||Posted by: S.W.Erdnase (Aug 30, 2011 5:56am)
Your comments regarding our apparent dismissal of stocking with the riffle shuffle, preserving the complete order of the deck at a card table, and the utility of a cold deck are excellent ones. It does appear that we owe the fraternity an explanation does it not?
We shall attempt to provide one, but a bit of clarification regarding a portion of our treatise is in order before we can embark on a more complete explanation.
Please refer to p. 14 of our work. There, a line that has apparently become somewhat popular amongst our readers appears. The full quotation is, “We betray no confidences in publishing this book, having only ourselves to thank for what we know.”
Many readers have taken the “betray no confidences” portion of this sentence to mean that we were not revealing any techniques that were shown to us “in confidence” by other professional gamblers. Some have even used this line of reasoning as a rationale for why techniques such as the spread and the countdown do not appear in the work.
Of course, the second part of that quotation is equally important: “…having only ourselves to thank for what we know.” In our day, we felt this sentence was as clear as glass. Today, we know better. If we were to rewrite that line for today’s readers we would state it thusly: “We are betraying no confidences in publishing this book, because we alone have developed the techniques within, receiving no direct aid from other professionals.”
As a side note, further down the page we reveal that “the sum of our present knowledge is proffered in this volume.” This line, taken in conjunction with our failure (?) to mention the spread and/or the countdown would seem to indicate that we were not aware of these procedures. That is one possibility. We’ll return to this line of thinking momentarily.
Before we address the specifics of your question(s), we need to turn your attention to one final item in our treatise, the title page. More specifically, the sub-title of the work: “A Treatise on the Science and Art of Manipulating Cards.”
Our treatise is not, as is commonly supposed, a complete description of every known advantage playing (I believe the modern term is the rather crude, “cheating”) stratagem of the day. Very specifically, it is a complete description of all of the manipulative techniques that we were able to observe and learn, read about, or develop entirely on our own. Remember, “we have only ourselves to thank for what we know.”
With this clarification in mind, a “cursory review” (or near omission) of certain categories of advantage playing techniques makes complete sense. We find little art in the use of a “mechanical contrivance” to aid in secreting extra cards about the person. It’s true that the operation of many such holdouts requires careful setup and a modicum of skill and we even stated as such. However, the skill lies in the operation of the device, not in the manipulation of the cards themselves. The “breakoffs” need to be performed smoothly and quickly, but beyond that there is little to interest us within the technique.
As with holdouts, “prepared” (marked) cards are briefly included only because they were so prevalent in our day; there is little to no manipulative skill required to use them. We felt then, as we feel now, that they had no place in a treatise on artistic manipulative techniques.
Immediately following the prepared cards section of our Card Table Artifice section is our “dismissive” treatment of cold decks. The reason for our apparent lack of enthusiasm for the cold deck should by now be obvious: we find no art in the techniques. It was our experience that cold decks were invariably either introduced with the aid of club room attendants and then openly switched, or in private games, switched using a secret but ultimately artless technique when none of the other players (save those that were in on the scheme) were looking. In neither scenario can there be found any manipulative merit. Of course, in the modern era this is no longer the case. Were we compiling our treatise today, we would of course include a great many specialized and artistic cold deck switches that have been devised in the intervening century. We are especially taken with the number of beautiful deck switches demonstrated by the modern hustler known as “Doc.” Although we have never had the pleasure of meeting the Doc, his brazenness and willingness to discuss his occupation on an open forum such as the Café has several of us here in the great beyond expecting his arrival any day.
In short, we were never dismissive of the effectiveness of the cold deck (or marked cards or collusion for that matter). These subjects simply did not meet our criteria for in-depth inclusion in the work.
We shall now return to the subjects of the spread and the countdown. Rather than end 100 years of speculation on these “missing” techniques, we shall instead provide the reader with some food for thought.
It is certainly possible that we were not aware of these techniques; although both ideas were already in print by the time our book was released in early 1902. However, today’s students must also consider the possibility that we didn’t feel there was enough artistic merit to the execution of the spread (it involves laying a single palmed card onto a pile of four already on the table) or the countdown (a small stock of cards is in a known position from the top of the deck) to warrant inclusion. We have no desire to spoil the mystery, but at least the student has something new to think about regarding the apparent oversight on our part.
The last item that requires clarification is our handling within the text of stocking with the riffle shuffle and preserving the complete order with the same. With regard to preserving the complete order with a riffle shuffle, we must remind the reader of our lack of enthusiasm for the cold deck, at least with regard to its inherent artistic qualities in our day. As the cooler was dismissed, so goes the need to preserve the entire order of the deck at the card table. The desire to preserve the entire order within the realm of the conjurer is another matter, but this concept was largely developed after our treatise was released. The same can be said of specialized cases at the card table where out of expediency, full-deck controls are used to maintain a large stock.
It is with mild embarrassment that we admit the one place where we didn’t see the inherent possibilities of the technique is within the area of manipulation known today as “riffle stacking.” Although we acknowledged the possibility of stocking with the riffle, at the time our treatise was being prepared for publication, we felt that the technique was “limited.” It is clear after over a century of hindsight that this is incorrect. Although the techniques are extremely difficult, there is as much art in modern riffle stacking methodologies as any other area of card manipulation.
If we may borrow a phrase, the above is "just our opinion."