On a recent trip to the Getty Museum my wife Patty noticed a painting hidden in a corner titled “Card Players” by Joos van Craesbeeck painted around 1605.
What made this painting so unusual was it was about cheating. This led me to do some research, and I found many great paintings feature card scenes but all of them showed the dark side of early card playing life.
Another great work about the dark side of gambling is “Soldiers Playing Cards and Dice” (1620) painted by Valentin de Boulogne, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The beauty of these fine paintings are overshadowed, to me, by their depiction of the dark side of gambling. These great painters show us that where there’s money, there are people who will stop at nothing to relieve you of it. The higher the stakes, the more sophisticated the scams.
I remember a book by John Scarne that someone gave me when I was young. I read it 50 years ago, it was about card cheating.
Scarne was not his real name. John was an expert at the time who worked on the movie “The Sting” and was hired by the Army to travel around to military bases to teach soldiers about the pitfalls of gambling. That book had a major impact on my gambling career.
Today online gambling is legal in four states and is mainstream around the world. Like those paintings show, we always need to stay vigilant to keep poker safe whether it’s at a brick-and-mortar casino or online.