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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The September 2003 entrée: Whit Haydn » » Put n Take tops..... » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

KingStardog
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I know mr Ortiz has a book with some info on these, but was wondering if you had ever had any experiences with these, or knew of any other texts.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Whit Haydn
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I have seen a few different models. Allan Hayden and Dick Christian both have some interesting versions of the classic put n take top in their collections.

I don't off-hand have any further literary sources to give you. I did notice on a recent trip to downtown Los Angeles that various versions (usually fairly large and made of wood) of the put n take were for sale, and are evidentally popular in Mexico. I didn't see any gimmicked ones, but an enterprising person...
KingStardog
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I have a few different ones now, thanks to ebay. There is an antique set of right and left winners and a reg one that I have had my eye on for a while. I was just wondering if you had any ideas on texts or routines that might be helpful.

Thanks.

Mike
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Whit Haydn
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I'm sorry, but I can't think of anything useful right now other than the work by Ortiz you mention. He is much more of a gambling expert and con game expert than I am.

Although I am fascinated by all kinds of swindling and trickery, I am mainly interested in the street scams, such as three-card monte, the shell game, and fast and loose, and how they apply to magic. My focus has always been on the techniques of drawing, holding, and manipulating a crowd.

The techniques of the carny, the jam auction, the street swindler are what interest me, because they are a better model for the magician than the card mechanic.

The purpose of the School for Scoundrels is to change the model for magic to one which engages, hooks, and manipulates the mind of the spectator, rather than the card mechanic model which seeks invisibility.

Perhaps Darwin, Paul Wilson, Andrew Wimhurst or any of the other true gambling experts who frequent the Café can chime in with some help on this.
R P Wilson
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Put and Take tops are traditionally a bar scam. I have actually found them in use in an Irish bar and have even seen legitimate P&T dice sold in game stores. I have heard that Put and Take tops have been used to scam bartenders by taking them for some money then selling the secret. The dishonest bartender then takes his new put and take top to his regular customers and starts making money. A few days later a new "sucker" arrives and is caught up in a game. Suddenly he wagers everything he has against all of the money in the bar. Needless to say the bartender loses because the "sucker" just switched in another top that spins the other way...

I have played this and I must say it's a pretty brilliant scam. With five people taking turns it is impossible to notice the cheat constantly skimming the pot as everyone else wins or loses according to their luck. It's important to use a percentage top for this.

Hope that helps.

P.
KingStardog
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I have a law enforcement text that describes the same type of bartender scam. Incidently, my brother in law called last night and told me that he is starting the tooling to produce samples of several different types of tops including regular tops,high/low, and special tops for a mentalism routine I am working on. We may do some peggers and other goodies too, if the market is there.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Whit Haydn
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KingStardog:

Sounds very, very cool.
KingStardog
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I had thought about making sets up in nice wooden, velvet lined, collector boxes, if we can get the quality aspect worked out. I was thinking about a couple different sets of gaffs. One set with a juice top, a pegger and a state quarter heads/tails set of coins, and maby one with different peices. Those and a three phase mental routine with cards and a mental top. Don't realy know yet. All will need killer routines to stay on the right side of the law. The prices wont be cheap, pretty much restricting them to actual performers and collectors. Without quality you realy don't have anything. Most folks have never heard of Put n Take. As an odd side note I recently purchased one of the few roulette wheels that were made in 1933,(there was only one patent) when the game was first introduced in the US, maby 5 or 10 still exist. Its a solid wood wheel on three art deco wood legs. In the center of the wheel are cards, dice, and a put and take game, all on the same roulette wheel.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Whit Haydn
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Please let me know when you make them. By the way, I recently saw a beautiful roulette table from 1896. It belonged to the infamous scoundrel Soapy Smith in Scagway, Alaska. It is owned by my friend Jeff Smith, the great grandson of Soapy Smith. He is looking to sell it if anyone is interested. PM me.
KingStardog
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Good single 0 wheels of that vintage with an origional table(most were carved very nicely) range between $5,500 and $12K or much more depending on condition, and that one has a good background so probably more. One recently sold on ebay for $9700.00 in fixer upper condition. It had claw feet and carved legs but they were coming unglued.

My wheel is a double 00 and made here when the laws changed so its worth much less, probably $300.00 to $600.00 depending on the market even though its a vary scarce item.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Whit Haydn
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Yes. I think that Jeff Smith is looking for something in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. I am not representing him, but will put anyone interested in touch with him.

The fact that the table was bought and used by Soapy Smith just before he was shot in Skagway, should add something to its value. I will soon try to put some photos of the table on our website, http://www.schoolforscoundrels.com Personally, it seems like a steal to me.

Soapy was the first true American gangster, the absolute master of the shell game, and the best known conman of the nineteenth century. He ran Denver, CO with his gang and held off an army of state militia in the town hall with his men. He ran the town of Creede, CO. at the height of the silver mining period, and with a gang of 100 con men pretty well controlled the gateway to the Gold Rush in Alaska. Dai Vernon was an absolute fan of Soapy's. Soapy's friends included Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and many other legendary heroes of the west, and his henchmen included Wilson Mizner (writer, producer, founder of the Brown Derby), Alexander Conlin (Alexander the Man Who Knows), Doc Baggs, and many other prominent con men and bad guys.

The provenance of the table is pretty secure. It was part of the Harriet Pullen collection in Skagway, and she had most of Soapy's stuff from the time of his death, and held it since then. She was very careful about identifying things correctly, and kept the table until an auction at which Jeff's father bought it. So it has been kept in pristine condition and only had these three owners.

I would think that some of the museums or tourist places in Skagway would be natural prospects.

Jeff's Place, the bar that Soapy ran in Skagway, is still in existance, closed to the public, but under the aegis of the Park Service.

I hope that Jeff can get a good price for this, but it isn't easy to find the right buyer. If I had the money or space for it, I would grab it.
ASW
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On 2003-09-03 14:29, R P Wilson wrote:
I have heard that Put and Take tops have been used to scam bartenders by taking them for some money then selling the secret. The dishonest bartender then takes his new put and take top to his regular customers and starts making money. A few days later a new "sucker" arrives and is caught up in a game. Suddenly he wagers everything he has against all of the money in the bar. Needless to say the bartender loses because the "sucker" just switched in another top that spins the other way...


This is the classic iteration of the gaff as a short con, as described by Joseph Meyer on pages 76-77 of his book "Protection" - the sealed book. This 1911 booklet discusses lots of interesting scams. An easier source to locate would be Ortiz's book Gambling Scams (see page 210). John Philip Quinn describes the basic spindle (ie; push-thru) top on p 127 of Gamblers and Gambling Devices, but not the work on the con.

You can still get these tops from gambling supply houses. Depending on where you go and whether it is a push thru top (wins every time) or the percentage top (a lot of the time for you, rarely for the wrong way spinner) they range from $30 - 100+.

A variation that some may be unfamiliar with is the race horse top (another variation is the 'odds on' top). These tops are used to represent a horse race, with bettors using race cards and a small layout. As the K.C. instructions that come with the top note: "This top is made in such a manner that when it is spun to the right, the Man-O-War, Grey-Lag and Zev will appear very much oftener (sic) than ordinarily, while when spun to the left, Morvich, Colin and Spark Plug will show up."

The advertisement for this top in the KC Blue Book notes that the tops are "a profitable asset to any counter or club".

Quote:

On 2003-09-03 14:29, R P Wilson wrote:
I have played this and I must say it's a pretty brilliant scam.


But do you leave them with bus fare to get home from the lecture? ;^)

Quote:
On 2003-09-03 14:29, R P Wilson wrote:With five people taking turns it is impossible to notice the cheat constantly skimming the pot as everyone else wins or loses according to their luck. It's important to use a percentage top for this.


The reason being that you have far less control over the top than when you are stealing from one guy. Although generally the spindle is stiff and safe, there is a chance someone may push it through inadvertently, hence the use of the percentage top. In a large bar game, I doubt the certainty of the spindle top would be noticed (as long as you didn't over do it) as Paul mentions, but the gaff might be a liability.

These tops (ungaffed, spindle) were obviously popular early to mid last century as a simple diversion to wager on while travelling. I've seen ivory tops in antique stores here in Australia. No doubt the antique gaffed tops can also be found...

Best
Andrew
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Whit Haydn
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Thanks, Andrew. Great information, as always. I love this forum. I don't have to do much with all the really knowledgeable guys chiming in.
ASW
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On 2003-09-05 03:05, whithaydn wrote:
Thanks, Andrew. Great information, as always. I love this forum. I don't have to do much with all the really knowledgeable guys chiming in.



Whit you are most welcome! Needless to say, for a magic routine - especially if you risk your money with the spectator - the surefire spindle top is the way to go. But using the gaff is only 10% of the work. The hard part is making it interesting, fun and making sure there's no heat on the top...

Now back to somebody I'd MUCH rather hear from - the inestimable Whit Haydn!

Cheers
Andrew
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

A magician on the Genii Forum

"I would respect VIPs if they respect history."

Hideo Kato
Pete Biro
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I sold off a number of my gaffed PNT tops, but still have maybe a dozen or so fair ones. Including Driedles (SP?) which are Jewish, and a few from Mexico. I have wood, plastic, ivory, silver, brass, etc.

Probably will be selling them soon. Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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