The History of Magic: The World’s Greatest Card Cheat

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The History of Magic: The World's Greatest Card Cheat

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HISTORICAL ACCURACY:
In this video, I tell the tale of how the most notorious 3 card monte hustler — Canada Bill Jones — died completely penniless. These stories from Gambling Scams by Darwin Ortiz and the wider world of general gambling-history lore. Understand that, since all of this stuff happened over a century ago, we often don’t know exactly what was said, but I’ve done my best to re-imagine certain conversations and events in a realistic (and entertaining) way based on available information. For more history on Canada Bill’s life, check out this article: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/canada-bill-jones/. The images of Canada Bill and of the Faro Game are from google images and fall under fair use standards. No copyright infringement is intended.

THE RULES OF FARO:
I had to simplify the rules of Faro in a number of ways to keep the video from being 30 minutes long. For example, if you bet on a value that doesn’t match the winning card or the losing card, your bet just stays on the layout. You can leave it there, remove it, or even move it to a different value before the next round. However, the biggest modification I made was that you don’t remove the spades from a deck and then play faro with that same deck. Rather, the game is always played with a 52-card deck, and the spade layout is either built into the table or removed from a different deck of cards. If you want to learn to play the game for real, watch this video: https://youtu.be/CUARRsVdARs.

THE FARO SHUFFLE:
You might have heard of a shuffle named after the game of faro. The shuffle goes like this: you split the deck exactly in half (26 and 26), then weave the two halves together perfectly, every-other-card. Yes, it is as difficult to master as it sounds. I made a whole video about that shuffle here: https://youtu.be/blZEIs4Shzk. This shuffle wasn’t used to cheat at faro. Rather, it was used to keep the game fair. Because in faro, the cards are dealt in pairs, if those pairs don’t get “split up” during the shuffles, the same pairs will be dealt out the next round. Dealers would use the faro shuffle to split up these pairs, so for their purposes, the split and the weave probably didn’t have to be exact. Magicians have repurposed this shuffle in various ways, most of which are best kept secret. 🙂

CREDITS:
The 3 card monte phases at the beginning are based on the work of Darwin Ortiz, Dai Vernon, Ricky Jay, Richard Turner, and S.W. Erdnase. The location of the spades is a slight variation of Darwin Ortiz’s routine 12 the Hard Way, published in Lessons in Card Mastery. The subsequent production of the hearts makes use of ideas from Benjamin Earl, Johnny Benzais, Jose Carroll, Dai Vernon, Ricky Jay, and Hofzinser. The modern incarnation of the suit production was invented by Ricky Jay, who was apparently inspired by a Hofzinser idea. The location of the clubs and diamonds in pairs is based on A Matching Routine by Ed Marlo, published in Faro Controlled Miracles.

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