BREA, California – My Great Uncle Freddie was a world-class playing card manipulator and when I was a lad in England, he tried to teach me some of his moves.  Unfortunately, with my big fat hands and innate clumsiness my execution of even the simplest things like dealing seconds or off the bottom of the deck was beyond my physical abilities.  However, I did learn how to spot cheaters and that is a valuable skill.

While at Clovenhoof College I was invited to a friendly poker game at Sonny Boy Simpson’s flat along with three other students.  Sonny Boy’s alleged “Cousin Junior” was also there for a total of six players.  The first thing I noticed was that Junior used a mechanic’s grip whenever he dealt, a reliable sign of a cheater.  As play progressed, I saw that Sonny Boy and Junior were in cahoots, with the objective being to cheat me and the other three players.  We were slowly being cleaned out, but I had figured out their strategy.  The next time Junior dealt, he and Sonny Boy set up what Uncle Freddie called the Sneaky Feaky.  After the deal I looked at a spot just over his shoulder, pointed and said, “What’s that?”  Junior turned his head to look and involuntarily rotated his wrist just enough for me to see that an ace was on the bottom of the deck.  I had two pair, kings and deuces, a good but not great hand.  When he discarded only one card, I knew that he had dealt himself two pair also, with one of the pair being aces.  So, when he took a single card, it would be the ace off the bottom and he would have a full house, aces over whatever.  Having the ace on the bottom was insurance that he had rigged the deck properly.  To really set the hook so I would make a big bet, he would deal me another king so I would also have a full house, kings over deuces, but a losing hand.

After discarding, I placed my remaining four cards face down on the table and waited for the deal.  After the deal I didn’t pick up any cards.  Instead, I said to Junior, “Let’s make a side bet.  I bet you everything my friends and I have on the table against everything you and Sonny Boy have that the card you just dealt me is a king.  Everybody at the table can see that I haven’t touched it.”  Junior knew that he had been caught and was trying to think of way to extricate himself from the situation.  I wasn’t about to let the damned cheater get away with it.  He mumbled something about how that wasn’t the game and we should just play it out.  I very slowly turned the card over and it was in fact a king.  The other chaps then knew that Junior was cheating and were quite put out.  When I said Sonny Boy was in on it, the other three students wanted to beat the crap out of both of them.  I counseled against it, saying that we should just take back our money (and theirs) and then make sure that everybody in town knew that they were cheats.

P. S. Never play cards for money with someone whose nickname is “Doc.”

Pray for peace, pray for justice. – Ed.


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