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Okay, if you're reading this, it's because you've expressed interest in the Magician's Poker plot.

The premise is simple. There are two types of people in one of these games: you're either a con or a mark.

If you are a con, then your character knows how to work a deck of cards. Gus, Penn, and Teller are all going to be in this camp. Some amount of god-moding will be allowed, since that's sort of what this whole thing is about, but it MUST be done reasonably. Also, if you're playing in this camp, you may want to count on some cell-time for your pup, since they are sort of breaking the rules.

And above all else, put EVERYTHING your pup does in your tag. Every palm, false cut, and second deal. Half the fun of this is knowing that everyone is trying to cheat everyone else.

Info for players who will be playing cons

While my particular brand of magic has always been that of parlour performances, I do know a thing or three about cards, and about cheating with cards. The only time I ever play cards are in games of Magician's Poker, where everyone knows how to do these cheats and is therefore on a level field. And now, so everyone CAN be on a level field, here are a few methods and tricks your pup can employ.

Card Counting - Simple enough. Just basic maths and keeping track. However, even though it's not illegal, if a pit boss catches you doing it down at the Monte Carlo, you're toast.

False Cuts (Hit the Brief, or Shifting, depending on method) - A false cut is where you pretend to cut the deck. It looks like you've cut the deck. It sounds like you've cut the deck. But really, you've just done a fancy-ass move that puts a desired card (or several desired cards) back on the top and/or bottom of the deck.

False Shuffle - Again, it looks and sounds like you're shuffling the deck. Because you are, to a point. But there are several ways to shuffle the deck while still keeping cards at the top and/or bottom. A skilled player can keep cards in both places whilst shuffling up the middle of the deck.

Why do I keep mentioning sound? Because when you shuffle, cut, or deal cards, they make a certain sound. When you don't do the exact move that goes into a shuffle, deal, or cut, the cards make a different sound. If you're really bad at it, Stevie Wonder can catch you cheating from across the room. That's how different the sound can be. And I mention this, because if your pup is really skilled, they would be able to pick up on even a really good false move.


Second-Dealing - You have a card on the top of the deck that you want to go somewhere. Either a really good card for you, or a really lousy card for someone else. So you keep that one there, and deal out the second card in the deck. This is STUPIDLY hard to master, because it sounds very wrong.

Bottom-Dealing - Same thing as above, only you're dealing out from the bottom of the deck. It also sounds very wrong, and if you're not careful, you'll flash (show) the cards.

If you're really good, you can deal from anywhere in the deck. Second, bottom, and second-bottom are the most common, though. And unless you spend months working on it, you will get busted by even the most lay players.

Palming - If you want to save a card for later, either while dealing or at the end of the hand, simply palm it off. That's where you just hide a card in your hand. If you're not careful, you will flash the cards and get busted.

Holding Out - Hiding the card on your person after you've palmed it off. Another method is that stick'um stuff that's used for holding up posters. Stick that on the bottom of the table, and stick your palmed-off cards on that stuff.

When you hold out cards, they're called slugs. Most lay players won't notice cards missing until you get close to about 10 out of the deck. Personally, I can tell when a pack is light by just one, but I've been doing this crap for about 20 years. It's fair to assume that a good number of the swindlers in the game will be on that level as well.

Ice (Cold Decking, or Switching Decks) - The game will be using Red Backs, because they're pretty damn standard. A player will typically switch decks after they've stacked one. Some players will ring in half-stacks - bits that they've stacked in advance - switching them off for the top or bottom portion of the pack. This lets them control exactly who gets which cards. If a player is familiar enough with the other people in the game, he may even be able to determine how they'll strategise and stack in anticipation for that as well.

Cold decking is very powerful and very useful, but also very tricky. As the name suggests, the cards can often be quite cold when they're switched in, so some players will keep them in a jacket pocket to give them a bit of heat, to mimic the temperature of the cards that have been played with previously.

Crimping - A cheap, quick way of marking cards. Very tiny little folds on the corners of the cards that help them stick out from the others. The problem with this is that it's very noticable, but it works in a pinch.

If you are a mark, then you're consenting to a bit of god-moding by the cons. Prepared to be swindled, lied to, and cheated. Your characters will have money stolen from them, because that is how these sorts of jobs go down. At some point in the game, security will be alerted and the whole thing will be broken up, and the marks will likely get anything back that had been stolen.

Additional info about the set-up:

Penn and Teller both know that Gus is trying to cheat them, but Gus does not (at least right away) know that they are trying to cheat him. For the purposes of this post, they WILL NOT be in "uniform." This is a scam they've long-since perfected during layovers at airports and in bus depots. Penn dresses very casually. Dark T-shirt, leather jacket, tight jeans, et cetera. Teller is a bit more conservative: trousers, button-down shirt with an open collar, and reading glasses. Unless you already know one (or, in a few cases, both) of them, there's no indication that they're working a double-act on you.
The cards being used in this game are a standard pack (deck) or Red-Backs. They are unmarked and (at least at the beginning of the game) un-crimped. The deck is 54 cards; four suits, 13 cards per suit, and two jokers.

To make this fun, I do ask that nobody burn the game right away. That's where you basically use as many methods as possible to get all the money, take the money, and get the hell out of dodge. The game probably will get burned at some point, probably around the same time the game gets busted up because everyone's stealing from everyone else.


Anyone is free to tag in and play. Since there are bound to be quite a few people playing, tagging needs to be structured. The best way to do this would be to show up in crackchat to keep track of everything. Failing that, track the entire post.

Dealing will rotate, and will go in order of tags. Pups A, B, and C will start off in the EP. Since I play all three of them, there will be a lot of using one account to play the three of them, just to make things easier. After A, the deal will go to pup D (the first person to tag the post), then to pup E (the second person to tag the post), et cetera, until it comes back to A, at which point either B or C will take it.

Game play will rotate in the same way. A, B, and C will be played at once, then the tag will go to D, then to E, and so forth, until the hand is over. When D takes the deal, the first tag will be E.

TL;DR, your tag will always follow the same person. There will be a lot of OOC orchestrating going on to keep this whole thing sane, which is why crackchat is seriously recommended. If you can't be in crackchat, let me know, and we'll set up a way to be in contact some other way.

If you want to join in to the game mid-thread, let me know, and I'll shuffle you in. :D


Winning Hands in a Game of Poker (Opens in GDocs)

A player's hands are pretty much determined by the player. We're going on the honour system (ha!) here. So, if your pup is honestly playing, they probably wouldn't be getting great hands every time.

Especially since there are cheaters in this game, who will be dealing deliberately bad hands.

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Gus Dickinson

September 2010

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