Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Some shifty plays

Euchre QOD: “The cards go funny for everyone”

Euchre Haiku:
Cut cards at all times
And watch the halves when replaced
Shifts are too easy

Euchre Palaver
“Shift” – In the world of card manipulation (legerdemain) this is the act of reversing a cut thus putting the cards back the way they started. Highly effective and easy to pull off. Some shifty euchre players do this all the time.

Savvy Strategies
Yesterday we talked about looking for marked cards and using the information to your advantage. Today, we’ll expose some honest to goodness cheating through card manipulation. And we’ll also suggest ways to defeat their methods.

1. Stacking the deck. The euchre pack of cards is particularly easy to manipulate. This is primarily because there is such a small amount of cards and it’s easy to find useful cards. The first thing that the cheat will do is stack the cards. Stacking cards just means putting them in a desired order. Perhaps the easiest bit of card stacking is to find a Jack, put three cards below it and place that pack on the bottom. This can be done undetected when you are collecting the cards to deal.

2. False shuffles. The object of the false shuffle is to make it appear that you are mixing the cards but in reality some cards are not being mixed at all. There are a host of false shuffles that cheaters use. The riffle shuffle can be employed nearly flawlessly. If the cheater has stacked the bottom of the deck to ensure a bower gets turned up, they will simply keep those cards on the bottom. This is done by running those cards first when the riffle shuffle starts and legitimately mixing up the rest of the cards.

3. Shifting the cut. A stacked deck and a false shuffle are defeated by cutting the deck. Some cheaters get around this by just not offering a cut. They shuffle and deal without question. If you are particularly trusting or disengaged, you won’t even notice. Fortunately, most people will notice so that ruse doesn’t succeed often. But a true card sharp will offer you the cut and then reverse it. There are lots of methods but the simplest is picking up the packs quickly and placing the halves back the way they were. It’s easy to do and nearly invisible.

The defense to these methods is cutting the deck and careful watching that the halves are replaced properly. If you have any suspicion, just tell your opponents you don’t feel good about the cut and you’d like to see it done again. They may protest but at least they know you will be watching. The cheater relies on people not paying attention to things like false shuffles and shifted cuts.

Another defense against this form of cheating is to talk about the methods of cheaters. Tell your opponents a “story” about how you saw someone cheating by stacking the deck and shifting the cut. If they think you know they are trying to cheat and how they might be doing it, they’ll certainly be more hesitant to try.

But card manipulation isn’t the only form of cheating. In another entry, we’ll look at euchre signaling and ways you might defeat those cheats.

League Update
Well, we’re still alive in the play-offs but we’ve fallen to the loser’s bracket. We won our first match despite the presence of a suspected “card shifter”. I’ve always been suspicious of this player because she tends to get a lot of Bower up-cards on her deal. I like to sit on her right just to make sure I get the cut. After she got a Bower I paid close attention the next time it was her deal. Then thought I saw a distinct attempt at shifting the cut. It was subtle. She’s good. But in my mind it was unmistakable. As she was dealing I said “I’d like to cut those cards again. I just don’t feel good about them.” And she protested saying, “You can’t do that!” And I replied, “I just don’t feel good about the cut. It seemed a little weird.” So, she collects the cards and says, “Fine! I’m not gonna let you get in my head!” She reshuffles and deals.

As first determined 14 billion years ago at the Big Bang, she offers me the cut, doesn’t attempt the shift, and proceeds to deal herself another Bower. She’s either really a great card manipulator or just lucky. Of course, she calls a loner and easily makes it. Unfortunate, but at least it was legit. I don’t mind cheaters, as long as they lose. In the end, we beat the team 2 games to 1 and advanced to the next round.

In the next round we played a couple of very good players. We won the first game but a couple of snafus in the next sunk us. In the third game we took a 4-1 lead but our opponents made that back and more. When it was 6-8 (bad guys ahead) we ordered up an Ace and got euchred due to some unlucky card spread. No matter. We are in the final 6 and just need to win out to be the champs. We are still in good shape to do that.


Harvey "the Rabbit" Lapp said...

The guy demonstrating the riffle shuffle in the photo (at Wikopedia) would be promptly fired here in Vegas. Lifting the inside edges of the cards as high as he is doing does two things; 1. exposes the cards, especially to the dealer and 2. bends the hell out of the cards. This is all totally unnecessary! A good riffle is performed by holding the outside edges of the cards in place with the pinky fingers and lightly lifting the inside edges with the thumbs (not high enough for anybody to see any pips). However, if the Wikopedia guy is reading this, he is cordially invited to our euchre game at: VegasEuchre.com. Bring money.

Walter Hade said...

Hey buddy. I like your euchre blog. I do have something to add to your 'how people cheat' section. Check out my recent blog post where I reveal how I've cheated my friends at euchre for years!! I did include a link to your blog within mine because there is alot of good euchre info on your blog. Keep up the good work.