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See also: card sharp and card-sharp




The Cardsharps (c. 1594), by Caravaggio.[n 1] The painting depicts two cardsharps, one with hidden playing cards tucked into the back of his belt (right), and the other peering over the shoulder of the wealthy person being duped and signalling his cards to the first person (centre).

card +‎ sharp (cheater, dishonest person).[1]



cardsharp (plural cardsharps)

  1. (card games) A professional cheater at card games.
    Synonym: broadsman (Britain, slang)
    One of Tim’s great-grandparents had been a cardsharp in the wild west, and had been shot dead during a game.
    • 1850, Henry Downes Miles, chapter XI, in Claude du Val, a Romance, of the Days of Charles the Second, Edwin Dipple, [], OCLC 13345179, page 191:
      While thus running on, the knavish card-sharp was slowly, and with apparent fairness, cutting the pack, which was prepared by having every card but the honours of each suit cut at the ends, in so slight a degree, however, as not to shorten them enough to be detectible by an ordinary eye, though sufficiently to be felt by a fine and pracised finger, which could thus ensure a court-card, while the red cards of the pack (or deck of cards, as they were then commonly called) were deprived of their proper size by a similar process of shaving off the sides, so as to make the turn-up either red or black at will of the player.
    • 1858, T[homas] L[ake] Harris, “Fourth Interview”, in Appendix to the Arcana of Christianity: The Song of Satan: A Series of Poems, [], New York, N.Y.: New Church Publishing Association, [], OCLC 560697389, page l:
      'Why Moses,' said Satan, 'nor Angels nor sinners / Can live without eating; let's go to our dinners; / Men who play at old sledge cannot both be the winners; / The card-sharps, you know, lose the dimes to beginners; []'
    • 1865 November 18, Robert P. Whitworth, “Mary Summers: A Romance of the Australian Bush”, in The Australian Journal: A Weekly Record of Literature, Science, and the Arts, volume I, number 12, Melbourne, Vic.; Sydney, N.S.W.: Clarson, Massina, and Co., printers and publishers, [], published 1866, OCLC 173347690, chapter XVIII (The New Hut), page 178, column 1:
      Whenever we used to want to take a rise out o' Bill after, we only had to ax him if he'd seen any more card sharps, and he'd get as mad as a hatter.
    • 1875, A. A. Ritchie, “The Art of Sheep Raising for Wool, Mutton, and Money. []”, in Transactions of the California State Agricultural Society during the Year 1874, Sacramento, Calif.: G. H. Springer, state printer, OCLC 1004239435, page 465:
      In hilly country sheep will sometimes get lost in small bands. [] Should they prove unmanageable, refusing to travel, or running off from you, the adroit shepherd will practice against them a "string game" quite as effective as that the card sharp plays on the over-confident rustic. Catch the leader, or the whole party of rebels, and tie around one of the hind legs just above the hock joint, a piece of stout string— []
    • 1876 December 9, “A Run with Many Packs”, in Charles Dickens, editor, All the Year Round. A Weekly Journal. [...] With which is Incorporated Household Words, volume XVII, number 419 (New Series), London: Published at No. 26, Wellington Street; and by Messrs. Chapman & Hall, [], published 1877, OCLC 781591950, page 307, column 2:
      The cleverest card[-]sharp we ever saw—outside of good society—was a Greek by country as well as by profession; but all the money he picked up in the by-ways of the sporting world went at the hazard-table, and the poor rogue often wanted a dinner.
    • [1923], Edgar Wallace, “Abe Bellamy and His Secretary”, in The Green Archer, London: Hodder and Stoughton, OCLC 774571619, page 24:
      You'd been running with a gang of card-sharps when I picked you up, and the police were waiting their chance to gaol you.
    • 1989, Jean Haught, Prisoner of Passion (A Zebra Romance), London: Zebra Books, →ISBN, page 34:
      When the businessmen quit, there had been two other men eager to take their chairs. The ranchers were somewhat leery about allowing strangers to join their game. They had been suckered in by a slick cardsharp once and had learned a lesson that still galled them whenever they were reminded of it.
    • 1990, Bob Longe, “Prediction”, in World’s Best Card Tricks, New York, N.Y.: Sterling Publishing, →ISBN, page 82:
      The cardsharp asked, ‘Now who wants to make a bet?’ The wise guy said, ‘I’ll make a bet. You stacked the cards. I’ll bet you twenty bucks you hold three aces.’ The cardsharp said, ‘You’re on, buddy. And youre dead wrong.’

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  1. ^ From the collection of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, USA.


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