marked cards

by contactlensepoker

Sorts are my personal favorite type of marked cards. They are actually not even marked – at least not by any conventional means of altering the cards. In effect, they are marked by altering the entire deck. Sorts, also known as assorted cards, or sorted decks can be divided into two most-popular categories: white-border sorts, and border-less sorts. In addition cards can be separated into different groups by color, texture and some other inconsistencies. Let’s begin by examining a border-less Bee deck. infrared marked cards

One can purchase many decks of cards and divide (sorts) the cards into groups. On Bee backs the cards are factory-cut in such a way that the back design extends all the way to the edges of the cards. In fact, it would be almost impossible to cut them consistently. As a result every card looks different around the edges. The picture shows close up corners of three different cards.

One could almost say that the cards have already been marked at the factory, all one needs to do is sort them into groups. This is easier said than done. First of all, you never know how many decks to buy to be able to complete a sorting system; and you have no idea how many sorted decks you’ll end up with. The other challenge is that it is really hard to come up with a good system that is easy enough to use in a game. When a card has been cut to make the upper left corner in one way it automatically alters the lower right corner in the opposite way (that corner becomes the upper left if you turn the card around, which happens in the course of a game). All this needs to be taken into account while sorting the deck. So, only so many combinations can be used effectively. After all, sorts will only help if they can be read quickly and accurately.

For that reason cards should never sorted into too many groups: two groups is plenty (and practical), three groups is challenging, and four groups is already confusing and totally unnecessary. For a blackjack game one can gain a tremendous advantage by just grouping the cards into ten-value cards and non-tens. Same edge can be achieved by sorting the cards into high-cards and low-cards. In a two-group system the aces can either be grouped with the high cards (or tens) or the low cards (or non-tens). An additional edge can be gained by sorting the aces into its own separate group, or if a three-group system is achieved by sorting into lows, neutrals, and highs.

As mentioned above, sorts do not necessarily have to be of the all-over back design type. Cards with white borders are also cut inconsistently at the factory and therefore may be sorted into groups in pretty much the same way as already explained. It is also very likely that white-border sorts are far more common than border-less ones.

The photo on the left shows three cards that could be used for that purpose: the first card is centered, the second cards has a vertical and horizontal shift, and the third card has a counterclockwise rotation. Sorts with white borders are much easier to read, especially from a distance, but they do have two major disadvantages. First, they are more apparent and therefore easier to detect. Chances are low that anyone actually would spot them but they do present a slightly greater risk.

One of the reasons why US casinos use border-less cards is precisely because of the ease with which white-bordered cards could be sorted, and later played by casino cheats. Those same casinos use white-border cards on their poker tables, however, they do not have any stake in those games. Incidentally, there are so many security holes in poker games that a few sorts would probably not make a big difference anyway. luminosu contact lenses

The US Playing Card Company [USPCC] recently introduced Stinger™ cards. Stingers are simply Bee cards with white borders, except that the white borders are separated from the printed area by a faded edge, instead of the usual outline. This idea is an attempt to make it more difficult to spot the imperfections in the alignment of the back design. So, if you see Stingers in your next game I guess you should just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. I bet a lot of casino cheats are waiting in restless anticipation for the day casinos decide to switch to Stingers; I have a few decks and personally have little trouble spotting the misalignments.

The whole faded-edge idea is just a way to avoid the real issue. The issue is not the white border, the issue is good old quality control. However, it turns out that the USPCC is not having much success with the Stinger campaign anyway, so we’ll probably never see them in casinos (unless they decide to use them in poker rooms).

Another possibility of sorting a deck is to use decks purchased at different times; better say, manufactured a different times. The USPCC is notoriously inconsistent with the color of their cards. Two decks purchased only a few months apart may be of two slightly different shades of the same color. Although this inconsistency may be the pain in the necks for the painters who will always have to mix their matching dyes from scratch, it is a blessing for those who use sorts.

The inconsistencies can also be reflected in the grade of paper. I managed to find some older decks (circa 1995) that have been printed on off-white paper. In effect the off-white paper appears to have a yellowish tint when the cards are compared side by side. The inconsistency is weak enough to miss unless someone is to point out the subtle difference but it is just strong enough to stand out when the off-white cards are mixed in with brighter ones. This method can be used to mark (sort) all the face cards and aces, for example. Since the paper is most exposed along the white borders this method can easily be adopted for edge work.

I accidentally discovered yet another sorting possibility that works with KEM Plastic Cards. I’ve noticed that KEM cards can be drastically inconsistent with their finish. Some cards feel like rough sand paper, others feel smooth. (Such inconsistencies are also present with USPCC paper cards, manufactured at different times, but the inconsistencies are not as drastic as I have seen it with plastic KEM cards). You only have to sort cards into rough and smooth and you’re in business. However, this method is more of theoretical interest because KEM cards are very expensive so it is not practical, especially because the rough cards will eventually wear off.

Nevertheless, a friend of mine suggested a clever solution to group KEM cards into rough and smooth. He suggested the use of an abrasive cloth, such as the scrubby cloth used to wash dishes, to smooth-out the finish on some of the cards. Naturally, such procedure would no longer fall under the category of sorts.

Many poker rooms use plastic KEM cards. However, their procedures may often be stupid from the security point of view. Many card rooms want to use their plastic cards forever. They wash them and then they replace the damaged cards with new ones. Many smart cheats have recognized the value of such irresponsible procedures. For this reason some cheats damage cards on purpose because they know they will be replaced by new ones; sometimes replacement cards will look like they came from another deck (which, come to think of it, they did). This is better than planting your own paper; the management is actually helping you sort your own decks.

The presence of sorts is impossible to prove. Although very unlikely there is always the possibility that the cards were arbitrarily arranged in that way at the factory. Precisely the reason why sophisticated cheats like them.