Saturday, December 31, 2011
Her cheat gig was first "hand-mucking" cards at blackjack tables and then later switching in entire "coolers" (blackjack shoes filled with prearranged cards to cheat the house) at those same blackjack tables. Hand mucking is the art of hiding a card (usually by palming) that has been snuck to the table before the play of a hand or taken off the table after it had been put into play by the dealer. Then with a quick sleight-of-hand movement the mucked card is either returned to play or taken off the table by the card-mucker, all in accordance with whether the cheat needs the card in his or her hand or back in the deck.
Ida Summers used all her beauty and talent to pull of these card swithces.
In addition to her good-looks, she was very flirtatious and very socialable, much like fellow Hall of "Famestress" Ruthie Berin. She was also quite petite, five-feet-two and less than a hundred pounds. This petiteness appealed greatly to the macho pit bosses of her day. She played them on her charm as she expertly and effortlessly switched cards in and out of decks.
But Ida took her cheating to the hilt. Uninspired by the ease of hand-mucking cards, she stepped up her craft to switching entire coolers into play. These are also called "cold decks" that are already prearranged to make the involved players at the table winners on as many hands they want. Some losing hands may be placed between the winners just to make the scam look more believable. After all, a player winning every hand, even if it be a beautiful woman, would surely raise suspicions in even the most distracted pit boss.
What made this move so bold was that the original card show on the table had to be physically lifted off the layout while the cooler was slipped into its spot, all in a split second. AND the shoe taken off the table had to be hidden from everyone's view. Ida managed this by placing that original shoe on her lap and then passing it off to a male cohort standing behind her at the first opportune moment. Then she would leave the table herself while other cohorts would begin playing the hands the dealer dealt from the cooler. The idea was that if they were caught, they would never catch Ida with the removed card shoe at the table.
In spite of this, gaming commission officials in Las Vegas, working in conjunction with the FBI, eventually caught Ida and her casino cheat partners, but they must have been very impressed with her skills and looks as well: she received but probation for her trouble.
At the time of her exploits and arrest, Ida Summers was the only known professional female casino cheat, which made her a true legend in casino cheating and underworld lore.