THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Friday, April 30, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 20th in Series

(photos l to r: Poodle that would have made a great mascot at the Fontainebleau's Poodle Lounge in Miami; red contacts; below: man with readers)


In Miami Beach near the Fontainebleau Hotel’s pool area, a lot of money was both won and lost playing gin rummy in the old days.

Some of the winners wore red-tinted sunglasses. Why? They were necessary to read the marked cards which had been daubed with a green or violet ink applied to the backs of the cards. Since the naked eye can’t see the marks against the card’s red background, it takes special red-tinted glasses to view the ink.

The method was improved by Chicago’s KC Card Company, a firm that catered to the needs of legitimate magicians. But unsavory characters such as card cheaters also discovered the KC Card Company. Just like the magicians, the cheaters bought the company’s red-tinted contact lenses, plus several decks of marked cards or “readers,” The combo was perfect for a friendly Saturday night poker game. There was just one hitch: anyone with brown eyes wearing the red contacts couldn’t be spotted. But the contacts made a person with blue eyes look pink. Guys with brown eyes were soon in demand.

I don’t suggest you try this in Las Vegas. The eye-in-the-sky’s color surveillance camera with its red filter could make you a guest of Clark County’s jail and enter you in the Griffin Book of Known Cheaters.

Check out my book, Thief! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist, for a hilarious true story about my run-in with readers and how I cheated a New York mobster.


Want to know more about marking cards? Check this cardshark museum site out: and also this site:

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