The Project Gutenberg eBook of Fools of Fortune; or, Gambling and Gamblers

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Title: Fools of Fortune; or, Gambling and Gamblers

Author: John Philip Quinn

Contributor: Charles P. Johnson

Robert McIntyre

John M. Snyder

David Swing

Release date: November 14, 2018 [eBook #58280]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by KD Weeks, Chris Curnow and the Online
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John Philip Quinn


Gambling and Gamblers,
A History of the Vice in Ancient and Modern Times, and in Both
Hemispheres; an Exposition of its Alarming Prevalence and
Destructive Effects; with an Unreserved and Exhaustive
Disclosure of Such Frauds, Tricks and Devices
as are Practiced by “Professional”
Gamblers, “Confidence Men”
and “Bunko Steerers.”
John Philip Quinn,

G. L. HOWE & CO.
Copyrighted, 1890,


Hon. Charles P. Johnson,


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 8of 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.”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 removed.

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 contains.

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.”

9The 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.



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

....Gambling Historically Considered....

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
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”Dove”—A Substitute For the Lottery—Cards and Dice Prohibited in Japan 74-86
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
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
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
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 13of 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 Mowbray—Stangers’—Cavendish—Leicester’s—Hertford’s—Description 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

....Gambling Historically Considered....

14Gambling 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
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
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
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“Steerers”—Comparative Popularity of the Game in America and Europe—Roulette—The Table 15and 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
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 “Paper”—Euchre—Strippers—Briefs—Stocking—Crimping—The “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
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
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 16Hopes—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
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
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
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
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
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

Forms of Gambling Tolerated by Public Sentiment—Arraignment of
the Nature and Effects of the Vice.

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
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—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
By Rev. Professor David Swing 607-608
By Rev. Robt. McIntyre 611-640




By Hon. Chas. P. Johnson, Ex-Governor of Missouri.

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 27the 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 28effect. 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.

Chas. P. Johnson.


By Rev. John Snyder, D. D., Church of the Messiah, St. Louis, Mo.

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,” 30but 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.

John Snyder




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.” 34So, in the life of every human being, there is at once more of tender charity and vicious selfishness than can be portrayed in words.

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.

35At 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 County.

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 36own 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 37brave, 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 illustrateillustrate 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 38that “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.

39Like 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 robbery.

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 40my 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 discoverdiscover the right one. While sharing the fruit with her schoolmates, one of them, in biting an apple, was surprised 41to 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, 1865.

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 remitted.

42For 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 43had 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 country.

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.

44During 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. 45Accordingly, 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.

46I 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 47fairs 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 formality.

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 48and 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, 49Col. 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 expenses.

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 50Hennessey 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 againstagainst 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 51Johnson 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.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 52they 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 53Kerns, 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.

54In 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 corroboratedcorroborated by his wife, mother and three sisters.

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 pressed.

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, 55ostensibly 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 kindkind words for us in that hour of our humiliationhumiliation 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 matchlessmatchless 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 laugh.

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 56of 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 IndianapolisIndianapolis 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]

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 57once 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 Brownstown.

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.

58It 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 grieviousgrievious wrong, 59restored 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 60within 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 AssociationAssociation 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.”

61This 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.

My Dear Wife:

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 both.

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.

62When 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 63door, 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‘God bless mamma and papa, grandma and grandpa, and everybody. Amen.’”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 release.

64During 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 follows:

“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.”
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.

66In 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.



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.

68Why, 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 69step 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 men.

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 70joins 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 71fiber 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 72remedy 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 Illinois.

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, 73and 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.



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 75game 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.chance.

76A 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 also.

“And when the Pandavas had done reverence to the Great Raja, and 77respectfully 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:

78So 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 79entered 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“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, 80and both he and the younger Pandavas were obliged to obey the command of their elder brother.

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 Kunti.”

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 Hastinapur.

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 81the 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 82show 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, 83it 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 84it. 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 conspicuousconspicuous 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.

856. Five beggars. Respectively a prawn, a snake, a fish, a deer, and a sheep.

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

8. Two TaouistTaouist 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 servants.

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, 86they 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 weight.

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.



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 pursuits.

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 tesseraraetesserarae, and differing numbers, as two alike, on the 88tali. 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 89humor 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 ActiumActium? 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 90to 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 ways:

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.

91In 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 hand.

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 rogue.

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 92basil 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.

93“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 94marble 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.”him.”



“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 named.

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.

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, 97lay 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 sanitivesanitive 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 goes.”

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 ‘LoukouniLoukouni,’ 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 98Belgrade 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?’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.

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 100should 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 101gaming 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.

102Among 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“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 104manner, and who spoke of them as if they were the only desirable companions in the world.

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.

105The 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 106votre jeu, messieurs,” “le jeu est fait,” and “rien ne va plus.” (“Make your play, gentlemen!” “Nothing more goes!”)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 107to 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 108chairs 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 gone.


Gambling Saloon at Wiesbaden.

The Kursaal at Wiesbaden.

110“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“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“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 forbid!

“Another“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 111was assured she was a person of rank; and my informant added, but I trust she was mistaken, that she was an Englishwoman.”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 112act 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 entertainmententertainment of the salons. “Every drawing-room in Bucharest is an unlicensed cure-halle,” say a recent writer.




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 114by 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.


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 117now 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 representativerepresentative 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 sufficientsufficient 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 gambler.


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 118card 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 119zero, 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.

120Here, 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, drunkennessdrunkenness 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, 121was 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 gambling.

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 122day 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 parlimentparliment 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 temeritytemerity offered 123to 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,”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 124to 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 Counselor.

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 125d’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 126public, 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.”

127Gambling 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 proportionproportion 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 128constitutes 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 liaisonliaison, 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.”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 129manage 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 MississippiMississippi 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 replied.

130The 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 131clubs 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 interesting:

“I had never been in a gambling club in my life,” he said,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 132of 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, 133Cercle 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 134profits 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, 135after 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.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 cards.”

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 136an 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.”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 137appearances, 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.



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 139‘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.

140“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 141replied.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 ——,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.”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 142Lauderdale 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:

143At 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 gift.

“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 144are 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“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 145they 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 colossalcolossal 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.

146“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, succeededsucceeded 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 147mill, 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 Cleveland.

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 148on 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 occasionoccasion 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 “hell.”

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 149with 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 pastime.’

“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.

150“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 rooms.

“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 time.time.

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 151in 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 152and 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.”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.

153An 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 154great 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 deucesdeuces 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 155called, 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 countenancescountenances 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 156‘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.’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 157two, 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.

158“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.

159English 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 countries.”

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 160no 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 SmallettSmallett 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, 161but 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.’

162“The particulars of this notable scheme were not to be revealed for a month, and, ‘in the meantime’ says SmalletSmallet, 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.’

SmallettSmallett 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.

163The 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 usefulnessusefulness 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. 35).

“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 penaltypenalty 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.”default.”

164Section 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.


“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 165written 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 shillings.”

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 166these 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.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 167gentleman 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 168blasted, 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 169a 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 170amateur 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.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 171the 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 172bond 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 173gamesters 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 becamebecame 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 friends.”

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 174piece 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.”absence.”

WhenWhen 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 familiarfamiliar 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 175Carlisle 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 afterward.

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, 176saying: “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 177the 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 gambling.”

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 178out 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 apologizedapologized 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 179strike 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.’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.”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’‘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 EnglishmanEnglishman who, at one time, in his career, was an inveterate gambler, and who subsequently reformed. “We played a good deal at ‘Goosetree’s’”‘Goosetree’s’”, wrote Wilberforce, “and I well remember the intense 180earnestness 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 winner.

“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?’‘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’,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 181few 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,”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 182amongst 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, AngleseyAnglesey 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.





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 186Exchanges 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 decrepteddecrepted 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 187the 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 188one 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 quantity.

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 (?) 189percentage. 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.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 190as 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.



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 card-mad.

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 192name 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 certainty.

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 193to 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.

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, 194the 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 drawer.

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. 195This is called “coppering,” because originally old fashioned copper cents were employed for this purpose instead of the wooden checkers.

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 value.

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.

196It 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 Chances of the Game.

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 bank:

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 bet.
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,” 197etc., 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.

198The 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.”“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 199insured 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 200movement,” 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 explained.explained.

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

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.

201The “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.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 deckdeck, so that the gambler can readily distinguish the card underneath.


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 202establishment. 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 203cards 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.

204Another 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.

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 matter.

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 205as 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.

206Even 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 207game. Here’s your money old man.”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,” 208and 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 apartmentapartment, 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 209morning, 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.


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 210that 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.


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 211find 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?


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 212is 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,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, 213with 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.



The game of poker is undoubtedly one of the “peculiar institutions”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.

215As 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.

216In 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.”

WhenWhen 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 217judge, or try to judge, of the value of each hand opposed to him accordingly.

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 begun.


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.


Age.—Same as eldest hand.

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

218Blaze.—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 pool.

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,”“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 optional.

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.

219A 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 bebe 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 220cards 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 faro.

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 221ten 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 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 pair.


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 unsophisticatedunsophisticated 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 223surprised 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 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 224right 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.


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.”


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 225given 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.


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.



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 gamblers.

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.”“pile.” The hands being “shown down,” of course number 1 takes the stakes.


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 whomwhom 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, 228which 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. 229He 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.


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 origin.

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 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 230goods,” 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 succeedingsucceeding paragraphs of this chapter the 231reader 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 bet.

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.

232At 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.


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.


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 233described), 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.


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.

234I. THE BUG.
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 denomination.

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.

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 235dotted 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.

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.


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. 236Looking 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’sadversary’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 accidentallyaccidentally 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, anyway?”

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.


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.


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, 239Y——, 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.”


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 240dealer 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.


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 241the 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 242next 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.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?

card game


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 indicated.


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.

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 244of 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 apertureaperture 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.

245On 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 colors.

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 246of 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 noirnoir 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.


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 248space 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,”“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 players.

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 halfhalf 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 groups.

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 1.

249The 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 black, 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 250cause 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.


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.”

252Matters having been thus arranged, fresh stakes are advanced by those wishing to play again, the balls put in the globe and the game is resumed.

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 toto win through fraud.


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.”

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 253are 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 254through 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 itinerantitinerant 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 colloquialismcolloquialism—“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.


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.




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 trump.

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 precedence.

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 score.

257Game.—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 nornor 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 trump.

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.

258Fully 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 described.


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 259he “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.


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 himself.


In a case where the cards have been stocked on the system of the “whole stock,” it makes not the slightestslightest 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.


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.


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 261or 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 262rules 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.


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 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 repeated.


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, 263he 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 deals.

“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 264having 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.”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 rascality.


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 advantageouslyadvantageously 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 cards.

“Stocking” is far more easily accomplished at this game than at either poker or “seven-up,” and the gamester who is proficient in arranging 267the 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 together.

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.”higher.”

268WhenWhen 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. 269But 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.


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 BritainBritain, 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 stakes.

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 271practiced 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 certaintycertainty. 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’sdealer’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.

272It 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.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.



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 PharoahsPharoahs, 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 seriatumseriatum. 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 274cut. 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.


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.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, 275this 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 occuredoccured 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 question.

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,”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.


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 276it. 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 inscribedinscribed 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 278two 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.


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 appearance.

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. 279Strange 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

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 poker.

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.


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 281places 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.


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 282“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.


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 appearappear to be positively miraculous, he sometimes permits his dupe to win.


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 283table. 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.


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 undermost.

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.



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 numbernumber 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 285license 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 once.

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 intended.

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

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 287knob 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.above.


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.”

288 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”“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.


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.

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 290the 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 mechanicismmechanicism, 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 291more 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 districts.


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.


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 292selects. 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 293was 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 294operator 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.


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 ceases.


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. 2fig. 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 297squares 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 “represent.”

298In 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

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.

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 300down 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.


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”“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.

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, 301supporting 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 whatwhat 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 302of 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 303buggy 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.


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 304privilege. 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.


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.

305An 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

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 306insult. 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.

$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 307thin 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.


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 308the 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.


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.


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 gratuitousgratuitous 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.


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.

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 loses.

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.



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.

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.

312The 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 villanyvillany 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 describeddescribed 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 313exhausted, 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) 314and 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 fashion:

“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“Why, man, Mississippi is a big State, like this. Your letter will never reach him directed to Mississippi. What city?”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 315whereabouts 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 destination.

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 316makes that “Mr. Jones” shall hand the bottle to him, in order that the “Indian” may receive the acid from the hands of his friend.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 scoundrelsscoundrels 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. 317The 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.


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“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.

319I 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 way.”

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 320was 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 whe