Saturday, January 22, 2011

Want To Buy a Special Poker Cheating Card Table?... Just Check Out This Poker Cheats Equipment Auction!

Throughout the 1970s, a Las Vegan by the name of Ray Carson was a dealer, floorman and pitboss at the fabled Horseshoe casino, which at the time was home to legendary poker cheats such as Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim and Puggy Pearson. He later became a surveillance supervisor at Caesars Palace. But what Carson is well-known for in gambling circles was his ability to design and manufacture gambling cheating devices, especially cheating devices used to cheat poker games.

Carson died last year at 102, so he surely had a long life that revolved around lots of poker and casino cheating. His first cheating device was the famous blackjack prism card shoe, which allowed cheating blackjack dealers to peek at the next card in the shoe to be dealt, as well as give them the capability to deal the second card beneath it. However, his most notorious cheating device was the poker holdout table. You have probably heard of poker holdout devices that poker cheats used to pack and carry cards up their sleeves, but the poker holdout cheat table was really something special. It looked just like a regular poker table, but when the cheat sat at the ideal spot and applied pressure in a certain area of the table, it sucked up the card in his hand. Then when he applied pressure in another exact spot right next to the first, the table spit out the card the cheat had already hidden there. To camouflage the entire cheat operation, all the cheat had to do was lay his hands or cards and chips over the two spots, very easy to do without drawing suspicion.

One of Carson's prized holdout tables was a 32 by32-inch folding card table with a smooth wood top and felt inlay supported by plain metal legs. It was cheap and completely innocent looking. But it was the most functional holdout card table in the history of cheating at poker and gambling. It worked with a springboard hidden underneath the felt on the table. When the cheat pressed the exact spot, the spring pushed a card through the slot where the felt center bordered the wood. Well-known magician Jason England said, "The Carson table was most likely also used for gin. In gin, a single good card, like an ace, seven or eight, could be very useful. And if you’re playing in a big game, where twenty-five or fifty grand could change hands, a single good card could be really useful."

So, why am I writing about Ray Carson and his poker cheat tables? Because next week one of his special holdout cheat poker tables will be auctioned off at Potter and Potter Magic Memorabilia's auction house in Chicago, Illinois. It is expected to fetch up to five grand! I don't know if any perspective buyer is planning to use it to actively cheat poker games or if he could recoup the five grand if he did, but it sure is a handy piece of equipment to have around the house and show and tell. It would certainly generate some good poker cheat war-stories if the eventual buyer knows a thing or two about the history of card cheats.

Magic historian Gabe Fajuri, who is presiding over the auction of Carson's gaffed poker table, said, "Ray Carson definitely built this table for crossroaders--cheaters. But we're selling it for entertainment purposes only. It will probably go to a magician or to a collector who can show it off. It's not our goal to arm Legion of the Night with tools of their trade."

We will see about that!

Fajuri said that these type of poker cheat tables are not generally available to the public. "This stuff trades privately. It's rarely available by auction. You can count the number of times these things have come to auction on one or two hands." Did Fajuri mean "poker hands?"

When asked about the danger of the cheating device falling into the wrong hands, Fajuri said it was unlikely to happen, that "most magicians don't have the balls to be card cheats, let alone use a holdout table (this is true, the magicians I have met at gaming shows are ball-less)). If you secretly palm a card or do a shift or second deal and get caught, there’s no real evidence against you. But if you get caught using a holdout table, it'd be hard to deny."

My take: Heck, if you ain't gonna use it, don't buy it!!!