artifice at the card table

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 08/10/06 11:22 AM

i have been practicing and studying card sharping related moves and history repectively, for about a year and a half now. in learning the wide range of moves one immediately realizes that this realm of card manipulation easily takes many years to become proficient at. one thing always pops into my mind though is how many people that actually use these techniques dishonestly at the card table have actually obtained a level of perfection that one would assume you would need to have to go undected. in the movies and books the sharper is always shown to be able to execute their moves flawlessly, and for the most part not be detected. i was wondering what everyones thoughts may be on the subject and who may know people in this business or perhaps are just more educated on the history of the subject.
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Postby Guest » 08/10/06 12:38 PM

From what I understand, mostly cheats don't cheat like magicians, so that's a start. For example, there is very little riffle culling and stacking that occurs in practice. Advantage play and simple strategies tend to go much further and are much more efficient than a lot of the more complex moves.

How good are card cheats? On the whole, in my experience, not that good...but that's on the whole. They tend not to be as diverse as magicians, they might only practice two or three moves. What they can do is also based entirely on the company they are working in. Obviously, out of necessity, someone cheating as a dealer in a casino is likely to be much better than someone playing very casual low stakes games on friday nights. In a lot of cases, you don't have to be very good to get away with what you want. For the most part cheats aren't after perfection, they're after the money.
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Postby Guest » 08/10/06 12:45 PM

Hi Cardstudent,

The difference between a card sharp doing the moves in a game and a magician doing a demonstration of card sharp moves, is like night and day.

A card sharp does a few things sometimes only one thing to perfection. He has to be that good because his physical well-being is at stake.

A magician does many things, not always to perfection. Most magicians feel it does not have to be perfect. Or, don't care to put in the time.

If he or she screws up, it can be covered up with humor or cause some embarrassment.

However, no physical harm will be done to the magician.

Where are you going with this?

Do you want to use the moves dishonestly in a game or do you want to demonstrate a gamblers skill to entertain your audiences.

In my opinion, even if you were just going to use these skills to entertain your audiences, they should be perfectat least as close to perfect as you can do them. And yes, it does take a lot of time.

You are demonstrating how a card sharp can cheat them out of there money. So, you should be able to cheat them without getting caught. Of course, you wont keep their money. Right?

I hope this helps answer your question.

Thanks for listening.

Joe DeStefano
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Postby Guest » 08/10/06 01:23 PM

I have had occasion to talk to people that used card work to make money cheating. Sorry, I don't know what the techincal term is.

Long ago a friend in Detroit could switch decks in a game. In a real game he did it only once. He played in the game and when Mr. Big pointed his cigar at him he did a switch. That was it. Word had it that he got beat up one day and switched over to magic.

On another occasion I met someone that claimed to make money at it. I asked about that fancy stuff. He said first off you wouldn't hear about it because these guys don't like that kind of talk going around. He also said that most guys that do use something tend to come up with their own so no one else will know what they are doing.

Finally I ran into a gentleman that claimed to have made money at it and somehow got hired to be a pit boss. I asked if his knowledge of cheating was a help in that business. He said that he rarely looked for anything like that. He said he mostly looked for attitude. He said one day he walked by a table and the dealer said hi with a little to much attention. My friend made a call to focus a camera on the table and watch it closely. The dealer was working with a customer.

I hope you find this fascinating.

Perhaps others have talked to people that did it for real and might have interesting stories.

Al Schneider
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Postby Guest » 08/11/06 08:00 PM

You might find watching Sal Piacente's DVD "Poker Cheats Exposed" interesting, particularly regarding "Charlie".
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Postby Terry » 08/13/06 06:14 AM

cardstudent,

Movies and books do not reflect real life by any stretch of the imagination. Not knowledgable personally, but I think it would take ice in your veins to make a move during a real game. Especially a money game.

As Al noted about his friend, if you are going to try and make a career of this, you might consider rigorous physical training and self defense classes. A hidden weapon wouldn't be a bad thing either. Just be sure to have a conceal/carry license with you.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 09:04 AM

Originally posted by Terry Terrell:

As Al noted about his friend, if you are going to try and make a career of this, you might consider rigorous physical training and self defense classes.
Ricky Jay was being interviewed by NPR, [ go here to listen to it online] and he got a call-in from a guy who'd been a capper for "Wide Clyde" Biggerstaff, who, he said was 6'5", weighed 600 pounds, and "could tear a deck of cards in half long ways." I don't think too many people would offer to punch him out after he took their money.

By the way, this shows the power of exaggeration; when Clyde Biggerstaff was boxing professionally, he was only 6\'3" and 340 pounds.

Now, I imagine he put on some weight during his more sedentary occupation, but I don't see him growing two inches taller.

However, if you can arrange to be on the list of giant boxers, you can avoid a certain amount of unpleasantness.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 11:52 AM

i am by no means trying to be someone of that profession. i was just very curious about the caliber of skill people have who do engage in this type of work.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 12:40 PM

As an interesting aside.

I was sitting in the love seats in the downstairs bar at the Magic Castle one evening. (The place that seemed to be Dai's favorite spot.) A wealthy looking oriental man sat down across from me. By the by we started talking.

He asked me how difficult it was to cheat at cards. He said he played a lot with some gentlemen and the stakes got quite high. He said he was just curious.

While we were talking I ran through my deck (which was always in my hands)and striped out the aces and got them to the top of the deck. He did not seem to notice. I palmed the aces and gave him the deck to shuffle. I got the deck back and added the aces to the top and placed the deck on the table. Then I asked him if he had shuffled the cards well. He said yes.

Then I turned the top four cards over showing the aces.

He turned green.

Al Schneider
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 12:48 PM

I've witnessed a number of real world card cheats at work, and the vast majority of the ones that I've seen were only so-so technicians. Most good card magicians are vastly superior in sleight of hand.

Having said that, there are a small number of cheats who are brilliant, and who would strip a Magician penniless at any card or dice table.

- entity
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 01:14 PM

The worst example of card work I ever saw was

three guys playing poker . Two were going to

cheat the third guy. The guy drops out and it is

his deal next. He picks up the remains of the

pack and says I could not win with all these my

hand was so bad and procedes to set up the next

hand with all three getting full houses, his

partner with the best. It flew . I had to bite my

toung not to laugh.....Mike
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 02:05 PM

Movies and books do not reflect real life by any stretch of the imagination.

That depends, a video of someone who has done it can show you the technical skill level of that person. It doesn't reflect the cheating process itself, but it does reflect the skill of cheats. Hence my reference to "Charlie" on Sal's DVD. For the record, Charlie might have been better when he was younger, but I wasn't terribly impressed by his skill. On the other hand, there is a user on these forums who is a professional cheat and has some absolutely stunning deck switches and dice switches, his hand mucking (what I've seen of it) looks pretty good too. As an interesting aside though, his bottom deal isn't that great.

Not knowledgable personally, but I think it would take ice in your veins to make a move during a real game. Especially a money game.

Not especially in a money game, only in a money game, there's nothing to it if there are no stakes, you can blatantly cheat and tell people you are doing so and it's likely to get two reactions. Interest being the first and the desire not to play cards with you as the second. When it comes to money games, it is largely a question of brazen. I recall Walter Irving Scott making that comment about how there were all these skilled card men who didn't have the guts to cheat. Ironically, a lot of the cheats out there aren't that skilled, they just have the guts to do so. I recall a George Joseph story about hand mucking where he took a friend of his down to see some games and pointed out that someone was holding out. When he friend called the guy on it the guy punched him out and turned to everyone else saying "are we going to play or what?"

In terms of the balls, it also depends what kind of cheating you are doing, you can do some that doesn't take much in the way of balls at all, signalling for example, extremely easy, extremely effective, almost impossible to get caught, there's certainly nothing to prove. By contrast, holding out is an entirely different story, it's easy to get caught, there is something to prove, it's messy, relatively hard etc.

As Al noted about his friend, if you are going to try and make a career of this, you might consider rigorous physical training and self defense classes. A hidden weapon wouldn't be a bad thing either. Just be sure to have a conceal/carry license with you.

Better yet, work in teams, if half of the people at the table are working with you it makes things much more difficult for those trying to do something about it.


card student

i was just very curious about the caliber of skill people have who do engage in this type of work.

The reality is you simply can't generalize. It's like anything else, the majority aren't very good, the average is well, average, but there are always some exceptional individuals. Think of any group, magicians for example, how many are truly exceptional, as a percentage I'd say very few, there are far more people who know one or two tricks that they perform from time to time for friends than professionals and far more professionals than true miracle workers. The same goes for cheating, a lot of people do very minor things to cheat, fewer but still a lot do more brazen things but without consumate skill, you have a few who are very good and very few who are absolutely brilliant. Often I think skill level of those cheating gets confused for required skill level, in which case it is absolutely a question of environment and the situation. Of course when it comes to professional cheats, you'll learn that complex stuff isn't common from a technical standpoint, but there is a lot of psychology to it.


entity

Having said that, there are a small number of cheats who are brilliant, and who would strip a Magician penniless at any card or dice table.

They don't have to be brilliant technically to do that, that's where the psychology comes in.
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Postby Russell Davis » 08/13/06 04:53 PM

In the late 1980s I was doing table-side magic at a Darryl's restaurant here in town. Did an Ambitious Card routine with the classic pass mostly, which I had been using for almost 15 years, so it was fast enough I thought. A guy at one table watched and said "That's a pretty good hop", which was the first time I'd heard it described like that. He showed me his hop. It wasn't much, but probably okay with misdirection. Then he did a strike second deal -- invisible, incredible, flawless!

He said he was a professional card player. Gave me a business card with only his phone number actually printed on it. He added a name (something like Stephen Smith) in his own handwriting then and there. I think he had different names to clue him in about who was calling him and why.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 07:08 PM

The worst card cheat I ever saw in my life was at an odd little card game in Uvalde, Texas. I had been booked to do a boiler room show for the local Lions club (I don't think they had a Rotary club) and afterwards, we were to come over to one of their places for cabrito and beer.

One of the local guys was hustling the others at an odd game of cards. Each person would ante up a quarter, then they would be dealt one card. The highest card won.

All of the players were standing around the card table. The dealer was standing with his back to me. Every time he dropped his hand to his side, I could see the bottom card of the deck. I began to figure out what he was doing. Every time he dealt himself a card, the bottom card of the deck changed. So, I nudged my assistant and told her to watch the game. I said, "Next hand, he will win with an Ace of Hearts." He did, of course.

If he had been using any kind of a "real" bottom deal, I might have been impressed. But this is what he was doing. He was holding the cards by the long edges in his right hand, with the face card of the deck towards the floor. The back of his hand was over the backs of the cards. It was basically as if he was about to do a diagonal palm shift with a face up deck in his right hand, then he turned his hand over. When he dealt the cards to his opponents, his left thumb would go on top of the deck, pull a card loose and toss it face up on the table. He would stop after each card and make a comment. Then on his card, his fingers would pull out the bottom card, and he would take it.

How did he fool the other guys? I don't think he did, unless they were really drunk. I think they let him win, because it kept him away from their daughters and their hubcaps.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 07:50 PM

Technical skill is not all that's required. You must have a certain socio-pathology that will permit you to cheat someone with impunity. A card cheat is a thief, no less a thief than a burgler or a guy who holds up the local mini-mart, only his "weapon" is a deck of cards.

Card cheats are not admirable people.

High skill and a non-existent conscience are a necessary combination...and the balls to actually do the work and handle the adrenalin rush as you go into and out of the work with people watching you.

You also have to know when to apply the work, something absent in Erdnase.

Finally, you have to expect the occasional beating if you get sloppy....and, sooner or later, you'll get sloppy.
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Postby Guest » 08/13/06 09:51 PM

Technical skill is not all that's required. You must have a certain socio-pathology that will permit you to cheat someone with impunity.

While I agree that technical skill isn't all that's required, in fact it's probably not even the most important aspect, I don't agree about the moral side of things. These are people just like you or I or your next door neighbour.

A card cheat is a thief, no less a thief than a burgler or a guy who holds up the local mini-mart, only his "weapon" is a deck of cards.

This is totally a question of morality and I'd suggest that's a skewered one. Two sides to this, first the idea that theft should really cause a huge moral dillema for someone in the first place. Second, is the nature of cheating. I don't really see it as nearly the same as holding up a mini-mart. The difference, the people you are stealing from are gambling. They went there knowing they might lose the money they are putting on the line. Really, how big is the difference between getting their money via psychology and good play and by sleight of hand? Yes, sleight of hand expedites the process, but often it doesn't assure victory, it simply provides an edge to grind. Where do you cross the line? If someone is dealing cards and flashing them at the time because of poor dealing should you avoid spotting them and using that to your advantage? How about if they check their hole cards poorly and flash, should you avoid using that to your advantage? A lot of people would probably say you're a stupid player for doing so. How about working with a partner a simple signal to say "I've got a good hand"? Isn't this in a sense helping a friend? Doesn't that seem like a good thing to do? So what about the next level, happening to glimpse and note the bottom card while it's your deal? How about doing the same earlier on. How about keeping track of the discards. How about peeking during the shuffle. Aren't these all just forms of smart play? Where do you cross the line? People make a living at gambling...but then again, isn't business a gamble of sorts? Isn't charging more for services than they are worth stealing?

I'm not trying to justify cheating here, but I'm attempting to shed some understanding on a situation that really isn't black or white. I don't think you need any kind of sociopathic compulsion to cheat, then again, I don't think you need it to rob a mini-mart either, in a sense it's just plain a smart way to get ahead...that is, if money is your goal, which I'd argue it ultimately shouldn't be...still, we have the dichotamy that we all require money, we all benefit from others, we all have needs, we all have wants. To make a cheat out as so different from the average person is I think to be ignorant both of the cheat and the average person.

Card cheats are not admirable people.

You make a critical mistake here that is quite common. Card cheating is perhaps not admirable, that doesn't mean the cheat isn't an admirable person. A person is far more than the sum of their acts, let alone than a single act. That cheat could go home and be the world's best father, the world's kindest friend, the world's best neighbour, if so, are they an admirable person? We aren't trying to glorify cheats here, we are trying to keep things in perspective, examine the truth of people, the complexities, the reality that everyone is multi-dimensional and certainly has some good in them while no one is all good.

High skill and a non-existent conscience are a necessary combination...

Neither are necessary. To cheat is merely to cheat, to get away with it for an extended period of time generally involves some skill, the more the better, but to cheat doesn't require any real skill at all, you could play dice and rather than roll them set them down favorably acting like you rolled them. This would be cheating, it wouldn't be terribly deceptive, but it would be cheating. Most of the time, the longer you do it for the more you are going to require skill in order to avoid getting caught, after all, the odds catch up with you, play with fire long enough and you will get burned, the trick is avoiding it as long as possible and getting out before you do...or surviving and learning from it.

That's the skill side of things, when it comes to the conscience side, that's easy, it's just a question of how to look at things. "My family needs food, to get food I need money, to get money I can cheat at cards, therefore I have to cheat at cards to feed my family", very easy morality if you ask me. The picture is rarely to simple, but it illustrates another side of the coin, or perhaps the dice since there are more than two sides to the picture.

and the balls to actually do the work and handle the adrenalin rush as you go into and out of the work with people watching you

Yes, that's the real requisite, balls or a lack of fear, one or the other.

You also have to know when to apply the work, something absent in Erdnase.

Yes, probably much more important (though in some cases natural) is when and how to apply it, thanks for pointing that out.
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Postby Guest » 08/14/06 01:20 PM

Originally posted by James in Toronto:
Ricky Jay was being interviewed by NPR, and he got a call-in from a guy who'd been a capper for "Wide Clyde" Biggerstaff, who, he said was 6'5", weighed 600 pounds, and "could tear a deck of cards in half long ways." I don't think too many people would offer to punch him out after he took their money.
Transcript:
NEAL CONAN: And let's get another caller on the line, and this is Tom. Tom's with us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

TOM (Caller): Hi. How y'all doing?

CONAN: Very well, thanks.

TOM: Good. I have a friend of mine who--years ago--he's been dead for years. He was a big con man in the Southeast. His name was Clyde Biggerstaff. They called him Wide Clyde. He was 6'5, weighed almost 600 pounds. He was notorious in the Southeast. But he used to run the three-card monte game in my bar, and I was the bartender naturally, and he'd beat everybody out of most of their money and then he'd say, `I'm going to the bathroom,' and when he did, I'd say, `Hey, let's get this guy back, guys. Let's bend the queen.' And he was the best in the world. He'd come back, he'd act like he was drunk. He'd drink a few beers be--of course, he could drink a case of beer and it wouldn't even faze him, and then he'd come back and, you know, everybody would go for it. They'd just unload on because they knew I'd bent the queen, and they knew I wasn't in on the act, and then he'd straighten it out and take all their money. And, you know, naturally you couldn't say, `Hey, wait a minute. We bent the queen. That can't be it.' And he'd bend the deuce and that'd be all over.

CONAN: Hmm. I assume you got a small percentage?

TOM: I was in on the cut, needless to say, yeah. He--one other thing Clyde could do that I've never seen anybody do in my life, he could tear a deck of cards in half long ways as they were stacked.

CONAN: I wonder, did you have a lot of repeat business in this bar?

TOM: Well, we moved it around--we moved around several bars. But let me ask the guy something. Has he ever seen anybody tear a deck of cards in half long ways?

Mr. JAY: I actually have, but you're right, it's much much harder.

TOM: Have you seen it? I've never seen anybody...

Mr. JAY: It's much harder to do it long ways than across the other side.

TOM: Yeah, I never have seen anybody else that could tear a deck of cards long ways.

Mr. JAY: Yeah.

TOM: The long ways, yeah.

CONAN: Is Wide Clyde new to you, Ricky Jay?

Mr. JAY: He is. I can't say that I've heard of Wide Clyde. But, you know, you have presented with an opportunity for me to explain the basis of the con in three-card monte because we really haven't discussed that. So this is why it's a con game and this is why there are a number of different people in the monte mob. Let's say that someone just deduces that it's too easy with the bent corner, and that the queen now must be one of the other two cards, and they bet their money on the card that's the right card. So they've actually won the bet at this point. The reason that monte is a confidence game is because then a shill will bet more money on the wrong card, and the operator will say, `I have to take the biggest bet,' and he'll purposely take the wrong bet and never pay off the guy who's won. That's why it's such a devious game.

CONAN: Ahh, so that the mark can then be strung along without actually getting any more money back. He's not losing any, but he's not winning any.

Mr. JAY: Absolutely.

CONAN: Ahh. Tom...

Mr. JAY: You can't win.

CONAN: You can't win.

TOM: Yeah.

CONAN: Tom, when was the last time you did this?

TOM: I'm gonna say it was 15 years ago when we ran that scam, and I had two different bars and we used to run it at both of them.

Mr. JAY: I hope the statute of limitations has run out.

TOM: It has, and I've grown up a little bit. I wouldn't dare do that again. But it was--the guy was a very fascinating guy. In fact, they used him to consult for the movie "Flim Flam Man." You remember the movie "Flim Flam Man?"

CONAN: George C. Scott, yeah.

Mr. JAY: Yeah.

TOM: Yeah, 'cause they hired Clyde as one of the consultants to show them some scams to run.

Mr. JAY: That's funny. I remember...

TOM: He was a great...

Mr. JAY: ...there was a fellow named Jay Ose, who I thought was the consultant on that.

TOM: He was a great short-change artist, too. I mean, just--you could never figure--he could short-change, you'd never figure it out. And they'd do the whole thing, the torn 20, you know, when you go through the line, and the guy two behind him gives him a 1 and then they make change and the guy says, `Oh, I gave you a 20,' and the guy says, `Well, no, you gave me a 1,' and he says, `Well, I think I even had the corner tore on it,' which the mark put in there, you know, two places in front of him, and the guy looks at the 20 and the 20 naturally laying there has got a torn corner, and he says, `Oh, that must have been a 20.' And they ran every scam in the list. It was fascinating things back then.

CONAN: Tom, thanks very much for the call...

TOM: Yeah, thank you.

CONAN: ...and stay out of this business.

TOM: I'm out of it.

CONAN: OK.

Mr. JAY: That's one of the many versions of the short-change hustle, which con men usually call laying the note, and there are myriad varieties of that as well. It's great fun to hear about those.
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Postby Guest » 08/15/06 06:10 PM

Fortunately for society, Drey's sophistry does not hold up on analysis.

Briefly: someone playing sloppily is cheating themselves. For an opponent to use information gleaned by sloppy play is perfectly permissible and expected.

Using a device or sleight of hand to give yourself an unknown edge, to alter the odds in your favor, or to outright "stack the deck" so an opponent has no chance of winning, is not legal. When someone cheats to give themselves an edge, the law calls it "theft by trickery or device" and if caught, you can do time. You can play amateur philosopher all you want when you're in jail if you care to apply your thinking to a real world situation. Judges and juries aren't much interested in philosophical justifications for theft.

I'm sure alot of the rationale cited by you was used by Ken Lay and his cohorts at Enron to justify what they were doing, but prosecutors and juries thought differently. They were "admirable men" until they were caught and then, despite loving their wives and being good parents to their children, they became convicted felons, no longer admirable in any way. Like a successful card mechanic, they were thieves, the only difference being methodology and degree.

It would be nice to know who you really are because with your expressed ethics I'd like to make certain I never do business with you.
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Postby Russell Davis » 08/15/06 08:05 PM

I'm gonna have to side with Drey -- "This is totally a question of morality and I'd suggest that's a skewered one."
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Postby Russell Davis » 08/15/06 08:10 PM

Uh, Drey's, not David's. ;)
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Postby Guest » 08/15/06 11:39 PM

Mr. Alexander

For an opponent to use information gleaned by sloppy play is perfectly permissible and expected.

This is one example, but you fail to follow through the logic further, for example, informing a friend when they shouldn't bet because your hand is good. What of goose necking? If you review my post you'll notice I demonstrated how the lines blur.

Using a device or sleight of hand to give yourself an unknown edge, to alter the odds in your favor, or to outright "stack the deck" so an opponent has no chance of winning, is not legal.

Legality is not morality Mr. Alexander, the difference is monumental, mark it well.

Legality is easily argued but I made no such reference, my reference was to the more esoteric subject of morality. Attempt to argue your case on those grounds.

When someone cheats to give themselves an edge, the law calls it "theft by trickery or device" and if caught, you can do time.

And the law is irrelevant where morality is concerned, there are plenty of things often considered immoral which are perfectly legal and vice versa. On those grounds I would be interested in knowing what you consider the sophistry in my argument to be.

Judges and juries aren't much interested in philosophical justifications for theft.

What precisely is your point Mr. Alexander? I was arguing against your flawed assessment of the human character and morality of the issue, not the legality, if you care to back your statement up I would be interested, if not I would appreciate your acknowledgement of the fact.

They were "admirable men" until they were caught and then, despite loving their wives and being good parents to their children, they became convicted felons, no longer admirable in any way.

Now this is ignorant, they are quite possibly still admirable men to their wives and children, assuming they were to begin with. You are failing to account for the diversity of the human condition and perspective.

Like a successful card mechanic, they were thieves, the only difference being methodology and degree.

Well, there I might disagree, might, the difference being the gamble involved on the part of those who are being cheated. Likewise, there is the question of the motivation of those involved. You recall the famous story of Robin Hood I suspect? Was it wrong for him to steal? Is it wrong for a starving man to steal to feed himself? Morality is not so black and white Mr. Alexander.

It would be nice to know who you really are because with your expressed ethics I'd like to make certain I never do business with you.

You have not heard a word of my ethics Mr. Alexander. Have I stated that it is acceptable to cheat? No, I have not, I did however argue against your demeaning appraisal of other humans to whom I feel you fail to extend understanding. If I were to examine solely this brief encounter I could easily arrive at the conclusion that you hold the law up as the ultimate moral guide, I pray and presume that this is not the case.

Out of interest, my ethics are based on virtues courage, fortitude, hard work, justice etc. qualities I highly doubt you'd find yourself objecting to. But I also understand that such qualities do not necessitate a singular action in a singular situation. I'm sure that if we had an indepth discussion on the subject you'd find yourself agreeing with me...but this is a magic forum, not a philosophy forum, if you're interested in discussing that particular subject you are welcome to email me. In the mean time, I'd ask that you please extend a little more understanding to those who feel differently than you do as psychological disorders are hardly a requirement of disagreement.


Mr. Russell, would you care to defend your position and point out the error?
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Postby Guest » 08/16/06 06:16 AM

Mr. Drey:

Your arguements on card cheating are amusing. Thank you for the entertainment.
Guest
 

Postby Terry » 08/16/06 06:47 AM

You recall the famous story of Robin Hood I suspect? Was it wrong for him to steal?
Yes. He was no less a thief than the Sheriff. Two wrongs do not make a right.


Is it wrong for a starving man to steal to feed himself?
Yes.

If he is hungry, he should work to buy food or trade his services for food (bartering).

There is no excuse for taking the physical property of others without some exchange of equal value.


Morality is not so black and white Mr. Alexander.
A moral "code" existed at one time, but just like everything else that truly mattered, it was buried by today's self gratifying ego centered poor me world.


Cheating at cards is not a moral issue, but it does call one's character, or lack thereof, into play. If you are identified as a cheat, it may cause everyone to distrust you in all things.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 08/16/06 11:34 AM

Mr. Drey,

My opinion, You have not gambled for serious money, for any length of time.

I spent twenty years in pool halls around the country, 365 days a year, taking mooney at all sorts of games. Your thoughts are naive.

We never had any questions about cheating. We did it, we knew it, we didn't care. That is the cheaters mindset.
Larry Horowitz
 
Posts: 401
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: L.A.

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 12:38 PM

Your arguements on card cheating are amusing. Thank you for the entertainment.

I'm glad you get some enjoyment out of it.


Mr. Terrell

Yes. He was no less a thief than the Sheriff. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Well, that is your assessment and you are most welcome to it, as I stated above, this is not an ethics forum, but I'm glad you've addressed the question clearly, thank you. For the record, the position you're putting forward is deontological, if you're interested in an evaluation and further critique you can look it up, there are many ethics websites I'm sure that can provide disputes over the validity of the position.

It's one that I reject on the basis of justice (it is unjust to condemn someone for something they didn't know or believe was wrong), but I can understand the viewpoint.

Yes.

Again, thank you for a clear answer.

As a follow up please see my earlier question, in terms of cheating, when does one cross the line in your opinion? Is it when they take advantage of sloppy behavior on the part of others? Is it when they take advantage of natural conditions they find themselves in such as the ability to glimpse the bottom card of the deck? How about a number of cards during the shuffle? When exactly does it cross the line in your opinion.

If he is hungry, he should work to buy food or trade his services for food (bartering).

I'm afraid that isn't always an option.

There is no excuse for taking the physical property of others without some exchange of equal value.

Thank you for clarifying your position, I don't evaluate ethics in terms of actions but rather qualities, how the actions reflect on the excellence of the person, so I don't fully agree, but I can understand the appeal of your very rigid morality. Thank you again for taking the time to respond in a clear manner.

A moral "code" existed at one time, but just like everything else that truly mattered, it was buried by today's self gratifying ego centered poor me world.

The world in this regard is not so different than it was in the past, ideas, attitudes, laws etc. evolve for a reason, these changes aren't all good, but they come about to address particular problems and beneath it all human nature stays the same. I'm sorry you don't see the good in the world, having travelled extensively I'm often confronted by the generosity of total strangers and don't share your negative viewpoint. Again though, I can understand why you would see things that way and appreciate your insight. In my experience the past wasn't so bright.

Cheating at cards is not a moral issue, but it does call one's character, or lack thereof, into play.

Well, I disagree, cheating is a moral issue every decision involves morality. The issue of character is one with the issue of morality.

If you are identified as a cheat, it may cause everyone to distrust you in all things.

Absolutely, I find the disputes with my earlier post interesting, I explicitly stated that I was not justifying cheating, nor have I stated that it is without potential consequences, nor that it was not illegal and yet there seems to be some huge rebellion to the comments, somewhat sadly most assault a position never perported.


Mr. Horowitz

I spent twenty years in pool halls around the country, 365 days a year, taking mooney at all sorts of games. Your thoughts are naive.

Which thoughts are those specifically Mr. Horowitz? Could you please cite the specific references that you're objecting to.

We never had any questions about cheating. We did it, we knew it, we didn't care. That is the cheaters mindset.

Would you say you were socio-pathic? Would you say that you had no conscience? In my experience it's largely a question of awareness, most people who involve themselves in immorality don't take time to consider "is this wrong? should I be doing this?" They don't go home and thinking about how their actions have affected others and consider whether they should change in the future. This isn't merely a question of cheating, it is a question of morality on the whole, cheating is no different than other moral issues, the same principles apply.

There is something to be said for the length of time comment. The first time we do something there are questions and apprehensions in many cases, the more we do it the less this is an issue, we have to create coping mechanisms and rationalizations to deal with doing things we believe are wrong. But not everyone shares the same basic viewpoint of what is wrong and what is not. The law is fairly explicit the world of personality morality is not. Get back to the early periods before you are forced to insulate yourself and you see these little subtleties coming out. Petty crime tends to grow, why do you think that is?
Guest
 

Postby Russell Davis » 08/16/06 01:34 PM

Drey,
This (a card cheat is like a mini-mart robber) is totally a question of morality and I'd suggest that's a skewered (skewed?) one. ... I don't really see it as nearly the same as holding up a mini-mart.
I think the mini-mart parallel is appropriate. Card players should expect to occasionally lose. And people working at the mini-mart, maybe to help their family with honest labor, should expect to eventually be held up by people unlike me or my neighbor, perhaps by otherwise admirable -- or "admirable", depending on your definition -- crooks.

The difference, the people you are stealing from are gambling. They went there knowing they might lose the money they are putting on the line.
Yes, but they would probably EXPECT to lose or win based on individual mental effort, and accident, including the luck of the draw or HAPPENING to flash their carelessly held cards. They would probably NOT EXPECT the use of physical devices (edge-marked cards or a real weapon) or signalling to friends or using prearranged cards, to be used for INTENTIONALLY gaining unexpected advantage.

Where do you cross the line?
One way to draw a line between two definitions of morality -- or maybe one of fair play and one of cheating -- is to look at the expectations that most players would bring to that game. Whatever they are, the rules they would all have agreed to -- if they had been spelled out before the game -- would draw the line between fair play and cheating in that particular game.

Isn't charging more for services than they are worth stealing?
Yes, and people try to keep an eye on businesses that do that, too.
Russell Davis
 
Posts: 126
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Postby Guest » 08/16/06 01:39 PM

Drey wrote:

<A person is far more than the sum of their acts, let alone than a single act. That cheat could go home and be the world's best father, the world's kindest friend, the world's best neighbour, if so, are they an admirable person? We aren't trying to glorify cheats here, we are trying to keep things in perspective, examine the truth of people, the complexities, the reality that everyone is multi-dimensional and certainly has some good in them while no one is all good.>

My understanding is that this discussion was with regard to professional card cheats.

Can such a person continually flaunt the law, cheat their fellow man, break the rules of the game, and still be considered an admirable person, once the facts are known? Admirable only to others of like minds, perhaps. I may admire their skill or their nerve, but I wouldn't expect that many would find them admirable human beings, no matter how nice they are to their children.

I'd suggest that ongoing dishonest behaviour is to a person's character as substandard steel girders are to a bridge. Even if some of the steel passes inspection, the flawed girders in the foundation make it a bridge I wouldn't trust.

- entity
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 02:42 PM

Mr. Drey - I continue to be amuzed and baffled by your logic. Perhaps you could help me understand.

---------------------------------------------
Drey - ...when it comes to the conscience side, that's easy, it's just a question of how to look at things. "My family needs food, to get food I need money, to get money I can cheat at cards, therefore I have to cheat at cards to feed my family", very easy morality if you ask me.
---------------------------------------------

Substitute the words "cheat at cards" in your premise and conclusion with "rob a mini-mart" or "do honest work" or "sell bootleg magic DVDs" or "cheat on my taxes" or "conduct insider trading" etc results in the same unconvincing weak argument.

Let's get real simple here - Right vs. Wrong. Common folk such as myself think that Cheating is Wrong. Do you agree? Am I misunderstanding your position that Cheating can be justified, under some circumstances, as morally Right?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 04:17 PM

Mr. Davis

I think the mini-mart parallel is appropriate. Card players should expect to occasionally lose. And people working at the mini-mart, maybe to help their family with honest labor, should expect to eventually be held up by people unlike me or my neighbor, perhaps by otherwise admirable -- or "admirable", depending on your definition -- crooks.

Well, I disagree with you that clerks at a mini-mart should expect to be held up. I agree when it comes to expecting to lose, I personally don't gamble with money I'm not willing to lose.

I suppose it is a question of the risk, working at a mini-mart isn't a risk like gambling is, after all, that's why we call it gambling.

Now if you want to say that business is a risk, that's quite another matter.

Yes, but they would probably EXPECT to lose or win based on individual mental effort, and accident, including the luck of the draw or HAPPENING to flash their carelessly held cards. They would probably NOT EXPECT the use of physical devices (edge-marked cards or a real weapon) or signalling to friends or using prearranged cards, to be used for INTENTIONALLY gaining unexpected advantage.

You are right. But that's where my line of questioning came up, where do you draw the line? Steve Forte has some great material on tells, the process of using psychological procedures to get the dealer emotionally involved in the game, for or against you, do people expect to have such things used against them? Does their expectation make the difference? If I go to a card game and I expect the people to use every method they know of including "cheating" (again, the term is questionable, how much of advantage play is cheating?), does that make the cheating right? To my mind, no, it does not. So then what do the expectations of those players matter?

One way to draw a line between two definitions of morality -- or maybe one of fair play and one of cheating -- is to look at the expectations that most players would bring to that game.

Well, there are a few problems, first, you don't know the expectations of others. Second, not everyone's expectations are the same. Some people have a very cynical view of society where they view everyone as trying to cheat, some people excuse this, others do not. Heck, while we're on the subject, there are a great many people who believe gambling at all is immoral. So how can you say?

For the record, I'd suggest to you that you can't, that there isn't some defining moment in morality where the action crosses over from being moral to immoral, that doesn't mean there isn't morality and immorality, but rather that it isn't determined by crossing some magical line.

Whatever they are, the rules they would all have agreed to -- if they had been spelled out before the game -- would draw the line between fair play and cheating in that particular game.

You're right, fundamentally, breaking the rules is cheating, whether breaking the rules is immoral is another question. I would point out though that rarely do people sit down and discuss these issues prior to playing the game, so can you really say in the absence of such clear discussion?

Yes, and people try to keep an eye on businesses that do that, too.

Thank you for your response here. I would throw one other side of things out to you though. What determines the value of things? I'll give you an example, I know of a helicopter company that got hired out on short notice to a major oil company that required their services. They charged them four times the regular rate. Was this stealing? When questioned about it the oil executives basically shrugged and said "well, we needed it". The reality is that they could have paid more, they needed it more than they were charged, but the company overcharged, was it stealing? I've been involved in fixing mistakes for major companies that are costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars per day and yet end up charging a fraction of that, basically the charge out rate is the regular rate, would it be stealing to take advantage of the position the company is in and charge more? It would probably be good business. It would encourage them to improve in the future because their mistakes were costing them more. What I'm saying is simply that things don't generally have intrinsic value, anyone who has studied economics will tell you of supply and demand, something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. A ghost in a jar will sell for $20 000 on ebay, is it worth it?

See what I'm getting at here?

Thanks for your clarifications.


Entity

Can such a person continually flaunt the law, cheat their fellow man, break the rules of the game, and still be considered an admirable person, once the facts are known?

Yes, they can...but who is admirable and who is not isn't a fixed standard, it's a personal viewpoint of an individual. I know people who think Mother Teresa was practically the most saintly person to walk the earth, definitely admirable, I also know people who think very little of her, so is/was she admirable? To the one person yes, to the other person no. Look at how people regard Steve Forte, Walter Irving Scott and others, people who have, you could easily argue, cheated, stolen from others, yet still they are regarded with admiration. There isn't a fixed standard, it isn't some simple yes and no question. I don't personally know Steve, but if nothing else, I admire his card handling, it's superb and I am very confident that a person is not a single act or even the sum of numerous acts, you can admire that person in one regard while finding disappointment in them in others.

Admirable only to others of like minds, perhaps. I may admire their skill or their nerve, but I wouldn't expect that many would find them admirable human beings, no matter how nice they are to their children.

And that's your perspective, but it's important to recognize that it is your perspective and not a global perspective, people are not so simple. Which is what I stated initially.

I'd suggest that ongoing dishonest behaviour is to a person's character as substandard steel girders are to a bridge. Even if some of the steel passes inspection, the flawed girders in the foundation make it a bridge I wouldn't trust.

And that viewpoint is totally understandable. It's also easy to understand other sides of it though. Try going and living in a ghetto, not being able to find work for days on end, having a family to support, seeing people making money off drugs all around you, noticing that the gambling the goes on always seems to be crooked, see how that changes things.


Mr. Springstead

Substitute the words "cheat at cards" in your premise and conclusion with "rob a mini-mart" or "do honest work" or "sell bootleg magic DVDs" or "cheat on my taxes" or "conduct insider trading" etc results in the same unconvincing weak argument.

Sir, I understand what you're saying, but I don't think it holds up. I am confident you believe murder is wrong. Is self defense? Is a soldier killing someone in a war wrong? Is hitting someone with your car and killing them when you are driving home and tired wrong? What about if they rush out in front of you?

It is somewhat unfortunate, because in an attempt to play fair at cards you might throw away your every advantage, you might choose not to play the psychology, you might not peek at the cards etc. etc. etc. And you'll lose. This is basically what happens at casinos. Are you playing to lose?

How about business, if your competitor slips up and is floundering it is good business to push in and try to exploit that situation, to make your business grow, I'm not going to condemn you for doing that. On the other hand, I can totally respect and appreciate that someone who sees their competitor floundering for whatever reason might not push but let up a little, maybe even go to the individual and help them out because they want to be kind, that seems like an admirable practice to me...but that person will also end up broke in the majority of cases, his business will fail and his family will starve. Ideally we would do the later and others would look out and recognize this, they would treat us accordingly and help us out when we in turn were in times of need, but it often doesn't work out that way, so I can fully understand that someone wouldn't do this. Do you see what I'm getting at?

It's easy for middle class and wealthy people to sit at home and talk about how you should work for a living, about how you shouldn't steal, about how a myriad of things are wrong, and if they can live up to the standards, more power to them, but the world is a different place for some and I think it's important to have empathy for that.

I don't want to get too thick into ethics, but I think that simplistic ethics are a virtue of a sheltered existance.

Let's get real simple here - Right vs. Wrong. Common folk such as myself think that Cheating is Wrong. Do you agree? Am I misunderstanding your position that Cheating can be justified, under some circumstances, as morally Right?

I'm going to be careful in what I say here so that you don't misunderstand me. Morality is solely between man and God, what is moral and how we treat someone or should treat them with the law are two very different things. Should cheating be punished? Yes. Should society decry cheating? Yes. Will God condemn you for cheating? Not necessarily. In regards to God's side of things, I believe in virtue ethics (again, this isn't an ethics forum, if you're interested you can email me or look it up, I'm sure there is plenty of information available).

So when you ask that question, do I think it is wrong? Well, do I think it should be wrong in the eyes of society and the law? Yes. In the eyes of God? No, I don't believe God will judge you based simply on what you've done, he knows what is in your heart, your mind etc. There are some very moral people, kind, loving, caring etc. who cheat, people who are trying to do the best they can, which is where my comments above arose, you the view that you must be void of a conscience in order to cheat is simply false.

Do we have an understanding?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 05:55 PM

In an earlier post, I wrote:

<I'd suggest that ongoing dishonest behaviour is to a person's character as substandard steel girders are to a bridge. Even if some of the steel passes inspection, the flawed girders in the foundation make it a bridge I wouldn't trust.>

And in response, Drey wrote:

<And that viewpoint is totally understandable. It's also easy to understand other sides of it though. Try going and living in a ghetto, not being able to find work for days on end, having a family to support, seeing people making money off drugs all around you, noticing that the gambling the goes on always seems to be crooked, see how that changes things.>

There are a great many people with character who find themselves in the situations you mention, and those people don't succumb to dishonesty, cheating or stealing. To imply that poverty or need merit special dispensation with regard to dishonest or anti-social behaviour is an insult to those who do the right thing even when it's hard to do.

My point then, still holds -- ongoing dishonesty is a character flaw which is in no way admirable. While there are admirable aspects to almost every human being, professional cheats, be they famous, infamous or otherwise, have traits (dishonesty, a willingness to cheat, lie, steal, an inability to play within the rules of the law and of the game)
that display a flawed basic foundation as human beings, and these flaws can't help but to present themselves in aspects of their lives outside of gambling. Most people, I suspect, would not find such individuals worthy of admiration.

- entity
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 06:26 PM

Mr. Drey -

My understanding is that you have a penchant for making authoratative statements that apparently support your beliefs or are a result of your beliefs. The last time I checked there were different schools of thought on philosophy, religion and politics which may or may not be shared in part or in whole with the readers. At least some of these topics are out of bounds of this forum, therefore

Best wishes
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/16/06 09:47 PM

Entity

There are a great many people with character who find themselves in the situations you mention, and those people don't succumb to dishonesty, cheating or stealing.

Very true, thank you for pointing that out.

To imply that poverty or need merit special dispensation with regard to dishonest or anti-social behaviour is an insult to those who do the right thing even when it's hard to do.

That's a very noble position and I certainly wouldn't fault anyone who took that viewpoint. I have a great deal of respect as an example for those who are pacifists and will let themselves be beaten dead in honor of their beliefs, but I also have equal respect for those who will defend themselves and fight to survive. If you would rather die than lie, I am not going to tell you that you are wrong in that choice, but if you would rather lie and live than tell the truth and die I'm not so sure I could condemn you for that either. This is particularly true when it isn't you, but rather those under your care who are lying on you. The reality is, there are cases where we must choose between loyalties, not all cases are cut and dry.

My point then, still holds -- ongoing dishonesty is a character flaw which is in no way admirable.

You know, I agree with you that honesty is important, or rather, truth is important, which leads to honesty...an interesting observation though, in many senses cheating is more honest than a lot of magic. We cannot do real magic so we pretend we can and try to convince people that it is real (not all magicians, but you get the idea). Vocations built on deception...I wonder just how many there are out there, or how many magicians would look at their profession that way.

While there are admirable aspects to almost every human being

Thank you for recognizing that, I believe we should praise people where they deserve praise and admonish them where they are deserving.

professional cheats, be they famous, infamous or otherwise, have traits (dishonesty, a willingness to cheat, lie, steal, an inability to play within the rules of the law and of the game)

You have a very valid point, there are just two clarifications I should make. First, I'm not sure these are traits so much as practices, it's that difference between judging the act and judging the person. Second, I don't have any intrinsic problem with people breaking the law, as it has been said "when justice is outlawed, the just must become outlaws", but in the case of cheating, yes, there is something valid to what you have to say.

that display a flawed basic foundation as human beings

If they display a flawed foundation as humans it is no more than we all possess.

these flaws can't help but to present themselves in aspects of their lives outside of gambling

It is very likely that this will occur, you are absolutely correct. But then I'd like to ask you this, what about other deception? Poker for example is a game of deceit, bluffing is all about deception, what makes that acceptable when this other deception is not? And in cases where specifics of the rules have not been discussed how does one decide or determine what is acceptable? I refer to so called "advantage play".

There seems to be a double standard with dishonesty here.

Most people, I suspect, would not find such individuals worthy of admiration.

Probably not but then again the majority believing something doesn't make it true. Your point is well taken though, thank you.


Mr. Springstead

My understanding is that you have a penchant for making authoratative statements that apparently support your beliefs or are a result of your beliefs.

Of course, would you expect me to make statements that oppose my beliefs? I'd be a fool to believe them if I felt such evidence existed.

Best Wishes to you sir.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/17/06 05:03 AM

Drey: Magicians are "Honest Liars". By calling oursleves Magicians or Illusionists we tell people that we are going to decieve them for the purposes of entertainment.

Equally, in Poker or other such games, bluffing is a part of the game and is neither against the rules nor is it illegal.

There is no double standard at all. Cheating while pretending to play within the game's rules is a different thing.

And as to your comment about the choice being to lie or die... those are not the only choices in the scenerio of poverty and joblessness.

- entity
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/17/06 07:01 AM

Mr. Drey - My last response was very poorly stated - sorry for the miscommunication. My intention was that many of these arguments have premises based on beliefs that are not universally shared. Without agreement on the validity of the premises, then we will probably not agree on the conclusions.

Let's go back to a previous argument on the morality of cheating:

"My family needs food, to get food I need money, to get money I can cheat at cards, therefore I have to cheat at cards to feed my family",

The "feed my family" argument included the premise that "to get money I can cheat at cards" which could be a true statement, but is based on the inference that cheating at cards is acceptable means of making money. Therefore the conclusion "I have to cheat at cards to feed my family" is not valid unless we both accept the assumption built in the premise.

You also concluded that this is "very easy morality if you ask me." While feeding my family appeals to our basic needs, resorting to cheating as the means is not absolute.

You seem to be conflicted by what is considered to be "cheating" vs. "advantage play" in the game of cards. I think most will agree that signalling a partner the strength of your hand is "cheating" while reading tells from your opponent is smart play. Hand mucking is clearly cheating. Card Counting? Well the casinos do not allow and the public knows this in advance. Card counting in a private game? That seems to be smart play. Are there some gray areas? Sure.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/17/06 07:59 AM

Entity

Drey: Magicians are "Honest Liars". By calling oursleves Magicians or Illusionists we tell people that we are going to decieve them for the purposes of entertainment.

Ah, you agree with me then that the reason you are lying is the important thing not the lies themselves? That lying is totally justified if your motivation is good?

Equally, in Poker or other such games, bluffing is a part of the game and is neither against the rules nor is it illegal.

Who cares if it's against the law or the rules, making something legal doesn't suddenly make it admirable or acceptable. There are plenty of cases where dishonesty is neither illegal nor against the rules yet you seemingly objected to these practices earlier. I'll give you a simple example, betraying a friend. I am a tremendous believer in loyalty and totally reject the premise that betrayal is acceptable or admirable, yet in a very large percentage of cases there are neither rules forbidding it, nor is it illegal. So your position doesn't hold up to the tests of consistency. What then is the justifying difference? I tend to think that just as cheating in a game becomes a habit that is likely to expose itself in other areas of life, the same types of behavior as bluffing etc. are likely to reveal themselves in other aspects of life. To suggest that the law determines the morality is to state that the morality would change if you crossed a border, which is ridiculous. I might remind you that laws have frequently changed and are not the same throughout the world. How do you explain this?

There is no double standard at all. Cheating while pretending to play within the game's rules is a different thing.

Why so?

I found it interesting, I was considering the subject of poker not too long ago. Obviously, poker is a skill game, not a game of chance, sure, there are aspects of chance, but it is a skill game in general. Yet, cheating is also a matter of skill, if a skill of a different sort. One has to wonder why someone would refine their skills at cheating rather than simply honing their skills at playing the game legitimately, after all, in a huge percentage of cases the results are going to be the same, the logic I suspect is that cheating offers a shortcut.

And as to your comment about the choice being to lie or die... those are not the only choices in the scenerio of poverty and joblessness.

Not always, I was throwing out a hypothetical example to illustrate a point, the reality is that situations similar to those do in fact arise, situations where one is forced to choose between two values and they are the most telling in evaluating one's true beliefs.

I'll be interested in your response.


Mr. Springstead

Mr. Drey - My last response was very poorly stated - sorry for the miscommunication.

You are forgiven sir.

My intention was that many of these arguments have premises based on beliefs that are not universally shared. Without agreement on the validity of the premises, then we will probably not agree on the conclusions.

Very true, it's the all important principle behind Socratic discussion.

The "feed my family" argument included the premise that "to get money I can cheat at cards" which could be a true statement, but is based on the inference that cheating at cards is acceptable means of making money. Therefore the conclusion "I have to cheat at cards to feed my family" is not valid unless we both accept the assumption built in the premise.

Well, I tend to think of it as "to get money I can cheat at cards" is a possible means of making money, the question of acceptability doesn't immediately arise. As for the second point, if this is your only means of making money and you require money to feed your family, then the second premise "I have to cheat at cards to feed my family" is also correct. Please note that I stated quite clearly (though with a typo) that the situation is rarely so simple, it's a point of demonstration, rather than a necessarily genuine scenario. It is intended to illustrate the mindset of one who might take such an act and illustrate how in their mind this action is necessary or good. This is in contrast to the viewpoint that they must be void of a conscience. One can make a mistake while remaining admirably motivated (in this case wishing to provide for their family which is in my way of seeing things, an admirable goal). I would refer you to situations such as addicts, whose perceptions become altered from the norm, they often don't think clearly, though within that frame of thought their intentions might be good. Anyone in a situation of need has the potential to be seduced by a similar mindset. It doesn't mean they are making the ideal decision, it means that they can be well motivated in their decision even if it is not the best.

You also concluded that this is "very easy morality if you ask me." While feeding my family appeals to our basic needs, resorting to cheating as the means is not absolute.

Which is why I stated the situation is rarely so simple, see my comments above.

You seem to be conflicted by what is considered to be "cheating" vs. "advantage play" in the game of cards.

Well, by definition, cheating is to violate the rules, thus unless there is a specific rule against what you are doing it isn't in theory cheating. But, the problem as I see it arises from the fact that players are always coming up with new ways of gaining an edge and in turn new rules are implemented to restrict players from employing that edge. I actually recall a statement by a leading gambling expert recently as questioning the morality, if not the legality of casinos kicking players who are profitable out of their casinos, so it certainly goes on both sides. Now the reality is that in the vast majority of private games many specific rules aren't laid down, so to operate on the basis that "it's against the rules", doesn't really cut it. I also don't think that whether someone is admirable or not should be based on the rules of the game but rather their respect and care for others.

while reading tells from your opponent is smart play

That would be the general consensus, but smart play is not necessarily fair play and not necessarily admirable. Signalling is also smart play, but, it is also, as you noted, generally considered cheating. The definition seems to be that something providing an unfair edge is cheating. The problem with this viewpoint is that arguably people who are more intelligent in these areas possess an unfair edge against those who are not. These enters into your comment of gray areas, yes, there are grey areas but why? What is the real underlying issue? Why is one practice cheating and another practice not cheating? (As I stated, recourse to the rules seems weak or else we wouldn't even be questioning any area where there were no rules specifically addressing the point. We must have some instinctive sense beneath it all guiding us, in particular, a sense that maybe there should be rules against it...or maybe there shouldn't be a number of rules that exist, so why is this?)

What's your take on the issue of magicians or regular players? After all, one engages in deception, outright lying in many cases, a lie is a lie...is it not?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/17/06 11:20 AM

Mr Drey - I will leave you with the last word. It's been fun.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/17/06 04:07 PM

I have always been intrigued by advantage players ever since seeing the movie "The Sting". I have seen and spoken with a few very famous magic personalities who shared some of their personal gambling stories with me (I will not share their names, lest anyone here want to chuck out books they might possess by these gentlemen, due to moral reasons).

As a younger man I dealt blackjack for the official U.S. military travelling casino here in Germany. During that time I was witness to all kinds of cheating, especially that between all of the employees of the casino.

I have often enjoyed watching 3 card monte mobs doing their thing in cities like L.A., London and Berlin. I also recall watching a solo shell game player on Hollywood Boulevard, directly across from Hollywood Magic. He used baby jar lids as his shells. It might shock some on this board that many well respected inviduals have themselves dabbled in this world (mostly when they were younger). I, myself, enjoy playing some card games and have had cheaters in the game on a number of occasions. I think the most eye opening moment for me was when playing cards with my friend and his family. It was a normal game until my friend starting cheating at the table... ...CHEATING HIS OWN FAMILY! I couldn't believe it.

Needless to say, I have only seen cheating at gambling on a very small scale. The moves were mostly crude but got the money. As was pointed out by some others on this thread, it seems that guts more than skill is what is needed.
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Postby Guest » 08/18/06 01:01 AM

Hi Craig,

I think it depends on what type of card cheat you are exposed to. A professional gambler and advantage player is much more likely to move invisibly and with a skill, naturalness and timing especially adapted to the card table that exceeds the handling of most magicians. He/she is the cheat you are unlikely to spot for the above reasons. However there do seem to be a significant group of huslters who apply gruder methods.

Regards,

Paul H
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/18/06 03:04 AM

Oh, absolutely. I have witnessed the kind of skills you speak of first hand, and from the tapes of Steve Forte. In my previous post I only spoke of those players that I have personally seen in action, in a variety of card and dice games - where money was involved (often times my own!).
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/18/06 11:55 AM

In a previous post, I wrote:

<Drey: Magicians are "Honest Liars". By calling oursleves Magicians or Illusionists we tell people that we are going to decieve them for the purposes of entertainment.>

Drey responded with:

<Ah, you agree with me then that the reason you are lying is the important thing not the lies themselves? That lying is totally justified if your motivation is good?>

I'm beginning to suspect, Drey, that you are more interested in arguing than in finding ways to discuss an issue. I'm sure that you understand the difference between lying to or cheating people without their knowledge in order to take something from them they don't want to give, and deceiving people who take part in the exchange expressly for the purpose of being deceived as a form of entertainment (and who pay you for doing just that).

One can always call to mind hypothetical abberent situations where lying might be justified... That is not the issue of the discussion at hand. We are discussing ongoing dishonesty and cheating at the hands of professional card cheats. Nice try , though.

I also wrote:

<Equally, in Poker or other such games, bluffing is a part of the game and is neither against the rules nor is it illegal.>

... to which Drey replied:

<Who cares if it's against the law or the rules, making something legal doesn't suddenly make it admirable or acceptable.>

Again, you are in danger of being accused of sophism, Drey. You're obviously aware of the concept of the Social Contract, where society agrees on certain rules of behaviour and establishes laws in order to implement the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Whether an individual agrees to a rule or law is beside the point. It is what it is. If the rule or law is objectionable to a large number of people, there are legitimate ways to go about changing those things. Anarchy is not the answer.

Drey also wrote:

<I am a tremendous believer in loyalty and totally reject the premise that betrayal is acceptable or admirable, yet in a very large percentage of cases there are neither rules forbidding it, nor is it illegal. So your position doesn't hold up to the tests of consistency.>

My position is that ongoing dishonesty, as displayed by professional card cheats, shows deficiencies in their character such that many people would not find them trustworthy or worthy of admiration. I would say that the illegality of their actions and the fact that they are breaking the rules of the game are only TWO of the reasons that such behaviour marks the cheater as someone who many people would not deem worthy of admiration. There are lots of other reasons, one of which you state yourself -- it is a betrayal.

People enter a game or social situation or a Magic Performance with rules, laws, unwritten agreements in mind. Most adults understand the situation, or others will be there to spell it out to them if they go outside of the acceptable boundaries. Breaking the rules, the law, and the unwritten agreements are a betrayal to everyone else involved.

Drey continued:

<I tend to think that just as cheating in a game becomes a habit that is likely to expose itself in other areas of life, the same types of behavior as bluffing etc. are likely to reveal themselves in other aspects of life.>

Most reasonably intelligent and aware people know what is acceptable behaviour in what context, and act accordingly. Equally, most people know when they are behaving in ways that are outide of acceptable behaviour in a given situation. Children go through a period of socialization in order to learn these things.

Drey again:

<To suggest that the law determines the morality is to state that the morality would change if you crossed a border, which is ridiculous. I might remind you that laws have frequently changed and are not the same throughout the world. How do you explain this?>

I wouldn't. It speaks for itself. What I would remind you is that no one has said here that the law determines morality. A person's moral nature is what it is, despite laws or rules. It's how they respond to those rules or laws that demonstrates their nature.
Finally, I wrote:

<And as to your comment about the choice being to lie or die... those are not the only choices in the scenerio of poverty and joblessness.>

To which Dry replied:

<Not always, I was throwing out a hypothetical example to illustrate a point, the reality is that situations similar to those do in fact arise, situations where one is forced to choose between two values and they are the most telling in evaluating one's true beliefs.>

...Or moral nature.

- entity
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