The Smack

A tourist is visiting one of the town's popular sights when a stranger asks him for a match. It turns out that the stranger is from the tourist's home state. The two men engage in conversation and discover they have a !o: in common. The stranger, who is actually the outside man for this scam, invites his new friend to a nearby cocktail lounge for a drink. Kvcntually, an inebriated gent joins them and insists 011 buying everyone a di ink. The drunk is a bit ot a lxior. but they endure him, hoping he will go nway.

The drunk suggests matching coin1: to .sec who pays for the next rounc. Before long, he wants to play for a dollar or two to pass the time, The two players who match must pay the (Kid man. 'Ihe outside nan whispers to his friend that they can have some fun wi:h the drunk if one of them always oaks heads and the other always calls tails regardless of what they actually toss. This way the drunk must always match one of them and lose to the other.

The dnink becomes more jnd more befuddled at losmg continually and the other two men can hardy contain their amusement. Kina ly, the drunk insists. '"let's cut out diis penny-ante stuff. I .et's pool nil oui money for one play. The odd man wins the whole pot."

The outside mar reminds his tourist friend in a whisper, "One of us has to win. We'll split his money later." t he three of them flip their coins and smack them on the backs of their hands (which action gives tins eon game its name;. The drunk matches the mark r-nd hoth or them pay the outside -nan.

Although the drunk has losL all Ins money, lie shows no sign of leaving the cocktail lounge, so the outside man finally says that lie lias an appointment to keep. The mark also gets up to go. eager to divide the spoils, "the two men leave together. As soon as they are outside, the con man takes out the money and starts to give the mark his share. At that moment, the crunk apixrars and demands to know what is going on. "You cheated me. You're a team ot professional crooks! I'm going to the police!''

I he threat of bringing in the cops frightens the mark. I le and the outside man try to calm the drunk. They both insist that they have never met each other before today. The drunk says, "If that's the ease, then I'll just stand here to make .sure you go your separate ways. You walk off that way and you go oft* in the: other direction."

The outside man whispers to the mark that he will meet him back at die cocktail lounge in twenty niii.uies to divide the money. The two men then walk oil" in separate directions as the drunk glowers a* them.

Twenty minutes Inter the mark is back at the liar waiting for his friend to split the money with him. At that same moment, the outside man is splitting the mark's money with his partner, the inside man who played the part of the drunk.

Hustlers like to avoid the heme guard ( cici?ens) and work the smack on out-of-towners because they know that even when Ihcy realize they have been swindled they are unlikeiy to go to the police because they don't want to get tied down in that city. I''or that reason, this popular con game is often worked at tourist sites, train stations, bus stations, and hotel cocktail lounges.


this scam illustrates a feature found in the bcsl con games, a blowoff, a means of getting rid of the ma-k and getting him to sit tight for a while without causing trouble while the hustlers make their getaway. The structure of the smack ensures that the mark will leave willingly rather than face the wrath of the drunk he has swindled (?) and the possibility of police intervention. It then places him in a bar 01 similar rendezvous point to coo" his heels while the con men put some distance between him and them.


To make sure you understand the concept of the blowoff I'll give you another example often uscxl in card-cheating scams. This reehnitpie is called the tear-up. A mark is toped into a card game which is actually a hot seat game This means that every player except the sucker is actually part o: the card-cheating mob. Eventually the mark catches an "unbeatable" hand and the betting starts going through the roof. When the mark has all his cash in the pot and is still being raised, the hustlers graciously allow him to write a check. The sucker throws the chcck into the poL withouL any qualms since he thinks lie can't lose.

When the mark does lose, one of die cheats says, "I think things have gotten a liulc out of hand. None of us planned on betting this kind of money. Let's forget about the check. I'm willing to setde for just what's in pot and call it even." As he says this, he folds up the chcck, tears it into small pieces, drops the pieces in an ashtray and sets fire to them.

I he mark is so relieved to be let off the hook on the check, he hardly rninds losing his cash. The rude awakening comes at the end of the month when he receives his bank statement and find the check has been cashed.

214 t Gambling Scams

What the mark didn't suspect was that the hustler had half a dozen blank checks, prefolded and hidden on his person. One of them was pink, one light blue, and so on, so he could match in appcarancc whatever check the mark used As soon as the sucker started to write out his check, the hustlei palmed the matching duplicate. When he folded up the mark's cheek he switched it by sleight of hand lor the palmed blank, which he then tore up and burned. Without this blowotf. ihe hustlers would run the risk that the mark might later decide to stop payment on his cheek, either because he came to the conclusion he had been cheated or just because he was a welehcr.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment