Arthur B Monroe

"Behind the Scenes with the Private Investigator". Columbia University Club. May 6, 1941 - N.Y.C. Reviewed by Leo


» ady Luck" - that glistening, giddy, gaudy "•»"gold digger", Scintilating and bedecked in dazzling glory - ever tantalizing and captivating - always beckoning the exciting adventurer to share her riches, to partake of her supreme favors and her glittering promises of a sweet life of luxury and ease - and her only exacting demand for this golden reward is to court her at the "green cloth" and to shower her with monetary attention, but alas, fickle and insincere this illusive, misleading, deceptive lady with her alluring, crafty, cunning charms, her friv-ilous conduct, unbeconing, yes, dishonest, at long last with naive indifference forsakes her courters and abandons the ardent pursuit of the chase. Almost within grasp, almost possessing the object of desire, how many countless have tried in vain to woo this maiden fair but In the end,completely bewildered, bereaved of all honor, disgraced, broken in spirit and penniless, finally give up the chase and in countless incidents even have committed suicide.

Thus, in short, in the hard and treacherous road of one who seeks to gain a livelihood at the card and gaming table. Even the card sharper with the artifices he employs for advantage play may inany times meet with disaster, for like everything crooked in this world, the shrewed and sharp observers and the law eventually catch up with them. In rare instances only has the operator achieved a degree of success. In these instances the card sharp has had the companionship of "Lady Luck", but his success has been due to "percentage play" in addition to an exceptional manipulative ability. These few are indeed unique individuals. Their mastery of the "art of cheating", if it may be called such, also lies in the fact that they have a keen in-sicrht of human behavior, and are psychologists who employ mis-direction to a finer degree than that used by magicians, always remaining cool and deliberate in their nefarious work. Their actions and manner must not arouse suspicion and by no means must they give the appearance of a professional sharper.

Callous and bold, the sharper cares nothing about ethics, that science of human duty, a science that reached its summit long before the Roman Smpire was founded. Aristotle classed the

gambler with the thief and robber and so just was the nind of Alexander's perceptor that he hated even usury. If man studied ethics with any other purpose than for mental relaxation, there could be no gambling, there could be none of the gross selfishness which shames civilization and in reality gives to the barbarous spirit of conquest that relief which it finds in gambling. Howe'ver, the object of this article is not intended as a sermon and these remarks are merely thoughts by the wayside.

This space, on the other hand, was intended as a review of ARTHUR B. MONROE, who now carries the torch of enlightenment to warn the unsuspecting and gullible. His lecture is presented with demonstrations of the methods used by card sharpers. However, I shall return to Mr. I'onroe in a few minutes.

Lectures and demonstrations of this character have been presented before, for many years past, either given as an entertainment feature or as k well meaning object lesson by reformed gambling men who actually made their dangerous livelihood by cheating. Through remorse or for other good reasons they reformed the evil of their ways and gave to the world the benefit of their knov.'ledge.

The most colorful of these was John Philip Qainn, a professional gambler and confidence man who plyed his trade in the late years of the 1800's, and pursued his adventurous career for almost thirty years., John Philip Quinn then reformed and became a respected citizen. He lectured with demonstrations and also wrote several books on the subject, the most pretentious of which is "Fools of Fortune", a book of almost seven hundred pages. This book was acclaimed by the public, press, and pulpit. His exploits read like fiction and his fearless and brazen adventures are paralelled by the blood and thunder movie thrillers.

'.»hen in New York Quinn was a familiar figure at Clyde Powers' Magic Shop when I first met him. Although he was an old man at the time, his appearanoe never belied his years. He had clear piercing eyes, a smooth complexion with a pink tinge, thin white hair, a square jaw and firm narrow lips. He wa6 soft spoken and almost saintly in appearance. His attitude and demeanor never gave an inkling of his former hazardous occupation, years crowded v/ith bold adventures since the age of a thirteen year old boy.

His demonstrations were exceptionally clever and very interesting. On one occasion he appeared at an S.A.M. event,and,unlike any of the gambling exposes I have since witnessed, his was without a doubt the most interesting. I do not by any means wish to detract from or infer that present day "performers" giving such lectures are not interesting and please audiences. On the contrary their demonstrations are quite clever. They receive fine publicity, play the best clubs, and receive ¡jood fees. John Philip Quinn's presentation was all this and then some. It was unique that in addition to an expose of card cheating methods, many other crooked gambling items were demonstrated and exposed'. They included the Faro Box, the Bee Hive, several types of Roulette Wheels, dice, and many other "fixed" devices.

Close to the manner and style of Quinn is Arthur B. Monroe, the subject of this review. A middle aged man who some years ago was a telegrapher stationed at the house of the late President "/oodrow 7ilson, and who later became detective and investigator, he approaches more than anyone else since Quinn's era the innocent appearing character so essential to the success of*the operator at the gaming table who would

Page resort to means other than chance.

Arthur B.

Monroe presents an interesting lecture and demonstration of some of the numerous methods used by the card cheat. He appeared as an after dinner guest at the Columbia University Club on '.Vest 43rd Street, Kevr York City - May 6, 1941, before a group of alumni. Like Quinn, his manner is not of the bombastic style of the "tin horn" gambler type, but of the suave and smooth unsuspected professional who travels in the best circles playing for high stakes. Possessing the appearance of a business man he presents his lecture in both a convincing and interesting manner and of one who speaks with authority and thoroughly knows his subject. His manipulations are flawless and his work done in a way that is entertaining - it being interspersed with many humorous incidents and stories.

His performance was introduced by the reading of the following from the back of his business cardi-

If you play cards v/ith strangers, that's your business.

If strangers play cards with you, that's their business.

If the cards are manipulated, that's phoney business.

If you're in doubt, turn this card over -

that's my business.

His demonstration runs about an hour and a half and consists of false shuffles after which he dealt himself the four aces. More shuffles followed and he dealt himself winning hands in poker and bridge. It all was executed without discernible or suspicious moves. The sole clue to his operations given to the audience was the mentioning of the second deal, but how this action was accomplished was not explained - the move, of course, was not visible.

He also showed how the card cheat resorts to other means of advantage aside from manipulation, by demonstrating the use of "shiners". He showed an innocent looking ring whose stone, when reversed on a pivot, brought a mirror uppermost. Also shown was a detachable mirror quickly adjustable to any ring, and demonstrated the use of a highly polished nickle tray. The use of the "bug" was made clear. The device can be attached quickly to the underside of a table and made to hold cards which later can be secured and exchanged for pasteboards one is holding in a hand.

The effect which created the most comment was when he requested a spectator to step forward, shuffle the cards, deal as many hands as he desired, and then indicate the hand which was to contain the winning, or highest, cards. The only time Monroe apparently touched the cards was when he turned the pasteboards face to the audience and showed the hand chosen. The beauty of this effect, as v/ith all others, was that there were no quick, hurried, or suspicious actions. Everything was done in a slow, easy, and extremely convincing manner.

After this first part, jtr. Monroe showed close-up work at a large table'among;the spectators. The three shell game and three card monte were both very well presented and executed. He also did a spelling card trick v/ith sucker effect. The rest of his time he gave over to answering questions put to him by the audience.

Although most of the effects were those usually demonstrated at lectures about gambling and cheating, Monroe'-s style and finesse was very creditable. Card enthusiasts who enjoy good card handling shouldn't miss seeing Arthur B. Monroe should he visit their locality.

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