Posts Tagged ‘Times Square cleanup’

Whatever happened to three-card monte?

April 12, 2010

Times Square may have been three-card monte HQ in the 1980s and early 1990s, but con men used to set up the game all over well-traveled corners of New York City.

You’d see them put a cardboard box or crate upright on the sidewalk, shuffle three cards, and then convince a rube to place a bet. 

The dealers haven’t been in Times Square for years. Was the game outlawed by the Guiliani administration? Did tourists finally realize they can’t win? 

Three-card monte’s presence in Manhattan may have waned, but it’ll be back in full force eventually.

It’s been here since at least since the 19th century; a New York Times article from 1874 details the sad story of a three-card monte victim, a rich out-of-towner.

It’s a remarkably simple con: A mark bets that he can pick the money card out of three face-down cards. A shill usually comes along and acts like he’s on the mark’s side. But he’s not, and the house never loses.