When I was just a tyke and card-in-the-hat and balkline billiards were big games, Ellis Stanyon was the Card-In-The-Hat champion of the British Isles. I was a cocky kid and not a bad hat man myself. I wangled a trip to England and set out to find the limey with the weird monicker. In those days, and things haven't changed much, the regulation hat pitch was ten feet. I found Stanyon's home court and cased it. Then I found Stanyon at the local pub and let him "hustle me" into a
game. The old-timers were trying hard not to laugh at me, the little Yank they called me, and one of the nicer ones told me to hold onto my geetus and go home. I promptly told the dude I'd go fifty pounds on the side: he took it and so did a dozen other eggs.
To shorten the saw, me and the limey put up a thousand apiece for a one-deck toss, best out of thirty-two (that's all the cards they used, those days) on his home court. We went out back and old Ellis had just about the worst day he ever had. First he tossed too short, then too long, and by the time he was on I was ahead to stay. I only nailed him by two cards but that was just to make it look good. Quicker than a flash I was back in Brooklyn. Stanyon never did find out why he threw so bad that day but here's the "G" on the joint: before I ever laid eyes on the dude I found the guy who set up the joint and I greased him heavy to move the hat back to eleven feet.
I always thought I could beat the limey straight, but I worked for a year on the eleven-foot shot just to make sure. The mark never knew what hit him.
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