The victim was left by the gamester, only when the former could
not even call his clothes his own. The dupes often discovered, when it
was too late, that they had been ruined, not by the superior skill of
their adversary, but by his dishonesty. For their own advantage, then,
they who had been victims began to practice the arts of deception, chief
among which was the loading of the dice.

During the reign of Richard I., (he of the Lion’s Heart) and that of
King John, dice constituted the chief amusement of the nobility, and the
length to which they carried the game, may be inferred from the fact
that not even the “pomp and circumstance” of the martial field could
allure them from the fascinating pursuit. The Barons who collected to
resist the tyranny of John, were reproached by Matthew Paris with
spending their time in gambling with dice when their presence was
required in the field. Even the flames and the dissensions of civil war
could not excite in them an ardor equal to that induced by the dice-box.
But the evil did not stop here, and honor itself was sacrificed at the
shrine of the unworthy and demoralizing passion by some of that
brilliant band of cavaliers to whom England is indebted for her
fundamental privileges and constitutional liberty. Should still stronger
proof be required of the prevalence of the gaming vice among the Anglo-
Normans of to-day, it would be found in the instrument which was
prepared by the “allied” kings of England and France in 1190, for the
government of the forces they had fitted out against the Saracens, and
which related particularly to this vice. It was thereby enacted that
“knights and clerks should be restrained to the loss of twenty shillings
in one day, but that sailors and soldiers detected in playing for money
at all should be fined at will, or ‘ducked.’” During subsequent reigns
gaming, although generally condemned, was vigorously pursued. How the
practice operated upon the morals of the English people, during the
reign of Elizabeth and her immediate successors, may be inferred from
that phrase in Shakespeare which avers “dicers’ oaths are accounted
proverbially false.” Gambling prevailed in England under Henry VIII, and
it seems the King himself, was an unscrupulous gamester. The evidence is
ample that gambling flourished during the reigns of Elizabeth, James I,
and in the time of Charles II. Evelyn, writing on the day when James II
was proclaimed King of England, says: “I can never forget the
inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming and dissoluteness, and, as
it were, total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening), which
this day I was witness of. The King sitting and toying with his
concubines, Portsmouth, Cleveland and Mazarine, a French boy singing
love songs in that glorious galaxy, whilst about twenty of the great
courtiers and other dissolute persons were at Basset round a large
table, a bank with twice two thousand pounds in gold before them, upon
which two gentlemen who were with me made reflection with astonishment.
Six days after, all was in the dust.”

From the Harleian Miscellany, we copy the following observations on
gaming in England during the year 1668:

“One propounded this question: Whether men in ships at sea were to be
accounted amongst the living or the dead—because there were but a few
inches betwixt them and drowning. The same query may be made of
gamesters, though their estates being never so considerable—whether they
are to be esteemed rich or poor, since there are but a few casts at dice
betwixt a person of fortune and a pauper.

“Betwixt twelve and one of the clock a good dinner is prepared by way of
ordinary, and some of civility and condition oftentimes eat there and
play a while for recreation after dinner, and both moderately and most
commonly without deserving reproof. Towards night, when ravenous beasts
shall seek their prey, there come in shoals of hectors, trepanners,
gilts, pads, biters, prigs, divers, lifters, kidnappers, vouchers,
millikens, pie-men, decoys, shop-lifters, foilers, bulkers, droppers,
gamblers, donnapers, cross-biters, etc., under the general appellation
of “rooks,” and in this particular it serves as a nursery for Tyburn,
for every year some of its gang march thither.

“Would you imagine it to be true that a grave gentleman well stricken in
years, in so much that he cannot see the pips of the dice, is so
infatuated with this witchery as to play here with other’s eyes, of whom
this quibble was raised; ‘That Mr. Such-a-one plays at dice by the ear.’
Another gentleman, stark blind, I have seen play at hazard, and surely
that must be by the ear, too.

“Late at night, when the company grows thin, and your eyes dim with
watching, false dice are often put upon the ignorant, or they are
otherwise cozened with topping, or slurring, and if you are not vigilant
the book shall square you up double or treble books, and though you have
lost your money, dun you as severely for it as if it was the justest
debt in the world.

“There are yet some more genteel and subtle ‘crooks’ whom you shall not
distinguish, by their outward demeanor, from persons of condition, and
who will sit by a whole evening and observe who wins, and then if the
winner be ‘bubbleable’ they will insinuate themselves into his
acquaintance, and civilly invite him to drink a glass of wine, wheedle
him into play, and win all his money either by false dice, as high
fulhams, low fulhams, or by palming, topping, etc. Note by the way, that
when they have you at a tavern, and think you are a sure ‘bubble,’ they
will many times purposely lose some small sums to you the first time, to
encourage you more freely to ‘bleed’ at the second meeting to which they
will be sure to invite you. A gentleman whom ill fortune had hurried
into a passion, took a box to a side table and then fell to throwing by
himself. At length he swore with an emphasis—‘Now, I throw for nothing,
I can win a thousand pounds, but when I play for money I lose my all.’”

In the time of Henry VIII., as stated heretofore, gambling pervaded
every rank of society. Sir Miles Partridge threw dice with this king and
won from him the celebrated “Jesus bells,” then the largest in England,
which were in the tower of St. Paul’s. Partridge was hung for some
criminal offense in the time of Edward VI. During the Protectorate of
Cromwell, vigorous attempts were made to suppress gaming; but under
Charles II., a dissolute monarch, the vice more than recovered the
ground it had lost. The aristocracy of the period plunged into gaming as
it did into other dissipation. After the death of this King the gambling
mania again declined only to revive during the classic reign of Queen
Anne. Parliament thereupon turned its attention to the subject, and
passed stringent measures against the evil.

Under the first and second Georges, faro and hazard were subjected to
heavy penalties and yet, these and other games continued to be played by
all classes. In his correspondence with Horace Walpole, Lord Oxford
makes pregnant and forcible reference to the absorbing passion for play
that distinguished, or rather, disgraced, the times. December 13, 1754,
Walpole wrote: “I met Dyke Edgecombe and asked him with great
importance, if he knew whether Mr. Pitt was out?” “Yes,” replied
Edgecombe, who was too much of a gamester not to have a sportsman’s
conception of the meaning of “out,” “How do you know?” I asked, “Why, I
called at his door, just now, and his footman told me so,” he replied.
Another incident, related in Lord Oxford’s correspondence, shows to what
ruin the desperate play of that time sometimes led. After expressing his
surprise at the extraordinary death of ——, a most accomplished man of
the day, he says: “He himself, with all his judgment in debts, would
have bet any man in England against himself for self murder. Yet, after
having been supposed the sharpest genius in his time, he, by all that
appears, shot himself in the distress of his circumstances. He lost
£1,200 a year by Lord Albemarle’s death and more by Lord Gage’s, late
Duke of Bedford. The same day he asked immediately for the government of
Virginia, or the fox hounds, and pressed for an answer with the
eagerness that surprised the Duke of N., who never had a notion of
pinning down the relation of his own, or any man’s wants, to a day. Yet
that seems to have been the case with ——, who determined to throw the
die of life or death upon that answer from the court. Tuesday was the
night for the answer, which did not prove to be favorable. He consulted,
indirectly, and at last directly, several people of the easiest method
of finishing life, and seems to have thought that he had been too
explicit, and invited company to dinner on the day of his death, and
ordered a supper at White’s, where he had supper but the day before. He
played until it was one o’clock in the morning; it was New Year’s
morning. Lord Bertie drank to him a happy New Year. He clapped his hands
strangely to his eyes. In the morning he had a lawyer and three
witnesses to execute his will, which he made them read twice very
carefully, paragraph by paragraph, and then asking the lawyer if that
would stand good though a man were to shoot himself, and being assured
that it would, he said, “Pray be seated while I step into the next
room,”—and shot himself. I feel for the distress this man must have felt
before he decided on so desperate an action. He had the the most
compendious understanding of any man I ever saw. He had effected a
finesse in many matters beyond what he deserved, and aimed at reducing
affections to a calculation like Demoirves.

Again Lord Oxford writes: “The great event is the catastrophe of Sir ——,
who has frittered away his whole fortune at hazard, but that does not
exceed what was lost by the Duke of Bedford, he having lost at one
period of the night (though he recovered the greater part of it) 230,000
pounds. The citizens put on their double chameleoned pumps and trudged
to St. James Street expecting to see judgment on White, angels with
flaming swords and devils playing away with the dice box, etc., but
there was nothing done.”

In gambling, the reign of George III. was no improvement on those of his
predecessors, but quite the contrary. The vice became more general among
the nobility and, if possible more desperate. The most talented men of
the day were heavy players at faro and hazard. Lord Lauderdale states
that £5,000 ($25,000) were often staked on a single card at faro; and,
on authority equally good, we learn that Mr. Fox played at hazard for
twenty two consecutive hours and lost on an average £500 ($2,500) in
cash each hour. Fox was an infatuated gamester, and he once declared
that the greatest pleasure in life was to play and win, and the next
greatest pleasure to play and lose.

Under this monarch, gambling invaded private mansions to an extent
greater than ever before, or since. Many noblemen, enjoying public
esteem and political confidence, permitted their homes to become virtual
gambling dens. Lords, statesmen, and orators received from ten to twenty
guineas per hour for dealing faro in the houses of eminent personages.
At this time, women of the highest rank plunged into gaming and in their
houses promoted the terrible evil.

Since the time of George IV. gambling among the aristocracy has
decreased greatly. Gambling parties in the houses of the higher classes
are now exceedingly rare. The English Lord or Baronet now gambles at his
club, at Monte Carlo, or some other Continental resort. One sees many
English women playing at Monte Carlo, but it is said with them to be a
pastime mainly. Gambling is still largely indulged in by the lower
classes of London, but is attended with much inconvenience and risk
owing to the vigilance of the police. Turf betting, however, in which
all classes join, goes on unchecked.

In gambling, as in all other occupations, the Englishman manifests his
race characteristics. Cool and collected, he bets in a cold-blooded sort
of way, impossible to an Italian or Frenchman. The Englishman knows
generally what he is doing and rarely “loses his head,” whatever else he
may lose. Although conservative, he will, at times, bet heavily and
desperately. The gambling propensity in England now exhibits itself on
the turf more than elsewhere. Gambling houses have flourished for 200
years at least. Formerly, gambling among the nobility was carried on at
clubs or “coffee houses,” and was one of the understood features of
club-life. It was also largely practiced in private mansions. In time,
establishments, devoted solely to gambling, were started, and called
“clubs,” that an air of importance and respectability might be thrown
about them. The practice has continued to this day and the vilest gaming
“hells” in London are known by the euphonious name of “clubs.” Some of
the gaming resorts once noted in London were: “White’s”, “Brooks’”,
“Crockford’s”, “Fishmongers’ Hall”, the “Berkely Club”, “St. James”,
“Melton-Mowbray”, “Strangers”, “Cavendish”, “Leicester”, and “Hertford.”

In its day, “Fishmonger’s Hall” was the most celebrated den of the
metropolis. A description of this place was given in a communication to
the London _Times_, of July 22nd, 1824 as follows:

At the head of these infamous establishments is one yclept,
“Fishmongers’ Hall,” which seeks more plunder than all the others put
together, though they consist of about a dozen. This place has been
fitted up at an expense of about £40,000, and is the most splendid house
interiorly and exteriorly in all the neighborhood. It is established as
a bait for the fortunes of the great, many of whom have already been
very severe sufferers. Invitations to dinners are sent to noblemen and
gentlemen, at which they are treated with every delicacy, and the most
intoxicating wines. After such enjoyment a visit to the French hazard
table in an adjoining room is a matter of course, where the consequences
are easily divined. A man thus allured to the den may determine not to
lose more than a few pounds, which he has about him, but in the
intoxication of the moment and the delirium of play, it frequently
happens that notwithstanding the best resolves he borrows money upon his
checks, which being known to be good, are readily cashed for very
considerable amounts. In this manner £10,000, £20,000, £30,000, or more,
have often been swept away. The profits for the last season over and
above expenses, which cannot be less than £100 a day, are said to be
fully £150,000 ($750,000). It is wholly impossible, however, to come at
the exact sum unless we could get a peep at the ledger of accounts of
each day’s gains at this pandemonium, which, though, of course, contains
no name, as it might prove awkward, if at any time that book fell into
other hands. Some idea can be formed of what has been made, when it is
understood that £1,000 alone was given to be divided among the waiters
at the end of the last season, besides the “Guy Fawkes” of the place,
the head servant having that amount given him last year as a New Year’s

“It would be well for the frequenters of this resort to understand that
it is their money that pays the rent and superb embellishments of the
house, the good feed and fashionable clothes which disguise the knaves
of the establishment, the refreshments and wine with which they are
regaled, and which are served with no sparing hand in order to bewilder
the senses, to prevent from being seen what is going forward, and which
will not be at their service longer than they have money to be fleeced
of; they may also understand that it is their money which has gone to
make the vast fortunes of which two or three of the keepers are
possessed. The ‘hellites’ at all the ‘hells,’ not content with the gains
by the points of the game in favor of the bank, and from the equal
chances, do not fail to resort to every species of cheating. The dealers
and croupiers are especially selected for their adeptness in all the
mysteries of the black art. Sleight-of-hand tricks at rouge et noir, by
which they make any color when they wish, false dice and cramped boxes
at French hazard, are all put in practice with perfect impunity, when
every one save the banker and croupiers are in state of delirium of
intoxication. About two years ago false dice were detected at the French
hazard bank in Piccadilly, in which the proprietors of the ‘Fishmongers’
Hall’ had a share. A few noblemen and gentlemen had been losing largely,
(it is said about £50,000) when the dice became suspected, one gentleman
seized them, conveyed them away, and found the next morning that they
were false.

“The ‘hells’ generally are fitted up in a very splendid style, and their
expenses are very great. Those of the ‘Fishmongers’ Hall’ are not less
than £1,000 per week. The next in importance are about £150 per week,
and the minor ones from £40 to £80.

“The inspectors, or over-lookers, are paid from £6 to £8 a week each,
the croupiers or tailleurs £3 to £6, the waiters and porters £2, and a
looker-out for the police officers, to give warning of their approach
£2. What may be given to the watchman upon the beat of the different
houses, besides liquor, etc., is not known, but they receive no doubt
according to the services they are called upon to render. Then comes
rent, and incidental expenses, such as wines, etc. There is another
disbursement, not easily ascertained, but it must be very large, viz.:
the money annually given in a certain quarter to obtain timely
intelligence of any information laid against a ‘hell’ at a public
office, to prevent sudden surprises. This has become the more necessary
since by recent act the parties keeping the houses, and those playing
and betting at them are, when sufficiently identified, subject to a
discipline at the tread mill. The houses are well fortified with strong
iron-plated doors, to make the ingress into them a tardy and difficult
matter. There is one at the bottom of the stairs, one near the top, a
third into the room of play. These are opened or closed one after
another as the person ascends or descends, for the doorkeeper to take a
bird’s eye view of the person. The appearance of the houses, attention
of the waiters, civility of the dealers, condescension of the bankers,
refreshments and wine, all combined, have an intoxicating influence upon
the inexperienced and unreflecting mind. The proprietors, or more
particularly speaking, the bankers of these houses of robbery are
composed for the most part of a heterogenous mass of worn out gamblers,
blacklegs, pimps, horse dealers, jockeys, valets, pettifogging low
tradesmen that have been dealers at their own, and at other tables. They
dress in the first style of fashion, keep good houses, women, carriages,
and fare sumptuously, bedizen themselves out with valuable gold watches,
chains, diamonds, and rings, costly snuff boxes, etc.—property with but
little exception originally belonging to unfortunates who had been
fleeced out of everything, and who, in the moment of disaster, parted
with them for a mere trifle. Some have got into large private mansions,
and keep very respectable establishments, but persons with a superficial
knowledge of the world can very easily see through the disguise of the
gentlemen they assume. They are awkward and vulgar in their gait, nearly
all without education and manners, and when they discourse, low slang
bespeaks their calling—escapes them in spite of their teeth. There is
not a single constant player who can say that he is a winner by them.”

In 1830 “Crockford’s” was one of the most prosperous gambling
establishments in London. It was situated on the west side of St. James
street, Piccadilly, and was built by the man whose name it bore.
Although devoted to gambling purposes, “Crockford’s” was a private club,
and numbered among its members several gentlemen of eminent
respectability. It was from this fact, doubtless, that the place
succeeded in maintaining a fair reputation and was not interfered with
by the authorities. Mr. Crockford, early in life, had been a fishmonger,
which occupation he abandoned to become a gaming-house keeper. With a
man named Taylor, he for a time, managed the “Waiters’ Club,” which had
for its patrons employes and well-to-do trades-people. In little more
than a year Crockford amassed a large sum of money. Being ambitious, he
next constructed a net for higher game, in his St. James street palace.
In its meshes he would entangle the aristocratic and wealthy. In this he
succeeded to a remarkable degree, and, within a few years, accumulated a
colossal fortune. His “club house” was most magnificent within and
imposing without. The interior comprised a grand drawing-room, library,
billiard room, supper room, and several “parlors” devoted to play. All
the apartments were embellished and furnished at enormous expense and
with a magnificence quite beyond description. From the start every
precaution was taken to make the membership as select as possible; the
founder sagaciously perceiving that no surer course to success could be
adopted. The most distinguished personages of the day, including the
Duke of Wellington, were members, and “Crockford’s” became the “fad” in
fashionable London. Play was heavy in this palatial “hell,” and
repeatedly £10,000, £15,000, £20,000, and even more, were lost at a
single sitting by members of the nobility. It is said that not less than
a dozen lost £100,000 each at this fashionable “den.” Crockford’s policy
extended a liberal credit to his noble dupes. A score or more of the
heads and scions of great families were indebted to him constantly to
the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds. He retired in 1840 but
long before that was a millionaire. Building for himself an expensive
town residence and buying an estate at Newmarket, once the property of a
proud nobleman, Crockford lived like a prince, and that, too, without
losing favor with the titled dupes whom he bled. It would seem as if the
aristocrats deemed it a privilege to impoverish themselves in his
“gilded hell.” It was said, perhaps in the bitterness of irony, that
Crockford retired only because there were not remaining enough unplucked
noblemen to make it an object to continue his business.

“White’s Club,” established as a “chocolate house” in 1698, near the
bottom of St. James street, was the most famous gaming resort of its
time. Dean Swift, in his essay on Modern Education, says of the place:
“I have heard that the late Earl of Oxford, in the time of his ministry,
never passed by White’s Chocolate House, a common rendezvous of famous
sharpers and noble cullies, without bestowing a curse on that famous
‘academy’ as the bane of half the English nobility.” White’s was the
place where the nobility indulged their passion for play, and of the
number who frequented its baneful precinct, were the Duke of Devonshire,
the Earls of Chesterfield, Chalmanely, Colley Cibber, Major John
Churchill, and Budd Doddington. It was there that Chesterfield uttered
many of his celebrated witticisms, and afforded delightful entertainment
to a distinguished company. He gambled, although fully aware of the
inevitable results of the practice. Indeed, according to Walpole, he
once told his son that “a member of a gambling club should be a cheat or
he would soon be a beggar.” Pelham, the Prime Minister, was a life-long
gambler, and, even when holding his exalted office, divided his time
between attending to its duties and playing at White’s. In a letter to
Dr. Doddridge, in 1750, Lord Littleton said: “I tremble to think that
the rattling of the dice box at White’s may, one day or other, if my son
should become a member of that ‘noble academy,’ shake down all our fine
oaks. It is dreadful to see, not only there, but almost in every house
in town, what devastations are made by that destructive power, the sport
of play.” Faro was the principal game at White’s, and professional
gamblers, provided they were thought honest, were admitted. “Heavy”
betting was the practice, and Lord Carlisle lost £10,000 at one sitting.
During the game he stood to win £50,000 of Sir John Bland, of Kippax
Park, who, himself, after losing £32,000 one night, succeeded in winning
back the greater part of it. In 1755, however, he gambled away his whole
fortune at hazard. At this period almost every difference of opinion
regarding expected occurrences was made the subject of a bet. A book for
the recording of such bets was kept at White’s and some of the entries
were of the strangest character. One member bet that the first baronet
to be hung would be Sir William Burdette, who seems to have been the
black sheep of a very respectable family. Bets were recorded on the
duration of the ministry, the receiving of titles, on earthquakes,
scandals, births, deaths, marriages, and countless other events. One day
a man fell to the pavement in front of White’s and instantly a member
bet that he was dead and the wager was accepted. When it was proposed to
bleed the man the gamesters protested vigorously on the ground that the
use of the lancet would interfere with a fair settlement of the bet.
Walpole writes: “A person coming into the club on the morning of the
earthquake of 1750, and hearing bets laid whether the shock was caused
by an earthquake or the blowing up of a powder mill, went away in a
hurry, protesting that they were such an impious set that he believed
‘if the last trumpet were sounded they would bet puppet show against
judgment.’” And in another place he says, “One of the youths at White’s
has committed murder and intends to repeat it. He bet £12,000 that a man
could live twelve hours under water, hired a desperate fellow, sunk him
in a ship by way of experiment, and both ship and man have not been
heard of since. Another man and ship are to be tried for their lives
instead of the real murderers.” “Lord Digby,” wrote Guy Williams, “is
very soon to be married to Miss Fielding. Thousands might have been won
at White’s on his lordship not knowing that such a being existed.” One
of the entries in the book read, “Lord Mountford bets Sir John Bland 20
guineas that Nash outlives Colley Cibber.” Neither won the bet, for both
committed suicide before either Nash or Cibber died. Bets were also made
that Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, would out-live the Duchess of

Play at White’s was believed to be “on the square,” but there is much
information to the effect that it was not. The fact that professional
gamblers were admitted ought to be conclusive on the point. Hogarth, in
his representation of gambling at White’s, places a highwayman at the
fireside, waiting until the heaviest winner shall depart and thus
furnish his opportunity.

“Brooks’ Club” was founded in 1764, immediately south of White’s, on St.
James street. Of the celebrities who frequented it, one time or another,
were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick, Hume, Gibbon, Sheridan, Fox, Pitt,
Lords Euston and Chatham, Wilberforce, Horace Walpole, the Dukes of
Roxburgh and of Portland, the Earl of Strathmore, and Mr. Crew,
afterwards Lord Crew. It did not flourish at first and Brooks, its
proprietor, died in poverty in 1772. The club then became known as
“Almack’s” and for a time enjoyed prosperity as the favorite rendezvous
of the rich and great men of London. That the betting was heavy there
may be inferred from the fact that a certain Mr. Thynne, because he won
only 12,000 guineas ($63,000.) in two months, retired in disgust on
March 21st., 1772. Fast scions of noble families were accustomed to lose
or win from £10,000 to £25,000 in an evening at “Almack’s”. It was
asserted that when play was in progress there was rarely less than
£10,000 in bets on the table. Lord Starbordale, one night while he was
still in his minority, lost £10,000, but won it back by one fortunate
turn at hazard, whereupon he exclaimed, with a great oath: “Now if I had
been playing deep I might have won millions.”

The fashionable young men of the day were veritable dudes and affected
foreign notions and tastes and wore curls and eyeglasses. When about to
sit down to play, they replaced their embroidered coats with others of
frieze, or turned them wrong side out for luck. They slipped on leather
wristlets to save their lace ruffles. To avoid disarranging their hair
and to protect their eyes from the light, high-crowned broad-brimmed
hats were worn by them. Pitt put his whole soul in play while at it, as
into all else that he did. When Wilberforce returned in triumph to
Parliament and to London, in 1790, he was at once elected to membership
in all the “clubs.” “Almack’s,” however, was his favorite resort, where
he became very intimate with Pitt, whom he had known at Cambridge.
Wilberforce was not a heavy gambler and did not continue the practice
long. It has been handed down that he once lost £100 and that on another
occasion he kept the bank and won £600.

Gibbon, the historian, spent much of his time at “Almack’s”, and was far
from averse to play. He was accustomed to indite his correspondence from
there and in one letter, dated June 24th, 1776, wrote: “Town grows
empty, and this house, where I have passed many agreeable hours, is the
only place which still invites the flower of English youth. The style of
living, though somewhat expensive, is exceedingly pleasant, and
notwithstanding the range for play, I have found more entertainment and
rational society than in any other club to which I belong.”

Six years before, Horace Walpole, in a letter to Mann, draws a less
favorable picture. “Gaming at “Almack’s”, which has taken the place of
“Whites”, is worthy the decline of our Empire, or the decline of the
wealthy, as you choose.”

The “Berkley Club” enjoyed its greatest prosperity about the middle of
the present century. It had spacious and finely furnished rooms and
afforded every convenience to its members. French hazard was the
principal game at this resort. No stake less than a sovereign was
accepted and players were allowed to bet as high as they desired. The
terms of play, as well as the management, were such as to exclude all
except the wealthy elite. These frequented the place in considerable
numbers, but it never had the patronage once enjoyed by “White’s”,
“Almack’s”, and “Crockfords.”

The “Waiter’s Club,” in Piccadilly, flourished in the early part of the
present century. For ten years, or more, the company wont to gather
there was rather select, but the ruinous effects of play (dishonest
play, it was quite generally believed) soon demoralized and actually
forced them to disband. By an easy transition the place passed to the
management of a set of blacklegs, who conducted it as a common gambling

Gambling in the 18th century, in England, is thus described in the
_Eclectic Magazine_ for May, 1885: “In the more contracted sense in
which we understand the word ‘gambling,’ our grandsires appear to have
been more attached to it than the generations which went before them.
The actor and the politician, the divine and the tradesman, were alike
infected with the rage for gaming. The Duke of Devonshire lost his
valuable estate of Leicester Abbey, to Manners at a game of basset.
Peers were impoverished, and estates mortgaged, in a single night, and
the men who had entered the room in a state of affluence, rushed madly
into the streets at night, penniless, and probably in debt to a large
amount. The chocolate rooms in the neighborhood of Charing-cross,
Leicester-fields, and Golden Square, were the principal ‘hells’ of the
West end, and it was not far for ruin, disgrace and despair to find
oblivion in the bosom of the Serpentine, or the Thames. The coffee
houses, we are told, most notorious for gambling, were ‘White’s
Chocolate-house,’ for ficket or basset clubs, in 1724, ‘Littleman’s,’
for faro, which was played in every room; ‘Oldman’s,’ ‘Tom’s,’ ‘Will’s,’
and ‘Jonathan’s’ Coffee-houses, for ‘ombre,’ ‘picquet,’ and ‘loo.’ About
1730 the ‘Crown’ Coffee-house, in Bedford-row, became the rendezvous of
a party of whist players. Early in the century, although Swift mentions
it as a clergyman’s game, whist appears to have been less in vogue,
excepting with footmen and servants, among whom it kept company with
foot and all fours.

“From the frequent mention of it in Swift’s ‘Journal to Stella,’ we
should surmise that ‘ombre’ was in great fashion about 1710 to 1730, as
was crimp among the ladies, according to Steele, and, in 1726, we find
in ‘Gay’s Correspondence’ a letter to Swift, in which he alludes to the
favor in which the game of quadrille was then held: ‘I can find
amusement enough without quadrille, which here is the universal
employment of life.’ ‘Nay,’ cries honest parson Adams, in the ‘True
Briton,’ on January the 28th, 1746, ‘the holy Sabbath is, it seems,
prostituted to these wicked revellings, and card playing goes on as
publicly as on any other day. Nor is this only among the young lads and
the damsels, who might be supposed to know no better, but men advanced
in years, and grave matrons are not ashamed of being caught at the same

“The _Daily Journal_ of January 9th, 1751, gives a list of the officers
retained ‘in the most notorious gaming houses,’ showing how these
matters were then managed. The first twelve were:

“1. A commissioner, always a proprietor, who looks in of a night, and
the week’s account is audited by him and two other proprietors.

“2. A director, who superintends the room.

“3. An operator, who deals the cards at a cheating game called ‘faro.’

“4. Two crowpiers (croupiers) who watch the cards and gather in the
money for the bank.

“5. Two puffs, who have money given them to decoy others to play.

“6. A clerk, who is a check upon the puffs, to see that they sink none
of the money given them to play with.

“7. A squib is a puff of lower rank who serves at half-pay salary while
he is learning to deal.

“8. A flasher, to swear how often a bank has been stripped.

“9. A dunner, who goes about to recover money lost at play.

“10. A waiter, to fill out wine, snuff candles, and attend to the gaming

“11. An attorney, a Newgate solicitor.

“12. A captain, who is to fight any gentleman who is peevish at losing
his money.

“The green-rooms of the theatres even, were the scenes of great doings
in the gaming way, and Miss Bellamy tells us that thousands were
frequently lost there in a night—rings, brooches, watches, professional
wardrobes, and even salaries in advance, being staked and lost as well
as money.

“It was in vain that essays, satires and sermons were written with a
view to checking this universal vice. Hogarth has depicted it in all its
horrors, whether in the scene where it first leads the idle apprentice
into sin, or in others, where it shows the young rake on the way to
jail. But its dreadful consequences were most forcibly placed before the
eyes of the infatuated town by Edward Moore, in a tragedy, first
performed at Drury Lane in 1753, and entitled the “Gamester.” How did
“the town” receive this lesson? The “New Theatrical Dictionary” says:
“With all its merits, it met with but little success, the general cry
against it being that the distress was too deep to be borne. Yet we are
rather apt to imagine its want of perfect approbation arose in one part,
(and that no inconsiderable one) of the audience from a tenderness of
another kind than that of compassion, and that they were less hurt by
the distress of “Beverly” than by finding their darling vice—their
favorite folly—thus vehemently attacked by the strong lance of reason,
and dramatic execution.”

But gambling in England has never been confined to the aristocracy. If
anything, it has been even more prevalent in the “Lower orders of
society.” The play in the “dens” frequented by them has been less
“heavy,” but none the less ruinous and far more productive of misery and
crime. Such resorts have thrived for centuries in every part of London,
and indeed, in every large English city. Many of them have been known as
“clubs,” as are those of to-day, which the police raid from time to

In these places, as in those more aristocratic, hazard became the
favorite game immediately upon its introduction from Paris, early in the
century, and for a time almost superceded other gambling devices. St.
James street early became the center for aristocratic gambling, and in
no quarter of London were the third and fourth class “hells” so numerous
as in the section surrounding this district. After “Crockford’s” was
established and it became apparent that it was not only prospering under
the protection and patronage of the ennobled and wealthy, but was also
safe from police interference, the gamblers who designed to prey upon
the lower classes were not slow to conclude that nowhere in London would
they be so secure as in the same vicinity. Accordingly, in a short time,
scores of “clubs” sprung up in Leicester Square, the Quadrant, in Regent
street, and between Bennett and Jermyn Streets. The Quadrant was known
as “Devil’s walk,” getting the name because of the half dozen or more
“hells” which flourished on its North side, between the County Fire
offices and Glasshouse street, and because of the hundreds of abandoned
women who promenaded the pavement then, as now, during the closing hours
of the day and far into the night. It was a locality especially
favorable to these “dens.” The throngs of people were greater in its
vicinity at night than in any other part of London. Competition between
the different houses was so sharp that each had its messengers on the
street, mixing with the people, and thrusting into their hands cards of
invitation to their respective resorts. Even the courtesans solicited
for the dens at the time they solicited for themselves.

The Quadrant “clubs” have been the ruin of thousands of young men.
Finally, the scandal became so great and openly offensive that the
public revolted. Some young men turned over the cards of invitation to
their parents, the latter in turn passing the invitations to the police.
With the cards as a clue the authorities began a determined fight upon
the evil, and finally exterminated the infamous resorts. Their doors had
opened readily, day and night, Sundays included. Anyone, no matter how
high or low in degree and circumstances, was welcome, and all were
systematically plucked.

As late as 1844 there were no less than fifteen gambling houses, well
known to the police, in the parishes of St. James’, St. George’s, St.
Ann’s, and St. Martin’s-in-the-fields, besides the rooms of public
houses, billiard rooms and coffee shops, in which gambling was
conducted. These latter, known as “copper halls,” usually accepted the
lowest stakes, down to a penny or a ha’penny, and were patronized mainly
by clerks and servants.

Gambling establishments, pure and simple, and of the lowest order, have
generally “followed the races;” that is, have been opened during race
week in the town where the courses are located—such as Warwick,
Doncaster, etc. Allusion has been made already to the fact that betting
on horse races is a favorite species of gambling in England. That
subject receives due attention in another part of this work. Reference
is proper here, however, to the gambling by those who attend the races.
It was said of Doncaster in 1846: “The Eldorado, or grand source of
income and wealth to the proprietors, arises from the prolific revenue
of the play of gaming tables, of which there are usually six in constant
nightly operation during the racing week. The proprietors of the
Subscription Betting Rooms are not ostensibly connected in the co-
partnership of the banks, or in the business of the tables, but they
are, nevertheless, largely interested in the successful issue of the
week, as will be shown. In the first instance it should be stated that
the sum of £350 or £400 is paid down to them by the party contracting
for the tables, and for the privilege of putting down the banks. This is
all clear profit, paid for in advance, and without any contingency, and
in addition to this large sum so paid, for the mere privilege of finding
capital, there is a stipulation also on the part of the proprietors of
the room, that they shall receive a considerable part or share of the
clear profits or gains of the week, accruing from the tables, and this
without the risk of a single shilling by them under any unlooked-for
reverse of fortune.”

Doncaster, at an earlier period, often harbored fully thirty or forty
gambling establishments during race week, which were conducted in the
most open manner. Men were stationed in front to hand to passers by
cards bearing such inscriptions as, “Roulette, £1,000 in the bank.” A
former magistrate of Warwick certified that once during the races nearly
every house in a certain street was utilized for gambling purposes, and
that the windows were wide open so that those who were passing could see
what was transpiring within. Though the sporting gentry had usually to
pay large fees for the privilege of running race week “hells,” they
could well afford to do so in view of their enormous profits. The games
usual at such places were roulette and hazard. Both French and English
hazard were in favor, the latter to accommodate the older generation of
“sports,” with whom it was a favorite. French hazard is a quiet game;
English hazard a noisy one. In the former, the players have simply to
place their stakes in particular positions on the table; as they wish to
bet, and await the result of the cast. They need not utter a word. At
the English game, on the contrary, every player is usually shouting at
the top of his voice, and the scene is not unlike that in the wheat pit
of a Board of Trade or in the Stock Exchange in New York. “The caster’s
in for five pounds!” “done;” “I’ll bet fifteen to ten!” “What’s the main
and chance?” “Seven to five;” “I’ll take on doublets!” “The caster
throws before the five for ten pounds.” These are samples of the
exclamations made by those who are offering and taking bets. The players
in the English game bet against each other and not against the banks as
in the French game. Wranglings, disputes and hot words are frequent,
owing to misunderstandings and the efforts of sharpers to impose upon
those whom they take to be inexperienced and susceptible to bravado.

An English hazard game is superintended by a “groom-porter,” as he is
called, who presides at the table to regulate the bets made between the
“caster,” or thrower of the dice, and the “setter,” or person opposed to
him. The proprietor does not get a percentage of the money staked as in
the French game, but derives his profit from a stipulated amount from
all the players who are fortunate enough to throw on three mains, or win
three times successively. Such winnings, it has been estimated, occur
eight times an hour. Accordingly the proprietor gets about $40 an hour
for each table, or $400 a night on the basis of ten hours. Of course,
the amount varies with the number engaged in playing. But the amount,
whatever it is, is clear profit, for the use of the table only is
involved. The “groom porter” has very arduous duties to perform, and
must, of necessity, be quick and determined, in order to keep track of
all the bets made and to defeat the frequent attempts at fraud by knaves
and scoundrels who sometimes stake less than their proportion, or
endeavor to escape their “obligations.”(?) In return for this protective
vigilance he receives a gratuity of a guinea or more from every one who
throws six mains, or wins six times successively. When betting is large
his “doucers” are generally increased, and sometimes he receives as much
as five or ten pounds.

In these “dens” the roulette tables are usually more numerous than those
devoted to hazard, and they prove more remunerative to the proprietors,
as the percentage against the players is about five and a half, or more
than three times what it is in hazard. The profits during race week
averaged, some times, £2,500 each.

Of the low gambling resorts in London, early in this century, Fraser’s
Magazine, of August 1833, gives this interesting account: “On an
average, during the last twenty years, about thirty ‘hells’ have been
regularly open in London for the accommodation of the lowest and most
vile set of hazard players. The game of hazard is the principal one
played at the low houses, and is, like the characters who play it, the
most desperate and ruinous of all games. The wretched men who follow
this play are partial to it, because it gives a chance, from a run of
good luck, to become possessed speedily of all the money on the table.
No man who plays hazard ever despairs making his fortune at some time.
Such is the nature of this destructive game, that I can now point out
several men, whom you see daily, who were in rags and wretchedness on
Monday, and, before the termination of the week, they rode in a newly
purchased stanhope of their own, having several thousand pounds in their
possession. The few instances of such success, which unfortunately
occur, are generally well-known, and consequently encourage the hopes of
others who nightly attend these places, sacrificing all considerations
of life to the carrying their all (if it be only a few shillings) every
twenty-four hours to stake in this great lottery, under the delusive
hope of catching Dame Fortune at some time in a merry mood. Thousands
annually fall, in health, fame and fortune, by this mad infatuation,
while not one in a thousand finds an oasis in the desert. The inferior
houses of play are always situated in obscure courts, or other places of
retirement, and most frequently are kept shut up during the day, as well
as at night, as if unoccupied; or some appearance of trade is carried on
as a blind. A back room is selected for all operations, if one can be
secured sufficiently capacious for the accommodation of forty or fifty
persons at one time. In the centre of the room is fixed a substantial
circular table, immovable to any power of pressure against it by the
company who go to play, a circle of inlaid white hollywood is formed in
the middle of the table, of about four feet diameter, and a lamp is
suspended immediately over this ring. A man, designated the “groom
porter,” is mounted on a stool, with a stick in his hand, having a
transverse piece of wood affixed at its end, which is used by him to
rake in the dice, after having been thrown out of the box by the caster,
(the person who throws the dice). The avowed profits of keeping a table
of this kind is the receipt of a piece for each box-hand—that is, when a
player wins three times successively, he pays a certain sum to the
table, and there is an aperture in the table made to receive these
contributions. At the minor establishments, the price of a box-hand
varies from one shilling to half-a-crown, according to the terms on
which the house is known to be originally opened. If there is much play,
these payments produce ample profits to the keeper of the house, but
their remuneration for running the risk of keeping an unlawful table of
play, is plunder. At all these houses, as at the better ones, there is
always a set of men who hang about the table like sharks for prey,
waiting for those who stay late, or are inebriated, and come in towards
morning to play when there are but few lookers-on. Unfair means are then
resorted to with impunity, and all share the plunder. About eleven
o’clock, when all honest and regular persons are preparing for rest, the
play commences, the adventurers being seated around the table, one takes
the box of dice, putting what he is disposed to play for into the ring
marked on the table, as soon as it is covered with a like sum, or ‘set,’
as it is termed, by another person, the player calls ‘a main,’ and at
the same moment throws the dice, if the call comes up, the caster wins,
but if any other ‘main’ comes uppermost on the dice, the thrower takes
that chance for his own, and his adversary has the one he calls, the
throwing then continues, during which bets are made by others, on the
event, until it is decided. If the caster throws deuces or aces, when he
first calls ‘a main,’ it is said to be ‘crabbed,’ and he loses, but if
he throws the number named, he is said to have ‘nicked it,’ and thereby
wins. Also, if he should call six or eight, and throws double sizes, he
wins, or if seven be the number called, and eleven is thrown, it is a
‘nick,’ because those chances are ‘nicks’ to these ‘mains,’ which
regulation is necessary to the equalization of all the chances at this
game when calling a ‘main.’

“The odds against any number being thrown against another number varies
from two to one, to six to five, and consequently keeps all the table
engaged in betting. All bets are staked, and the noise occasioned by
proposing and accepting wagers is most uproarious and deafening among
the low players, each having one eye on the black spots marked on the
dice, as they land from the box, and the other on the stake, ready to
snatch it if successful. To prevent the noise being heard in the street,
shutters closely fitted to the window frames are affixed, which are
padded and covered with green baize. There is also invariably an inner
door placed in the passage, having an aperture in it, through which all
who enter the door from the street may be viewed. This precaution
answers two purposes, it deadens the sound of the noisy voices at the
table, and prevents surprise by the officer of justice. The generality
of the minor houses are kept by prize fighters, and other desperate
characters, who bully and hector the more timid out of their money, by
deciding that bets have been lost when in fact they have been won.
Bread, cheese, and beer are supplied to the players, and a glass of gin
is handed when called for, gratis. To these places thieves resort, and
such other loose characters as are lost to every feeling of honesty and
shame. A table of this nature in full operation is a terrific sight, all
the bad passions appertaining to the vicious propensities of mankind are
portrayed on the countenances of the players. An assembly of the most
horrible demons could not exhibit a more appalling effect, recklessness
and desperation overshadow every noble trait, which should enlighten the
countenance of a human being. Many, in their desperation, stripped
themselves on the spot of their clothes, either to stake against money,
or to pledge to the table-keeper for a trifle to renew the play, and
many instances occur of men going home half naked, after having lost
their all. They assemble in parties of from forty to fifty persons, who
probably bring on an average each night of from one to twenty shillings
to play with. As the money is lost the players depart, if they can not
borrow or beg more, and this goes on some times in the winter season for
fourteen or sixteen hours in succession, so that from 100 to 150 persons
may be calculated to visit one gambling table in the course of a night;
and it not unfrequently happens that, ultimately, all the money brought
to the table gets into the hands of one or two of the most fortunate
adventurers, save that which is paid to the table for box-hands, whilst
the losers separate, only to devise plans by which a few more shilling
may be secured for the next night’s play.

“Every man so engaged is destined either to become by success a more
finished and mischievous gambler, or to appear at the bar of the ‘Old
Bailey’ where, indeed, most of them may be said to have figured already.

“The successful players, by degrees, improve their external appearance,
and obtain admittance to the houses of higher play, where 2s. 6d., or
3s. 4d. is demanded for box-hands. At these places silver counters are
used, representing the aliquot parts of a pound; these are called
‘pieces,’ one of which is a box-hand.

“If success attends them, in the first step of advancement, they next
become initiated into pound-houses, and associate with gamblers of
respectable exterior, where, if they show talent, they either become
confederates in forming schemes of plunder, and in aiding establishments
to carry on their concerns in defiance of the law, or fall back to their
old station of playing chicken-hazard, as the small play is designated.

“The half-crown, or third rate houses, are not less mischievious than
the lower ones. These houses are chiefly opened at the west end of the
town, but there are some few at the east. In the parish of St. James, I
have counted seven, eight and nine, in one street, which were open both
day and night.

“One house in Oxenden street, Coventry, had an uninterrupted run of
sixteen or seventeen years. Thousands have been ruined there, while
every proprietor amassed a large fortune. The man who first opened the
house (G. S.) has resided at Kentish Town for years past, in ease and
affluence, keeping his servants and horses, although he rose from the
lowest of the low.

“Several others who have followed him have had equal success. The
watchmen and Bow street officers were kept in regular pay, and the law
openly and expressly set at defiance, cards being handed about, on which
were written these words: ‘Note, the house is insured against all legal
interruptions, and the players are guaranteed to be as free from
officious interruptions as they are at their own homes.’

“At another of these medium houses, known by the numerals ‘77,’ the
proprietor, (a broken down Irish publican, formerly residing in the
parish of St. Anne’s) accumulated in two years so much money that he
became a large builder of houses and assembly rooms at Cheltenham, where
he was at one time considered the most important man of the place,
although he continued his calling to the day of his death. ‘Alas! J. D.
K., hadst thou remained on earth thou wouldst ere this have been honored
with the title of Grand Master of all the Blarney Clubs throughout the
United Kingdom. Many a coroner hast thou found employ, and many a guinea
hast thou brought into their purses, and many a family hast thou cast
into the depths of sorrow.’ So runs the world. Fools are the natural
prey of knaves, nature designed them so, when she made lambs for wolves.
The laws that fear and policy framed, nature disclaims; she knows but
two, and those are force and cunning. The nobler law is force, but then
there’s danger in’t; while cunning, like a skillful miner, works safely
and unseen.

“The subject of these remarks was not only subtle, wily, and in some
measure fascinating, but most athletic and active in person. He was part
proprietor of No. —, Pall Mall, for many years, where he would himself
play for heavy stakes. And it was a favorite hobby of his to go into St.
James’ Square, after having been up all night, to jump over the iron
railings and back again, from the enclosure to the paved way.

“The average number of these third-rate houses in London, open for play,
may be calculated at about twenty-five. If there were not a constant
influx of tyro-gamblers this number would not be supported. Their agents
stroll about the town, visiting public house parlors, and houses where
cribbage-players resort, whist clubs, also billiard and bagatelle
tables, experience having taught them that the man who plays at one
game, if the opportunity be afforded him, is ever ready to plunge deeper
into the vice of gambling on a large scale. Junior clerks, and the upper
class of gentlemen’s servants are the men whom they chiefly attack.

“It is an extraordinary and uncomfortable fact that no set of men are
more open to seduction than the servants of the nobility, and the
menials of club-houses, an instance of which occurred a few months
since, in the case of a servant of the Athenæum Club, who was inveigled
into a house in the Quadrant, where he lost, in two or three days, a
considerable sum of money belonging to his employers.

“The sum annually lost by the servants of the present day may reasonably
be laid at one million and a half sterling. At most of the middle class
gambling houses, play is going on from three o’clock, p. m. to five or
six o’clock a. m. In the afternoon, from three to seven, it is called
morning play, being generally rouge-et-noir or roulette.

“As soon as the proprietor of a ‘crown-house’ amasses money enough to
appear on the turf, and becomes known at Tattersall’s as a speculator on
horse-racing, he is dubbed a gentleman. Associating now with another
class of men, a high ambitious spirit prompts him to open a superior
house of play, where the upper class of gamblers and young nobility may
not be ashamed of meeting together. All petty players are excluded. When
he has accomplished his object he deems himself in the high road for the
acquirement of a splendid fortune, being now master of a concern where
money and estate are as regularly bought and sold as any commodity in a
public market; one man of fashion betraying another—the most intimate
and bosom friends colleaguing with these monsters for the purpose of
sacrificing each other to the god Plutus, instances of which occur in
this viciated town as often as the sun rises and sets.

“It might be thought invidious to mention names by innuendo, but every
man of the world, or rather of the London world (which comprehends some
thousand swindlers intermingled with the same number of nobility and
gentry), must have a knowledge of those characters who have elevated
themselves from the lowest state in society by gambling, to associate on
terms of equality with nobles. One married his daughters to peers of the
realm, and was treated with respect daily at the table of those who
enact laws for the punishment of swindlers, and also of bishops who
expatiate daily against all kinds of vice, including that of gambling,
and the sin of countenancing those who promote it. Another, whose
confederate was executed for poisoning horses, to secure for himself and
his honorable employer a large sum of money, now stalks through the
halls of our proud Norman, but too susceptible aristocracy, with as much
freedom and nonchalance as one who could trace his ancestry back to
William the Conqueror, and was possessed of a pure and unblemished
reputation. When the history of this individual and that of six others,
who, to use their own phraseology, have rowed through life together in
the same boat, are before the world, scenes will be developed which will
stand as beacons to warn future generations against coming in contact
with such characters.

“In accordance with the reigning spirit of the day, such persons having
acquired money, no matter how, rank as gentlemen, and are qualified to
sit at the tables of the nobility. The company of fashionable or club
society is that of black-legs, and it would not be difficult for me to
name from twenty to thirty individuals at this moment who associate
with, and move among, persons of high life, who were, but a few years
back, in low vice and penury, and who have possessed themselves of a sum
of money certainly not less than from eight to nine millions sterling.

“Again, there are hundreds of others who have amassed from ten to twenty
thousand pounds each. Add to these the two or three thousand who
annually make smaller sums of money, or manage to keep themselves and
families in comfortable style by ‘hokey-pokey’ gambling ways, as Brother
Jonathan would say, some estimate may be made of the evil occasioned to
society by the movements of these men in it.”

One of the most deplorable phases of gambling in England is that women
have figured prominently. Incredible as it may seem, numerous instances
are recorded where the honor of wives and daughters has been staked in
the desperation of cowardly men. It may be believed that this occurred
only when all else had been swept away, and by persons from whom every
vestige of manhood had departed. Ethiopians, it is said, have been known
to gamble away their wives and children, and Schouten tells of a
Chinaman who lost his family in this manner. A similar story is told of
a Venetian, by Paschasius Justus, and in the wicked Paris of Louis XV,
debauched nobles played at dice for the favor of a notorious courtesan.

English literature contains many allusions to women gamblers. So far did
ladies of fashion carry the vice that certain nights for meeting were
set apart in their private mansions, at which young and old, married and
single, played with a desperation that must have made their husbands and
fathers tremble. Professionals, whose morals were not above reproach,
were engaged to conduct the games, and thus the women were thrown into
association with bad characters, and their names and reputations bandied
about in the mouths of the sporting gentry of London.

In 1820, James Lloyd, a harpy who practiced on the credulity of the
lower orders by keeping an illegal lottery, was arrested for the
twentieth time to answer for the offense. Lloyd was a Methodist
preacher, and on Sundays expounded the gospel to his neighbors; the
remainder of the week he instructed them in the gambling vice.

“In the same years,” says a writer of the time, “parties of young
persons robbed their masters to play at a certain establishment called
‘Morley’s Gambling House,’ in the city of London, and were there ruined.
Some were brought to justice at the Old Bailey, others in the madness
caused by their losses, destroyed themselves while some escaped to other

To the games of faro, hazard, macao, doodle-doo and rouge-et-noir, at
this time, more than to horse-racing, may be ascribed the ruin of many
London merchants who once possessed fortunes and prosperous business.
Thousands upon thousands were thus ruined in the vicinity of St. James;
but this was not confined to youths of fortune only, but to decent and
respectable merchants, who were engulfed in its vortex.

Of the “South Sea Bubble,” a writer in the _Eclectic Magazine_ for May,
1885, says: “If not the earliest, at least the most remarkable instance
of this national spirit of gambling displayed itself in the last
century, and was the infatuation which led all classes to commit
themselves to the alluring prospects held out to them by the South Sea
Company. The public creditor was offered six per cent. interest, and a
participation in the profits of a new trading company, incorporated
under the style of ‘The Governor and Company of Merchants of Great
Britain trading to the South Seas and other parts of America.’ But,
whatever chances of success this company might have had, were soon
dispersed by the breaking out of the war with Spain, in 1718, which
rendered it necessary for the concoctors of the scheme to circulate the
most exaggerated reports, falsify their books, bribe members of the
government, and resort to every fraudulent means, for the purpose of
propping up their tottering creation. Wonderful discoveries of valuable
resources were trumped up, and, by the mystery which they contrived to
throw around the whole concern, people’s curiosity was excited, and a
general, but vague impression got abroad that one of the South Sea
Company’s bonds was talismanic, and there was no reckoning the amount of
profit it would bring to the fortunate possessor. The smallest result
expected from the enterprise was that in twenty-six years it would pay
off the entire amount of the National debt.

“How it was to be done no one knew, or cared to inquire, it was
sufficient to know that it was to be done. Trade and business of all
kinds was suspended, every pursuit and calling neglected, and the
interest of the whole nation absorbed by this enchanting dream. Money
was realized in every way, and at every sacrifice and risk, to be made
available in the purchase of South Sea stock, which rose in price with
the demand from £150 to £325. Fresh speculators came pouring in, and the
price went up to £1,000. This was at the latter end of July, but alas, a
whisper went forth that there was something wrong with the South Sea
Company. The chairman, Sir John Blunt, and some of the directors had
sold their shares. There was a screw loose somewhere, and on the 2nd of
September it was quoted at £700. An attempt to allay the panic was made
by the directors, who called a meeting on the 8th, at Merchant Tailors’
Hall, but in the evening it fell to £640, and next day stood at £540.
The fever had been succeeded by a shivering fit, and it was rapidly
running down to zero. In this emergency, the king, who was at Hanover,
was sent for, and Sir Robert Walpole called in, when the case was
desperate. He endeavored to persuade the Bank of England to circulate
the company’s bonds, but in vain. The stock fell to £135, and the bubble
burst. The duration of this public delirium, as Smallett has truly
called it, may be estimated when we state that the bill enabling the
company to raise the subscription received the royal assent on the 7th
of April, 1720, with the stock at £150; that the price subsequently ran
up to £1,000; and that, on the 27th day of September it had again sunk
to £150, and the delusion was over, and the nation in a state of panic,
with public credit shaken to its center. Investigations were now made
into the conduct of the managers of this marvelous fraud. A bill was
first passed through parliament to prevent the escape of the directors
from the kingdom, and then a Committee of Secrecy appointed to examine
into their accounts. It then came out that the books had been destroyed,
or concealed, entries erased and altered, and accounts falsified; that
the king’s mistress, even, the Duchess of Kendal, had received stock to
the amount of £10,000; another favorite, the Countess of Platen,
£10,000; Mr. Aislabie, Chancellor of the Exchequer, £70,000; Mr. Graggs,
father of the Secretary of State, £659,000; the Duke of Sutherland,
£160,000; Mr. Graggs, Jr., £30,000; and Mr. Charles Stanhope, Secretary
of the Treasury, two amounts, one of £10,000, and another of £47,000.
The manner in which these worthies, who were in the secret, could
anticipate and influence the markets, is obvious. Poor Gay had received
an allotment of stock from Mr. Secretary Graggs which was at one time
worth £20,000, but he clung fast to the bubble, refused to sell at that
price, and waited till it was worthless, when he found himself hugging
the shadow of a fortune. The amount of the company’s stock, at the time
of the inquiry, was found to be £37,800,000, of which £24,500,000
belonged to individual proprietors. As some compensation to these rash
and ruined speculators, the estates of the directors were confiscated.
Sir George Caswell was expelled from the House of Commons, and made to
disgorge £250,000; Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was
expelled, and committed to the Tower; Sir John Blunt, the chairman, was
stripped of all but £5,000, and the excitement and popular resentment
was so intense that it is marvelous that they escaped with their lives.

“The South Sea frenzy was not sufficient to engross the gambling spirit
that it had generated, simultaneously there oozed up a crowd of smaller
bubbles, of which Malcom counted 156. The titles to some of them were
sufficient to illustrate the madness which had seized upon the nation.
There were companies for carrying on the undertaking business and
furnishing funerals, capital £1,200,000 at the ‘Fleece Tavern’ (ominous
sign,) Cornhill; for discounting pensions, 2,000 shares at the Globe
Tavern; for preventing and suppressing thieves, and insuring all
persons’ goods from the same (?), capital £2,000,000, at Cooper’s; for
making Joppa and Castile soap, at the Castile Tavern; for sweeping the
streets, for maintaining bastard children; for improving gardens and
raising fruit trees, at Carraway’s, for insuring horses against natural
death, accident or theft, at the Brown Tavern, Smithfield, another at
Robin’s, of the same nature, capital £2,000,000; for introducing the
breed of asses; an insurance company against the thefts of servants,
3,000 shares of £1,000 each, at the Devil Tavern; for perpetual motion,
by means of a wheel moving by force of its own weight, capital
£1,000,000 at the Ship Tavern,” etc., etc. The Prince of Wales became
governor of a Welsh Copper Company. The Duke of Chandos was Chairman of
the York Building Company, and of another Company for building houses in
London and Westminster.

“Many of these speculators were jealously prosecuted by the South Sea
Company, but they all succeeded, in a greater or less degree, in
spreading the general panic. The amount of capital proposed to be raised
by these countless schemes was three hundred million sterling—exceeding
the value of all the lands in England. The most amusing instance of the
blind credulity of the public was in the success which attended one wary
projector, who, well knowing the value of mystery, published the
following proposal:

“‘This day, the 28th inst., at Sam’s Coffee-house, behind the Royal
Exchange, at three in the afternoon, a book will be opened for entering
into a joint co-partnership for carrying on a thing that will turn to
the advantage of all concerned.’

“The particulars of this notable scheme were not to be revealed for a
month, and, ‘in the meantime’ says Smallet, he declared that every
person paying two guineas should be entitled to a subscription of one
hundred pounds, which would produce that sum yearly.’ In the forenoon,
the adventurer received a thousand of these subscriptions, and, in the
evening, set out for another kingdom.

“Some curious satires on these several schemes are preserved in the
British Museum, in the shape of a book of playing-cards. Thus, one is a
caricature of York-buildings, with the following lines beneath it:

           ‘You that are blessed with wealth by your Creator,
             And want to drown you money in Thames water,
           Buy but York-buildings, and the cistern there
             Will sink more pence than any fool can spare.’

“A ship-building company is thus ridiculed:

        ‘Who but a nest of blockheads to their cost
          Would build new ships for freight when trade is lost?
        To raise fresh barques must surely be amusing,
          When hundreds rot in dock for want of using.’

“The Pennsylvania Land Company comes in for a share of the satire:

          ‘Come, all ye saints, that would for little buy
            Great tracts of land, and care not where they lie,
          Deal with your Quaking friends—They’re men of light,
            The spirit hates deceit and scorns to bite.’

“The Company for the insurance of horses’ lives against death, or
accident, is thus dealt with:

            ‘You that keep horses to preserve your ease,
              And pads to please your wives and mistresses,
            Insure their lives, and, if they die we’ll make
              Full satisfaction—or be bound to break.’

“Smallett gives us a more dismal picture. ‘The whole nation,’ he says,
‘was infested with a spirit of stock-jobbing, to an astonishing degree.
All distinctions of party, religion, sex, character, and circumstances
were swallowed up. Exchange-alley was filled with a strange concourse of
statesmen and clergymen, churchmen and dissenters, Whigs, and Tories,
physicians, lawyers, tradesmen, and even with females. All other
professions and employments were utterly neglected.’

“It is not to be wondered at that various lottery schemes were started
and prospered immensely at a time when the public mind was in the state
indicated above. They were launched by the State, by private companies
and by individuals. These institutions played no small part in the
general debasement of the public mind and the ruin of fortunes and
families.” This will appear more fully in the treatment accorded to
lotteries elsewhere in this book.

The history of anti gambling legislation in England, and the various
efforts which have been made to suppress or regulate the vice forms an
interesting phase of the subject, and also suggests how the evil was
regarded from time to time in the public mind. The earliest legislation
on the subject appears to have been based on the idea, not that gambling
was immoral and degrading, but that it interfered with the usefulness of
servants and employes, induced idleness, and diverted attention from
archery. “The first statute (12 R. 2, c. 6) in England (1388)
prohibiting gambling, applied only to servants of husbandry, artificers,
and victuallers—not to servants of gentlemen—and commanded such to
refrain from ‘hand and foot ball, quoits, dice, throwing of stone
kayles, and such other importune games.’ The next statute (1409)
enforced the above, with a penalty of six days imprisonment for such
offence. The next act (17 Ed. 4, c. 3, 1477,) after naming in a preamble
the foregoing games, says, ‘Contrary to such laws, games called kayles,
half-bowles, hand-in-hand-out, and queckeborde, from day to day are used
in divers parts of the land,’ then provides that no occupier or master
of a house shall voluntarily permit any prohibited person to play at any
such game in said house, under pain of three years’ imprisonment and
forfeiture of £20 for each offense. No prohibited person could play
under pain of two years’ imprisonment and £10 default. Another act (11
H. 7, c. 2, 1494,) provided that no artificer, laborer or servant should
play any unlawful game except at Christmas, while the law (19 H. 7, c,
12) of 1503, absolutely prohibited certain persons named therein from
playing at any game. In 1511, (3 H. 8, c. 3) unlawful games were again
prohibited, and a still more stringent law enacted in 1535 (22 H. 8, c.

“In 1541, (33 H. 8, c. 25) the manufacturers and dealers in archery
petitioned Parliament to prohibit all games and enforce the practice of
archery. Accordingly, in 1542, a most stringent act was passed, obliging
all able-bodied men, between the ages of 17 and 60 years, except
ministers and judges, to own bows and arrows, and to practice with the
same. Masters were required to see that their servants were provided
with bows and arrows and instructed in their use; if not provided, the
master must furnish the same, and was empowered to deduct the price from
the servant’s wages. This act repeals all other laws concerning gaming,
and then prohibits the keeping of any ‘common house, or place of
bowling, coytinge, cloyshe, cayles, half-bowle, tannys, dysing table, or
cardianage, or any other unlawful new game hereafter to be invented,’
under a penalty of 40s. for each offense. Magistrates, sheriffs,
bailiffs, constables, and head officers of cities, boroughs and towns,
were required and authorized to enter all such places, at any time, and
arrest offenders; they must also search at least once a month to
discover such places, and suppress the same under a monthly penalty of
40s. for every default.”

Section 16, of this act then provided that “No manner of artificer,
craftsman, husbandman, apprentice, laborer, servant at husbandry,
journeyman, or servant of artificer, mariner, fisherman, waterman, or
servingman shall play at the tables, tennis, dice, cards, bowles, clash,
coyting, logating, or any other unlawful game, out of Christmas, under
pain of 20s. for each offense.” At Christmas, this class could play only
in their master’s house or presence. This act made no game in itself
unlawful. It only became unlawful by being used by certain persons at
certain times, or certain places. The keeping of a common gambling house
for any unlawful game, for lucre or gain was prohibited, but no game was
made unlawful unless played in such common house. Faro and rouge et noir
were not then considered unlawful games.

In 1745, faro, bassett, ace of hearts, hazard, passage, roly-poly,
roulette, and all games of dice, except backgammon, were prohibited
under a penalty to the “setter-up,” of £200, and £50 fine for players. A
subsequent act repealed so much of the act of 1542 as prohibited
bowling, tennis and other games of mere skill.

Justices of the Peace, at their annual licensing meetings, were
empowered to grant license to persons to keep a room for billiards,
bagatelle-boards, and the like, but these were prohibited between the
hours of 1 and 8 A. M., and on Sundays, Christmas, Good Friday, or any
public feast, or Thanksgiving day. Gambling was not then indictable at
common law. In England, at common law, it was held, “a common gambling
house kept for lucre or gain, was per se a common nuisance, as it tends
to draw together idle and evil-disposed persons, to corrupt their morals
and ruin their fortunes, being the same reasons given in the case of
houses of common prostitution.” (King vs. Rogers and Humphrey.)

The following curious piece of evidence is probably an extract from the
Journal of the House of Lords, although there is no reference to the
subject in the published debates.

             “DIE LUNÆ, 29 DEGREES, APRILIS, 1745—GAMING.”

“A bill for preventing the excessive and deceitful use of it having been
brought from the Commons and proceeded on, so far as to be agreed to in
the committee of the whole house with amendments, information was given
to the house that Mr. Burdus, Chairman of the Quarter Session for the
sitting and liberty of Westminster; Sir Thomas Deveil, and Mr. Lane,
Chairman of the Quarter Session for the County of Middlesex, were at the
door. They were called in and at the bar severally gave an account that
claims of the privilege of peerage were made and insisted on by Ladies
Mordington and Cassilis, in order to intimidate the peace officers from
doing their duty in suppressing the public gaming houses kept by said
ladies. And the said Burdus thereupon delivered the instrument in the
written hand of said Lady Mordington, containing the claim she made of
privilege for her officers and servants employed by her in her said
gambling house; and then they were directed to withdraw, and the said
instrument was read as follows: ‘I, Dame Mary, Baroness of Mordington,
do hold a house in the great plaza Covent Garden for, and as an
assembly, where all persons of credit are at liberty to frequent and
play at such diversions as are used at other assemblies, and I have
hired Joseph Dewbery, William Horsely, Ham Croper, and George Sanders as
my servants or managers under me. I have given them orders to direct the
management of other inferior servants, namely, John Bright, Richard
Davids, John Hill, John Vandevoren as book-keepers, Gilbert Richardson
as house-keeper; John Chaplin, William Stanley, and Henry Huggins,
servants that wait on the company of the said assembly, and all the
above named persons I claim as my domestic servants, and demand all
those privileges that belong to me as a peeress of Great Britain
pertaining to my said assembly. M. Mordington. Dated, 8th of January,
1744.’ Resolved and declared that no person is entitled to the privilege
of peeress against any prosecution or proceeding for keeping any public
gaming house, or any house, room, or place, for play at any game or
games prohibited by any law now in force.”

In the time of Queen Anne gambling ran riot to such an extent that it
commanded the attention of Parliament, and resulted in the following
act: “Whereas, divers low and dissolute persons live at great expense,
having no visible establishment, profession, or calling to maintain
themselves, but support these expenses by gaming only, it is hereby
enacted that any two justices may cause to be brought before them all
persons within their limits whom they shall have just cause to suspect
of having no visible establishment, profession, or calling, to maintain
themselves by, but do, for the most part, support themselves by gaming;
and if such persons shall not make the contrary appear to such justices,
they are to be bound to their good behavior for a twelve-months, and in
default of sufficient security, to be committed to prison until they can
find the same, and if security be given it will be forfeited on their
betting or playing for—at any one time—more than the value of twenty

This act was further enforced and its deficiencies supplied during the
reign of George I and George II, and the forfeiture under that act could
be recovered in a court of equity; and, moreover, if any man were
convicted, upon information or indictment, of winning or losing, at any
one sitting, ten pounds, or twenty pounds, within twenty-four hours he
forfeited five times that sum. Another statute also inflicted pecuniary
penalties as well upon the master of any public house wherein servants
were permitted to gamble, as upon the servants who were found in the act
of gaming. Nor were the statutes against their masters less severe.
During these reigns the games of faro and hazard were by law declared to
be lotteries, subjecting those persons in whose houses they were played
to the penalty of £200, and all who played at them to that of £50.

The records of Marlborough street police-court show that in 1797
information was laid against Lady Elizabeth Lutterell and others, for
having, on the night of the 30th of January last, played at faro at Lady
Buckingham’s house in St. James square, and a Mr. Martindale, then
living in Broad street, was charged with being the proprietor. The
defendants appeared by their counsel. Witnesses were called to support
this information, whose evidence went to prove that the defendants
charged had a game at their houses by rotation; that is, that they
played at faro, rouge et noir, etc., meeting at different houses upon
certain days of the week; that Mr. Martindale acted as master of the
tables, generally, and that they began to play about eleven or twelve
o’clock at night and continued to play until three or four o’clock in
the morning. Martindale’s penalty was £200 fine, as proprietor of a faro
table, and the Countess of Buckingham, Lady Lutterell and Mrs. Sturt
were fined £50 each for playing. A Mr. Mathias O’Brien was subsequently
brought in. He was also fined for participating in these same games.

In 1817 a prosecution occurred at Brighton which elicited a queer array
of facts, illustrating the gambling methods of that day. A warrant was
sworn out by one William Clarke against William Wright and James Ford,
on the charge of feloniously stealing one hundred pounds. But Clarke did
not appear to prosecute, and when the magistrate issued a warrant to
compel his attendance he hastily decamped. The prisoners were
discharged, but very shortly afterward Wright was summoned before the
magistrate to give evidence in an examination against one Charles
Walker, of the Marine Library, for keeping an unlawful gaming house.
Wright testified that Clarke engaged him about five weeks previously as
a punter, or decoy player, to a game called “noir, rouge, tout les
deux,” and that at the game was a gentleman who lost £125. Clarke asked
witness if he thought the gentleman was rich, and being answered in the
affirmative, told witness to invite the gentleman to dinner, let him
have all the wine he wanted, and to spare no expense to get him drunk.
This was done, and the gentleman returned to play again. As he had
nothing but large bills he was induced to go to London with witness to
change them, witness being enjoined to be sure to bring him back. One of
the firm, which was composed of Clarke, O’Mara, Pollett and Moreley,
gave the gentleman a letter to certain London Brokers to enable him to
change his bills. On their way back to Brighton witness told the
gentleman that he suspected the firm would substitute a false table
during their absence. However, the gentleman returned to play, and
witness and another decoy named Ford were given £100 each with which to
play and to lead the gentleman on, and if possible to fulfil the
expectations of the firm, which were to fleece the gentleman of five or
six thousand pounds. As they entered the library, Walker accosted them
and wished them better success, but he trembled visibly and seemed ill
at ease. The game was carried on in a room over the library, for which
the firm paid rent of twelve guineas a week. As the gentleman ascended
the stairs a porter locked the door, by Walker’s order, and when he came
into the gaming room he became alarmed at the appearance of the men
there, and hastily descending the stairs and giving a plausible excuse
to the porter, was allowed to pass out and thus escaped. Witness had not
returned the £100 to Clarke, and it was on that account that Clarke had
sworn out a warrant against him. Afterward Clarke had visited him and
offered him £100 if he would not tell what he knew to the magistrate.

Ford and the gentleman substantiated Wright’s testimony, and the latter
said that he went to Walker and demanded back the £125 which he had been
cheated out of at play at the start. Walker was very much confused and
nervous, and finally offered to return £100 of the sum, which offer was
refused; and thereupon he laid the whole matter before the magistrate.
Walker was found guilty and sentenced to several years imprisonment.

Messrs. Houlditch, the coach makers of Long Acre, had a traveling
salesman whom they sent to the Continent to dispose of their goods. Like
thousands of other employes, holding responsible positions of trust, he
fell a victim to the vice of gambling, and soon found himself a
defaulter and reduced to the utmost desperation. While in this frame of
mind he wrote the following letter to his employer, which was read in
subsequent court proceedings, and is given here to illustrate how
frightfully ruinous the passion for play becomes when once it gains
possession of a young man. The letter reads:

  “_Sir_:—The errors into which I have fallen have made me so hate
  myself that I have adopted the horrible resolution of destroying
  myself. I am sensible of the crime I commit against God, my family and
  society, but have not courage to live dishonored. The generous
  confidence you placed in me I have basely violated. I have robbed you,
  and though not to enrich myself, the consciousness of it destroys me.
  Bankruptcy, poverty, beggary and want I could bear—conscious integrity
  would support me; but the ill-fated acquaintance I formed led me to
  those earthly hells, gambling houses, and then commenced my villainies
  and deceptions to you. My losses were not large at first, and the
  stories that were told me of gain made me hope they would soon be
  recovered. At this period I received the order to go to Vienna, and,
  on settling at the hotel, I found my debts trebled what I had
  expected. I was in consequence compelled to leave the two carriages as
  a guarantee for part of the debt, which I had not in my power to
  discharge. I had hoped success at Vienna would enable me to reinstate
  all to you, but disappointment blasted every hope, and despair, on my
  return to Paris, began to generate the fatal resolution which, at the
  moment you read this, will have matured itself to consummation. I feel
  that my reputation is blasted, no way left of reimbursing the money
  wasted, your confidence in me totally destroyed, and nothing left to
  me but to see my wife and children and die. Affection for them holds
  me in existence a little longer. The gaming table again presented
  itself to my imagination as the only possible means of extricating
  myself. Count Montoni’s 3,000 francs, which I received before you came
  to Paris, furnished me the means—my death speaks the result.”

The legal aspects of gambling in London early in this century are well
treated in an article in Fraser’s Magazine for August, 1833, which says:
“The officers of justice are regularly kept in the pay of the
proprietors of the gaming houses, through whom timely notice is always
given of any information laid against the establishment, and the
intended attack guarded against. If this be doubted the same can be
attested on oath, and otherwise proved beyond disputation. The expense
of some of the gaming houses in London during the season (seven months)
exceed £10,000. What, then, must be the gains to support this advance
and profusion of property? Elegant houses are superbly fitted up, the
most delicate viands and the choicest wines, with every other luxury,
are provided to lure and detain those for whom the proprietors’ nets are
spread. It is almost an impossibility to convict these wicked men under
the present law; their enormous wealth is applied to the corruption of
evidence, always unwilling, because the witnesses expose their own
habits and culpability in attending these notorious dens of infamy. The
sleeping partners are ever ready to advance money to oppose
prosecutions, and often come forward to give evidence in opposition to
the witnesses’ and to blacken the character of those who offer their
testimony. Then there is always money to support those who may chance,
once in ten years, to be convicted. Many practicing attorneys, too, are
connected with these establishments, who threaten to prosecute for
conspiracies, and not unfrequently, fictitious debts are sworn to, and
arrests for large amounts made, to keep witnesses from appearing at
court on the day of trial. One professional man in the parish of St.
Anne has, to my knowledge, supported himself for thirty-five years by
lending himself in this way to the middle-rate gambling houses, at the
west end of town. His method is either to suborn or intimidate the
parties, by threatening to indict them for perjury or otherwise
persecute them to utter destruction.

“When it is considered that those who are competent to give evidence
calculated to produce convictions well know the characters with whom
they have to contend, and the phalanx of scoundrels there is always
arrayed against them, it is not to be wondered at that they should be
deterred from coming forward at the last moment, when even their persons
are not free from danger, particularly as all minacious tricks are
backed with a bribe, thus bringing fear and interest to bear against
their antagonists. As every one who comes forward to give evidence
against a gambling house must himself have been a participator in the
offence of play, no man who has been the cause of a conviction has ever
yet escaped ruin; no matter the motive which influenced him, whether it
be remorse, pique, or public good, the conspiracy against him will be so
powerful and ramified, through the leading men’s numerous emissaries and
dependants, that his future course in life will be tracked, and his
character blasted in every neighborhood where he may take up his abode.
In one instance a young man who had laid information against a house,
although no conviction followed, was hunted out of no fewer than eight
situations. The clique of gamblers he had made his enemies contrived to
find out in whose employ he was engaged, and then daily assailed his
master with anonymous letters, defaming the young man’s character to
such a degree that few could well retain him in their service,
especially as the fact of having himself gambled at a public table could
never be gotten rid of.

“When all other means of deterring a witness are exhausted, personal
threats are used by ruffians, who are employed to cross him in whatever
public company he may join, seeking every occasion to insult and quarrel
with him until he is intimidated, and all other would-be witnesses,
through fear of similar persecution, are prevented from offering any
obstruction to their establishments.

“By these confederacies, backed as they are with enormous capital,
notwithstanding the existing laws, houses have been kept open for the
indiscriminate mixture of all grades, from the well bred gentlemen, the
finished sharper, the raw and inexperienced flat, to the lowest
description of pickpockets and other wretches of public nuisance, and,
where all the evils the acts of Parliament were intended to annihilate,
have for years past been in full activity. But in no period of our
history have misery, distress—and crime, been so conspicuous, and the
cause so manifestly and decidedly traced to the gambling habit of the
community, as in the present day.

“As before observed, the incompetency of the magistracy, as now armed by
law, to oppose the growing evil, is mainly attributable to the
methodized system of confederacy and partnership concerns, wherein
capitals are embarked by a large number of individuals, who have, (with
a very few exceptions) sprung originally from the very scum of society.
Now suppose one or more magistrates, employed especially as guardians of
the public morality, whose peculiar duty it should be, acting on private
information, to direct their officers to adopt any lawful mode of
obtaining evidence to convict offenders against the law; could anything
be more easy than to send two well-dressed men, under the authority of a
magistrate, into the town with money in their pockets, who might in a
short time, with very little tact, mix with gambling characters, and in
a few weeks have free ingress and egress to all the hells in London, as
amateur players? Nor can the keepers of these places ever by possibility
guard themselves against this mode of attack, as the persons so employed
might always be kept behind the curtain, introducing others of their
friends, who could again, (as many as were needed) continue to introduce
others, until every player and keeper of a gambling house was
identified, and ample testimony for their conviction be prepared, when
the blow might be struck against all in one day, and the fullest penalty
of the law enforced on each offender.”

A writer in Bentley’s Magazine, speaking of the warfare that had been
made on the gambling houses in England in 1838, said: “Hence arose
appeals to the law and indictments against the parties which, in their
success, gave encouragement to similar proceedings by others, and in the
course of time this system was discovered to afford a fine source of
profit to the prosecuting attorneys in the shape of costs, and they
were, in consequence, frequently gotten up by some of the riff-raff of
the profession, in the name of fictitious parties and with the sole view
of extracting from the different houses large sums of money in
settlement of the matter, without proceeding to trial. This was finally
discovered, by the keepers of the houses, and after turning the tables
on the prosecutors, and, indeed, convicting several for perjury,
gambling houses went on again more vigorously than ever.”

The prosecution of gamblers and gambling house-keepers, in London, has
been more thorough during the last quarter of a century than ever before
and in these days there appears to be, on the part of the authorities, a
sincere desire to exterminate the evil of common gambling, so far as
they may be able to effect it. Every week, almost, the police raid one
or more of the “dens,” which, though run solely as gambling resorts,
assume to be “clubs,” in order to increase their chances of being
unmolested. Usually, the proprietors are fined heavily. Yet, these
“hells” resume business, or start up in a new place. The profits are so
large that the proprietors willingly take all risks of being prosecuted.
Gambling is indulged in, in the aristocratic west end clubs, but the
authorities assume to know nothing of it.

The noted Englishmen who were addicted to gambling are very numerous,
and many of the incidents related of them, in connection with the vice,
are most interesting. Sir Arthur Smithouse, once possessed of a very
valuable estate, and considerable ready money, lost everything at play
and died in extreme want. Sir Humphrey Foster lost the greater part of
his possessions, but by a fortunate run of luck, won them back, and
could thereafter never be induced to jeopardize them again. The
celebrated Mr. Hare meeting at Bath one day the well known Major
Brereton, who was an habitual and heavy player, asked how the world went
with him. “Pretty well,” replied Brereton, alluding to his success at
the gaming table, “but I have met with a sad misfortune lately, I have
lost Mrs. Brereton.” “At hazard or quine?” asked Hare. Major Aubrey was
not only a great lover of gaming, but was very skillful. He won and lost
three fortunes at play, and early in his career had the foresight to
place a comfortable annuity for himself beyond danger of being swept
away by any ill run of luck. He once lost £25,000 at billiards. It is
related that he was once heard to say: “Play is like the air we breathe;
if we have it not we die.” His life was a most eventful one. In early
life he went to India, and the ship took fire. He jumped overboard and
floated on a hen coop until picked up by another ship. “I was completely
surrounded by sharks,” he said, “just as I have been ever since.”

Lord Barrymore and Sir John Lade, who had fine estates, lost them to
sharpers. Mathias O’Brien, an ignorant Irish adventurer, yet a very
shrewd man, succeeded in gaining the confidence of the high-born
sportive gentry, of the latter part of the last century, to such an
extent that he dined at the tables of the great, and entertained them at
his own house in return. He boasted that he had at one time sitting
around his table, two princes of the blood, four dukes, three duchesses
and several counts, besides others of distinction of both sexes. One
night he won at picquet £100,000 from a titled gentleman. Knowing
perfectly well that his antagonist could not pay this immense sum, and
suspecting that if he could not pay it all he would not pay any of it,
he purposely allowed him to win back all but £10,000, which amount the
gentleman paid. This incident caused Mr. Hare to give him the name of
“Zenophon O’Brien,” on account of his “retreat with ten thousand.”

Fox, the celebrated statesman, was an inveterate and desperate gambler.
A few evenings before he moved the repeal of the marriage act, in
February, 1772, he went to Brompton on two errands, one to consult
Justice Fielding on the penal laws, and the other to borrow £10,000 with
which to continue his gambling. He was a most skillful whist and picquet
player, and one of his contemporaries said that if he had confined
himself to those games Fox could easily have won £4,000 a year. But he
could not let faro and hazard alone, and he almost invariably lost
heavily. He reduced himself many times to extreme want, and lacked such
small amounts as were necessary to defray little daily expenses of the
most pressing nature. He was often obliged to borrow a few shillings of
the waiters at Brooks’. He had lodgings in St. James street, close by
Brooks’ Club, at which he spent almost every hour that was not devoted
to the House of Commons.

It is said by Lord Tankerville that Fox once played cards with
Fitzpatrick, at Brooks’, from ten o’clock at night until near six
o’clock the next afternoon, a waiter standing by to tell them whose deal
it was, they being too sleepy to know. Fox once won about £8,000, and
one of his bond creditors, who soon heard of his good luck, presented
himself and asked for payment. “Impossible, sir,” replied Fox, “I must
first discharge my debts of honor.” The bond creditor remonstrated.
“Well, sir, give me your bond,” said Fox. The bond was produced and Fox
tore it in pieces and threw it in the fire. “Now, sir,” said Fox, “my
debt to you is a debt of honor,” and immediately paid him. Amidst the
wildest excesses of youth, even while a perpetual victim of his passion
for play, Fox cultivated his taste for letters, especially the Greek and
Roman historians and poets, and he found solace in their works under the
most severe depressions occasioned by ill success at the gaming table.
One morning, after he had passed the whole night with Topham Deauclere
at faro, the two friends were about to separate. Fox had lost throughout
the night, and was in a frame of mind bordering on desperation.
Deauclere’s anxiety for the consequences which might ensue led him to be
early at Fox’s lodging, and on arriving he inquired, not without
apprehension, whether he had risen. The servant replied that Mr. Fox was
in the drawing room. Deauclere walked up stairs and cautiously opened
the door, expecting to find a frantic gamester stretched on the floor
bewailing his losses, or plunged in moody despair, but he was astonished
to find him reading Herodotus. “What would you have me do?” said Fox, “I
have lost my last shilling.” Upon other occasions, upon staking all that
he could raise upon faro, instead of exclaiming against fortune, or
manifesting agitation natural under such circumstances, he would lay his
head upon the table, and retaining his place, but exhausted by mental
and bodily fatigue, almost immediately fall into a profound slumber.

Fox’s love of play was frightful. His best friends are said to have been
half ruined in annuities given by them as securities for him to the
Jews. “£500,000 a year of such annuities of Fox and his estates were
advertised to be sold at one time.” Walpole further notes that in the
debate on the 39 Articles, February 6, 1772, Fox did not shine, nor can
it be wondered at. He had sat up playing at hazard at Almack’s from
Tuesday evening the 4th, until 5 in the afternoon of Wednesday the 5th.
An hour before he had recovered £12,000 that he had lost, and by dinner,
which was at 5 o’clock, he had ended by losing £11,000. On Thursday he
spoke in the above debate, he went to dinner at half past eleven at
night, and from thence to White’s where he drank until seven the next
morning, thence to Almack’s where he won £6,000, and, between three and
four in the afternoon, he set out for Newmarket. His brother Stephen
lost £2,000 two nights afterwards and Charles £10,000 more on the 13th.

Monsieur Chevalier, Captain of the Grenadiers in the first regiment of
foot Guards, in the time of Charles II., was one of the most remarkable
gamesters known in history. He was a native of Normandy, and in his
youth was a page to the Duchess of Orleans. Going to England to seek his
fortune, he soon became an ensign in the first regiment of foot Guards.
He took to gaming and met with such success that he very quickly was
enabled to live in a style far above his station. He once won from a
nobleman a larger sum than the latter could pay down, and upon being
asked for time, granted it in such a courteous and obliging manner that
the nobleman, a fortnight later, wishing to show him that he appreciated
his kindness, went to him and told him that he had a company of foot to
dispose of and that, if it was worth his while, it should be at his
service. Chevalier gladly accepted it, and got his commission signed the
same day, well knowing that it was immensely to his advantage to have a
visible position and income, for without them, one who lives like a
gentleman and makes gaming his sole occupation would naturally be
suspected of not playing merely for diversion, if, indeed he was not
charged with resorting to sharp practices.

“Chevalier once won 20 guineas from ‘Mad Ogle,’ the Life Guardsman, who
understanding that the former had bitten him, called him to account,
demanding his money back, or satisfaction on the field. Chevalier chose
the latter alternative. Ogle fought him in Hyde Park, wounded him in the
sword arm and was returned his money. After this they were always good

It is said that Chevalier was so skillful at “cogging” dice and throwing
that he could chalk a circle the size of a shilling on the table, and
standing a short distance away, could throw a die within it and have it
show an ace, tray, six, or whatever he pleased. Aubrey de Vere, Earl of
Oxford, had a consuming desire to rival Chevalier in dice throwing, but,
though he practiced for days and weeks, Chevalier always worsted him,
and won large amounts from him. Chevalier, it is said, was a thorough
sharper, and knew all the tricks of gaming, such as loaded dice, etc.
Occasionally he was detected, and was obliged to fight several duels to
square the injury done his antagonist. He was severely wounded a number
of times, and got so that he would avoid fighting whenever it was
possible to do so. How he did this on two occasions is thus related:
“Having once ‘choused,’ or cheated a Mr. Levingstone, page of honor to
King James II, out of fifty guineas, the latter gave the captain a
challenge to fight him next day, behind Montague House, a locality long
used for the purpose of duelling. Chevalier seemingly accepted the
challenge, and next morning, Levingstone, going to Chevalier’s lodgings,
and finding him in bed, put him in mind of what he was come about.
Chevalier, with the greatest air of courage imaginable, rose, and having
dressed himself, said to Levingstone, ‘Me must beg de favor of you to
stay a few minutes, sir, while I step into my closet dere, for, as me be
going about one desperate piece of work, it is very requisite for me to
say a small prayer or two.’ Accordingly, Mr. Levingstone consented to
wait whilst Chevalier retired to his closet to pray, but hearing the
conclusion of his prayer to end with these words: ‘Me verily believe
spilling man’s blood is one ver’ great sin, wherefore I hope the saints
will intercede with the virgin for my once killing Monsieur de
Blotieres, at Rochelle; my killing Chevalier de Comminge, at Brest;
killing Major de Tierceville, at Lyons; killing Lieutenant du Marché
Falliere at Paris, with half a dozen other men in France, so, being also
sure of killing him I’m now going to fight, me hope his forcing me to
shed his blood will not be laid to my charge.’ Quoth Levingstone to
himself, ‘and are you then so sure of me? But I’ll engage you sha’nt,
for if you are such a devil at killing men, you shall go and fight
yourself and be ——.’ Whereupon he made what haste he could away, and
shortly Chevalier coming out of the closet and finding Levingstone not
in the room, was very glad of his absence.”

When King James ascended the throne, the Duke of Monmouth raised a
rebellion in the west of England where, in a skirmish between the
Royalists and Rebels, he was shot in the back, and the wound was
believed to be given by one of his own men, to whom he had always been a
most cruel, harsh officer, whilst a captain of the Grenadiers of the
Foot Guard. He was sensible himself of how he came by his misfortune,
for when he was carried to his tent, mortally wounded, and the Duke of
Albermarle came home to visit him, he said to his Grace, “Dis was none
of my foe dot shot me in the back.” “He was none of your friends that
shot you,” the Duke replied. He died a few hours afterwards, and was
buried in a field near Philip Norton Lane, as the old chronicler says,
“Much unlamented by all who knew him.”

Monsieur Germain, born of low parentage in Holland in 1688, is
celebrated for having introduced into the gambling circles of London a
game called Spanish whist, by which those familiar with the tricks of
the game won great amounts. He was also noted for his expertness in
playing ombre, which Pope describes entertainingly in his “Rape of the
Lock.” Germain became intimate with Lady Mary Mordaunt, wife of the Duke
of Norfolk, whom he first met at a private gambling party. The Duke
obtained a divorce from her, in consequence, and thereafter she lived
openly with Germain until her death.

Tom Hughes was a London gambler whose life well illustrated the ups and
downs of the profession. He was born in Dublin and when a young man
became a London sport. He played heavily and skill and good luck enabled
him to win a great deal of money which he spent as fast as he made it,
chiefly at a resort for frail females in the Piazza, Covent Garden. He
was for a time proprietor of E. O. tables, in a house in Pall Mall, kept
by a Dr. Graham, and was often to be found also at Carlisle House, in
Soho Square. He once won £3,000 from a young man, just of age, who made
over to him a landed estate for the amount. Being admitted a member of
the Jockey Club, he was quite prosperous for a time but, his luck
changing, he fell into the clutches of “Old Pope,” the money lender, and
was obliged to give up to him the estate he had won. He fought several
duels over disputes arising at the gaming table and finally died in a
debtor’s cell leaving not enough to pay for his coffin.

It is narrated of Whig Middleton, who was wealthy, handsome and dressed
in extreme fashion, that, after losing a thousand guineas one night, to
Lord Montford, he was asked by the latter, in gambler’s parlance, what
he would do, or would not do, to get home? “My Lord,” said he,
“prescribe your own terms;” “Then” replied Lord Montford, “dress
directly opposite to the fashion for ten years.” Middleton accepted the
terms and lived up to them “dying nine years afterward,” as the narrator
expresses it, “so unfashionably that he did not owe a tradesman a
farthing, left some playing debts unliquidated; and his coat and wig
were of the cut of Queen Anne’s reign.”

Wrothesly, Duke of Bedford, fell amongst a party of sharpers, including
a manager of a theatre and Beau Nash, master of ceremonies, who had
conspired to bleed him. After he had lost £70,000 the Duke rose in a
passion and pocketed the dice, declaring that he intended to inspect
them and see if they were crooked. He then threw himself on a sofa and
fell asleep. The sharpers held a consultation, as to what they had best
do, and it was finally decided that they would cast lots to see who
should pick the Duke’s pocket of the loaded dice and put fair ones in
their place. The lot fell on the theatre manager, and he performed the
feat without being detected. The Duke examined the dice when he awoke
and, being satisfied that they were all right, returned to playing and
lost £30,000 more.

The sharpers had received £5,000 of the money they had won, and when
they came to dividing it got to quarreling. Beau Nash was so
dissatisfied that he went to the Duke and exposed the whole scheme of
robbing him. The Duke believed this was done purely through friendship
and, accordingly, made Nash a handsome present and patronized him ever

Beau Nash, as is well known, was an immense favorite with the
aristocratic society of his time. He was both homely and clumsy, yet his
wit, flattery and fine clothes made him a pet of the ladies. “Wit,
flattery and fine clothes are enough to debauch a nunnery,” he was wont
to say. Nash was a barrister and lived in Middle Temple, where, when
still a young man, he organized and directed the grand “revel and
pageant,”—the last of its sort—upon the accession of King William. This
he did so successfully that the King offered to knight him, which Nash
declined, saying: “Please your Majesty, if you intend to make me a
knight, I wish it may be one of your poor knights of Windsor and then I
shall have a fortune at least able to support my title.”

It is said of Nash, that when he submitted his accounts to the Masters
of the Temple, this item was among them: “For making one man happy,
£10.” Being asked to explain it, Nash said that he overheard a poor man
declare to his wife and large family that £10 would make him happy, and
that he could not resist the temptation to give him the sum. He offered
to refund the money, if the item was not allowed. The Masters, struck
with such good nature, not only allowed the bill but thanked him for his
generosity and doubled the allowance.

Nash became subsequently Master of the Ceremonies, at Bath, then the
popular fashionable summer resort, where he ruled with such undisputable
authority that he was styled “King of Bath.” Gambling was deep and
furious at Bath, and, in consequence of disputes over the table, swords
were frequently resorted to in settling matters. Thereupon Nash
commanded that no swords should be worn at Bath, and the order was
obeyed. Nash’s later years were spent chiefly in gambling in a small
way. He died at Bath, in 1761, and was buried with great ceremony in the
Abbey Church, three clergymen preceding the coffin, aldermen acting as
pall-bearers, the Masters of the Assembly Rooms following as chief
mourners and the streets and housetops being thronged with people
anxious to do honor to him, whom they regarded as “the venerable founder
of the prosperity of the City of Bath.”

Richard Bennett is an example of a gambler, who, through a long life,
enjoyed almost uninterrupted prosperity. He was of the unscrupulous
sort, and rose from being a billiard sharper in Bell Alley, to be
partner in several of the aristocratic “houses” or “clubs” in St. James
street. He brought up and educated a large family. He was finally
indicted for keeping several gaming houses, and sentenced to
imprisonment until he should pay fines aggregating £4,000. He remained
in prison for some time, but managed to effect his release without
paying his fines.

A circumstance almost identical to the one related of the Duke of
Bedford, is told of another noble duke. “The late Duke of Norfolk,” says
the author of “Rouge et Noir,” writing in 1823, “one evening lost the
sum of seventy thousand pounds in a gaming house, on the right side of
St. James street, and, suspecting foul play, he put the dice in his
pocket, and, as was his custom when up late, took a bed in the house.
The blacklegs were all dismayed, until one of the worthies, who is
believed to have been a principal in poisoning the horses at Newmarket,
for which Dan Dawson was hanged, offered, for five thousand pounds, to
go to the Duke’s room with a brace of pistols and a pair of dice, and if
the Duke was awake to shoot him, if asleep to change the dice.
Fortunately for the gang the Duke ‘snored,’ as the agent stated, ‘like a
pig,’ and the dice were changed. His Grace had them broken in the
morning, when, finding them good, he paid the money, and left off

The Earl of March, better known as the Duke of Queensberry, who lived in
the middle of the last century, was one of the most famous and genial
“sports” that England ever produced. He was an adept, not only at all
card games, but also at dice and billiards. And in the mysteries of the
turf, and in all knowledge—practical and theoretical—connected with the
race course, he was perhaps never surpassed. He won 2,000 Louis ($8,000)
once of a German, at billiards, and time and again won thousands of
pounds betting on the races, his intimate knowledge of all horse flesh
and race track conditions giving him advantages which few possessed.

Dennis O’Kelly, if accounts of him may be credited, was a Napoleon of
the turf and the gaming table, devoting his whole time to the former by
day and the latter by night. He was accustomed to carry a great number
of bank notes, crumpled up loosely in his waistcoat pocket. On one
occasion he was seen turning over and over again a great pile of them,
and, being asked what he was doing, replied, “I am looking for a little
one—a fifty or something of that sort, just to set the caster.” At
another time he was standing at play, at the hazard table, when some one
opposite perceived a pickpocket in the act of drawing a couple of notes
from O’Kelly’s pocket. The alarm was given, and many wanted to take the
offender before a magistrate, but O’Kelly seized him by the collar and
kicked him down stairs, exclaiming as he returned: “He’s punished enough
by being deprived of the pleasure of keeping company with gentlemen.” A
large bet was once offered to O’Kelly at the gaming table and accepted,
whereupon the proposer asked him where lay his estates which would be
surety for the amount if he lost. “My estates?” cried O’Kelly, “Oh, if
that’s what you mean, I’ve a map of them here.” And he opened his pocket
book and showed bank notes to ten times the amount of the wager, to
which he soon afterward added the contribution of his opponent.

Dick England, one of O’Kelly’s associates, was also a notorious gambler.
These two and several others plundered a clerk of the Bank of England,
who robbed the bank of an immense sum with which to pay his “debts of
honor.” Dick England and fourteen others once conspired to beat a Jew at
dice, and upon their entry one of them laid a wager of £10, calling
“seven the main.” Six was the cast, whereupon the player with great
effrontery declared that he had called six instead of seven. After the
matter had been disputed for a time, it was agreed to leave it to a
majority of those present, whereupon Dick England and the twelve others
in the conspiracy declared in favor of “six,” and then they went out and
divided the plunder. This same Dick England, with two or three
associates, once made a bold attempt to plunder a rich young man named
D——, from the country, at Scarborough. They got into his company and set
to drinking with a view of getting him drunk so that he could be bled
more easily. They succeeded so well in this that the young man became so
stupidly drunk that he could not play at all. Not to be frustrated,
however, the conspirators played for a short time and then proceeded to
make out three “I. O. U’s.,” two of which read: “D—— owes me eighty
guineas;” and “D—— owes me one hundred guineas;” and the third, which
Dick England had, read, “I owe D—— thirty guineas.” The next day Dick
England and the young man met and the latter apologized for becoming
intoxicated and hoped he had given no offense. Dick assured him that he
had not and then producing the evidence of indebtedness, proceeded to
discharge it by handing the young man thirty guineas. The young man
declared that he had no recollection at all of playing, but finally took
the thirty guineas, and paid Dick a high compliment for acting in such
an honorable manner. Meeting the holders of the other papers shortly
afterward he renewed his apologies and again complimented Dick England
for having paid to him a bet which he had no remembrance of making. At
this juncture the two produced their papers which purported to show that
the young man owed them 100 and 80 guineas respectively. He was
astonished, of course, and protested that he did not think he had played
at all, but he had compromised himself by accepting his thirty guineas,
and finally, he decided to make the best of a bad matter by paying the
claims. Before he could do so, however, his friends interfered, and,
after a little investigation, exposed the whole fraud, and saved him his
money. At another time, Dick England won £40,000 from the son of an
Earl, who was so broken up at the loss, that he went to Stacia’s hotel
and shot himself, almost at the very hour that his father sent his
steward to pay the debt, though being convinced that his son had been
cheated out of the amount. Dick England is known to have fought eleven
duels and to have ruined about forty persons at play.

The Gentlemen’s Magazine published the following account of a tragic
occurrence in the life of Dick England.

“Mr. Richard England was put to the bar at the Old Bailey, charged with
the ‘willful murder’ of Mr. Rowlls, brewer, of Kingston, in a duel at
Cranford Bridge, June 18, 1784.”

“Lord Derby, the first witness, gave evidence that he was present at
Ascot races; when in the stand upon the race course, he heard Mr.
England cautioning the gentlemen present not to bet with the deceased,
as he neither paid what he lost, nor what he borrowed; on which Mr.
Rowlls went up to him, called him rascal or scoundrel, and offered to
strike him, when Mr. England bid him stand off, or he would be obliged
to knock him down, saying at the same time, ‘We have interrupted the
company sufficiently here, and if you have anything further to say to
me, you know where I am to be found.’ A further altercation ensued, but
his Lordship being at the other end of the stand, did not distinctly
hear it, and then the parties retired.

“Lord Dartrey, afterward Lord Cremorne, and his lady, with a gentlemen,
were at the inn at the time the duel was fought. They went into the
garden and endeavored to prevent the duel. Several other persons were
collected in the garden. Mr. Rowlls said, if they did not retire, he
must, though reluctantly, call them impertinent. Mr. England at the same
time stepped forward, took off his hat, and said, “Gentlemen, I have
been cruelly treated, I have been injured in my honor and character, let
reparation be made, and I am ready to have done this moment.” Lady
Dartrey retired. His Lordship stood in the bower of the garden until he
saw Mr. Rowlls fall. One or two witnesses were called, who proved
nothing material. A paper, containing the prisoners defense, being read,
the Earl of Derby, the Marquis of Hertford, Mr. Whitbred, Jr., Col.
Bishopp, and other gentlemen were called as to his character. They all
spoke of him as a man of decent gentlemanly deportment, who, instead of
seeking quarrels, was studious to avoid them. He had been friendly to
Englishman when abroad and had rendered some service to the military at
the siege of Newport.

”Mr. Justice Rooke summed up the evidence, after which the jury retired
for about three quarters of an hour, when they returned a verdict of
‘manslaughter’ The prisoner having fled from the laws of his country for
twelve years, the Court was disposed to show no lenity. He was therefore
sentenced to pay a fine of ten shillings, and be imprisoned in Newgate
twelve months.”

Dick England died in 1792 from a cold caught in jail, where he had been
sent in consequence of having been arrested at a gaming table.

The celebrated Selwyn was a devoted patron of the gaming table, and
often played high. In 1765 he lost £1,000 to a Mr. Shafto, and it is
said, was frequently the victim of sharpers. Late in life he gave up his
ruinous diversion. Lord Carlisle, who was second cousin of Lord Byron,
was a victim of the infatuation of play and his losses brought him to
financial straits. In his letters he reproaches himself deeply for
yielding to the vice and shows that he fully appreciated the degrading
effects of indulging in it. Like Selwyn he finally succeeded in
emancipating himself from his terrible master. Pitt, the celebrated
statesmen, was another eminent Englishman who, at one time, in his
career, was an inveterate gambler, and who subsequently reformed. “We
played a good deal at ‘Goosetree’s’”, wrote Wilberforce, “and I well
remember the intense earnestness which Pitt displayed when joining in
these games of chance. He perceived their increasing fascination, and
soon after abandoned them forever.” Wilberforce once lost 500 pounds at
the faro table. At another time he was at the club and, the regular
dealer being absent, a gentleman jokingly offered him a guinea if he
would take his place. He accepted the challenge and quit the table £600

“On my first visit to Brooks’” wrote Wilberforce, “scarcely knowing any
one, I joined, from mere shyness, in play at the faro tables, where
George Selwyn kept bank. A friend, who knew my inexperience, and
regarded me as a victim decked out for sacrifice, called to me—‘What,
Wilberforce is that you?’ Selwyn quite resented the interruption, and,
turning to him, said in his most expressive tone, ‘Oh, sir, don’t
interrupt Mr. Wilberforce, he could not be better employed.’” And again:
“The first time I went to Boodle’s I won twenty-five guineas of the Duke
of Norfolk. I belonged, at this time, to five clubs, Miles’ and Evans’,
Brooks’, Boodle’s, White’s and Goosetree’s.”

Sir Philip Francis, who many believe was the author of the famous
“Junius Letters,” was much addicted to gambling and was a boon companion
of Fox. The career of the Rev. Caleb C. Colton is an interesting one. He
was educated at Eton, graduated at King’s College, Cambridge, as a
Bachelor of Arts, in 1801, received the degree of Master of Arts in 1804
and held a curacy at Tiberton. He speculated heavily in Spanish bonds
and yielded to the ruling passion of gaming, and his financial affairs
becoming involved, he absconded. Subsequently, he reappeared in order to
retain his living, but he lost it in 1828. After some time spent in the
United States, he returned to Europe and became a frequenter of the
gaming resorts in the Palais Royal in Paris, where, it is said, he won
in a year or two £25,000. Part of his wealth he devoted to establishing
a picture gallery.

Upon Lord Byron’s death he composed and printed for private distribution
an ode on that event. Having become afflicted with a disease which
necessitated a painful surgical operation, he blew out his brains rather
than submit to it. This occurred at Fontainbleau in 1832.

Beau Brummell was even a greater gambler than was Beau Nash, and his end
was far more sad. He frequented “Wattier’s,” where the play was so high
that the club and almost every one connected with it, were ruined. One
night in 1814, it is related, Pemberton Mills entered the club just in
time to hear Beau Brummell, who had lost heavily for five successive
nights, exclaim that he had lost his last shilling and that he wished
some one would bind him never to play again.

“I will,” said Mills, and taking out a ten-pound note he offered it to
Brummell on condition that he should forfeit a thousand if he played at
White’s within a month from that evening. The beau took it, and for a
few days discontinued coming to the club, but about a fortnight after,
Mills happened to go in, and saw him hard at work again. Of course the
thousand pounds was forfeited, but his friend, instead of claiming it,
merely went up to him, and touching him gently on the shoulder, said,
“Well, Brummell, you may at least give me back the ten pounds you had of
me the other night.”

One night at Brook’s club, Alderman Combe, the brewer, then Lord Mayor
of London, was busily playing at hazard in company with Brummell and
others. “Come, Mash-tub,” said Brummell, who was the caster, “What do
you set?” “Twenty-five guineas,” answered the alderman. “Well, then,”
returned the beau, “have at the mare’s pony” (a gaming expression for
twenty-five guineas). He continued to throw until he won twelve ponies
of the Lord Mayor, and then, getting up and making him a low bow, whilst
pocketing the cash, he said, “Thank you, alderman; for the future I
shall never drink any porter but yours.” “I wish, sir,” replied the
brewer, “that every other blackguard in London would tell me the same.”

Brummell was concerned in an incident which occurred at Wattier’s club
one night which threw all present into consternation. One of the players
was a Mr. Bligh, whom every one knew to be a mad-man, but did not think
especially dangerous. The incident is thus told by Mr. Raikes:

“One evening at the maco table, when the play was very deep, Brummell,
having lost a considerable stake, affected, in his farcical way, a very
tragic air, and cried out, ‘Waiter, bring me a flat candle-stick and a
pistol.’ Upon this, Bligh, who was sitting opposite to him, calmly
produced two loaded pistols from his coat pocket, which he placed upon
the table, and said, ‘Mr. Brummell, if you are really desirous to put a
period to your existence, I am extremely happy to offer you the means
without troubling the waiter.’ The effect upon those present may easily
be imagined at finding themselves in the company of a known mad-man who
had loaded weapons about him.”

Brummell lost all of his money and a large amount beside, which he
succeeded in borrowing of the money-lenders on bills signed by himself
and several friends. Serious trouble over the division of one of these
loans caused Brummell to flee to France. He used to say that up to a
particular time in his life he prospered in everything, and that he
attributed his good fortune to the possession of a silver sixpence with
a hole in it, which a friend had given him “for luck.” One day he gave
it to a cabman by mistake and from that time nothing but disaster had
attended him in everything. One person to whom he told this asked him
why he did not advertise for his lost sixpence. “I did, and twenty
people came with sixpences having holes in them to obtain the reward,
but mine was not amongst them.” “You never afterwards ascertained what
became of it?” “Oh, yes,” he replied, “no doubt that rascal, Rothschild,
or some of his set got hold of it.”

Beau Brummell died at Caen, in 1840, at the age of 62, having long been
in great poverty, and for some time in a demented condition.

Tom Duncombe was one of the high-flyers of his day. He was heir to an
income of more than £12,000 a year but he anticipated the whole of it
before he was thirty. His father, at one time, intending to pay off the
debts contracted by his reckless son, caused a schedule of them to be
made and it was found that they aggregated £135,000. He increased them
to a still larger amount before he finished his career.

The cases of Lords Halifax, Anglesey and Shaftesbury, and hundreds of
others might be referred to were it necessary, to show how great havoc
the passion for play has caused in the English aristocracy. But it is
not necessary. Enough has been said to point a moral, it would seem,
that all cannot but heed.

                                PART II.

                               CHAPTER I.
                       GAMBLING IN THE NEW WORLD.

It may be questioned whether any other country on the globe affords a
more striking illustration of the prevalence and the power of the
gambling mania than does the great Republic of the North American
Continent. Nor are the reasons far to seek. Hereditary titles of
nobility are not recognized by the American constitution. In the general
scramble for position and power, wealth counts for more in the United
States than in any other land under the blue vaulted dome of Heaven.

At the same time it should not be supposed that an insane desire to
accumulate fortunes lies at the root of American gaming. The hard,
practical common sense of the average Yankee convinces him that he is
not likely to win a competence at the green cloth. A large majority of
American gamesters (_i. e._, local, as distinguished from professional)
gamble because their brains are in a constant whirl of excitement. Rest
has no charms for them; they seek recreation in the substitution of one
form of mental stimulant for another. The “operator” on the exchange,
whose days are spent in watching the rise and fall of commodities purely
speculative, finds the ordinary paths of life too quiet, too monotonous,
to elicit more than a passing thought. From the moment when he leaves
“the floor” until he returns to it next day, his brain is in a mad whirl
of excitement. What more natural than that he should seek relief for an
overtaxed mind through exchanging one avenue of activity for another?

The application of these remarks, however, cannot be confined to “stock-
jobbers” and manipulators of “corners.” The same spirit pervades all
classes of society. This accursed thirst for gold—_sacra auri
fames_—enters every American home, as the serpent insinuated his wiles
into the Garden of Eden, and destroys at once domestic happiness and
individual peace. The mechanic stakes and loses his week’s wages; the
clerk risks his month’s salary; the husband and father ventures upon the
turn of a card the money which should be devoted to the support of wife
and children. Yet, as has been said, this reckless improvidence cannot
be ascribed solely to a hope of acquiring rapid gains. The feeling of
dissatisfaction with his condition which lurks in the breast of the
average American, leads him, insensibly to himself, into all sorts of
rash excesses, among which is gambling at cards.

American gambling, however, presents some distinctively characteristic
features. In the first place it is mainly conducted on the floor of the
exchange, rather than in public gaming rooms. The Stock and Produce
Exchanges are sapping the very vitals of the country’s morality. For
“stakes” are substituted “margins;” for “winnings” read “profits;” while
the designation of “players” is changed into the more euphonious
appellation of “speculators.” With these changes in nomenclature, the
game is the same in principle; the same in the method of its
manipulation; the same in its demoralizing results. Even “suckers” are
known, but they are termed “lambs.”

Professional gamblers have not been slow to recognize this fact, nor
have they scrupled to avail themselves of it. From this circumstance has
sprung into existence the “bucket shops,” those preparatory schools for
the penitentiary in which the young, the poor and the unsophisticated
are incited to avarice, duplicity, embezzlement and actual theft. The
school boy, the artisan and the bootblack read or hear of colossal
fortunes, accumulated on the “floors” of commercial exchanges. To
operate a “corner” is beyond their means; but the conviction is not slow
in forcing itself upon their minds that they may at least follow humbly
in the footsteps of men whose faults the public is willing to condone in
view of their success. Herein lies the chief danger—to the perpetuity of
the Nation—in those marble halls wherein gambling is conducted upon a
scale in comparison with which that at Monaco and Monte Carlo is dwarfed
into insignificance, and where one man rides triumphantly into wealth
and power upon a sea whose bottom is strewn with wrecks.

Yet another form of gambling which prevails in the United States more
than in any other civilized nation on the globe is the mania for lottery
speculation and particularly for “policy playing,” by which latter
term—as is elsewhere more fully explained—is meant betting on the
particular numbers which will win a prize at any given drawing. These
forms of gaming are confined to neither sex, nor do they know the
limitation of age, occupation or social rank. The official list of
drawings is scanned with equal solicitude by the leaders of society and
the outcasts of the slums; by the reckless young “blood,” who “takes a
flyer” by day and leads the german at night and by the decrepted old
negro, who risks his last dime upon “4-11-44;” by the veteran and the
school-boy, by the philosopher and the proletaire. That the general
sentiment of the country as voiced by the exponents of public opinion
has uniformly and unhesitatingly condemned the practice is
unquestionable. While the vice is peculiarly American, in the number and
character of its devotees, it is totally _un_-American in so far as the
moral countenance of the Nation is concerned. Minor principalities of
Europe have sought to replenish treasuries drained by the extravagance
or debauchery of their rulers through the institution and legal
authorization of lottery schemes, whose world-wide advertisement might
draw to the country English pounds, French Napoleons and American
Eagles. It has remained, however, for the State of Louisiana to bring
disgrace upon the Republic by accepting, through her law-makers, a
direct pecuniary bribe to consummate her public shame. Even the new
State of North Dakota with its farmers crying for seed wheat showed the
moral courage to resist the fastening into its vitals of the delicate,
but deadly tendrils of the octopus which saps the morals of the
commonwealth which tolerates its embrace as does its physical prototype
the very life blood of the individual victim on which it fastens its
fangs. Louisiana prides itself on its cognomen of the “Pelican” State.
What a misnomer! While the pelican robs her breast to minister to her
young, her mistaken namesake robs her own young to feed the vulture
which first whets its appetite on her own offspring and later gorges its
distended veins and arteries on the very vital fluid of other States and
Territories. Out upon the indifference to public morals which
recognizes, in this matter, a mere question of sectional lines. Shame
upon the venality which would bring a nation into disrepute before the
whole world in order that a purchasable Syndicate of corrupt law-makers
might be enriched. The remedy for such a state of public morals is not
easy to find. It is idle for any given community to insist that their
chosen representatives do not represent the average morals of the
district which places the latter in positions of responsibility. And yet
the commonwealth of Louisiana would consider its character impugned
should the palpable inference be drawn. It remains to be hoped that the
legislators of the future may be able to devise some method by which the
escutcheon of this great State may be relieved of the shadow which just
now dims its brightness. This sort of dissertation, however, is hardly
in place in the present connection. Gambling on the exchange and in the
bucket-shops is discussed elsewhere. The history of the Louisiana
lottery, from its inception, is given in another chapter. Nevertheless
in an introduction to the general subject of American gambling, it is
impossible to avoid these allusions although they are, perforce, of a
somewhat desultory character.

What we are particularly considering in this section of the volume, Part
II, is gaming as practiced in the halls, the club room and private
houses in the United States. For those who, from poverty or other
causes, are unable to gratify their taste for public gambling in rooms
devoted to the purpose there is a multiplicity of devices, found upon
fair grounds and at various other localities at which large crowds are
wont to gather, which offer to the casual gamester an opportunity for
gratifying his thirst for excitement at an expense sometimes trifling
and sometimes costly.

At the gaming houses proper, the preference is given to what are known
as “banking games.” By this term is meant games where the deal never
passes from hand to hand, and where all players bet against one central
fund, known as the “bank,” which is owned and operated by the
proprietors of the resort. Of this class of games, faro, roulette and
rouge et noir, are by far the most popular, the star of the former being
decidedly in the ascendant. Another game of this description which holds
a high place in public favor is keno (a full explanation of which may be
found in Chapter IV) the popularity of which is due, primarily, to the
small capital necessary to play, and, secondarily, to the belief that
the legitimate percentage in favor of the bank is so great that the
temptation to fraud is reduced to a minimum, if not an infinitesimal

Next to the banking games in the estimation of the bettors comes poker,
both “draw” and “stud.” The former is played according to recognized
rules, but the “house” exacts a percentage from the holders of certain
winning hands. This percentage is technically known as the “rake-off,”
and insures the proprietors of the establishment a handsome royalty on
all winnings. In “stud” poker the dealer always represents the “house.”
The players are never permitted to handle the cards. To quote Tennyson’s
poem of The Brook, the “man in the chair might say—

                     ‘Men may come and men may go,
                     But I go on forever.’”

In the public gambling rooms, also, many of the gaming devices seen upon
fair and circus grounds are to be found, notably the wheel of fortune.
These various contrivances are fully explained in subsequent chapters.

Public American gaming resorts are ordinarily classified under two
general headings—“square” and “brace.” Under the former caption are
included those where the “occasional player” is supposed to enjoy an
opportunity of laying a wager with some possible chance of winning.
“Brace” games, as the term is understood among the fraternity, are
veritable “hells,” into which a victim is enticed for purposes of
downright robbery under the pretence of a game of “chance.” The dupe who
enters a room of this character, seals his own doom by the mere fact of
entrance. The proprietors, from that moment, mark him as their own
peculiar prey. If he has but little cash, he is promptly and
incontinently relieved of it. If he is a “pigeon” whose future
“plucking” promises a rich harvest, his mentors are merciful, and he is
encouraged to “call again.” “Luck” appears variable, although, as a
matter of fact, in a “brace” house—otherwise yclept a “skin game”—“luck”
is dependent solely upon the will of the dealer.

In regard to American gambling houses generally, it may be remarked that
there exists a popular misapprehension as to the relative proportion of
“square” and “brace” resorts. It is unquestionably of no small value to
any resort that it should enjoy the reputation of being “square,” and it
cannot be denied that there are those where, under ordinary
circumstances, the “bank” contents itself with its legitimate (?)
percentage. Yet, as a matter of fact, it may be doubted whether there is
a “square” hell (what a contradiction in terms!) in the country which
has not conveniently at hand and ready for use, all the fraudulent
contrivances so dear to the heart of the “brace” dealer. Not always are
they brought into requisition, but, like the reserves of an army, are
always at hand, and always ready to be brought into action.

The fact that the statutes of nearly every State prohibit gambling,
necessitates a sort of _sub-rosa_ activity. At Monaco, Baden-Baden and
Monte Carlo gaming is carried on, not only under the very eyes, but even
under the sanction and patronage of the government. Not so in the United
States. The genius of American institutions has stamped upon gambling
the seal of its statutory condemnation. Two elements have combined,
incidentally, against any action which would enforce the will of the
people. The first is the half-heartedness of the war waged against
gambling by municipal authorities; the second is the assistance which
proprietors receive from outside confederates. The latter “goes without
saying.” Every habitue of a gaming house knows that there are “cappers.”
Equally thorough is the knowledge enjoyed by every proprietor that some
sort of satisfactory arrangement can be made with the municipal
authorities. What is the result? Each of the operating causes produces
its own effects. Guests at the hotels of every large town are persecuted
by solicitations to gamble, while the Mayor and Common Council of the
average city indulge in raids at a set time, for the simple reason that
the officers of the law exact and receive a percentage on the profits of
every game which they tolerate.

Outside of “banking” games, however, there is one which is almost as
peculiarly American as is base ball. “Poker” seems to be, for some
unexplainable reason, looming up as a National pastime. Some reference
has already been made to gambling at the fashionable club house and in
the family circle. Under such circumstances poker is the game _par
excellence_. Stakes ordinarily run high, no matter how small the
introductory ante may be. As a matter of fact there is scarcely a club
house in any prominent commercial center of the Union in which there is
not an apartment curtained from the vulgar gaze, where play is not
carried on for high stakes. And these very gentlemen who play a friendly
game rarely suspect that into their midst there is sometimes introduced
a professional, who not only wins a handsome stake for himself, but also
assists in recouping losses sustained by the gentlemen who introduced
him. This statement may seem incredibly absurd upon its face, yet the
author knows whereof he speaks.

There is still another distinctive feature of American gambling which
deserves notice. Men who know that they cannot be admitted as members of
any recognized club form an association by themselves, also known as
clubs, which are organized for gambling purposes, pure and simple.
Associations of this character are primarily conducted for the
convenience of players, yet the keeper of the room rarely fails to “earn
a profit” through selling liquid refreshments and the manipulation of
the “rake-off,” which is conducted in a manner similar to that followed
in public houses.

The interference by the municipal authorities with the “hells” is
regarded by the proprietors as a contingency too remote to be worth
seriously considering. There are various reasons for the excellent
understanding which usually exists between the gamblers and the “powers
that be.” Political influence sometimes lies at the bottom of the
friendliness. It is also a sad truth that too often the explanation is
to be found in actual venality on the one hand and corruption on the
other. Yet there is one circumstance which should not be lost sight of.
The “fraternity” not infrequently renders valuable assistance to the
officers of the law by disclosing the habits, haunts, and sometimes the
whereabouts of criminals who are being sought for by the authorities.
Not that they are anxious to serve the ends of justice, but that they
look upon the rendering of such assistance in the light of a _quid pro
quo_ for the “protection,” otherwise immunity, which they enjoy. The
reader who will thoughtfully peruse chapter X of this part of the book
will gather much interesting information on this point which will afford
him food for no little serious reflection.

Another pronounced feature of American gaming is the number of itinerant
gamblers who wander about the country, infesting railway trains and
steamboats, invading the summer resorts, and coming down upon country
towns after the manner of a wolf upon the sheep fold. These peripatetic
sporting men are adepts at all card games and thoroughly versed in every
fraudulent device. They combine the arts of the card sharp and the
confidence man. For them honor is a by-word and virtue a mockery. They
are destitute alike of conscience and of pity, and ill fares the
luckless wight who falls a victim to their blandishments.

Hitherto, except in a few comparatively isolated localities, legislation
has proved powerless to repress gambling in the United States. The
“Johnson law,” so called from the name of its author, the Hon. Charles
P. Johnson, of Missouri, making gambling a felony, operated to check it
in that State and brought about a positive hegira of the men who had
been thriving upon the gullibility of a too confiding public. Similar
results have followed its adoption and enforcement in other States. But
it is idle to encumber the statute book of any commonwealth with laws
whose enforcement is not demanded by public sentiment. The vice of
gaming, like its twin relic of barbarism, drunkenness, will be
suppressed only when an outraged nation rises in its righteous wrath and
forever stamps out of existence the viper which has buried its fangs
deep in the very vitals of the body politic.

                              CHAPTER II.
                      FARO GAMBLING AND GAMBLERS.

The general belief that cards were invented in the fourteenth century to
amuse the imbecile Charles VI. of France is one of those popular errors
which, despite the proofs arrayed against them by modern research, seem
destined to be perpetual truth, though booted and spurred, seldom
overtakes a plausible historical fable if the latter has the advantage
of a start of three or four centuries, and therefore the idea that cards
were originated by Gringonneur, a Parisian portrait painter, to tickle
the fancy of a royal idiot, will probably continue to exist in the
public mind for centuries to come. The public journals, in their answers
to correspondents, reiterate the same old stereotyped tale, which seems
destined to have an immortal lease of life.

The truth, however, is that cards, like chess, originated in the Orient,
and were first introduced into Southern Europe by gypsies toward the
close of the thirteenth century. How long they had been in use in the
East is a matter of conjecture, pure and simple, but there is ground for
the belief that they are as old as the Pyramids. This is a question for
archaeologists to settle, and the answer to it does not fall within the
scope of the present work. It is certain that they rapidly grew in
public favor. During the seventeenth century the passion for card-
playing became a veritable mania among the nobility and gentry, royalty
itself setting the example. Louis XIV., in whom were united the
incongruous characteristics of a gambler and a miser played nearly until
the day of his death. During the regency, and throughout the dissolute
reign of Louis XV., under the influence of Madame de Pompadour and the
infamous Dubarry, the court gambled from morning till night and from
night till morning, while the nation followed suit. So in England,
substantially the same state of affairs existed, Charles II., with his
courtiers and favorites, setting the fashion. In a word, all Europe was

America’s turn came later. With prosperity came a taste for sumptous
amusements—the legitimate offspring of wealth and leisure—and it may be
questioned whether there is any country in the world where card-playing
is so universal, or where so much money is staked upon the issues as in
the United States.

The origin of the game of faro, like that of most games of cards, is
obscure. There is a tradition that it emanated from the shores of the
Nile, and that its antiquity is as venerable as that of the pyramids.
Perhaps this rather fanciful theory has grown in favor from the fact
that its name is sometimes spelled “pharo,” the name of the founder of
the great Egyptian dynasty, whose head is said, in ancient times, to
have been depicted upon one of the cards. Be this as it may, it is
certain that centuries ago it was popular among the gamesters of France
and other countries of Europe, whence it crossed the channel to the
British isles and later was brought across the Atlantic to America. In
the United States, it is a game _par excellence_ at every gambling
establishment, being at once the most absorbingly fascinating to players
and the most profitable to the bank. Across the green cloth which
separates the former from the latter, fortunes are hourly lost and won.
The monotonous, droning call of the dealer, falling upon the ears of
players, whose interest is breathless in its intensity, has proved to
thousands the knell of doom to wealth, honor, integrity, and happiness.
With its allurement of excitement and its tempting bait of gain, it woos
its votaries to shipwreck equally certain and no less terrible than that
which befell the mariner of old, whose charmed senses drank in the
intoxicating music of the siren’s song. Faro has been happily likened to
the “tiger,” which, crafty, treacherous, cruel and relentless, hides
under cover waiting, with impatient eagerness, for the moment when it
may bury its velvet covered claws within the vitals of its unsuspecting
victim and slake its fiery, unquenchable thirst with his life blood.

The principles of the game as fairly played to-day do not materially
differ from those laid down by Hoyle a hundred years ago. Be it
understood, however, that this remark applies to modern faro, as played
in the “hells” of this year of grace, only in the abstract. The
principles (sic) upon which it is practically conducted by the dealers
of to-day are of a sort calculated to astound that eminent authority on
the doctrine of chances. In order, however, that the reader may
thoroughly comprehend to how great an extent the player is at the mercy
of the banker, it will be necessary to explain first the method of
legitimate playing (i. e., if any gambling can be properly called
legitimate) and then some of the devices whereby the dealer may
transform his naturally overwhelming chances of winning to a practical

As preparatory to a discussion of the first branch of the subject, it
may be remarked that faro is pre-eminently a game of chance. Even when
played with absolute fairness, success or failure, fortune or
misfortune, depend—not upon the skill of the player, but upon the
caprice of blind chance. It is true that mathematical science has
attempted to reduce this chance to some sort of law, and has formulated
a theory as to the inherent probability or improbability of certain
events happening or failing to happen, and there are devotees of faro
who play upon what they believe—with a faith which approaches the
sublime—to be an infallible “system.” But the doctrine of chance is,
after all, but an approximation to accuracy, and the only certainty
about any system, however cunningly devised, is the certainty that at
the supreme moment it will prove a delusion and a snare.

[Illustration: faro hand]

But, to return to the method of playing: Any number of persons may
participate in the game, which requires a full pack of fifty-two cards.
The dealer acts as “banker,” and may, at his discretion, limit the sums
to be played for, according to the amount of his capital. At public
games, this functionary, assisted by one or more persons known as
“lookers-out,” whose duty it is to watch the table, the players and the
bets, with a view to seeing that the bank’s winnings are promptly
gathered in, and that the interests of “the house” are properly guarded.
In order to facilitate the making of bets, players purchase checks,
usually made of ivory or bone or composition, though sometimes of paste-
board, from the banker, who redeems them at the option of the holder.
Their value is denoted either by their color, or figures stamped upon
them. The banker usually limits the sums that may be bet in accordance
with his capital, and the limit may be of two kinds, known as the
_plain_ and the _running_ limit. The _plain limit_ is usually twice as
much for double, treble or quadruple cards as for single cards. That is
to say, if a player may bet fifty dollars on either or all of the
latter, he may bet $100 on all or any of the double. The _running limit_
is any sum named and its multiple of four. To illustrate, the running
limit may be 50 and 200; in that case, the player may bet fifty dollars,
and if he wins, may suffer the original stake and its increase (which
would amount to $100) to be where it is or move it to another place,
where he may win another $100, thus giving him with his first stake
$200, which is the limit. This is known as parleeing a bet, and if the
first bet is five, the second will be ten, the third twenty, the fourth
forty, and so on. Almost all bankers will allow a player to “parlee,” as
the percentage is largely in favor of the bank.

Each banker is provided with a “board” about three by one and one-half
feet in dimensions, which is placed on a table about four by two and
one-half feet. This “board” is covered with green cloth, on which one
suit of thirteen cards of the ordinary pack are portrayed in the order
shown in the foregoing illustration.

In the centre of the cut given above, the arrangement of the cards in
the “lay-out” is shown. The outer line of the parallelogram represents
the table. Letter “G” indicates the seat of the dealer; “I” that of the
“lookout;” “F” that part of the table on which the “case keeper” (the
use of which will be explained later) is placed; and “H” shows where
sits that important functionary who operates the “case keeper.” The
players sit or stand all around the table. “A” represents the dealing
box, and “B” and “C” the two piles into which the cards are divided as
they issue from the box. “D” shows the “check-rack,” or the apparatus
for holding the “checks,” and “E” shows the position of the money

The ace, deuce, queen and king are called the big square; the deuce,
tray, queen and jack the second square, and so on; the six, seven and
eight are called the pot. The players select their cards upon which they
wish to bet, and lay upon them their checks.

All preliminaries being settled, before any bets are made the dealer
shuffles and cuts the cards and places them face upward in a metal box,
containing an aperture at the top, sufficiently large to allow the full
faces of the cards to be seen. Originally, the cards while being dealt,
were held in the dealer’s hands, and in Germany they are nailed to the
table and torn off one by one. For many years, however, it has been the
practice to deal from an uncovered metal box, a little longer than the
pack, in which are placed the “pasteboards” faces upward, so that the
top card is always exposed to view. Near the top of one end of this
receptacle is a horizontal slit, wide enough to admit the passage of a
single card, and at the bottom are four springs, which, pressing upward,
automatically force the pack toward the top of the box, thus keeping one
card always opposite the slit. The top card, called the “soda,” having
been seen, is not used for betting, and is laid aside. The card
immediately below is the banker’s card, and it wins for him all stakes
placed upon it in the “lay-out,” provided it has not been “coppered,” as
explained below. The next is the player’s card and wins for him in the
same manner. Each pair of cards taken from the box and exposed
constitute what is denominated a “turn.” It may happen, however, that
the player may wish to bet that a certain card may lose. In that case he
places a copper (which is provided for the purpose) upon the top of his
stake. This is called “coppering,” because originally old fashioned
copper cents were employed for this purpose instead of the wooden

Whenever two cards of the same denomination appear in the same “turn,”
the dealer takes half the money found upon such card. This is called a
“split,” and is, in effect, a percentage taken by the bank. If a player
wins his bet and allows both stake and winnings to remain on the same
card for another “turn,” he is said to play a paroli or parlee. At the
end of a “turn” a pause is made, to permit the paying of bets already
determined and the making of new ones. And the same routine is followed
until the pack is exhausted, when a fresh deal is made and the process
repeated. It will be seen that there are twenty-five “turns” in every
deal. The dealer may close the game at the end of any deal when he may
see fit. The last card remaining in the box at the end of each deal
neither wins nor loses, although originally it was claimed by the
dealer, who took all the money staked upon that card. The bank thus had
the certainty of winning such stakes, with no possibility of loss;
hence, that card came to be called “hock” or “hockelty,” which means
certainty, and by that name it is known.

A player may avoid risking his stake on any particular turn by saying to
the dealer, “I bar this bet for the turn”—pointing to it—in which case
it can neither lose nor win, but remains barred until he says “it goes.”
Again, he may reduce his stake one-half, by saying to the dealer, “one-
half this bet goes,” and this, unless the order is revoked, will be
understood to be his intention until the close of the deal.

When there is but one turn left in the box, the player may “_call the
last turn_;” that is, guess the order in which the cards will appear. If
he guesses correctly, he receives either two or four times the value of
his stake, according to the advantage which he enjoys through the
character of the turn. If the three cards are three denominations, they
may come out in any one of the six different ways; if, on the other
hand, two of the three cards are of the same denomination, only three
arrangements are possible. Hence, in the former case, if he guess
correctly, the banker pays him four times the amount of his wager; in
the latter (which is technically called a “cat hop”) he wins double its

As has been shown, there is a multiplicity of methods of betting open to
the player, but it remains to explain one of the most common, as well as
fascinating, modes in vogue among the patrons of the “green cloth,” a
method, too, which more than any other has been prolific of disputes. It
consists of placing bets not only upon any card or cards, but upon the
margin of the “lay-out.” These are called “string bets,” an explanation
of which would tend rather to confuse than to enlighten the
inexperienced reader.

It being of the utmost importance to both dealer and player that the
cards remaining on the box should be known, an effort is made to keep an
accurate record of the deal in such a way that its every phase may be
seen at a glance. For this purpose a printed card, known as a “cue
card,” is given to each player if he desires it, with the characters A,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, arranged in a perpendicular row,
“A” representing the ace, the numbers indicating the spots, and the
letters “J, Q, K” standing for the court cards. As each card is dealt
the player denotes the denomination on his “cue card” by placing in the
proper line a zero (0) if it lose, and a straight perpendicular mark (I)
if it wins, the last or “hock” card being indicated by a double dagger


The following statement of the odds against winning any number of times
consecutively is applicable to faro or any other game of chance. The
computation is that of Mr. Hoyle, who, as an honest man, had not
forecast the devices of the modern sharper.

Champions of this game, however, claim that when fairly conducted, the
percentage of the bank against the player is less in faro than in any
known game; and it is probable that the fact of this belief being wide
spread accounts for its wonderful popularity in the United States. In
fact, when fairly dealt, the only percentages in favor of the game are
the “splits” and “calls.” Mr. Hoyle gives the following computation of
the odds at the game.

The chances of doublets vary according to the number of similar cards
remaining among those undealt. The odds against the player increase with
every “turn” that is dealt.

When only eight cards are remaining, it is five to three in favor of the

      When only six cards, it is                           2 to 1
      When only four cards,                                2 to 1
       That the player does not win his first stake is an equal
      That he does not win twice following, is             3 to 1
      Three times following, is                            7 to 1
      Four ditto, is                                      15 to 1
      Five ditto, is                                      31 to 1
      Six ditto, is                                       63 to 1

Having briefly outlined the method of playing, and shown how even when
fairly played there is a very large percentage of odds in favor of the
bank, it remains to point out some of the practices resorted to by those
professional gamblers known as “advantage players,” “brace dealers,”
etc., to take advantage of the gullible and unwary, called among the
fraternity “chumps,” or by the still less euphonius term of “suckers.”

These practices may be grouped under three different heads: First, the
cards themselves; second, the dealing box; and third, a system of
confederates. These will be taken up in the order given.

1st. The cards themselves. The “skin gambler” never deals a game of faro
without making use of cards known as “strippers,” or “humps.” These may
be bought from dealers in gambling implements, or may be prepared by the
gambler himself by using “trimming shears,” a tool devised for this
special purpose, and costing from forty to seventy-five dollars per
pair. “Strippers” are ordinary playing cards of the same size and form
as the “square” ones used in dealing faro, from the edge of which a very
little “strip” has been trimmed, thus making them a fraction narrower at
one end than at the other. The “strip” cut off does not exceed one
thirty-second part of an inch at one end and runs to a point at the
other. These are used that certain cards may be reversed and known; that
is, the narrow ends of some turned with the wide ends of others. Thus,
the dealer may take all the cards under seven, and turn their narrow
ends with the wide ends of the rest of the pack, thus greatly increasing
the chances for “splits,” on which the banker wins half the stakes;
moreover, the cards are used more in bunches, whereby the odds in his
favor are still further increased. When the wide ends of such a pack are
all together, it is difficult to detect them; but when a part only is
reversed they are more easily distinguished, since if the pack be taken
by opposite ends all those turned opposite ways will easily come out if
pulled by the ends.

The cards just described are known as “side strippers.” Another variety,
which has some advantage over these is called “end strippers,” or
“rakes.” As their name implies, they are cut on the end instead of the
sides, but are arranged, sanded, and used as are the others. Before
making a deal, the cards are “pulled” and “run in” endwise, after which
they may be shuffled any number of times without changing their relative
positions. They will apparently change their positions, but owing to the
manner in which they are cut and their being sanded, they adhere in
pairs all through the pack. When the cards are trimmed on the side,
displacement during shuffling is unavoidable; hence, the advantage of
using “rakes.”

Other prepared cards are called “_hollows_” and “_rounds_.” These are
cut in plates made for the purpose, and a portion of the pack is wider
across the middle, and tapers a very little toward the ends. The rest of
the pack is hollowed out a little in the middle and broader at the ends.
Strippers of this sort are used for the same purpose as those first
described, but are used by taking hold of the pack at the middle and one
end instead of at both ends.

The very closest observation is necessary to detect cards prepared in
either of these ways, and soft, smooth hands are necessary to use them
advantageously. The advantages resulting to the skillful dealer from
their use, however, are too palpable to call for further elucidation,
except in connection with the explanation of fraudulent, or “fake”
dealing boxes, which will be given below. Sometimes the odd spot cards,
the jack and king are trimmed differently from the remainder and then
reversed. They are then “run in,” an odd against an even, and can be
told through the difference in their size. This stratagem insures, at
the pleasure of the dealer, the effectual bankruptcy of the man who
plays upon a “system.”

“Squares and rounds” are made in much the same way. They are cut to pull
from the ends like “rakes.” Like “hollows and rounds” they can be turned
around without producing any effect upon them; and, like both, when
properly “sanded” (which process is explained below), they can be
shuffled without changing their relative positions. They are used in the
same way as common “strippers.”

Another process to which the cards of the “skin” faro gambler are
subjected is the preparation of them in such a way that they will adhere
together. This is accomplished by rubbing them, sometimes with
sandpaper, sometimes with rosin and glass, and sometimes with pumice
stone. If, however, the surface be too much scratched, the abrasion will
become visible when the cards are held up to the light. To accomplish
the result desired most effectually, and at the same time with the least
possible risk of detection, a powder composed of fish bone and rosin is
sprinkled over them. When it is remembered that the dealing cards are
extremely thin and smooth, the ease with which this device can be
carried into successful operation can be imagined. Sometimes the backs
of certain cards are roughened and the faces of others; the adhesion is
then rendered very close and the added thickness so slight as absolutely
to defy detection. To facilitate the use of cards thus prepared, a
special dealing box, known as the “sand tell” box, has been devised, a
description of which may be found in its proper place.

Still another resource, however, remains to the dealer of a “fake” game.
He marks his cards along the edges on the faces, by which simple but
effective plan he can always tell, with approximate accuracy, the
denomination of any card below the top. This is accomplished by putting
dots on the edges and it is absolutely essential to the successful
operation of most of the “faked” boxes described below. Similar dots may
be seen along the left hand edge of the card shown in the accompanying
cut of the dealing box.

2nd. THE DEALING BOX.—When the dealing box was first introduced, more
than half a century ago, it was claimed in its behalf that it insured
absolute protection against fraud on the part of either dealer or
players. Practically, as years have passed and new features have been
engrafted upon it, it has become the most effective agency for unlimited
fraud that the most nefarious dealer could desire. Indeed it may be
questioned whether the original object of its introduction was not to
render more easy the task of completely stripping every man who should
venture to play against the bank. Hoyle points out that the odds, even
in legitimate play are always in favor of the banker, and it seems
hardly probable that he would himself suggest an innovation which might
in any degree lessen his chances. The first boxes were made of brass, a
very little larger than the pack, and about half an inch wider, with one
side left open for the admission of the pack. The side opposite had an
opening, close to the top, large enough to allow a single card to slip
out, and in the top of the case was another of sufficient size to permit
the insertion of the end of the finger to slip off the top card. At the
bottom were springs to keep the pack constantly pressed up to the top of
the box. That such a contrivance might be used with perfect fairness in
dealing faro cannot be disputed. The fact remains, however, that almost
every American gambling den to-day has at hand boxes which are cunningly
contrived devices to facilitate the fleecing of the ignorant, to convert
chance into certainty, to transform the unsuspicious player into the
victim and the dealer into the harpy.

In order to have a thorough comprehension of the following description
of some of the “fake” boxes now in use, it may be well that the reader
understand the object sought to be gained through them. The rules of the
game require that but one card shall be dealt at a time. To a dealer
determined to win, it is of the utmost importance to know, before the
card issues from the box, what that card is going to be. In this, he is
greatly aided by the preparation of the cards as described above. Still,
he needs some mechanical device through which he may put this knowledge
into practical operation, either by failing to deal any certain card at
a moment when its issuance from the box means loss to the bank, or by
putting out a card which is sure to win for himself. To give him this
advantage he uses a box so constructed that he can control its
operations at will. It will thus be seen that his cards and his box
supplement each other. To know the cards would avail him nothing unless
he might use those which he needed; to be able to deal fraudulently
would be of no possible advantage, unless he knew precisely which card
to deal. Taken together, they form a combination so strong as to be
impregnable to the dupe who fancies that he and his crafty opponent meet
on a fair field in open, even if not honorable, combat.

At the present time, the “fraternity” generally use one of three
varieties of boxes, known respectively as the “lever,” or “end squeeze
movement,” the “needle movement,” and the “sand tell” box. Of these, the
former is the most common, and the second the most expensive, while the
third is commonly employed for a special purpose, which will be

The accompanying cut shows the mechanism of the “screw box,” at one time
very popular with gamblers, and still used in some houses.

[Illustration: screw box]

The front side of this box, “A,” is provided with three thin
perpendicular plates, of which two are stationary, but all of which seem
to be solidly joined together. Between the stationary plates “B” and
“D,” whose inner surfaces are so highly polished as to reduce friction
to a minimum, slides another and invisible plate, marked “C,” and which
is adjustable and highly sensitive to the secret manipulation of the
practiced dealer. This centre piece “C,” when properly placed and at
rest, presents an upper edge a trifle above the two stationary plates,
leaving an aperture so narrow that the dealer can take but one card from
the box at a time.

“F” is a screw which operates a secret lever, “E C,” between the two
plates “B” and “D.” This lever hangs on a pivot, and by slightly
pressing the screw with the thumb the adjustable plate “C” quickly
responds, and drops until its edge is even with those of the stationary
plates “B” and “D,” thereby enabling the dealer to take two cards from
the box at one time without observation.

Upon removing the thumb pressure from the screw “F,” the adjustable
plate “C” rises to its original position.

There is a flat metal piece in the inside of the box at the bottom,
which, when pushed forward, instantly and securely locks the box,
preventing the discovery of its mechanism, should any of the players
request permission to examine it. Such permission is always cheerfully,
and usually courteously given.

Finally, inside of the box, as in all others, is a thin plate the size
of the cards, which is placed in a level or horizontal position, upon
which the cards rest, and which is supported by four steel springs, that
force the cards up to the top of the box so that they may always be
ready for dealing.

The “lever,” or “end squeeze” box—the one which is perhaps just now most
in favor among “skin” gamblers—is operated on the same principle as is
the “screw” box. The screw, however, is replaced by a mechanical
contrivance which enables the dealer to raise the middle plate (lettered
C in the illustration) by means of pressure or “squeezing” applied at
the end of the box. The “lever” box also differs from the “screw” in the
manner of locking the secret mechanism. In the essential principles of
the “fake,” however, the two closely correspond. The underlying fraud in
both consists of the manipulation of a concealed middle plate,
substantially in the manner already explained.

The “needle” movement box is so called from the fact that at one end, on
the inside, is a small spring, lying the thickness of three cards from
the top, and having a fine point, like that of a needle, which catches
on the edges of the cards. The dealer remembers which cards are
round—which, as has been said, may be the odd numbers or may be those
having a less number of spots than seven; the remainder of the pack is,
of course, cut hollow at the ends. By the aid of the spring, the dealer
is enabled to tell whether the first card is round or hollow, and also
what the second card is; as when the round card comes in contact with
the spring, it pushes it in, and as the latter slips it makes a slight
noise, similar to the grating of the finger nails. He can thus tell
whether it is for his interest to take the second card or not,
and—thanks to his previous preparation of the cards—it is as easy for
him to take one as the other. An incidental advantage of this box is,
that in case any of the players object to the apparently undue advantage
in favor of the bank, it is possible for the dealer to offer to permit
any player thus dissatisfied to deal in his stead, while he himself bets
against the bank. Should his offer be accepted and a player open a bank,
the latter, of course, not being acquainted with the secret spring of
the box, will derive no benefit from the grating noise even should he
notice it; while by reason of the professional dealer understanding the
sound made by the secret spring, the latter is able to tell very nearly,
if not absolutely, what card is coming next.

The “sand tell” box is particularly designed for the use of gamblers who
desire to induce a player to deal the game. As its name implies, the
cards used in it are “sanded,” while the “tell” consists of a small
extra perpendicular plate near the front of the box on the inside, a
trifle below its mouth, which causes the top card to stand slightly in
advance of the deck, so that the gambler can readily distinguish the
card underneath.

[Illustration: case-keeper]

A record of the game is kept by means of an implement known as a “case-
keeper,” which is usually placed in care of an employe of the
establishment. This device is a miniature “lay-out,” with four buttons
attached to each wire as shown in the illustration. These buttons run on
wires, one of which extends from the end of each card. When the deal
begins, all the buttons are shoved up close to the cards; as soon as a
“turn” is made, the two buttons opposite the cards dealt are shoved to
the opposite ends of their respective wires. This enables anyone around
the table to see, at a glance, how many cards of each denomination
remain in the dealer’s box. When all four cards of any one denomination
have been dealt, that is said to be “_dead_.” When three cards of any
one denomination have been dealt, the one remaining in the box is called
the “_case_,” or “_single card_.”

It may sometimes happen that the tally of a player will not agree with
that of the case keeper, owing to the fact that the dealer has withdrawn
two cards where he should have taken one. In such a case, a trick known
as the “put back” is employed. A confederate of the dealer attracts the
attention of the players while the extra card or cards taken from the
box are adroitly returned to it by the dealer. Of course, there must be
a perfect understanding between the latter and the case keeper, so that
when two cards are dealt at once a signal may be given showing the
denomination of the second card.

In case a player making a bet finds that he has been misled by the
incorrectness of the record kept by the cue keeper, the invariable rule
is that the bet must be determined by the cards remaining in the dealing
box, a regulation which is, to say the least, not at all to the
disadvantage of the bank.

But the cheating is not all on one side, and a device called a hair
“copper” is sometimes employed by players to guard against a possible
loss on a certain description of bets. This hair “copper” consists of a
piece of shoemaker’s wax, the color of the check, a horse hair, and a
string of rubber attached to a band around the wrist, secreted in the
sleeve. The wax adheres to the copper at one end of the horse hair,
which is invisible, the other end being fastened to the rubber string
which is extended in the hand to the tops of the fingers. Placing this
copper on a bet, if the turn comes in favor of the dealer the player
quickly and without observation loosens the rubber which jerks the
“copper” into his sleeve, causing the dealer to pay the bet he may have
fairly won.

Another scheme for beating the dealer is not infrequently resorted to by
professional gamblers. It is technically known among them as “snaking”
the card. This consists of “ringing in” upon the proposed victim of
certain prepared cards, which are placed among the other dealing cards
in some secret manner, and at a time when he is not aware of it.
Sometimes, when no other opportunity presents itself, the faro dealer’s
room is entered by false keys during his absence, and his cards are so
operated upon that the operator can, to a certainty, break the bank at
the first opportunity. There are gamblers who travel through the country
for the purpose of “snaking” games, seldom engaging in any other species
of gaming, and it often happens that many professionals are badly bled
through this means without suspecting it. Sometimes the services of some
person who is a stranger to the dealer are secured to play against the
bank in order to allay suspicion.

The modes of “snaking” are various. One of the earliest consists of
placing an extra plate in the dealing-box, in connection with a piece of
steel not larger than a cambric needle. The cards are then cut on the
edges in such a way that the appearance and disappearance of this piece
of steel tells whether the next card will win or lose. This steel point,
in the rapidity of its motion, was compared to a snake’s tongue, and it
is probable that the origin of the term “snaking” is to be found in this
fancied resemblance.

Another method of “snaking” cards is as follows: The deck is prepared.
Let us suppose that the “pot” cards—the six, seven and eight—are the
ones selected. A pack of cards is taken, and the sixes, sevens, and
eights sanded on the backs and the remainder of the pack on the faces.
Small dots are then made on the face of each card in the deck, near the
edge. The position of these dots is determined by measuring on the card
with the plate which belongs to the dealing box. Now, when a sanded deck
of cards is placed in a “sand tell” dealing box, every time a card is
taken from the box the card next to the one taken moves a little forward
in consequence of the card taken from the box pressing on the one
underneath it. But, with these “snaked” cards, the case is somewhat
different; while dealing with these cards, should a smooth one be next
to the one drawn from the box, it would be drawn a little forward, i.
e., if there is not one of these “sanded” cards underneath this smooth
one. If there should be one of the sanded cards under the smooth one,
the card left on the top, after making a turn, will be held back by the
sanded card which is underneath it, and it will not be pulled forward at
all. Now, when a card which is left on the top, after making a turn, is
pulled forward, these dots (above mentioned) are visible on the face of
the card, denoting that neither of the pot cards can lose on the first
turn; consequently the pot cards are played to win as long as this dot
is visible on the face of the top card. But, in case, after a turn is
made, the top card should not move forward, then the dot on the face of
the card underneath could not be seen, which shows that one of the pot
cards (which are the six, seven or eight) will certainly lose on that
turn; of course the pot is instantly coppered, that is, betting that
these cards will lose.

Another and simpler plan is to perforate all the cards of a certain
description, perhaps of either dark suit, from the two to the ten, with
an instrument known as the “card punch,” of which the accompanying
illustration will enable the reader to form a fair conception.

[Illustration: card punch]

It is made of the finest steel, and is employed to puncture cards at the
center. A “deck” thus prepared is substituted for that which the banker
intends to place in the box. Sometimes, however, in this “diamond cut
diamond” game, an entrance is effected to the dealer’s room and the
“punch” is employed on his own cards. The substitution of the prepared
pack for that of the banker is the fundamental point to be attained, and
occasionally resort is had to desperate expedients. A fight is raised,
and in the melee which ensues the dealer’s box is thrown upon the floor
and the substitution quickly accomplished.

This shameless trick is played by one gambler upon another without the
slightest compunction. What a commentary does this afford upon the
hollowness of the old adage regarding “honor among thieves.” The author
having never been guilty of larceny, as defined by either the common law
or the criminal code, cannot speak for “thieves” technically defined as
such. As to those greater thieves known as gamblers, however, he does
not hesitate to say that among them “honor” is a word as unmeaning as
the mirage of the desert is illusory.

But to return to the punctured cards. The holes made by the punch are so
small that the player is often “beaten” by it. Whenever a white surface
is seen through this small hole, the player is perfectly certain that
the card underneath is the deuce, four, six, seven, eight or ten, and
may accordingly back these cards to win for himself with absolute
certainty. If a colored surface is discerned, he is equally certain that
the next card will be of another denomination.

Yet another method is to sandpaper the edges of one-half the cards.
Then, as the edge of the under card is seen through the slit in the
dealing box, the outside player can tell in which half it belongs by
noticing whether it is bright or dull. Of course, to practice this
successfully, the player must remember correctly the cards making up
each half; but when the division is made upon a system, this is an easy

Besides the methods of cheating already described, which relate more
particularly to the preparation of the cards and the construction and
operation of the dealing box, there are other methods well known to
professionals, which may be employed with comparative immunity and great
success against the unsuspecting.

A favorite stratagem is to use a prepared deck containing fifty-three
cards, one more than the legitimate pack contains, known among the
fraternity as the “odd.” The odd card is never seen by the player; and
as the cues come out correct, there is nothing of which he can complain.
The advantage of its use to the gambler is that it gives him one sure
turn during each deal, and he usually prefers to employ it on the last
turn. In such a case, it is impossible for the bettor to win on the
call, and he is equally certain to lose on any bet which he may make on
that turn. The advantage of such a large additional percentage in favor
of the game is palpable. A large proportion of players are fond of
calling the “last turn,” because of the greater odds given by the bank;
they are also more disposed to bet high on single cards at this stage of
the deal, for the reason that a “split” is impossible. This is called
playing cases. The manner in which a deck of fifty-three cards may be
manipulated to the certain loss of such bettors may be best shown by
means of an illustration. The denomination of the extra card is a matter
of no importance, but we will suppose it to be an ace; its introduction
would then make five aces in the pack. All the cards are then sanded
except these five aces, which are marked on the edges with one or two
dots, so as to be instantly recognized. The deck, having been thus
prepared, is played in the following manner: The cards are first
shuffled a few times from bottom to top, the dealer not then knowing the
position of any card. The latter then commences finding the aces, which
is easily accomplished, inasmuch as they are the only cards not sanded
and are marked on the edges. While shuffling he places one ace on the
top of the deck, over this he places a card of some other denomination,
and on this another ace, and over this again yet another card. A false
cut (which is accomplished in various ways, and is really no cut at all)
is then given to the cards, which are next placed, faces upward, in the
dealing box, the arranged cards being of course now at the bottom. Let
us suppose that when the last turn is reached it consists of an ace,
king and queen. Of course there are really two aces in the box, though
only one is shown. If the dealer wishes to make the ace lose, all that
he need do is to turn one card and then take two cards instead of one,
through the aid of his “faked” box, the bottom one of these two cards
being one of the aces, this leaves one card in the box, as there should
be. Should he desire to make the ace win, he draws two on the first
pull, and only one afterward, which results in one of the aces never
being seen, making the cues on the last turn come out correct. Sometimes
the cards are cut fairly, and the extra card comes in the middle of the
deck; in such a case, when the dealer arrives where the aces are
arranged, he is aware of it and acts in the same manner as has been
already described when they are placed so as to fall in the last turn.
Sometimes two odd cards are added to the deck, making the pack consist
of fifty-four cards. When properly manipulated, the dealer has the
advantage of being able to manage two turns instead of one.

Even when both cards and dealing box are perfectly “square,” it is still
in the power of the professional gambler to take such advantages of
persons not posted as to be morally certain of winning their money. For
instance, should a player select certain favorite cards on which to bet
(as is often the case), on the next deal the dealer may easily cause
such cards to win or lose all the way through as he may desire, the
bettor never suspecting that the run was not a matter of pure chance. As
these favorite cards come out of the box, the dealer—at a moment when
the bettor is not observing—places them at the bottom at the end of the
deal, where they are not disturbed while shuffling. The deck is then
“run in” endwise, and these cards being separated, will either win or
lose throughout the game.

“Faked” dealing boxes are not always the “thing of beauty” and perennial
source of joy which their manipulators would like to see them. They
occasionally “get out of order;” a little sand works its way between the
plates, and even an expert “brace” dealer finds it more or less
difficult so to use the device that its employment cannot be detected.
At Laredo, Texas, a few years ago, a “professional,” who is now dealer
at a famous house in a Western city, encountered a difficulty of this
sort. He “pulled” two cards, but so clumsily that the “sucker” observed
it. “What’s the matter with your box?” the player asked. “O, it’s a
little old, and don’t work just right,” was the answer. “Well, see
here,” said the Texan, “that was an almighty short deal, somehow. Reckon
I’m going to lose money any way; but hadn’t you better go a little
slower and make one of them long deals? I’d like to take a little more
time.” The game progressed and the stranger rose from the table a loser
to the amount of three hundred dollars. “Look here,” he remarked to the
dealer, “I reckon you’d better give me back the money you’ve cheated me
out of.” The gambler, with an air of the utmost nonchalance, replied
that he would be blanked if he gave back any of it. “Well,” remarked the
countryman, as he drew down his slouch hat over his eyes and left the
room, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” No sooner had he left than one of
the employes of the establishment took the proprietor aside and advised
him either to return the money or close the place at once, if he did not
want the victim to return and shoot him “on sight.” The proprietor was a
capital “brace” dealer, but physical courage was not his chief
characteristic. He lost no time in acting on his subordinate’s
suggestion. Hastily raising the window he called out to the victim—whose
rapidly vanishing form was still in sight—“I say, you! Come back here a
minute; I want to see you.” The “sucker” came back; the gambler greeted
him cordially. “You old idiot,” said he, “can’t you take a little joke?
Of course I knew that you were ‘capping,’ (i. e. acting as ‘capper’) for
the game. Here’s your money old man.” He handed him a roll of currency,
which the stranger pocketed with a grim smile of satisfaction. But
subsequent events proved that the proprietor “had builded better than he
knew.” Sitting around the room were other men who had lost money and
seen a fellow sufferer receive back his losses, it did not take long for
the crowd to extinguish the lights, and in the darkness the unlucky
dealer was “held up” for every dollar that he had with him.

3rd. The third adjunct to success in a “brace” faro game is by no means
the least important. Confederates on the outside are considered _sine
qua non_ in every “skin” gaming hell. They are technically known as
“ropers” or “steerers.” This euphonious appellation sufficiently
indicates at once their character and the nature of the duties with
which they are charged. The man who for a percentage and under the guise
of friendship lures a man to loss is, if possible, morally lower than
the scoundrel who robs him.

To be a good “steerer,” a man should possess some education and be
endowed with a courteous and affable demeanor. The more polished his
manners, the greater the value of his services. Men of this stamp hang
about the depots, infest the corridors of hotels of every grade, and
patrol the streets with far more watchfulness than does the average
policeman. Their methods do not vary, in any marked respect, from those
employed by “cappers” and “steerers” in other games, which are fully
disclosed under other head lines. About the same qualifications are
expected of faro and “bunko steerers,” and those required of the latter
are plainly indicated in Chapter VIII.

There is, however, a class of “ropers” who do rather more than “dirty”
work. These men hang about the entrances to houses which are alleged and
believed to be “square,” turn out the gas in the stairway, and when a
would-be player presents himself, assure him that “the house is closed
for the night, but that they (or he) can ‘show him where a game is
running.’” Should the verdant dupe be sufficiently gullible to believe
the story, one of these miscreants “steers” him to a “brace” house, sees
that he is “plucked,” and then claims and receives his percentage on the
amount which the victim has lost.

Among broken-down gamblers who have lost the last vestige of self-
respect, another game is popular. Individuals of this sort will hang
about the side-walk in front of a “hell.” When a player goes up-stairs
into the rooms, they watch him. If they can gain access to the house
they watch his play; if they are too disreputable in appearance to be
allowed inside the doors, they await his return. In either event, they
ascertain whether he has lost or won. If the former, they promptly
present themselves before the proprietor and claim the usual percentage
paid to a “steerer,” and usually receive it. This sort of scamp is known
among the fraternity as a “gutter snipe.”

Once in a while one of them proves himself of some service. On a certain
evening, two young men had been playing faro at a “skin” house on the
Bowery, in New York. They had pooled their resources and one of them had
been doing all the betting. Their losses footed up about eighty dollars.
After coming down stairs they stood upon the corner, bewailing their
hard luck, when they were accosted by an individual who, although
decidedly seedy, presented the appearance of being the wreck of what was
once a gentleman. He told them that he had overheard their conversation
and asked them if they would like to get a part of their money back.
Being answered in the affirmative, he went on to say that he himself did
not dare to go up into the rooms, but that if the man who had not done
the betting would return alone and claim to have been acting as a
“steerer,” he would receive from the proprietor a “capper’s” percentage
of the house’s winnings. The advice was acted upon; one of the two again
mounted the stairs, entered the apartment, demanded his forty-five per
cent. of the money lost and received it without objection. The stranger
was made happy by receiving a five dollar bill, and the friends walked
away considerably wiser, if somewhat poorer, than when they first
entered the den.

While speaking of “steerers” there is one fact which should not be
overlooked. Not a few of the proprietors of the so-called “square”
houses run “brace” games at other localities, “on the quiet.” These men
keep “ropers” at the foot of the stairways leading up to their
respectable (?) establishments, whose duty it is to inform any
particularly verdant “sucker” that there is “no game being played here
to-night,” and then “steer” him to the place where he can be fleeced
with more ease and expedition. The same tactics are employed at times
when public sentiment compels the closing of the gaming hells. The
“reputable” gamblers shut their doors, and open a room either at a hotel
or in some out of the way location, whither their “steerers” guide
victims, thus partially at least, recouping their losses resulting from
the closing of their regular rooms. Where they do not open other places
they sometimes “stand in” with the keepers of “skin” rooms, to have
their employes “steer” their patrons to the latter resorts, the “square”
players, of course, receiving a percentage of the winnings.

The better class of houses of play close at about two o’clock in the
morning, when the cards, dealing boxes and other paraphernalia are given
a few hours rest. Others are open all night, and at Pueblo, Colorado,
there is a resort whose doors are never closed. At all establishments,
however, there are at least two sets of employes, known respectively as
the “day” and “night-watch.” The day men arrive about nine in the
morning, the dealer having the combination of the safe. He takes out the
money, chips, cards, etc.; the “house is ready for business,” or to
state it more accurately, the trap is set and baited for fresh game.

It is generally during the earlier hours of the day-watch that the game
is “thrown off,” if at all. This term is a bit of gambler’s slang, and
always means that some one is victimized through a gross breach of good
faith, in other words, the victim is “thrown” to a confederate as a bone
to a dog. The “throwing off a game” is usually worked as follows:
Suppose that A, B and C enter into partnership to conduct a gaming
house. A and B secretly agree to defraud C of the capital which he has
advanced. C closes the house at night and A opens in the morning. B
arranges with an outside party to come to the house in the morning while
C is absent, and by collusion with the dealer, A, “win out the roll,” as
it is technically termed, that is, win the money of the firm so that C’s
share may be divided among the two scoundrels. Of all dastardly
confidence games this may be probably set down as the meanest, and the
fact that it is ever done shows how far the maxim “honor among thieves”
applies to professional blacklegs.

                        A UNIQUE ESTABLISHMENT.

The establishment at Pueblo to which reference has been made above, is
probably the largest in the United States. It contains six faro tables,
four roulette wheels, four hazard tables, two “stud” poker tables, two
“draw” poker tables, one “short faro” table, one vingt-un table, one
hieronymus bowl, and one table for playing a game known as “high suit.”
They are all in one large room, which opens directly off the street,
without any pretense of concealment, and contains, besides, a bar and a
lunch counter. Back of this is an apartment in which occur two drawings
daily, and yet farther in the rear is a keno room, where a game is run
every night. This mammoth hell never closes its doors. Three sets of
employes relieve each other, each “shift” (a designation for the
alternate “watches,” borrowed from the phraseology of the Colorado
miners) being on duty eight hours. As may be imagined, the cost of
running such an establishment is enormous, and the fact that the
proprietors continue to prosper financially shows that dupes are found
in abundance.

There is one feature in the management of this Pueblo resort peculiar to
itself. It is a very common thing in all gambling houses for a player
who “has lost his roll” to ask a donation—or a “loan,” as he prefers to
call it—of a small sum, wherewith to get a drink, procure a meal, or pay
for a night’s lodging. Only in the lowest dives is such a request
refused. In the Pueblo den, however, a different system is pursued. The
proprietors never give money to any man, for the reason that they
apprehend that the beneficiary might use it in playing against the
house. At the same time no sober applicant (unless a chronic “dead
beat”), whether player or stranger, is ever refused a drink, a cigar, a
square meal, or a night’s lodging. Instead of cash, however, he is given
a brass check which, while not receivable at the tables as stakes, is
good at the bar, the lunch counter, or at a lodging house owned and run
by the establishment, for refreshments of whatever kind he may desire.

                              SHORT FARO.

This is a vastly simplified modification of the game of faro. The lay-
out consists of six cards—ace, king, queen, jack, ten, and nine. The
dealer commonly uses two or more packs, which he shuffles and usually
deals from his hand, though sometimes from a box. The first three cards
run off are for “the house,” and are dealt faces down and not exposed.
The second three cards are for the player and are shown. Bettors place
their stakes on the card or cards in the lay-out which they may select
before the deal begins. The mode of play may be best shown by an
illustration: Suppose a player wagers a dollar on the queen. If one of
the three cards exposed happens to be a queen he wins one dollar; if two
are queens he receives double the amount of his stake; if all three
should prove to be queens the dealer returns him his original stake
augmented by three times the amount; if no queen is shown the “house”
gathers in the stake. It does not require a particularly erudite
mathematician to discover that the odds at this game are enormously in
favor of the bank. In the first place the player can win only should one
of six cards out of fifty-two turn up. Moreover, of the six cards dealt
he is allowed to see only three, thus reducing his already insignificant
chances by one half. Even when fairly played the game, like roulette, is
little short of downright robbery by the dealer, and when to this
preponderance of chances one adds the numerous advantages which a
professional “brace” dealer has over a greenhorn it is easy to foretell
who will have the money at the end of the game.


The attentive reader will find, at various parts of this volume,
allusions to the tacit understanding which often exists between the
fraternity of black-legs and the police. The personal experience of the
author is referred to and the chapter devoted to local gambling is
replete with recitals of facts which afford food for reflection.

It may not be out of place here, however, to describe briefly the
methods adopted for rendering ineffective even a carefully planned and
honestly executed raid, if undertaken or managed by inexperienced or
incompetent officers. The latter on gaining entrance to a room do not
find any gambling in progress and are therefore unable to capture any
property or make any arrests. The outer doors of the resorts are usually
constructed of ponderous oak timbers, from four to ten inches thick,
fastened together by means of heavy iron bolts. Of late years steel has
been substituted for wood, and it is said that at one of the Chinese
gambling hells in San Francisco the doors are made of thick rubber,
resembling car springs in texture, the elasticity of which repels the
blows of a sledge hammer as a marble pavement gives a rebound to a
rubber ball. The object of making such doors is, of course, to prevent
forcible intrusion. It is not of the employment of violence, however,
that I am about to speak, but of those raids where the officers are
given admission. It should be added that not infrequently entrance is
granted, after a short delay, because the hospitable proprietors have
been privately warned of the intended visit.

A small aperture in the door enables the door-keepers, one of whom is
always in attendance, to inspect applicants for admission before undoing
the bolts. If the custodian is in doubt as to the character of the
callers, the proprietor is summoned. If the visitors are recognized as
officers, an electric bell sounds a note of warning, and a parley
between the blue-coats and the Cerebus at the portal follows. In the
twinkling of an eye the cards, boxes, chips, lay-out, case-keeper, and
money disappear into the safe. The table is at once transformed into an
ordinary round-topped affair, covered with a crimson cloth. Scattered
around the room are well dressed, quiet mannered gentlemen engaged in
reading the newspapers, in discussing politics, or in general
conversation. The police see nothing, and after apologizing for their
intrusion, withdraw. Often the proprietor accompanies them to the
stairway, and, cordially shaking hands, leaves in the honest (?) palm of
the one in command a substantial token of his readiness to “bury the
hatchet.” Scarcely have they reached the sidewalk before the table is
placed in position, the safe unlocked, the money and paraphernalia taken
out, the players resume their seats, and the game goes on as before. Is
it surprising that the man who witnesses such a farce as this should
entertain a contempt for the very name of law?

                      REMINISCENCES AND INCIDENTS.

From what has been said, some unsophisticated reader may be led to
suppose that running a faro bank is a short and easy road to fortune. No
more fatal mistake could be made. Professional gamblers, almost without
exception, die paupers. Nor is the reason far to seek. The gambler “on
the inside,” is likely to win, even if the game is fairly played; and
the skin dealer never loses, even by accident. But the curse of Heaven
seems to attach to money thus accumulated. The winners rarely keep it
long. The terrible fascination of the mania for gaming is no less potent
with professionals than amateurs. The author might multiply
illustrations, drawn from his own experience. A successful proprietor of
a faro game will often draw from his safe thousands of his nefariously
won money to drop it on the table in another house. Even Morrissey, the
gambling king of the country, twice a member of the New York State
Senate and later of the United States House of Representatives, owner of
the most luxuriously appointed gambling house of the American metropolis
and of the world famed “club house” at Saratoga, which vied with Monaco
and Monte Carlo in its elegance—even Morrissey, the “prince of good
fellows,” the idol of his friends, the once millionaire, died insolvent.
The history of American gambling abounds in incidents scarcely less
striking. Ephemeral success, debauchery, drunkenness, poverty, suicide
or death from violence—this is the epitome of the career of the average
blackleg. O! young men of America, you who are upon the very threshold
of life, you who are in doubt as to “which way” you will direct your
steps, you in whom are centered the fondest affections of so many
hearts, you before whom so bright a future is opening, you upon whom
depends the future of this great country, listen to the advice which
comes from a heart that would avert from you the pangs which it has
suffered. Believe one who has drained the cup to its very dregs, that at
the bottom you will find only a serpent!

William Close, one of the best known and most expert manipulators of a
brace box known to American gamblers, who won heavily and bet as freely,
died a pauper.

John Timmins, a successful dealer, “went broke” and in a fit of
desperation, ended his miserable existence with a bullet.

Sam Cade, a “faro bank fiend” and one of the best poker players known in
the “hells” was buried by a fund to which I was myself a subscriber.

These are but a tithe of the many instances that I might adduce in
corroboration of the truth of what has been said.

An illustration of the well-nigh irreclaimable depravity of the case-
hardened professional happened not many years ago in a St. Louis
gambling house. A well dressed young man entered, sat down at the faro
table, and in a very short time lost $500. His money gone, he hurriedly
rose and left the room without a word. After his departure one of the
“profession,” who was sitting in the room, looked toward the door and
remarked, “Well, he dropped his little roll rather sudden.” Then he
added, with a pensive air, “but it comes easy?” “What is he?” asked the
dealer. “Why don’t you know?” was the inquiry of the first speaker.
“He’s one of the finest ‘dips’ in the country.” “What’s a dip?” was the
next conundrum of the proprietor. “Why, you driveling idiot,” replied
his confrere, “a dip’s a pick-pocket.” “Well,” answered the winner, with
a yawn, “I don’t care. Glad he makes money so easily. Hope he’ll ‘dip’
some more. A dip’s money is just as good to run bank with as any other.”
And with this remark he wheeled about in his chair and was soon immersed
in the newspaper, awaiting the arrival of another victim.

I cannot close this chapter on faro without a passing reference to an
old gambler who at one time was a prominent figure all along the
Mississippi valley, and whose face was as familiar to patrons of the
river steamers as were the sand-bars which blocked the channel. I refer
to “Colonel” Charles Starr. His long yarns were proverbial. According to
his own story he owned half the plantations skirting the river.
Occasionally some one would “pick him up” by telling him that he (the
skeptic) was the owner of those broad acres. No such trifling
circumstance as this abashed the “Colonel” in the least. Like Banquo’s
ghost, he peremptorily and perennially refused to “down.”

Stories about him were as plentiful as “pickaninnies” about a negro
cabin. It is said that once, at an Arkansas watering place, he was
approached by an itinerant blackleg who asked for half a dollar with
which to get something to eat. The “Colonel” surveyed him leisurely,
from head to foot, before either granting or refusing his request.
Finally he said: “How long did you say it was, young man, since you had
anything to eat?” “Two days, Colonel.” “Well,” drawled Starr, “I reckon
I don’t want to give you a half a dollar, but if you go without eating
two days longer, I’ll give you a hundred dollars for your appetite.”

Starr was a gourmand, though a dyspeptic, and withal rather selfish. He
went into a restaurant in New Orleans one day and ordered a sumptuous
repast. A hungry, penniless gambler entered while he was eating, and
approaching him, said: “Colonel, I’m awful hungry and I’m dead broke.
Can’t you ‘stake’ me with some of that?” “Oh, no,” answered Starr, “you
see, I’m a capper for the house, and my play doesn’t go.”

He accumulated a fair competence, but gambling and dissipation reduced
him to poverty, and he died a pauper. The evening of the day preceding
his death he entered a fashionable restaurant and ordered a dinner
costing some seven or eight dollars. The proprietor called him on one
side, and told him frankly that he did not feel disposed to “carry” him
any longer, that he must pay cash for his order or it would not be
filled. Starr said nothing, but went out and borrowed five dollars from
a friend; returning, he threw it on a table and ordered the best meal
obtainable for that sum. When it was set before him he deliberately
turned every dish upside down upon the cloth, and walked out of the
place. The following morning he died.

                              CHAPTER III.
                        POKER AND POKER PLAYERS.

The game of poker is undoubtedly one of the “peculiar institutions” of
the United States and, like base-ball, may be called a “National game.”
It finds an abiding place alike among the pineries of the frozen
Kennebec and the orange groves of Florida, in the gilded _salons_ of
Manhattan Island, the backwoods of Arkansas, and the mining camps of
California. It numbers among its devotees men of letters and of the
proletariat, the millionaire and the shoe-black, the railway magnate and
the tramp. It recognizes no distinction of “age, color, or previous
condition of servitude.” It draws not the line at sex, and is equally at
home in the fashionable club house and the gambler’s den, the private
parlor and the cheap lodging house. Men who avowedly abhor it, play it
behind closed doors and drawn curtains, and ladies of culture and high
social position are among its most devoted and most skillful patrons. To
describe its fascination is as difficult as to account for it, yet the
undisputable fact remains that of the vast army of men connected with
mercantile pursuits in the United States, comparatively few can be found
who have not some knowledge of the game; and were the whole truth
disclosed, no insignificant number might reveal a tale of losses of no
little magnitude.

Gentlemen, who would not, for worlds, enter a gaming hell, and who are
apt to pride themselves upon their ignorance of faro, play poker at
their clubs and by their own firesides, without either compunction of
conscience or pretence of concealment. Intelligent, thoughtful men,
eulogize the game as far removed from vulgarity, as calling into
exercise some of the highest faculties of the human mind, and as
resulting in healthy, moral effects.

This enthusiastic laudation of the game is all very well, but the naked
facts remain, that whatever argument may be advanced against any form of
gambling, may be urged with equal force against poker; and that this
game sanctioned as it practically is, by the countenance of the
reputable men who never set foot within a gaming house, has done more to
weaken the moral sense of the country at large as to the general
question of gambling than any other single agency. Its growing
popularity and increasing prevalence constitute a menace by no means to
be ignored to the prosperity, the morals, even the perpetuity of our
people. A nation of gamblers is a nation whose course is already turned
towards the setting sun.

As in the chapter devoted to the game of faro, the game will be first
described as squarely and fairly played, after which the principal
tricks of “card sharpers” will be taken up.

_Foul Hand._—A hand composed of more, or less than five cards.

_Going Better._—When any player makes a bet, it is the privilege of the
next player to the left to raise him, that is, after making good the
amount already bet by his adversary, to make a still higher bet. In such
a case it is usual to say, “I see you, and go (so much) better,” naming
the extra sum bet.

_Going In._—After making good the ante of the age and the straddles (if
any) for the privilege of drawing cards and playing for the pool.

_Limit._—A condition made at the beginning of a game, limiting the
amount of any single bet or raise.

_Making Good._—Depositing in the pool an amount equal to any bet
previously made. This is done previous to raising or calling a playing,
and is sometimes called _seeing_ a bet.

_Original Hand._—The first five cards dealt to any player.

_Pat Hand._—An original hand not likely to be improved by drawing, such
as a full, straight, or flush.

_Pass._—“I pass,” is a term used in Draw Poker, to signify that a player
throws up his hand and retires from the game.

_Raising a Bet._—The same as _going better_.

_Say._—When it is the turn of any player to declare what he will do,
whether he will _bet_, or _pass_ his hand.

In the fair game, the deal is of no special value and anybody may begin.

The dealer, beginning with the person at his left, throws around five
cards to each player, giving one card at a time.

The dealer shuffles and makes up the pack himself, or it may be done by
the player at his left, and the player at his right must cut.

To begin the pool, the player next to the dealer on his left, must put
up money, which is called an “ante,” and then in succession, each
player, passing around to the left, must after looking at his hand
determine if he goes in or not; and each player deciding to play for the
pool must put in twice the amount of the ante. Those who decline to play
throw up their cards, face downward on the table, and per consequence in
front of the next dealer.

When all who wish to play have gone in, the person putting up the ante
can either give up all interest in the pool, thus forfeiting the ante
which has been put up, or else can play like the others who have gone
in, by “making good,” that is, putting, up in addition to the ante as
much more as will make him equal in the stake to the rest.

The players must throw away their discarded cards before taking up or
looking at those which they draw.

In poker, as fairly played, every player is for himself and against all
others, and to that end will not let any of his cards be seen, nor
betray the value of his hand by drawing or playing out of his turn, or
by change of countenance, or any other sign. It is a great object to
mystify your adversaries, up to the “call,” when hands have to be shown.
To this end it is permitted to “chaff,” or talk nonsense, with a view of
misleading your adversaries as to the value of your hand, but this must
be without unreasonably delaying the game.

When the drawing is all complete, the betting goes around in order, like
the drawing, to the left. The ante man is the first to bet unless he has
declined to play, and in that case the first bet is made by the player
nearest to the dealer on his left. But the player entitled to bet first
may withhold his wager until the others have bet round to him, which is
called “holding the age,” and this being considered an advantage, is
very frequently done.

Each bettor in turn must put into the pool a sum equal at least to the
first bet made; but each may in turn increase the bet, or “raise” it, as
it comes to him; in which case the bets proceeding round in order must
be made by each player in his turn, equal to the highest amount put in
by any one; the party who fails being required to go out of the play,
forfeiting his interest in the pool.

When a player puts in only as much as has been put in by each player who
preceded him, that is called “seeing the bet.”

When a player puts in that much, and raises it, that is called seeing
the bet and “going better.”

When the bet goes around to the last bettor, or player, who remains in,
if he does not wish to see and go better, he simply sees and “calls,”
and then all playing must show their hands, and the highest hand wins
the pool.

When any one declines to see the bet, or the increase of bet, which has
been made, he “lays down” his hand; that is, throws it up with the cards
face downwards on the table. If all the other players throw down their
hands, the one who remains in to the last wins, and takes the pool
without showing his hand.

To “bluff” is to take the risk of betting high enough on a poor hand or
a worthless one, to make all the other players lay down their hands
without seeing or calling you.

When a hand is complete so that the holder of it can play without
drawing to better it, that is called a “pat” hand. A bold player will
sometimes decline to draw any cards, and pretend to have a “pat” hand,
and play it as such when he has none.

A skillful player will watch and observe when each player draws, the
expression of the face, the circumstances and manner of betting, and
judge, or try to judge, of the value of each hand opposed to him

No one is bound to answer the question, how many cards he drew, except
the dealer; and the dealer is not bound to tell after the betting has


1. _A Sequence Flush_—Which is a sequence of five cards, and all of the
same suit.

2. _Fours_—Which is four of the five cards of the same denomination.

3. _A Full_—Which is a hand consisting of three cards of the same
denomination and two of likewise equal denomination.

4. _A Flush_—Which is all five cards of the same suit.

5. _A Sequence_—Which is all five cards not of the same suit, but all in
sequence. [In computing the value of a sequence, an ace counts either as
the highest or the lowest card; that is below a deuce or above a king.]

6. _Threes_—Which is three cards of the same denomination, but the other
two of different denominations from each other.

7. _Two pairs._

8. _One pair._

When a hand has neither of the above the count is by the cards of the
highest value or denomination.

When parties opposed each hold a pair, the highest pair wins, and the
same when each party holds threes or fours.

When each party holds two pairs, the highest pair of the two determines
the relative value of the hands.

When each party holds a sequence, the hand commencing with the highest
card in the sequence wins; so, also, when two or more parties hold
flushes against each other.

That full counts highest of which the three cards of the same
denomination are highest. The two cards of same denomination help only
to constitute the full, but do not add to the value of the hand. When
hands are equal so far that each party holds a pair, or two pairs, of
exactly the same value, the next highest card or cards in each hand must
be compared with the highest card or cards in the other hand, to
determine which wins.

In case of the highest hands, (which very seldom occurs) being exactly
equal, the pool is divided.

                     TECHNICAL TERMS USED IN POKER.

_Age._—Same as eldest hand.

_Ante._—The stake deposited in the pool by the age at the beginning of
the game.

_Blaze._—This hand consists of five court cards, and, when it is played,
beats two pairs.

_Blind._—The ante deposited by the age previous to the deal. The blind
may be doubled by the player to the left of the eldest hand, and the
next player to the left may at his option _straddle_ this bet, and so
on, including the dealer, each player doubling. The player to the left
of the age, alone has the privilege of the first straddle, and if he
decline to straddle it debars any other player coming after him from
doing so. To make a blind good costs double the amount of the ante, and
to make a straddle good costs four times the amount of the blind. Each
succeeding straddle costs double the preceding one.

_Call._—When the bet goes round to the last bettor, a player who remains
in, if he does not wish to see and go better, simply sees and calls, and
then all those playing show their hands, and the highest hand wins the

_Chips._—Ivory or bone tokens, representing a fixed value in money.

_Chipping, or to Chip._—Is synonymous with betting. Thus a player,
instead of saying “I bet,” may say “I chip” so much.

_Discard._—To take from your hand the number of cards you intend to
draw, and place them on the table, near the next dealer, face downwards.

_Draw._—After discarding one or more cards, to receive a corresponding
number from the dealer.

_Eldest Hand, or Age._—The player immediately at the left of the dealer.

_Filling._—To match, or strengthen the cards to which you draw.

The following descriptions of what are known as “jack-pots,” a
modification of the game of draw-poker, is taken from “Trump’s American
Hoyle,” which Blackbridge pronounces the standard authority on this as
on all other card games:

When all the players pass up to the blind hand, the latter allows his
blind to remain in the pot, and each of the other players deposit a
similar amount. The blind now deals, and any player _in his regular
turn_ may _open_ or _break_ the pot, provided he holds a pair of jacks
or better, but a player is not compelled to do so, this being entirely

Each player in turn, commencing with the one at the left of the dealer,
declares whether he can and will open the pot; if he declines to open,
he says, “I pass.” If he has the requisite hand, and elects to open, he
says, “I open.”

If no player opens the pot, then each player deposits in the pool the
same amount that was previously contributed, and the deal passes to the
next player. The same performance ensues until some player holds the
necessary cards, and is willing to break the pot.

A player may break the pot for any amount within the limits of the game
and each player in turn must make the bet good, raise it, or pass out.

After all the players who determined to go in have made good the bet of
the player who opened the jack-pot, and the hands have been filled, then
the opener of the pot makes the first bet.

If all pass, up to the player who broke the pot, the latter takes the
pool, and can only be compelled to show the jacks, or better, necessary
to break the pot.

One of the most vital adjuncts to poker games as played in the many
“club-rooms” scattered throughout the United States is technically
termed the “take off.” It is an amount taken by the proprietors out of
the pots as a percentage due the “house” on every hand “called,” and
shown down; a pair of aces and another pair, and you must “go to the
hole” with a check. The “hole” is a slot cut in the middle of the table,
leading to a locked drawer underneath, and all checks deposited therein
are the property of the keeper of the place. At other resorts the house
“takes off” for each pair of jacks or any better hand shown on the call,
while at others the percentage is exacted for any two pairs shown. It
will be readily seen, by any intelligent reader, that it is only a
question of time when all the player’s chips will go into the “hole.”
The exaction of the “take off” is justified on the score of incidental
expenses, lights, etc., but a compound interest note, on which interest
is computed quarterly, will not take away your money more surely or more
rapidly than this innocent looking “hole.”

In “stud-poker” the dealer attends to the “take off.” He is supposed to
take one check for every pair in sight, and for every “call,” but owing
to a manual dexterity acquired through long practice he is enabled
considerably to exceed the stipulated limit, and it is but a short time
before all the money played against the game is in the table drawer.

Having briefly outlined the principles of the fair game of poker, and
explained the relative value of the hands of cards which may be held by
players, it is next in order to explain the various advantages obtained
by professional gamblers over those whom they propose to fleece, such as
stocking the cards, employing marked cards or cards previously prepared,
“crimping,” “ringing in cold decks,” “holding out,” false shuffles and
cuts, “convexes” and “reflectors,” &c., &c.

First will be described the simplest of all known methods of stocking
the cards, viz.:


Prepared cards are either “Strippers” or “Briefs.” In preparing
“Strippers” the professional selects from the pack two hands, which may
be either “Fulls,” “Flushes,” or “Fours.” The sides of the remaining
cards are then prepared so that they shall be a little narrower than the
hands selected. The cards withdrawn for stripping are then cut slightly
convex on the sides, somewhat after the manner of strippers prepared for

The number of cards taken out varies according to the character of the
hand to be made up. If the sharper wishes to deal flushes he will
require ten cards of the same suit. If full hands are desired he picks
out two sets of three of a certain denomination together with four
smaller cards of a kind. The object of this selection is to give variety
to the hands to be dealt. The manner of conducting this scheme of fraud
is substantially as follows: As the gambler shuffles it is not difficult
for him to feel along the sides of the pack with the fingers of his
right hand; he then draws out the wider cards, which he places upon the
top of the pack. When he has succeeded in getting the wide cards on top
he next divides the pack, then taking each portion by the outer ends, he
places the two halves evenly together and then, with comparative ease,
so shuffles them in that no two cards of the same size shall lie
together, but instead shall alternate over and under each other
throughout the whole deck.

The reader who will carefully study the foregoing explanation will see
that the cards will run off “Four-handed;” that is that they will fall
to the hands of opposite players.

In the practice of this trick the professional finds the services of a
partner of great value to him. If, however, he have none, when he deals
he places one card above the hands which he has set up in order that his
antagonist may receive one of the arranged hands while he takes the
other. Let us suppose that the hands have been arranged as “Flushes.” If
the dealer finds that in his hand he has not an ace, as a matter of
course he refrains from betting. If, however, the hands be “Fulls,” the
professional’s acquaintance with the arrangement enables him to know
which is the better hand, and he bets, or refrains from betting, as he
knows is best.

It is also possible to employ strippers in a two-handed game. In the
latter case the dealer strips the pre-arranged hands, but does not mix
them as in a four-handed game, preferring to “shift” on his own deal and
allow the cards to run without cutting on that of his antagonist.

Sometimes in using strippers in a four-handed game the dealer will place
a “Jog,” that is a hand, over them and allow his confederate to cut the
pack down to the prepared place. At first sight the employment of cards
thus prepared may appear rather difficult, yet the professional blackleg
finds it comparatively easy after a little practice. “Full” hands and
“Fours of a kind” may be set up without difficulty. The swindler knows
which the ten strippers are, and in taking up his five cards he is, of
course, well informed as to the value of the five cards which his
opponent has, and guides himself accordingly. To illustrate: Suppose
there are ten strippers made up of four fives, three aces and three
kings, and that the sharper secures three aces and two kings. Naturally
he refuses to bet, being well aware that the four fives and the king
must be held by his antagonist.


The “Brief,” which is a card used not only in poker, but also in various
other games, is a card nicely trimmed on the sides to such a width that
it can be readily distinguished by the dealer’s touch.

The advantage of using such a card is that it enables the party knowing
of its existence to cut at the point where it lies. Sometimes the
“brief” is placed on the top of the prepared hand and the confederate of
the dealer uncovers the pre-arranged cards by making precisely the
correct cut.


By far the most common description of frauds employed by professional
gamblers in playing poker, however, is that of “stocking” the cards.
Four varieties of “stocks” are employed by the fraternity, commonly
known as the top stock, the bottom stock, the jog stock and the palm

                             THE TOP STOCK.

Of all these, perhaps the one most ordinarily employed—possibly because
the one most easily accomplished—is the top stock. In preparing the pack
for the perpetration of this fraud, the dealer selects a pair and places
between the two cards as many others as there are players at the table,
less one. Thus, if there are four persons playing he inserts three cards
between the two constituting the pair; if five, he places four; and so
on, as the number of players is greater or less. His next step is to
place above the pair thus arranged, the same number of cards which he
has placed between them, the result being that when he deals, the two
cards which he desires must necessarily fall to his own hand. A partner
is also a desirable adjunct in this case, as he ordinarily sits at the
right hand of the dealer, in order that he may either give the cards a
false cut, or allow them to run. If, however, the dealer has no partner,
he ordinarily has to resort to the device of “shifting the cut” (a trick
which will be explained below), in order that the arrangement of the
pack may not be disturbed. If the sharper can manage to get hold of the
three cards of the hands which are thrown up, he may sometimes find it
practicable to arrange “threes of a kind” in this way, as well as a

                             BOTTOM STOCK.

In executing the bottom stock the tactics employed are substantially the
same as in the top stock, by that the pair are placed on the bottom of
the pack instead of on the top. The dealer takes great care in shuffling
that he shall not disturb the lower part of the pack. The point at which
the deck is cut makes considerable difference in the success of this
maneuver. If, after cutting, it is found that all of the pack, except
the cut, is necessary to supply the players with the requisite number of
cards, then the pair will fall to the hand which has the last card, for
the reason that the player who receives the bottom card must necessarily
have also received the other; but if the dealer sees that the bottom
card is not destined to fall to himself, when he reaches the last two
cards he “shifts” them, that is, reverses the order of dealing so that
the party who should receive the top one receives the lower, while that
uppermost falls to the next player. It may be readily perceived that by
this trick the dealer has separated the pair, one falling to one hand,
and the other to the player seated immediately upon the dealer’s left. I
have already stated that the point at which the deck may be cut plays no
unimportant part in the successful accomplishment of this maneuver. In
fact, in order to succeed it is essential that the sharper have a
partner at his right who will cut so near to the bottom of the deck that
the lower cards will have to be run off. It is immaterial to the two
scoundrels which of them receives the pre-arranged pair, inasmuch as the
winnings are to be divided between them, consequently the bottom stock
affords a double chance for the perpetration of fraud.

Occasionally a blackleg who has no partner, but who observes that some
particular player is in the habit of cutting the pack very deep, will so
arrange matters that he may sit next to him, this renders an innocent
party inadvertently an accomplice to his nefarious practices. When two
sharpers sit in a game with honest players and have resort to the use of
the bottom stock, especially if to this be added “signing up,”—by which
is meant “signaling” to one’s confederate the cards which one has—it is,
however, a moral impossibility for the unsophisticated to beat the
combination of the sharpers.

Should the trick be suspected the sharp rogues will place the remainder
of the pack on top of the cut, suffering a “jog”—which will be explained
later—to lie over it, by which means they are enabled to deal from the
entire pack, which usually tends to counteract suspicion. Sometimes,
after the pair has been placed on the bottom of the pack another card is
put underneath, the result being that the player who receives the next
to the last card will receive the pair. This very simple trick has been
found most efficacious in puzzling a suspicious player, who is
ordinarily greatly surprised to find that the hand into which falls the
last card has not received the prepared pair. Sometimes two, or even
three cards are placed on the bottom, the principle being the same,
although in this case it is necessary that the dealer should carefully
remember the number of cards so placed, in order that he may know
precisely when he reaches the lower card of the pair.

                             THE JOG STOCK.

The “jog” stock is a device which it is absolutely impossible to execute
without the aid of a confederate, yet it is regarded by professionals as
one of the most effectual means of defrauding an honest player. As in
the case of the top and bottom stocks, a pair is arranged by the dealer,
who places upon it a sufficient number of cards to make the pair fall to
his own hand. He next shuffles the pack once or twice in such a manner
as to keep the arranged cards on the top, after which he slides a
portion of the deck over the pair, leaving a narrow break or jog along
the side, thus separating the hand which he has put up from the
remainder of the pack. His confederate, it should be remembered, always
sits on his right, then takes that part of the deck which rests upon the
top of the stocked hand, with the thumb and finger of his right hand
grasping them by the ends. Then with the thumb and middle finger of his
left hand he seizes, in the same manner, the pre-arranged cards
underneath; he draws out the latter and places them on top of the
others, leaving them in precisely the same position as they were before
his confederate offered them to him to cut.

An expert sharper, after winning once through these means, on his next
deal so arranges the pack that the pair shall fall to his partner, with
whom he bets, and to whom he apparently loses money. After this the
cards are permitted to run naturally for one or two hands, when the
second scoundrel repeats the same tactics.

The reflecting reader will readily perceive that this device is far less
likely to arouse suspicion than the employment of either the top or
bottom stock, and for this reason is more popular with experts than
either of the other two.

In playing this trick many sharpers have resorted to the use of glazed
cards. Usually the backs have been previously prepared by slightly
roughening them with very fine sand-paper. The object of doing this is
to cause the cards to adhere together and prevent them from slipping
about during the process of shuffling. This enables the dealer to place
the pack to a very fine break, which renders the cutting more easy and
attracts less attention. I have known experts who were able to set up
“three of a kind” in this way as easily as a single pair, although for
the successful accomplishment of this it is necessary that the two
confederates should understand each other thoroughly. In such a case the
partner sitting on the dealer’s right observes what pair the latter has,
and, if possible, either by cutting the third card into his own hand or
from the hands thrown down, and turns it to his confederate with the
proper number of cards beneath. If the dealer allow the hand to pass to
his partner, the latter, if he wins and deals, passes the cards on to
the bottom, in order that the hand may run out on the bottom stock.

                              PALM STOCK.

No little dexterity is required to manipulate the “palm stock.” I have
seen professionals attempt its execution and come to no small grief
through its being detected in consequence of their clumsiness. In order
to execute this maneuver effectually, the party intending to employ it
must be on the left of the dealer. He obtains possession of a high
pair—perhaps kings or aces—and while he is holding one in each hand in
such a way that neither can be perceived, he asks that he be allowed,
after the shuffling and cutting, to cut the deck again. Permission
having been granted, he seizes the pack in his right hand, places one of
the cards which he has withheld in his hand on top of the pack, and as
he cuts he leaves as many cards on the table as may be necessary to
intervene between the pair in order that they may be “Put up.” Then as
he grasps these cards with his left hand he places the other card of the
pair on the top and throws them on top of the pack. It is not difficult
to see that the result of this maneuver is to place the two cards which
he has “palmed” in such a position that they will inevitably fall to
himself. Of course it is not possible to practice this trick frequently
without exciting suspicion, but I have, myself, by employing it
judiciously, managed to win no inconsiderable sums. As a rule, after
executing the “Palm Stock,” the black-leg “goes a blind,” and the trick
is rarely attempted unless there is a large “ante.”

                             FALSE SHUFFLE.

Another favorite practice among the black-legs is the “False Shuffle.”
Almost all sharpers have their own individual methods of shuffling; but
perhaps the one which is most approved is that known among the
profession as “the intricate shuffle.” It is executed substantially as
follows: The cards are “ripped,” that is, the deck is divided into two
halves, which are pushed entirely through each other, after which they
are drawn out at the ends, and the half which was previously on top is
replaced in the same position. Some professionals shuffle only the lower
half of the pack, not disturbing the top, but concealing the upper cards
by means of keeping three or four fingers over the end of the pack which
is towards their antagonist. Sometimes a very quick shuffle is employed
which does not disarrange the cards on the top, and after this the pack
is given a double false cut, by means of which the cards originally
uppermost are retained in the same position. The device, which, if
rapidly executed, appears to the unsophisticated player a perfectly fair
shuffle, only a practical acquaintance with the operation of the trick
enables the verdant amateur to detect this trick when executed adroitly.

                              FALSE CUTS.

Besides false shuffles, professionals also have resort to false cuts. Of
these, there are but two varieties in common use, known respectively as
the “over hand” and “double” cut. In the former about one-third of the
pack is taken with the right hand, while one-half the remainder is
concealed in the left. The party cutting brings the left hand towards
him, that portion of the deck which is left on the table is then covered
by the dropping of the cards held in the right hand, the hand still
being kept over them, while those in the left hand are thrown over and
beyond the others; the maneuver is completed by placing the cards in the
right hand on the top.

In the execution of the “double” cut, the middle of the pack is drawn
out at the end with the thumb and middle finger, after they are brought
to the top of the deck, the cards originally uppermost are caught by the
lower part of the thumb and three fingers, drawn out at the end and once
more placed on the top. In either case the pack is left in precisely the
same position as it was before the seeming cut had been made. The object
is the same in the case of both false shuffles and false cuts; that is,
to leave the pre-arranged pack in precisely the condition in which the
dealer wished it to be.

Sometimes, when a perfectly fair cut is made by an honest player, the
professional finds it desirable to “shift” the cut, or, in other words,
to replace the two sections of the pack in the same condition in which
they were before they had been offered for cutting. The methods of
executing this trick are multiform. Ordinarily, however, the operator
finds it desirable to have a partner on his left; in fact, in draw-poker
it is difficult to execute the maneuver without some assistance. Three
of a kind having been placed on top in the shuffle, the cut is left on
the table, and the professional deals from the remainder. The deal being
completed, removed from the table with the right hand, the cut
“shifted,” and the pack dropped into the left hand ready for his
partner’s draft.

This piece of chicancery, if successfully performed, is almost
impossible of detection by a greenhorn, and even the professional
gamblers are not infrequently deceived by its dexterous manipulation.

[Illustration: “TIPPING THE HAND.”]

The accompanying illustration affords a view of two “skin” gamblers
engaged in victimizing a “sucker” by means of a trick familiarly known
among the fraternity as “tipping” or “signing the hand.” Large sums of
money have been won through this means, not only from verdant dupes, but
even from professionals who prided themselves upon their astuteness. In
order to work it successfully, marked cards are indispensable, and at
least one of the confederates, who act in unison, must be an expert at
the use of “paper,” as marked or “advantage” cards are called among the

The cut shows the method in which the trick is carried on. Player number
3 represents the “sucker;” player number 2 the swindler who has induced
him to play on the promise of “tipping” the “hand” of number 1, who is
in reality the partner of number 2, although, of course, this latter
fact is unknown to number 3. The method of playing this nefarious
confidence game may be best shown by an illustration. Number 2 always
faithfully signals number 3 precisely what cards are in the hands of
number 1. The latter being an expert marked card player, of course,
knows with absolute certainty what cards are held by number 3. Let us
suppose that number 1 holds a pair of sixes and number 3 a pair of
fives. Number 2 signals to number 3 that number 1 has in his hand a low
pair. Number 3 is naturally in the dark as to whether the pair in
question is of a lower denomination than his own, and in the hope that
it may prove to be makes his bet. Number 1 immediately “raises” him, and
this is continued as long as the victim can be induced to wager, or
until number 3 has “staked” his “pile.” The hands being “shown down,” of
course number 1 takes the stakes.

                         RUNNING UP TWO HANDS.

Perhaps one of the most successful feats accomplished by the
professional gambler is that known as “running up two hands.” Under such
circumstances the game is no longer a contest, but a certainty. It is
sometimes played with a partner, sometimes without. If the operator have
no partner, he usually selects his seat on the right of the man whom he
considers the most verdant of the players. When he observes that his
left hand neighbor has a prospect of winning, he immediately “passes,”
and taking up the pack prepares the hand as follows:

He selects the individual to whom he proposes to give, let us say, three
tens; also, the one upon whom he intends to bestow the larger set of
threes, say three kings; in putting up the hands, however, he commences
with his own, and while the cards face him for the reason that he knows
that when the pack is reversed for the purpose of dealing the uppermost
card facing him will be the last one dealt, and as he sits on the right
of the dealer, it will of course fall to him. Having selected a king
(the face of the pack being uppermost) he places as many cards below as
there may be players on his right between himself and the person to whom
he wishes to give the three tens. Below these he places another ten, and
underneath that as many cards as there are players between himself and
the player who is to receive the tens. In the same manner he arranges
the other tens together with the kings, so that the three tens may be
brought to the bottom. This being done the pack is turned over and as a
matter of course the ten placed on the bottom now becomes the top card.
His next move is to place as many cards over these as there are players
on the left of the dealer, between the latter and the unfortunate
individual who is destined to receive the tens.

This explanation may not be as clear to the reader as some of those
which have preceded it, yet to go into full details would require more
space than can be afforded to a description of the trick. The
preparations having all been arranged, the expert very rapidly gathers
in the cards as they are thrown down, placing them underneath the pack.
He then begs to be permitted to shuffle before the regular dealer. If
the request be granted he takes care so to shuffle as to not disturb the
hands which he has arranged with so much care. In fact he usually has
recourse to the device which has been already described as a “false
shuffle.” Sitting on the dealer’s left, of course the cut falls to him,
and he either gives the deck a false cut, or says “let them run.”

The consequence of this maneuver is that the blackleg receives the three
kings, while one of the other players obtains the three tens. The three
tens being considered a safe hand upon which to bet, it is not a
difficult matter to induce the verdant player to stake a considerable
sum, which the expert invariably wins. The sharper, however, finds it
far more easy to accomplish his nefarious end if he has a partner. The
latter individual, after the cards have been stocked, gives a “false
shuffle.” Professional No. 1, who sits at his partner’s right, gives the
deck a false cut, and professional No. 2 runs the cards off. It may seem
incredible to the average reader that men will sit around a poker table
and permit such dallying with the pack.

After long experience, however, I must say that the cases are
exceptional in which a smart operator may not manage to arrange three or
four such hands in the course of an evening’s play. Sometimes two
sharpers, acting as partners, manage to keep the deal between them for
two or three consecutive times; meanwhile they arrange the cards on the
bottom by degrees, and when everything has been completed the bottom of
the pack is transferred to the top. Sometimes hands are arranged in this
way and dealt in the same manner as from the bottom stock, which has
already been explained, the confederate, as a matter of course, being
fully aware which is the best hand.

The ease with which even those hands which at first sight appear most
difficult to arrange, may be prepared in this way, is almost
inconceivable to the novice. “Flushes” seem an intricate hand to
arrange, yet in fact they are among the easiest. A detailed explanation
of their arrangement, however, would hardly be either intelligible or
interesting to the average reader.


A favorite method of cheating at poker is that known as “crimping” the
cards, which is effected in one of either two ways: The former is when
the player is at the left hand of the professional dealer, in a four-
handed game, or his opponent in a two-handed game.

The second method is when the sharper deals himself. In the former case
the player so stocks a hand that it shall fall to himself, after which
he “crimps” or bends down the sides of the cards of which it is
composed. This having been done, after the shuffle has been made the
sharper may readily cut to the hand prepared, since there will be a
hardly perceptible space between it and the cards above it. If the
dealer shuffles “over-handed,” the hand will rarely be broken. If
crimping is to be resorted to on one’s own deal, the expert usually
waits until he has secured a high hand, when he bends it down, as above
described. He then places it on the bottom of the pack, and shuffles in
such a way that it shall not be disturbed. After dealing, he lays down
his own cards as quietly as possible, close to the deck; then, with his
left hand, he draws the “crimped hand” from the bottom, and with his
right places the remainder of the pack on the top of the hand which he
had originally received. He then shoves them aside, and at the same
moment lifts from the table the prearranged hand, which is thus
substituted for the one which he has secretly discarded. In order to
guard against detection, the moment when the other players are engaged
in examining their hands is the one usually selected by the blackleg for
the execution of this maneuver.

                              COLD DECKS.

The use of “cold decks” in almost all card games has become so common,
among the professionals, that the term, “ringing in a cold deck,” has
achieved a recognized place in the vocabulary of American slang. Almost
every one knows that the expression refers to a substitution of one
thing for another, yet not every one knows whence the phrase has its

A “cold deck” is a pack previously prepared, in which the hands of the
dealer and all the other players have been carefully arranged. To “ring
in” such a pack, is to substitute it for the one which has been fairly
shuffled and cut. There are many ways of accomplishing this
substitution. Sometimes a bill is dropped on the floor, and while the
dealer is engaged in looking for the greenback the “cold deck” is
raised, the original pack being secreted. This method, however, has
become ancient, not to say effete. The most approved method now-a-days,
is to place the prepared pack in the lap, to raise it nearly to the line
of the table with the left hand, and, after the true deck has been cut,
draw the latter to the edge of the table with the right hand directly
above the “cold deck;” at the same time the latter is raised, the
discarded pack is simultaneously dropped into the lap, where it falls
into a handkerchief previously spread in order to receive it. The deal
having been made, the sharper folds up his handkerchief and places it in
his pocket.

                             MARKED CARDS.

Marked cards are among the favorite and most profitable “tools” of the
professional blackleg. Among the fraternity they are technically known
as “paper.” When successfully used every element of chance is eliminated
from the game, and the play is practically reduced to a cut-throat
contest, in which the professional alone carries the knife. In a two-
handed game no honest player can ever hope to win against a gambler who
employs them. They are usually marked so as to indicate not only the
suit, but also the denomination of each card in the pack. As he deals
the professional reads and remembers the hand of his opponent, and bets
only when he knows that he has the advantage. At the same time it is
sometimes deemed expedient to place a wager even upon an inferior hand,
lest suspicion be excited by the too pronounced uniformity in winning.
It is hardly necessary to point out the tremendous percentage of profit
which is bound to accrue to one using cards of this character. Marked
cards may be bought, from all dealers in what are known as “gambler’s
goods,” but some experts prefer to purchase cards which are entirely
“straight,” and mark them themselves. The sight of the name of a well-
known manufacturer of playing cards, whose reputation is unblemished,
will usually prevent or disarm suspicion on the part of a greenhorn.

In a two-handed game the cards thus prepared are usually marked to
indicate only the size, the suit being a matter of comparative
indifference. The method of using them in a four-handed game differs
somewhat from that employed where one party plays against a single
antagonist, but the reader may readily imagine that in either case the
advantage in favor of the professional is simply enormous. A detailed
explanation of the method in which they are employed would hardly prove
profitable reading to the general public, and for this reason the
subject is passed over somewhat lightly. Some are marked with a
representation of the American eagle (what a travesty on the emblem of
equality and fraternity!), and during the war thousands of the brave
boys who took their lives in their hands in defense of the “old flag”
were defrauded of the scanty pittance paid them by the government,
through the machinations of unscrupulous scoundrels, who cheated them at
poker through marked cards on whose backs was depicted a mimic
representation of the standard for which they fought. Satire could not
well go farther, inasmuch as the government which they had sworn to
defend, tolerated the rascally proceedings even under the very folds of
the starry banner itself.

Besides the “stamped” cards—_i. e._, those on which the secret marks are
printed—professional blacklegs use others. An ordinary pack may be
prepared by an “artist in coloring” in such a way that he may read the
backs as easily as the faces. For this purpose a paint composed of
chloroform, alcohol and some pigment is applied with a camel’s hair
brush. The pigment may be of any hue—ultramarine, vermillion, etc.—the
color selected being always the nearest approximate shade to that of the
backs of the cards played with. Card sharpers who are expert marked card
players (and it must be remembered that not every professional gambler
possesses the necessary qualifications) always travel with a full outfit
of packs. On steamboats they will buy out the entire stock of the bar
keeper, furnish him with a fresh supply gratuitously, and even pay him a
bonus to handle their goods. The result is that when any player on the
boat wants a fresh pack, he finds himself compelled to buy the cards
whose backs the professionals can read. In towns these manipulators of
the pasteboards will either secure the introduction of their cards at
the gaming houses through the payment of a percentage, or will see that
they are placed on sale at some jewelry, drug, stationery or cigar store
near the locality where the game is to be played. The next move is to
introduce them at the card table, which is sometimes found to be a very
easy matter. In some of the succeeding paragraphs of this chapter the
reader will find related some of my own experiences in this direction
which may not prove uninteresting.

A favorite method of “ringing in” these cards—as gamblers term their
introduction—is as follows: Two sharpers act in concert. One goes to a
town and selects a victim, who is usually a country youth who has money.
He tells his dupe that he is “dead broke,” perhaps because of sickness,
perhaps for some other reason; that he is a professional gambler and can
teach any man how to win at cards. The cupidity of the young man from
the rural districts is aroused. The gambler shows him some marked cards
and teaches him how to read the backs. Then he sends for his
confederate. When the latter arrives the first swindler professes not to
know him, and pretends to make his acquaintance for the first time. He
then tells the selected victim that he has found a “soft mark,” (which
in the vernacular of the profession means a particularly gullible dupe),
and offers to introduce him, so that the countryman may win his money
through the marked cards. The game is begun; of course the supposed
“stranger” is as familiar with the marks as is the greenhorn, besides
being master of innumerable other arts of the blackleg, of which the
greenhorn knows nothing. The result is a foregone conclusion; the
sharper wins all the money which the verdant young man can be induced to

Sometimes it happens that the dupe becomes discouraged at his poor
success and declines to play further. In such a case, if the rascals
believe that he has any more money, the first confederate will secretly
offer to “tip off” the new comer’s hand, a device which rarely fails to
prove successful under such circumstances, and an explanation of which
has been already given.


As a rule, professional gamblers who travel through the country with a
view to defraud the unsophisticated by means of poker-playing,
ordinarily work in partnership. Sometimes two—sometimes more—players
compose the traveling combination, and divide the proceeds with more or
less equality. A thorough understanding among the confederates is, of
course, absolutely essential. But this having been once attained, the
advantages of the partnership are obviously very great. They convey to
each other surreptitious information across the table as to the nature
of their respective hands, so that only the one who has the better
chance may “go in.” I have already explained how they may co-operate
with one another through means of false shuffles and false cuts. They
may also prove of material assistance to each other in holding out, and
in various other ways, to such a degree that the verdant individual who
supposes that he is enjoying a “fair show” for the amount of money he
has wagered, is, as a matter of fact, absolutely at their mercy.

At the same time the members of such a dishonest firm have little
confidence in one another, but watch each other as though they were
enemies rather than confederates. Yet on one point they are at perfect
harmony and act in absolute unison; that is, in the fleecing of
greenhorns; and woe betide the unlucky wight who finds himself between
the upper and nether mill-stones of such a combination.

                            DOUBLE DISCARD.

Yet another device of the professional poker-player is known as the
“Double discard.” The blackleg does not discard until after he has made
a draft. He separates the cards which he wishes to discard from the four
which he nominally proposes to retain, holding the former in his left
hand and the latter in his right, ready for a fraudulent discard, in
case he sees fit. Calling for four cards, he drops those which he has in
his right hand immediately in front of him. Next, he lifts the draft
with his left hand, the odd card of course coming on top; if now he
finds in the draft one or more cards which he perceives will, with the
aid of the four cards lying in front of him on the table, improve his
chances, he retains that, and again discards the four cards. He then
drops the one which he has retained, upon the four originally rejected,
raises the hand, and of course is prepared to wager, with an approximate
certainty of success.

                       FLUSHES, FULLS AND FOURS.

These hands are more difficult to arrange than either “pairs” or
“threes,” although an expert blackleg is soon able to reduce the art to
a science.

The manner of setting up a “flush” differs from that of arranging a
“full” or “fours.” In preparing flushes ten cards of any suit are first
selected, and being placed face uppermost before the operator, are so
arranged that the highest card shall be either the second, fourth,
sixth, eighth or tenth in order. The ten cards are then put on the top
of the deck, which the sharper takes in his left hand. He uses the fore-
finger and thumb of his right hand in shuffling, placing the former on
top and the latter underneath, and drawing one card from the top and one
from the bottom at each “pull.” These he throws upon the table in pairs.
The same tactics are repeated ten times, each two cards, as drawn off,
being laid over the preceding pair. The rest of the cards are then
similarly treated, but thrown on the table at a short distance from the
twenty first drawn. The sharper then places the latter upon the larger
half of the pack, and a false shuffle and false cut are made.

If the player sitting on the left of the blackleg happens to be the
dealer, (and in no other case can the trick be successfully worked as
here described), the professional who has arranged the cards will always
receive the higher flush, and the player sitting at the dealer’s left,
who is of course directly facing the blackleg, is bound to receive the
smaller one.

The method of arranging “fulls” is very similar to that described above.
The hands, however, are first made up singly, the highest threes being
put in alternately as the second, third, fourth and sixth, counting from
the top of the pack as it lies face uppermost before the operator. The
latter then “strips” one card each from the top and bottom
simultaneously, as in the preparation of the flush. The hands fall to
the players in the same manner, the larger one falling to the dealer’s
right and the smaller on his left.

In stocking the cards for a hand containing “four of a kind,” the hands
are put up separately, the higher four being so arranged as to be
second, fourth, sixth, and eighth, from the top of the pack as it faces
the manipulator. The latter draws a card from the top and bottom at the
same time, as in the arrangement of the “flushes” and “fulls,” but
instead of drawing ten cards he pulls eight. The result in all three
cases is precisely the same, that is, the larger hand will invariably
fall to the player on the dealer’s right—(that is, the sharper)—and the
smaller one to the individual facing him, who sits at the dealer’s left.

                              HOLDING OUT.

Of all the practices of a dishonest gambler at poker, “holding out” is
perhaps the most frequently resorted to. It consists of abstracting one
or more cards from the pack, which are secreted either about the person
of the player, or beneath the table. It is most commonly employed upon
the blackleg’s own deal. Several cards may be “held out,” provided that
the number is not sufficient to attract notice by perceptibly
diminishing the size of the pack. The object of course is that the
sharper may have desirable cards ready to produce when a favorable
opportunity offers. If the person to be deceived is especially verdant
the cards withdrawn from the pack are sometimes concealed behind the
collar, or under the joint of the knee or may be laid upon a
handkerchief in the lap.

Professionals, however, usually prefer either the vest or the sleeve as
a place of secreting them. Different sorts of apparatus are also
employed to facilitate the operation; now-a-days nearly all
professionals employ some one of the four mechanical contrivances which
are described below.

                              I. THE BUG.

[Illustration: the bug]

I. THE BUG.—This instrument is very simple in its construction, and
although sold by dealers in “fake” goods, is often made by gamblers
themselves. Its mechanism is shown in the accompanying cut. “B”
represents a piece of watch spring which is fastened to the table by
means of an awl “A” in such a way that the point may curl over. The awl
is pressed into the under side of the table, just far enough from the
edge to permit the placing of a card. The watch spring snaps up against
the bottom. The method of using it is as follows: Some high card, for
example, the king or an ace, is slipped under the bottom of the table,
the watch spring holds it firmly in place. As soon as the party
receives, in the regular course, a card, or perhaps a pair of the same
denomination as the one which he has secreted in the “bug,” he puts his
hand over the edge of the table, under which he puts his thumb, he then
deftly raises the card which he has concealed, at the same time taking
an inferior card from his hand and placing the latter in the “bug”
instead of the one which he has taken out. It will be seen that he thus
obtains a high pair, or possibly three high cards of the same

[Illustration: the sleeve hold out]

II. THE SLEEVE HOLD OUT.—This apparatus consists of a leather band,
(lettered A in the illustration) fastened around the right arm, beneath
the coat sleeve, near the elbow, to which is attached a spring, pressure
upon which works a rod which connects with a plate (lettered B in the
cut). The method of using this device is shown in the illustration. The
cards which are “held out” are placed beneath the plate B, which holds
them in position. When the player wishes to draw them from his sleeve,
he presses his arm against his body, thus setting in operation the
spring which works the rod and throws forward the concealed cards from
behind the plate, as shown in the cut.

[Illustration: the table hold out]

III. THE TABLE HOLD OUT.—As are the three other contrivances above
described, so is this a device for concealing cards abstracted from the
pack during the progress of a game of poker. It differs from the others,
however, in that it is permanently attached to the table, instead of
being carried about by the player himself. The illustration shows the
plan of its construction. A card may be seen protruding above the
surface of the table, directly where the cloth covering joins the wooden
border. This card is forced up through a concealed slit at the will of
the gambler, by means of a hidden mechanism. The dotted line running
from the slit to the foot of the table’s leg represents a wire which
operates a spring whereby the card is forced upward, or lowered, through
the slit, at the option of the manipulator. “A” is a point at which is
inserted a small knob, or button, pressure upon which works the spring.
By pressing with his foot at “B,” the player accomplishes the same
result. The method of its use is as follows: The abstracted cards are
placed in the slit, the player holding his hand of cards in front of it;
they are then drawn down and retained beneath the table until the moment
arrives when they are to be used. Pressure at either “A” or “B” forces
them up, and the sharper takes them in his hand, at the same time
discarding an equal number of cards from his hand into the slit.

[Illustration: vest hold out]

IV. VEST HOLD OUT.—Some gamblers prefer this contrivance to any other,
for the reason that it permits the holding out of an entire hand if the
player so desires. The accompanying illustration shows the method in
which it is worked. “A” indicates the location of that part of the
mechanism which holds the abstracted cards; “B” is a piece of catgut
attached to that part of the apparatus concealed beneath the vest, and
running underneath the clothing to the heel, where it is fastened either
to the shoe or the clothing. The cards selected to be “held out” are
placed inside the clamp underneath the vest. When the player stretches
out the leg along which runs the catgut, the plate inside the vest comes
forward and the cards may be easily withdrawn; when the heel is drawn
back beneath the chair the tension on the catgut is increased, and the
clamp recedes behind the vest.

                         CONVEXES, OR SHINERS.

Of all the devices for defrauding at poker, the “shiner,” or “convex” is
perhaps the most simple and the most effective. They are of various
forms. At first a circular piece of silver highly polished and convex in
form, about the size of a five-cent piece, was used. The player
employing it places it on the table in front of him, using the utmost
pains to conceal it from observation. The advantage resulting from its
employment is its power of reflecting whatever is held above it at any
angle, thus enabling the dealer who used it to read the face of each
card as it was taken, face downward, from the pack. Of late years,
however, the makers of these implements have greatly improved the
process of manufacture. Looking glass has been substituted for silver,
the reflection being much more brilliant. Modern convexes are also
considerably larger than those of former days. Some players attach them
to the knee, some to the thigh—as shown at point “C” in cut illustrating
the “Vest Hold Out”—and some fasten them to the coat. In one description
of the convexes, a slender bar is attached to the article at its end, a
joint containing a spring being fastened to the other extremity of the
bar. In using this contrivance the cheat places it on top of a few bank
notes, and then with the other bills entirely conceals it from view. In
dealing he apparently carelessly rests his hand upon the joint, in doing
which he necessarily brings pressure to bear upon the spring; this in
turn forces the convex to fly upward toward the dealer, and enables him
to see the face of each card as it is dealt. Occasionally magnifying
glasses, technically known as “reflectors,” are used. The blackleg
places one of these on his lap, or attaches it to the table in such a
way that he may cause it to drop by means of a spring. The forms of the
“reflectors” are numerous, and no good purpose can be served by
describing any further varieties. It may be observed, however, that new
shapes are being constantly invented, as well as new contrivances to
enable cheats to use them without detection.

I have seen a convex employed upon a Mississippi steamboat with
remarkably confusing effect. Two professionals were each trying to take
advantage of the other, supposing him to be an amateur. For a time
neither gained any advantage. At length, one of the sharpers temporarily
excused himself. Going to his state room, he returned with his “shiner.”
Meantime his antagonist had arranged a “cold deck,” which he proceeded
to “ring in” on his own deal, much to the betterment of his finances.
Thus emboldened, he bet wildly on his adversary’s deal, the result being
that the caller recouped his losses, with interest.

Once at the Mound City Hotel, in St. Louis, I had succeeded in bringing
two “skin” gamblers together. I had told each that I intended to “throw
off” the other to him, consequently I felt certain of receiving my share
of the winnings, no matter which of the pair succeeded in fleecing the
other. One of them had prepared a table which he could take apart and
carry with him. On the top of it was a box about a foot square, inside
of which was a “shiner” made of looking-glass. Half of the side facing
the operator was a slide which was raised, when occasion required, by
means of a string which passed down the leg of the table to the foot. As
the game progressed and the excitement increased, the foot of the
operator accidentally slipped from the pedal. The result was that
instead of the cover returning quietly to its place, it fell with a
sharp click, which attracted the attention of his opponent, who quickly
springing to his feet ran around the table and asked, “what’s that?” and
then realizing its meaning, laughingly remarked: “Say, the tail piece of
your wagon just fell out. What’s that dog-house you’ve got on the table,

                 THE “NAIL PRICK” OR “SECOND DEALING.”

[Illustration: nail prick]

This is a device practiced by professional gamblers with great success.
In order to play the “second” effectively, the operator trims the thumb
nail on his left hand to a fine point, as shown in the accompanying cut
at letter “A.” Sometimes, instead of trimming his nail he attaches to
the ball of the thumb, by means of a small piece of kid and a little
shoemaker’s wax, a fine needle point, lettered “B” in the illustration.
As the game progresses, he gradually pricks the aces and kings on the
face in the left hand corner of each, which, when they are turned over,
becomes of course, the right hand corner. The cards are dealt from the
end, the dealer seizing them by the corner with the thumb of the right
hand. When one of the pricked cards is felt, the dealer slips it back
and deals from under it until he comes to himself, when he secures it
for his own hand, thus gradually obtaining a pair of aces or kings,
sometimes two pairs, and occasionally three of a kind. When this trick
is successfully performed, the professional is usually able to “clean
out” a greenhorn with the utmost ease and dispatch. It is a favorite
mode of swindling at poker, inasmuch as it requires no partner, no
stocking of cards, and admits of their being fairly shuffled.

                            THE “TELEGRAPH.”

By the word “telegraph” as employed in gamblers’ parlance, is by no
means meant the ordinary electric wire through which are transmitted
messages upon which depend not only men’s safety and lives, but even the
welfare of nations and the peace of the civilized world. The gamblers‘
“telegraph” is used for entirely different purposes. It consists of a
wire running from a poker table to some point of vantage, usually behind
a “peep-hole,” by means of which one confederate advises another when to
bet. Of course collusion between two is essential. The man at the peep-
hole, which is not infrequently in an upper room, sees through the aid
of a magnifying glass the hands of all the players. He controls one end
of the wire, the other extremity of which is attached to the clothing of
his partner. A pre-arranged system of signals conveys to the latter all
the information necessary to enable him to place a wager with the
absolute certainty of winning. On its face this species of fraud appears
so disreputable that the average reader will question whether the device
may not have originated in the author’s brain. Alas, for human nature!
The telegraph is an actual fact, no less deplorable because its
existence is assured. The number of saloons which employ it is “legion,”
and it may sometimes be found in places which would be considered most
unlikely. The only safe plan to be pursued is _never_, under any
circumstances, to sit down to a game of poker, no matter how trifling
the ante.

                              A SURE HAND.

Reference is made elsewhere to the advantage taken by professional
gamblers and confidence men of the cupidity, venality and dishonesty of
a certain class of “suckers.” It is not an uncommon experience with
black-legs to be invited by some man of good repute in the community in
which he resides, to visit the town with a view to fleecing some moneyed
friend of the latter individual, the gain accruing from the execution of
the rascally enterprise to be equally divided between the confederate
scoundrels. This is known in gambler’s slang as “throwing off a sucker.”

Under the present title will be explained one of the most effective
methods by which the scheme is executed. The author can best illustrate
it by recounting a bit of his own experience:

In a certain western town once resided a man whom we may call Mr. X—--,
who had an intimate friend—a man of some means—who will be referred to
in this connection as Mr. Y——. Mr. X—— conceived the idea of winning
some money from his friend, and appealed to me to assist him in the
enterprise. At that period of my life I was little troubled with qualms
of conscience, and I lent a willing ear to the suggestion. I went to the
city in question, and in due course was introduced to Mr. Y—— by Mr. X——
as a verdant sort of an individual, almost too green to be attractive to
a bovine quadruped, but with plenty of money. Mr. X—— proposed to his
friend that they should engage me in a little game of “draw;” that he,
Y——, should sit behind me and “tip off” my hand, a knowledge of which
was certain to enable X—— to win all my cash. Mr. Y—— was nothing loth,
and readily consented to become a party to a transaction which was, on
its face, a bold scheme of fraud. Undoubtedly he was a “sucker,” but it
is a question whether sympathy would not be wasted upon him.

The plan worked admirably. X—— and myself met at a pre-arranged
“trysting-place,” and sat down to play poker. Y—— dropped in and took a
seat where he could over-look my hand. A “cold deck” had been
prepared—need I say by whom?—and after I had lost a few trifling stakes
X—— proceeded to “ring it in” on me, in accordance with his previous
understanding. Regarding the operation from a “professional” standpoint,
I may say that I never saw a trick more clumsily performed. Had I been,
as Y—— supposed, a mere tyro, I could hardly have failed to detect it,
so bunglingly was it done. However, I preserved a stolid demeanor, and
proceeded to examine my hand. I found a pair of queens with three nines.
Mr. X—— had a “full”—three jacks and a pair of tens. Of course this
latter was a strong hand. He bet; I promptly “raised” him one thousand
dollars, putting the money on the table. Naturally, he professed to
regard my “raise” as a mere “bluff,” and asked his friend, Y——, to lend
him enough money to “see” me. Y—— rose from his chair, and, walking
around the table, looked at X——’s hand. Seeing a “full house,” with
jacks at the head, as against a smaller one, “nine full,” he willingly
loaned the money. With a tolerable simulation of tremulous excitement,
Mr. X—— contrived to display his cards. I promptly called for two cards,
discarding a like number, and received, as I knew I should, two queens,
thus securing “four of a kind,” which always wins against a “full.” The
reader who has perused the explanation of the fair game, as given above,
will, of course, perceive that in his intense anxiety to win a dishonest
$500, Mr. Y—— had overlooked my right to “draw,” although he was
satisfied that on the hand which he had seen me hold, I was morally
certain to be content with the cards which I had. Yet, cupidity often
over-reaches itself in a similar way.

Of course I won and pocketed the stakes, although, in justice to myself,
I may add that I divided my winnings fairly with Mr. X——, who received
exactly one-half of the money out of which his friend had been cheated.

If the inexperienced, unsophisticated reader will carefully peruse the
foregoing paragraphs, he will have but little difficulty in reaching the
conclusion that playing poker is about as hazardous as “encountering the
tiger in his lair.”

                              STUD POKER.

Another variety of poker in great favor among the gambling fraternity is
called “stud poker,” a stud poker table being now considered a necessary
adjunct to every first-class gambling house. The necessary outfit for
the game consists of checks, cards and a table large enough to seat 10
or 12 persons. Regular dealers are employed and usually four or five
“pluggers” (by which term are designated men who play for the house and
with money belonging to the proprietors). The game is very simple, and
any one acquainted with the value of draw poker can play, and lose his
money as easily and rapidly as he could possibly desire. The game may be
illustrated as follows: Suppose four persons, whom we will designate as
A, B, C and D, sit down to play. In some games, in fact usually, each
player puts up one check as an ante. This having been done, the dealer
deals the first card, face downward, to each player, beginning with the
one who sits immediately on his (the dealer’s) left; another card is
then dealt around with the face exposed, as must also be the other three
cards in case a hand of five is dealt. Let us suppose that A’s exposed
card is an ace, B’s a queen, C’s a nine spot, and D’s a ten. It is then
A’s first bet because he has the highest card in sight. He can wager any
amount he chooses, and the others can throw away their cards or “stay
in,” by putting up an equal stake to that of A’s. If B, C and D should
throw down their cards, the checks in the “pot” belong to A, and the
dealer shuffling, begins another deal. Should either B, C or D “see” A’s
bet or “raise” him, the dealer, deals off another card, face upward,
when the player who has the highest cards in sight, has another
opportunity to “pass” or bet, while the others have the choice of
throwing away their cards or “seeing” the bet, and so on until five
cards are dealt, when the players must guess at each other’s buried
card, or “hole card” as it is technically called.

Sometimes at stud poker an instrument known as “The Buck” is used. This
is employed where all the players do not “ante.” Any article may be used
for this purpose. Sometimes an ivory chip with a string running through
it; sometimes a circular piece of leather, its material and form are
unimportant. It passes in rotation, one to another, the player in front
of whom it is placed being required to “ante” a chip and receiving the
first card dealt. The game then proceeds as already described. The
chances for “crooked work” at this game are legion. In a word nearly
every fraudulent device employed in “draw” poker may be utilized in
“stud” poker. “Stocking,” “palming,” “holding out,” “false cuts,”
“paper,” “partnerships,” etc., etc., are just as useful in one case as
in the other.

                      INCIDENTS AND REMINISCENCES.

The vicissitudes of the life of a professional gambler are numerous and
shifting, and perhaps the ups and downs of a poker player’s career are
as varying as those which attend the checkered experience of any other
description of gambler.

I remember some rather startling experiences of my own in this
direction. I was once traveling in partnership with a man named Enyert.
At a town in Missouri we fell in with a mule-buyer named Brown. Enyert
was cursed with one of the most violent tempers that falls to the lot of
man. So also was Brown. Both of them were known as “dangerous” men, _i.
e._, ready with the pistol. I was dealing marked cards and my knowledge
of Brown’s character made me extremely nervous. I knew that if he
detected any cheating my life would be exacted as a forfeit. An expert
marked card player always needs his wits, and my nervousness prevented
me from using mine. On the other hand, I knew that if my partner
(Enyert) did not win he would accuse me of “throwing him off” to Brown,
_i. e._, of playing in collusion with the latter, in which case I was
quite as likely to be shot by him. To use a slang expression, I was too
badly “rattled” to be of any use as a dealer and brought the game to a
close as soon as possible.

This man Enyert shot the son of the Mayor of Ottumwa, familiarly known
as “Billy” Orr, and would, on one occasion, have carved up my anatomy
with a bowie knife, had I not dissuaded him by showing him the muzzle of
a six-chambered navy revolver. Brown’s son inherited his father’s
disposition. Having some trouble with his wife’s parents, he emptied
both barrels of a shotgun into them, killing Dr. Parish, his father-in-
law, and seriously wounding the Doctor’s wife. He was tried, convicted,
and sentenced to be hanged. His wife visited him in his cell and
contrived to convey to him, secretly, a dose of poison. They mutually
agreed to end their lives at an appointed time. The hour fixed fell in
the night preceding his execution. When it arrived the woman blew out
her brains with a pistol, but Brown lacked the physical courage to carry
out his part of the contract, and was publicly hanged on the following
day after making an impassioned appeal to the crowd in behalf of his
son. He and his devoted wife were buried in the same grave.

I was once playing marked cards with a Boston “drummer,” whose name need
not be mentioned. At the time I had a partner. I had instructed the
traveling man in the art of reading the cards by their backs and
proposed to him that I would “throw off” a “sucker” to him. He assented,
and I introduced my partner. We practised the same game which we had
worked together many times before. I began to “hold out” cards and did
it so clumsily that any one might detect it. My partner waxed furious at
the fraud and I was promptly “barred out,” leaving the drummer and my
confederate to play single handed, which was precisely what we wanted.
The commercial traveler rose from the table a loser to the amount of
$400. I condoled with him; and inasmuch as we were supposed to be acting
in unison probably I ought to have stood half the loss but I still owe
him my share.

One more narrative of my experience with marked cards, and I have done.
While traveling in partnership with a man named Sam Martin, whom I have
mentioned in my autobiography, we were going down the Mississippi in a
steamboat. Martin had placed a number of packs of marked cards with the
bar-keeper, with instructions to “ring them in,” that is, to sell them
to customers asking for playing cards. We wandered about the boat,
separately, looking for victims. At length I formed the acquaintance of
a tall, handsome man, who suggested a game of euchre for the cigars. We
had not played long when the stranger proposed poker for a small ante. I
said that I was not accustomed to playing for money, but that if he
would promise not to expose me if I lost I would chance a few dollars.
Martin was in the cabin waiting for me to give him a signal to approach.
On receiving it he drew near the table and I accosted him with: “Well,
stranger, will you join us in a game for a small ante?” He answered that
he would if my friend had no objections, although it was near his bed
time. We played a few games and quit losers. We knew that our “mark” was
going to Memphis, and that we would have an abundance of time in which
to win our money back. The next morning we resumed play. I lost fifty
dollars (which of course was won by Martin), and said that I would have
to withdraw from the game unless they would consent to place stakes
against a draft. [In those days I always traveled with a liberal supply
of worthless checks.] I left the table and Martin and the stranger (who
gave his name as Walton) played single-handed, which was precisely what
the former wanted. They were using the marked cards which my partner had
placed with the bar-keeper. It was not long before Martin had won all
the stranger’s money—some $800—besides a valuable gold watch and chain.
At the conclusion of the game the winner invited his dupe to take a
drink at the bar, which invitation was accepted. As they were drinking
Walton looked at Martin and said: “You are a very lucky man. I believe
that you might fall overboard without getting wet, and I certainly
should expect to see your body floating up stream. You have all my
money, and I don’t mind telling you, now, that I was cheating all the
time. I was ‘holding out’ and playing the ‘double discard’ from the
beginning, and I don’t see how you managed to come out ahead.” “Well,”
said Martin, “since you have been so frank I will be equally so. I am an
expert marked-card player, and each pack that we played with was one of
mine. I knew that you were cheating, but didn’t care. My ‘percentage’
was too strong for you. Here is your watch and chain and fifty dollars
for a ‘stake.’ But I can tell you right here that you won’t ever have
any show against an artist who can read your hand at sight, and remember
it.” And there is no doubt that “Sam” was right. Yet if an accomplished
card sharp like Walton can be thus taken in, even while practicing his
professional tricks, what possible chance remains to a greenhorn?

[Illustration: card game]

                              CHAPTER IV.
                              SHORT GAMES.

The name “short” games is applied among gamblers to those which require
comparatively little time in which to determine the issue of the hazard.
In the present chapter, those best known and most commonly played in
gaming houses will be described and the methods of trickery employed by
those who conduct them will be pointed out.

Chief among games of this description are “rouge et noir,” “roulette,”
“keno” and “rolling faro.” These will be taken up in the order


                             ROUGE ET NOIR.

As played in this country, this game differs materially from the mode of
playing in vogue on the continent of Europe. In foreign gaming
houses—particularly at the more famous resorts, such as Monte Carlo or
Baden-Baden—the game is probably conducted fairly. In other words, the
proprietors are satisfied with the revenue which they can derive from
the legitimate percentage which accrues in their favor under the
operation of the ordinary laws of chance. In this country, however, not
only is the method of play vastly simplified, but it has degenerated
into a mere scheme of robbery. The players are utterly at the mercy of
the manipulators of the machine.

[Illustration: rouge et noir layout]

The game is always played with the adjunct of a “lay-out,” which is
depicted in the accompanying cut. The outer line, as shown in the
illustration, represents the outer edge of the table, which is covered
with a green cloth. The middle line serves no special purpose, but adds
one more striking feature to the device. The inner line serves to mark
off that portion of the table on which are depicted the representation
of the four jacks found in every pack of cards. At the two ends of the
table and on the right hand side are blank spaces. Those at the ends are
colored—the one at the top red, the one at the bottom black. The space
on the right hand side is for the placing of wagers.

Any number of persons may play.

Bets may be made in either one of the four ways—on the red; on the
black; on either jack, or on any one of the four jacks. In the two cases
first mentioned the bettor places his wager on the color which he
selects. If he wishes to bet on any particular jack (that of hearts,
clubs, diamonds or spades), he lays his money on that one which he
chooses. If he prefers to bet that some jack (without indicating which)
will win, he lays his venture upon the blank space at the right hand
side of the table, as shown in the diagram.

If he bets on the winning color, the bank pays him an amount equal to
the sum staked, which latter, of course, he receives back. If he selects
a particular jack and the one on which he has placed his wager happens
to win, his stake is returned to him, together with an increment of ten
times the amount. If he places his wager on the blank space to the right
he is understood to have bet that some one of the four jacks will win,
and if his hazard prove successful, his gains are measured by a sum
twice that of his original bet.

The bets having all been made and placed, the play commences. The banker
places a full pack (fifty-two cards) in a dealing box, similar to those
used in playing “faro,” which have been already described, but with this
variation: In “faro” the cards are inserted and dealt face uppermost,
the opening being large enough to afford a clear view of the card; in
rouge et noir they are inserted and dealt face downward, and the
aperture in the box is only large enough to permit the dealer to run
them off readily with the index and second fingers of the left hand.

The first two cards, after being withdrawn from the box, are laid upon
the table, faces downward, and the third is turned over. This
constitutes a “run,” and the gains or losses of the players are
determined by the color (and sometimes the denomination) of the third
card. If it happens to be red the bank pays all bets placed on the space
at the upper end of the table, marked “red,” and gathers in all other
wagers placed upon the table. If it chance to be a jack, and any player
has placed his money on the representation of that particular jack upon
the “lay-out,” the fortunate individual wins ten times the amount which
he ventured. If a player has bet upon “jacks,” without naming any
particular one—placing his money in the space at the right hand side of
the table—and a jack of any suit is turned up, he is given, as his
winnings, double the amount of his wager.

On the other hand, if the bettor has laid his stake either upon “jacks”
or on any particular jack, and no jack turns up, he loses.

Even when fairly played, the chances in favor of the bank are large
enough to satisfy any banker whose greed for gain is not abnormal. But
as in all other games, the rapacious sharks who operate it are not
satisfied with even the most extraordinary percentage of chances. What
they seek is absolute certainty, and in the game of rouge et noir, as
conducted even in so-called “square” houses, they have contrived to
secure it.

In dealing the cards, resort is had to many of the same tortuous devices
which are employed in “faro,” an explanation of which may be found in
the chapter devoted to that game.

“Faked” boxes, similar in construction to those used in “faro,” are
employed, and the cards are “stripped” and “sanded” as in that game. The
“strippers,” however, are arranged on a somewhat different principle.
The red and black cards having been separated so that the pack shall be
divided into two lots, one-half being red and the other black, the
narrower ends of the two colors are placed opposite each other. The
dealer then takes the red cards in one hand and the black in the other.
Through long practice he is able to put the two packs of cards together
in such a way that a card of one color shall rest directly upon a card
of the opposite color all the way through the pack. The cards are then
pressed together, so that the entire pack shall lie, one card upon the
other. The reader will perceive that, owing to the use of the
“strippers,” the end of each card is a trifle narrower than the end of
the one directly above it. The manipulation of the pack in the box is
practiced in the same way as has been already explained under “faro.”
The result of this arrangement of cards is that the dealer knows
perfectly well the color of the card under his hand at any given moment.
If he considers it worth his while to change the color before exposing
the card to the view of the players, the “sanding” and “stripping” of
the cards, in connection with the “faked” box, enables him to draw two
cards instead of one through the aperture, thus reversing the run of the

The usual method in which bets are made upon this game is as follows:

A player having laid a wager on either the black or red, and having
lost, naturally supposes that if he suffers his money to lie upon the
table long enough, the color on which he has made his bet must win
before the entire pack shall have been run out of the box. Accordingly,
if he has a wager of one dollar on the black and the first run shows
that he has lost, he doubles his stake and awaits the result of the
second run. If he finds he has lost again, he doubles his stake once
more, and continues playing in this manner until the entire pack has
been run out of the box. If he is a loser when all the cards have been
dealt, he may, if he choose, continue to double his stake as long as his
funds will permit.

The reader can scarcely fail to perceive how soon this sort of play will
bankrupt the unsophisticated gamester. Every time he doubles his stake
he is offering the bank enormous odds. It requires a very short time,
for a bet of one dollar under such circumstances, to run up to a wager
of $128, $256, $512, etc. As a matter of fact, the player, under such
circumstances, is offering the bank odds amounting, sometimes $4,000 to
one. Thus, if a player starts in, with a wager of one dollar, and
continues to double it as he loses until he has risked $100,000 or more,
he is still actually betting that enormous sum that he will eventually
win the trifling sum of one dollar. If he should continue to play for
seventy-two consecutive hours on the same principle, and the doubling of
his stake run up into the millions, all that he could possibly hope to
win at the close of the play would be a dollar.

But there is another device known to the manipulators of this game which
is even a more bare-faced robbery than the use of “strippers” and
“faked” boxes. When a “soft mark” is playing at the table and has
repeatedly doubled his stake, and begins to see the bottom of the pile
of money which he has brought with him, he very frequently asks the
dealer how long he will be permitted this mode of play. The dealer,
after estimating in his own mind the amount of money which the dupe may
have in his possession, tells him that the doubling must quit on either
the second or third run. As soon as the proprietors are satisfied that
the unfortunate victim has staked his all, the dealer turns a jack, and
remarks that “this is the only percentage that the bank has,” whereupon
he at once gathers in the player’s entire stake without any sign of
shame or compunction of conscience. Should the player manifest any
unwillingness to continue doubling his wager, the banker informs him
that if he loses at the end, his money will be returned to him, less
five per cent. Relying upon this assurance, and always hoping that his
luck will turn, the poor fool keeps on, only to be confronted at the end
by the turning of a jack and to be assured that this entire venture has
been incontinently swept away.

“Steerers” or “ropers” are invariably employed by the proprietors of
this game. Their duty is to select victims and guide them into the
resort where this knavery is carried on. They are paid the usual
percentage allowed “cappers;” that is, forty-five per cent, of the
bank’s winnings from the dupe whom they may allure.

While a rouge et noir table is considered a necessary adjunct to the
outfit of every American gaming house, the game is not so popular in
this country as in Europe nor is the method of play precisely the same
in both continents. An explanation of the devices used in the old world
may be found in Part I.


[Illustration: roulette]

Roulette, as will be seen from the illustration, is played upon a table
in the form of an oblong square, covered with green cloth, at one end of
which is a round cavity, around the sides of which, equi-distant one
from the other, are arranged several metal bands—usually of
copper—which, commencing at the top, descend to the extremity of the
machine. The cavity is movable, and in its centre is a circular bottom
containing thirty-nine holes to which the bands are attached, and upon
which are painted, alternately, in black and red, thirty-six numbers,
running from 1 to 36, besides (0), a (00), and a picture of an eagle or
the word itself printed thereon. In the middle of the cavity, are three
or four little metal prongs, centering at “D,” which are used in
imparting a rotary motion to the bottom. The revolution of the ball is
checked by slender metal plates (indicated on the diagram by the letter
“B”) about two inches in length and rising about one-quarter of an inch
above the lower surface.

The remainder of the table is laid out as shown in the cut. The figures
are arranged in three columns, and above them in two divisions nearest
the Roulette wheel, are single and double 00 respectively. The figures
are painted black or red, to agree with the corresponding color of the
numbers on the wheel. At the head of each column there is a compartment
for placing a stake which is made on the column. On each side of the
foot of the columns of figures are three spaces, each of which contains
the number twelve. These are known, respectively, as the 1st, 2nd and
3rd twelves. Stakes placed on the first space are considered to be bets
on the numbers 1 to 12; the second space is for bets on numbers 13 to
24; the third space for numbers 25 to 36, all inclusive.

The space on either side of the entire length of the columns is divided
into three parts. The upper left hand division is for bets on numbers 1
to 18; the corresponding right hand division is for numbers 19 to 36.
The large division in the middle of the left hand side, lettered “B” in
the illustration, is for bets on the black; the similar one upon the
right, marked “R,” is for wagers on the red.

The lower division on the left hand is for bets on even numbers; the
division opposite on the right is for odd numbers.

There is a banker and several assistants; an unlimited number of persons
may play.

One of the assistants sets the machine in motion, at the same instant
throwing an ivory ball into the cavity in the opposite direction to the
movement which he has given to the movable bottom. The ball makes
several revolutions with great rapidity until its momentum being
exhausted, it falls into one of the thirty-nine holes formed by the
copper bands. It is the hole into which the ball falls that determines
the gain or loss of the numerous chances which this game affords to

If the reader will examine the cut showing the lay-out, he will perceive
that there are numerous chances to be played for: Single and double (0);
the “eagle;” black and red; the three columns; the first and last half
of the numbers, respectively, consists of 1 to 18, and 19 to 36
inclusive; the three 12’s, consist of 1 to 12, 13 to 24 and 25 to 36;
odds and even; and lastly, the numbers, either single or in small

Stakes bet on black or red; the first or last half of the numbers; also
on odd and even, are called single stakes. Stakes on either of the three
12’s, or on either of the three columns, win double the amount. Stakes
on any single number, or on either of the (0’s), or the eagle, are paid
thirty-five times their amount if they are successful.

Bets may be made on groups of not over six consecutive numbers, and win
as many times the amount of the stakes as the grouping is contained in
thirty-four, omitting all fractions; so that a bet on any four
designated consecutive numbers would win eight times the amount of the
stake, provided any one of these numbers comes out.

It has already been stated that the space occupied by thirty-six numbers
are all either red or black; and as the numbers are equally divided
between the colors eighteen to each, a stake on either color is a single
bet. The 0’s and the eagle are painted green, and if a zero or eagle
turns up, bets on either black or red are lost by the players.

It is only of late years that the majority of roulette wheels contain a
picture of an eagle, a similar picture being painted upon the cloth.
Bets on the eagle, if won by the player, are paid in the ratio of 35 to

The legitimate percentage of chances in favor of the bank in this game
is enormous. Out of thirty nine chances, the bank runs eighteen of
losing and has twenty-one of winning, or three additional chances in its
favor, which is equivalent to fully 5½ per cent. in favor of the bank in
all cases, even where a bet is placed upon either of the zeros or the
eagle. In the latter case, the bet on either zero or on the eagle is
paid 35 to 1, the same as on any single number.

Here the bank has thirty-five chances out of thirty-nine of winning, and
only one of losing, or four more chances in its favor than the payments
warrant, thus yielding the same 5½ per cent.

It follows that the odds against the players in the various chances may
be expressed as follows:

               Upon a single number,          37    to 1

               Upon any twelve numbers,       13    to 6

               Upon two numbers,              18    to 1

               Upon three numbers,            11⅔   to 1

               Upon four numbers,             17    to 2

               Upon six numbers,              16    to 3

               Upon odd or even, red or       10    to 9

In the case of a bet on the first or last eighteen numbers, the odds are
ten to nine, the same as on odd or even, or red or black.

When, however, a stake is laid on all the numbers, and the bank only
pays the winner thirty-five times his stake, it clears four; thus,
supposing thirty-nine dollars to be a stake, and that the ball is thrown
twice in a minute, the gain of the bank, without incurring the slightest
risk, would be eight dollars per minute, or $480 per hour. Although, in
whatever way a player may bet, the chances are always in favor of the
bank, still the latter’s risk varies in proportion to the number of
chances which are not filled up. To illustrate, if only ten numbers are
filled, and the ball were to enter one of them, the bank would, in that
case, lose thirty-four dollars, and only win eight; whereas, when all
the numbers are filled, it wins four without risking a cent.

From what has been said, as to the chances in favor of the bank, it
would seem to be hardly necessary to use any additional means of
swindling, inasmuch as the percentage in its favor is so large that the
game is very seldom beaten, even if “played on the square.” An old
gambler once remarked in my presence, that the percentage of the game
was forty per cent. worse than stealing. However, despite this fact, the
gambler is not satisfied, and has succeeded in devising schemes, whereby
he may win every bet made against him, if he sees fit.

The first method of cheating which I will describe, is as follows: The
roulette is manufactured for the purpose, the machinery being entirely
concealed from view. The gambler who manages the game can cause the ball
(A) to fall in a red or black number, as he may think proper. After
throwing the ball he watches it closely, and if it should fall in the
red, when he wished it to go into the black, while still revolving, its
course can be quickly changed to the desired color. This is accomplished
by means of a lever attached to the circular wheel, and connecting with
one of the legs of the roulette. This leg has the same appearance as
others, but is a trifle shorter, not quite touching the table on which
the roulette rests. The gambler has only to touch this leg while the
wheel is revolving, and in a second the ball is changed from one color
to another, as he may prefer. In fact, so quickly can the ball be
changed, that it is difficult to detect the motion after one has been
shown how it is managed, unless the wheel is turned slowly. This is one
of the most ingenious contrivances in use.

There is yet another kind of roulette, which is made in the following
manner: One-half of the small pieces of metal which form the pockets for
the ball are made a trifle longer than the others, lettered on the
diagram E E E. After the stakes have been placed, if the proprietor
wishes the ball to fall in a red color, it is necessary for him merely
to throw the ball around to the right hand, and if he wishes it to fall
in the black, he casts the ball toward the left. The players may observe
that he throws the ball in a different direction on different occasions,
but the action appears to be so trivial that it excites no suspicion.

Another fraudulent contrivance used in playing this game consists in the
gambler’s having two centers to a wheel, apparently identical, one of
which, however, is “square” and the other “faked.” This device is known
to the members of “the profession” as the “double center.” The “square”
wheel is used at first, and, at an opportune moment, the “fake” is
substituted, after which the sharper has everything his own way. This
wheel is operated on very much the same principle as the “needle wheel,”
for the construction of which the reader is referred to the chapter
containing a description of that device. A system of levers radiating
from the centre of the apparatus is operated by a rod terminating at the
edge of the table. By bringing to bear the requisite pressure, these
levers cause fine needle points (lettered C C C on the diagram) to rise
through the cloth, one coming up in front of each alternate compartment
on the rim, thus obstructing the entry of the ball and causing its
course to be so changed that it shall fall into one of the next adjacent
divisions, as in the case of the “needle wheel” above referred to.

It is easily perceived that the players can have no possible chance when
playing against such roulettes as these, and there is a large number of
them in use all over the country.


This game is a favorite one with nearly all non-professional gamblers,
not only because the risk of loss involved is not large, but also
because of the popular impression that it is always played “on the
square.” As a matter of fact, it usually is conducted fairly, although,
as will be explained, sometimes bare-faced swindling is resorted to by
the proprietors.

[Illustration: keno]

The game very closely resembles the children’s pastime of “lotto.” Any
number of persons may play. Each one desiring to participate in the game
buys a card on which are three horizontal rows of five numbers each,
arranged altogether without regularity. The price paid for a card is
commonly twenty-five cents, although sometimes the stakes are
considerably higher. None of the cards contain a higher number than
ninety-nine. The conductor of the game—who is known as the
“roller”—takes his position, usually upon a raised platform, in full
view of the players. Before him is placed a globe containing ninety-nine
balls, numbered consecutively from one to ninety-nine, to correspond
with the figures on the players’ cards. The balls having been thoroughly
mixed, the “roller” presses a spring at the bottom of the globe, opening
an aperture just large enough to permit one ball to drop at a time. As
soon as the first one has fallen, the aperture is closed and the
“roller,” in a loud voice, calls out the number inscribed upon it. If a
player finds the number in either of the three horizontal rows on his
card he places a button over it. When any player has all five, numbers
in any one of his rows thus called out, he exclaims “keno,” after which
the “roller” takes no more balls from the globe. His card is then
inspected by one of the “collectors”—of whom there are usually two—and
if his tally is correct he is given the entire amount of money paid by
all the players (which is called “the pot”) less a discount of fifteen
per cent., which is retained by “the house” as its “percentage.” Thus,
if there are a hundred players, each of whom has paid twenty-five cents
for a card, the winner receives twenty-one dollars and twenty-five
cents, the bank reserving to itself three dollars and seventy-five cents
as “percentage.”

Matters having been thus arranged, fresh stakes are advanced by those
wishing to play again, the balls put in the globe and the game is

It may be readily seen that the “bank” incurs no risk whatever, and its
sure percentage on the stakes is large enough to satisfy the cupidity of
most gamblers. Fortunes have been won by the proprietors of these games,
one concern alone in St. Louis having made $190,000 thereby. Still, the
instinct to cheat is strong in the breast of the professional sharper;
and sometimes a confederate of the proprietor plays in the game and wins
the “pot,” through the co-operation of the “roller.” The latter
withholds from the globe several balls, which he substitutes, from time
to time, for the ones which he should have taken from the globe. The
numbers on these withheld and substituted balls correspond to those
necessary to fill out one of the horizontal rows on the confederate’s
card and the latter is thus enabled to win through fraud.

                             ROLLING FARO.

This game is similar in its general principles to those of the “squeeze
spindle,” “needle wheel,” and “corona,” which have already been
described. It is a favorite game upon fair-grounds, as are the others,
but it is frequently found in resorts which are known as “first-class”
gambling houses. There is scarcely a “hell” in the city of Chicago in
which this apparatus cannot be found. This circumstance, in itself,
affords a striking commentary upon the principles which underlie the
management of what the uninitiated are wont to call “square houses.”

[Illustration: rolling faro]

The accompanying cut shows the device used in playing the game, not only
as it appears to the outsider, but also with the “fake” element exposed.
A circular ring of wood, about three inches broad, is attached to a
square board which is placed upon a table. At four points in the ring,
equi-distant from each other, are the painted representations of four
jacks. Between each pair of jacks are eight blank spaces, each one of
which is usually numbered, the numbers running from one to thirty-two,
consecutively. Sometimes ordinary playing cards are substituted for the
numbers. Each of the four blocks of numbers is painted a distinct and
separate color. In the centre of the inner circle is placed a metal
arrow, having a pointed quill attached to the smaller end, the whole
swinging upon a central pivot. Prices are placed at intervals upon the
numbered squares. When the game is played at gambling houses, the only
prizes offered are sums of money, varying in amount, and between these
the numbers are left blank. When the device is operated upon a fair-
ground, there are no blanks, articles of jewelry of trifling value being
placed between the money prizes.

The mode of play is usually different upon fair-grounds from that which
is followed in the regular gaming houses. In the former case, players
pay twenty-five cents each for the privilege of swinging the arrow, and
take the prize opposite the quill point when it stops revolving. At
regular gaming houses players place their stakes upon whatever number or
color they may select, and if they win the bank pays them the amount due
them. The bets may be made either upon any one of the four jacks or on
either of the four colors. If the player stakes his money upon a jack
and wins, the proprietor pays him ten times the amount of his stake. If
he lays his wager upon any given color,—if he is playing upon a fair-
ground,—he receives simply his original stake, together with an equal
sum. If, however, he is playing in a house, and names the lucky color,
he receives two for one.

The chances having been bought or the bets laid, some one—either one of
the players, or the proprietor, or a bystander—sets the arrow in motion.
When the pointer comes to rest, if any player has laid his bet upon the
number at which it stops, he receives either the prize thereon placed or
the amount of his winnings in cash.

The “fake” element, as has been said, is shown in the illustration.
There is a wire rod running from points B and C to the central pivot. As
in the “squeeze spindle,” they are sunk into the table and concealed by
the cloth covering. That which runs to point B is manipulated by
pressure with the hand; that which terminates at point C is operated by
pressure from the hip. When the operator pushes against either of these
rods, he checks the revolution of the arrow by creating friction at the
pivot, and brings the pointer to a standstill at any part of the circle
which he may desire.

Very little reflection is necessary to show the reader how great is the
legitimate percentage in favor of the bank, even were this game played
without any resort to trickery. There are four colors and four jacks
upon which a player may bet. It follows that the odds are seven to one
in favor of the house against any individual player naming the winning
color or card. And when to this percentage against the players there is
added the absolute certainty of winning which the bank gains through the
operation of the fraudulent device above explained, it is apparent that
no one can possibly win except through the consent of the proprietor of
the machine.

A rather striking illustration of the utter lack of good faith which
characterizes gamblers in their dealings with one another, and their
general moral perversity is furnished in the following narrative, for
the truth of which the author vouches. Two itinerant sharpers, each with
a rolling faro outfit were traveling on a Missouri river steamboat. The
year was 18—, and the season was autumn, when county fairs were at full
blast and men of that ilk were reaping a rich harvest. Both men were
destined for the same point, and each had been anxious to secure a
monopoly of the “privilege” of running his machine at the fair in
question. One of them discovered that his business rival had forestalled
him, and that—to use a colloquialism—“his cake was dough.” The gambler
who had succeeded in obtaining his license retired early, serenely
confident that the following day would witness not only the discomfiture
of his rival but also his own success. But he had reckoned without his
host. Scarcely had he fallen asleep before the form of his wily
antagonist might have been seen prowling among the freight upon the main
deck. Stealthily he moved in and out among the piles of stuff until he
discovered the wheel of the licensed monopolist. Then followed a dull,
grating sound, as of some one drawing a heavy box across a floor; then
came a sudden splash, and to this succeeded silence. The gambling
machine of the enterprising gamester who had secured the license, had
sunk beneath the waters of the Mississippi, to be seen no more by mortal
eyes. The next morning there was a brief season of pandemonium. The
situation, however, was simple. There was but one fair, one license and
one outfit, yet there were two gamblers. One of them had a license, but
no paraphernalia; the other had paraphernalia, but no license. There was
but one solution; the two found themselves compelled to “pool their
issues.” In other words, the man who had thrown his rival’s wheel
overboard forced the man who had owned it to divide his profits with him
in consideration of being permitted to use the only wheel available.

The author was himself present at the fair where these two men operated
the wheel to which reference has been made. On the way back a fearful
scene was witnessed. A quarrel over “privileges” had arisen on the
grounds and was continued on the boat. A gambler familiarly known as
“Curley” the hog driver, a bulldozer, when heated by passion and liquor,
was raising a terrible disturbance when another sporting man, Sherman
Thirston, interfered to restrain him from mischief. “Curley” drew his
revolver and fired three shots at Thirston, one breaking a spittoon
which he held in front of him, and one grazing Lone Wolf’s forehead.
Thirston advanced upon “Curley” and disarmed him.

                            HIGH BALL POKER.

This game derives its name from the fact that balls are used instead of
cards, and that bets may be “raised” as in poker. In fact, “bluff” is
resorted to in both games in about the same ratio. The method of play is
exceedingly simple. All that is necessary is a cloth-covered table
(usually about six feet long by three and one-half feet broad), a
leather bottle, one hundred wooden or ivory balls, numbered from one to
one hundred consecutively, and some “chips.” The latter are sold to the
players by the proprietor at five or ten cents each. Those wishing to
indulge in the game put down their “ante,” as in straight or draw poker.
The “ante” is usually one chip. The person conducting the game then
takes the bottle, in which the balls have been placed, in his hand, and
throws them from its open mouth, one to each player. The latter then
examine the little spheres which they have received and either forfeit
the chips which they have already laid down or make their bets in the
same manner as in playing poker. Precisely the same tactics are employed
in both games. When the “call” is made the player holding the ball on
which is inscribed the highest number wins the bet, by which is meant
all the stakes which have been placed upon the table.

This is a favorite game in many gambling houses, especially those of an
inferior class. The “house” always takes a percentage, or “rake-off,” as
it is frequently called. This percentage consists of either one or two
chips, as may be agreed upon. It follows that the proprietors run no
risk, being absolutely certain of winning something each time that the
balls are thrown. In “skin” gambling houses, however, the owners are not
content with this percentage of profit. A “capper” is called into the
game, who usually sits at the end of the table toward the banker’s left
hand. The latter finds it necessary to be very cautious in collecting
the balls from the players, lest some one who had received a high number
might withhold it in order to bet upon it on the next throw.
Accordingly, he examines each ball as it is returned to him. This
affords him ample opportunity for holding out some high number in his
hand, which he throws to his confederate the next time, thereby enabling
him to bet with approximate certainty of winning everything in sight.
These cappers are commonly known as “pluggers,” and are paid a stated
_per diem_, being looked upon as regular employes.

                               CHAPTER V.
                          VARIOUS CARD GAMES.

                      “SEVEN UP,” OR “OLD SLEDGE.”

The game, sometimes called Old Sledge and Seven-Up, is played with a
full pack of fifty-two cards, which take rank as at Whist—the Ace being
the highest and the Deuce the lowest.

The players cut for deal. The dealer then gives six cards to each
player, three at a time, and turns up the thirteenth, if there be two
players, and the twenty-fifth if there be four. The turn-up is the

The non-dealer then looks at his hand, and determines whether he will
hold it for play, or beg. If he is satisfied with his hand, he says, “I
stand;” but if he is not satisfied with his cards, he says, “I beg,” in
which case the dealer must either suffer his adversary to score one
point, saying, “Take one,” or give each three more cards from the pack,
and then turn up the next card, the seventh, for trumps; if however, the
trump turned up be of the same suit as the first, the dealer must go on,
giving each three cards more, and turning up the seventh, until a change
of suit for turn-up takes place.

After these preliminaries have been settled, if two only are playing,
the non-dealer leads a card, and the dealer plays a card to it; these
two cards constitute a trick.

The player who plays the highest card of the suit led, or trumps, wins
the trick, and has the next lead. The play proceeds in this way until
all the tricks are played.

Each player must follow suit, if he can, unless he chooses to trump.

The points that may be scored are herewith given in their order of

High.—The highest trump out; the holder scores one point.

Low.—The lowest trump out; the original holder scores one point, even if
it be taken by his adversary.

Jack.—The Knave of trumps. The winner of the trick containing it scores
one point.

When the Jack is turned up for trump, it counts one point for the
dealer, and in that case takes precedence of every other point in the

_Game._—The greatest number that in the tricks gained, can be shown by
either party; reckoning for

                 Each  Ace          four towards game.
                   ”   King        three    ”      ”
                   ”   Queen         two    ”      ”
                   ”   Jack          one    ”      ”
                   ”   Ten           ten    ”      ”

The other cards do not count towards game; thus it may happen that a
deal may be played without either party having any score for game, by
reason of holding neither face cards nor tens.

When the players hold equal numbers, the dealer’s hand scores the point
for game.

One card may count all “fours;” for example, the oldest hand holds only
the jack of the trump suit, and stands his game, the dealer, having
neither trump, ten, ace nor court card, it will follow that the jack
will be at once high, low, jack and game.

The game consists of seven points, and the player who first scores that
number wins the game. If the non-dealer is dissatisfied with his hand,
he may “beg,” _i. e._, ask the dealer to “give” him one point on his
score. If the latter refuse, he must “run the cards,” by which is meant,
turn down the trump, deal three cards each to his antagonist and
himself, and turn another card. If the latter happen to be of the same
suit as that previously turned, it is turned over, and the “running for
trumps” is continued until some card of a different suit is turned.

In four-handed Seven-up the parties usually decide who shall be partners
by cutting the cards, the two highest and the two lowest playing
together. The four players divide themselves into two sets, each player
sitting opposite his partner, as at whist. The first deal is decided by
cutting the cards, the highest cut having the deal, but afterward it is
taken by each player in rotation.

The _dealer_ and the player on his _left only_ are permitted to look at
their cards, previous to the latter deciding upon his hand, and in case
he begs, the other parties must not raise their cards until the dealer
announces whether he will “give one” or “run the cards” for another

There can be little question but that the popular game of seven-up had
its origin in the United States, although whether in the East or West is
a question, the answer to which is shrouded in obscurity.

Half a century ago the wild frontiersman of Indiana and Illinois were
accustomed to while away their nights by playing “High, Low, Jack,” with
a greasy pack of cards, upon the head of a whiskey barrel, never
quitting the game until they had consumed the contents of the barrel.

Fully as long ago the stalwart lumbermen of Maine sat down upon
improvised seats in the pine woods, and devoted Sunday to the same
amusement. In these early days the game was, if anything, more popular
than at present, for the reason that fewer games of cards were known to
the great masses of players.

Occasionally matches, which might nowadays be euphoniously designated as
tournaments, were held. In the simple language of those times they were
generally referred to as “bouts a keards.” It is probable that even then
more or less fraud was practiced by the players, since deception seems
to have been a prominent characteristic of the human family since the
days of the “fall,” and when cards are played for money the temptation
to cheat seems to be, to a certain class of men, irresistible. “Wet
groceries” were the favorite stakes of the rough Western farmers and the
Eastern lumbermen, yet play was not confined to these. Money earned by
long and patient toil of the hardest sort was piled upon barrel heads or
laid upon the ground, and it is doubtful whether the losers bore their
losses with any more equanimity than do the same class of players to-
day. But it has remained for the blackleg of these latter days to
introduce into the game those finer arts such as the “half stock” and
the “whole stock,” by means of which the unwary are entrapped and the
gullible fleeced. To the untutored minds of the early players to whom
reference has been made, the idea of reading the cards by the back would
have seemed an utter absurdity; but it is true that the farmers and
lumbermen have since grown wiser, through no little bitter experience.
The result has been that the gamblers do not as easily find victims to-
day as they did twenty-five or thirty years ago. This very circumstance
shows the benefit effected by the knowledge, and it is the mission of
this work to spread broadcast throughout the land such knowledge that he
who may be swindled through such artifices as herein described, has only
himself to blame for his folly. Infatuation and ignorance have but a
poor show of success in a contest with chicanery and skill.

Some of the most common, and at the same time most effective
descriptions of fraud practiced in this game will next be concisely


In preparing “strippers,” to be used in seven-up, the blacklegs elects
either three aces or three jacks, which he leaves in the same condition
as that in which they came from the manufacturer. The remainder of the
pack he slightly trims down. In using a pack thus prepared the cheat
takes advantage of his antagonist’s deal by drawing out these three
cards from the pack by their sides, instead of giving the deck a fair,
honest cut. Having drawn them out he throws them upon the top, and as a
matter of course receives them as his own first three cards. If he has
the deal himself he “strips” them, that is draws them out of the pack by
the sides, places them on top and throws three cards over them. If his
adversary has cut the pack, the gambler “shifts” the cut, as described
in the chapter relative to poker. Of course his antagonist now receives
the three cards which were thrown on top of the pack, while the sharper
receives the three aces or jacks.


The same “brief” is employed in seven-up as in poker. It consists of one
wide card which is drawn out and placed on top of the three
cards,—usually an ace, deuce or jack—which have been previously arranged
together. The object in using this card, as in poker, is to enable their
sharper to cut the pack in such a way as to uncover the prepared hand.
It may be remarked concerning both “stripper” and “briefs” that their
employment is usually more easy of detection than “stocking,” when
practiced by an expert, and for this reason they are not favorite
devices with most of the profession in playing short games, unless their
antagonist be particularly verdant.

                              HALF STOCK.

In this arrangement of the pack the gambler, having first selected a
card of any suit, places above it three others of the same suit. It is a
common practice to select the high (ace) the low (deuce) and the jack;
above these three others are placed. In shuffling the dealer is careful
not to disturb the seven cards thus arranged. Having completed his
shuffle, he offers them to be cut. After the cut he deals, as he should
do, from the remainder of the pack and leaves the cut lying upon the
board. The trump is fairly turned, but as he exposes it the sharper
throws it to one side; he then picks up the cut with his right hand and
places it on top of the remainder of the pack. His antagonist, being
engaged in looking at his hand, naturally fails to observe the order in
which the two halves of the pack are put together. The advantage of this
maneuver is that if his adversary “begs” the dealer runs off to him the
three top cards which he had previously placed together and which, of
course, lie on top of the cut, which is now uppermost in the deck. He
himself receives the three best cards (perhaps the ace, deuce and jack)
of the same suit, which, as we have seen, laid beneath the three upper
cards; he then turns a new trump, the seventh card, which, it will be
remembered, was also of the same suit. He now holds the high, low and
jack of the new trump suit and is naturally in a far better position
than his antagonist. Of course the half stock is comparatively valueless
unless his opponent begs. But in the course of a rubber the latter is
reasonably certain to do this often enough to entail a serious loss upon

                            THE WHOLE STOCK.

In a case where the cards have been stocked on the system of the “whole
stock,” it makes not the slightest difference to the sharper whether his
adversary beg or not.

The blackleg who intends to employ this artifice is careful to attempt
it only when there have been but twelve cards dealt from the pack on any
particular hand, for example, when he himself has “stood” on his
antagonist’s deal. In picking up the twelve cards from the table he
selects four cards of some one suit, of course taking care to choose the
highest four which have been played during that hand. Over these four
cards he places the remaining eight, above these again a thirteenth card
of the same suit, which he takes from the pack. Of course, at this
moment the faces of the cards are uppermost. By placing the thirteen
arranged cards on the bottom and turning the pack over in order to
shuffle, the former are brought to the top. In shuffling he takes great
care not to disarrange the prepared thirteen. When his antagonist has
cut, the sharper “shifts” the cut, as in poker, thus restoring the cards
to their original position. The result is, that in dealing, the last
three cards of the original twelve will necessarily fall to himself, and
they will of course be of the same suit as the trump card turned.


Crimping in all games is practiced on substantially the same principle.
In seven-up the dishonest gamester “crimps,” or bends down, one or
more—even three high cards. Of course it is an artifice which can prove
of advantage to the operator only on his adversary’s deal, in which case
he cuts down to the “crimped” cards, the location of which is perceived
by the bent card slightly raising those above it, from those below. If
only a single ace be crimped, the result is a very heavy percentage of
odds in favor of the sharper.

                           MARKING THE EDGES.

The object of marking the edges of the cards is practically the same as
that of crimping; that is, to enable the blackleg to cut down to any
desired card. The edges of the ace or jacks, or possibly of both, are
very carefully marked with India ink. Cards thus prepared are useful to
the cheat only on his opponent’s deal; but in the latter case he is
invariably able to cut the pack in such a way that he will himself
receive one of the cards thus marked.

                             THE HIGH HAND.

There are two “high hands” in Seven-up, one called the “long hand,” the
other the “short hand.” To run up a “long hand” requires more time than
can usually be obtained by making a seemingly fair deal or turning up a
jack or ten-spot. However, thousands of dollars have been won on this
game, as the major hand seems to a tyro a perfectly sure hand for four
points—the fact being that it is a “sure thing” _the other way_.

The “long hand” is a device to which professional gamblers frequently
resort, and which often proves highly successful. It is introduced at a
stage of the game where the pack has been “run off” to an extent
sufficient to give each player nine cards. Of course, the perpetration
of the trick presupposes that the pack has been carefully “stocked.” The
player who is to be victimized is given the four court cards, ten-spot
and deuce of some suit, _e. g._, of spades, together with the kings of
the three other suits. The gambler has dealt himself six of the
remaining spades, and the aces of hearts, diamonds and clubs. He then
turns a spade—let us say the nine spot.

The reader who has mastered the explanation of the game already given,
will comprehend that the dupe is certain of winning three points—the
high, low and jack, and with six trumps and three kings of outside suits
his chances of making “game” are apparently excellent. He is, therefore,
easily induced, even if he does not himself offer, to bet that he will
score four points. Now, mark the issue. The “sucker” inevitably makes
his “high, low and jack,” but when the count is made for game he finds
his reckoning to be 20 (ace 4, king 3, queen 2, jack 1, and ten-spot
10), to his adversary’s 21 (three aces 12, three kings 9, making 21),
the result being the loss of his stake.

The “short hand” at “Seven-up” is a trick to which gamblers resort at
the stage of the game when the score stands 6 to 5 in favor of the
“sucker” and the “professional” has the deal. Six cards having been
dealt to each player, the cheat turns up, let us say, a heart, although
the particular suit is altogether immaterial, provided the pack has been
properly “stocked.” When the greenhorn picks up his cards, he finds he
has the aces of the three other suits. Of course, if he is an average
player he “begs,” _i. e._, asks his adversary to “give” him one point.
Inasmuch as such a “gift” would make his score seven, and decide the
game in his favor, the gamester refuses. The only course remaining is to
“run for a new trump.” The dupe now feels perfectly sure of winning the
game. He knows that the ace is necessarily “high,” which point counts
first in determining who wins the game; and inasmuch as he is aware that
either hearts, diamonds or clubs must next be the trump, and he holds
the ace of each of these three suits, he “bets his pile” in serene
confidence that he will win. And now comes in the “fine work” of the
sharper. He takes the deck and “runs off” six cards; he then turns up
the seventh, which is always a jack of the suit originally turned, thus
adding one to his own tally, and making the score stand 6 to 6. As the
rules forbid the same suit being trump, he has to “run” again. Once more
the seventh card is turned; another jack (of course of another suit) is
exposed: the gambler scores another point for “turning jack,” thus
making his account seven and winning the game, leaving the unlucky
“sucker” to lament the cruel fate which so effectually prevented him
from scoring “high” on either of his three utterly worthless aces.

                              HOLDING OUT.

It is unnecessary to enter into any detailed description of this method
of fraud as practiced in seven-up, for the reason that it has been
already fully explained in treating of poker. The most common means of
practicing this cheat is the employment of the “bug.”

It is, however, for two objects; first to secrete an ace, ten, jack or
deuce with a view to their further use, and, secondly as a means by
which the sharper may deal to himself seven cards. This latter purpose,
and the method by which it is achieved may be worth describing.

On the second run of the deal, the blackleg gives himself four cards
instead of three. He then takes out some low card of his strongest suit,
places it on top of his cards and his hand on the table. If his
adversary stands, he discards some one of his seven cards into the
“bug,” thus leaving the proper number in his hand. If on the other hand
his antagonist begs, he runs off the desired cards and picking up his
own, raises the three last received, on the one which he had previously
placed upon the top of his original hand, then exclaims that he has
dealt himself four cards instead of three and that the bottom card must
be the trump. He thereupon turns over the card of his strongest suit and
places it on the top of the deck as the trump, leaving his hand with
only the proper number of cards.

                             MARKED CARDS.

Marked cards are often used by professionals in playing seven-up, but
the blacklegs do not find them of nearly as great advantage as in many
other games. The description of the manner in which they are prepared
has already been given in the chapter on poker and need not be here

                     TURNING JACK FROM THE BOTTOM.

This is a very common custom with professional gamblers, who, through
long practice, have acquired a manual dexterity which virtually defies
detection. The first step of the sharper is to place a jack at the
bottom of the pack, leaving it in that position while he deals. If his
adversary cuts, the cheat “shifts the cut,” in the same manner as at
poker, restoring the cards to their original position. Then, after
dealing, he places his hands over the deck, in such a way as to conceal
it from view. Then, grasping the pack by its outer edge with his right
hand, he turns it over on the jack, simultaneously drawing the latter
toward the inside, with his left hand, so that it may meet the other
cards as they turn over. He all the time imparts a slight upward
movement to the pack, which he finally drops upon the table.

Of course, as above explained, by “turning up jack” the dealer scores
one. If, now, his opponent begs, the gambler takes occasion
surreptitiously to observe the suit of the bottom card. If it happens to
be the same as the strongest suit in his own hand, he repeats the trick,
turning it for trump, thereby practically placing himself in a position
where the chances for winning decidedly preponderate in his favor.

The sharper very commonly selects as the moment for using this
stratagem, that period of the game when the score stands six to six,
thus scoring the single point necessary to enable him to win.


Whist is too tedious a game for the professional gambler; it is
peculiarly a game of skill, and therefore less adapted to cheating
purposes, than are many others, the issue of which depends more upon
chance. At one time both long and short whist were very popular at
evening parties, but neither of them was ever a general game for money
in this country, and even as a pastime Euchre has far surpassed it in
public favor.

Still, trickery may be employed with telling effect, and the
professional blackleg brings his ill-directed skill to bear upon it in a
variety of ways.

The chief advantage to be obtained by the deal is with a “second,” and
the gambler who is sufficiently dexterous to give the aces, kings and
queens to himself and his partner can make the “odd trick” every time he

“Signing up” between partners is also an essential element in fraudulent
whist playing. For although each confederate has a general knowledge of
the contents of his partner’s hand, yet there are critical periods in
the game, especially when one of the two holds uncertain cards, when
“signing up” is of great value in determining the event with absolute
certainty. This secret telegraphy is arranged beforehand between the
pair of swindlers, the signals for “suit” and “size” being mutually
agreed upon; and where the understanding is perfect the defeat of any
honest players with whom they may be contending, is a moral certainty.

“” ‘’ Another favorite device of card sharpers is to “ring in a cold
deck,” by which is meant the substitution of a pack of cards having
precisely similar backs as those used in the game, but which have been
previously so arranged that while the greenhorns shall receive excellent
hands, it is a matter of utter impossibility for them to score the odd
trick. The substitution having been effected, one of the swindlers
contrives some excuse for not looking at his hand until after his
antagonists shall have examined theirs. Perhaps he lights a cigar,
protesting that it will not “draw.” After the dupes have seen their
cards, he proposes a wager—“just to make it interesting”—that he and his
partner will win the odd trick. He adds that he will bet on his hand
“unsight, unseen.” The honest player usually protests that he has looked
at his cards already. “O, well,” says the blackleg; “never mind that.
I’m in for a ‘spec,’ and if you want a little ‘go,’ I’m your man for
twenty or so.” At this point, the moral (?) companion of the sharper
interferes with a protest. He doesn’t believe in betting on a friendly
game; money is not so easily made that it can be thrown away, etc., etc.
But this is so artfully said as to stimulate rather than to check the
greenhorn’s desire to bet. A little more conversation almost invariably
results in the making of a wager, the limit of which is determined by
the purse and the verdancy of the victim. The stakes having been placed
the game proceeds. The inevitable result follows: The “suckers” win the
first six tricks and the sharpers the last seven and the money. The
original pack had been put out of sight and the dupes rarely discover
the manner in which they have been swindled, even if they suspect that
any fraud whatever has been practised.

To illustrate the manner in which a pack of cards has been prepared for
this purpose, let us suppose a party seated at the whist table. A, a
sharper, deals to B, his verdant antagonist, the ace, king, queen,
knave, ten and nine of hearts, which we will assume to be trumps; the
ace, king, queen and knave of clubs; and the ace, king and queen of
spades; the hand being, of course, void of diamonds. Every whist player
would recognize this as an exceedingly strong, if not an impregnable,
hand. But observe what A gives himself and his partner; the eight,
seven, six, five, four, three and deuce of trumps, and of the rest of
the pack, it is a matter of indifference. Now, mark the result. B leads
off with his trumps, of which he has six; A follows suit every time,
having seven; next B leads his ace of spades, which A takes with his
remaining trump. The lead being now with the latter, he plays his six
diamonds, each one of which, of course, takes a trick, the blackleg thus
securing the odd trick. In considering a trick of this kind, the average
man is at a loss whether to admire its ingenuity or condemn its


This is one of the games of cards usually first taught to children and
commonly considered too simple to interest matured minds. As a matter of
fact, to play it successfully requires an exercise of memory second only
to that necessary in playing at Whist.

It is not a favorite with gamblers for the reason that it presents
comparatively few opportunities of using the advantages so dear to the
heart of the blackleg. At the same time “eminent professionals” have
been known to win $1,000 on a single game, and I have myself played for
(and won) $50 on the hazard of one hand. It is related of “Canada Bill,”
elsewhere referred to as the “king of the monte men,” that he deceived
himself into believing that he understood the game. While he was making
his headquarters in Kansas City he was wont to make short trips upon the
railways centering there, from which he would not infrequently return
with $2,000 or $3,000. He was then willing to have a bout at casino (and
he would play no other game) for from $100 to $500 with any one who
offered. Shrewd rascal as he was, he was the veriest tyro—in fact a
“sucker”—at his own favorite pastime, and the blacklegs of the place
used to fleece him unmercifully.

The main reliance of the gambler at this game, however, is in the
superior skill resulting from careful study and long practice. An expert
gamester can always tell the cards remaining in the pack at the
commencement of the last deal, even on a perfectly fair game.

Of course “paper,” _i.e._, marked cards, are invaluable to the cheat at
this as at all other games, and this is really the principal scheme of
fraud of any importance ever attempted at this game. Occasionally, when
a professional is playing with a greenhorn, he will contrive to keep a
nine spot on top of his pile of tricks, which he uses in “building” to
suit himself. Sometimes also a card of some low denomination (_e.g._ the
three spot of hearts) is substituted for the ace of spades, which the
sharper abstracts and conceals, placing it among his tricks and using it
in counting his own points for game. This is rather unsafe, however, as
the duplicate cards occasionally come together.

Casino is an amusement frequently affected by broken down gamblers,
whose depleted resources do not permit them to “sit in” a game of poker,
and who seek to rehabilitate their fallen fortunes by playing casino for
a stake of five cents on a game of twenty-one points.


Perhaps no game is more universally played in the United States than
Euchre. It is pre-eminently a social amusement. While it does not
possess the absorbing fascination of whist, it permits free and
unrestrained conversation among the players, which circumstance has
unquestionably contributed largely to its popularity.

It is probable that it originated in the Western States, but its
devotees are to-day confined to no section, and the pastime finds its
defenders alike in the saloon, the gaming “hell” and the drawing room.

To be a successful Euchre player calls for the exercise of excellent
judgment, considerable finesse and no little boldness. As it is never
played with a pack of more than thirty-two cards, this game does not
afford so many opportunities for fraud, but the slightest advantage
which can be gained, tells with unfailing certainty.

In fleecing victims at euchre, professional gamblers resort to many of
the practices which are so successfully employed at “seven-up.” “Marked”
or “advantage cards,” are among the most common devices of the sharpers.

“Strippers” are also found extremely useful. These are prepared in the
same manner as in all other games, i. e. by removing—either from each
side or both ends—a narrow, triangular “strip,” not wider than one-
sixteenth of an inch at the widest part. One of the “surest things” is
to have the cards cut for two jack “strippers,” which the “professional”
can strip on the top of the pack on his opponent’s deal, thus securing
two bowers. Sometimes one jack of a red and one of a black suit are
selected for this purpose, but it is usually considered better to use
two jacks of the same color, for the reason that should a trump of that
color be turned, (which is likely to occur at least half the time) the
cheat is sure of both bowers. This, as every euchre player knows, gives
an immense advantage. Yet this trick is not always certain to win;
sometimes “luck” will favor the honest player, and it is recorded that a
guileless and unsuspecting neophyte once won _sixteen consecutive games_
from a blackleg who trusted to this expedient. Such instances, however,
are almost as rare as ice in the tropics; and any man is utterly devoid
of sense who imagines that he is safe in trusting to chance, as against
skill combined with chicanery.

“Briefs” may also be advantageously used at euchre. The gambler places a
“brief” above two bowers, or a bower and an ace, and the cut is made
down to it on his adversary’s deal, thus insuring at least two high

“Stocking” is far more easily accomplished at this game than at either
poker or “seven-up,” and the gamester who is proficient in arranging the
cards for either of the other two games finds it an easy matter to “put
up” a deck for euchre, although it is absolutely essential to his
success that he should be an expert at “shifting the cut.”

“Crimping” is practiced precisely as in “seven-up,” the most common
device being to “crimp” a jack and then cut to it. The sharper also not
infrequently marks the edges of the bowers with India ink, whereby he is
always able so to cut the pack as to be certain of securing one of these
desirable cards, with the chance of another one should two happen to lie

As in poker, the “bug” is sometimes used for “holding out” a valuable
card—_e. g._, a bower or ace, and sometimes two. A card “held out” is
occasionally “palmed;” by which is meant that it is concealed by the
black-leg in the palm of his hand when the pack is handed him to cut. He
then adroitly drops it on top, lightly taps the deck and allows the
cards to run. If the gambler wishes to palm a card on his own deal, he
places it on top of the pack as described and either makes a false cut
or shuffles the pack through once without disturbing the one palmed.

However, although these nefarious artifices are constantly practiced by
black-legs upon the unsophisticated player, it is only right to say that
the “profession” does not regard euchre with favor as a game at which
quick and large returns may be realized. It is mainly employed to fleece
victims through a device technically called the “high hand,” which, as
thus used, has very generally supplanted “three card monte” on railroad
trains and steamboats. These conveyances are most commonly selected by
this class of card sharps as the theater of their exploits. In the
operation of this scheme of fraud, two confederates act in concert.
Usually the game is commenced by “roping in” two greenhorns to make up a
euchre party, “just for amusement,” or possibly for stakes, which are
merely nominal. As soon as a fairly good hand has been obtained by one
of the pair and the next deal is to fall to his confederate, he “plays
it alone,” his accomplice gathering in the tricks as they are made. As
he does so he can easily arrange the cards so that when dealt they will
inevitably fall into “poker hands,” that is, into “single pairs,” “full
houses,” “four of a kind,” etc.—for an explanation of which terms the
reader is referred to the chapter on “Poker and Poker Players.” One of
the sharpers at once offers to bet at poker; his ally accepts the
gauntlet thus thrown down, the stakes are put up, and the bet won. As
soon as occasion offers these tactics are repeated, until finally one of
the “suckers,” who has been given what would be an extraordinarily
strong hand at “bluff,” is induced to bet. The stakes are at once
“raised,” as at poker, and when the hands are shown, the victim always
finds that he has lost, for the reason that the sharper always holds a
hand “just a little higher.”

When a “gudgeon” displays an unusual reluctance to “snap at the bait”
sometimes he is given four kings—a hand which only four aces or a “royal
flush” can beat. If he still hesitates the confederate who sits next to
him shows him an ace in his own hand, thereby convincing him that his
adversary, at best, cannot have four aces, and inducing him to believe
that he has a “sure thing.” When the “show-down” comes the dupe is
amazed to be confronted by four aces in his opponent’s hand! The
explanation is simple; the pack had _five aces_.


Cribbage is a quicker game than whist, and therefore better adapted to
the requirements of the professional blackleg. It is not so popular in
this country as in England, although extensively played and constantly
gaining in favor.

As five-spots are most valuable cards at cribbage, various devices are
employed by professionals to secure them. One of the most common is
“palming.” In accomplishing this the sharper conceals two five-spots and
any other two cards in the palm of his right hand, alternating the fives
with indifferent cards, and playing them so that the five-spots shall be
below the others. Having arranged the cards in this manner in his hand,
the sharper—with an air of candor—passes the rest of the pack to his
antagonist, with the request that the latter shuffle them while he is
lighting his cigar. The cards having been shuffled, the blackleg takes
them in the hand in which he has “palmed” the four cards, which are thus
placed upon the top of the pack, and, of course are dealt first.
Sometimes the professional marks all four fives, so that while dealing
he may not only avoid giving them to the dupe, but may, as opportunity
offers, appropriate them to himself. Another trick sometimes practiced
by less dexterous manipulators is to place the fives at the bottom of
the pack, and quietly drop them into the dealer’s hand. Cards are also
sometimes secreted between the knee and the table, or in the “bug,” as
in poker, or in the coat collar, so that the swindler may exchange bad
cards received during a deal for good ones previously abstracted from
the pack. The coat collar, and the knee-and-table method have generally
fallen into disfavor as being too clumsy and liable to detection.

Cards are sometimes prepared for cribbage as follows. The sixes, sevens,
eights and nines are cut slightly shorter than the others, while the
fives, court cards and tens are cut a trifle narrower. If a sharper
wishes a card of one of the former denominations to turn up, he cuts the
pack by lifting the ends, and one of the cards which he needs is certain
to be uppermost on the cut, for the reason that they are shorter than
the others. But if a five, ten or court card be desired, he cuts by
taking hold of the cards on the sides, and the card which he needs,
being narrower than the rest, will be infallibly discovered.

Crimping is also practiced at cribbage. In the course of two or three
deals, the sixes, sevens, eights and nines are bent in the middle
lengthwise, the sides inclining downwards. By this means it is possible
for the sharper to obtain one of the important cards at the start,
should he want it, by cutting the pack where he sees the bent card.
Sometimes two or three small cards are surreptitiously taken from the
pack. The dupe, not knowing this, plays at a great disadvantage, while
the knowledge of the fact is proportionately of benefit to the blackleg.

A common method of cheating at cribbage, euchre, and in fact nearly all
card games, is the “telegraph.” A confederate gambler looking over the
shoulder of an honest player, under pretense of taking an interest in
the game, with, perhaps, the excuse of a trifling bet on his success,
reads off his hand to the other gambler, who is thereby thoroughly
informed as to its nature and value. This information can be conveyed in
a hundred ways, without speaking a word or moving a finger. An almost
imperceptible movement of the eyebrows, an expansion of the nostrils, a
puff of cigar smoke to the right or the left, an opening of the mouth, a
turn of the head, biting the lip, chewing a toothpick—these and a
thousand other equally simple devices, previously agreed upon and
thoroughly understood, may be employed to abstract money from the pocket
of an unsuspecting dupe. Of course, under such circumstances the
confederate sharpers pretend to be utter strangers to each other, and
not infrequently there occurs a slight wrangle between them, which
serves still further to instil into the mind of the victim the belief
that the sharper who acts as “stool pigeon” is his friend.

Considered on the whole, however, cribbage is not a favorite game with
professional blacklegs, for the reasons stated above. There are,
however, many persons who are exceedingly fond of it, and who are easily
induced to play for stakes in the belief that cheating at it is
practically impossible. To such players as these the foregoing remarks
are especially commended. There is no game where innocence and ignorance
are a match for chicanery. Nor does the expert card-sharper know either
pity or remorse. The man who sits down at a table to play for stakes is
supremely foolish, and the man who gambles with a stranger is
preternaturally idiotic. The only safety for the unsophisticated youth,
the only safe rule for every man, young or old, is to abstain from
gambling altogether.

                        VINGT-UN, OR TWENTY-ONE.

This game of vingt-un, as its name denotes, originated in France, but
has achieved wonderful popularity, not only all over the continent of
Europe and the kingdom of Great Britain, but also on the shores of the
Western Hemisphere.

It is played by any number of persons, seated around a table similar to
that used in faro. The banker always deals, and uses one, two, or three
packs of cards, according to the number of players.

After the cards are shuffled he draws one from the pack and places it at
the bottom, face upward. This is called “burning” a card. The object is
to prevent what is known among gamblers as “bottom dealing,” and this
practice measurably interferes with one of the favorite practices of
card sharpers. First, all bets are made before they deal. Two cards are
given to each player, one at a time. When all have been supplied, the
players look at their hands. The king, queen, jack and ten spot each
count ten; an ace counts one or eleven, at the option of its holder, but
he is always guided in his determination by the exigencies of his hand.
The remainder of the cards are reckoned according to the number of spots
upon their faces. Each player signifies his satisfaction, or
dissatisfaction with his hand by “standing” or calling for a card which
is dealt to him, face upward. If this does not satisfy him he can call
for a second or even a third, as long as it does not count more than
twenty-one. If a player, who elects to draw to his hand, finds that the
number of spots on the cards drawn, added to the number on those which
he first received, exceeds twenty-one, he is said to have “burst,” and
throws his hand face downward upon the table, the stake being forfeited
to the banker, who is always the dealer.

After all have stood or drawn, the dealer turns his hand face upward on
the table, and either stands or draws. If he draws and “bursts,” that is
makes his count exceed twenty-one, he pays to each player the stake
which he has advanced, provided such player has not already overdrawn.
If he stands, or draws so that his hand does not exceed twenty-one, he
receives from or pays to each player in rotation; the one whose cards
reckon up nearest twenty-one being considered the winner. In the case of
a tie between the dealer and any of the players, the former takes the

Every man who has ever played Vingt-un knows that the foregoing
description of the game is palpably incomplete. The author does not aim
fully to instruct the ignorant as to the legitimate method of playing
all games of cards. Wherever a game, as honestly played, is described in
this book, it is his intention to give only such an explanation of the
game as may enable the reader thoroughly to comprehend the frauds
practiced by blacklegs. It is idle folly to say to a man that he is on
the edge of a precipice, who does not understand what a precipice is.

There can be no question that the explanation of the tricks of
“professionals” in this game will be thoroughly comprehended by those
who have ever played it, either for the purposes of amusement or in a
gaming “hell.”

In the first place the dealer enjoys an unquestionable advantage, and
the sharper always endeavors to obtain the deal if possible. Failing in
that, two other resources are open to him. As honestly played, the game
is one which calls for the exercise of some little discretion,
considerable finesse and extraordinary boldness. If square players
possess these qualifications, it is necessary for the “professional” to
encounter from some “point of vantage.” The most common agencies
employed to effect this result are the use either of marked cards or of
the “bug.” If he uses the latter, it is comparatively easy for him to
fill in his hand without a draft, standing on two cards and raising
from—and at the same time discarding to the “bug.” If he is able to make
use of the marked cards, it is, of course, easy for him to tell what he
will receive on the draw, and he guides his action accordingly.

The “second” hand, is often found invaluable to gamblers who wish to win
at this game. If a sharper has marked cards, or “paper,” he can readily
deal from eight, while he draws with absolute certainty. If, on the
other hand, he is using a fair pack, it is not much trouble for him to
prick those above the nine. This having been done, on dealing a
“second,” it is the simplest thing in the world to pick up twenty-one
every time.

It is much easier to deal a “second” at vingt-un than at poker, for the
reason that the deal affords far better opportunities for delay and
stoppage in the former game than in the latter.

Any reader who is not a preternatural idiot can easily see that a
“professional” who uses “paper” has enough percentage to bankrupt a
greenhorn with the utmost celerity and dispatch.

Sometimes a partner is found valuable. In such a case, the latter
usually sits directly on the right hand of the dealer. A system of
signals between the two confederates having been arranged, the “elder”
hand is able to tell precisely when it is advisable for him to “draw.”
This he does without any regard to his own hand. It is no difficult
matter for an accomplice to continue his draft until some card appears
on top that will fill the dealer’s hand. Marked cards, are of course, an
advantage even in the accomplishment of this scheme. When both
circumstances are combined—i. e. “paper” and partner—there can be little
doubt as to which party will win.

It is not an uncommon practice among gamblers to “stand” on their first
two cards without drawing, even when they have not more than twelve or
thirteen. The object is to mislead an unsuspecting player into the
belief that they already hold nineteen or twenty. The result often is
that the latter is thus induced to draw until he “bursts.” Just here, is
where the advantage of having a partner is most apparent. The dealer
either draws according to some previously determined system of signals
between himself and his partner, or is guided by the action of his
confederate not drawing.

[Illustration: joker]

                              CHAPTER VI.
                         DICE AND THE DICE BOX.

The origin of dice is shrouded in obscurity, but it is certain that
their use has come down to modern days from a period of remote
antiquity. Dice throwing has always been one of the most popular forms
of gaming, and in days gone by immense fortunes have been staked and
lost upon the throwing of the cubes. Of late years, however, the
popularity of this method of gambling has been rather on the wane, as
compared with the past. It is by no means so common a recreation of
gentlemen gamesters, who delight in playing a fair game of chance for
stakes with their friends. It is now chiefly played in gaming houses,
and the dice are among the implements of the professional gambler.

Nevertheless dice are among the most time-honored tools of the
“professional.” The honor of their invention is ascribed to the
Egyptians, and in some of the bas-reliefs that have been disinterred in
the land of the Pharoahs, figures playing with something closely
resembling dice are discernible. The Ethiops of three or four thousand
years ago were, it is believed, addicted to gaming of this sort, and in
this connection it may be remarked that gambling is quite as much a
barbaric as a civilized vice. In fact it may be questioned whether the
Troglodytes did not gamble in their caves, and swindle one another out
of the spoils of the chase before they had learned to construct huts in
which to live.

It is not the intention of this chapter to describe all the games of
dice which may be played—some of which are yet a favorite amusement
among gentlemen—but to explain those most commonly used by card sharpers
as a means of defrauding the ignorant. In fact the practices described
in this chapter hardly deserve to be ranked with “games” considered as
such. They partake rather of the nature of tricks, and, without
exception, are illy concealed games of fraud.

The various devices will be treated _seriatum_. And first we will begin
with one of the best known and most frequently played.


This is, perhaps, one of the most successful games of dice—considered
from the standpoint of the operator—known to the gambling fraternity.

The illustration affords a view of all the paraphernalia employed in
conducting it. On a cloth-covered table rests an inverted tambourine,
above which stands an implement substantially of the form depicted in
the cut. The latter may be best described as consisting of two wooden
bowls, the smaller ends of which are placed opposite each other and
connected by a hollow tube as shown in the diagram. On the cloth which
covers the table are painted numbers from one to six. Three dice are
used in playing, differing from ordinary dice, only in being larger and
in having figures painted on the faces, instead of the small black dots
commonly employed.

[Illustration: hieronymus]

The mode of playing is as follows: Players select the number or numbers
on which they wish to bet, and place their wagers on the corresponding
squares on the cloth. The dice are then placed in the upper bowl and
permitted to drop through the tube, and fall upon the tambourine,
directly under the inverted bowl. The bowl is then raised, and if the
bettor happens to have placed his stake on the number appearing on one
of the upper faces of the cubes, he wins the amount of his bet. If the
number which he selected appears on two of their faces, the proprietor
of the bowl pays him double. If the three dice all show the same number
and he has happened to place his wager thereon, the operator pays him
three to one.

The “percentage” against the players in this game is so large that the
proprietors are ordinarily content to play it “on the square.” It
sometimes happens, however, that the operation of the reorganized laws
of chance seems to be reversed, and a player wins over and over again.
Of course, this is not to be tolerated. The proprietor of the game is
running it for his own pecuniary profit; the idea of conducting a scheme
for the benefit of the general public has never occured to him.
Accordingly he has resort to trickery. Sometimes instead of taking all
three dice from the tambourine, he removes only two, thus retaining a
knowledge of at least one of the winning numbers. I have also known a
device of this kind to be resorted to: When a certain number is winning
repeatedly, the operator, having (apparently by accident) knocked the
dice off of the table, while stooping to pick them up will substitute
another set of three cubes, none of which contains the cubes in

But the most contemptible form of swindling consists in replacing the
tambourine by a thin board, which may be so agitated, by means of a
concealed spring, as to overturn the dice after the manipulator has
ascertained the numbers shown by looking through the tube.

Sometimes the operator provides himself with dice having all the faces
marked with the same number, by substituting one or more of which he is
able to cast whatever throw he pleases.


This is a simple little game of dice, yet one of the most fascinating of
all games of chance. It is sometimes designated as “the old army game,”
for the reason that soldiers at the front were often wont to beguile the
tedium of a bivouac by seeking relief from monotony in its charms.

The outfit requisite to play the game is simple and inexpensive,
consisting of three small dice, a dice-box, and a cloth on which are
inscribed the numbers one to six, corresponding to the dots, or “pips,”
on the six faces of the cubes.

[Illustration: chuck-a-luck]

Bets are made by placing the money wagered on the numbers on the cloth.
The dice, having been placed in the box, are shaken and thrown upon the
table. Bets made upon either of the three numbers which come uppermost
are won by the players. Money staked on either of the remaining numbers
are won by the bank.

On its face, this game appears to be one of pure chance. As played upon
fair and circus-grounds, however, there is very little chance about it.
The “banker” does not throw the dice fairly. Through long practice, he
is able to retain two of them between the fingers of the hand which he
holds over the inverted dice-box. The other die he allows to remain in
the box, and rattles it against the sides, occasionally knocking the box
itself against the button of his coat in order to simulate the sound
produced by the shaking of three dice. When he removes his hand from the
mouth of the dice cup, he drops upon the table the two dice which he
held in his hand and permits the third die to fall by chance. The reader
will perceive, that he thus makes himself absolutely certain as to two
of the faces which will be exposed when the cup is lifted. When it is
remembered, that the box is not agitated until all the bets have been
made, it will be readily perceived how great is the unfair advantage
thus obtained.

This game is a favorite one with outside sharpers for “ringing in”
loaded dice on the manipulators. It is a very simple matter to
substitute prepared cubes for those used by the operator, and, after
winning his money, to replace those originally employed by him. I have
myself successfully practiced this trick many times, very much to the
financial loss and mental chagrin of the proprietor of the dice and box.

One of the most artful devices practiced by swindlers in operating this
game is that which I will now describe. The proprietor of the game has,
as a confederate, a “side partner,” who keeps himself studiously in the
back-ground until the opportune moment presents itself for his
appearance upon the scene of action. Meanwhile, the chief manipulator of
the scheme inveigles a countryman, whose avarice surpasses his sense, to
enter into a partnership with him for the purpose of fleecing his own
friends and acquaintances. This individual is to develop, later, into
the dupe. He is required, before securing an interest in the prospective
profits of the game, to advance a sum of money, the amount of which is
gauged only by the size of his pocket and credulity. After the
proprietor has received the cash, the countryman remains by the table
where the game is being operated, serenely confident that he is about to
win a large sum through imposing upon the confidence of his towns
people. The “side partner” soon makes his appearance, usually in a state
apparently bordering on beastly intoxication. The greenhorn regards him
in the light of a “soft mark,” and at once approaches him with the
suggestion that he “try his luck.” To this the seemingly drunken man
assents, substitutes loaded dice or “other ringers” for those previously
used by the operator, thus winning the entire amount of his stake. This
he continues to do, until he has won a sum sufficient to absorb all the
“capital” which the “sucker” had advanced. The result is that the
latter’s interest in the concern is speedily wiped out, and the
proprietor and his confederate divide the sum thus gained between them.


This is a favorite game among steamboat men, and is particularly popular
among colored people. I first became acquainted with it on board the
steamboat “City of Chester” on the Mississippi river. I was traveling in
partnership with a man named Martin, and we had succeeded in fleecing
one man out of some $800, at poker in the cabin. I went out on deck, and
my attention was arrested by hearing a negro crying in a stentorian
voice, “come 7 or 11,” then another man calling out, “chill’en cryin’
fo’ bread.” This was followed by the sound of something rolling on the
floor. My curiosity was aroused, and I went below to learn what was
going on. Here I first saw the game of “craps” and my introduction to it
cost me precisely $15. I went up-stairs and informed my partner that I
had discovered a new game. He was anxious to see it, and together we
returned to the main deck where the play was in progress. He dropped $10
to the “crap” roller, expressed himself as satisfied, and we returned to
the cabin. I did not at the time understand how I was cheated, although
I was perfectly well satisfied that the cheating had been done. Since
then, I have discovered all about it.

The game is played with dice about half the size of the cubes ordinarily
used in other games. Only two are employed and they are held in the hand
and thrown forward upon the table or whatever surface may be convenient.
The numbers 7 and 11 are called “craps.” After the dice have ceased
rolling the spots on both sides are added together, and if the sum is
equal to 7 or 11, the “crap” thrower wins all bets which have been made
against him. If the same amount to two, three, or twelve, he loses, and
is required to pay each player the amount of his stake. Should the sum
of all the spots on the two dice amount to four, five, six, eight, nine
or ten, he is entitled to continue throwing, until he has either cast
the amount thrown again, or throw a seven. In the former case he wins
the player’s bets; if, however, the sum of the spots amount to 7 before
the number first thrown turns up again, he loses.

The game commences by one player throwing the dice until he loses, when
the next player at his left takes the cubes, and so on in rotation.

The favorite method of cheating at this game is by the substitution of
unfair dice. For this purpose, loaded dice are sometimes used, and
sometimes dice specially prepared, on the faces of one of which, are
painted two aces, two twos and two sixes, while the other dice is
inscribed with two threes, two fours and two fives. If the reader will
take pains to figure out the combination of numbers which may be made
with two dice so prepared, he will see that it is an utter impossibility
for the thrower to make either, two, three or twelve, the numbers which
will be a loss to him. In addition to this circumstance it is also
apparent that the chances of throwing 7 are very greatly increased by
the arrangement of two fours on one dice and two threes on the other, as
well as two fives on one and two twos on the other. The small size of
the dice employed in playing this game and the fact that they are thrown
from the hand, renders the substitution of unfair dice a comparatively
easy matter.

Although the game, as I have said, is an especial favorite among negroes
and deck-hands, nevertheless it is frequently played by “high toned”
gamblers and for large stakes.

Of course, the dice are usually made of bone, although in a recently
raided game in Chicago, the players anticipating interference on the
part of the police, had their little cubes made of cut sugar, and when
the officers of the law made their appearance, swallowed the dice, and
there being no gaming implements found, the case against them was
necessarily dismissed.

                            EIGHT-DIE CASE.

This is a favorite game with traveling sporting men, who introduce it at
county fairs, and on circus grounds, and at other places where there is
a large crowd. The diagram represents the arrangement of the interior of
a glass covered case containing prizes. The divisions in the case are
numbered from eight to forty-eight, inclusive, to correspond with the
numbers which may be possibly thrown in casting eight dice, which the
proprietor carries with him, together with a dice box. For a stipulated
consideration, he permits any one who may wish, to throw the dice upon
the glass cover of the case. The sum of the spots on the upper faces is
taken, and the player is given whatever prize the number may call for.

When the game is introduced upon fair-grounds, the directors of which
insist that there shall be no blanks, small articles of cheap jewelry
are put inside the case as prizes, although gamblers prefer to use money
prizes only, for the reason that it gives the outfit a more attractive

An examination of the diagram will show that the higher prizes are
invariably placed in squares corresponding to a number which it is
almost impossible for a player to throw. Thus, a $500 prize is placed in
the square numbered eight. To win this, it would be necessary to cast
eight aces. Another prize of like amount is numbered forty-eight, and
cannot be won unless the player throws eight sixes. Those numbers which
may be easily thrown are always attached to squares containing small
prizes, or which are inscribed with the abbreviation “rep.” These
letters, as in all similar games, stand for “represent,” and when a
player has thrown a number corresponding to a square so marked, he is
required to double the amount already put up or submit to the loss of
his stake.

This game affords a rare opportunity for cheating, although the fraud is
not perpetrated by means of loaded dice, as many persons suppose. The
proprietor counts the spots on the dice thrown to suit himself, and
after hastily calling out the number replaces the cubes in the box.
Strange as it may appear, it is not one man out of fifty who ever
insists upon counting the spots on his own throw. If the owner of the
device has reason to believe that the player has money and is a “soft
mark,” he calls out the number corresponding to one of the “represent”
squares. He then tells the victim that he has neither won nor lost and
must double the amount previously advanced and “try his luck” again.
This practice is continued until the dupe has been induced to stake all
of his money, when the proprietor calls out a number corresponding to
the square marked “blank,” of which there is always one in every case.
Of course, the operator then informs the “sucker” that he has lost all
the money which he had paid.

It sometimes happens that a player grows suspicious, and asks how long
this doubling his stake is to continue. In such a case, the operator
mentally calculates the amount of money which the man probably has, and
tells him that he will be required to double only two or three times
more, when, if he again throws a “represent” number, the proprietor will
return all of his money except five per cent., which is the percentage
belonging to the game. The victim does not throw a “represent” number
the last time under such circumstances, but is thrown upon the “blank”
square, which means that the proprietor has won the entire stake.
“Cappers” are as useful in this game as in any other. Their methods of
operation are similar to those elsewhere described and need not be more
particularly dwelt upon here.

                            EIGHT-DIE CASE.

    │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $3.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│  Rep.  │
    │   19   │   38   │   24   │   9    │   37   │   21   │   15   │
    │25 cts. │Jewelry.│ $1.00  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │  Rep.  │ $5.00  │
    │   13   │   30   │   43   │   33   │   18   │   29   │   46   │
    │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ $20.00 │  Rep.  │50 cts. │Jewelry.│
    │   23   │   39   │   8    │  1215  │   36   │   12   │   34   │
    │  Rep.  │ Blank. │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│
    │   32   │   17   │   35   │   28   │   16   │   41   │   22   │
    │ $2.00  │ $5.00  │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $50.00 │ $10.00 │
    │   11   │   48   │   20   │   42   │   31   │   10   │   37   │
    │        │ $2.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ Blank. │
    │        │   44   │   27   │   14   │   25   │   04   │   20   │

                              POKER DICE.

This game is usually played in saloons for drinks or cigars, though
sometimes for money, and occasionally even for higher stakes. Five
ordinary dice and a dice cup is used. Each player has three throws. The
highest score which can possibly be made is five aces, the next, five
sixes, then five fives, and so on. Next to five similar spots, the best
throw is four of one kind and an odd number, the relative value of such
throws being measured by the number of spots upon the top of the four
dice, aces ranging highest. The game is called “poker” dice, because of
the general resemblance between it and “bluff,” so far as the value of
the throws is concerned as compared with that of the hands held at

I have never known but one scheme of fraud to be employed in playing
this game, which consisted in so placing the five dice within the box
that the thrower was able to turn out whatever number he might see fit.
I have known two men, both of whom are at present in Chicago, who can
cast any throw which they may wish at their own will. They do not employ
loaded dice, but, through long practice have acquired such dexterity in
placing the cubes in the box and throwing them upon the table, that they
are able to play with absolute certainty.

                         OVER AND UNDER SEVEN.

This game is most frequently played on fair and circus grounds, at
public meetings, barbacues, political rallies, and other places where a
large crowd is assembled. The outfit requisite to its operation consists
of a dice box with two dice and a cloth, about 2½ feet long, on which
are outlined three squares, in each of which is painted the figure 7.
One of these squares is in the centre of the cloth, the other two at the
respective ends. In one of them is painted the word “over,” and in
another the word “under.”

The method of play is as follows: Bets may be placed upon either of the
three squares. If laid on the centre square, the proprietor pays the
winner two for one. After the wagers have all been laid, the dealer
throws the dice. If the sum of the spots on the upper face of the two
cubes is equal to 7, and no stake has been laid on that number, he wins.
If it is more than 7, bets placed upon the squares containing the word
“over” are paid to the bettors. If the total is less than 7, the
proprietor pays those who have laid their money upon the other square.

The mode of cheating at this game is substantially the same as that
already explained in the description of the game of “chuck-a-luck.” The
operator retains one of the two dice in the fingers of the hand which he
places over the mouth of the cup and rattles the dice about, inside.
When he lifts the box, he is absolutely certain as to the number of
spots upon the die which he has held in his hand, thereby gaining an
immense advantage over the bettors, inasmuch as he has it practically
within his power to cause the wager of any particular player to be lost.

                            TOP AND BOTTOM.

This game of dice—if it may properly be called a game—is a swindling
device, pure and simple. It is, in effect, nothing but a scheme of
fraud, for the successful operation of which are required two sharpers,
who act as confederates, a dice box, three ordinary dice, a “ringer” and
a “sucker.” The place commonly selected for working it is a saloon, and
the method in which it is operated is as follows:

The victim having been selected and located in a saloon, the first
sharper scrapes an acquaintance with him and induces him to throw dice
for the drinks or cigars. While the dice are being handled, the gambler
calls the attention of the dupe to the fact that the number of spots on
the faces of the three dice added to the number on the three reverse
sides is always equal to twenty-one. This fact necessarily follows from
the construction of all fair dice; on the reverse face from the ace is a
6; opposite to 3 is 4; and directly opposite to 5 is 2. There are,
however, many persons, who not having had their attention directed to
this circumstance, are ignorant of the fact. The “sucker” usually
satisfies himself of the correctness of the statement made by his newly
formed acquaintance through throwing the dice several times in
succession, until he becomes convinced that the sum of the six numbers
is always equal to twenty-one. At this point sharper number two makes
his appearance. He strolls up to the pair and offers to join in throwing
dice for refreshments. The first swindler proposes that they guess as to
the number of spots on the upper and under sides of the three dice. To
this sharper number two assents, and guesses, say, 25. As a matter of
course, the greenhorn guesses 21 and wins. The second confederate
thereupon remarks that he is a “pretty good guesser.” To this the first
swindler replies that “the gentlemen can tell the number every time.”
The confederate demurs to this statement, saying that it is impossible.
He offers to bet the price of a box of cigars that the dupe cannot do
it. His accomplice retorts that he would be willing to bet $1,000 that
he can, and offers to lend the dupe money to add to whatever sum the
latter may wish to bet for the purpose of laying a stake against his
confederate. The bet having been made, the attention of the victim is
momentarily diverted and the “ringer”—either a loaded dice or one
prepared after the manner described in the paragraph upon the game of
“crap”—is substituted for one of the fair dice. The throw is cast, and
when the spots are added together their sum is inevitably found to be
either greater or less than 21. Sharper number two thereupon demands and
takes the stakes.

Ordinarily the dupe is too bewildered at the moment to understand the
precise nature of the game which has been played upon him until after
the two confederates have left the house. Should he, however,
remonstrate and undertake to raise a disturbance, it is usually found an
easy matter to quiet him by summoning the town marshal or some other
police officer. In fact, I have known an officer actually summoned, who
insisted upon the dupe keeping quiet, for which service he received a
bonus from the pair of swindlers.

                        HIGH AND LOW DICE TOPS.

These little implements are used chiefly for winning drinks or cigars,
or small sums of money. They are eight-sided spinning tops made of
ivory, the respective sides being numbered one to eight. Sometimes they
are made fairly, but dice tops of the latter description are not in
favor with the professional gambler, who uses a top having a moveable
iron peg which the sharper may so arrange as to cause the high or low
numbers to fall uppermost when the top comes to rest, after being spun.
If the peg be turned one way a high number will come uppermost; if the
other, a low number. Of course the greenhorn, not being aware of this
little peculiarity of the top, it is comparatively an easy matter for
the confidence man or other cheat to arrange the peg in such a way that
when he spins for himself he turns up a high number, and when his
opponent takes the same article in hand, however, he invariably turns up
a low one. It may be seen that the former has it in his power to win as
often as he chooses, but in order that his luck may not appear to be
positively miraculous, he sometimes permits his dupe to win.

                             GRAND HAZARD.

Three dice are used in this game. Sometimes they contain spots, as do
ordinary dice, sometimes on the faces are painted representations of
birds, animals, or reptiles, such as an elephant, an eagle, a
rattlesnake, etc. On the table upon which the dice are thrown is spread
a cloth on which are depicted numbers or figures corresponding to those
upon the faces of the cubes. Bets are made by playing the stakes upon
whatever square or squares the player may select. The dice are dropped
through a funnel-shaped cup, somewhat similar in form to that used in
“hieronymus,” and the gains or losses of the bettors are determined by
inspecting the face of the dice which lie uppermost after they have
fallen upon the table. If any player has wagered his money, for
instance, upon the number six, and one of the dice show a six-spot on
its upper face, the bettor is paid the amount which he has ventured. In
case the three dice should all show the same number or figure when they
fall, the proprietor pays to the bettor, who has placed his stake upon
the corresponding square on the cloth, 180 for 1.

In this, as in all other fraudulent games with dice, gamblers resort to
the substitution of “ringers” for fair dice, and have the poor fools,
who risk their money on such schemes, practically at their mercy.


This game is substantially identical with “grand hazard,” the only
variations being, that differently inscribed dice are employed. The same
sort of cloth on which are depicted squares containing the prizes is
used, and the dice are dropped through a similar metal funnel. The dice,
however, are usually of either one of the two sorts. In those of the
first description, the faces of the cubes are painted, respectively,
with a club, a heart, a spade, a diamond, an anchor and a star. The
faces of the other description of dice employed, are respectively marked
with a snake, an elephant, an eagle, a baby and a turtle.

                              LOADED DICE.

Almost every one has heard of loaded dice, but there are comparatively
few among the guild of professional gamblers who are experts in their
use. The sharper who does not travel, preferring to wait, at home, such
victims as the antipodes of Providence may send him, is satisfied with
employing occasionally, a set of high dice. But the peripatetic
scoundrel who, like Satan, “wanders to and fro upon the earth,” seeking
for victims, usually provides himself with three sets—one “high,” one
“low,” and one “square.” The fraudulent dice are loaded with
quicksilver, the interior of each dice being hollowed out in such a
manner as to cause the weight to fall upon the opposite side to that
intended to come up, the weighted side being, of course, always

The professional, in using these dice against a single adversary,
usually works very rapidly, distracting the dupe’s attention, as far as
possible, from his operations by story telling or some other interesting
conversation. He changes the cubes swiftly and often, “ringing in” the
“high” one for himself, and the “square” ones for his opponent; or the
latter for himself and the “low” ones for his victim, occasionally,
however, using the fair dice for both, in order to disarm suspicion.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                      GAMES AT FAIRS AND CIRCUSES.

There is scarcely a person who has visited a county fair, or patronized
a circus, whose attention has not been attracted by the presence upon
the grounds of an immense number of “fakirs,” as peripatetic tricksters
are often called. Probably many excellent people have wondered how it
happened that men of this class were allowed to introduce gambling
devices upon grounds which were supposed to be used for purposes of
rational entertainment, even if not of instruction. No gambling device
can be operated upon any fair-ground without the consent of the
directors of the Fair Association having been first had and obtained.
The members of this august body are usually selected on account of their
social prominence and their supposedly high moral character. It would
be, therefore, charitable to suppose that they are not aware of the
precise nature of the schemes the manipulation of which they tolerate.

A county fair, however, is essentially a money making scheme, and the
license fees derived from this source constitute no unimportant feature
of the managers’ revenue. Sometimes the “fakirs” gain permission to work
their various schemes through the ignorance of the directors. More
frequently they are well aware of their nature, and exact high fees in
consequence of this very knowledge. To illustrate: I myself once made
application for a license to operate a hap-hazard upon the grounds of
one of these associations. The secretary was a bank cashier, and the
moment that he saw my machine, exclaimed: “Why, I know all about that
thing. You can stop that whenever want to. Pay me $50, and you can go on
the grounds and ‘skin’ all you want to.” Naturally I paid the sum
demanded, and I happened to know that some fifteen or twenty other
contrivances of a like character were admitted to the same grounds upon
the same terms. This is but one instance of many that I could cite, in
which the director was equally well convinced that my contrivance was a
“fake,” pure and simple.

Such a transaction is a high-handed outrage upon the community. The men
who license schemes such as are described in this chapter are licensing
scoundrels, in comparison with whom pickpockets are respectable, to prey
upon their own towns-people, pocketing the money which they well know
has been made by fraud.

Sometimes it is thought necessary to preserve at least the semblance of
innocence on the part of the managers. When the application for a
license of one of these machines is received by the directors, some one
of the latter, whose conscience (?) will not permit him to sanction
schemes of fraud asks if the device in question is to be operated as a
“gift enterprise?” By this, he means, are there to be any blanks? If so,
his high moral sense will not permit him to tolerate its introduction
upon the grounds over which the Board has control. This objection is
easily removed, by introducing into the scheme a number of articles of
valueless jewelry, the presence of which among the prizes usually
removes all conscientious scruples of the objector. Occasionally, when
the moment for taking a vote arrives, “Squire Brown” is conveniently
absent, and the majority of the board acts without him. Sometimes the
gamblers are told that it will be necessary for them to submit to an
arrest and pay a small fine in order that the scruples and prejudices of
the public may be appeased. I have myself known this to happen more than

After the license has been granted and the various games are in
operation, it is not an uncommon occurrence for the town marshal or
sheriff to put in an appearance, and extort from $5.00 to $10.00 per day
in consideration of there being no molestation offered. This payment is
what the “fakirs” call “sugaring,” and I have never known one of these
officials for whom the dose could be made too sweet. I have submitted to
this extortion of blackmail (for it is nothing else) several times when
I was convinced, to a moral certainty, that the directors were receiving
a percentage of the money which I paid over to the officers.

Sometimes a different policy is adopted by the managers. The prosecuting
attorney and sheriff find it necessary to leave town on urgent business,
and are therefore totally unaware of what is going on. In such a case, a
purse is usually made up for these officials by contributions from the
proprietors of the various “fakes,” which is always understood by the
gamblers to be intended for the sheriff and prosecutor. It may be that a
portion of the money raised sticks to the fingers of the man to whom its
payment is entrusted, but my own impression is that in a majority of
cases the greater proportion of it, reaches the parties for whom it was

It is the hope of the author that what is here said may serve to open
the eyes of reflecting citizens to the grave character of the evil which
is pointed out. Too much cannot be said in reprehension of such conduct
on the part of men to whom the community entrusts interests of such a
character. And if any member of any Board of Directors of any county
fair will carefully read the pages which follow, he will, at least, find
it forever impossible hereafter to plead ignorance, by way of
extenuation of a vote to tolerate the introduction of any of these
devices among his own acquaintances.

                             NEEDLE WHEEL.

[Illustration: needle wheel]

This is an exceedingly ingenious and very delicately constructed piece
of mechanism. The accompanying cut affords a view of its appearance, but
cannot be understood without some explanation. It consists of three
parts. The outer rim, which is stationary, contains thirty-two metal
grooves, or pockets, numbered, apparently without special arrangement,
from one to thirty-two. Inside this rim, is a circular piece of wood,
resembling a wheel, but without spokes, which is covered with cloth.
Above this, and of about equal size with it, is a saucer-shaped piece of
wood, in which are bored three holes. On the table on which the wheel is
placed stands a wooden box, containing thirty-two compartments, numbered
consecutively from one to thirty-two. In these compartments are placed
sixteen money prizes, which the players believe they have a chance to
win. Apparently, the chances are exactly even, the number of prizes and
of blanks being equal.

When the game is played upon fair-grounds, and the directors of the fair
insist that it shall be operated as a gift enterprise in which there
shall be no blanks, articles of cheap jewelry are placed in the
compartments, which under other circumstances are left blank.

The mode of playing is as follows: One wishing to win a prize pays fifty
cents or $1.00 (in proportion to the size of the crowd) for the
privilege of making the attempt. He then places a marble in the upper
wheel or saucer, which is given a twirl, either by himself or the
proprietor, the lower wheel being usually set in motion at the same
time, but in an opposite direction. As the upper wheel revolves, the
marble flies around and finally falls through one of the holes on to the
lower wheel. The latter slopes gently from centre to circumference and
the marble naturally rolls down to one of the compartments in the outer
rim, where it stops. If it has fallen into a winning number, the player
receives the prize placed in the compartment of the box or case, having
the corresponding number. If, on the other hand, it has fallen into a
blank number, he receives nothing.

To the uninitiated, this appears very fair. The “fake” element consists
of the apparatus which is concealed beneath the table, the existence of
which is not even suspected by the players. Running up through the
middle of both wheels is a rod ornamented with a knob on the top. This
knob actually operates a thumb-screw which sets in motion a system of
sixteen wire levers, lettered “b, b, b,” on the diagram, which force up
through the cloth covering a like number of fine needle points, “c, c,
c.” One of these points (none of which are larger than the point of a
fine cambric needle and cannot be detected by the eye) rises in front of
each winning number, and when the marble is in danger of entering a
lucky compartment it strikes against one of these points, its course
being thus deflected into one of the adjacent pockets, resulting in the
players inevitably drawing a blank.

Naturally, after a greenhorn has lost several times consecutively, he
grows suspicious, and in order to induce him to venture still farther,
it is necessary that some one should appear to win. Just here comes in
the “capper,” whose assistance in all games of this description is
indispensable. When he makes his appearance, he is at once recognized by
the manipulator of the machine through giving a pre-arranged signal. As
soon as he buys a chance, the proprietor relaxes the tension of the
thumb-screw; the wire levers fall; the needle points sink below the
surface of the table; and the marble is allowed to go where chance
dictates. If the confederate fails to win the first time, he perseveres
until he succeeds. The result is that the waning confidence of the crowd
is restored, and the poor, deluded fools once more press eagerly forward
to “try their luck,” in a game where “luck” is an utter impossibility.

This is a favorite game for playing “doubles or quits,” or, as gamblers
sometimes say, “representing.” By this is meant doubling a stake once
lost; thus, if a man loses $1.00, he risks $2.00 a second time; if he
loses again, he stakes $4.00, then $8.00, $16.00, $32.00, and so on. The
author has himself won $1,300 under this system of betting by means of
this device from one man at a single county fair.

The services of the “capper” are of great value in inducing players to
adopt this system of betting. When he makes his appearance, he
ordinarily asks some bystander to twirl the wheel and drop the marble
for him. When he has won, he usually buys another chance for the benefit
of the “sucker” who has kindly performed this office for him. The victim
is, of course, quite willing to play at some one else’s expense, and is
not infrequently induced, after losing the $1.00 which was put up for
him, to continue playing, with his own money, on the system of “doubles
or quits,” as explained above.

                           CORONA OR MASCOT.

This game is of recent date as compared with the needle wheel and
squeeze spindle, of which it is, in effect, but a modification. I first
saw it in the autumn of 1884, while I was traveling with “Mexican
Cortenas’ Wild West Show.”

[Illustration: corona]

To operate the machine two men are necessary, in addition to a number of
“cappers.” The apparatus consists of a circular piece of wood, usually
some 2½ feet in diameter, at the outer rim of which are painted numbers
from 1 to 60. Inside this is placed a round plate of heavy glass, on
which is painted either an arrow or a small pointer. This inner plate
revolves upon a central pivot. Prizes of money or jewelry are placed
upon the numbers. Those who wish to win any of them buy tickets, on each
of which is inscribed a number, the purchaser selecting his ticket at
random, from a large number which are placed in a box. At the right of
the ostensible proprietor sits his confederate, who poses as “book-
keeper.” In order that no “sucker” may, by any chance, win a prize of
any value, a lever, similar to that used in the squeeze spindle is sunk
into the table and concealed by the cloth cover. The “book-keeper,” by
pressing on the end of the wire rod, which is directly underneath his
book, can apply friction to the pivot and cause the wheel to stop at any
number which he may choose. It is hardly necessary to say that the box
from which the purchaser takes his ticket contains none bearing the
number which would call for a valuable prize. In order, however, to keep
up the interest of the dupes and stimulate their spirit of gaming, the
“book-keeper” occasionally brings the glass to a stand still at a point
where the arrow indicates a money prize. Instantly a “capper” steps
forward from among the crowd, presents a ticket and claims the prize.
The ticket is carelessly thrown on one side and the money handed over to
the confederate, who takes his departure. The unsuspecting fools who are
not in the secret pursue the play with fresh zest, each one fancying
that he has some chance of winning a large stake “next time,” but
unfortunately for the victim the moment for his winning never comes.

In case any of the players should become suspicious, and demand a sight
of the tickets remaining in the box, in order to satisfy himself that
the numbers corresponding to the money prizes are actually there, the
proprietor cheerfully assents, readily producing the box, into which he
has surreptitiously transferred the necessary cards from his pocket.

                   WHEEL OF FORTUNE OR CHUCK-A-LUCK.

This is the name given to a gambling device which has been a favorite
with the “fraternity” for many years, and which has never failed to
prove a sure bait to trap the unwary and an unfailing source of rich
income to its manipulators.

[Illustration: wheel of fortune]

It is made with or without a “fake” attachment, its general appearance
in either case being the same. The nature of the “fake” and its mode of
operation will be explained below; the construction of the wheel will be
first described.

It is a handsome apparatus, standing about seven feet high. The wheel
itself is usually about four feet in diameter, and rests upon a tripod
three feet in height. Inside the rim of the wheel is a twelve-pointed
star, between each two points of which are inscribed either five or six
numbers, the figures being painted on the rim and running from one to
sixty or seventy-two, consecutively. The wheel and star revolve
simultaneously around a common axis. At the top of the wheel is an
arrow, pointing downward, which serves as an indicator.

Around the wheel is a wooden frame which is covered with cloths on
which, when the seventy-two number wheel is used, are painted the
numbers one to six, or on which are arranged paddles, each one of which
is marked with either one or six numbers, the uses of which will be
described later.

The wheel is used either as an adjunct to a scheme for the distribution
of cheap prizes or as a means of making bets. The former plan is the one
generally adopted at small fairs, when a “lay-out” of inexpensive
queen’s or glass ware is spread upon the table, each article, or lot,
bearing its own number. In this case, the manipulation of the wheel is
sometimes conducted fairly, the legitimate odds in favor of the
proprietor being sufficient to justify him in giving the dupes some sort
of a chance.

Where the game is played for prizes, the common practice is to use the
paddles above referred to, each inscribed with six numbers, the twelve
paddles embracing the range from one to seventy-two. Each person wishing
to take a chance pays for a paddle (usually twenty-five cents), and when
all possible have been sold, the wheel is set in motion. When it comes
to rest, the indicator at the top points to a number, and the holder of
the paddle bearing the corresponding number has it at his option either
to take the prize or $1.50 in money.

The most profitable form of the wheel, however, is that which is
sometimes designated the “six number wheel,” so called because the
spaces between the points of the star are each numbered from one to six.
When this device is operated, the frame is sometimes covered with oil-
cloths, each containing six squares, numbered from one to six. Sometimes
six paddles, each bearing a separate number (running from one to six)
are employed besides the cloths; and not infrequently a double set of
paddles, similarly numbered.

In the latter case, the players place their stakes on some one or more
numbers upon the cloth. The paddles are used when the crowd is too great
to be accommodated at the cloths. When the wagers have all been placed,
the wheel is set in motion. Breathlessly the players await the result.
When it ceases to revolve, the indicator at the top points to some
number. The player who has placed his stake upon that number has it
returned to him, increased by four.

As a matter of fact, however, when the wheel comes to rest it is usually
discovered that no heavy player has been fortunate enough to make just
that bet. The reason is simple. The reader who will carefully examine
the accompanying diagram will perceive the representation of a rod
running through the upright support of the wheel and one of the legs of
the tripod, thence turning to the right and terminating under a plank in
the floor, directly below the operator’s foot. By simply pressing on
this mechanicism, the latter checks the motion of the wheel by
application of friction at the pivot, and brings it to a standstill at
any point which he may desire.

Not always, however, is the proprietor of the wheel the only sharper on
the ground. Sometimes he discovers, when it is too late, that he has
been playing a game of “diamond cut diamond.” His apparatus fails to
work as he had expected, and when he has “gone broke,” as gamblers term
financial ruin, he carefully examines his wheel, and learns that some
more astute scoundrel than himself has plugged some point on the
circumference with lead, bringing it to rest by the simple but sure
operation of the law of gravitation.

Sometimes, instead of the numbers above referred to, there are used
certain printed inscriptions, representing speculative articles dealt in
on the floors of the stock and produce exchanges, such as pork, lard,
wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, seeds, and various kinds of corporation
stocks. This form of the device is ordinarily known as the “Board of
Trade Wheel,” and is sometimes found to be very popular in rural

                            SQUEEZE SPINDLE.

This device has been successfully employed in defrauding the unwary for
nearly two score years, and is still to be found on every fair ground in
the United States where the directors are men of sufficiently easy
morality to permit unprincipled sharpers to fleece their townspeople for
a consideration. I have myself won thousands through this very means.

[Illustration: SQUEEZE SPINDLE.]

It is usually made of wood, with a metal arrow, weighing about seven
pounds, swinging on a pivot in the centre (I). About this pivot are
arranged numbers—generally either from 1 to 16 or from 1 to 32, in the
form of an ellipse. At three points, equidistant from each other, are
depicted three horses and the numbers are arranged in alternate blocks,
usually of red, white and black. Outside the ellipse are little metal
pegs, one being placed opposite each number.

The mode of playing is simple in the extreme. As many persons can engage
in the game as can stand around the table. Each player places the amount
which he wishes to bet on the color or horse which he selects. The
proprietor gives odds of ten to one on the horses and even bets are made
on the colors. That is to say: if a player wagers a dollar on the red
and wins, the proprietor pays him a dollar and returns his stake. If he
bets a dollar on a horse and wins, he receives $10 in addition to his
original wager.

The bets being all made, some one—it is immaterial who—sets the arrow in
motion. When it ceases revolving, the slender point, to which is usually
attached a small piece of leather, comes to rest between some two of the
pegs, and the player whose money has been placed on the number indicated
wins the amount of his stake.

As a matter of fact, however, it is impossible for any one to win
without the proprietor’s consent. At the point four, as shown in the
diagram, is placed a metal disc, resembling a button, which is attached
to a stout wire rod, which in turn is sunk into the wooden top of the
table and entirely concealed from view by the cloth covering of the
latter. When this metal button is pressed, it operates the rod, the
other end of which, by creating friction at the central pivot, gradually
stops the movement of the arrow, and the operator is enabled to bring
the latter to a standstill at whatever point in the ellipse he may see
fit. It would seem that this contrivance gave the proprietor of the
machine sufficient advantage over the unsuspecting players, but he is
not content with this. To operate the wire it is necessary that he
should put his hand upon the table. Sometimes a “sucker” objects to this
movement, and demands that he remove his hand. In order to be prepared
for such an emergency, another contrivance is attached, the location of
which is indicated on the diagram by figure three. In its essential
features, the latter contrivance closely resembles the one operated by
the button, but it is worked by pressure from some part of the body,
usually the hip.

To show how easily and successfully a machine of this sort may be used
for purposes of swindling, I will relate an incident in my own
experience which happened while I was at a county fair, at Olney, Ill.,
in the autumn of 1882. In connection with a partner, I was operating one
of these spindles of the sort which I have described. At the fair was a
young man from the country, who had disposed of a horse for $140. He had
seen me working the machine, and was anxious to quit the dull monotony
of country life and travel with me, as a gambler and a man of leisure. I
had an interview with him at the hotel the same evening, and disposed of
one-half interest in the business for $60, which he promptly paid in
cash. Thereupon I instructed him in the operation of the machine, but
concealed from him the existence of the wire which was operated by
pressure from the hip. The following day we repaired to the fairgrounds,
and I left him in charge of the apparatus. His bank roll consisted of
$160, of which we had each advanced $80. The young man was not aware
that I already had a partner in the business, the latter having been
acting as “capper” and keeping himself in the background. When the
country boy began to run the machine, my partner sauntered up to the
table and began to play. I was on one side, at a safe distance, watching
the entire game. My new partner undertook to work the wire which was to
be operated by the hand; my former partner forestalled all his efforts
by working the rod which was pressed by the body. The result was that
the bank was speedily broken, my original partner walking off with the
assets and leaving my new acquaintance in a condition of decided
financial embarrassment. He still, however, owned a nominal one-half
interest in the machine, which I soon learned was for sale, and that
being known we directed our efforts to winning this back. Accordingly, I
bought him out for $20. He next entered into an agreement with the man
who had succeeded so admirably in beating him, and they agreed that if I
would stand back from the table and permit them to twirl the spindle,
they would risk their joint funds. Once more my former partner operated
the wire with his hip, and the result was that in a short time we had
again in our possession the $20 which I had paid to repurchase his half
interest to me. When he went home, he was undoubtedly a sadder, though I
doubt whether, to this day, he is a very much wiser man.

In the latest construction of these fraudulent spindles, the cheats have
invoked the aid of science, and the result has been a machine which, for
simplicity and perfection of operation, cannot be surpassed. It is known
among sporting men as the “magnetic spindle,” because of the sinking of
magnets into the table directly below the losing numbers. The cloth
which covers them, while it conceals them from view, does not interfere
with their operation. The needle, being of brass, necessarily comes to
rest directly above some one of them, thus indicating a number which
inevitably brings loss to the player. This contrivance is of
comparatively recent invention and is highly prized by men of the class
who use devices of this description.

Of course, with such a machine, it is impossible that the arrow should
ever point to a winning number. This would seem to render the employment
of confederates as fictitious winners of prizes an impossibility. To
obviate the difficulty which thus presents itself, the proprietor simply
changes the location of some prize in the “lay-out” from a winning to a
losing number, to correspond with that which the “capper” has made.

Yet another form of the “squeeze spindle”—which made its appearance some
years after the centennial of ’76, and which soon found favor among
professional “brace” gamblers and confidence men, is known to the
profession as the “three spindle” machine. It differs from the “squeeze
spindle” already described, only in that it contains three arrows or
“pointers,” instead of one, two of which are under control of the
operator through the employment of friction at the pivot by means of
precisely similar contrivances. There is a slightly better chance given
players, for the reason that one of the revolving needles is allowed to
come to rest by chance. It is not difficult, however, to perceive the
very large preponderance of chances in favor of the sharper, who has it
always in his power to determine who shall win the large wagers.

Gamblers who work a contrivance of this character always offer to pay
the bettor three to one, on the contingency of all three arrows stopping
on the same number. It would be comparatively safe for them to offer
considerably heavier odds, inasmuch as such an event constitutes one of
the remote possibilities of a century.

In the “three spindle” machines, the numbers are commonly arranged in
blocks of from one to six, but the “horses” are sometimes represented.
“Suckers” are more easily attracted by this arrangement, inasmuch as
they suppose that they have four “chances” (?) to win, instead of one.

In connection with the explanation of the operation of the squeeze
spindle it may not be out of place to relate a little narrative of what
the author once personally witnessed upon the fair-grounds at a Missouri
town. A sharper, who had “interviewed” the directors, “convinced” them
that his machine was entirely honest, and “arranged” matters
satisfactorily all around, felt serenely secure in the operation of his
“privilege.” [And right here I again condemn the granting of such
“privileges.” A “privilege” to do what? To prey upon the ignorant; to
dupe the unwary; to victimize the unsuspecting; to debauch the young;
and to scatter broadcast the seeds of corruption, whose fruit will be
misery in every home.] But this is by the way, let us return to the
narrative. The “privileged” gambler had set up his wheel, and to use a
slang phrase, “was doing a land-office business.” A verdant countryman
approached the machine. Over and over he tried his “luck,” which every
time—as a matter of course—rested with the “privileged” monopolist. This
went on for some time, and I, as a disinterested spectator, watched the
game. The agriculturalist quit a loser to the extent of some $50. The
blackleg’s face was impassable. The countryman thrust his hand into his
pocket; when he withdrew it, it clasped a long-bladed knife, the blade
reflecting the light. “Stranger,” said he, “I want my money back. I
don’t know how you did it, but you’ve cheated me, and I’m going to get
even. Give me back that money!” Only the unnatural pallor on the old
man’s face indicated the extreme tension of his feelings. The swindler
looked at him. At least seventy-five or a hundred persons were standing
around; something had to be done, and promptly. “Why, old man,” said the
proprietor, “there’s no use in your cutting up rough. Of course you can
have your money. I was only joking.” And with these words he returned
the dishonest winnings.

                          TIVOLI OR BAGATELLE.

This game is at once one of the most seductive and the most deceptive in
the outfit of the peripatetic gambler. In some minor respects it
resembles the children’s game of the same name, inasmuch as both are
played upon a board containing a number of pins and having numbered
compartments at the lower end. At this point, however, the resemblance

[Illustration: tivoli]

The gambling device known by this name is shown in the accompanying
illustrations, figures 1 and 2. Figure 1 represents the table and figure
2 the cloth which always hangs behind it, and forms an indispensable
feature of the game. In explaining the diagrams, the construction of the
table will be first described. It is made of wood usually about 3½ to 4
feet in length and 2 feet broad, and when in use the upper end rests
upon a wooden framework, giving the board an inclination of some 30
degrees. Running lengthwise through the centre of the table is a wooden
partition, dividing it into two equal parts. At the lower end of each
division are ten compartments, open at the top, each set being numbered
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0. At the upper end of each division is a
gate, lettered on the diagram c.c. Between the gates and the numbered
compartments are placed metal pins or pegs, arranged substantially as
shown by the dots on the diagram. Directly below the lower row of pins
and extending over the upper ends of the compartments is a board, which
runs entirely across the table, but only one-half of which is shown in
the illustration. Before describing the mode of play, an explanation of
the cloth (as shown in fig. 2) is necessary. This cloth is generally
three feet in length by two in breadth, and is divided into 100 squares,
arranged and divided as shown in the cut. The figures—$1.00, $5.00,
etc.—in the squares indicate the prizes which may be won by the players.
The abbreviation “bl’k.” stands for “blank,” and indicates the losing
numbers, on which no prize is paid. The letters “rep.” are an
abbreviation for “represent,” and show that the player who happens to
make the number in that square must, if he does not wish to lose his
stake, double it and play again.

                          TIVOLI OR BAGATELLE.

 │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ $2.00  │ $10.00 │ $1.00  │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│ Blank. │
 │   20   │   47   │   79   │   11   │   71   │   25   │   6    │   16   │
 │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│ $10.00 │ $10.00 │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│
 │   96   │   26   │   97   │   29   │   83   │   39   │   59   │   32   │
 │ Blank. │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │ $2.00  │ $5.00  │  Rep.  │ $1.00  │
 │   00   │   85   │   34   │   58   │   41   │   21   │   68   │   55   │
 │ $1.00  │ Blank. │ $5.00  │ $1.00  │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ Blank. │  Rep.  │
 │   91   │   40   │   5    │   75   │   62   │   93   │   72   │   14   │
 │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │ $2.00  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │
 │   22   │   80   │   54   │   28   │   84   │   57   │   64   │   42   │
 │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $10.00 │ $2.00  │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ $2.00  │
 │   66   │   30   │   45   │   2    │   35   │   78   │   7    │   27   │
 │ Blank. │  Rep.  │  Rep.  │ Blank. │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ $20.00 │Jewelry.│
 │   18   │   88   │   38   │   10   │   92   │   53   │   17   │   48   │
 │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $25.00 │ $2.00  │ $1.00  │ $1.00  │
 │   50   │   74   │   94   │   24   │   33   │   99   │   81   │   23   │
 │ $1.00  │Jewelry.│ $2.00  │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │ $2.00  │
 │   65   │   86   │   61   │   49   │   63   │   76   │   69   │   37   │
 │ Blank. │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│ $1.00  │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │
 │   46   │   56   │   36   │   77   │   43   │   19   │   60   │   12   │
 │ $2.00  │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│  Rep.  │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │  Rep.  │
 │   95   │   1    │   52   │   82   │   70   │   31   │   13   │   90   │
 │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $2.00  │  Rep.  │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │ $5.00  │
 │   8    │   4    │   98   │   73   │   44   │   9    │   51   │   87   │
 │        │        │ $2.00  │ $5.00  │ $2.00  │ $2.00  │        │        │
 │        │        │   15   │   67   │   89   │   3    │        │        │

Those who wish to play, pay the proprietor a certain sum for the
privilege of dropping two marbles down the board, one rolling through
each of the gates C.C. The little spheres (d.d.) roll down the inclined
plane, their course being deflected from point to point, by the metal
pins until they finally come to rest in the compartments at the lower
end, one on each side of the centre board. The operator then looks to
see the numbers into which they have fallen. If the left hand marble has
rolled into “0,” the number of the right hand one only is taken. If the
latter rolls into “0,” and the left hand one, into some compartment
bearing a significant number, the entire amount is read as 10, 20, 30,
40, etc. If both numbers roll into the numbered compartments, both
figures are read, as e. g. 56, 79, 84, etc.

The number made by the player having been thus learned, the cloth is
inspected with a view to ascertaining the result of his play. If the
number which he has made calls for a prize, the same is handed to him.
If he has “drawn a blank,” he has to content himself with his loss. If
his number corresponds to a square containing the abbreviation “rep.,”
he may either lose the sum paid or double his stake and try again.

To show how utterly impossible it is for a chance player to win, it is
only necessary to explain the very simple secret mechanism which enables
the operator to send the marble into a losing compartment at his own
will. If the reader will look at the diagram, I, he will see a slender
line running from the right hand set of numbered compartments along the
entire length of the board, on its right hand side, and terminating near
the gate (c.), its course being indicated by the line (b.b.). This line
represents a stiff wire lever, placed below the board and entirely under
the control of the manipulator. By working this lever he can raise a row
of ten triangular metal points, marked a,a,a, all of which are covered
by the board at the lower end of the table, and which are so arranged
that one shall stand in front of each alternate compartment. When the
marble strikes one of these points, as a matter of course, it inevitably
glances off into one of the adjacent divisions. The peculiar beauty of
the contrivance, as viewed from a gambler’s standpoint, is the fact that
the compartments in front of which the points are placed are inscribed
with the winning numbers. The divisions into which the marbles are
forced to roll invariably correspond to those numbers on the cloth which
contain those words (so ominous to the greenhorn) “blank” or

In this, as in all similar games, the assistance of “cappers” is
indispensable. The dupes who stake their money in good faith are never
permitted to win, but unless somebody occasionally draws a prize,
interest is certain to be supplanted by a sense of discouragement. It
follows that confederates must be at hand. One of these will approach
the table and after being recognized by the operator will buy a chance.
At once the metal points are so placed that he has an even chance of
winning and he perseveres until he draws a handsome prize. Ordinarily,
however, the “capper” resorts to stratagem. Approaching a countryman, he
offers to “divide risks” with him; i. e., to advance half the money and
share equally in the gains or losses. As long as the “capper” and the
“sucker” play together, they invariably lose. Should the dupe become
disgusted with his “run of hard luck,” the “capper” continues to play
alone. The operator works the lever and his confederate soon wins a
prize; the greenhorn (who always stands near, to await the issue) at
once feels encouraged, and it usually requires little persuasion on the
“capper’s” part to induce him to make another venture.

                           JENNY WHEEL TABLE.

                 │ $2.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│  Rep.  │
                 │   9    │   14   │   2    │   8    │
                 │ $1.00  │ $10.00 │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│
                 │   3    │   27   │   21   │   18   │
                 │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│ $5.00  │
                 │   23   │   32   │   16   │   25   │
                 │ $2.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│Jewelry.│
                 │   13   │   20   │   28   │   4    │
                 │ $10.00 │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│
                 │   17   │   1    │   10   │   22   │
                 │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│ Blank. │Jewelry.│
                 │   5    │   30   │   26   │   12   │
                 │Jewelry.│ $10.00 │ $1.00  │ $2.00  │
                 │   24   │   11   │   15   │   29   │
                 │ $2.00  │Jewelry.│ $10.00 │ $25.00 │
                 │   19   │   6    │   31   │   7    │

                            THE JENNY WHEEL.

This device is most commonly used by the “small fry” gamblers, and I
have never known any large sum to be either won or lost through its
manipulation. It is a “fake,” pure and simple, and the apparatus for
cheating is so simple in construction that it could be easily detected
should a victim ask for the privilege of examining it. Should such an
inconvenient request be made, however, the manipulator can readily pick
up the whole apparatus and deposit it in his overcoat pocket.

[Illustration: jenny wheel]

It is some 6 or 8 inches in diameter, and is made of wood. In its
general principle it closely resembles the “needle wheel,” although far
less ingenious and by no means so complicated. It consists of a disc of
wood, on the rim of which are painted numbers 1 to 32, in consecutive
order. Between each two numbers is placed a thin brass plate, about a
quarter of an inch in height. Every alternate piece runs a little
farther in toward the centre than does the one next to it. The disc
slopes a little outward from the centre all around toward the
circumference. Above the disc is placed a somewhat smaller saucer-shaped
piece of wood, similar to that used in the “needle wheel,” and likewise
perforated with three holes near the centre. This upper saucer-like
plate revolves. In it is placed a marble, and the saucer is set in
motion. The marble falls through one of the holes, and rolls down the
incline into one of the little numbered compartments which, as I have
said, are separated by thin brass plates.

A small case containing articles of cheap jewelry stands near the wheel,
each one bearing a number. The player pays a stipulated sum—usually
twenty five cents—for the privilege of twirling the saucer containing
the marble and taking his chances of winning a prize. If the marble
falls into a compartment numbered to correspond with the number attached
to any one of the prizes exposed in the case, the article so numbered is
given to him. If, unfortunately, he draws a blank, he receives nothing.

The “fake” element in the device consists in the prolongation of each
alternative brass division between the numbers on the wheel. Of course,
the saucer is always set in motion in the same direction, usually from
left to right. The marble necessarily rolls in the same direction, and
when it strikes one of the protruding brass plates it inevitably rolls
into the compartment just next to the prolonged division. In numbering
the prizes the proprietor is careful so to arrange the blanks that the
latter may always correspond with the numbers of the compartments into
which the marble is sure to roll. The saucer plate into which the marble
is first placed, sets down so close upon the lower disc, that the ends
of the dividing plates cannot be seen by the players, who naturally
suppose that they are all of equal length.

As I have said, this apparatus is not well adapted to winning large
sums, yet where a fair is being held, as much as $50 or $60 may be won
in one day. This, however, is considered a comparatively poor return for
the risk, expense and trouble which the operator incurs.

                             O’LEARY BELT.

Like the other swindling devices which have been described, the
mechanism of this contrivance is easily operated, and, when explained,
readily comprehended. It is, however, what is called, in the slang of
the street, a “sure winner” for the manipulator. Thousands of dollars
have been won through its operation in a single day, without the
possibility of the dupes discovering how they have been defrauded.

[Illustration: o’leary belt]

In order to work it successfully, it is indispensable that the top of
the machine be raised high enough above the heads of the surrounding
crowd to prevent the bystanders from seeing the interior, inasmuch as
such a view would disclose the apparatus by means of which they are
robbed of their money. With this end in view, the gambler always
operates it from a buggy, the upper part of the machine standing about
three feet above the floor of the conveyance.

As will be seen in the cut, the device consists of a hoop-wheel (D B), a
supporting rod and a box platform, supporting the rod and wheel. The
apparatus maybe taken apart and neatly packed in this box. On the box is
placed a valise containing money. The wheel, or “belt,” is made of
brass, and is about sixteen inches in diameter and four inches broad. It
contains thirty-two compartments or pockets, each one containing a card,
which is held in position by a small fold of metal on each of three
sides. These cards may be perfectly blank, though usually they contain
pictures of famous beauties, or other celebrities. The valise, which is
shown in the illustration at the foot of the upright rod, contains
money. Inside the metal hoop is a leather belt, on which, at equal
distances, are painted numbers representing sums of money, so arranged
that one will fall behind each alternate compartment. When the cards are
raised, the belt is seen through a rectangular opening at the back.

The driver of the buggy carries a number of whips. As soon as a crowd
has gathered around him (which is certain to happen in a very few
moments), he informs the spectators that any one or more may, for $1.00,
purchase a chance to win a money prize, varying in amount from $1.00 to
$20.00. Some one having expressed an inclination to buy, the proprietor
takes his money and hands him a whip, with which to point to any one of
the thirty-two sections of the “hoop” which he may select. The purchaser
having rested the whip on a compartment, the operator removes the card
which he has touched. Underneath is shown either a blank space on the
“belt” or one inscribed with a certain sum. If it happen to be the
latter, the buyer is given the amount indicated; if the former, he
receives nothing.

Of course, as in all similar gambling machines, it is optional with the
manipulator whether the player win or lose. In the apparatus in
question, the “fake” is worked as follows: The inside of the “belt”
contains very small numbers, corresponding precisely in location to
those seen when the cards are raised. The operator, standing in the
buggy, is, of course, able to see these inner numbers. As soon as a
“sucker” has touched a card, the proprietor knows what number, if any,
lies beneath it. If below it there is a blank space, he at once raises
the card and shows the dupe that he has lost. If, on the other hand, he
perceives that the victim has won a prize, he stoops down toward the
valise, ostensibly to take out money, but really to touch a secret knob
or button, (lettered F in the cut) which works a wire (c) concealed
beneath the cover of the box and running up through the hollow rod until
it terminates in a hook (A B), which, by pressure, may be attached to
the inner leather belt. By operating this wire, he is able to shift the
position of the latter and thus so transfer the positions of the numbers
thereon painted that a blank may be substituted for a prize at his own
will. Thus, when a player has in fact won a prize, the gambler, through
a dextrous manipulation of the inner belt, by means of his secret
apparatus, shifts a blank to the aperture, removes the card which the
player has touched, and, presto! shows him that he has lost.

Before commencing operations, the proprietor usually removes the inner
belt, which he exhibits to the crowd, in order to show them that there
is nothing concealed. The curved hook (A B), of course remains, hidden
from view behind the metal hoop.

Many and ingenious are the devices of the operator to induce greenhorns
to purchase chances. A favorite method is to offer to buy the player’s
chance as soon as he touches a card with his whip, offering him $2.00 or
$3.00 therefor. If he accepts, the manipulator, by moving the inner belt
before he withdraws the card, can show him a large prize painted thereon
and thus easily convince him that had he declined the offer he might
have won five, ten, or even twenty dollars.

Of course, the aid of “cappers” is a _sine qua non_, since, if no one
wins, the crowd will soon grow suspicious. When a confederate buys a
chance and touches a card with the whip, the manipulator looks at the
inside of the belt to ascertain whether he has won a prize. If he has,
the sum called for is given him; if not, the “belt” is shifted by means
of the hook until a prize is brought behind the aperture, when the card
is raised and the crowd is speedily informed of his “good luck.”

As many persons can buy chances at one time at this game as the
proprietor has whips, usually six or seven players taking one each. No
two players, however, are allowed to touch adjacent sections, inasmuch
as in such a case one of them would inevitably win. When several
purchase chances at one time, the operator raises but one card at a
time, and thus finds abundant leisure in which to move the belt to meet
the exigencies of each case as it presents itself.

It may be easily seen that this device is better adapted for use upon
fair grounds, or other open places, than in the public streets. Its
successful operation depends upon the proprietor’s being so far above
the heads of the crowd that his manipulation of the inner belt cannot be
seen. When the fraud is practiced in a crowded thoroughfare, great care
must be taken by the sharper that his movements are not watched by
prying eyes from some over-looking window. Another danger which
threatens detection is the disposition of the crowd to climb upon the
buggy. This, however, may be overcome by the use of a slight degree of
force, and by refusing to proceed until such inquisitive interlopers
have resumed their places on the ground. But the man whom the proprietor
most dreads is the individual on horse-back, who forces his way up to
the buggy, and from his point of vantage obtains a full view of the
_modus operandi_. I once saw an amusing incident of this description at
a fair in a small Missouri town. The rider would insist upon taking a
position near the buggy in which the apparatus stood, and it was evident
that he was giving telegraphic signals to a friend in the crowd. The
operator rose equal to the occasion. Persuasion was idle; force
impossible. He took the only course open to him and bribed the horseman
to ride away, paying him handsomely for the concession.

Notwithstanding all these draw-backs, the contrivance is a prime
favorite with itinerant gamblers, in consequence of the ease with which
it is manipulated and the general confidence with which it is regarded
until the idea that it is a “fake” dawns upon the mind of the crowd.

The name of the device is supposed to have been the same as that of its
inventor. A well-known confidence operator by the name of O’Leary
flourished some years ago, who was recognized among his companions as an
expert manipulator of this apparatus, and it is generally believed among
the guild of peripatetic gamesters that the idea of its construction was
conceived in his fertile brain, through the direct inspiration of the
antipodes of Providence.

                      “HAP-HAZARD” OR “BEE-HIVE.”

The accompanying illustration gives an excellent idea of the general
appearance of this device, which is one of the most successfully
contrived schemes for swindling which has ever fallen under my
observation. It is known indiscriminately as “hap-hazard” or “bee-hive.”
The former name was probably given because of its being, to all
appearance, exclusively a game of chance; it has been called “bee hive”
because of its shape, but it is safe to say that the “suckers” get none
of the honey.

It consists of two cones, an inner and outer, lettered “B” and “D” on
the diagram, placed upon a heavy, circular piece of wood, around the rim
of which are thirty-two compartments, numbered from one to thirty-two,
and separated by thin metal plates. Driven into the surface of the inner
cone are small nails or metal pegs, the arrangement of which is a matter
of comparative indifference, although they are usually rather close
together and approximately equi-distant. The outer cone serves as a cap
or case. Formerly this was made of tin, but of late years glass has been
substituted, with the exception of the lower inch, which is still made
of metal, silver-plated, for reasons which will be presently explained.

Fair and circus grounds are the localities usually selected for working
this scheme, the operation of which is very simple. A case containing
numbered prizes forms part of the paraphernalia of the proprietor, and
always occupies a conspicuous place near the machine.

The manner of using the apparatus for gambling purposes is as follows:
Any one wishing to “try his luck” (?) pays a fixed sum (usually 50 cents
to $1.00, according to the size of the crowd) for the privilege. The
outer cap (D) having been placed over the cone (B), a marble is dropped
through an opening (C) in the top of the former. Striking upon the
surface of the inner cone, it pursues a “hap-hazard” course, striking
against the nails, or pegs, as it falls to the bottom. Should it roll
into a compartment numbered to correspond with one of the prizes in the
case the fortunate player is given the particular prize called for.

[Illustration: “HAP-HAZARD,” OR “BEE-HIVE.”]

The “fake” element may be very easily explained. If the reader will look
at the accompanying diagram, he will perceive at the base of the inner
cone (B), three small dots, lettered A, A, A. These dots represent pegs
driven at precisely equal distances from each other, a row of which runs
all around the base of the inner cone. The arrangement of these pegs is
such that each of them may be made to stand exactly above the alternate
compartment in the lower plate. When the cap is placed over the
apparatus, by an ingenious device at the bottom, the manipulator is
able, by slightly turning the outer cone, to arrange this lower row of
pegs so that each of them may stand directly over a winning number. The
result of this arrangement is that when the marble, in its descent,
strikes against one of these lower pegs its course is necessarily
deflected into one of the compartments on either side, the division into
which it inevitably falls always being a blank.

An unsophisticated player can, consequently, never win except through
the consent of the operator. In order to encourage the crowd in playing,
“cappers” have to be employed, who are always on hand to draw prizes. As
soon as one of these individuals makes his appearance and is recognized
by the proprietor, the latter gives a slight turn to the outer case, in
such a way as to bring the lower row of pegs directly above the blanks.
The consequence is that when the “capper” drops the marble through the
aperture above referred to, it must necessarily fall into a compartment
numbered to correspond with a prize.

The devices of the “capper” are sometimes very ingenious. In order to
disarm suspicion he will occasionally approach a verdant looking
countryman with the statement that he sees that the game is perfectly
fair and would like to take a chance, but is restrained by the presence
of his wife and son. He therefore asks the countryman to take his money,
buy him a chance and drop the marble for him. The old farmer is
naturally pleased with the suggestion, inasmuch as it gives him all the
excitement of gaming without any of the risk. He very readily complies
with the “capper’s” request, and the latter standing behind him gives a
prearranged signal to the operator that the player is acting for him.
The countryman draws the prize, which he honestly turns over to the
“capper.” The latter, thereupon, usually gives the farmer a dollar with
which to make a venture on his own account. As a matter of course he
loses, and it is usually not very difficult to induce him to make
another trial, on the principle of “double or quits,” or “representing,”
as has been before explained in the remarks under the “needle wheel.”

Some idea of gambler’s profits from this machine may be formed when I
say that the man operating such a device, who fails to take away from a
fair ground at least $500 a week in clear profits, considers that he is
doing a small business, and I have myself nearly doubled that sum within
that time.

It sometimes happens, however, that the verdant looking countryman,
after receiving the dollar from the “capper” and winning a prize for the
latter, forthwith “makes tracks” for parts unknown, leaving the
proprietor and his astute confederate to mourn the loss of their money
and to bewail their own misplaced confidence in human nature.

                             BOX AND BALLS.

[Illustration: box and balls]

This is a device by no means common, there being very few of the
“fraternity” who can operate it successfully. Yet there are two sharpers
in the country, who have won fortunes through its manipulation, either
of whom would promptly resent any imputation upon his character as an
insult. In the accompanying diagram, Figure “1” shows the exterior of
the box, which is of wood, about ten inches long, four and one-half
inches broad and two and one-half inches deep. Inside this box “B,” are
placed thirty ivory balls or marbles, each of which are numbered. Near
the operator stands a table on which is a show case containing twelve
prizes, part of which are articles of jewelry and the remainder sums of
money. The players, of whom there may be seven or eight, pay from fifty
cents to a dollar each for the chance of winning a prize. When a
sufficient number of chances have been sold the operator shakes the box,
causing the balls to roll from one end to the other. Letter “A” on
figure 1, represents a slide at one end of the box. This slide is raised
by the manipulator and allows one ball to escape at a time. The number
of the marble is examined, and if it be found to correspond with that
attached to a prize in the show-case, the fortunate player is given the
article or money which he has won. The diagram of the case is shown in
figure 3.

                           BOX AND BALL CASE.

             │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │ $10.00 │  Rep.  │
             │   1    │   8    │   12   │   29   │   4    │
             │ $52.00 │Jewelry.│ Blank. │ $20.00 │Jewelry.│
             │   15   │   24   │   28   │   17   │   10   │
             │Jewelry.│ $10.00 │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│Jewelry.│
             │   6    │   21   │   3    │   22   │   14   │
             │ $5.00  │Jewelry.│  Rep.  │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │
             │   11   │   27   │   30   │   26   │   7    │
             │  Rep.  │ $5.00  │  Rep.  │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│
             │   18   │   25   │   20   │   19   │   16   │
             │ $10.00 │Jewelry.│ $5.00  │  Rep.  │Jewelry.│
             │   5    │   13   │   23   │   9    │   2    │

The fraud consists of two elements, one relating to the marbles, and the
other to the box. In the first place, the ivory spheres are not all of
equal size, the twelve whose numbers correspond to the valuable prizes
being the merest trifle larger than the eighteen which call for articles
of no value. So slight, however, is the variation in size that it is
absolutely impossible to detect it by the eye. The “fake” in the box is
in the slide, “A,” and is shown in figure 1, which gives an enlarged
view of this part of the apparatus. In this figure the line “B”
represents a shoulder, whose height above the bottom of the slide (which
is shaved almost as thin as paper,) is so delicately adjusted that it
stops the larger balls, and allows the smaller ones to strike against
the thin wood. The sensitive finger of the manipulator readily discerns
the striking of a ball against this part of the slide. If he feels it he
knows that he must raise the slide and allow one of the smaller marbles
to escape, inasmuch as the latter calls for no article of value.

The “cappers” are useful in this as in all similar games. They serve to
stimulate the interest of the players and revive their confidence when
it begins to fail. Of course, when a “capper” is playing, the operator
shakes the box until he knows from the absence of pressure upon the thin
edge of the slide that one of the larger marbles will escape by raising
the same. He takes out the ball, and hands his confederate the valuable
prize for which the number calls.

This is a favorite game for playing “doubles or quits,” or “represent.”
In fact, sometimes more money is made in this way than by the regular
sale of chances.

I was using this device on one occasion in company with a partner. The
game is a difficult one to work, and I was not an expert. The result was
that the wrong ball escaped, and a sucker won a twenty dollar prize. I
was much chagrined, and endeavored to shift the responsibility of the
loss upon my partner, by telling him that he had signaled that the
player was a “capper.” My partner followed the stranger and requested
him to divide; on the ground that he had been the means of his winning.
The countryman, however, smilingly retained the money, leaving my
confederate to mourn.

                         MINIATURE RACE TRACK.

The miniature race track is a game which resembles the “needle wheel”
and other similar contrivances which have been already described. It
consists of a wooden disc, about four feet in diameter, the outer rim of
which is stationary, and within which revolves an inner wheel of the
same material. The outer periphery of the disc contains a representation
of the “judges’ stand” on a race track, from the center of which extends
a line running toward the middle of the circle. On the inner revolving
wheel are painted representations of, say, half dozen horses, each
picture being accompanied by the name of some famous racer.

Players make their bets as follows: A set of paddles equal in number to
that of the horses depicted on the inner wheel, and containing
corresponding descriptions, are sold the bettors at a stipulated price
each—usually from twenty-five cents to five or even ten dollars. The
paddles having been sold, the inner wheel is set in motion, and when it
comes to rest the player who has placed his wager upon the horse which
is nearest the inner side of the line extending from the “judges’ stand”
wins the pool, the percentage which the proprietor claims upon the
operation of the apparatus having been first deducted.

It is easily seen that the owner of the machine incurs no risk, inasmuch
as he always receives a percentage of the stakes, no matter which one of
the bettors may prove to be the winner. This should be enough to satisfy
the money-making instinct of any ordinary man, but the parties who run
an apparatus of this kind are not ordinary men. They seek for still
further advantage, and they obtain it through the manipulation of a
concealed lever, which brings friction to bear at the centre pivot, in
the same manner as has been already described in a number of similar
contrivances. The result is, that if possible the proprietor allows no
one to win. If, however, bets have been placed upon each of the half
dozen horses, the manipulator has it in his power always to bring the
inner wheel to a stand-still when the horse upon which the lowest bet
has been placed is nearest the magic line.

The advantages arising from the employment of a “capper” in a scheme of
this sort are too apparent to call for special elucidation. A
confederate may bet upon a certain horse, and the proprietor always has
it within his power to allow his accomplice to win.

                           STRIKING MACHINE.

This is a very simple contrivance, and used by small “fakirs,” who are
content with very paltry winnings. It is an apparatus by which to
measure the force of a blow. A dial, in the center of which is placed an
arrow-shaped pointer, registers the number of pounds representing the
strength of the striker’s arm. The “fakir” usually allows two blows to
be struck for the small sum of five cents. At the back of the dial is a
concealed spring, by means of which, through applying friction at the
pivot on which the pointer revolves, the operator is able so to check
the movement of the latter that it is impossible for the striker to
record upon the dial any large number of pounds.

It is a common practice, too, for a “capper” to be standing around, who
offers to strike, in connection with the stranger, to see who shall pay
the five cents for the two blows. When his confederate strikes the
machine the proprietor, by diminishing the friction at the pivot,
suffers the pointer to make almost a complete revolution. When the
“sucker” takes his turn, the friction is increased, and of course he is
compelled to pay the stipulated nickel.

This contrivance is of so insignificant a character as hardly to merit
description. It is worthy of mention only as showing the natural bent of
the mind of men of this character, and of illustrating the contemptible
schemes to which they will resort.

                         TOP AND BOTTOM BOXES.

This is another confidence game, the success of which appeals not only
to the avarice but also to the dishonest impulses of the dupe. The
latter is induced to believe that he can gain a decided advantage over a
sharper through the carelessness of the confidence man and the superior
astuteness which he flatters himself that he possesses. Its operation
calls for three small paper boxes, each of which has a false bottom,
from which circumstance the trick has been given the name which appears
at the head of this paragraph.

The man who intends to victimize any “sucker” whom he may be able to
find, first exposes a bill of some large denomination, which he places
in one of the boxes. He raises one of the covers and places the
greenback inside, shutting down the top in such a way that a corner of
the bill is left exposed apparently by accident. He then changes the
relative position of the boxes and asks which one of the three contains
the bank note, the guess to be made simply “for fun.” Of course, the
greenhorn, who has seen the corner of the bill protruding from beneath
the cover has no difficulty in locating its position. This may be done,
perhaps, more than once. The next step on the part of the sharper is to
produce a time piece, (e. g. a watch), which he assures his dupe is one
of rare value, but which he is willing to dispose of at a comparatively
nominal price, say, $50. He then takes a bill of a large amount—possibly
$100—from his pocket and places it inside one of the boxes. He next
shuffles the boxes about, apparently with the intention of confusing the
dupe as to the precise position of the one containing the bill. The
latter, however, feels fully satisfied that he can locate the box in
question, for the reason that he feels sure that he sees the corner of
the note protruding from beneath the cover.

The sharper then tells the “sucker” that he will sell him the
“chronometer” for the agreed price, which, he says, is ridiculously low,
and will also give him a gratuitous chance to guess which box contains
the bill. The dupe thinking that he knows precisely the box in question,
pays no attention whatever to the watch, his attention being centered on
the money. He assents to the proposal and a transaction which, on its
face appears to be a legitimate sale is concluded. The money is paid and
the utterly worthless watch is handed over. Then the eager dupe guesses
which of the three boxes contains the bill. The cover is removed and
nothing is seen. The reason is that just outside the false covers the
confidence man has pasted the corner of a fictitious greenback, the
appearance of which misleads the dupe, while the actual treasury note is
safely in the sharper’s pocket, or in one of the other two boxes.

                           THE SWINGING BALL.

This is a simple little contrivance, usually operated by small “fakirs,”
yet I have known from sixty to seventy dollars a day to be made
therefrom on circus and fair-grounds. Its construction may be readily
understood on an examination of the diagram. The lower line represents
the support on which rests a frame, composed of two uprights, and
connected at the top by a cross-piece. From the centre of the latter
hangs a string, at the end of which is a wooden ball, lettered “C.” In
the centre of the lower support there is placed a triangular pin,
lettered “D” on the diagram.

[Illustration: swinging ball]

Those who wish to try their luck pay twenty-five cents for the privilege
of swinging the ball. The player stands in front of the frame and throws
the ball from him. If, as it swings back it overturns the peg, he
receives back his twenty-five cents, together with a dollar. If,
unfortunately, he overturns the peg as the ball moves from him, he

In order to guard against the happening of the former catastrophe, the
ball is usually slightly deflected toward either the right or left as it
leaves the hands of the player. If the uprights remain perfectly
perpendicular, the chances are that the ball, on its return, will strike
the peg through the operation of the law of gravitation. Just here is
where the operator does a little “fine work.” The uprights are always
made a little loose, so that by a very slight pressure from the shoulder
on the part of the manipulator, at the point “A,” they may be bent from
a perpendicular position to that indicated by the dotted line B. The
inevitable result is that when the ball swings back, the force of
gravity draws it on one side of the peg, and the unfortunate speculator
sees that he has lost the money which he paid for the privilege of
throwing it.

This game, at first blush, appears to be so perfectly “square,” that the
assistance of the “capper” is rarely needed, although sometimes they may
be employed to advantage.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                             “GOLD BRICKS.”

Of all the devices which the fertile brain of the confidence operator
has originated, it may be questioned whether any is more ingenious in
conception or has reaped a richer harvest for the scoundrels who have
operated it than has the “gold brick swindle.” Notwithstanding the fact
that the secular press throughout the country has, for years past,
repeatedly directed public attention to the general nature of this
method of fraud, yet even in the present year of grace the newspapers
are month after month called upon to chronicle new exploits of the same
character, and to record the names of fresh victims.

These journals, however, have never thoroughly ventilated the scheme in
all its details, and in their description of the tactics employed by the
operators they not infrequently draw largely upon their imagination,
substituting fiction for fact. The victim himself is often restrained,
by a sense of shame, from unfolding the full depth of his credulity, not
more than fifteen per cent. of the dupes ever making their losses
public. The author believes that the present exposure is the first
authentic recital of the methods of this class of sharpers ever given to
the public from a reliable standpoint.

[Illustration: gold brick swindle]

To perpetrate the fraud successfully, the co-operation of at least three
confederates is essential, of whom two must be gifted with some dramatic
power. Some little cash is also required, it being necessary to procure
a sample of filings of refined gold, one or two nuggets, and a “brick,”
or bar, of some thirty pounds in weight, composed of brass and copper,
costing about twenty-five cents per pound.

The first objective point is the selection of a victim. He must be a man
whose resources are of such a sort as to enable him to produce, at short
notice, a considerable amount in ready cash. It is not considered wise
to deal with a man who may find it necessary to ask for accommodation at
his bank, inasmuch as such action on his part might result in the
institution and prosecution of numberless inconvenient inquiries by the
bank officials. Incredible as it may appear, it is the literal truth
that in choosing a “mark,” the confidence operators frequently have
recourse to a reputable business man in the community, who furnishes the
swindlers with what is known, in slang phrase, as a “pointer” concerning
the resources and personal characteristics of the prominent men in the
neighborhood. In such a case, the party furnishing the information is
always fully informed as to the purpose for which it is desired, and is
promised a stipulated percentage of the dishonest gains, should the
fraud be successfully consummated. The inherent villany of such a
transaction is well calculated to make the reader recoil in disgust, if
not in horror. The author, however, has been told by men who have
successfully perpetrated the fraud, that men of unblemished reputation,
occupying high positions in social, professional, or commercial circles,
some of them even filling posts of responsible trust in public life,
have been personally paid in the presence of his informants, the notes
which constituted their agreed proportion of the money obtained from the
wretched dupe whom they had assisted in defrauding.

The victim having been thus carefully selected and located, the next
step is to excite his cupidity. The ordinary _modus operandi_ is
substantially as described below.

One of the confederates, attired as a miner from Mexico or the far West,
calls upon the party chosen at the latter’s residence. Every detail of
his appearance is attended to with the utmost care, from the seemingly
sun-browned face, the apparent result of years of honest toil in the
open air, to the well-worn, patched trousers carelessly tucked in the
large, coarse, dusty boots. A battered cowboy’s sombrero is negligently
perched upon the head, and around his waist is drawn a buckskin money
belt. Having gained the presence of his prospective dupe, the pretended
miner from the rude camps of “the Rockies” presents a paper on which is
written, in sprawling characters, the victim’s name. For the purpose of
illustration any name will answer; let us suppose that it is Thomas
Jones. After he has handed this paper to the individual in question, the
confidence man (who feigns illiteracy and pretends to be entirely
destitute of worldly wisdom) simulates acute disappointment at
discovering that he is not the Tom Jones for whom he had been looking.
He draws out an old red cotton handkerchief and wipes his eyes, as he
sinks, apparently exhausted, into a chair. Naturally the sight of so
quaint-looking an individual awakens the interest of Mr. Jones, and his
simulated fatigue and grief arouse his curiosity, if not his sympathy,
and he asks the cause of his distress. “No, no,” the sharper answers,
“You’se not the Tom Jones I knows; and we’s come so far, and the
Indian’s so sick he can’t tote the gold no furder. And Tom Jones he was
to give us the paper money.” And here the pretended miner permits his
feelings wholly to get the mastery of him, and he bows his head in
deepest sorrow. Mr. Jones would be either more or less than human if,
after this, he did not seek for further information. “What Indian? What
gold? What paper money?” are among the questions which rise to his lips.
The confidence man hesitates for a moment, and if there are any other
persons in the room requests that the latter withdraw. Then he says to
Mr. Jones, with the air of one imparting a great secret: “You looks
honest, and I’ll tell you. We’se got a heap o’ gold, me and the Indian;
and we’s looking for Tom Jones, cause he’s got lots o’ paper money,
piles o’ paper money, locked up in an iron box. And now I can’t find
him. I could make him and all his chillen rich.” “Where did you get the
gold?” asks the now deeply interested Mr. Jones. “We’se tooken it out o’
the mine, way down in Mexico.” “Where is it?” pursues Jones. “The
Indian, he’s got it,” replies the miner. “And where is the Indian?”
“Oh,” answers the sharper, “he’s down to the big camp, back over there
(pointing), with the house built over the water (a bridge). He’s sick,
and couldn’t come no furder.”

It usually occurs to Mr. Jones at this stage of the conversation that he
has been strangely unmindful of the duties of hospitality, and he
directs that some refreshment be prepared and set before his guest.
While this is being done, the host, who has by this time become very
urbane, tells the stranger that he (Jones) is a wealthy man; that he
owns lands and stock and property of various descriptions, and that he
has “paper money, lots of it;” that it is therefore unnecessary for the
miner to seek for the other Mr. Jones, as he can do business with him.
To this proposal, however, the unsophisticated miner refuses to assent.
He wants to see “his” Mr. Jones, and he expresses his intention of going
on to the next town, where he professes to believe that he can find
tidings of the whereabouts of that mysterious individual. Before he
takes his departure he promises, in compliance with the oft-repeated
request of his host, that in case he fails to find the man of whom he is
in quest he will return.

It is a very common practice, in working this scheme, for the swindler,
shortly before leaving his victim, to take from his belt a small nugget,
which he hands to the intended dupe, with the request that he take it to
the nearest “medicine shop” (drug store), and after he has had some
“smoke water” (acid) poured on it to carry it to the watchmaker’s
(jeweler’s) and sell it for what it is worth, bringing back the
proceeds. This shrewd move of the confidence man serves a double
purpose: it convinces the victim that he actually has gold, and at the
same time leads him to suppose that he is dealing with a man wholly
inexperienced in the ways of the world.

After a day or two the swindler returns, attired as before. He has
failed to find the Thomas Jones whom he was seeking, but has learned
where he is. Will the Mr. Jones whose acquaintance he has so recently
formed kindly write a letter to his old friend at his dictation? Of
course Mr. Jones assents, and the epistle is indited to the mythical
personage, something after the following manner:

“Dear Friend, Mr. Tom Jones:—Me and the Indian has come on with the
first lot of gold.”

Here the pretended miner pauses, and asks his amanuensis if he will keep
his secret. Jones, who is anxious to hear what is to follow, readily
promises. The sharper, however, insists upon his taking an oath of
secrecy, which is duly administered, the affiant sometimes, in his
eagerness, raising both hands. This ceremony having been performed, the
writing of the letter is resumed, its tenor running something after this

“We’s got all the rest hid away, and there’s ten millions worth of it.
Now you come right off with the paper money, ’cause the Indian he’s
sick, and me and him wants to go back to Mexico. Come right now. We’s
got enough to make us all rich.”

The thought of $10,000,000 in the hands of an ignorant old miner and an
untutored child of the forest excites the cupidity of Mr. Jones to a
high degree. He chafes under the reflection that his chance of securing
a considerable proportion of this vast sum is drifting away from him. He
believes that his superior knowledge of the world and his familiarity
with business customs and forms would render it a comparatively easy
matter for him to make himself the owner of the lion’s share of an
immense fortune, and he mentally curses the other Jones, from the bottom
of his heart.

The letter having been completed, the miner is asked to give the
address. He promptly answers, “Mississippi.” “Mississippi,” repeats Mr.
Jones. “Why, man, Mississippi is a big State, like this. Your letter
will never reach him directed to Mississippi. What city?” The sharper
does not know any other address, and begins again to bemoan his hard lot
at having come so far to no purpose, and “the Indian so sick.”

The “sucker” believes that this is his opportunity. He again assures his
new friend that he himself will buy the gold from him, and after much
persuasion prevails upon the confidence man to reveal the whereabouts of
the “Indian” who has in his custody so much of the precious metal.

The result of this interchange of confidence is that the swindler and
the “sucker” start together for the town where the “Indian” is supposed
to be. Usually some point at a distance of perhaps 100 or 200 miles is
chosen in which to locate this mysterious personage. Sometimes the
confidence man buys the railroad tickets, sometimes the dupe; at all
events, the fares are paid and the pair start for their point of

On arriving at the place named, the two confederates (who have usually
been apprised of the hour of their arrival) are there at the railway
station, and carefully note the signal given by the “miner.” If the
latter raises his hat, they know that everything is proceeding
satisfactorily. If he shakes the lapel of his coat, they understand that
“the jig is up,” and that they had better “take quick steps and long
ones.” Sometimes the information is conveyed by means of an umbrella or
stick. If the same is carried across the shoulder, “all is well”; if as
a walking cane, there is “danger ahead.”

It is needless to say, that of these two confederates one is the
mysterious “Indian.” The other is what is technically known as a
“trailer,” whose duty it is to follow the “sucker” wherever he goes,
keeping him continually in sight and noting his every movement.

Immediately upon receiving the pre-arranged signal at the station, the
first confidence man and his victim now repair to the spot in the woods
whither the “Indian” has gone. On reaching the locality the bar is
exhumed from the hiding place in which it had been previously buried.
The “redskin,” whose “make-up” has been as carefully arranged as that of
the “miner,” corroborates the statement that the gold is there, and Mr.
Jones is given a glimpse of the glittering but spurious metal.

If the latter should go to a drug store and purchase a bottle of acid,
with which the supposed gold may be tested, the services of the third
confidence man are called into requisition, but he himself is kept
carefully in the background. When the dupe procures the necessary acid,
the “trailer” buys a precise duplicate of the bottle. The contents of
this latter bottle, however, are poured out and replaced by water.

When the victim returns to the spot on which he has left the “Indian”
and the supposed “miner,” the latter has already received from his
confederate the bottle of water, identical in size, appearance and label
with that which the dupe has in his pocket. “Mr. Jones” is informed that
the “Indian” has no objection to the pouring of “smoke water” (acid)
upon the “brick,” but that he is fearful of being put to sleep through
the administration of “sleepy water” (chloroform). This ingenious story
satisfactorily accounts for the request which the sharper makes that
“Mr. Jones” shall hand the bottle to him, in order that the “Indian” may
receive the acid from the hands of his friend. This suggestion appears
reasonable, and the eager dupe promptly turns over his bottle to the
“miner,” who easily substitutes therefor his own previously prepared
bottle of water, which is poured upon the composition, and of course
without effect. The dupe now feels tolerably certain that the bar shown
him is of genuine gold. In order to satisfy him completely, however, the
confidence man produces an augur and brace, which he hands to the dupe
with a request that the latter bore into the “brick” and carry off the
filings in order to have them assayed. As soon as a sufficient quantity
of filings has been obtained, the sharper places them in a piece of
paper torn off from that which the “brick” has been wrapped, and
ostensibly hands them to Jones. As a matter of fact, the latter does not
receive the borings which he believes that he does, the swindler
dexterously substituting at the critical moment, a package similar in
appearance, but containing filings of refined gold with which the
scoundrels have taken the precaution to provide themselves.

The assay naturally shows gold of from 18 to 20 karat fineness, and Mr.
Jones is now quite ready to make the purchase. He goes to his bank,
draws his money, and returns to the “Indian” and the “miner.” The bar is
weighed and its value is computed. Mr. Jones then asks how the money is
to be divided. “Why,” replies sharper number one, “into three piles; one
for you, one for me and one for the Indian.” This arrangement is
eminently satisfactory to the “sucker,” who has probably already
attempted to defraud his companions by means of a false computation, and
who now thinks that he sees his way clear to make a purchase of pure
gold at about two-thirds of its value.

The money having been paid over, the brace of confederates at once take
their departure for parts unknown and Mr. Jones returns to his home
laden down with a ponderous mass of metal worth about $9, but for which
he has paid many thousands.

Another favorite method of perpetrating the swindle is as follows: Two
confederates repair to the farm of some wealthy man and at a chosen spot
bury one of the bars of spurious gold. A chart showing a “lay of the
land,” is then carefully prepared and so treated as to give it the
appearance of antiquity. All preparations having been carefully made,
the confidence men drive up to the residence of the intended dupe, and
after some conversation in the course of which they are at pains to
satisfy themselves that he is the individual for whom they are looking,
they inform him that they have learned that there lies buried upon his
farm a mass of gold of great value. Some plausible story is invented to
account for their having come into possession of this information. The
chart is now produced, and the farmer is surprised to see so correct a
diagram of his property. The spot where the “brick” has been buried is
carefully and accurately located upon the plat.

This appeal to the avarice of the intended victim rarely fails to
accomplish the end desired. He is anxious to commence digging for the
precious metal without delay. The swindlers allow him to conduct the
boring himself. Operations having been begun, in due time the spade or
pick of the digger strikes the bar, whose glittering appearance arouses
every instinct of cupidity in the breast of the countryman. The sharpers
at once offer to sell out their interest to him for comparatively one
half of the value of the supposed gold. The same tactics, substantially,
with regard to testing and assaying the metal are resorted to which have
been already described. The value of the “find” is computed, the
“sucker” pays over his money, and the confidence man leaves him to
repent of his folly at his leisure.

[Illustration: THE “MINER” AND “TOM” JONES.]

                            EVERY BIT TRUE.
                         [BY REV. JOHN SNYDER.]

              There’s no art
              To find the mind’s construction in the face:
              He was a gentleman on whom I built
              An absolute trust.

The “second bell” had rung and yet I had not responded to the clamoring
call to breakfast. An impatient rap at my door.

“Papa, papa,” from my oldest daughter. “There’s a gentleman waiting to
see you.”

“Yes, yes, I am coming. I am not one of the seven sleepers.”

Who could it be? The early morning hour is sacred to beggars having
elaborate and well-worn letters of introduction, some of which have seen
service so long that the paper upon which they are written holds
together as poorly as the clumsy tales of their bearers. Sometimes calls
for funeral services come in the dewy morning, and oftener bashful young
gentlemen stop in buggies and say with nervous energy, but trembling
lips, “Dr. Snyder, I would like—we would like to have you do a little
job for me—I mean for us. We’re going to get married to-morrow night and
we’d like to have you tie the knot. We often come to hear you preach on
Sunday evenings.” And then I recognize the sterner half of a handsome
young couple who come rather late to church and sit on the back seat and
keep up a religious conversation during the whole service.

All this time I am hurrying into my morning gown. It is a little torn in
the sleeve, by the way, and when I am in haste I always strike the wrong
side of the sleeve-lining. Down stairs I go, and in the hall sits a man
who has none of the blushing uneasiness of the prospective bridegroom.
My hand is cordially grasped in a palm that seems to bear enthusiastic
honesty and simple affection in its very grip.

“Are you Dr. Snyder?”

“So people call me who don’t know the facts of the case,” I answer with
a smile.

“John Snyder,” he persists, with increasing eagerness.

“Beyond a question.”

I never saw a deeper melancholy shadow a man’s face or sadden his voice.
He seemed broken-hearted, bewildered with some unspeakable sorrow.

“I’ve come 2,500 miles to see you, and now you ain’t the man I’m looking
for,” he said at last.

I drew him into the parlor, and in the bright light got a better look at
his face and form. He was one of Bret Harte’s portraits stepped out of
the frame. Of medium height, slightly but strongly built, his form had
about it that untaught and indefinable grace of movement which it is
popularly supposed is imparted only by the untrammeled freedom of forest
life. His long brown hair slightly curled, fell about his neck, and his
handsome beard evidently was as innocent of steel as that of a
Nazarite’s. He was roughly dressed, having a pair of alligator boots, to
which doubtless the newsboy’s “shine” was an untried novelty. But it was
his face that chiefly charmed me. His nose was straight and clearly cut
and his eye was as frank and innocent as a baby’s. When he spoke his
speech was flavored with that Southern twang which no man not to the
“manner born” can ever imitate.

“Yes,” he repeated, with increasing sorrow in his soft voice, “I have
come 2,500 miles to see you, and you ain’t the man.”

“You were looking for somebody bearing my name?”

“Yes, sir. You see I’ve been livin’ for about twelve or thirteen years
down on the borders of old Mexico, among the Indians and half-breeds.
An’ there was a man come down there several years ago by the name o’
Snyder, John Snyder, that’s your name, ain’t it? Yes. Well, he’d been a
Methodis’ preacher and he come from my own State, North Carliny. He used
to work in the mines an’ he used to preach, too. An’ I tell you he was a
mighty good man. ’Fore he come things was awful rough in that camp. Why,
they use ter kill a man almost every week. I’ve seen a fellow shot right
dead on a bar-room floor and nobody’d take any notice of him, and one of
them rough women would go up to the bar to take a drink of whisky and
her clothes would jest brush over the dead man’s face! But I tell ye
when that preacher come things began to be different. All that killing
business begun to stop. The boys jest thought everything of him. They’d
trust him with everything they had in the world. And he come to St.
Louis about five or six months ago and I want to find him the worst

Thinking that as my heroic namesake had come from North Carolina, he
would naturally belong to the M. E. Church, South, I directed my
disconsolate visitor to the book concern of that branch of the church
militant. As he turned to leave the door he said, “If I didn’t find that
preacher, could you let me come back and get you to write me a letter,
for I can’t write?” I was touched by the sense of desolation and
pitiable ignorance in which this lonely creature seemed to dwell, and
said cordially:

“Come back, and I will do anything I can to serve you.”

In the early morning of the next day my backwoods hero presented
himself. He had searched the city through, but the saintly miner-
preacher was nowhere to be found. And yet there was a gleam of dimmest
hope in his eye and a sweet and quiet smile upon his lips, for he seemed
to transfer all his loving, clinging confidence to me.

“Well, I couldn’t find him,” he said. “Now, I’ll just tell you in what
kind of a fix I’m in. I’ve been out of the mines fur nigh onto thirteen
years, and sometimes I’ve got together as much as $12,000 or $13,000 at
a time, and then it would jest kinder melt away from me. Now I see a
chance to make some money. Fur about twelve years I’ve hed a chum who’s
a half-breed Indian, a fellow by the name of Zamora. Well, about six
months ago he was out hunting with some full-blooded Indians, and they
chased a small deer up the side of a hill; when all of a sudden the deer
went out of sight. My chum went up to the place where he missed him, and
looking down a hole, saw him jest about four or five feet down. So he
went down after him. When he got down there he forgot all about the
deer, I tell ye. He was jest in a hole o’ gold! He got the Indians to
help him, and right there and then he got out some chunks, and buildin’
a fire where they was campin’, they made what them fellers call a dobie
mold and jest run some of the gold into that. After he had filled them
Indians full o’ whiskey he knew they’d never think of the place again,
and so when he got rid o’ them he went back alone and got what stuff was
on the surface. Then he come and told me about it; but mind ye, he
didn’t show me the place. Them half-breeds are mighty suspicious. But he
brought out three of the chunks. I showed a piece of the stuff to a
fellow named Bailey—Capt. Bailey they called him, and he stole it. He
said, ‘An Indian ain’t got any rights anyhow.’ Well, if I’d tried to get
it back none of the boys would ’er backed me up, ’cause they’re all down
on Indians, and Zamora wouldn’t let me trust another feller in the camp.
He says to me, says he, ‘Let’s go look for that preacher; we can trust
him; these fellers ’ill not only rob us, but put lead into us, too.’ So
we come to Kansas City and I buried two of the chunks of stuff in a hole
about three feet deep, and then we brought the other chunks here. Now,
you see what we want to do is this: First of all, we want to find some
man we can trust. That half-breed won’t hardly let me speak to a white
man. He is always sayin’: You’ve been cheated once trustin’ a white man,
now jest do my way. Let’s find that preacher, we know we can trust him.
Well, we’ve lost the trail of that preacher and I want you to help us
out. I’ll pay you well fur your trouble.”

I said: “My business is to help people in trouble. What can I do for

“Jest this. We want to go back to that country and fetch out the rest of
that stuff. We’ve got to get a lot o’ burros and some wagons, and some
full-blooded Indians and some good ponies and rifles. There’s a town, a
little place, about ten miles from where this half-breed has hid the
stuff. My plan is to take the Indians to this place and then Zamora and
me to start off in the night with two or three burros. We’ll go at night
so’s no feller’ll foller us. We’ll get the stuff, pile it on the burros,
and bring it all away at the same time. If we give them Indians $10
apiece and a new rifle and plenty of whiskey they’d be drunker’n owls
before night. Then we can ship the stuff on a railroad and bring it
here. Now, we’ve got to get about $2,500 or $3,000 to get the things we
want; and we want to raise it on the price of the stuff we’ve got along
with us. Now, will you help us? I believe we can trust you, ’cause you
look square and straight.”

I endeavored to blush at the childlike compliment, and said:

“What can I do? I never had $3,000 in my life, and never expect to

“Mebbe you know somebody that’ll help us.”

“Where is the gold and the half-breed?”

“Down on that street where they’re puttin’ up a big brick building.”

“On Olive street. Why don’t you take the gold and sell it outright?”

“Now, that’s jest where the stubbornness of that half-breed comes in.
He’s sick in bed. Got the worst kind of a cold, on his lungs, I guess,
and he won’t let that chunk go out of his sight. He’s afraid that if we
take that stuff to find out how fine it is somebody’ll foller us, and
we’ll never get out of this town alive. You know them fellers is awful
suspicious. What I want you to do if you’re willin’ to help us, is to
jest come down and take a bit of this stuff and see how fine it is, and
mebbe you can find some way to help us out.”

Curiosity mingled with benevolence. I was anxious to see this mass of
gold and talk with this suspicious half-breed. While going to Fourteenth
and Olive streets, where the treasure rested under the sleepless eye of
the non-confiding son of the forest, my innocent miner would turn his
soft and girlish eyes upon my face and speak with wonder and awe of the
height of the houses and the crowded condition of the streets. I was
ushered into a darkened room with much mystery, where a human figure was
lying in bed, with his face muffled up in the bed clothes. Like Claude
Melnotte, he had not found the raw atmosphere of St. Louis like “the
soft air of his native South.” Between his half-suppressed groans he
uttered a few words in Spanish and my guide answered in the same musical
tongue. After locking the door and looking cautiously about, my friend
drew from under the mattress at the foot of the bed something wrapped in
the fragment of an old bed-comforter. In a moment a mass of metal
weighing about thirty pounds and shaped like a bar of washing soap was
revealed. Evidently a pure gold brick.

“Now,” said David, my innocent-faced friend, “I’ll tell you what we’ll
do. I’ll jest bore some holes in this brick, and I’ll get you to take
the shavings and get ’em melted into a button. Then nobody’ll suspect.
Don’t you see? Then take it to some place down town and have ’t tested.
A feller told me out in the mines that he couldn’t tell how fine it was,
but he knew it was over 18 karats.”

So he bored a dozen holes into this mass of treasure, and collected the
golden shavings into a fragment of the _Globe-Democrat_. As he came out
of the darkened chamber Davis grasped my hand with deep emotion, and
said: “This is the only chance I’ve had in nigh thirteen years; if this
don’t go through, it jest seems as if I’ll lose my grip.”

I tried to cheer him with a word of sympathy, and hurried to my friend
Witt, of the Eugene Jaccard Company, and giving him a portion of the
metal, begged him to have it tested. We went together to the workroom of
the establishment, where the foreman of the melting department tested
the specimen and declared it to be _as fine as coin_. It nearly took my
breath away! The long and weary pilgrimage of my humble and sad-faced
friend of the wild woods was about to come to a golden end. He stood on
the threshold of a splendid future! In one of his bursts of generous
trust he had confided to me the secret that the half-breed owned and had
secreted _seventy-three other_ lumps of the virgin metal not counting
the one upon which my eyes had feasted and the two safely hidden in the
hillside at Kansas City. Seventy-six golden bricks, each weighing _over_
thirty pounds! Let anybody make the calculation and see what prospects
the confiding Davis and the untutored half-breed had in store.

Then I sought out my friend, the United States Assayer, and told him the
brilliant story. I told him of the sweet and Raphael-like countenance of
my friend, of the melancholy sickness and sad distrusts of the lonely
half-breed, who was longing for the sight of his native woods. I showed
him the coin-fine precious metal I held in my hand, and consulted him
about the readiest means of helping the two “babes in the wood,” who, in
their ignorance, were the custodians of this uncounted wealth. He
listened with unflecked courtesy, and then responded in a voice not
musical with tearful sympathy:

“Doctor, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.”

I told him that financially, the pole—so to speak—would have to be
considerably more than “ten foot” to enable me to touch it, even if I
was so disposed. In other words, I was not momentarily fixed to engage
in such enterprises, even if they were endorsed by the angel-faced
backwoodsman, and re-inforced by my own sympathy.

“It looks,” he said, “like a gold brick. It seems to me that I recognize
the not unfamiliar features of an auriferous brick. Why doesn’t he bring
the priceless treasure here? I will pay him the highest price for it. If
he doesn’t want to sell I will advance the money they require for
burros, wagons and Indians.”

I meekly presented the picture of the half-breed, whose lungs were
evidently affected and who could not endure the rigors of the St. Louis
climate. He was still obdurate, and refused to invest even
intellectually in this hidden treasure. I said that all the symptoms
were undoubtedly _gold-bricky_. That there were unquestionably parts of
the story that would not “hold water,” to use the vernacular. That the
suspiciousness of the half-breed was certainly over-strained and
phenomenal in its excess. That the confidence that my friend of the
infantile face was willing to repose in myself, a perfect stranger, was
not marked by those periods of slow evolution by which confidence is
proverbially brought to fruition. Still, I said, that gentle, guileless,
St. John-like face haunted the chamber of my soul’s sympathy. I would as
soon expect to see the wondrous Madonna leave its frame in the Sistine
Chapel and try to cheat me with a dozen semi-decayed peaches at the
street corner as to look for deceit lurking behind the bland and child-
like smile of John Davis, the miner. My friend, the assayer, suggested
that the sad smile and Madonna face of John were part of his stock in
trade. “At any rate, Doctor,” said he, “let him bring the brick here.
When I melt it and run it over I will believe it is solid gold; not till

I sought out Davis and told him that Zamora’s confidence would have to
bear an additional strain; that if it was a necessity he could be
carried on a stretcher to the assay office, bearing the precious nugget
in his bosom if he chose, but that nobody would advance money on a gold
brick of which they had seen nothing but shavings. A mist of tears
seemed to spring into his handsome eyes, and he replied broken-

“I’m afraid that I can’t bring him to it. He had to get the doctor to
see him this morning ’cause he was spitting blood, and he’s sure he’ll
die if he don’t get out of this big town. I can’t help him any longer
than to-night, I know. He don’t know the difference, ye know, between a
hundred dollar bill and a one dollar bill, an’ if I could only get some
money jest to show him and let him see that the parties meant fair, ye
see, he’d let the stuff go out of his sight. Then we could sell it or
raise the rest of the money on it, and inside o’ two months I could have
the rest o’ that pile here in St. Louis. I tell ye, it jest breaks me up
to think o’ losing this chance”—and his words were broken with a heavy

He wrung my hand warmly and we parted.

                  *       *       *       *       *

That sad face haunted me. My wife of course saw that something was
troubling my dreams and waking hours, and gave me no rest until I had
confided the whole melancholy story to her. With that wifely anxiety
respecting the family income and expenses characteristic of the worthy
ones of her sex, she exclaimed at once: “You are quite sure that this
sympathy didn’t reach your pocket-book?”

“No,” I said, “I am not out of pocket one cent, but if I had been rich,
I am pretty certain I should have invested in that face, even though
there are thin places in the story.”

Strange as it may seem, my word-photograph of that manly woodman’s
countenance did not move her sympathies a whit. A half-dozen times a day
she would inquire, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye: “Any news yet
from Kansas City?” I tried to show her that, on account of that subtle
influence which will always reveal its presence in the face, it is
impossible for a rogue to bear such a face as Davis owned. The very
spiritual laws of the universe were involved in the denial of such a
monstrous supposition. Her only reply was in the expression of a hope
that my pocket-book should not get entangled in any of these
psychological theories.

Four days passed, and still no news of the weary-hearted Davis. On the
fifth day I came into the house bearing a letter in my hand, and said:
“My love, I think I’ve got news of that gold brick.”

My friend the assayer had written to this effect:

“MY DEAR DOCTOR:—I wish you would call at the office some time to-
morrow, if you are down town. I have an interesting specimen to show

I went. On a shelf in the inner vault of the assay office laid that gold
brick. There was no mistaking that treasure. It lay like Cæsar in the
Capitol, its dozen wounds looking dumbly up and pleading to me for
recognition. Thirty pounds of solid coin-fine gold, a fraction of the
stately fortune of that mysterious half-breed who

              Came like truth and disappeared like dreams.

Only the day before a stranger had entered the assay office bearing a
gold button, the quality of which he wished determined. He said his
brother had taken stock in a mine and he wished from this specimen to
know the value of the product. It was as fine as a $20 gold piece. Very
probably it was part of a $20 gold piece.

Some hours later he came again, bearing the precious brick in his arms.
Wonderful to relate! He had seen the borings from this massive bit of
wealth tested and tried, and found to be pure gold, and some envious
fairy, with a magic wand that was able to neutralize the alchemist’s
potent secret, had changed it into a baser metal. He bore in his arms
but thirty pounds of solid brass. He also bore a letter to this effect:

“SIR:—You have been a —— fool to buy thirty pounds of brass. If you can
find another man who will be —— fool to give you $2,000 for this brass,
I will come and do the talking for you and take half the profits.

                                                   JOHN WILLIAMS.”

My dream was shattered. My Bret Harte hero, with his saintly face and
with the flavor of the forest about him, was a vulgar fraud! And yet he
was not all bad. Observe the delicate touch of thoughtful benevolence
with which he generously offered to come back and help his victim regain
a part of what he had lost! There must have been something essentially
noble about him to write like that!

Of course I saw what a clumsy trick it all was. The borings were made
from the lump of brass, but were simply changed after being wrapped in
the bit of newspaper. I have no doubt the gentleman who purchased the
brick sees it clearly enough also.

Since that time I have thought it was not a universal experience which
is expressed in Whittier’s celebrated lines:

              Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
              The saddest of all are “It might have been.”

[Illustration: THE “TRAILER” AND THE “SUCKER.”]


It is doubtful whether there is a man, woman or child in the United
States, who has been in the habit of reading the daily press, who has
not heard of “Bunko,” and does not have a vague sort of idea that it is
a gigantic scheme for swindling. Yet so hazy is the general information
of the public as to the details of its operation, that even those who
may have read the published accounts of the mode in which the thousands
of unfortunates have been victimized through this scheme, are liable
themselves to be defrauded in a precisely similar manner because of
their own ignorance. I believe that I speak within bounds when I say
that millions have been lost and won through this game. It is my
intention to so thoroughly expose the methods of its manipulators, that
hereafter those who may be fleeced through their operations can attach
the blame primarily only to themselves.

The essential requisites of a “Bunko” outfit are—9 small dice with a
dice-box, a “Bunko” chart, and—last, but by no means least—a skillful
and in every way competent “capper.” It is the peculiar province of the
latter to seek out victims and “steer” them to their ruin. The devices
resorted to in order to lure the unsophisticated into the den of “Bunko”
sharps are too numerous to admit of any detailed description. There is,
however, one fundamental principle underlying them all,—to gain the
confidence of the man whom it is proposed to rob, and then, by specious
representation, to draw him on, step by step, until the unprincipled
gang of scoundrels shall have bled him of the last cent which they can
obtain. Of all descriptions of gamblers, “Bunko” men are, if not the
most astute, certainly the most unscrupulous and the most pitiless. No
chicanery is too contemptible, no treachery too base for them to employ;
and not infrequently they consummate their schemes of fraud by the
perpetration of deeds of actual violence.

The prospective victim having been enticed into the “den of thieves,”
the _modus operandi_ by which he is fleeced will now be described as
briefly as a necessarily full explanation will permit. The first object
that meets his eye is a table upon which is spread an oil-cloth, on
which are painted forty-six squares, numbered from 9 to 54, inclusive.
The arrangement of the numbers is shown in the accompanying diagram,
which also shows the fortune which awaits the players. The game is
played by means of throwing the above mentioned dice. The nine little
ivory cubes are placed in a box and either the “sucker” or the “capper”
(who, as a pretended friend, always plays in concert with the dupe)
throws them upon the table. The spots on the top of all the dice are
added together, and the sum total is taken as the number which has been
thrown. Reference is now had to the chart, and the legend painted upon
the square containing the number thrown by the players is read off.

In order to follow the game through, the chart itself must now be
explained. If the reader will look at the diagram, he will see that some
of the squares contain, in addition to the numbers which are painted
upon all of them, figures representing certain sums of money, while
others are marked “0,” yet others “00,” while upon some of them is
depicted the abbreviation “rep.” He will also observe that some of the
squares contain figures representing sums of money which are inscribed
with the abbreviation “cond.” The letters “rep” stand for representing;
“cond” is the abbreviation for conditional. The mode of play may be best
explained by an illustration. If the player, for instance, throws 18,
(which number may be found in the upper left hand corner of the chart),
it will be seen that the square bears the abbreviation “rep.” This
indicates that the player may double (i. e., either pay for another
chance and throw again), or withdraw from the game, forfeiting the 50
cents or $1.00 (usually the latter sum) which he has already paid.
Suppose that he throw 15, which number may be found in the fourth square
from the left in the upper row of the chart, he wins $1.00. If he throws
54—the second number to the right in the fourth horizontal row of
squares—he wins $500. If he throws a number painted upon a square
inscribed with “0,” “00,” or the abbreviation “chic’y” (which is a
contraction for chancery), he neither wins nor loses, and the
proprietors magnanimously permit him to try his “luck” (God save the
mark) again.

But it is when he throws a number corresponding to that in a square
inscribed with a sum of money and the abbreviation “cond” (conditional)
that his bad fortune commences.

And just here it is proper to say, that as a matter of fact it makes
comparatively little difference what number he actually throws, inasmuch
as the man behind the cloth usually counts the spots on the dice to suit
himself. As a rule, the man who is fool enough to risk his money at such
a scheme is too great a fool to see that his number is correctly read.
But if he should insist upon examining the dice for himself, his pseudo-
partner, the “capper,” who sits at his elbow, is always at hand to
overturn one of the cubes, thereby defeating his last, laudable attempt
at self preservation.

                             “BUNKO” CHART.

     │         │  Cond.  │         │         │         │         │
     │  Rep.   │         │  Rep.   │  $1.00  │  Rep.   │ $500.00 │
     │         │ $500.00 │         │         │         │         │
     │   18    │         │   39    │   15    │   27    │   10    │
     │         │   25    │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │  Cond.  │
     │  Rep.   │  Rep.   │  Rep.   │ Ch’cy.  │  Rep.   │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │$5000.00 │
     │   32    │   46    │   30    │   42    │   36    │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │   23    │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ $20.00  │  $5.00  │  $1.00  │   0 0   │ $300.00 │    0    │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   12    │   50    │   14    │   20    │   51    │   45    │
     │         │         │         │  Cond.  │         │         │
     │ Ch’cy.  │ $500.00 │  Rep.   │         │$1000.00 │  Rep.   │
     │         │         │         │ $500.00 │         │         │
     │   37    │   54    │   19    │         │   53    │   16    │
     │         │         │         │   33    │         │         │
     │  Cond.  │         │         │         │         │  Cond.  │
     │         │  Rep.   │$1000.00 │  Rep.   │   0 0   │         │
     │ 100.00  │         │         │         │         │ $100.00 │
     │         │   24    │    9    │   43    │   49    │         │
     │   17    │         │         │         │         │   28    │
     │  Cond.  │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │  Bl’k.  │  Rep.   │ Ch’cy.  │  $5.00  │   0 0   │
     │ $500.00 │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │   29    │   35    │   26    │   13    │   34    │
     │   48    │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │  Cond.  │         │  Cond.  │
     │    0    │   0 0   │ $300.00 │         │  Rep.   │         │
     │         │         │         │ $100.00 │         │$1000.00 │
     │   22    │   41    │   11    │         │   21    │         │
     │         │         │         │   31    │         │   40    │
     │         │  Cond.  │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │ $500.00 │  Rep.   │  Rep.   │         │
     │         │ $500.00 │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │   52    │   38    │   47    │         │
     │         │   44    │         │         │         │         │

Before describing further the misfortunes of the victim, it will be well
to give a synopsis of the inscription upon the squares, and to point out
the exceedingly ingenious manner in which they are arranged.

The lowest number is nine, for the reason that nine dice are thrown, and
as none of the cubes contain a blank side nine aces is the smallest
throw that can be made. The diagram gives a fair idea of the arrangement
of the numbers on the average chart. The squares contain:

               1                              $5,000 prize.
               3                               1,000   ”
               7                                 500   ”
               2                                 300   ”
               3                                 100   ”
               1                                  20   ”
               2                                   5   ”
               2                                   1   ”
               4                             Double 0s.
               2                             Single 0s.
              15                             “Represents.”
               1                             “Blank.”
               3                             “Chancerys.”

Of the twenty-one prizes, eight are marked “conditional,” the
signification of which word in this connection will be presently
explained. Of the remaining thirteen, the majority are painted upon
squares containing numbers which it is a moral impossibility to throw.
Thus a $500 prize is inscribed over 54, a number which cannot be won by
the player unless all the nine dice thrown turn up sixes, which has
never been known to happen; a $1,000 prize is numbered 9, and cannot be
won unless all the dice turn up aces, which they never do; another
$1,000 prize requires a throw of 53 to win it, which would involve
casting eight sixes and one five, the probability of which is too remote
to be worth considering. It is, however, quite within the range of
possibility that a “sucker” may throw a number calling for one of the
smaller prizes, which serves to encourage him to persevere in his folly.

When a dupe, throwing in concert with a “capper,” has cast a number
calling for a “conditional” prize, the proprietor informs them that they
have each won the sum inscribed upon that square, but only
“conditionally,” the condition being that before payment they shall show
that they have that amount of cash. He exhibits his money to pay the
prize, and professes his willingness to pay it over as soon as he is
convinced that he has not been risking his money against “wind.” Of
course, this claim is preposterous. When the victim was induced to play,
he was invited to buy a chance in a prize distribution scheme, and not a
word was said to him about putting up any stakes or incurring any risk
whatever, other than the loss of his dollar.

However, this reflection does not present itself to the dupe, and under
the exhilarating and stimulating influence of the “capper,” to which is
added the apparent prospect of winning a large sum of money for nothing,
he leaves the room in order to obtain the necessary amount, with which
he and the “capper” invariably return. At the same moment, departs a
third confederate, technically known as a “trailer.” The business of the
latter individual is to follow the “sucker” and observe his every
movement. Of course he is expected to return to the “office” of the gang
before the victim and the confederate shall have arrived. No movement of
the dupe escapes him. If he goes to a bank, in order to draw money, the
“trailer” stands close at his heels, with a bill of some large
denomination in his hand, for which he is prepared to request change in
the most courteous manner. No action on the part of the greenhorn is
left unobserved, and when the latter returns to the room, in company
with the “capper,” the proprietor of the scheme has been thoroughly
informed as to every movement which he has made since his departure. As
soon as he shows the money, the man behind the cloth takes possession of
it, and informs the players that they are entitled to another throw. The
“capper” appears to be much excited under the influence of the
extraordinary good fortune which has fallen to their lot, and the victim
is easily induced again to take the box and throw the dice. If he
manifests any hesitation, however, the “capper,” (who, it must be
remembered, always acts as his partner), seizes the box and hurriedly
throws for both, before the “sucker” has time to remonstrate. Of course,
this time he loses. Even should the spots on the cubes as thrown, when
added together, amount to a total sum calling for a prize upon the
chart, either the operator will read the total erroneously, or the
“capper” will overturn one of the dice, thus changing the number
actually thrown. The proprietor at once announces that the two players
have lost the amount of money, which they brought with them and placed
in the banker’s hands. It is idle for the “sucker” to protest that he
was not laying a wager, and that this interpretation of the contract is
altogether wrong and unfair. The “bunko” sharpers have his money and
they intend to keep it, despite all remonstrances. If he offers to make
any disturbance, or manifests any disposition to recover his loss by
force, he is at once either knocked down or thrown out of the room, or
sometimes both together. When he succeeds in summoning the officers of
the law to his aid, and in company with the police revisits the room in
which he was fleeced, he finds that his tenants have departed, carrying
with them the paraphernalia of their trade.

A favorite device under such circumstances, after the greenhorn has
returned with his money and has been induced to throw again, is so to
read the number thrown by him as to call upon him to “represent,” which
is accomplished by calling off a number corresponding to one of the
squares upon the chart which is inscribed with the abbreviation “rep.”
In this case, he is told that he must double the amount placed in the
banker’s hands and throw once more, or lose his “stake.” If he is
particularly gullible, and the “capper” has succeeded in persuading him
to bring with him to the den a larger sum of money than that called for
by the proprietor, he will frequently consent to double his money and
try again. As long as he can be induced to keep this up, the sharpers
will continue to play with him. As soon as they discover either that he
has no more money or that he is unwilling to risk any additional sum, he
is informed that he has lost whatever money he may have already

From the circumstance of sending a dupe after more money, this game has,
of late years, been sometimes designated by members of the fraternity as

It sometimes happens, however, that the “sucker” when he returns with
this money, insists upon being paid the amount of the prize which he has
won and flatly refuses to put up any more money in the game. When the
sharpers perceive that they cannot induce him to play further the
proprietor takes his money, and makes an entry in a large book, with a
view to giving the transaction a business like appearance. He then
counts out a sum, smaller by some $200 than the amount of the prize, and
places this amount together with the victim’s money in an envelope and
seals it up. He counts the money in the presence of the dupe and informs
him that he has not got the full amount at hand in currency, but that
his agent will call upon him in the morning and pay him the balance.
Meanwhile, he is at liberty to take with him the envelope, containing
his own money and that portion of the prize which the bank is able to
pay at the moment. The banker further states that in order that the
agent shall pay the money it is essential that the seals of the envelope
should not be broken, adding that if they are, no further money will be
paid. To this the victim assents, and he is at once handed an envelope,
identical in size and appearance with that in which he saw the money
placed, and sealed in a precisely similar manner. As a matter of fact,
however, the proprietor has substituted for the envelope containing the
money one so closely resembling it in appearance that the difference
cannot be discovered, but which, instead of currency, contains nothing
more valuable than blank paper.

The manner in which the substitution is effected before the very eyes of
the “sucker” without his knowledge is as follows: The operator opens the
ledger and places between two of the leaves the envelope containing the
bank bills. He then presses down upon the cover of the ledger,
apparently with a view of sealing the package more tightly. When he
opens the ledger, he opens it at another page and takes out the
previously prepared envelope. He then marks a cross in pencil over the
seal and asks the dupe to write his name across the flap, in order that
there may be no possible mischance in the identification of the package
when the agent shall call in the morning.

In the description of this game which has been given above, reference
has been made only to the casting of dice as a means of determining the
number made by any player. Sometimes, however, when an attempt is made
to operate the game in resorts of a “higher tone,” cards inscribed with
numbers and abbreviations corresponding to those shown in the diagram
are used. The number of cards is, of course, the same as the number of
squares on the cloth—46. When cards are employed they are dealt from a
box similar to that employed in dealing faro, for a description of which
the reader is referred to the chapter on “Faro.”

In 1882, Floyd Creek, Pete Lelin, and George Curtis, while traveling in
disguise as fugitives from justice—their crime having been the fleecing
of one Wilson, at Eureka Springs in 1881, his disastrous losses causing
instant death—received a “pointer” from a school teacher concerning a
man who had deposited a large sum of money in the bank, and who was
supposed to be a “soft mark.” They watched him carefully and eventually
succeeded in selling him bricks to the value (?) of $22,000. They
received this large sum in gold, and at once took boat for Pensacola.
They did not gain anything by their outrageous swindle. While they
escaped the justice of man, the vengeance of God overtook them speedily,
for their boat sunk and all were drowned, their ill-gotten gains going
to the bottom with them.

[Illustration: THE FICTITIOUS “ROLL.”]

                              CHAPTER IX.
                           CONFIDENCE GAMES.

The devices of confidence operators for fleecing their victims are more
numerous and ingenious than the minds of unsophisticated, honest men can
readily conceive. These gentry know neither honor, pity nor remorse.
Among their ranks, however, may be found men of brilliant intellect and
high education, who, had they devoted to some honest pursuit the time
and thought which they have expended upon the conception and execution
of schemes of fraud, might have acquired a comfortable competence and
occupied an enviable position in the professional or commercial world.
Their moral nature, however, has become so warped, that fraud has become
instinctive with them and the very name of virtue a by-word and a

At the same time, it is but right to say that their success, in the vast
majority of cases, would be impossible were it not for the fact that
they appeal not only to the cupidity of their dupes, but also to a
latent element of dishonesty which requires only temptation and
opportunity to call it into active exercise. The reader who will
carefully scan the pages which follow cannot fail to perceive that the
“suckers”—as the confidence men denominate their victims—are, at heart,
no more honest than are the sharpers themselves. The trap is spread for
them and baited with the prospect of winning “something” for “nothing,”
and of deriving advantage through a resort to deception and trickery. If
the dupe did not believe that he is about to defraud some one else, he
would never become a victim of scoundrels more astute, but little more
dishonest than himself. The man who, when a scheme of fraud is proposed
to him, indignantly repudiates the implied suspicion that he is willing
to sacrifice his honor and integrity for money is not likely to become
the dupe of scoundrels who resort to such practices as are explained in
this chapter. It has always seemed to me that there is a great waste of
sympathy upon men thus victimized. While too much cannot be said in
condemnation of men who make a living through systematic fraud, what is
to be said of those who are eager to avail themselves of dishonest
devices which they themselves have not been sufficiently cunning to
invent, but which commend themselves at once to their avarice and lax

                           THREE CARD MONTE.

This is an ancient device of sharpers, with the _modus operandi_ of
which a majority of persons have some acquaintance. It is commonly
resorted to by all gamblers and confidence men, who find their most
successful field of operation upon railway trains; although fairs,
circus grounds, and even camp meetings afford them opportunities of
plying their vocation. The game is played with three cards, which are
held by the operator, who is known in gamblers’ slang as the “spieler,”
in his right hand, between the thumb and first two fingers, the backs
towards the palm, and the cards themselves slightly bending inward. To
work the trick successfully, some sleight of hand is necessary, to
acquire which considerable practice is necessary. The cards are thrown
by the “spieler” upon some flat surface, faces downward. Before throwing
them, he shows the bystanders the cards which he holds in his hand, and
after they have been thrown he invites bets as to the location of some
particular card.

To illustrate: he may hold in his hand two aces and a queen; these he
shows; he then places them in his right hand, in the position above
described, and throws them upon the flat surface, faces downward; he
then asks some one to bet which is the queen. The queen may have been
the middle of the three cards as they were held in his hand, but it by
no means follows that it will be the middle of the three cards as they
lie upon the table.

To work the game successfully, at least one and generally two
confederates are necessary. It has already been said that the favorite
place of operation is the railroad train, and perhaps the reader will
gain the best idea of how the trick is done by describing the manner in
which these sharpers secure and fleece their victims under these
circumstances. The “spieler” is usually attired after the manner of a
well-to-do country farmer or stock-raiser. On his head he wears a
battered slouch hat, his neck is ornamented with a loosely tied red
cotton handkerchief; and his worn trousers are stuffed carelessly into
the legs of his cow skin boots. His confederates, who are technically
called “cappers,” are dressed after the manner of respectable business
men of easy circumstances. It should be remarked, however, that when the
precious trio board the train the “spieler” presents a far more
fashionable appearance than when dressed for business. He usually
carries with him a false shirt bosom, an old overcoat and the slouch hat
mentioned above. After he has entered the cars he takes his seat in the
rear end of the coach, and the two “cappers” pass through the car
looking for some one who promises to be an easy prey, and who is
commonly known to the fraternity as a “mark” or a “sucker.” If none is
found upon the first car entered, the gang repairs to the next one, the
“spieler” taking up his position in the rear as before. As soon as a
“mark” is selected, one of the “cappers” takes his seat beside him and
raises his hat. At this signal the “spieler” arranges his cotton
handkerchief, puts on his disreputable hat, dons his well worn overcoat,
and tucks his trousers in his boot legs. The effecting of this
transformation scene is known among gamblers as “ringing up.”

The “spieler” goes forward and takes the seat either just before or
directly behind his confederate and intended victim. He engages the
former in conversation, representing himself as a heavy stock-raiser
from the Southwest. He goes on to explain how he has been swindled or
“slicked” out of $500 by a “card sharp.” He adds, however, that they
failed to get all that he had, and thereupon displays or “flashes” a
large roll of money, and slapping his hand upon his side, remarks in a
loud tone, that he has $10,000 more in his belt. At this point the
confederate, with the air of a man of kindly disposition and one who is
familiar with the wickedness of the world, remarks to him that he
perceives that he (the “spieler”) has traveled very little, and advises
him to avoid displaying money in the presence of strangers. The
“spieler” laughs, and says that “he reckons he is able to look after
himself.” He adds that he bought the “paste boards” with which he had
been cheated from the man who had swindled him, and that he intends to
take them home and get his money back by betting with his friends,
mentioning, perhaps, by way of illustration, that he means to “win Bill
Jones’s mule, and make him walk home the very next night that he comes
to see his sister.” His accomplice thereupon asks to see the cards, and
they are promptly produced. The “spieler” begins to exhibit his skill
and urges the partner to bet. The latter says that he can distinguish
the cards readily enough, but does not wish to win the man’s money.
After much urging, the “capper” consents to bet and usually wins two
wagers as a matter of course. The “spieler” thereupon remarks that he
does not care to bet with him any longer, as he is too lucky, and asks
the stranger to make a bet. If the latter shows any hesitation, or if,
perchance, he expresses some scruples on moral grounds, the “capper”
whispers to him that he has a dead certainty of winning and that he had
better bet and win, and “teach the fool a lesson,” after which he can
return the amount won if he chooses. The “spieler” next throws the
cards, and while he turns his head the confederate raises the card and
shows the stranger which it is, slightly bending the corner in order
that it may be readily recognized.

The victim is now satisfied that he can bet with certainty, and when the
“spieler” again picks up the cards to throw them he stakes his wager.
The operator, however, with his little finger dexterously flattens out
the corner which his accomplice had bent up and bends up the corner of
an entirely different card. When the cards are next thrown, the victim
selects the one with the bent corner, and is deeply chagrined to
discover that it is not the one which he believed it to be.

Sometimes, instead of bending the corner of one of the cards, resort is
had to another and equally effective device. While the three cards are
lying faces downward, the confederate, with a pencil, makes a mark upon
the corner of the winning card. When the “spieler” again turns his head
toward the cards, he picks them up and thrusts them into his pocket with
the remark, “oh, you fellows wont bet anyway.” In his pocket he has
three other cards, duplicates in all respects of those which he has
before shown, and on the corner of one of which is a pencil mark
precisely similar to the one made by the “capper,” but it is not on the
winning card. As he is about to leave, his confederate urges him to
remain, saying, “yes we will bet, come back.” The stranger thinks that
he recognizes the pencil mark, stakes his money, selects the marked
card, finds it is not the winner, and of course loses.

The principal object in having a second confederate is to keep off
disinterested persons who might endeavor to put the proposed victim on
his guard.

Formerly, monte men refused to play for anything except cash; now-a-
days, they are willing to accept bank checks, and the third man is found
extremely serviceable as an innocent purchaser. If the “sucker” raises a
row, and threatens to stop payment of the check, it is a common practice
to produce a piece of paper, perhaps a blank check, folded, which is
torn up in the victim’s presence. The latter, believing that he has seen
his check destroyed, takes no further steps in the matter. It sometimes
happens, however, that a victim will say nothing, but at the same time
secretly intends to stop the payment of the check. To guard against
this, the third man appears upon the scene and with a great show of
righteous indignation, or possibly representing himself to be an officer
of the law, demands that the “spieler” return the check to the victim.
Hot words then pass, and the latter says that if there is going to be
such an everlasting fuss made about so small a matter he will tear up
the check and have done with it. Thereupon, he produces his paper, which
he tears up, as already described, throwing the pieces out of the car
window. Of course in either case, the check remains safe in the
sharpers’ possession. The second confederate, by his apparently
magnanimous and disinterested interference in the victim’s behalf,
naturally wins his confidence. He thereupon makes it his business to
remain with him until the “spieler” and his remaining accomplice shall
have had time to present the check for certification at the bank upon
which it was drawn.

It is said, and universally believed by the sporting fraternity, whose
belief is based upon actual experience, that the conductor of the train
upon which a game such as has been described is successfully practiced
always expects and receives a percentage of the winnings. If the trick
is perpetrated on a sleeping car, the porter is always given a handsome
bonus. The author has himself been told by one of the latter sort of
gentry that his fees from this source considerably exceeded his pay from
the sleeping car company.

Probably, the king of the monte men was a man known in sporting circles
as “Canada Bill.” He was recognized as a general “all around confidence
operator,” and so distrustful were those who knew him of appearances
which he put forth that on the occasion of his funeral, as the coffin
was being lowered into the grave, one of his friends offered to bet
$1,000 to $500 that “Bill was not in the box.” The offer found no
takers, for the reason, as one of his acquaintances said, “that he had
known Bill to squeeze through tighter holes than that.” It was reported
some years before his death that he had offered one of the Trunk Lines
of Railroad a premium of $25,000 per annum to be allowed to practice
confidence games upon its trains without molestation; a condition of the
offer being that he would not attempt to victimize any class of
passengers except preachers.

One of the most successful schemes for perpetrating this fraud is known
as the “send,” so-called because in some of its essential features it is
closely allied to the game of “bunko.” In both cases the victim is sent
after more money, in order that the harvest of the rascally manipulators
may be increased. One of the favorite modes of winning the confidence
and money of an intended dupe is as follows: The victim having been
selected,—usually a farmer of some wealth,—two of the sharpers drive up
to his residence in a buggy, ostensibly with a view to purchasing his
farm. They are always well dressed and present the appearance of men of
large means. To gain the confidence of the unsuspecting agriculturalist
is a comparatively easy matter. He shows them over his place, they
express their entire satisfaction, and offer him a sum in cash which is
not only far beyond his expectations but also considerably in excess of
the actual value of the property. To complete a bargain under such
circumstances is an easy matter. The trade is made, and the sharpers
invite the farmer to accompany them to the nearest town, where they
propose to draw from the bank the cash necessary to complete the
transaction. On the way to town, they encounter another man, also riding
in a buggy, who engages them in conversation. The stranger represents
himself to be the agent of a new scheme of gift distribution, and at
once enlists the interest of the “capper,” who is riding with the
farmer. The party alight from their buggies and the new-comer introduces
the old game of “three card monte.” He invites them, at first, to “try
their luck for fun,” and by showing them what large sums they might have
won had they been playing for actual stakes, he soon induces them to
take a venture. In working this scheme, however, playing cards are
seldom used, for the reason that the average country farmer always
cherishes a suspicion of the paste boards. Accordingly, some other
description of cards is employed.

It is usually found to be an easy matter to interest the countryman, who
sees the “capper” apparently “playing in great luck.” He is soon induced
to risk a small amount, and the operator tells him that he and “his
friend” have each won a large sum—perhaps $1,000 or $5,000. The sharper
has now resorted to the devices of the “bunko banker,” and informs his
victim that it will be necessary for him to show the amount of money
which he has won in order to prove that he would have been actually able
to pay the stake had he lost. The countryman, thoroughly convinced that
he is on the eve of winning a large sum, expresses his willingness to go
to town and raise the money. Of course, the “agent” of the gift
distribution scheme, obligingly offers to await his return. The farmer
goes to town, obtains the money, and comes back, like the moth to the

When he returns, the same trickery is resorted to as in the operation of
the game of “bunko,” for a full explanation of which the reader is
referred to that heading. Of course he loses all that he can be
persuaded to venture, and inasmuch as the only two vehicles on the
ground are in the possession of the two sharpers, while the victim is,
perforce, compelled to go afoot, it is a very easy matter for the former
to place such a distance between themselves and the “sucker,” that by
the time the latter has reached some point where he may summon
assistance, the precious pair are far advanced upon their road to

                             BOGUS CHECKS.

The use of fraudulent checks as a means of winning money from the unwary
is a device of confidence men which, although venerable in its
antiquity, is still practiced to a very considerable extent in all parts
of the country. Notwithstanding the fact that it has been repeatedly
exposed, there are probably hundreds of men in the United States who
derive a comfortable income every year through following it up.

The method of operation may be very briefly described. To perpetrate it
successfully sharpers ordinarily act in concert. A favorite field of
operation is found in depots and railroad trains, although hotels and
even public thoroughfares are not despised. The first thing to be done
is to learn the name of the proposed victim, after he has been selected.
This selection is usually easily made, the experienced confidence man
having little difficulty in choosing a man whose appearance indicates
that he is not only in good financial circumstances, but also of a
nature which renders him peculiarly liable to be defrauded by this sort
of trick. His name is usually learned by accosting him by some name
which the sharper knows to be incorrect. Naturally, the stranger
corrects him by stating who he is and where he resides. This much
learned, reference is had to a bank directory of the United States (a
copy of which these men always carry with them), and the name of the
banks and bankers and prominent business men at his place of residence,
ascertained. Having thus posted himself, the swindler informs the
“sucker” that he hails from the same locality and is well acquainted
with Mr. So-and-So, naming some prominent citizen of the town or city in
which the victim resides. If the game is to be played at a depot, the
sharper enters the train with the dupe and takes a seat near him. He has
previously been at great pains to make himself as entertaining and
confidential as possible. All at once, sharper number two appears upon
the scene and presents a bill to his confederate, saying that he has
made it out in compliance with his request and upon his promise that it
should be paid. The swindler expresses himself as entirely satisfied
with the account, but says that he has not sufficient currency to make a
full payment. He thereupon produces a check for a considerably larger
sum, which he asks his confederate to cash, discharge the debt, and
return him the balance in money. This, of course, the second sharper
says that he cannot do. Sharper number one now turns to the “sucker,”
and asks him if he will be kind enough to loan him the amount of his
confederate’s pretended claim, taking the check as security. In seven
cases out of ten, the swindlers have so carefully selected their victim
and so artfully won his confidence, that the dupe readily consents to
make the loan desired. If, however, he has not the full amount of money
with him, his new acquaintance is quite ready to accept what he has,
with which he makes a payment on “account” to his friend. The “sucker”
takes the check and puts it away in his pocket-book as security. The two
confederates then walk down the aisle of the car, chatting pleasantly
and exchanging words of farewell. When they reach the platform they both
jump off the car and the victim sees neither of them again. When he
attempts to realize upon his supposed “security,” he finds that the
draft is not worth the paper on which it was written.

Among sharpers this trick is commonly known as the “con game,” or “check

Sometimes an appeal is made to the sympathy of the proposed victim. At
the city of Louisville, Kentucky, one of these gentry appealed to a
stranger to cash a check for him on the score that he was entirely
unacquainted in the city and was carrying home the body of his deceased
brother for burial. He led his dupe to the baggage car and showed him a
box containing a coffin. It is needless to say that the corpse contained
therein was that of a person entirely unknown to him. Producing a draft
for $1,700, he so artfully worked upon the sympathy of the man to whom
he had appealed, that the latter handed him the sum of $520—all that he
had with him—and took the worthless paper as security, the sharper
representing that he was journeying to the same point of destination as
was the dupe, and that on their arrival there he would experience no
difficulty in obtaining currency for the draft. On the same day the same
individual victimized another stranger out of $225 by the same device,
pointing out the identical corpse which he had shown to his first
victim. Of course this particular form of this phase of swindling cannot
be perpetrated successfully unless the swindlers are, by chance, favored
by finding a coffin on some departing train.

                              OVER ISSUE.

This is a comparatively modern variation of the old “saw-dust” swindling
scheme. It is frequently found to be very easy to work, and the returns
are sometimes large. Usually two sharpers act in concert, although
sometimes one plays the game alone.

The victim selected is usually a man greedy for gain, rather “tight-
fisted,” and one who is supposed not to be over scrupulous. Considerable
care is exercised in selecting the person on whom it is to be played. He
is approached by one of the confidence men, who informs him that he has
on hand a large money-making scheme, the probable profit of which will
run up to at least $100,000. The sharper displays plenty of money and
soon succeeds in convincing the prospective dupe that he is a man of
large wealth. The interest of the victim having been awakened, it not
infrequently happens that he invites the confidence operator to be a
guest at his house. Should this occur, the invitation is invariably
declined, the swindler saying that he is paying some $4 or $5 per day
for his board, but that that outlay is entirely immaterial to him,
inasmuch as he has an abundance of cash. After several business
conversations have taken place between the two, and the cupidity of the
victim has been thoroughly aroused, the sharper hands him a bill of some
large denomination, with a request that he go and purchase some cigars.
When he returns with the change, the operator asks him if the bill was
good. Receiving an affirmative reply, he nods his head sagely, and says,
“I thought so.” His next move is to take from his pocket a large roll of
bills, from which he desires the dupe to select one, which he is to take
to the bank in order to get change. On his return, the confidence man,
after pledging him to inviolable secrecy, informs him that he will make
his fortune in a year. He tells him that he has an uncle in the treasury
department at Washington that at the time of the last printing of
treasury notes, there was surreptitiously secured an over-issue of
$5,000,000; that he (the sharper) is the agent for his uncle for the
disposition of $1,000,000 of the sum. He adds that he cannot allow any
single purchaser to take more than $10,000 or less than $3,000, but that
within these limits he will dispose of these bills, printed from genuine
plates and on government fibre paper, at the rate of 50 cents on the

The greenhorn thus sees the way clear to a speedy, even if dishonestly
acquired fortune. When he has bitten at the bait and expresses himself
ready to go on with the transaction, the confidence man takes him to
another town, where the money is to be paid over to him. A common device
then is to go to some hotel, where the money is counted out in the
presence of the sucker and placed in an express envelope, which is
securely sealed. The package is addressed to the victim at the town in
which he resides, and the pair leave for the express office. Of course,
the package which is delivered to the express company is not the one
which the dupe saw sealed up. Another one, precisely similar in size and
appearance, has been substituted without his knowledge. The dupe pays
over his money and the sharper disappears from the scene of action.

When the victim reaches home and obtains his package from the local
agent of the company, he finds upon opening it that it is filled with
blank paper.

I have never known but one instance in which a man thus duped undertook
to make any fuss. Usually, the sharper sends his dupe a letter, calling
his attention to the fact that to attempt to stir up any difficulty will
be simply to expose his own stupidity and dishonesty. This view of the
matter is so eminently logical that the victim submits to his loss
without a murmer.

                          DROPPING THE PIGEON.

This device of confidence operators is sometimes known as the “pocket
book game.”

One of the ways in which the trick is played may be thus described. A
piece of pasteboard, cut in the form of a Greek cross, is folded over in
such a way that the arms shall cross at the centre. A slit is neatly cut
in the middle square and a small silver coin, perhaps a three or five
cent piece, placed therein. Another coin of the same denomination is
placed on the square itself, underneath the folded arms. The whole is
then tied up with a piece of blue ribbon. When a “mark” has been
selected, one of the two confederates who are to operate the game drops
it on the road or on the sidewalk, as the case may be. The second
confederate, who has managed to scrape an acquaintance with the proposed
victim, comes along, walking in his company. His eye at once rests upon
the peculiar looking package, which he stoops and raises from the
ground. Opening it, the sharper and the dupe examine it together. The
former calls the attention of the latter to the exposed silver coin.
Raising his eyes, he sees his confederate approaching and looking at the
ground as if for something he had lost. He directs the eyes of the
“sucker” toward him and remarks that they will now “have a little fun.”
Taking the coin, he hands it to the dupe, telling him to put it in his
pocket. As soon as his confederate comes near enough, sharper number one
asks him if he has lost anything. The accomplice replies in the
affirmative, saying that it was a keepsake from his mother, which he
valued highly. He describes the package, and says that it contained a
coin of a certain denomination. The first confidence man thereupon
produces the package, but tells him there is no coin inside of it. The
pretended owner professes great surprise, and offers to bet any sum that
a coin of the denomination named is within the bundle. The “sucker,”
thinking that he sees an opportunity to make some money without
incurring any risk, accepts the wager. The money having been put in the
hands of the first confidence man, the confederate opens the package,
raises the concealed slip in the pasteboard, and reveals the hidden
coin. Of course he is at once declared to have won the bet.

Sometimes, instead of a piece of pasteboard prepared as described, a
pocket-book with a secret compartment is employed.

Another form of the “pocket-book game” is to drop a wallet containing a
considerable sum in counterfeit money. This is found by the confidence
man and the “sucker.” The former, having picked it up, exhibits its
contents to the dupe, whose cupidity is at once aroused. His companion
offers to allow him to take the pocket-book and advertise for a reward,
provided that he (the “sucker”) will give him $25. The greenhorn thinks
that this is a very easy way of making money, and having no intention of
advertising the finding of the wallet and being chiefly anxious to get
rid of the only witness of his intended fraud, readily assents. If he
offers to pay the $25 from the bills in the pocket-book, the confidence
man refuses to accept them, alleging as a reason that the man who lost
the money may possibly have made a memorandum of the numbers of the
bills or have some other means of identifying them.

In such cases as these, the victim rarely makes complaint, for the
reason that to do so would be to expose his own avarice, greenness, and

                            THE TOBACCO BOX.

This scheme of fraud is sometimes successfully worked; although to
operate it, it is necessary to secure a peculiarly gullible victim. Two
confederates act in unison.

After a dupe has been selected, sharper number one approaches him and
engages him in conversation. He soon produces a wooden tobacco box, the
cover of which swings upon a pivot placed at one end. This he opens and
takes out a chew, at the same time offering the box to the “sucker.” He
then asks the latter if he does not admire his box, which he says was a
present to him from a friend. He then closes the cover and hands it to
the dupe for examination. Inside the box, is a slender wire, which, when
the box is inverted, falls upon a groove in the top and effectually
prevents its being opened. The greenhorn attempts to slide the cover
around, but finds it impossible. The sharper laughs, and tells him that
there is a little trick about the box by means of which he has won
money, drinks and cigars. He then takes it in his hand, secretly unlocks
it, and holding it out toward the dupe, presses on the end and tells him
to try again to open it. Of course, the box being unlocked, the slide
swings easily. The victim believes that the secret of opening lies in
pressing on the end, and is confirmed in this belief by making repeated
trials. At this juncture, upon receiving a preconcerted signal, the
confederate approaches and asks for a chew of tobacco. The first
confidence man hands the box to his partner, who professes to be unable
to open it. “Why,” exclaims sharper number one, “this gentleman can open
it easily enough.” The confederate offers to bet that he cannot. The
money is produced and the stakes placed in the dupe’s hands. The latter
is given the box, and, it being unlocked, opens it without difficulty.
The money is then handed to the owner, and the second sharper remarks
that if the gentleman can open it he can. The box is then locked by its
owner, before he hands it over to his confederate. The latter makes an
attempt to swing the lid, and pretending that he is unable to turn it
(although he well knows the secret of its mechanism), offers to bet
$100, or any sum which it is thought that the dupe may be induced to
wager, that the stranger cannot open it either. The “sucker,” feeling
confident that he has “a sure thing,” accepts the bet, stakes his money,
placing it in the hands of sharper number one, and is given the box,
which has been securely locked. When he attempts to turn the cover by
pressing on the end as before, he finds it absolutely impossible to move
it. Of course, the second confidence man claims the stakes, which are
promptly paid him by his confederate.


This device for swindling is similar, as regards the method of its
operation, to the game of the “tobacco box.”

The fraud is perpetrated in substantially the same way, and the trick
consists of the use of a secret mechanism in each which so effectually
prevents the opening of either of them that the dupe is put at the mercy
of the sharpers.

One of the modes of fleecing a “sucker” by this means (and the same
method is sometimes employed with the “tobacco box”) is to instruct him
in the mode of opening the device in question under any and all
circumstances. After he has thoroughly learned the whole secret of the
contrivance, a confederate opportunely happens along, and after some
conversation, in the course of which the particular device is produced
and discussed, offers to bet that he can open it, at the first trial.
The greenhorn accepts the wager and puts up his money. The second
sharper, who has been posing as an entirely unsophisticated individual,
takes the contrivance in his hands and, knowing the secret through which
it may be worked, opens it without any difficulty, whereupon he claims
and receives the stakes.

                         “PADLOCK” AND “SAFE.”

In some of its features these devices resemble the “tobacco box” and
“knife.” The mode of working the cheat, however is somewhat different.
Both the “padlock” and “safe” open with a lock, the operation of which
is explained to the proposed dupe. After the latter believes that he
thoroughly understands the entire scheme, and is willing to lend himself
to the perpetration of a fraud upon someone else, a confederate
conveniently appears. A bet is soon arranged between the sharper and the
“sucker,” and the money placed in the hands of the man who has produced
the device and explained its construction to the victim. The greenhorn,
after putting up his money, proceeds to demonstrate how easily he can
open the lock. The fraud consists in the substitution (or ringing in, as
gamblers term it), to a different lock or safe, which is handed to the
dupe instead of the one first shown him, and which he finds himself
utterly unable to open for the exceedingly satisfactory reason that
although the keyhole is there, the contrivance contains no lock
whatever. Having failed to perform what he undertook to do, he is
promptly declared to have lost his wager, and the stakes are handed over
to the confidence man who has laid the wager against him.

I was once engaged in fleecing the unwary by means of one of these
padlocks at Little Rock, Arkansas. Another gambler was using the same
trick at the same place. He had in tow, as an intended victim, a
“manufactured sucker,” a man I had previously instructed in the trick,
and to whom I had given a padlock precisely similar to the one which was
being used by the other confidence man. At the proper moment, the
supposed “sucker” substituted the latter for the one handed him by the
other sharper. As a matter of course, when he undertook to unlock the
one which I had given him, he was able to do so without any difficulty.
My rival in business was undoubtedly immensely surprised, but paid the
greenhorn the amount of his winnings without question. I do not pretend
to say that I was actuated on this occasion by any philanthropic
motives. My act was influenced only by a desire to get the better of a
man who prided himself on being so astute at working confidence games
that no one could impose upon him.

                         “QUARTER UNDER FOOT.”

This swindling trick can rarely be played except for small sums. It is
usually practiced at saloons, and requires the co-operation of a
confederate. One of them first enters the resort, and, after patronizing
the bar, stands around after the manner of ordinary customers. At the
proper moment, the accomplice enters, feigning drunkenness. He accosts
his confederate—the one who first entered the drinking place—and offers
to throw dice with him to see which of the two shall pay for the liquid
refreshments for all present. Some conversation ensues, in the course of
which the second sharper, after drawing some money from his pocket,
contrives to drop a quarter on the floor. Assuming an air of drunken
braggadocio, he offers to bet that no one in the room can take the
quarter from under his foot, which he places directly upon the coin.
Sharper number one begins to “chaff” him, and the apparently intoxicated
individual, staggering to and fro, moves his foot off of the coin. As he
momentarily turns his head, the confederate lifts the money from the
floor and places it in his own pocket. When his accomplice again turns
around, he tells him that he is exceedingly drunk, but that he will bet
them there is no quarter under his foot at all. The “sucker” meanwhile
stands by, an interested spectator, and an appeal to his greed for money
usually induces him to make a bet with the man whom he believes to be
drunk, on an issue which he considers to be a certainty in his favor.
The money having been placed, the second sharper at once drops the
appearance of intoxication, and drawing off his boot shows a quarter
between his stocking and the inner sole. The terms of the wager having
been that there was no coin “under his foot,” he has technically won,
and the stakes—which are always held by the confederate—are handed over
to him and the pair of scoundrels leave the premises at the earliest
convenient moment.

                            THE “SHOT GUN.”

This is a trick which can be played only upon individuals who are pretty
nearly destitute of all sense. All that is necessary for its
accomplishment, after such a “mark” has been found, is the co-operation
of two confederates and a single barrel shot-gun. Inside the latter are
placed two separate charges of shot, so arranged that one may be drawn
from the gun without disturbing the load underneath. One of the two
confidence men contrives to form the acquaintance of the proposed dupe,
and after pointing out to him his confederate suggests that they
withdraw the charge from the weapon and then offer to bet the individual
whom he has pointed out that he (the confederate) cannot hit the
victim’s hat at the first fire. The countryman usually falls in with the
suggestion and the wager is soon arranged, the upper charge having been
withdrawn by the confidence man in the presence of his dupe. The latter
hangs up his hat and the confederate takes the gun. Of course, the under
charge still remaining in the barrel, the hat is riddled with shot at
the first fire and the “sucker” discovers that he has been gulled when
it is too late for him to recover his money.

This is not always a safe game to attempt. I myself once came near being
lynched by a crowd who were excited by the vociferous remonstrances of
my dupe. I compromised the affair by returning him his money and buying
him a new hat, after which I was only too happy to depart from the
locality with a whole skin.


This is a confidence game, the origin of the name of which may be
readily understood by any one who will take the trouble to read the
following explanation of the way in which the trick is operated. It is
always worked by a man driving a horse and buggy, who ordinarily selects
a street corner, where two crowded thoroughfares cross, and who depends
for success upon the co-operation of “cappers,” or confederates. The
operator represents himself as the agent of some fictitious jewelry
manufacturing concern—perhaps the “Milton” Gold Co. He informs his
auditors that it is his intention to present each and all of them with a
gift, his object being to introduce to public notice the wares of the
company whose agent he is. He requests those who wish to receive
presents to take their stand, in line, near the buggy, and not leave the
spot until the gifts shall have been distributed. His first move is to
scatter a handful of small coin—nickles or dimes—among the crowd, which
are, of course, eagerly gathered up and the attention of the spectators
is riveted upon a man who appears to be crazy. He then asks if there is
any one in the crowd who will give him ninety cents for a dollar. Of
course, a confederate promptly offers him that sum, and he thereupon at
once proposes to sell it to any one who will pay him seventy-five cents;
the seventy-five cents he offers to sell for a half a dollar; the fifty
cents for a quarter, and so on. He next produces a quantity of collar-
buttons, which he says are made of “Milton” gold, and worth a dollar
each, but which he is willing to dispose of at twenty-five cents apiece,
in order to introduce his wares. He also wishes customers to remain in
line and hold up their hands with the collar-button exposed, in order
that they may receive the twenty-five cents which he intends to give
each and all of them. When he has a line of sufficient length before
him, he hands to each one, in rotation, as he exhibits his purchase, a
silver quarter, to which he not infrequently adds a dime, with the
request that they will spend the latter sum in drinking his health.

He next produces jewelry to which he attaches a higher value, such as
chains, rings or lockets. His next move is to offer for sale watches at,
say, $15, $20, or $25 each. By this time he has aroused the enthusiasm
of the crowd to a high pitch. They are wondering what is going to be his
next move, and it is by no means difficult to find buyers for all the
watches which the confidence man dares to offer. Each purchaser is
informed that he will receive a liberal rebate, and the money pours in
upon the man in the buggy in a continuous stream. As soon as he has
obtained all that he thinks possible to be gathered in from the crowd
before him, he puts the money in his pocket, whips up his horse, and
drives away, leaving the bewildered spectators to mourn the credulity
which induced them to part with their ready cash.

Sometimes the playing of this game is attended with more or less
personal risk, and I have myself known operators of this description
narrowly to escape lynching.

                             “FIVE CARDS.”

This is a device of confidence men, which is often successfully worked,
but never for large stakes. Two confederates are necessary to its
successful operation. Five business cards, the character of which is
immaterial, are taken by one of the sharpers, who exhibits them to his
intended victim. The swindler informs his dupe that it is his intention
to “beat” a man whom he points out for the drinks or cigars. The
individual designated is, of course, a confederate of the sharper. The
latter shows the “sucker” the five cards—which always bear different
inscriptions—and making a mark with a pencil on one of them, tells him
that the trick consists in inducing the supposed greenhorn to bet with
the “sucker” that the latter cannot select a certain card, naming the
marked one, from the five cards when shuffled and exposed, backs upward.
The dupe assents to the proposal, and the “capper,” after making this
trifling bet, draws the wrong card, whereupon he liquidates the bills
for refreshments for the crowd. The confederate then offers to wager a
sum of money that the “sucker” cannot again pick out the card in
question. The dupe, not perceiving the snare set for him, accepts the
proffered wager, and the cards are again shuffled. This time, however,
his pretended friend reverses the ends of the cards, exposing a mark
precisely similar to the one which the victim has seen before, but
placed upon another card. The poor fool, influenced by a desire to
obtain an unfair advantage over a man whom he regards as an easy prey,
eagerly points out the card which bears the private mark similar to that
shown him before. Of course he loses, and the stakes are handed over to
the confederate of the original swindler.

I have said that this trick is usually played only for small stakes, but
I have myself won $125 thereby from a single victim at one venture.

                             “SHELL GAME.”

In some of its salient features this game resembles “three card monte,”
which has been already described. It is essentially a confidence game,
and although very old and already frequently exposed, scores of
confidence men annually reap a rich harvest from the credulity and
cupidity of dupes.

[Illustration: shell game]

The only implements necessary are three hollow shells and a small rubber
ball, about the size of a buckshot. Halves of English walnut shells are
the ones commonly employed, although any hollow hemispheres will answer;
sometimes operators use halves of potatoes scooped out. The simplicity
of the apparatus enables the “shell” man to carry his outfit with him in
his vest pocket wherever he may go, and he is accordingly able to ply
his vocation at any spot where he may be able to gather a crowd.

A “capper” is an indispensable accessory. As soon as the operator has
taken up his position and is ready to commence operations, the
confederate mingles with the crowd. The man with the shells places them
upon some flat surface and produces the ball, which he places first
under one and then another of the three hemispheres. He does this
rapidly, and by alternating the position of the ball is able to confuse
the spectators as to its precise location. The “capper,” after watching
him for a few moments, offers to bet that he can tell under which shell
the ball lies. Of course the wager is accepted, and frequently several
bets are made, the confederate winning and losing indifferently.

The confidence men are well aware that after they shall have victimized
a “sucker,” the fraudulent nature of their maneuvers will be so apparent
that it will be imperatively necessary for them to “move on;” therefore,
the first object which they have in view is to ascertain the individual
in the crowd, who is sufficiently gullible to serve as a dupe, who may
have the largest amount of money in his pocket. To acquire this
knowledge, the operator, after rolling the ball, places one of the
shells over it in such a way that the edge of the latter shall be
slightly raised, thus affording a plain view of the ball underneath. He
then offers to bet any man in the crowd $100 that he cannot tell under
which of the three cups the ball lies. The spectators, each and all,
being able to see precisely where it is, those who have money reach for
their pockets, believing that they will be able to secure an unfair
advantage and bet with certainty. Of course, the “shell” man and the
“capper” are now thoroughly informed as to which of the crowd have
money, which they are willing to wager.

The confederate next approaches the individual whose location is thus
rendered easy and begins to converse with him, at the same time feigning
to be much excited. It is not, however, the intention of either of the
two confederates that any such bet shall be made. Accordingly, the
“capper” calls out to his accomplice that he does not wish to win his
money unfairly, and that one of the shells is propped upon the ball.
Confidence man number one looks down, as though he were glad to have his
attention called to the fact, and taking the ball between his fingers
begins rolling it again. After he has placed it under one of the shells,
he renews his proposition to bet. At this point he makes some excuse for
turning away his head. The “capper” thereupon raises the shell under
which the ball is lying, and shows the latter to the dupe. As the
operator again turns around and faces the crowd, his confederate offers
to bet five or ten dollars that he can designate the location of the
ball. “No,” says the accomplice, “I will not accept so small a bet. I
want to wager fifty or one hundred dollars.” Sometimes even a larger sum
is named, the amount depending upon the estimated size of the victim’s
pocket book and the extent of his credulity. The “capper,” who appears
to be in a state of great excitement, urges the dupe to accept the
offer, and bet on the shell under which he has shown him the ball. At
the same time, he hands him five or ten dollars, with which to complete
the amount of his wager. The “sucker” usually assents, and the money is
placed in the hands of the operator. The dupe then raises the shell
under which he has seen the ball, when lo, it is not there. The reason
is simple. The “capper,” when he raised the shell in question, removed
the ball, which, owing to its small size and to its being hollow and of
soft rubber, he is able easily to conceal between his fingers. Of
course, the victim loses the amount of his stake.

The “capper” then professes great indignation at his stupidity, and
tells him that he raised the wrong shell. To prove the truth of his
words, he raises the one next to it, and exposes a ball, which he (the
confederate) at the same moment dropped from between his fingers. It not
infrequently happens, that the victim is satisfied that he himself made
a mistake, and can be induced to make another venture. I have myself
known the same individual to be so utterly devoid of sense as to lose
money through this device four or five times in succession.

Another method of inducing “suckers” to wager their money at this game
is known among confidence men as the “blow-off.” In this case, the
confederate lifts the shell and removes the ball, at the moment when the
operator averts his eyes. The confederate then offers to bet that the
ball is not under any of the shells, and the greenhorn is induced to lay
a wager by means of the same tactics which have been already described.
Of course, the “shell” man shows a ball underneath one of the
hemispheres and the dupe is declared to have lost. The ball which is
shown, however, is one which either he himself or his confederate placed
there at the moment of raising the cup.

One of the best known “shell men” in the country for many years, was
“Jim” Miner, better known as “Umbrella Jim,” who was fond of introducing
his games by singing the following doggerel:

              “A little fun, just now and then
              Is relished by the best of men.
              If you have nerve, you may have plenty;
              Five, draws you ten, and ten, draws twenty.
              Attention giv’n, I’ll show to you,
              How umbrella hides the peek-a-boo.
              Select your shell, the one you choose;
              If right, you win, if not, you lose;
              The game itself is lots of fun,
              Jim’s chances, though, are two to one;
              And I tell you your chance is slim
              To win a prize from ‘Umbrella Jim.’”

                     “DOLLAR STORE” OR “DROP CASE.”

This is an old game, but none the less successful because of its
antiquity. Wherever cupidity and ignorance are found together, there
this ancient device takes root and flourishes.

[Illustration: drop case]

The outfit required is a wooden case, holding one hundred or more
envelopes. Most of them contain blank cards, though inside a few are
placed tickets bearing numbers. Near this case stands a show case
containing a glittering array of prizes, including watches, chains,
jewelry, silverware and money. The verdant speculator who is allured by
this dazzling display pays a dollar for an opportunity of acquiring
title to a portion of it.

Having paid his money, he is permitted to draw an envelope from the
case, which he proceeds to examine. If it contains a blank card, of
course he has lost. If it contains a card bearing a number, the
proprietor of the case compares the number with the list and informs the
purchaser whether or not he has drawn a prize. As a matter of course,
there are a few comparatively valueless prizes, the winning of which is
left to mere chance, although a majority of the numbered tickets do not
call for any prize whatever.

The most money making feature of the scheme is worked by the aid of a
“capper,” or confederate. One of these individuals saunters up to the
case at a moment when he sees there a person whom he considers likely to
prove a “soft mark.” The confederate and the intended victim look over
the envelopes together listlessly, and the proprietor invites them each
to draw one “just for fun.” The “capper” opens his envelope, and finding
that he has drawn a blank remarks, “that is just my luck; I never drew a
prize yet, and don’t believe that you have one in your whole outfit.”
The proprietor professes much righteous indignation that his integrity
should be thus assailed, and, to prove his good faith, he says: “I’ll
tell you what I’ll do; I’ll make a special prize of one thousand dollars
out of one of those numbers which you two gentlemen have just drawn and
give you a chance to win it for five hundred dollars.” The “capper”
laughs, and hands him the card which he has drawn, which is usually
numbered “eleven.” The operator replaces it in the envelope and lets
down the back of the show-case, in order to enter a special prize on his
list. As he does so, he slips the envelope containing the ticket marked
“eleven” into a little secret pocket, from which at the same time he
draws another envelope holding a ticket marked “forty-four.” He then
places this envelope, together with the one held by the “sucker,” in the
box, in such a way that the edge of one of them rises a little above the
rest. Both the “capper” and the greenhorn perceive this circumstance and
the latter supposes it to have been the result of accident. The “capper”
then draws the envelope whose corner is raised and the dupe takes the
one next to it. The proprietor asks his confederate to advance his
money. The latter replies that he has not more than fifteen or twenty
dollars with him. “Well,” answers the operator, “put up that amount, and
if you have drawn number eleven, I will pay you an amount equal to your
stake.” The “capper” hands over his money, and on looking in his
envelope finds that he has drawn a blank. Simulating deep chagrin, he
curses his “luck.” The proprietor at this moment conveniently turns his
head, and his confederate, snatching the envelope from the hand of the
dupe, hastily raises the flap, pulls out a small portion of the ticket
within, thus showing the tops of figure forty-four, which leads the
greenhorn to believe that he has drawn the lucky eleven. This, in
gamblers’ parlance, is called “giving a flash.” In ninety-nine cases out
of every hundred, the cupidity of the “sucker” is aroused, and in the
firm confidence that he has a “sure thing,” he pays over all the money
which he has, in the hope of winning a like amount. Until the money has
been paid, he is not permitted to examine his ticket. When, having paid
his cash, with trembling hands he opens the envelope, he discovers that
instead of the magic “eleven” he has drawn “forty-four,” having been
misled by the resemblance between the upper ends of the figures “four”
and “one,” shown him in the momentary glance which the “capper” gave him
of the card. Of course, he is utterly without redress, and has to bear
his loss with such degree of equanimity as he may be able to command.

Strange as it may appear, it is a fact that persons are found who are
fools enough to be caught by this trick three times in succession. It is
from the majority of such “suckers” as these that the proprietors reap a
golden harvest. A man at Council Bluffs stood at the case and bought
ticket after ticket until he had dropped six thousand dollars into the
coffers of the scoundrels who were manipulating the device.

This game is most successfully worked by the aid of “ropers,”—by which
term is meant confederates who allure, or “steer,” victims into the
booth or room in which the trick is being operated. The devices resorted
to by these “steerers” are numerous and ingenious. Sometimes the dupe is
induced to visit the place by means of an offer to sell him a piece of
cloth worth two dollars per yard for forty cents; sometimes he is shown
a sample of choice tea, which he is told he can purchase at a
ridiculously low price. When the greenhorn has been brought in front of
the ticket case with the adjacent array of prizes, it is usually an easy
matter to induce him to speculate. The “ropers” are paid a commission of
forty-five per cent. on all winnings which are made from the men whom
they bring in, and I have myself received commissions for this sort of
work amounting to more than three hundred dollars in a single day.

                        MINOR CONFIDENCE GAMES.

Among the petty schemes to which professional sharpers have resort is
one known as “betting on weight.” A single illustration, drawn from my
own experience, may serve to show to the unsuspecting reader precisely
the way in which this petty scheme is carried out.

The incident which I am about to relate happened at Hot Springs,
Arkansas, where I had been playing poker—of course on the principles of
the “skin” gamblers—in connection with a partner. We had succeeded in
fleecing a “sucker” out of a considerable sum of money. He was moody
over the loss of his cash, and we believed that he was disposed to be
slightly suspicious. In order to disabuse his mind of any such idea, my
partner accompanied him down the street, condoling with him as to his
losses. My accomplice suggested to him that he might possibly “get even”
with me by venturing a wager on some chance subject. “That man, Quinn,”
he said, “is ready to bet on anything; he would even bet on spitting at
a mark or the weight of a stone,” pointing to a rock which lay in the
street. As though struck by a sudden inspiration, he suggested, “Suppose
we weigh that rock and bet on a certainty. That is the only chance which
we will ever have to get our money back.” The greenhorn assented, and
the weight of the stone was carefully and accurately ascertained. The
next morning, having been fully posted by my confederate, I walked down
the street and met my partner and the dupe in company. After cordially
greeting them, I asked if either of them wished to bet upon any chance
whatever. After some little badinage, the “sucker” offered to bet as to
the weight of the stone which he and my partner had caused to be
carefully weighed the day previous. Of course I assented and the bet was
made. Very much to our surprise the prospective victim had only $87 in
his pocket, but this he cheerfully staked. The stone was weighed and my
guess proved to be the exact weight of the rock. The reason was, that
between the moment when my partner suggested the scheme to the dupe and
the time the stone was weighed, we had caused to be chipped off a
section, whose weight we knew exactly. The greenhorn, on this occasion,
“kicked” violently and insisted upon having the stone reweighed. We
found it convenient to have recourse to the scales of a Junk dealer who
had been previously “fixed” for the occasion and who had officiated as
“weigher” the night before. “Oh,” said the descendent of Abraham, “I
din’d know vat you shentlemen’s means, I had as many as doo scales; von
vat I buy mit and de odder as I sells py. I vays dit mid by separate
times on each scale. Vat were you shentlemen’s want nohow?” This
argument proved conclusive and the “sucker” submitted to the loss of his
$87 without further protest.

                         THE GRANDMOTHER TRICK.

This is a very simple trick to play, after the operator has acquired the
necessary degree of manual dexterity. Its success depends primarily upon
sleight of hand, and secondarily upon the assistance of a confederate.
In fact, the trick itself is so simple that gamblers who enjoy any
standing in the “profession” rarely resort to it until they find
themselves in a position where money is absolutely indispensable. Under
such circumstances, blacklegs,—even those of a better class—never
hesitate to resort to the grossest and most contemptible species of
fraud. When one of these gentry sees that he has but one “sawbuck”
remaining in his pocket, there is no device too contemptible for him to
employ with a view of replenishing his pocket book.

The method of playing this trick is as follows: Two aces are selected
and shown to the prospective victim. They are then placed together, the
pack cut, and the two cards selected are placed upon the top of one of
the piles. At this moment the confidence man—apparently by chance—turns
his head. It is easy to invent a pretext. A coughing fit, a sneeze, a
slight noise made by a confederate—any one of these, or a score of other
excuses will afford the “capper,” (whose assistance is indispensable) an
opportunity to perform his part of the scheme which will be explained
below. Before the manipulator averts his eyes he says that “if they go
in together they must come out together,” which is a self-evident
proposition. At the moment when he turns his head the confederate raises
one of the aces, and removing a number of cards from the other, turning,
places them upon the remaining ace, puts the ace which he has withdrawn
in the place of those which he has taken from the second pile. The
“sucker” is now thoroughly satisfied that the two aces shown him cannot
possibly “come in” to the pack “together.” The operator again turns
around and picks up the two piles, leaving the one containing the
removed ace upon the top. This latter card he conceals in his hand and
commences to draw from the bottom of the pack, turning each card drawn
face upward. Of course he knows the card lying directly next to the ace,
which is in the middle of the pack. As soon as he sees this he is aware
that the next card exposed will be that particular ace. He then repeats
the remark, “if they go in together they must come out together,” and
offers to bet that the card following this ace, which he shows, is its
companion. Naturally, the greenhorn is firmly persuaded that this is
impossible, and bets are made as to the happening of this contingency.
Usually, the “capper” is exceedingly anxious to bet some trifling wager,
perhaps the drinks or cigars. The sharper permits him to win and the
same process is again repeated. This time the victim is induced to bet,
the stakes being made considerably larger. When the bottom of the pack
from which the confidence man has dealt is exposed, it is seen that the
lower card is the other ace, the sharper having adroitly passed it from
his hand to the bottom of the pack.

While this game is not well adapted to winning large sums, it is a very
common thing for men operating it to take $10 or $20 from a dupe, and I
have even known as much as $50 to be won through its manipulation.

A brace of blacklegs in San Francisco once swindled an innocent player
out of what was to him a considerable sum of money through this means.
The victim caused the arrest of the pair, and it is said that when they
were brought before the magistrate for trial the court asked them to
explain the manner in which the trick had been done, the sharpers having
already pleaded guilty. One of them performed the trick for the
edification of the court, after which the judge, turning to one of the
swindlers, said: “Well, sir, I will give you one year;” and then,
turning to the other, added: “I will give you six months. You may go in
together, but I’ll show you that you won’t come out together.”

                            THE “SOAP GAME.”

This is a trick of confidence operators which often proves exceedingly
successful in extracting money from the pockets of men who consider
themselves fairly well versed in the knowledge of the world. The outfit
is very simple, and by no means expensive. A number of small cakes of
soap of no particular value are procured, or sometimes soap is bought in
bars, which are cut into pieces of the desired size. A quantity of cheap
pasteboard boxes, each having a drawer somewhat larger than is the piece
of soap which it is to contain, are procured and soap placed inside of
them. In order to work the game, a room—usually one opening off the
street—is rented. The “soap man” takes his position on a raised
platform, and when a crowd has gathered to see what is going on he takes
out a cake of cleansing soap, _i.e._, a preparation for removing grease
and similar substances from cloth. He proceeds to expatiate upon its
merits, illustrating his remarks by experimental demonstration. If he is
a good talker, and intersperses his remarks with a few interesting
anecdotes, he succeeds in attracting and keeping the interest of his
audience. When he has proceeded far enough in his remarks he informs his
listeners that the manufacturers of this wonderful preparation are
seeking to introduce it in a somewhat novel way; that they propose to
place a given amount of currency in a certain number of boxes together
with a cake of soap in each. These boxes, he says, will be thoroughly
mixed and every purchaser will be allowed to select any three boxes (the
price of which will be $1.00) from the entire number offered. To prove
his sincerity and truthfulness he draws from his pocket several bills,
of denominations ranging from $1.00 to $20.00, and announces that he
will place them inside the boxes in the presence of the crowd. He takes
the bills in his hand, one at a time, folds them up carefully, and
apparently inserts them in the boxes. Each box, after the bank note has
been placed in it, is dropped into a large leather sachel. When he has
disposed of all the bills, he takes the sachel in both hands and shakes
it, with a view to thoroughly mixing the boxes. He then opens it and
offers to allow anyone present to select three boxes on the payment of
one dollar. It is the easiest thing in the world to sell the soap, but
no legitimate purchaser ever succeeds in obtaining more than a single
dollar bill. The reason is that the vendor adroitly “palms” off the
bills of larger denominations, substituting therefor dollar bills which
he has previously rolled up and which he holds in his hand at the time
that he apparently inserts the large bills into the boxes in the
presence of the spectators. In other words, when the boxes have been
dropped into the sachel and mixed none of them contain a note of a
larger denomination than one dollar, the confidence man having still in
his possession all of the large bills. When it is remembered that not
more than one box in ten contains any money whatever, the chances of
drawing a prize are readily seen to be exceedingly small. The buyers,
however, believe that they have seen the large bills placed in the boxes
before their eyes, and part with their money very readily. It may be
easily seen that “cappers” are almost indispensable in this as in so
many other confidence games. It is not necessary that any signal should
pass between the confederates. The “capper” usually places his three
boxes in his pocket as soon as he has purchased them. Some one in the
crowd is always certain to ask him to open them. At first he objects,
but finally yields to persuasion. He takes out three boxes from his
pocket and one of them is always found to contain a large bill. The
explanation of his apparent good luck is very simple. When he puts the
three boxes in his pocket he had there another one, precisely similar in
size and appearance, containing the bank note which he exhibits to the
crowd. When he drew three boxes from his pocket, he took the one which
he previously placed there together with two of those which he had taken
from the bag.

                             THE FOOT RACE.

This is a confidence game which is one of the most direct outrages ever
perpetrated upon an unsuspecting dupe. And yet, like most similar
tricks, it can be successfully worked only when the proposed victim is
ready to sacrifice his own integrity to his avarice.

Two foot racers act in concert with a third man, who personates the
“backer” of one of them. The first racer gains the confidence of the man
to be swindled, who must necessarily possess some means. He convinces
him by actual ocular demonstration that he is a speedy runner, and one
on whom it is safe to lay a wager. This done, confidence man number two
makes his appearance, attired very much after the fashion of a tramp. He
says that he is anxious to find some one with whom to run a race for
money. Naturally, his appearance not being such as to inspire any faith
in his ability as a pedestrian, a match is soon arranged with the fleet-
footed runner. The newcomer puts up all the money which he has—perhaps
some $30 or $40—together with his watch, and the race is run. The tramp
is beaten “out of sight.” The latter, apparently considerably chagrined,
says that he is glad that his “uncle” (or some other friend, whom he
named), was not there, inasmuch as he would have wagered $20,000 upon
him. He adds that the mysterious “uncle,” or friend, has a “barrel of
money,” and would have been willing to have staked it all upon his

The winner of the race thereupon proposes that he bring his “uncle”
there, and that another race be arranged, and it will be an easy thing
to “beat” his friend out of a large sum of money, which may be divided
between the pair. Of course, as the reader has probably already
understood, the two racers are confederates. The proposed victim—the man
who has been backing the first racer—falls in with the suggestion and
urges the mysterious tramp to induce his friend to come. The second
sharper, however, professes great reluctance to defraud his “uncle,” and
says that he will go to the latter’s farm and go to work. His
confederate and the dupe accompany him to the train, the former
constantly urging him to consent to the proposed scheme. At the last
moment, the simulated virtue of sharper number two vanishes, and he says
that he will induce his “uncle” to come down and lay a wager upon his
success, provided that his connection with the scheme shall be kept
forever a secret.

In due time the tramp returns, accompanied by an individual to personate
the moneyed man who is to put up the necessary stakes. Arrangements are
made for the race, the bets are made, and at the termination of the
contest it is discovered, much to the surprise of the victim who has
been backing the winner of the first race that the tramp, who was on
that occasion so easily defeated, has won without difficulty. The stakes
are paid over to the winners, and the party of scoundrels at once take
their departure.

Sometimes the swindlers find it necessary to place a long distance
between themselves and their victims. The latter are tolerably certain
to discover, without much reflection, the manner in which they have been
defrauded, and they are apt to follow up the gang in company with
officers of the law. I have known cases where confidence men who have
successfully worked this scheme, have been compelled to disgorge the
lion’s share of their ill-gotten gains.


This is another of those bare-faced schemes of fraud which are daily
perpetrated upon an unsuspecting public. The method of operation is
extremely simple, and it may be that some of the readers of this volume
may be able to discover, from the description here given, the manner in
which a gross imposition has been practised upon them. The “flim-flam”
operator appeals, not to the avarice but to the good nature of his

The favorite localities for playing the trick are fairs, circuses and
railroad trains, and—as in the case of a large number of confidence
games—large sums are sometimes paid for the “privilege.” The innocent
looking news agent or peanut boy is often an adept at practicing this
sort of fraud. The accommodating individual whom you see outside of a
circus tent, carrying a small valise, from which he produces tickets
which he offers for sale is apt to be a “flim-flam” sharper, who pays a
percentage of his gains to the proprietors in consideration of being
allowed to carry on his practices with immunity.

The game is always worked in substantially the same way. To begin with,
the train boy, after selecting his victim, (otherwise termed “mark,”) he
approaches him with an offer to sell something—perhaps a book, perhaps
candy, possibly fruit. It is of comparatively little consequence whether
he buys or not. The next move of the sharper is to ask the proposed dupe
to give him a bill of large denomination for several small ones, which
he produces. Sometimes he introduces a quantity of small change. After
counting the money into the stranger’s hands, the swindler begs him to
count it back to him, in order that he may see that it is right. This
done, the scoundrel “palms” one of the bills or pieces of money, _i.e._,
secretes it in the palm of his hand, and turns over the cash (apparently
intact) to the “sucker,” who, nine times out of ten, puts it into his
pocket without looking at it. Men on circus grounds operate in the same
way, though generally for larger amounts. Sometimes a bill is folded in
the middle, so that each end may count for a separate note of the same


                               CHAPTER X.


                          RUINED BY A FUNERAL.

As illustrating the inherent uncertainty of betting, the following story
of the adventure of an old negro slave in Alabama during the days before
the war may serve at once to “point a moral and adorn a tale.” “Old
Mose” was a tried and faithful servant whose inclination towards
amusement his mistress was disposed to indulge. One day the aged African
became possessed with the demon of gambling, and confided his desires to
his mistress. Finding that remonstrance was in vain, she finally
determined to give the old man five dollars, with which he might amuse
himself in any way that he saw proper. The negroe’s eyes brightened and
his ivories were displayed from ear to ear as he grinned his thanks and
disappeared. A few hours later he returned, with the same expression of
supreme satisfaction still illuminating his black face. “Well, Mose,”
said his mistress, “did you have a good time gambling?” “Laws, Missus,
I’se done had heaps o’ fun out o’ dem five dollahs dat you gib me.” “How
much money did you win, Mose?” asked his patroness. “Won lots,” was the
reply; “you jes’ wait an’ let dis chile tell you. You see, I goes down
de street an’ I meets a white gem’man, and we gambles on de kind o’
folks what comes ’long. I took de white people, an’ he took de black
fo’ks. Fust dere comes ’long a white gem’man, an’ he gibs me a dollah.
(Now, Missus, you jes’ count an’ ses how much I wins.) Den dere comes
’long two mo’ white gem’men, an’ he done gib me two mo’ dollahs. Dat
makes free?” “Yes, Mose.” “Den comes free mo’, an’ he gibs me free mo’
dollars; how many’s dat, Missus?” “Six, Mose.” “Den dere was four mo’
white folks, an’ I gets four mo’ dollars; how many was dat, Missus?”
“Ten dollars. Mose; you did very well; give me your money and I will
take care of it for you.” “Hol’ on, Missus,” said the old darkey, “de
game didn’t close right dar’. Me an’ de white gem’man stood dar fo’
about five minutes, an’ ’long comes a cullud fun’ral, and wiped dis heah
niggah right off de face of de yarth.”

At this point in the conversation, Moses’ master made his appearance on
the veranda, entering through an open window. He had overheard the
narrative of the negro and thought that it would be a favorable
opportunity for him to offer a little friendly advice. “Mose,” said he,
“that man knew that funeral was bound to pass that spot inside of twenty
minutes after you got there. My boy, never attempt to gamble with a
professional, for he is sure to ‘ring in’ a cold deck on you every

“” ‘’

                               “FLY LOO.”

A typical Western gambler, well known among the profession but whose
name it is unnecessary to mention, tells the following story of his
experience at a game which is not generally known to the public. It is
designated by the euphonious appellation of “fly loo,” and was first
played in this country either in Texas or New Mexico. The method of play
is simplicity itself. Each man lays a piece of sugar on the table and
the first one that gets a fly loses the drinks or stakes. The gambler in
question was one day sitting in a resort at Denver, when a smooth-faced
gentleman from the East walked in and suggested “fly loo.” His
proposition was accepted, and two lumps of sugar having been procured
from the bartender, the pair sat down to await the result. It had been
stipulated that the owner of the lump on which the first fly rested was
to be considered the loser and should pay the other a dollar. The first
fly alighted on the lump of the gambler, as did also the next eight. It
began to dawn upon him that the man from the Atlantic coast must have
doctored his lump, inasmuch as not a solitary fly would approach within
a foot of it. He felt sore, but just then he conceived a brilliant idea.
He proposed that they try ten “goes” at $10 a-piece. The stranger
assented and the money was put up. The loser then insisted upon a change
in the rule, and that the man on whose lump the first fly alighted
should win instead of lose. To his great surprise the smooth-faced
stranger readily assented. No sooner, however, had the lump been placed
upon the table than the flies began to swarm all over the latter’s lump
for ten straight times, not one coming near that of the man who had
proposed the change. Of course the Eastern man pocketed the stakes and
the other was probably the maddest man in Colorado. He knew he had been
fleeced, but he was utterly unable to tell how it had been done. Finally
he called the stranger aside and said, “My friend, don’t think I am
impudent or inquisitive, but I have a curiosity to know how you wound me
up. If you will put me on, I’ll promise not to work the game in your
territory, and buy a bottle of wine.” He laughed and said, “Well, I
don’t mind telling you that I put a drop of stuff on my lump that will
make a fly hunt for the next county mighty quick.” I thought as much,”
answered the loser, “but how about the last time we played?” “Oh, I
supposed you would want to switch, so I just changed lumps on you.”

                        THE “TOP STOCK” BEATEN.

The most astute professionals sometimes over-reach themselves. I was
once playing poker with a young man, an entire stranger to me before the
commencement of the game, whom I soon discovered to be a practiced
gambler. It did not take me long to discover the particular species of
the trick which he was playing. I recognized what is known among the
“profession” as the “top stock.” An explanation of this trick may be
found in the chapter relating to poker. It is enough to say here that it
consists in so arranging the hands, that the proposed victim, when he
asks for fresh cards, shall receive a good hand, while the dealer
himself, who of course takes the second draw, gets a better one. After a
little experimenting, I found that when I asked for three cards on the
draw, I usually received three of a kind. While my opponent would always
draw three or more, but invariably succeeded in getting three of a
higher denomination than mine. After thoroughly satisfying myself as to
his tactics, I continued playing until I thought that the time had come
for me to act. I had resort to a little policy, whereby I succeeded in
winning all the money which he had with him beside a silver watch, the
value of which, however, scarcely exceeded $1.25. After the deal, when
he asked me how many cards I wanted, I replied that I had made a mistake
in my hand; that I supposed I had a pair, but found that I had not.
Throwing down my cards upon the table, I asked for five. Any old poker
player will understand the effect of such a demand upon the arrangement
of the cards by the dealer. For the benefit of those who have never
played poker, I may explain that the six upper cards had been previously
“fixed” in such a way that I should receive three of a kind, while he
would get another set of three but of a higher denomination. By drawing
five cards I completely overturned his scheme. As a matter of course, I
drew what is known as a “full house,” i. e. three of one denomination
with a pair of another. My unfortunate adversary had been rash enough to
make his wager before the draft, feeling confident that I would either
“stand pat,” i. e. bet on the hand which I originally received, or draw
one, two, or perhaps three cards.

He cherished a conviction that in any event he would be able, through
the aid of his “top stock” to hold a hand superior to mine. When he
perceived that I had seen through his little game and had secured five
of the cards which he had cunningly arranged, he was well aware that I
held a “full.” His face turned all the colors of the rainbow, and he
made no objection whatever to my gathering in the stakes. At his earnest
request, I returned to him his watch, but accompanied this friendly act
by a bit of advice to the effect that the next time he tried to play
“top stock” on a stranger he had better make himself tolerably certain
that his antagonist had not seen the same game played before.

                    A WOODMAN IS KNOWN BY HIS CHIPS.

The confidence which some men possess in their own ability to play card
games which they know nothing about would be sublime if it were not so
amusing. I was sitting one evening in a gaming house watching a number
of men playing poker. While thus employed a broken-down gambler
approached me and asked me if I would lend him $5.00 with which he might
play against the faro bank. He added that he would much rather that I
should loan him $20.00 in order that he might sit in the poker game. I
asked him if he was “dead broke,” and he replied that he was. I next
asked him if he was a good poker player, and he made answer that he was
the best bottom dealer in the country. I looked at him a moment and
said, “It seems rather strange to me that an expert like yourself should
be without any money. I used to travel a good deal in Arkansas, where
the people managed to support themselves in part by killing ’coons and
selling the skins. These skins they generally hung up on the outside of
the house to dry. When I came across a cabin, the outer walls of which
were covered with skins, I made up my mind that the occupant was a good
hunter. When I saw only one or two hanging out, I felt satisfied that
the owner was either very shiftless or a very poor shot. Now Bob,” I
continued, “if you are as good a poker player as you claim to be, where
are your ’coon skins?’”

The same question might be asked of many men who make great pretensions
to ability in higher walks of life than gambling. Whenever I hear a man
loudly boasting of his own ability who cannot point to any one great
thing which he has achieved, I always feel like asking him “where are
your coon skins?”

                        THE “MORNING” PRINCIPLE.

On general principles it is usually safe not to lend money to a man who
promises to “pay you in the morning.” Professional gamblers form no
exception to the general operation of the rule. A blackleg, who was
known among the fraternity as “Stuttering Jim,” once fell into
misfortune in St. Louis, while I was a resident of that city. Just what
fraud he had been guilty of, I do not now recall; but I remember that
the police justice fined him five dollars. “Jim” had no money, and
appealed to the clemency of the court for a suspension of the fine. The
justice asked him if he was willing to leave town, and if so how long he
would require to get beyond the territorial limits of the State of
Missouri. The culprit eagerly grasped at the prospect of freedom, and
turning to the magistrate with a beaming smile, said: “J-j-judge, wh-
what’s the b-best time ever m-made over the b-bridge?” His appeal was
not without effect, and the judge allowed him six hours in which to take
his final departure from the western shore of the Mississippi. I was
among the first men whom he met after his exit from the court house.
Concealing the fact of his trial and sentence, he asked me for a loan of
$10 “t-till m-morning.” I saw that he was in distress and at once made
up my mind to give him the money which he needed. However, I determined
to make use of caution. “Jim,” said I, “are you sure that I will see you
in the morning?” “W-well, John,” said he, “n-n-not if I see you f-
first.” It remains to be added that “Jim” has up to this time
scrupulously kept his promise. I have never seen him from that day to
this; probably when I meet him he will take great pleasure in redeeming
his word.

                         A FRIEND’S BAD FAITH.

Among the common devices of faro gamblers to entrap victims, few are
more common than to suggest to the proposed dupe that he enter a
gambling house and play against the bank, at the same time receiving the
secret assistance and co-operation of the dealer. That is to say, the
latter individual, who works for a salary, will so manipulate the cards
that the outside player shall win the proprietor’s money, after which
the dealer and the winner will divide the profits. This scheme usually
works well and even old gamblers are sometimes entrapped by it. A
veteran dealer of New York City is authority for the following
statement, a reminiscence of his own experience:

“A few years ago I was one of the dealers in a faro bank up town, and an
acquaintance whom I liked very much was a dealer in a similar bank in
the next block. Both were reputed to be, and undoubtedly were, ‘square’
games. The proprietor of the game my friend dealt for, however, was
known to be extremely close and mean in money matters, and everybody
disliked him, but as his game was trustworthy, his place was well

“I was not surprised one day when my friend came and told me that ‘Old
Nick’ (that’ll do for the proprietor’s name) owed him $5,000,
representing his interest in the game in lieu of a salary, which he
refused to pay over. My friend proposed that I should come to his bank
and play while he was dealing, and he would fix the deck so that I could
win out what ‘Old Nick’ owed him and something over for myself. Being a
dealer myself, and knowing that a sign from my friend would indicate
just how the cards were to run through a deal, I saw that it was
possible for me to right my friend’s wrongs and make a few hundred out
of ‘Old Nick.’

“The first night everything seemed to go wrong. I got the sign to play
‘single out’ and the cards ran ‘double out,’ and when I played ‘double
out’ they ‘singled out.’ I lost $1,000 and left the place, as mad a man
as you ever saw. The next day I met my friend, who declared that it was
the most astonishing thing he ever heard of, that he had acted squarely
all through, and that somebody must have changed the decks in the drawer
of the table so that he got hold of the wrong one. He offered to make my
loss good if I did not win out the full stake at the next sitting. He
seemed square and I believed him. The next night I lost $2,000 more, and
when I left the place I was crazy mad. I didn’t dare say anything there,
for it would have hurt me at my own place to have it known that I was in
a ‘brace’ at another man’s game. I decided to wait until the next day
and give the false friend a thrashing at least.

“The next day, however, the bank was closed and the dealer had skipped.
‘Old Nick’ had lost money on the races, had grown desperate, had
‘plunged’ and ‘gone broke.’ His partner, my friend, the dealer, knew
that the bank would close and roped me in for a ‘stake’ to get away
with. I was terribly angry, for I had been influenced almost entirely by
my sympathy for my friend and I wanted to help him out.

“Did I ever get my money back? Well, I should say I did! I was out West
two years ago, and one night strolled into a game in Kansas City. Just
as I was about to buy a stack of chips, I noticed my friend in the look-
out’s chair. He saw me at the same time, and motioned for me to come to
him. As I approached he drew out a roll of money and said, ‘Here’s the
dust you loaned me some time ago; much obliged, old man.’ I counted it
and found it correct. Calling another man to the chair, he led me aside
and explained that he had been in a desperate strait at the time and had
always intended to repay me. He was now prosperous, he said, and making
a fortune rapidly. I played at his game all that night and lost just the
$3,000 he had paid me. I felt very queer when I went away, but I felt
too cheap to say or do anything. I have come to the conclusion that
there’s no money in ‘bucking the tiger,’ unless you are behind the game.
I never play in front of the table any more. I can’t afford it.”


There exists a class of people—and its members are far too numerous—who,
while condemning gambling in the abstract, and particularly outspoken in
their denunciation of the vice when practiced by members of their own
family, nevertheless have such a respect for money, that “lucre,” even
when won at the gaming table, is not too filthy to command respect for
its owner. The motto of such people seems to be: “Get money—honestly if
you can, but get it.” An old acquaintance of mine once told me the
following story, which is an illustration of the foregoing reflection,
for the truth of which he vouched:

The young man, whom we will call James, once lived in a small Western
city. His fondness for amusement led him into bad company, and he
plunged into all sorts of dissipation, soon becoming a devotee of the
green cloth. His parents deplored his lapse from morality, and
frequently consulted together as to the best means of effecting his
reformation. To deny him admission to the house might be to send him to
ruin; persuasion they had found to be utterly without avail; example he
derided and threats were a subject for mockery. Accordingly, they
decided to adopt an attitude of what might be called, for want of a
better name, “armed neutrality.” They determined to allow him to occupy
his room and take his meals at home, but never to speak to him. The
wayward son used to return to the paternal roof at all hours of the
early morning, and after a few hours of sleep would make his appearance
at the breakfast table. His father filled his plate and his mother
poured his coffee. The rest of the family carried on a conversation, but
no one spoke to James. One night the youth had been “playing in great
luck,” and had returned home a winner to the amount of several hundred
dollars. The following morning at the breakfast table his little sister
asked her mother for half-a-dollar, with which to buy a school book. The
old lady referred her to her father, who looked sour and querulously
said that he saw no reason why he should buy it. The prodigal had heard
what had been said, and drawing a roll of bills from his pocket handed
the little one a five dollar bank note, saying: “Here, sis, get your
book and keep the change.” His mother looked at the old man, and the
latter stared at his son. Raising her spectacles and looking at her
erring boy with a glance of mingled affection and pride, she asked in
honied tones: “James, son, dear, is your coffee sweet enough?”


In various chapters throughout this work, I have related experiences of
my own in which I have exhibited myself in the light of being naturally
rather timid. I do not think that my inborn proclivities were towards
physical cowardice, however much they may have inclined me toward vice.
The truth is, that “conscience doth make cowards of us all.” A few
incidents in my own career may serve to illustrate the truth of this

I was once playing poker with a partner and a stranger. My confederate
and myself had succeeded in winning a large amount of money from the
greenhorn who had been rash enough to try his luck against us. Success
had so far emboldened me that I lost all regard for ordinary prudence. I
dealt the greenhorn four kings and gave myself four aces. He was
irritated in no small degree by his losses and determined to bring
matters to a focus. When he looked at his cards and saw that he had four
kings, he drew a Remington six shooter from his pocket, and laying it
upon the table announced his intention of shooting any man at the board
who had a hand to beat his. My partner was struck with terror and
signalled me to allow the man to win. I felt rather uneasy myself, but
determined that if I must die I would at least pass out of this life
with the best grace possible under the circumstances. Looking at my
adversary with a bland expression I said, in dulcet tones, “you don’t
mean before the draw, do you, sir? I would rather look for a free lunch
than for a fight any day.” This remark appeared to mollify him somewhat,
and I asked him how many cards he wanted. He looked at me grimly and
said, “None.” “Well,” said I, “I believe that I shall have to take two.”
Having said this, I discarded two aces, drawing in exchange the first
two chance cards which happened to lie upon the top of pack. Of course,
this ruined my hand, but I am inclined even to this day, to believe that
it saved my life.

                            “OLD BLACK DAN.”

I recall another incident which illustrates the same principle. In
almost every country town there are many men who like to be regarded as
“sports.” They consider themselves champion card players, and are fully
convinced of their own ability to get the best of any stranger who may
put in an appearance. When they find that they have “caught a Tartar”
and are losing money, they not infrequently resort to the expedient of
calling in some local bully, whose brawny arms and ponderous fists may
accomplish, through brute force, what they have failed to effect through
skill. I once found an illustration of this fact in a small Missouri
village. I was playing poker in a room at the hostelry, with about as
unsavory a lot of country “bummers” as it was ever my bad fortune to
meet. Among them were men whose physiognomy indicated that for many
years they had held their own through the aid of sling shots, jimmies
and other “implements of modern warfare.” The nose and cheeks of most of
them testified to their devotion to the pleasures of the wine cup,—or
perhaps I should say their fondness for the consumption of corn whiskey.
I was playing with marked cards, and was gradually but surely winning
all their money. Their disgust knew no bounds. It was not long before
there entered upon the scene an American citizen of African descent upon
whose ebony skin charcoal would have made a white mark. His scarred and
battered face gave him the appearance of a veteran of the prize ring who
had returned home for purposes of recuperation and repairs. He modestly
took his seat in a corner of the room, and half closing his eyes began
to sing this plaintive ditty:

            “Give me some of dat, or I’ll brok up your game,
                I guess you ‘gams.’ knows who I is.
            Old Black Dan—dat is my name;
                If you ’siders me in, go on with your biz.”

I had heard of “old black Dan” from men of my profession who had visited
the same town before. He was an amateur prize-fighter, who, with proper
training, might have made his mark as an athlete. To pick a quarrel with
him was the last ambition that I had on earth. I thought it was best to
meet him on his own ground. Accordingly, I counted up the value of the
pile of chips which I had before me, in order that I might know just how
the game stood at the moment of his entrance. Without betraying any
apparent emotion, I began to sing the following impromptu doggerel:

             “Consider yourself in from this time on;
                 I am always square with every man;
             You’ve no more need to sing that song,
                 For I want no trouble with old black Dan.”

It is hardly necessary to add that “Dan” got his full proportion of the


In “skin” gambling houses of a low order, it is not an uncommon practice
for those around the table to steal the chips of a player whose
attention is temporarily diverted from the game. I once had an
experience of this character in Wichita, Kansas. I had a considerable
“stack” lying before me on the table and turned away my head for some
purpose or other, to find on again looking at my pile that my chips had
been abstracted. I was aware of the character of the house in which I
was playing and knew that stringent measures must be adopted if I
expected to recover my stolen property. Accordingly, drawing a pistol
(which, by the way, was not loaded) from my hip pocket, I stated in a
loud tone of voice that if the man who had taken my chips did not return
them to me at once I would shoot him on the spot. My action produced a
profound sensation. Not less than a half dozen men sitting near at once
handed me chips, the result being that when I returned my revolver to my
hip pocket and resumed my seat I had more than when I had turned away my
face from the table. As the game proceeded, I observed that a typical
Westerner was watching me very closely with a look the reverse of
friendly. When I had finished playing I arose from the table, cashed my
chips, pocketed my money and walked out of the room and down stairs. On
reaching the side-walk I found the unpleasant looking stranger close at
my heels. “Look here,” said he, “you said something upstairs about
somebody stealing some of your chips. I reckon that you meant me. You’re
kind o’ handy with your shooting iron; I’m going to give you a chance to
use it.” At the same time he drew his own pistol. I perceived that I was
in a dilemma. My weapon was not loaded and the stranger’s manner left no
doubt as to the sincerity of his intentions. “How are we going to settle
this?” he went on. I suggested that we should shake hands, turn back to
back, each walk fifteen paces, and then turn and fire. To this he
agreed. We carried out the programme up to the point of turning back to
back and starting to walk the prescribed number of paces. With solemn
and stately tread he measured off his portion of the stipulated
distance, but when he turned around I was no longer visible to the naked
eye. While he had been stepping off fifteen paces, I had contrived to
cover two hundred.

                  HOW AN OLD SCOUT HELD AN “ACE FULL.”

One of the best known characters around Sioux City in 1876 was a scout
known as “Wild Bill.” He had a weakness for poker, though he knew no
more about the game than a baby. The consequence was that he was “picnic
for the sports,” and they fleeced him right and left. He was repeatedly
warned that he was being robbed, but he always replied that he was able
to take care of himself. One night he sat down to play with a fellow
named McDonald, a “fine-worker” and expert. McDonald did as he pleased,
and the scout found his pile getting smaller and smaller as the game
progressed. As he lost he began drinking, and midnight found him in a
state of intense but suppressed excitement, a condition that made him
one of the most dangerous men in the West. It was at this juncture that
McDonald, smart gambler as he was, made his mistake. He should have
quit. However, “Wild Bill’s” apparent coolness deceived him. Finally the
scout seemed to get an unusual hand and began to bet high and heavy.
McDonald raised him back every time, until finally the top of the table
was out of sight. At last there was a call. “I’ve got three jacks,” said
McDonald, throwing down his hand. “I have an ace full on sixes,” replied
Bill. “Ace full on sixes is good,” said McDonald cooly, turning over his
opponent’s cards, “But I see only two aces and a six.” Whipping out a
navy revolver, the greenhorn said in a tone of determination, “here’s
your sixes, and here,” drawing a bowie-knife, “is the one spot.” “That
hand is good,” said McDonald blandly, arising, “take the pot.”

                    THE FAILURE OF A TELEGRAPH WIRE.

The “telegraph,” as explained in the chapter on Poker, is a favorite
resource of professionals. It is not always easy to employ this
stratagem, but when it can be employed successfully the results are of a
sort extremely satisfactory to the manipulators. While I was running a
saloon in Columbia, Missouri—which was in fact, but a cloak for secret
“brace” gambling—I had an apparatus of this sort attached to a peep-hole
in such a manner that I could readily signal to my confederate when it
was safe for him to bet high. Of all victims in the world the “skin”
gambler is especially rejoiced to meet a man who is in the habit of
drinking to excess. During my entire career as a gambler I always felt
reasonably sure of winning the money of such a man. On the particular
occasion to which I am about to refer, two individuals, both somewhat
inebriated, dropped into the saloon, and it was by no means difficult to
engage them in a game of poker. My partner, whose name was Forshay, sat
at the table together with the strangers, while I retired to a
convenient spot in order to work the telegraph apparatus. The device
succeeded admirably. Forshay experienced no difficulty in winning the
money of the chance visitors, but in his exhilaration over his success
he forgot prudence. The wire went through the floor; two casual
customers entered the place and called for drinks; Forshay jumped up
from his seat to wait on them, and forgetting in his excitement that the
secret wire was attached to the bottom of his trouser’s leg by means of
a fish-hook, omitted to detach the same. The result was that he went
sprawling full length upon the floor, the entire mechanism of the
machine being exposed to the curious eyes of any member of the vulgar
herd who might have happened to be about. The situation was a critical
one, but Forshay rose equal to it. One glance towards the table
satisfied him that the two “suckers” were so far gone in their cups that
any man of average intelligence might have driven a royal Bengal tiger
across the table without attracting their attention. Forshay himself was
so far gone under the influence of the “ardent” that a small object,
such as a jack rabbit, might have escaped his notice, but his fall had a
sobering effect upon him. When he arose from the floor his clothes were
covered with sawdust, and he was altogether as disreputable an object as
one would wish to see. Brushing the dirt from his knees and apologizing
for the torn condition of his nether habiliments, he resumed his seat at
the table, which he occupied just long enough to detach the hook from
his clothing. He waited upon the customers and returned to his place
without having attracted the attention of the greenhorns. This anecdote
has a moral of its own. In the first place, it is in itself a condensed
temperance lecture; in the second, it may serve to convince the reader
that however attractive a saloon may be, he can never determine by
himself what sort of risk he runs by engaging in a “friendly” game, at
any of the tables which the hospitable proprietor offers for his use.

                             A QUEER STAKE.

The excitement of play has prompted men to wager almost everything that
they possess, and sometimes a good deal that they did not own, but it is
doubtful whether any game was ever played for quite as strange a stake
as that once indulged in by a professional gambler who was temporarily
“under a cloud” in Georgia. The blackleg in question had become involved
in a dispute with one of the natives over a game of cards, and the
disagreement had resulted in the Georgian going to the hospital and the
gambler to jail. Popular prejudice against gambling ran high in the
community at the time, and the professional was advised by his counsel
that he was likely to have a rather hard time in getting out of the
scrape. While a prisoner, he cultivated the acquaintance of the sheriff,
whom he found to be a good-natured, jovial sort of a fellow. One day he
discovered, by accident, that his custodian was a devotee of faro. It
appeared that he had been moderately wealthy at one time, but had lost
nearly all his property in playing against faro banks, and would still
walk ten miles through a swamp to get a chance to play again. The
gambler saw his opportunity. He chalked out a layout on the floor of his
cell, procured an old pack of cards and proceeded to deal faro for the
sheriff. Buttons were used for chips, and the officer of the law would
squat outside the grated door of the cell and tell the prisoner where to
place his bets. In a few days the gambler had all of his ready cash.
Then he sold a mule and lost the proceeds. Head by head of the sheriff’s
live stock went the same way. Then he put up his watch and chain and a
suit of clothes. The professional won them and insisted upon their
delivery to him. In a week the prisoner’s cell presented the appearance
of a country store. It contained boots, hams, a pair of scales, all the
sheriff’s stationery, a barrel of flour, a saddle and a feather bed. At
last the Chief Executive Officer of the county came to the cell to
interview his prisoner. “John,” said he, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
You have won everything I can move except the old woman and the kids.
Now I’ll play you a game of seven-up for all that I have lost against
your liberty.” The prisoner promptly assented. They played through the
grated door, and it was probably the most exciting game to both parties
that either of them had ever indulged in. At last the score stood six to
six. The gambler turned up a jack. “That puts you out,” said the sheriff
and he unlocked the door; “now get out.” The blackleg lost no time in
taking advantage of the permission. The Sheriff fired a shot at his
retreating form, undoubtedly claiming that this right was reserved to
him by the terms of the wager. Probably his excitement rendered him
nervous; at all events the charge passed over the head of the fleeing
ex-prisoner and crippled a darkey in an adjoining corn-field. The
gambler who narrates this bit of experience always assures his auditors
that only the pressing nature of his business prevented him from
stopping to inquire how seriously the negro was hurt.


                       DAN RICE’S BIG POKER GAME.

The following story relative to “Uncle Dan Rice,” the veteran showman,
has appeared before, but will certainly bear repetition. The following
version of it is given, as nearly as possible, in his own language.

“When they talk about winnin’ money at cards,” he said, “they make me
tired. Why they don’t bet big money nowadays. They ain’t got the money
in the first place, and if they have they ain’t got the nerve to put it
up. What’s $30,000? Sho! Why I won $280,000 one night playin’ poker. I
won it from two smart gamblers, too—Canada Bill and George B. Pettibone.
O! they were cunnin’ but your ‘Uncle’ Dan was too smart for ’em. George
Pettibone taught me to play chuck-a-luck and won my money, but I got
even with him.

“It was this way: I had my circus in Cincinnati in 1851. The cholera
broke out and we had to get away quick. So I loaded the whole durned
circus onto a boat and started for Pittsburg, drew all my money from the
bank and put aboard. I had about $350,000 in cash. Carried it in a safe
in my state-room. People was a-dyin’ on the lower decks, and Canada
Bill, Pettibone, my ringmaster, named Fowler, and I went upstairs to
play poker. Did that to keep our minds off the cholera, don’t you see?
We started in at a quarter limit. Then we got to playin’ a no-limit
game, and I had ’em then. I had dollars to their buttons. About 4
o’clock in the mornin’ we got to bettin’ on a hand. All had big hands.
We played with a short deck. Took everything below the tens out and
threw ’em overboard. Bill and Pettibone had everything on the
table—money, watches, diamonds, and everything. I told Fowler to watch
’em, and I went back to my state-room and got $250,000 out o’ the safe.
My wife says—good woman, my wife—she says:

“‘Where are you goin’ with that money?’

(“I had it in canvas bags. It made an armful.) ‘I’m goin’ to bet it,’
says I.

“‘No you ain’t,’ she says.

“‘Yes, I am,’ I says, and I slammed the door.

“I threw it on the table. ‘There,’ I says to Bill and Pettibone, ‘I
raise you that.’ They demanded a sight. I wouldn’t give it to ’em. It
was a no-limit game, don’t you see, and they couldn’t see my hand
without putting up the money. They didn’t have any more.

“They drew bowie knives. Yes, sir, bowie knives—great big long fellers.
I whispers to Fowler. I says: ‘Swipe the swag and sherry your nibs.’
That’s slang you know. Then I says to Bill and Pettibone, I says: ‘Hold
on, hold on; don’t let’s have any trouble,’ and while I was sayin’ that,
I picks up a chair and hits ’em both. O, I lammed ’em good. Lord, I was
a strong young feller then. People came runnin’ out in their night
clos’—great excitement. The cap’n wanted to throw Bill and Pettibone
overboard but I wouldn’t let him. I gave ’em their watches back. I
handed my wife a big diamond ring. That shut her up. Then I promised her
I’d never gamble any more, and I never have.”

                       A DISCOURAGED SPECULATOR.

I have always regarded faro dealing as being but a very few degrees less
respectable than operating upon the floor of the stock or produce
exchange. The same essential elements are present in both cases—a
disposition to obtain something for nothing, a rash venture by an
inexperienced player, and a determination on the part of a practiced
veteran to win the money of his antagonist. As illustrative of this
point I might recount a narrative told of a certain gambler who once
visited Chicago. For two or three days he played poker with decided
success, and found himself the winner of several hundred dollars. Elated
by his good fortune the idea occurred to him that he possessed all the
qualifications necessary to operate upon a wider scale. He determined to
try his luck upon the Chicago Board of Trade. One of his friends
suggested to him that however much he might know about dealing or
“holding out” a poker hand, he was utterly ignorant of the course and
manipulation of the wheat market. His friend also urged that a capital
as small as his would not go far toward the control of a “corner.”
However, serenely confident of his own sagacity, the poker player
determined to take the chances. Employing a broker, he made a purchase.
For a day or two the market went in his favor, and he smiled at the
contemplation of his own superior wisdom. He wrote to his father, who
lived in a country town not more than a hundred miles away, to meet him
at the depot with a carriage the following Saturday; that he was about
to return home loaded down with presents for all members of the family.
But, “woe betide the cruel fate!” In less than twenty-four hours after
sending this exultant message a decline in grain wiped out all his
margins and left him comparatively penniless. His next message to his
father was of a decidedly different tenor. It ran thus: “Dear father;
meet me at the nearest railroad crossing with a hat and pair of shoes. I
have a blanket myself.”

                      THE LUCK OF A ONE-EYED MAN.

One of the most bare-faced, yet at the same time most successful
confidence tricks which I ever saw perpetrated was played upon an
individual who prided himself on the strength of his eyesight. Going
into a bar-room one day, he offered to wager that he could look directly
at the sun longer than any other living man. There were three or four
professional sports sitting around, one of whom promptly offered to
cover any amount which he might wish to put up, provided he was allowed
ten minutes to produce a contestant. The terms having been accepted, the
stakes were put in the hands of a third party. The “sport” went out of
the room, and soon returned, accompanied by a rather dilapidated looking
individual who said that he “reckoned he could look right smart.” At the
same time, he stated that he did not wish to risk blindness in both
eyes, but was willing to venture one of his optics in any good cause.
The party went out into the sunlight, and the man who had proposed the
wager looked steadily at the orb of day for a number of seconds that was
actually surprising. When pain compelled him to lower his gaze, the
“dark horse” which the gambler had brought forward covered one of his
eyes with his hand, and, raising his head, apparently looked at the sun
without being in the slightest degree affected. He easily surpassed the
record of the first gazer, and the confidence man claimed and received
the stakes. The stranger reluctantly acknowledged that he had fairly
lost his money and departed much chagrined. Probably he is not aware to
this day that the man who had excelled him had only one eye and was
looking at the sun through a glass substitute for the one which had been

                            BOTTOM DEALING.

This term, as understood among gamblers, refers to that method of
dealing which consists of drawing a card from the bottom of the pack
instead of, or at the same time with, one from the top. I once met a
gentleman at St. Louis, who had been a physician of some standing, but
who had yielded to his gambling instincts to such a degree that he had
lost not only his money, but also his self-respect. We will call him
Doctor Rodman. As an illustration of the inveteracy of his passion for
play, I need only mention the fact that one night, while engaged in a
game of poker, I saw him draw from his mouth his artificial teeth, which
were attached to a gold plate, and offer to stake them for $2.00. He
claimed to be a professional, and undertook to enter into a partnership
with me. I asked him to indicate what was his “strong-hold” in the line
of a professional card sharper. He said that he was as good a “bottom
dealer” as there was in the country. I sat in a room while he was
playing and watched him closely with a view to ascertaining how much he
knew about running the cards from the bottom of the pack. I soon saw
that while he could draw two cards at the same time, one from the top
and the other from the bottom, he did it so clumsily that the operation
was accompanied by a resounding thwack, sufficiently loud to attract the
attention of every player at the board. When he left the table and came
into the open air, I told him that an idea had just occurred to me,
through working which he and I together might beat the world at playing
poker. I added that I knew it to be a “sure thing.” His interest was
awakened at once, and he impatiently asked me to tell him what my
project was. “Well,” said I, “Doctor, I have a horse pistol right here
in my pocket. I’ve noticed your skill as a bottom dealer, and I believe
if you will only give me a signal when you intend to draw a card from
the bottom of the pack, I’ll fire off my gun at the same time, and so
fully attract the attention of every man in the room that nobody will
notice what you are doing. At all events nobody will hear that horrible
noise that you make in practicing your little game.” The doctor’s face
fell, and I have never been able to tell why, from that moment forward,
he always appeared to avoid my company.

                         A WHIFF FOR A NICKEL.

I was once traveling through the country with a partner named Barnes. He
was not without some good traits, but he was unquestionably the smallest
pattern of a man in money matters that I ever had the misfortune to
meet. I used to twit him with this fact, and he was accustomed to
account for a peculiarity which he did not attempt to deny by saying
that he owed it to his grandfather, who had brought him up. He was fond
of telling stories of his ancestor’s meanness. When the old gentleman
used to send him down stairs, of a winter night, after apples, he used
to insist upon his whistling all the time, in order that there might not
be any doubt as to the fact that he was not eating any on his way back
to the kitchen. Another narrative which he was fond of relating about
his grandfather was to the effect that the old man once hired him to go
supperless to bed in consideration of the payment of five cents. The
next morning his affectionate grandparent, finding that he was
exceedingly hungry, insisted upon the return of the five cents before
allowing him to eat his breakfast. How much truth there may have been in
these stories of Barnes I cannot tell, but I had an opportunity once of
observing the closeness of his calculations. We were stopping together
at a hotel. He was going out to visit a young woman that evening, and,
being engaged in making his toilet and wanting some perfumery, he asked
me if I would take a good-sized bottle which was standing upon the
dressing case, and repair to a drug store to buy five cents worth of
attar of roses. It occurred to me that five cents was not much money to
invest in perfumery, but as I knew nothing of the value of attar of
roses, I took the bottle, together with the nickel which he handed me,
and started for the drug store. When I arrived there I handed the bottle
to the man behind the counter, and told him that I would like to get
some attar of roses. He smiled graciously, and asked me how much I
wanted. In an off-hand way, for I felt rather ashamed of the mission
with which I had been charged, I replied: “Oh, give me a nickel’s
worth.” I shall never forget the expression that came into that man’s
eyes. He glared at me for a full minute without a word. Then, in a
commiserating tone he said: “My friend, attar of roses is worth twenty-
five cents a drop, but if you’ll hand me your nickel I’ll let you smell
of the bottle.”

It is not necessary to say that from that time forward I did not
undertake to execute any commissions for Barnes of a precisely similar
character. As I have said before, like a yellow dog, he was not without
his good points, but to discover them required more patient assiduity
than I possessed.

                            A GOOD SWIMMER.

As is explained in another chapter, a favorite device of confidence
operators is to induce a victim to back a good runner for a race which
it has been previously arranged that he shall lose. The method in which
the trick is played is one set forth at that part of the work above
indicated and need not be more fully described. One of this class of
gentry once undertook to “work” a similar trick upon a wealthy man in a
western town. He succeeded in making his dupe believe that he was an
expert skater. The “sucker” was fond of athletic sports and much given
to betting, and in the hope that he had a fair prospect of winning a
large sum during the following winter, after the ice had formed and the
weather was propitious, he supported him all through the summer. The
sharper lived in clover until the cold blasts of winter had touched the
lakes and streams with an icy kiss. The smooth, glassy surface being
well adapted to the use of skaters, his patron suggested that they
should talk business; _i.e._, make arrangements for the skating contest.
The confidence man saw that the “jig was up,” and placidly looking his
host in the eye, said: “Well, Colonel, to tell the plain truth, I don’t
know much about skating nohow, but I’m the doggondest best swimmer in
the country.”

                             A HUNGRY TRIO.

The preference which some men give to whisky over food is not only
surprising, but at times, decidedly embarrassing to those who do not
share in the same disposition. A striking illustration of this assertion
once happened in my own experience. In company with two partners I was
operating a game on the fair-grounds at Macon, Missouri. Luck had not
been particularly propitious to us during the day, and night fell upon
three hungry and tired gamblers, whose combined resources did not exceed
$7. To get something to eat was the main trouble with us all. One of the
party was deputed to go into town and purchase some provender, the fact
that we were all camping on the grounds preventing our visiting a hotel
or restaurant in the village. Unfortunately, the man selected for this
all-important duty was one who never hesitated between a glass of liquor
and a loaf of bread. I am fully aware that the same statement might be
predicated concerning many a consistent prohibitionist; the difference
between the prohibitionist and our messenger, however, was that while
the former would take the bread, the latter invariably chose the
stimulant. We waited long and patiently for his return, and as the hours
passed away our hunger increased. We began to doubt whether he might not
have deserted us, and the question presented itself, should we ever see
him again? At last, in the glimmering darkness we discerned his form
approaching with rather uncertain tread. As soon as he came within
hailing distance, he accosted us. “Boys,” said he, “I’m all there.” To
say that we felt relieved is to state the case mildly. From the length
of time which he had taken to execute his commission, we felt he must
have provided a “lay-out” which might have tempted Epicurus himself. The
reader may judge of our disappointment when he put down a package which
he evidently regarded as the most precious object of life, and on
opening which, we found it to contain precisely three bottles of
“appetite bitters,” for which he had paid $2.00 per bottle. We said
nothing; we felt that language was inadequate to express our feelings.
The hour was near midnight, and we retired to our beds upon the ground,
in the hope that the sweet oblivion of sleep might bring to us a
happiness, equal in degree, if differing in kind, from that which was
enjoyed by our companion.

                      A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.

Much is said in this volume regarding the venality of the police. An
efficient municipal administration can always suppress gambling, if the
task is undertaken in genuine sincerity of purpose and with an
inflexible resolution to succeed. As tending to show how susceptible is
the average policeman to the influence of a bribe I might relate stories
which would fill a work of considerably larger size than this. I have
had an extensive and varied experience with the officers of the law. I
was once arrested in a Missouri city for having perpetrated a scheme of
fraud upon a verdant and gullible stranger. When the policeman placed
his hand upon my shoulder and informed me that I was under arrest, my
first impulse was to get away, and I twisted my body into as many
contortions as are discernible upon the face of a man who is shaving
himself with a dull razor. I soon found that escape was impossible. The
blue-coated minion of authority held me with a tenacious grip. Then I
began to appeal to the finer instincts of his nature. I told him that I
was innocent; he laughed at me. I told him of my poverty, talked to him
of my family, and otherwise appealed to the gentler side of his
character. He listened to all I had to say in silence, and with a smile
that Artemus Ward would have described as “coldly cynical.” Inserting
the thumb and forefinger of my right hand in my vest I drew out a ten
dollar treasury note, which I quietly slipped into the hand of the
protector of public morals. His large fingers closed over it with the
same firm grasp with which they had prevented my escape. Stepping back
from me one or two paces, he looked earnestly into my face and
exclaimed, “Well, begorrah, an’ Oi believe Oi’ve got the wrong man.”


There is a class of amateur gamblers who are always ready to fasten
themselves upon men whom they discover to be professionals, with a view
to induce or to compel them to divide their winnings. They are wont to
claim that without their assistance the blackleg would not have been
able to have won anything. These men are as essentially dishonest as any
confidence man either inside or outside the penitentiary, but they are
not usually particularly astute. I was once playing in a poker game in
an Indiana town, where one of these gentry sat directly over my left
hand. As the game progressed and the gentleman from the rural district
perceived that I was winning largely, he began to kick me under the
table. I at once perceived what he wanted and returned his kicks with
great vigor. When the play was over and we had left the room, the
unsophisticated individual approached me and inquired how much I thought
was his share of the money which I had won. I was not at all surprised,
and answered him in the blandest tone, “nothing.” “Why,” said he,
“didn’t I kick you under the table that I was in with you?” “Yes,” I
replied, “and didn’t I kick you right back that you weren’t?”

                           FIVE EQUAL HANDS.

One evening, while I was running a saloon at Columbia, Missouri, in the
absence of business I began carefully to study the characteristics of
the loungers about the place. They were all broken-down “bums,” men who
claimed to be gamblers, but who were never known to have a dollar in
their pockets. As I have said, trade during the day had been very quiet,
and I felt that something must be done to enliven the proceedings.
Taking the gamblers apart, one by one, I lent each one of the four two
dollars, with which to sit in a poker game which I told them I was about
to open and in which I proposed to take a hand myself. To an old and
penniless gambler, the prospect of enjoying all the excitement of poker
playing without any risk is an alluring prospect. After I had “staked”
them all, I produced a deck of cards and we all sat around the table to
play. I had previously prepared a “cold deck,” with precisely similar
backs, by taking all the aces from five packs, and abstracting sixteen
cards from the original deck, to make the correct number. After playing
a few rounds, the deal coming to me, I gave to each man at the table,
including myself, four aces. To see the smile of satisfaction which
lighted up each one of those four faces was worth all the money that it
cost. Every man believed that he had a “sure thing.” Betting began and
the limit of each man’s pile was soon reached. One player became so
excited that he took off his coat and vest, and placing them on the
table said, “let ’em go for what they’re worth; I’ll bet all I’m worth
on this hand.” When the hands were “shown down” each man around the
board displayed four aces. It did not take long for the true inwardness
of the situation to dawn upon the minds of the crowd. A general “guffaw”
followed, and I invited all hands to repair to the bar and indulge in a
little liquid refreshment. My joke had cost me just $8.00, but the story
was soon noised about town, and the following day I did the largest
saloon business on record in the town since the first white man erected
the little log cabin which marked the site of the present thriving city.

                         A CHANGE OF DEMEANOR.

Once, while I was in partnership with a gambler named Martin, to whom I
have frequently referred, I received a telegram from a lawyer in
Jefferson City, Missouri, urging me to come to the latter place with a
view to winning some money at poker. The source from which the
invitation proceeded, left no doubt in our minds that it was possible to
make a snug little sum, and we accordingly went. My partner represented
himself as a drummer for a wholesale liquor house, while I posed as a
traveling representative of a concern engaged in the manufacture of
playing cards. We were introduced into the poker party without
difficulty and with but very little ceremony. We found that there were
seven players, and that the ante was five cents. They called it “playing
for amusement.” We concluded that it would not be policy on our part to
manifest the slightest anxiety to sit in the game, and therefore when
invited to play we declined. One of the party repeatedly urged me to
take a hand, saying that “it was only a five cent ante game which they
were playing just for fun.” By way of reply I told him of an infatuated
card player who had once entered a gaming house and was accosted with a
similar invitation. Shivering and trembling, he declined the invitation,
saying that a previous indulgence in the same sort of “fun” had
compelled him to wear his summer clothes all through the winter.

Among the players was an individual whose dignified mien I shall never
forget. When I was introduced to him he recognized my existence only by
the most distant nod. I at once made up my mind that he was a member of
that numerous class who, having a little money in their possession,
consider themselves the superiors in point of wealth, intelligence and
respectability to all the rest of mankind. I made no effort to force my
company upon him, nor did I seek to cultivate his acquaintance.

Within a day or two, after much solicitation, Martin and I consented to
play. Day by day the demeanor of the arrogant stranger became more and
more cordial toward me. At first he condescended to speak to me by name,
gradually he so far forgot himself as to offer me his hand, and finally
grew so familiar that he used to slap me on the back on any and all
occasions, however inopportune. The secret of this change of conduct on
his part was that my partner and myself had succeeded in winning between
$800 and $1,000.

This sum, however, did not represent a net gain to us, inasmuch as we
were obliged to pay the distinguished member of the bar who had
introduced us into the game, the sum of $200 as a commission for his
services. The limb of the law was so elated over his sudden acquisition
of this ill-gotten wealth that in a moment of confidence induced by a
too free indulgence in the cup that both cheers and inebriates, he
disclosed the secret. The result of this imprudence on his part was that
an icy barrier was raised between him and his acquaintances. The stilted
individual to whom I have already referred assured me that the attorney
little thought that his fingers were “involuntarily contracting in a
desire to grasp his throat in a suffocating clutch.” Martin and I left
Jefferson City with damaged reputations, but with tolerably well filled
pockets. We afterwards learned that the lawyer had been “barred out”
from playing poker in any decent circle. This may have proved to have
been a blessing in disguise, inasmuch as of all the poker players that I
ever saw I think that he knew the least about the game.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                                MY WIFE.

Fannie May Harvey was the daughter of Dr. W. C. Harvey, of Roanoke,
Howard county, Mo., a physician who, in addition to the social
prominence which his profession conferred, had accumulated a competence
and enjoyed a lucrative income from his practice. Tenderly nurtured in
the surroundings of a home of wealth and luxury, of which she was the
pride and pet, gifted with rare graces of mind and person, and endowed
with education and accomplishments unusual even for one of her age and
station, through the anxious care of parents ambitious for her future,
brilliant in wealth and station, May Harvey had reached the bloom of
womanhood singularly unspoiled by her advantages and surroundings, and
possessed a sweet amiability of disposition and a gentle and loving way
that endeared her to all who were brought into contact with her. As one
has said, “none knew her but to love her, nor named her but to praise.”
My father’s farm was but four miles distant from the home of Dr. Harvey,
and being thus almost neighbors, we were thrown into contact at that
stage of life when the heart of each was most susceptible to the
tenderest and truest impulses of affection. That I should have
surrendered to the influence of such a nature all the ardor of a
youthful and undisciplined enthusiasm of love was not to be wondered at.
That my affection, earnest and sincere, and unbroken as it remains to
this day to her memory, should be returned might be wondered at, when it
is remembered, as the reader will have before learned, that my name had
already been associated with crime. The standing of my family had,
however, shielded me to some extent from the consequences of the
reckless tendencies of my life, and what might have been characterized
by a harsher verdict was to some extent condoned as youthful wildness.
This was sufficient to excuse our earlier association, and when the
parents of May Harvey had awakened to the serious nature of our
intimacy, our hearts had become knit with an affection stronger than
parental remonstrance or interference was able to move. Once aroused,
Dr. and Mrs. Harvey took active measures to separate their daughter from
the danger which they foresaw from such a union. But, as it very often
happens, opposition served but to fan the flame of devotion between us,
and to strengthen our mutual resolve to unite our love and fortunes in
an indissoluble tie. Finding her parents unrelenting, it became evident
that the only course was to accomplish our happiness by means of an
elopement, and this was carried into effect on the night of August 24,
1870. May’s natural aversion to this extreme and undesirable step, and
her knowledge of the anger which it would awaken in the hearts of her
parents were undoubtedly overcome not alone by the promptings of her
love for me, but by the belief growing out of the tenderness of her
heart, that her parents loved her too dearly to be long unreconciled and
that regard for her happiness would overcome a temporary displeasure.
Well do I remember that night on which she left the home of her
childhood, the surroundings of luxury and the love of parents; a
sacrifice to a greater love. Before leaving the house she played on the
piano and sang “Good-Bye, Old Home,” with an intensity of feeling that
none but herself realized. She bade good-bye to several friends with a
seriousness which was mistaken for badinage, and I with a horse from the
barn being waiting in the vicinity, she was soon speeding on the way to
the opening of life’s tragedy. We rode eighteen miles to Renick, where
we were married by ’Squire Butler, a justice of that place.

As may be imagined, when Dr. and Mrs. Harvey learned of the event, their
wrath knew no bounds. The brilliant hopes which they had entertained of
a career of social distinction for which they had aimed to fit their
favorite daughter, and to which they had looked forward to a marriage of
wealth as the key, were not only dashed to the ground, but they had the
added bitterness of knowing that it was not poverty alone to which their
daughter had been wedded, but a poverty tainted by social disgrace, for
the object upon whom she had bestowed the wealth of her affection was
comparatively an outcast, a gambler by profession, and even at that time
resting under suspicion. Looking back now, without prejudice and in the
light of a fuller experience, I can hardly feel justified in condemning
them for the bitter feeling which they displayed toward me. Yet, at the
time, the animosity with which they pursued me awakened a deep, and, as
I thought, justifiable resentment, for I had acted with honest motive,
and, as I then thought, with pure and unselfish regard for the happiness
of one who was dearer to me than life, for even to this day I can say
with truth and sincerity that one of the sweetest faces in all the world
to me is one that comes to me as a hallowed memory; and the sweetest
thoughts are those which cluster around the life which, through good and
ill report, we led together. And I can add now without resentment that
it was not politic toward me nor christian duty toward her whose life
was irrevocably linked to mine, that they should cast her off and bid
her never again to darken their doors, and thus add to such unhappiness
as her life encountered by long years of cold and unfeel