Ever play poker with a guy who always seems to know what cards you’re holding? Marked cards have long been a staple of poker and most other card games where money is on the line. This test to determine if you have been holding marked cards only works when you are playing against a lower rank poker cheat. The marked cards that the really big guys use are those of equally high quality and won’t usually be detected in this way. Here’s how you can try a simple little test to find the marked cards. Start by taking the deck and placing it in your palm so that design side is facing up and the suits are facing down. Now start riffling the deck from bottom to top. Riffle the cards a few times and while you do so, observe all of the area on the back of the cards that are facing you.
This may remind you of one of those animated flip-books where there is a slightly different image on each page and the motion creates a little hand-held cartoon. Same principle is being applied in this test for marked cards. The riffling of the deck is used to provide your eye with an opportunity to sense motion that shouldn’t be there. The design on the back of each card in a deck should be uniform, give or take an obvious flaw on one or two cards. By riffling the deck, the cards become animated and you will be able to sense if there any part of the design that is off. Should the riffling reveal any differentiation in the design, there’s a good chance the cards are marked and you should suggest playing with a new deck just to be on the safe side.
Unfortunately, there are ways for card cheats to reduce the effectiveness of this test. One way that card cheats try to cheat the riffle test is to use White-Out in an attempt to conceal any flaws that could produce movement during the test. Painting a little of this correction fluid onto cards that have white borders can be very successful in placing an obstacle to the test. Other card cheats carry nail whitener for the same reason. This is actually the preferred technique of those who like to mark the deck once the game is already in progress. A nail whitening pencil is very accessible and can be whipped out and used any time there is a break in play and people aren’t paying attention. The upside for you is that this technique gives itself away by reducing the glare on the cards. If you suddenly notice that the cards aren’t reflecting light the way they used to, somebody at the table probably has a nail pencil.
While it is true that this test for marked cards doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee and can be gotten around by a skilled practitioner, if you suspect the cards are marked it certainly won’t hurt to give it a try. The vast majority of marked cards used in poker games are marked by amateurs and can almost always be detected in this way.
To sum up, picking out marked cards from a stacked deck is no difficult task but just requires the person to be smart in paying back the opponent in the same coin by catching him off guard so that the card can be identified easily and poker is in the same mould.