Carol, do you remember when we
were in San Francisco and visited Fishermen’s Wharf? We went there to eat a
fresh fish dinner.
Well, there was a group of folks
there playing a game, about four or five people playing and another two folks
serving as “lookouts” just in case the authorities showed up!
Then there was the operator of
the game and two shills. A shill is a pretend player that gives the impression
to the “innocent” players that there are more people playing than
there really are.
In this game, it was arranged so
the shills were winning large amounts of green money.
Remember, I took out some money
as if I wanted to play the game and show you how the swindle was taking place.
Then you could see how the
operator, the two shills and the two lookouts were cheating the people out of
I did all this but I don’t
remember telling you the name of the game was “Thimblerig.”
Thimblerig — it sounds innocent
enough. In this game, the operator or “thimblerigger” places a seed or
button or other small object under one of the thimbles. Then he deftly scoots
the thimbles around on a small table, which is really all the equipment they
need to pull of the swindle.
After the thimblerigger has
pushed the thimbles around, he ask one of his shills to pick out the thimble
that hides the object. In the process, the shill places a bet and wins $200 for
the $100 he bet.
The games had been under way for
a while and the betting increased from one dollar, then progressed to $10, then
$20 and finally into the $100s.
Of course, the shill
“wins” each time he bets. And the innocent “sucker” watching
the action is also mentally picking the same thimble, so it all appears so easy.
In his mind he believes he can win and now wants to play.
So the sucker or
“trick” pulls out his green $100 bills and plays.
At first he is allowed to win a
little, but the trick gets greedy and wants to play for more money each time.
But the thimberigger is a master
of sleight-of-hand and can move and manipulate the seed and even palm the object
so that it can end up in his hand or pocket and not under any thimble.
The poor trick really never
stands a chance.
Some folks may remember this game
better if it were played with nutshells, and the game was called a shell game.
Yes, the shell game has been in
play for many, many years. But here in Nevada we have legal gaming and are
protected from this type of game.
Thus, you will never see a shell
or thimblerig game in Las Vegas.
Three things happen when a
tourist comes to Las Vegas.
1. They bring money to play the
2. They lose some of it, and that
is what pays the light bills and builds the beautiful hotels and makes Las Vegas
a fun town to vacation and play all the fun games.
3. They have a good time, go home
get some more money and come back as soon as they can.
Poker Tip of the Week
The shell game can also be played
with three cards.
One of the cards will be an ace.
The cards will be slightly cupped or bent and you will be asked to pick out the
card that is the ace.
This game is sometimes called
Three Card Monte. Do not play this game. I’ll tell you why next time.
Until next time remember to stay