Learn how to detect a seconds dealer at poker or blackjack. Seconds dealing is one of the most efficient cheating methods for relieving an opponent of all his money quickly.
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Cheating at Blackjack and Poker:
The Second Deal, Part II

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The Push-Off Second Deal

By Sam Case
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. II #1, March 1982)
© 1982 Blackjack Forum

[Ed. Note: In "The Second Deal, Part I" Sam Case described what a second deal was, explaining the difference between the two types of second deals, the strike second deal, and the push-off second deal. The strike second deal was described in detail so that a player could detect the tip-off that a dealer might be employing this uncommon method of cheating.

In this article, Sam Case describes the push-off second deal. --Arnold Snyder]

What the Push-Off Second Deal Looks Like

To facilitate dealing the push-off second, the deck is held in the left hand in the Mechanic's Grip. As illustrated in Blackjack Forum Vol. I #4 this grip alone is not a tip-off that a dealer might be cheating. This is the most common method of holding the deck for any single-deck dealer. Likewise, most dealers, and almost all honest ones, are push-off dealers. By this, I mean that they push the top card slightly off the deck with the left thumb, so that the right thumb and forefinger can easily deal the card.

The push-off second dealer appears to be using the same dealing style, when in actuality he is pushing off the top two cards, perfectly aligned. The right thumb and forefinger then pinch the two cards, as if they were a single-card to be dealt. However, the left thumb now draws the top card back to its original position on top of the deck, while the right (dealing) hand simultaneously whips the second card out from under the top card, and deals it.

Push-Off Second Deal Tip-offs

You cannot visually detect whether the top or the second card is being dealt. The motion is too quick to see. There are a number of tip-offs you can watch for that would indicate that you may be in the presence of a push-off second dealer.

  • Tip-off #1: Some push-off second dealers hold the deck slightly fanned or spread in the left hand. This makes it easier to push off two cards with the left thumb.

  • Tip-off #2: The push-off second dealer must make precise contact with his left (push-off) thumb and the top two cards only. He can only do this by pushing the cards with his thumb from the outer edge or the left side Or the deck. Most honest dealers push off the top card with the left thumb on top of the deck, away from the edge. Pushing from the edge is a tip-off that a dealer may be pushing two cards. See Figures #1 and #2.

  • Tip-off #3: The left thumb never leaves the top of the deck. This is the most obvious tip-off.

    An honest dealer, after pushing off the top card, most often lifts his thumb to facilitate dealing the top card. The push-off second dealer must control the top card as he deals the second.

    Many honest dealers lift their "push-off" thumb an inch or more above the top of the deck in order to deal the pushed-off top card. Honest dealers also frequently describe small "circles" with the push-off thumb as they deal—pushing, lifting the thumb, and circling back to the top card after the pushed off card is dealt.

    The push-off second dealer cannot do this, as he must use his left thumb to slide the top card back into its original position on top of the deck. If you observe most dealers closely, you can easily see that the left thumb does not clamp down on the top card as (or after) the card is dealt.

    If you clearly see that the dealer's left thumb never lifts off the deck, beware. If the dealer's hand motion coincides with the deal in such a way that you can't be sure whether or not the left thumb is lifted off the top card during the deal, beware. Card mechanics often disguise their work by using unnecessary hand motions, such as well-timed tilting, swinging, arcing, etc.

Finally, some tip-offs of a "sloppy" second are: Hesitation during the deal; re-squaring a pushed-off card and starting the deal over; dealing two cards as one, especially a dealer who winds up with two hole cards. If you see any of the tip-offs described above, beware, especially if you're losing. You may or may not be in the presence of a second dealer, but don't take chances. Once you know what to look for, you'll see clearly that most singledeck dealers you encounter are probably not dealing seconds.

Joe Baseel performs a push-off second deal on the Rouge et Noir "Cheating At Blackjack" videotape*. Note the awkward grip that the right hand uses to grip the pushed-off cards fingers at the far end, thumb at the rear end. Never play against a dealer who does this. Joe Baseel is an expert, and you cannot "see" the push-off second being dealt, but you can see his unnatural dealing style when you know what to look for. [Note from Arnold Snyder: For a more recent demonstration of second dealing, see Steve Forte's excellent Gambling Protection Series, Volume 2.]

Summary of Second Dealing Signals

  1. Any "strike" deal (see Blackjack Forum Vol. I #4).
  2. The dealer holding the deck slightly fanned, not squared.
  3. The left (pushoff) thumb contacting the edge or end, instead of just the top card.
  4. The left thumb never lifting from the top of the deck during the deal.
  5. Unnecessary motion of the left hand during the deal,which may be camouflaging any of the above tip-offs. ♠


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