As I write its just 41 days, 21 hours and 54 minutes until Christmas.
Which can mean only one thing. It’s time for my annual Christmas wish list.
All of the scam related paraphernalia and literature missing from my collection.
This year, I have my eye on three things you can buy me.
1) Steve Forte’s Casino Protection
Steve Forte is the world’s leading expert on card cheating and this is his bible. It contains a lifetime of work on every move, gimmick and gambit used to separate casinos from their money. Steve also produced a 4 DVD set of him performing incredible card cheating sleights and companion book called Poker Protection but sadly, I do not own this book.
It’s out of print so be prepared to pay up to $200 for a copy. Of course, if you love me, you’ll do it.
2) Smokey Mountain Shagbark Shells
If $200 is too much to spend on me, why get a set of these beautiful shells for me. Sure, I have over 40 sets of shells used to play this classic swindle but these are among the best. Don’t let their rough and tough plain exterior fool you. These are a thing of beauty.
And they’ll on set you back $47.50.
The Notorious Roscoe from Biloxi performing with the shells
3) The Con Man - Ed McBain
Seriously? You won’t spend $50 on me. Fair enough, if you’re a cheapskate then you can buy me a copy of this book by Ed Mcbain from the 1950s. It’s a fun read. A con man is swindling new yorkers while a serial killer knocks off beautiful woman. The real joy of these books, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, is the fantastic covers. I have six different editions of this book and I’d love a seventh.
You can find this book on ebay or at abebooks for just a few bucks.
I’ve had three separate emails from readers asking questions about the film Inception.
Without spoiling too much of the plot for the four people who have not seen it, Inception swaps back and forth between reality and the dreamworld, leaving the viewer and the characters unsure as to whether they are trapped in the real world or a dream of someone else’s construction.
One of characters, Arthur - played by Joseph Gordon Lovett, carries a loaded casino dice as his totem.
Since only he knows the unique weight and feel of the dice, he simply needs to handle the dice to know whether he is in a world of someone else’s creation.
The question I’ve been asked repeatedly is, can you load a casino dice?
For many people, the answer to this questions has serious philosophical and extensional ramifications for the nature of the film.
These people also have serious opinions on Stargate and Rubik’s Cubes.
Worst. Blog. Ever.
According to Scarne on Dice, the bible for all things bones, a loaded dice is any dice with a weight in it.
Since casino dice tend to be constructed from a clear celluloid, one would assume it would be impossible to load a professional, Vegas style dice.
It’s an idea that has continue to this day, with many people, even casino professionals, assuming it is impossible to mess with a clear dice.
However, this fallacy is based on the assumption that casino dice are completely clear.
Few people notice that the spots on a dice are made by counter sinking small holes in the dice and then filling them with the solid white.
Within months of the introduction of the new, supposedly foolproof dice, a clever scam artist figured out he need simply drill out the spots on one side of the dice and fill them with thin, yet heavy, metal plates.
The metal is then painted and the dice looks 100% real yet will weighted so that the opposite side of the slugs wins.
Obviously, different metals can be used, but popular choices include gold, aluminum and platinum. To give you an idea of the work involved, a set of two dice will set you back around $200.
If the dice maker wishes the dice to roll the chosen number more often, he simply drills a deeper whole and puts in more metal. He may also drill deeper holes on the other sides and fill them with matching paint.
If you use a magnetic metal, you can also juice your dice. These dice would feel and roll normally until a strong magnet is placed under the table.
Clear dice can also be bevelled, rounding the corners or edges to make one side roll more often.
Or they might be shaved, with one side sanded down and respotted.
An expert could tell the difference between them, but only just.
I could on and we could talk about baking dice, suctions, raised edges and slick dice but who knows how far down the Inception rabbit hole that might send you….
Back in 1989, The Magic Circle in the UK, refused to let women join the society.
This annoyed female magicians such as Jenny Winstanley no end. But Winstanley had a plan.
She teamed up with Sophie Lloyd, a 28 year old actress, and taught her how to perform magic to a standard high enough to join the society (this was back in the day when clubs actually had standards rather then just letting every nerd with a deck of cards and a youtube account)
Sophie then created the character of Raymond, a young, socially awkard magician. Sophie spent a year performing in clubs around London until she was good enough and professional enough to join the club.
She auditioned in front of a panel of judges and an audience of 200 people and was accepted into the exclusive club.
A few months later when Lloyd and Winstanley revealed to the club they had been hoaxed, the circle didn’t see the humour and, rather ironically, kicked ‘Raymond’ out on the grounds of deception.
The pair even received the cliched late night “you’ll never work in this town again” phone call.
This week on statewide drive with Kathy Bedford we discussed:
Casino Conjuring: The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation spent $25,000 being Las Vegas magician Barron Stringfellow (best. name. ever.) to Australia to teach investigators how to spot a cheat.
A good investment of taxpayer money?
UPS Scam: A caller asked whether an email from UPS was really a scam (it was) and another called wondering why we get more scam emails this time of year. (the answer: we all need to cash after Christmas)
Twitter: We discussed the various frauds associated the social networking site and how to avoid getting swindled while tweeting.
Is the openness and anonymity of tweeter a breeding ground for swindlers?
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!
Dennis Walters was away and, sitting in his place, was none other than Mark Holden, formally of Australia Idol.
Holden seemed really comfortable behind the mike. I think radio is his natural home.
Aside from talking about the latest scams, Mark also asked me about an experience he had a few days.
While waiting at The Regent theatre stage door he was approached by a woman asking for money for petrol. The Petrol Lady strikes again!
The Petrol Lady is an inner city con woman who spends her days asking for money for petrol. I’ve met her three times myself and each time she’s had an elaborate story for why she needs money.
1) She’s got a job interview and she’s run out of petrol and if she can’t get the petrol money she won’t get the job
2) She’s just had a blood test at St Vincents and her boyfriend didn’t pick her up so she needs cash for a taxi.
3) Her car was stolen and she needs taxi money to get home. She said “I only have $3 and I’ve been looking for taxi money for three hours and now all the trams have stopped and I need to get a taxi.” Why didn’t she just get a tram three hours ago?
Her stories are detailed and her pitch is convincing. So much so that she swindled Holden out of $17.
He didn’t mind when I told him he’d been ’scammed by the best.’