Card Sharp

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A card sharp (or card shark) is a person who uses skill and deception to win at poker or other card games. The label is not always intended as pejorative, and is sometimes used to refer to practitioners of card tricks for entertainment purposes. The term has also taken on the meaning of ‘expert card gambler who takes advantage of less-skilled players,’ without implication of actual cheating at cards, in much the same way that ‘pool shark’ or ‘pool hustler’ can (especially when used by non-players) be intended to mean ‘skilled player’ rather than ‘swindler.’ A card sharp/shark may be a ’rounder’ who travels, seeking out high-stakes games in which to gamble.

Card sharps who cheat or perform tricks use methods to keep control of the order of the cards or sometimes to control one specific card. Most, if not all, of these methods employ sleight of hand. Essential skills are false shuffles and false cuts that appear to mix the deck but actually leave the cards in the same order. More advanced techniques include culling (manipulating desired cards to the top or bottom of the deck), and stacking (putting desired cards in position to be dealt). Dealing the cards can also be manipulated, by dealing either the bottom card from the deck or the second one from the top instead of the top card. These are called Bottom dealing and Second dealing, respectively. Dealing may also be done from the middle of the deck, known as the middle deal or center deal, but this is not as common.

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