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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » Stories of operators (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

D. Yoder
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I am looking for books that include three shell game operators as main characters. Historical fiction or biographies. Ideas?
ActionJack
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Knights of the Green Cloth, The Saga of the Frontier Gamblers references the 3 shell game and highlights gamblers such as Soapy Smith. That Fiend in Hell, Soapy Smith in Legend is obviously more Soapy specific. I have read Knights and enjoyed it. I am currently reading Fiend and would recommend it as well.
D. Yoder
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Thank you, Action Jack. I just ordered a used copy of Knights of the Green Cloth online since my local library doesn't have it.
Pop Haydn
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I highly recommend "Alias Soapy Smith" by Jeff Smith. It is a wonderful read and the most authentic account of the life and death of Jefferson R. Smith. It is written by his great-grandson.

You would also enjoy "40 Years a Gambler on the Mississipi" by George Devol. It is an autobiography written in the form of short stories from the life of a fascinating individual who operated from the 1840' to the 1880's on steamships and then railroads with Canada Bill Jones and other top surething gamblers.

"The Autobiography of Frank Tarbeaux as told to Donald Henderson" is another fascinating and colorful book on a Three Card Monte hustler in the 1890's.
ActionJack
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Thanks Pop, I just downloaded 40 years a gambler from Amazon. I will read it right after another book I recently purchased, Stories of a Street Performer by some guy named Whit something or another. 😀
Pop Haydn
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BTW, the last two should be available free online, as they were published before 1910.
ActionJack
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40 years was free but The Autobiography of Frank Tarbeaux appears to be reprinted and not showing a kindle edition for some reason.
Pop Haydn
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hikeeba
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Thanks for the link!
ActionJack
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Ok I would like to give an updated review after finally finishing That Fiend in Hell. I still think it is worth the read and has a lot of good info. However, I think the author tries too hard at times and it often has the feel of a textbook and gets a little esoteric. Additionally, the author spends too much effort discrediting other books and authors on the topic.
Pop Haydn
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"That Fiend in Hell" is not historical. It's info is almost completely wrong. I would get "Alias Soapy Smith" by Jefferson R Smith's great-grandson Jeff Smith. It is the most complete and thoroughly documented biography of Americas's first real gangster and the greatest of the shell game operators.
D. Yoder
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Thank you, Pop, for the links and suggestions!

I often use the shells in my street show. It recently struck me that I am freely walking away with people's money that they put in my tip box, and that it would be very different if I was walking away with their money if I had been playing the game for real.
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