Cheating at Blackjack and Poker:
The Second Deal, Part I--The Strike Second DealBy Sam Case
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. I #3, December 1981)
© 1981 Blackjack Forum
The most devastating, and unfortunately, the most common, cheating technique in the single-deck game is the second deal. In essence, the dealer appears to deal the top card, when actually the second card from the top is dealt. The second deal most often is used when the dealer knows the top card (by peeking), and wishes to withhold it to increase his chances of winning.
The deck is held in the mechanic's grip (Fig. 1). This is the grip used by most dealers (including honest ones) since it exposes no cards and offers great control. There are two types of second deals - "strike" seconds, and "push-off" seconds. The mechanics grip is used for both types. A "perfect" second appears to be dealt in exactly the same manner as the top card would be dealt. If the mechanic is good, no one can tell the difference. But there are tip-offs you can watch for which would indicate the possibility (or impossibility) of being dealt a second.
The Strike Second Deal: The deck is held in the left hand, using the mechanic's grip. The right thumb appears to be sliding the top card off the deck, while the left hand remains stationary. Actually, the left thumb has drawn the top card slightly back toward the dealer, exposing the front right corner of the second card. (Fig. 2). The right thumb strikes this exposed corner and slides the second card out. Simultaneously, the left thumb slides the top card back to its original position.
If you watch an expert execute this deal, you cannot possibly tell when he is dealing the top card or the second card. Both his speed and the Bee design (standard diamond pattern on most casino cards) prevent you from perceiving any "flash" of the exposed seconds' corners. You will be unlikely to detect the very slight movement of the left thumb as it draws back the top card, because of the arcing motion of the left hand as it swings around to aim the deck at the player. What you may notice is that the left thumb never leaves the top of the deck.
You will not frequently encounter a strike dealer (honest or dishonest) at any casino blackjack table. Strike dealing is quite vigorous. The right hand rips the card from the deck. There is no reason for an honest professional dealer to work this hard. Most dealers just push off the top card with the left thumb, and then deal it with the right thumb and forefinger. I would suspect and avoid any dealer who uses a strike dealing style. He may be honest, but I wouldn't chance it. Since strike dealers are uncommon you will not be eliminating many potentially profitable games by avoiding all such dealers.
An excellent example or strike second dealing may be viewed on the Rouge et Noir "Cheating At Blackjack" videotape (available from Rouge et Noir, Box 6, Glen Head, N.Y.. 11545). Joe Baseel deftly executes the deal in segment #9. It's smooth. It's fast. It appears natural. But look again. He's employing that uncommon strike style. On the tape, they refer to this deal as the "pitch out" deal. This is the fast deal which Mr. Baseel demonstrates by turning up the ace on top of the deck.
Unfortunately, the second type of second deal, the pushoff second, closely mimics the dealing action of the majority of honest single-deck blackjack dealers. Like the strike second deal, the push-off second deal is undectable by a player, when executed by an expert. But there are tip-offs you can watch for which will indicate with a fair amount of certainty that a dealer is not capable of dealing push-off seconds. In the next issue of Blackjack Forum, I will describe and illustrate the push-off second deal, and explain the big tip-off.
See Part II of The Second Deal. ♠
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