The Mechanic’s Grip: Much cheating occurs through the perfection of sleight of hand in manipulating cards in the deck. This is facilitated by a special manner of holding the deck to perform these cheating maneuvers. One such way of holding the deck is called the Mechanic’s Grip.
To best understand this grip, pick up a deck of cards as though you were preparing to deal some cards out. It is likely that you are currently holding the deck in the palm of your hand with all four fingers on the long side of the deck, and your thumb on the top of the deck. When you deal, you use your thumb to push a single card onto the tips of your four fingers. The thumb holds the card in this place until the thumb and index finger of the other hand grabs it and deals it across the table.
If you have been playing cards for enough of your life, then it is also likely that you have never noticed that this is how you deal. With time, it becomes an acquired natural motor skill that requires no conscious thought.
Now, holding the deck in this manner, move your index finger and middle finger from the long side of the deck to the short side of the deck away from yourself. In a very general sense, this is the Mechanic’s Grip. It is through this grip that such cheating as peeking, second dealing, and bottom dealing are facilitated. Note that more of the deck is now being concealed by your hand.
Another Mechanic’s Grip is to hold the deck with the thumb on top of the deck, the index finger holding around the front edge, the two middle fingers beneath the deck, and the little finger around the rear edge. This manner also ensures that much of the deck is being covered by the dealer’s hand.
There are two things to consider, however. One, that such tricks can be performed in a way other than with the Mechanic’s Grip, and two, that an honest player may use what looks like the Mechanic’s Grip as a standard way to deal. More information is therefore required on specific cheating techniques.
The Peek: This maneuver is a way in which the cheating dealer sees the top card of the deck before the deal. By doing so, the dealer will know who has been dealt this card in their hand (or in the case of an exceptional card, combine peeking with second dealing to ensure that the card is dealt to himself or herself).
Utilizing the Mechanic’s Grip, the cheat ensures that his or her thumb is blocking the top card of the deck from being pushed in that direction. The cheat then slowly pushes against the other long side of the top card using the pinky finger (with help from the other finger on that side, if needed). It is awkward to master, but with time, the cheat learns to see the bottom right corner of the top card as it curls. No more than a quick peek is required, and the cheat has learned what the top card is.
Using this in poker will usually require an additional cheating maneuver to make effective use of it. For games like Blackjack or In-Between, however, its usefulness is far stronger and obvious.
The Second Deal: This maneuver is a way in which the cheating dealer deals the second top card of the deck rather than the top card. If the dealer is aware that the top card is one that he or she wants, then that dealer may ‘second deal’ to everybody else until coming to his or her own hand, dealing the top card then.
Utilizing the Mechanic’s Grip, the cheat uses his or her thumb to subtly push the top card away from the rest of the deck, leaving about a half an inch of the second card exposed. This sets it off somewhat from the base of the deck, exposing part of the second top card beneath it. The cheat then uses the thumb to ease the second top card outward, and the opposite hand to grab that card to deal it out. Awkward though it may be at first, the cheat learns to deal the second top card of the deck and leave the top card of the deck to be dealt into the cheat’s own hand.
This is useful in any game, but only after the cheat has discerned what the top card is. Second dealing is useless unless that top card is being saved for something, most likely the cheating dealer’s own hand.
The Bottom Deal: This maneuver is a way in which the cheating dealer places the card of his or her choice on the very bottom of the deck and then deals it into his or her own hand.
When that card is at the bottom, the cheat deals normally to all players until arriving at his or her own hand. The cheat then deals the bottom card (using the Mechanic’s Grip to hide this action) in such a way that goes unnoticed. Even those players looking directly at the deck may not notice that the cheat has dealt the bottom card into his or her hand as opposed to the top card.
A “hanger” is used to describe when the bottom card is mistakenly dealt out with too much force, bringing the next bottom card out a little bit from the bottom of the deck. If noticed, the cheat has been caught bottom-dealing.
Extra Cards This maneuver has limited usage in one session, deadwood to have to worry about, and only some proven benefit.
When the cheat is dealing, the cheat deals himself or herself an extra card (or worse yet, extra cards) in the deal. This can be done with relative ease, so long as nobody is focusing too much on the deal. When the dealer deals to his or her own hand, the dealer pushes two cards with the thumb of the hand holding the deck, and grabs both cards with the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Performed towards the end of the deal, the extra card(s) fall(s) into the pile of cards already in front of the cheat…nobody notices. This maneuver provides the cheat with the advantage of extra card(s), while everybody else has been dealt less cards.
At some point in the game, the cheat will need to liberate his or her hand of the extra card(s), which will no doubt be the card worse suited in the cheat’s hand. Before the showdown, the cheat will need to get rid of this extra card and what is worse, keep it hidden for the course of the game session. It will be difficult to re-introduce this card back into the deck, especially if the cheat has ‘rid’ of it beneath the table.
The calling card of this maneuver is certainly to find a low card beneath the table after gameplay is over. If this happens, then it is likely that either a card was misplaced from one deal to the next, or that a player ‘discarded’ it during gameplay, yet still had a complete hand when the game was over.