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It is not easy to design cheat-proof playing cards, if possible at all. Most card manufacturers do not even try. Cheaters, however, are aware of the back design as a security device. With certain back designs, it is more difficult to bottom- or second-deal unde-tected than with other designs. Some backs are easier to mark than others.
For bottom or second-dealing, the ideal deck would be one with a solid-color back. With such a deck it would be hard for the other players to tell whether the top card is sliding forward and off the deck (as it should in a legal deal) or staying on top (as in a bottom or second-deal).
None of the readily available brands of cards has a solid-color back. In practice, bottom-dealers favor brands with small, regular patterns patterns that are just a blur of color in a brisk deal. Diamond-pattern Bee (back no.67) and Club Reno are examples.
A white margin ruins a deck for bottom-dealing. As the bottom (or second) card is drawn out, the other players see its white mar-gin, then part of its back pattern, then the top card's white mar-gin, and then the top card's back pattern. This is different from what they see when the top card is drawn off fairly. So decks such as Aviator and Bicycle are relatively cheat-proof as far as bottom-dealing is concerned.
Likewise, any conspicuous, localized design works against bottom-dealing. A prominent design acts as a landmark to help players judge whether the top card is removed. It's best if the de-sign is a different color, such as the logos on some airline and pro-motional decks. Many Las Vegas casinos use custom Bee decks overprinted with thehotel logos.
Gambling lore favors a United Airlines giveaway deck as the most cheat-proof. Flight attendants offer the deck (in first class) or supply it if you know enough to ask for it (in coach). Although manufactured by the U.S. Playing Card Company, the deck is in some ways more secure than that company's popular retail decks. The back design is a solid color except for two United Airlines logos. The white logos make it relatively easy to spot bottom-dealing. The simplicity of the back design makes it nearly impos-sible to mark the deck. Many other airline decks are equally good.
Copyright © 1983 by William Poundstone