“The Expert at the Card Table” is an old book that remains relevant today for players and magicians. Read this article to get to know about it!

Do you like to play cards? Then, read The Expert at the Card Table book by S. W. Erdnase. Its primary target audience is magicians. However, it can come in handy for players too. It will help you detect cheaters and take measures to avoid them. It doesn’t matter whether you play offline or online. In this article, we’ll explain to you what’s so special about this book and why you might be interested in reading it.

Mysterious Author

You might think that S. W. Erdnase was a renowned conjurer of their era. But there are no traces of this person. No one knows for sure whether it was a man or a woman, how old they were and where they came from.

The name “S. W. Erdnase” seems to be an anagram. If you read it backward, you’ll get “E. S. Andrews”. Besides, you can also compose “W. S. Sanders” out of it.

At least two documentaries have been shot on the matter. None of them helped to reveal the mystery.

Quick Facts About the Book

The Expert at the Card Table saw light in 1902. And yes, it remains relevant until now! Its publisher failed to arrange a large-scale marketing campaign for it. Nevertheless, there were a few ads that promoted the book. One of them was placed in a profile magazine for conjurers.

The Expert at the Card Table book consists of two sections. In the first one, the author teaches the readers how to cheat when playing cards. Doesn’t it seem a bit scandalous? Back then, it wasn’t a norm either.

The second section was devoted to the performance of magic. There was nothing sensational about it. The author took most tips and tricks from other books and hardly invented anything themselves from scratch.

Rise to Popularity

The Expert at the Card Table wasn’t an overnight success. It took it a few years to become a reference book for magicians. Dai Vernon, a Canadian conjurer, was among the first readers who appreciated this work.

Magicians began to put the advice from the book into practice. What’s most important, it inspired many of them to invent or enhance their own tricks.

Previously, a large distance used to separate magicians from their audiences. At the turn of the century, they began to approach their spectators and manipulate cards under their noses. Maybe, it was then when professional and amateur players began to develop their cheating tactics.

Style of Writing

The book has a second title: A Treatise on the Science and Art of Manipulating Cards. The noun “treatise” suggests that the author will be talking in a formal and serious manner. And this is true.

At the same time, this text won’t make you feel bored. For instance, when you read about cutting the deck in other books, you might feel weary prematurely. In The Expert at the Card Table, this topic is described with great precision — but you definitely won’t yawn.

You can’t but praise S. W. Erdnase’s quality of thinking. Darwin Ortiz himself can confirm that — he’s a well-known gambler and magician from the U.S. When the author starts to explain something, they go deep into details. They will tell you how to position your fingers, how strong the pressure should be and how exactly you should move your hands to pull this or that trick. Moreover, there is advice on timing and assistance (for some tricks, it’s recommended to have a partner at the table).

The Shortcomings of the Book

You shouldn’t perceive Experts at the Card Table as a cheaters book for beginners. The higher your expertise in playing cards, the more useful this text can be. Entry-lever players might fail to make the most of it.

The information isn’t exhaustive. Maybe, the author deliberately didn’t want to share all the secrets with the audience. Or, their own knowledge was limited. Circumstances beyond their control might have prevented them from revealing certain secrets.

Here are a few examples of the information that is missing:

  • You won’t get to know how to apply the false shuffle technique to a full deck of cards. You’ll learn how to apply it only to a handful of cards.
  • The description of cold decks, where the entire pack might be switched before the deal, is rather abstract. You don’t get the impression that the author is an expert in this field.
  • When a cheater secretly exchanges cards in their hand, this trick is called “palm switch”. It’s very popular — but S. W. Erdnase pays no attention to it.

Typically, you can expect a book to be incomplete if its author shares their personal experience and inventions. But it’s not the case. S. W. Erdnase obviously borrows information from other sources.

Last but not least, a large part of the information is outdated. It remains relevant to some extent — but modern cheaters and magicians know how to do things better.

Despite all these drawbacks, the book remains highly useful today.

What Can You Learn from the Book

S. W. Erdnase informs the readers that manipulators can stack, cull and control cards. They can use various techniques to do so — and the good news is that you can detect and recognize them before they do any harm to you.

The worst situation is when there is not one but several cheaters at the table and they coordinate their actions. With an assistant, it’s so much easier to pull nefarious tricks — especially when they sit close to each other.

Players with little experience often think that online gaming is more honest and provides crooks with less space for maneuvers… Unfortunately, it’s not true. When playing online, skilled cheaters can perform just as well as offline. They can form teams and apply elaborate strategies. After you read The Expert at the Card Table, you should be able to better understand their ways of thinking and acting — and protect yourself accordingly.

Does S. W. Erdnase Encourage You to Become a Cheater?

Of course, no! The author warns cheaters and cheaters-to-be about the potential consequences.

Do you practice card counting in poker? In some games, it’s illegal. But in poker, nearly anyone does it and it’s ok. Even if you don’t count cards, you should be aware of this technique to better predict the actions of your opponents. The same with cheaters — it’s essential to understand their logic.

Final Thoughts

The Expert at the Card Table playing cards book is a must-read for everyone who is interested in cards. The mysterious S. W. Erdnase wrote a book whose value remains eternal. We highly recommend it!

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