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by Vinny DeCarlo

Vinny DeCarlo is the author of How to Beat Casino Surveillance Ė Insiderís Secrets for Card Counters. He is a retired veteran casino man with over 20 years of upper management experience. His expertise covers the pit, security, surveillance, and he even served as a General Manager. Currently, Vinny travels the states as a freelance reporter and a personal consultant to many Indian casinos. He also appeared on the "Getting the Edge" radio show from Las Vegas. According to Vinny, there are two types of casino employees - those that know him, and those that claim to know him; therefore, never believe what you hear.

Note: This true story is about how casinos decided to save pennies per pack on playing cards while unknowingly making it easier for "card markers" to beat them.

Black is Beautiful

"Black is Beautiful" was a cliché of the 70ís, as was the term "groovyí and the greeting "peace, man". Nevertheless, the casinos saw it differently: Black Cards were beautiful because they were much cheaper. Though the cards were of the exact same quality as the cards the casinos had been using, and when placed face up, you couldnít tell the difference, the lack of color on the black-cards backing made them look cheaper than the high demand colors, like red and blue; however, these cards were even cheaper when purchased by the case.

Now those of you that have ever read a book on casinos, cheating, gaff items, etc. probably know that card marking has been going on for as long as thereís been cards. In fact, there are more ways to mark a card than there are cards in a case. Letís just look at a few of the more popular ways cards were (and possibly still are) marked.

Card Bending

A player quickly crimps the high (or low) cards in a way that it can be read from the back by looking for the special crease mark that you made. Of course, the reason players marked the card was to get the advantage over the house by knowing what the dealers hole card was before you hit, stood, double downed, split, or even surrendered. Though there are many ways to mark cards, the reason is always the same; namely, to get an advantage over the house.

Card Sanding

A player glues ashtray sand or a piece of sandpaper on to their finger and gently scrapes the corner of the cards to be read. This actually removes some of the color from the card, leaving a few lines that when looked for, stuck out like a Dr. Markman breast enhancement job.

Card Daubing

Daub is a waxy, oil-like substance that is just a shade off of the typical card back colors (like red or blue), and is loaded into a small, tin, crevice either in your shoe, behind your ear, etc. When you see a card that you want to mark, you simply run your finger over the daub then do a light smear onto the card or cards you were dealt in an area that you can see when itís ready to be dealt again from a shoe or a hand-held game. It was common practice to "work up a deck or shoe" and return later or have a friend show up and beat the house relentlessly.

Card Pinning

A thumbtack affixed to your thumb via a band-aid and used to make small pin indentations on the cards you want marked. There was a bonus with this method if you could talk a dealer into taking off the joint. If this were the case, the deck would be worked up so that the dealer could feel the card value and, if your hit card would bust you, he would second deal, increasing your advantage of winning or, if he were good, he would know when to stick the house with the card so it would bust.

Card Nicking/Nailing

The player utilizes a fingernail or a piece of a razor blade super glued to a finger and presses it into the side of a card so as to split the card (hemorrhage it), allowing the player to read the card value by looking at the side of the card. This method is still used today and is popular because it doesnít require any tools, just a fingernail.

The Ash Technique

Simply put, make an ash out of yourself, and run it on the back of the playing card. This method is just another way to "Daub" but using something most commonly found on a playing table, an ashtray full of ashes. Though popular in its day, with the elimination of Black-Back cards, itís no longer used.

Now those are just a few of the ways that anyone who has ever handled a deck probably knows about; however, most of these cheating moves cost money and, seriously, you really donít want to be caught with, or using a device or playing to certain bends you made, while in a casino. Seriously, donít even think about it; thatís not what this article is about.

So, now we know that there are tons of items for sale (or can be made at home) to mark cards with but little did the casino executives know that by being cheap skates and looking to save a mere few pennies per deck they legalized card marking; essentially, they gave the store away.

The Black Back cards held a secret for many years to those in the know. Just like a cup of black coffee, one could use the Black Backs as a...

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