The Art Of Cheating

Cardsharping, said the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences in 1950, “carries a greater stigma than the seduction of a friend’s wife.” Nevertheless, it has enjoyed a long, vigorous life. Here are two tools of the cheater’s trade.

Jacob’s Ladder Holdout

The hand below is equipped with an 1890s device that could produce a good card or remove a poor one, unbelievably without the other players noticing.

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What Beats What

The H. T. Webster cartoon comes from Webster’s Poker Book, published in 1925, when the game was enjoying one of its more vigorous revivals. In his text, which is nearly as amusing as Webster’s cartoons, the writer George F. Worts gives advice on everything from how to keep one’s wife from interrupting a poker party to when to draw four cards to an ace or king high (never) and goes on to spell out the order in which cards and hands take precedence.

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Politics And Poker

What one game of cards tells us about two famous statesmen

Poker (or its equivalent) has been popular among the political classes right from the beginning of American history. George Washington furnished Mount Vernon with a card table, multiple decks of playing cards, and two sets of “counters.” With military precision, he also kept careful track of his successes and failures, noting that he won slightly more than £72 during the years 1772–74, while losing about £78 during the same period, for a net loss of £6. Read more »


The very American career of the card game you can learn in
10 minutes and work on for the rest of your life


In 1875 a writer for the New York Times was “forced to the conclusion that the national game is not baseball, but poker.”

“Rich and poor, high and low, good and bad, male and female yield to the fascinations of Poker,” another observer wrote in 1889.

Playing Texas Hold ’Em in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1968. Life magazine commissioned the photo to introduce its readers to the game.
bob peterson/time life pictures/getty images.2006_6_38
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