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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » The Old Army Game (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

DStachowiak
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What swindle is this term correctly applied to?
I have heard it used for The Shell Game, Pricking the Garter, and Three Card Monte. Which is the correct usage?
Don
Woke up.
Fell out of bed.
Dragged a comb across m' head.
MagicSanta
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Dang, good question. I remember the term as part of patter but don't recall the routine. I'm thinking the Monte. Pricking The Garter is very old so I don't think it would be that one.
mrunge
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I would think it would be "Pricking The Garter," later known as "The Endless Chain." Below is taken from Whit Haydn's - School For Scoundrels - Notes on Fast and Loose.

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"Sometime in the 18th or 19th century, the scam was resurrected with a new method one which used a continuous loop of string. The scam artists who worked the docks would often play this con on a barrel top for the sailors. This new version of the game was called On the Barrelhead, from the phrase, "Put your money on the Barrelhead." It was also known as The Figure Eight and later as The Endless Chain."

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Mark.
MagicSanta
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Pricking the garter was done with a belt and the only real connection to the Endless Chain is the use of the term "On the barrelhead" which was a reference to the surface it was played on. Not an army reference at all and nothing in the statement indicates why either cons would be called The Old Army Game. I am trying to recall who used the term and, realistically, it could be poetic license and no game was known as 'the old army game'.
mrunge
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You're right. Pricking the garter used a belt and when it was made into a continuous loop of string, the name changed, just as mentioned above, and called on the barrel head because that was where it was played.

You're also right in that the above does not mention "army." It does mention "sailors," another branch of the armed services. It could be that, as you mention, poetic license is at work with the term.

Mark.
MagicSanta
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Remember that back then sailors (I'm a sailor) were most often merchants not military. Where is Whit Haydn? We need Whit! I'm thinking Doc Eason used the Army line.
mota
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I always understood the army game to be the shell game. I can't give you a source, just for some reason that has always been what I understood it to be.
John Smetana
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Mota beat me to the punch on this one...I seem to recall the Shell Game being called the army game also..maybe in a Scarne book?

All the best,
John
DStachowiak
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W. C. Fields used "The Old Army Game" in his patter for The Shell Game in the movie "Poppy" (no moves or actual play shown, too bad, as I understand Fields was actually adept at all the standard cons, it would have been fun to see him work)
Wikipedia applies the name to both "The Shell Game" and "Fast and Loose"
I suppose it's possible "The Old Army Game" may be properly used for any of the old swindles.
Woke up.
Fell out of bed.
Dragged a comb across m' head.
mrunge
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Interesting. Thanks guys!

Mark. Smile
Jaz
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Quote:
On 2007-05-17 10:26, DStachowiak wrote:
I suppose it's possible "The Old Army Game" may be properly used for any of the old swindles.


I think this may be the case.
Here's what Whit had to say here:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......0&24
"It was called the Old Army Game, as was Three-Card Monte and the Strap (Fast and Loose or Pricking the Garter). This was a way of drawing in the inexperienced recruits who wanted to at least know about the "Old Army Game" so as not to feel so "wet behind the ears." Instead they ended up feeling very empty in the wallet."
MagicSanta
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I admit while in the Navy I maaaayyyy have influence boots to bet on things that they were going to lose no matter what.
NJJ
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All three games are referred to as The Old Army Game.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017004/ The Old Army Game is also film with WC Field in which they are referring to the monte. http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images......ters.jpg is the poster.
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