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Rigondeaux
Rigondeaux
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October 22nd, 2019 at 12:47:21 PM permalink
I've heard about this but I just saw it for the first time on Sunday. I observed for about 20 minutes.

They were actually playing a shell game in this case, using what appeared to be the caps from water bottles and a tiny ball. These were placed on a velvet rectangle. It looked like something that jewelry would be displayed on. It was all very dingy. He would switch the shells around quickly, sometimes exposing the ball in the process. He would also spin the rectangular platform around.

The guy running the game was just like in a movie. He was fast talking the whole time with several clever rhymes that I can't remember. He often said, "my job is to hide it, your job is to find it." He was charismatic and really came across as a cool guy.

You had to allow the operator to hold your money to make a bet. Paid 2-1. He would call on people and stuff, but he wasn't high pressure. One donor was reluctant, asking his girlfriend, etc. The operator was holding his money but said something like, "if you don't want to do it, no problem, just say so," rather than pressuring him to make his pick.

After a few rounds, I identified two of the plants in the crowd. They were women who looked like they were probably related. They would bet big, $400 or $500 and sometimes win and sometimes lose. This established the stakes and the marks followed suit. After seeing the other bettors playing so big, they were ready to bet $300 or $400. A couple of them pretty much emptied their wallets on the bets.

There was a guy who I think was a third plant, but he only bet $100-200. So maybe he wasn't. He did win some and lose some. It seemed to me that suckers were sometimes allowed to win.

One mark said, "I only have $100" and they reluctantly took it. The power of suggestion is incredible. I bet 5 minutes earlier, he'd have considered $100 a huge bet, and would have wanted to play for $10 or 20. Now he was sheepish about a $100 bet. I doubt any of these people made such big bets at any other time during their stay.

Often, the confederates would rush in to be the first to bet. Sometimes this would occur when the ball was where you expected to be. They were jumping in to prevent others from making a winning bet and also establishing that you could win by picking the obvious shell.

The other times they did this were on the set ups. So, lets say you have cups 1,2 and 3. On the previous 2 games or so, the ball would turn up where you'd expect it to be.

Now it looks for sure like the ball is under cup number 1. The confederate jumps in and bets $500 that it is under cup number 3. She loses. People in the crowd might say things like, "no! not that one!" How could she be so stupid?

Now, the floor is open for someone to pick from the 2 remaining cups and cash in on her mistake. They pick the obvious cup, bet big so they can get easy money (still paid 2-1) and are wrong.

It occurred to me that I could try to level the operator on this set up by picking the non-obvious cup. But I thought maybe they had a way of defeating that.

These guys were making a lot. I'd guess about $1,000 during the time I was there.

Does anybody know the mechanics of a shell game/3 card monte?

I felt a little bad for the marks, but not as much as for people who are victimized by other scams or even casinos in general. It's pretty clear what is going on. They are trying to take your money and you are trying to take theirs. It's almost like poker. And you are literally standing in front of well-regulated casinos where you can bet more safely.

If the operator of the game is using sleight of hand to make you think the ball is in one cup when it is really in another, I think that is the name of the game. If he is somehow switching it after you pick, or if there is no ball when you make your pick, then I think that's a lot worse.
TigerWu
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October 22nd, 2019 at 1:24:11 PM permalink
Quote: Rigondeaux


There was a guy who I think was a third plant, but he only bet $100-200. So maybe he wasn't. He did win some and lose some. It seemed to me that suckers were sometimes allowed to win.



I can confirm this happens. I watched this "game" in NYC once. I was walking down the street with a friend and we stopped to watch. Before I could say anything, my friend had pulled out $50 and bet on a cap. Of course she lost. I whispered to her that the whole thing was rigged. I don't know if the operator heard me or not, but he immediately shuffled the caps again and said to my friend, "Go ahead and pick again for free; if you're right, I'll give you $10." He made it obvious where the ball was, she picked, and he handed her $10. He egged her on to bet the $10 he had just given her to go another round. She agreed, won, and he gave her another $10. We walked off after that. Damnedest thing I ever saw; up until then I thought for sure nobody ever won. I mean, she still lost $30 overall, but it could have been $50.

Quote:



If the operator of the game is using sleight of hand to make you think the ball is in one cup when it is really in another, I think that is the name of the game. If he is somehow switching it after you pick, or if there is no ball when you make your pick, then I think that's a lot worse.



When they give you a free pick the ball isn't even on the table. The operator removes it completely when he's shuffling them around. I guess this isn't always true.

This is one of the most amazing videos you'll ever see on this game. The skinny guy in the grey shirt is one of the shills. When the operator does that little slide move forwards and backwards with the cap is when he's loading and unloading the ball.
Wizard
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October 22nd, 2019 at 2:15:51 PM permalink
Heather and I saw a game on the bridge between the TI and Fashion Show Mall last Thursday. It looked like a very sharp operation. They used three plastic bottle caps and a little ball.

There were already about five people around it betting. It was the usual trick of it being obvious where the ball was, somebody picking the wrong one, and the operator offering even money bets with just the other two. Sure enough, the ball is still where you think it should be. There was some heavy action, with $100 bills, but I suspect with actors in on the game. This is because the operator was paying a lot of attention to Heather and I and the other "players" were encouraging us to play.

I suspect that if someone actually makes a bet he can relocate the ball somehow, which as an amateur magician, would highly impress me.

Heather had never seen it before and almost got sucked in. I had to be pretty firm to not even let them see any money.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
DRich
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October 22nd, 2019 at 2:54:23 PM permalink
The key is if the operator will let you lift up all three caps to see where the ball is. If not, he is probably re-introducing the ball after the fact.
At my age, a "Life In Prison" sentence is not much of a deterrent.
AZDuffman
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October 22nd, 2019 at 2:56:37 PM permalink
There are a few YT videos on three card monte. For awhile I wanted to learn to be able to show people at the casino nights but I do not have time to practice. There were a couple ways to rig it. One was somehow pasting a card to a card or something, the "beginners" way. The other involved palming the cards somehow.

So the first part of the mechanics is know how to palm the cards or else show they picked wrong. One thing to watch is for low stakes they will either have partners win or even let a mark win. Remember the best way to get a guy to lose $100 is let him win $10. If there is a huge crowd ready to play the $10 can even be just a cost of doing business.

What to really note is if they show where the ball or queen ended up. At least that way you know you have a remotely straight game. If they just flip and empty and take, that is a huge sign of a rigged game.

There was an episode of "Growing Pains" (I think) that involved one of the kids getting involved with a 3CM dealer. Theme was usual "dopey sheltered suburban kid gets involved with a street guy" thing. I forget most of it but the kid thought the guy was "the only honest three card monte dealyer in NYC!"

Somehow the guy ran a con that ended up with the resolution being the kid had to find the queen. Kid gets smart and after the cards were set says, "well, I know it is not this card (flips) and I know it is not this card (flips.)" The guy lets the kid win but they show it was all a con.

Moral might be ask if you can pick the two it is not instead of the one it is. At the least demand to see where it ended up. But best yet just walk away because turning a game on these guys like that is a good way to get your head broken.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
gamerfreak
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October 22nd, 2019 at 2:58:55 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I suspect that if someone actually makes a bet he can relocate the ball somehow, which as an amateur magician, would highly impress me.


The ball is under none of the caps. He palms it, and then slips it back under when he turns over the “correct” cap.

Traditionally it is done with 3 faux walnut shells and a rubber pea. You can get a set at any magic shop, and it’s surprisingly easy to learn the slight of hand involved.

Wizard
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October 22nd, 2019 at 3:49:54 PM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

The ball is under none of the caps. He palms it, and then slips it back under when he turns over the “correct” cap.



Interesting. Just goes to show why magic and scams like this work, people assume things that aren't necessarily true.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
AxelWolf
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October 22nd, 2019 at 4:20:18 PM permalink
I'm not sure exactly how long ago, but it's been about a year. In the long area in front of Caesars Palace they had quite the operation set up. They had three different spots going with three card Monte. They had some rough-looking characters in the crowd(reminded me of some beefed-up skinheads) with earpieces who would approach you if you tried to film or take pictures and they would ask you to stop.
At both ends of the sidewalk area they had guys with ear pieces communicating as people passed by. I'm not sure if they were trying to spot three card Monte marks, alert their partners if cops or security we're approaching. or alerting their partners of potential pick pocket marks. I just assumed all of the above. There wasn't just a few people attracted to what is going on at, all three card Monte tables there was some serious crowds. I also observed all the big shill action going on and the marks losing money.

I have no idea how it is the authorities just let this happen?
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
FleaStiff
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October 22nd, 2019 at 4:33:39 PM permalink
Bunco squads are low priority. the cash cant be identified, the victims should know better. The paperwork is a pain.
ThatDonGuy
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October 22nd, 2019 at 4:54:42 PM permalink
Quote: AxelWolf

At both ends of the sidewalk area they had guys with ear pieces communicating as people passed by. I'm not sure if they were trying to spot three card Monte marks, alert their partners if cops or security we're approaching. or alerting their partners of potential pick pocket marks.


Probably just the first two, as well as being told if somebody happened to win and walk off with the money - usually, any winners end up being followed.
gamerfreak
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Rigondeaux
October 22nd, 2019 at 6:12:09 PM permalink
Quote: Rigondeaux

Does anybody know the mechanics of a shell game/3 card monte?

If the operator of the game is using sleight of hand to make you think the ball is in one cup when it is really in another, I think that is the name of the game. If he is somehow switching it after you pick, or if there is no ball when you make your pick, then I think that's a lot worse.


Several years ago I learned how to do 3 card monte and shell game pretty well. Just for my own amusement and to show friends. I don’t think I have the skill or charisma to do anything like that on the street.

In both games there is never a correct answer. There is always a slight of hand move to make a loser no matter what you pick. Any winners are either working with the scam or purposely allowed to generate buzz.

“The move” with the shell game is really simple. The rubber ball grips really well to the felt mat. So when you slide the shell/cap against the ball, it kind of sticks on the mat and discreetly pops out of in the shell. The ball is popped out and palmed at some point in the shuffling process. On the reveal, a lot of times you will notice they push the shell across the mat a bit before turning it over. This is them popping the palmed ball back under whatever shell they want it to be in.

“The move” in three card monte is much harder. It’s actually a combination of two or more slights. The first is fairly easy, it’s a way to toss a card while mixing that makes it look like you are tossing a different card than you are. This is pretty hard to detect with the naked eye, and will trick anyone actually following the cards accurately.

Inevitably someone will try to trip you up by tracking the shuffle and purposely guessing what should be the incorrect card. When this happens, there’s a much harder move during the reveal flip that makes it look like you are showing one card when your actually revealing another. This seemed really difficult to pull off and I never learned it proficiently. The first move was a good enough bar trick.
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