Game Tosser

There are some common guessing games that have actually been around in some form or another for hundreds of years, which are still able to rope people in today.  The lesson for all gamblers to learn is that when something seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn’t.  Nobody is giving away money for free, as the house always has an edge and in these particular games, the edge is massive.  Both three card monte and the shell games are based on the same basic idea, you need to keep your eye on the target, while the dealer or operator of these games who is called the tosser (or the scammer) mixes it up to the best of their abilities and then you make your best guess.  Both of these games work on the principle of building up someone’s confidence till they get hooked and start betting money.

In three card monte, the tosser uses playing cards, which might be a red queen and two black cards or it could be two black fours and a red ace.  It really does not matter as long as one card is remarkably different from the other two.  The cards need to bend lengthwise with a crease down the middle, to make it easier for the tosser to handle them.  The basic premise behind this game is that once the three cards are shuffled and sitting on the table, then the mark or sucker will try to pick the odd card, in this case, the red one.

The tosser shows the player all three cards, face-up, and then drops them face down on a table.  They slide the cards around on the table, switching their positions rapidly.  The player tries to track the position of the money card as the tosser moves it around.  When the tosser stops, the player makes a bet and guesses the position of the red card.  In most games, the sucker bets money on whatever card they think is the money card, they usually lose, and then the tosser takes their money.  The tosser is a magician, who takes great pains to take money from the sucker while not making them feel stupid for failing to follow the red card.

The tosser is an expert at leading the player away from the money card and this is usually done in the beginning of the game.  In order for the player to think that the game is fair, the tosser shows all three cards, they hold a black card in one hand and a black card and the red card in the other hand.  This black card is held between the thumb and middle finger, and the red card is held in front of it, between the thumb and the ring finger.  Since the red is in front, the player assumes the tosser drops it first, but in fact, the tosser releases the black card first, while moving their hand to the side.  This moves the money card out of the way, so the black card can fall straight down.  The tosser does this so quickly that the spectators never notice, and just about everyone is tracking the wrong card.

In the shell game, the tosser lays three half shells, or cups, or open match boxes face down on the table and slips a ball or pea underneath one.  Then the tosser slides the shells around while the player tries to track the shell with the pea.  Then the audience bets which shell they think the little ball is under.  The shell game is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is almost always a confidence trick used to perpetrate fraud, because usually there is no way to win these games.  In many shell games, the ball isn’t under any of the shells, as the tosser has pinched it in their hand right off the table!  There are a few different ways of doing this, as the tosser may lift the shell as it slides over the edge of a table cloth or newspaper sheet.  When the ball rolls out from under a shell, the tosser keeps shuffling and most people have no idea that there is no winning shell.

In most cases, this sleight of hand (also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain which refers to fine motor skills when used by performing artists in different art forms to entertain or manipulate) is actually the simplest part of the scam.  Most card and shell games are very elaborate operations involving several crew members.  In addition to the tosser, the scam depends on a lookout to keep an eye out for the police, a roper to bring in potential players and one or more shills to get people to play.  The shill blends in as part of the crowd trying to act as a player or an involved spectator.

When the dealer moves the shells, they usually lift them up just a bit so that the mark will actually get to see the ball a few times during the shuffle.  The mark does not realize that the dealer actually removes the ball on his last shuffle move.  The tosser has probably put hundreds and hundreds of hours practicing to do that in a very unnoticeable way.  His crew of accomplices are responsible for blocking all the positions where you could see the removal being done.  They also stand around and cheer to create enthusiasm which makes the game more appealing to outsiders.  Sometimes they play and win and get money from the dealer showing that there is a legitimate possibility of wining this game or they even might lose but they are all working together with the same money.  The outsider must think that the only reason they lost was because they chose the wrong box.

You can’t beat this game, because even if you see the card switch, track the right shell and put down money on the red card or the shell with the ball, one of the shills will just put down a higher bet on another card, and the tosser will decree ‘one bet at a time’.  A shill might even bump into the table, accidentally knocking it over, voiding the game.  Or the tosser might suddenly spot the police, and pack the game up.  It is a scam where everyone is only out to take your money, even if you are a great guesser.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt word from Linda G. Hill is ‘guess’.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday

7 thoughts on “Game Tosser

      1. Why are you saying that Jim? I love your posts.. And I am sure Fandango will agree most of us write for ourselves. Do you know I have the lowest visibility among the JFSS,.. It doesn’t bother me..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was just teasing, you know me as I take everything as a joke. Maybe that is the reason why I never get depressed. I am not aware of your low visibility, as I do not pay attention to such things. I know that you are an excellent writer with a wonderful mind and a great friend also.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I thought everyone followers were the sign of their visibility, Jim. I can see yours when I go to your site via reader.. And I am nothing compared to you, Fandango Sensei or Sandi.. And you are a great friend, and an Academician, that too a real one..

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s