John Scarne had an encyclopedic knowledge of gaming and cheating as well as an incredible brain for figuring out odds and percentages.
His books on dice, cards, three card monte and gaming are in the libraries of all good card cheats and gambling aficionados.
Throughout his career he was often hired by casinos and betting agents to spot cheats and break down scams.
On one occasion he was hired by a bookie who had set up a closed shop book making operation in a penthouse apartment.
His regular customers would spend an afternoon locked in his horse room, plied with drinks and encouraged to bet on horse races with the results of each race would coming in through a single phone line.
The bookie was concerned because a young blonde woman had won over $100,000 in six weeks and he believed she was cheating.
He asked Scarne to figure out how this woman was able to pick the winnings in a locked room. Particularly since this was the 1950s with none of the fancy modern communications technology we could have used today.
Scarne spent the afternoon with the bookie and soon cracked the scam. See if you can figure it out too. Here are the factors:
1) The only way to communicate with people in the room was via a single phone line.
2) Only the bookie would used the phone for taking phone bets and getting results.
3) The announcement of race winners came around five minutes after the race had run. 3) People bet right up until the announcement was made.
4) No one left or entered the windowless room.
If you can figure out the answer, post it below. If you’ve heard the story before, keep mum until others have had a guess.
AS FEATURED ON ABC STATEWIDE DRIVE WITH KATHY BEDFORD
I’ve been sitting on this footage from my trip to Barcelona in June but thought I’d share it with you now. I spent a day hunting down the Trileros, con artists who play the Shell Game on the streets with unsuspecting tourists.
I’m not sure what it is about organic food that rubs me the wrong.
Maybe it’s the smug people in the organic food shop.
Maybe it’s the little spots that appear on organics apples.
Or maybe it’s the fact that I want to put down my inability to tell the difference between organic and inorganic foods to some sort of global swindle rather than accept that perhaps my palette is less then refined.
So I’m not suprised by the feelings of schadenfreude I have when I read that Neil Stansfeild, director of One Foods, has been jailed for 27 months for buying regular cheap foods from supermarkets repackaging it as organic and then passing it on to consumers at a vastly inflated prices.
My smug pleasure is not at con artist Stansfield’s jail sentence but at the idea of all his hip customers forking over big bucks for bargain bin generic foods and then fooling themselves into thinking they can Really Taste The Difference.
I also wonder whether Stanfield could have defended himself by claiming that, since 25% of organic food contains synthetic pesticides and that there is no evidence that organic food is better for you that he could argue that his fake food was just the same as real organic food.
A little bit like renting a Rob Schneider film only to find out you’ve been given a poor quality rip off. Who can Really Tell The Difference?
This just came through from comedian Lawrence Leung
Just letting you know that my solo show starts this Thursday 17th at the Brisbane Festival.
Sucker by Lawrence Leung Sept 17 - Oct 3 9pm Carnival’s Edge Cultural Forecourt, QPAC Grey St (Cnr Melbourne St), South Bank, QLD “SUCKER”, one of my past shows, plays at the Brisbane Festival for three weeks in a beautiful wooden theatre. It’s nothing like the TV show, but has won an award and has played in the Edinburgh Fringe and the Sydney Opera House - so people quite like it. Come along.
A few years back, magician Dan Harlen and skeptic Micheal Shermer went undercover on the street to try and swindle people with The Pigeon Drop, a classic scam. They do an amazing job, capturing the spirit of the scam and all the little details.
It’s a pity that, a little after this was shot, Dan Harlan got a silly and tried to pinch a bar’s cash register. On the way out of the door his pants fell down, he trip over and knocked out his teeth!