Vernon's quizz about Erdnase book

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Postby Guest » 09/21/06 01:57 AM

On Revelations Persi Diaconis wrote about Vernon's questions about "Expert at the Card Table". One of question was "Does Erdnase ever mention a pair of shoes?"

Of couse I know about 2-shoe. But question - is Erdnase mention shoes? On "CARD TABLE ARTIFICE" on page 18 there are "'brace' box", "little silver-plated articles" and "'crooced' box" but all of this about "Faro boxes" what newer calls "shoe"... It was hand size parallelepiped.

The problem, Darwin Ortiz on "Annotated Erdnase" just here wrote comments abou shoes.

Who can help me?

Postby Steve Bryant » 09/21/06 05:18 AM

Hmm. has the book, and although viewing some of the pages is restricted, it will do a search and tell you on which pages a word appears. I had no luck finding the word shoe or shoes. Erdnase must have referred to the "pair of shoes" by some other term.
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Postby Guest » 09/21/06 10:30 AM

I have electronic version. There are no "shoe" on Erdnase. Also there are no "shoe" on Revelation, except Diaconis article.

Please, english not my language. For me difficult find "by some other term".

Not need number of page. I can find if you tell what search.

Postby Guest » 09/22/06 09:13 PM

I'm reasonably certain that the pair of shoes Vernon referred to is the two references on page 18 to the crooked control boxes used in Faro.

Normally, we think of a "shoe" as a box that holds more than one deck of cards, but this would be an acceptable interpretation of the term, I believe.

Postby Guest » 09/22/06 11:21 PM

Thanks Mr Palmer.
If 18 page only one place, this is good. I afraid there are one more what I did not find.

This is enough for my book. I suppose Vernon vas not correcr, but this is only my opinion. BTW. I even can not say he was wrong. I can say only "On question 'Does Erdnase ever mention a pair of shoes?' answer 'No'". :-)

I do not want became famous like "man who suppose Vernon was not correct". :-) I only miss this question.

Postby Guest » 09/23/06 11:43 AM


There are two references to crooked card dealing boxes on that page. The card dealing boxes are referred to in gambler's parlance as "shoes."

Two boxes = two shoes = a pair of shoes. It is a play on words.

So, Vernon was correct, but not literal.

It's a complex linguistic matter.

Postby Guest » 09/23/06 10:36 PM

Dear mr. Palmer.

Would be you so kind show me source (book) where was written that Faro boxes referred to in gambler's parlance as "shoes." I have no such information.

Book before 1950 will be preferable. On my little library I get only information about big boxes for more than one pack, what gamblers call shoe. This is easy understand why. Enough take off your shoe from foot and place it on casino table near blackjack box. All my attempt compare my shoe with Faro box do not give me ideas how it can be.

If Faro boxes really call like shoe, not need search game of words. Because boxes for second deal can call 2-boxes.

Postby Guest » 09/24/06 02:19 AM

Originally posted by Stepanov Oleg:
[QBWould be you so kind show me source (book) where was written that Faro boxes referred to in gambler's parlance as "shoes."[/QB]

Note definition 6

Main Entry: shoe
Pronunciation: 'sh
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English shoo, from Old English scOh; akin to Old High German scuoh shoe
1 a : an outer covering for the human foot typically having a thick or stiff sole with an attached heel and an upper part of lighter material (as leather) b : a metal plate or rim for the hoof of an animal
2 : something resembling a shoe in function or placement
3 plural : another's place, function, or viewpoint <steps from assistant stage manager into the star's shoes -- Steven Fuller>
4 : a device that retards, stops, or controls the motion of an object; especially : the part of a brake that presses on the brake drum
5 a : any of various devices that are inserted in or run along a track or groove to guide a movement, provide a contact or friction grip, or protect against wear, damage, or slipping b : a device (as a clip or track) on a camera that permits attachment of an accessory item (as a flash unit)
6 : a dealing box designed to hold several decks of playing cards


Postby Guest » 09/24/06 09:42 AM

Thank you very much mr. Dave Le Fevre.

I know why "a dealing box designed to hold several decks of playing cards" calls shoe. I need source where written that Faro box for one deck calls shoe too, like suggest mr. Bill Palmer.

Postby Guest » 09/24/06 09:56 PM


The box used for passing the deck (notice the singular) around the table in chemin-de-fer is called the sabot or the shoe.

Chemin-de-fer is also called French Baccarat. It was replaced by modern baccarat in this country in the 1950's.

Your idea that somehow a book written before 1950 would be more accurate than one written after 1950 is truly silly. Much more is known about gamblers' argot now than was known 56 years ago. In the 1950's very little of this was written down. And some of what was written down had been hidden away in obscure libraries.

The Prevost book was basically unknown until James Fifield found it in an old library in France. It was finally translated into English and published in 1998.

But back to the topic. A shoe is a shoe whether it has one deck or 10 decks.

Postby Guest » 09/24/06 11:44 PM

Dear mr. Palmer.

Thanks for sabot on shemin-de-fer. If you wish I can send you picture of this sabot. It looks absolutely like shoe for blackjack. Of course - not need believe to me. Try find old French book "La machine a voler" 1906 (Stealing machine). On cover shown that sabot. Unfortunatelly it not looks like Faro box.

The problem with books after 1950 on quantity. I have a lot of old books, but for me get all modern books not easy.

OK. Please, give me source about call Faro box like shoe on modern books.

You should understand me. Of course I believe you. But what should I write on my book? Maskelyne not call Faro box like shoe, Erdnase not call Faro box like shoe, Darwin Ortiz not call Faro box like shoe, Steven Forte not call Faro box like shoe, but Bill Palmer call and I believe him?

With all my respects. Name of book where it was written little more preferable.

Postby Philippe Billot » 09/25/06 02:05 AM

In french language, a "sabot" is a shoe.
I believe it's "clog" in english.
Before all peasants have clogs. It was (and is always) made with wood.
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Postby Guest » 09/25/06 03:17 AM

Thanks, mr. Billot.
On Russian we have too word "sabo" for shoes with big wood sole. This word comes from French. Same word we use in game Baccarat.

Postby Guest » 09/25/06 03:44 PM

Originally posted by Bill Palmer:
Much more is known about gamblers' argot now than was known 56 years ago. In the 1950's very little of this was written down.
I'm not sure I agree with Mr. Palmer here. David Maurer did an excellent job of documenting argot and slang over his career. See:

The Argot of the Dice Gambler
David W. Maurer
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science > Vol. 269, Gambling (May, 1950), pp. 114-133

'A Dictionary of the Underworld'
David W. Maurer
American Speech > Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb., 1951), pp. 38-44

The Argot of the Faro Bank
David W. Maurer
American Speech > Vol. 18, No. 1 (Feb., 1943), pp. 3-11

The Argot of the Three-Shell Game
David W. Maurer
American Speech > Vol. 22, No. 3 (Oct., 1947), pp. 161-170

Carnival Cant: A Glossary of Circus and Carnival Slang
David W. Maurer
American Speech > Vol. 6, No. 5 (Jun., 1931), pp. 327-337

The Argot of Confidence Men
D. W. Maurer
American Speech > Vol. 15, No. 2 (Apr., 1940), pp. 113-123

He wrote a number of other articles, going back to the 1930's, which included comments on and glossaries of gambling slang, but these seemed most on point.

Maurer was not the only scholar to document this sort of slang and speech:

The Argot of Number Gambling
Gustav G. Carlson
American Speech > Vol. 24, No. 3 (Oct., 1949), pp. 189-193

San Diego's Poker Vocabulary
William R. Mockler; Burns D. Goodwin
Western Folklore > Vol. 9, No. 3 (1950), pp. 268-270

The Vocabulary of Poker
Swen A. Larsen
American Speech > Vol. 26, No. 2 (May, 1951), pp. 96-102

The slang of a related field was also noted:

Words in Modern Magic
A. S. Fleischman
American Speech > Vol. 24, No. 1 (Feb., 1949), pp. 38-42
[note that the author is Sid Fleischman, who is still active in magic]

Many other writers on slang have done research on gambling as a field with its own jargon.

Yes, there has been a great deal written about gambling slang and cant in the last 56 years, but if you go through any of the modern work (Tony Giorgio's columns, for example), you'll find that much of what is "newly" reported has been described by scholars quite some time ago.

Postby Guest » 09/26/06 01:00 AM


The point is that a shoe is a common term in English for a box for dealing cards.

You can, for example, find "shoes" mentioned with respect to the card game faro on Wikipedia under the listing for "Faro Card Game".

I don't have my book collection handy but I'm sure that some of the old Scarne books (first published around 1950) which give the rules for various card games will refer to "shoes" to deal the cards in faro. I don't know if Professor Hoffmann's books on card game rules refer to "shoes".

I suppose the challenge for your book will be explaining in Russian that Vernon's challenge regarding finding references to a pair of "shoes" in Erdnase is a play on words. His play on words is purposeful to try to trick respondents (who, even as native speakers, will think of shoes we wear on our feet--because "pair of shoes" is generally used to describe the 2 shoes we wear on our feet...) Vernon's quite the trickster!

I think that Bill's point to you is that it's really irrelevant if "shoe" was a common term for card boxes in 1902 when Erdnase wrote Expert at the Car Table--the real point is that it was a common term when Vernon posed the problem (which is a play on words).

Hope that's clear!

Incidentally, what is the full subject matter of your book?

(Also, is there much of a magic scene in St. Petersburg or Moscow--my experience is that Russians have generally not been exposed to a lot of card magic...)


Postby Guest » 09/26/06 02:17 AM

Dear mr. Daniel Bain.

Thanks for your opinion. I watch Wikipedia. Yes there ONE TIME word "shoe", but it calls like "if you still do not understand what I told about, I told about shoe". This is why I ask more early sources. Just now, peoples what newer watch Faro game, can write EVERYTHING, and just do it. :-) Also my relationshop with Wikipedia depend of information who and how write there. You can watch "Stepanov Oleg" there and if you believe that I am most geniously man in the World like written there (by my friend), I will agree with all another information.

Thanks about Scarne and Hoffmann. I will try find it.

I am apologize, I do not understand explanation about 2 shoes, but idea "Vernon ask about our time name" looks correct. On this aspect Wikipedia will work...

The full subject matter of my book - translating Erdnase on Russian. I suppose publish parts of my translations on magazine Casino Games. Russian history of cardsharping and World history little differ. Nobody know Erdnase (10 peoples, not more), methods absolutely another "powder cards", "balamut", pass calls not by names but like things: "roof", "helicopter", "book"... So I should explain all like for children. My comments to introduction have size like original text and not close to brilliant comments on 'Annotated Erdnase' by Darwin Ortiz.

About card magic on Russia. :-) Comon. 70 years it was forbidden wrote about cards. On all history of Soviet time we have only 10 books about magic. First time Scarne on Card Tricks was translated on 2005. Just now we have only Scarne and Vilson. First book about card magic was written by Obrezkov
but information was from Svechnikov's pirat translations of "Magic with Cards" by Garsia and Shindler...

Only last 5-10 years we get Internet and can read about Vernon, Marlo, Scarne... My hope on young generation what will read my books. :-)

Postby Guest » 09/26/06 08:30 AM

Oleg, Vernon's "pair of shoes" question is really only a joke. To focus on the joke in your book will not help your readers to learn Erdnase's material.

But here is a Glossary reference published by the US Playing Card Company which specifically links "shoe" to the dealing box in Faro: ... index.html

Box. 1) Gin Rummy. The score for winning a deal. 2) An apparatus from which cards are dealt, as in Faro. Also known as a shoe, which see.

Shoe. A dealing box used in Chemin de Fer, Baccarat and other casino games.

Postby Guest » 09/26/06 02:19 PM

Thanks mr. Ted M.

I am absolutely not focus on the joke. If you read closely what I wrote on message 5 just here - I want pass this question.

The sourse you suggest is wery good. Especially second. There not use Faro, what means on Faro this thing calls Box. :-)

But, any case, I just know that now someone wrongly calls Faro box like shoe. This is not problem. On my country same. One idiot on 1867 write detective story and call "pass" (volt) like "second deal" (derzka). And just now we have a lot of big vocabularies where more than 100 years ago was written that "pass" is "second deal". And I can not prove this is not correct. No problem. Today some of peoples call Faro Box like shoe. Thanks for all. Please do not prove it more. I know this.

Next question. Did somebody realy call Faro box like shoe many years ago? Looks like answer negative. But I can be wrong. If somebody can give me source I will be happy.

Postby Jason England » 09/26/06 03:30 PM

I'm not sure I agree at all that Vernon had created some bizarre play on words in an effort to stump fellow Erdnase students.

For one thing, as has already been pointed out, a faro box and a shoe aren't synonymous, regardless of the fact that they both contain decks of cards. The shoe, while conceptually similar to the faro box is a more modern invention, designed to hold multiple decks of cards. These differences make the leap from two faro boxes mentioned on a single page to a "pair of shoes" tenuous at best. At least to me.

Can anyone verify the Diaconis quote/source and just ask Persi what the answer was?

It's possible the answer was a simple "No, he doesn't ever mention a pair of shoes." This would indicate to me that it was a trick question, to try and catch people off-guard who might otherwise try and answer "Well, yeah, I think so...but I can't remember where."

Another possibility is that Vernon was either thinking of some other (unmentioned as of yet) reference or was simply mistaken.

I presented a list of 101 Erdnase Questions of varying complexity at 31 Faces North this year. I know of no reference to a "pair of shoes" in the book in the literal sense, so it's possible Vernon was referring to these faro boxes, it just seems a bit of a stretch to me.

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Postby Guest » 09/26/06 05:24 PM

Oh, mama. It's just possible ask mr. Persi Diaconis. For me all heroes of American books looks like stars on heaven and I can not suppose it has so easy solution... :-))))

May be questions was just joke. But some of was really good. "How many times mentioned Faro?" - this is super question. Easy find three places (especially if you use electronic version), but fourth find not many peoples. For find this place you should study history. This question move you brain.

Postby Guest » 09/27/06 01:55 AM

To mr. Daniel Bain

On book "Scarne on card games" there are chapter about Faro, but no mentions about shoe.

Thanks anyway.

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