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Playing the Daub or Marking Cards

Playing the Daub or Marking Cards

Daub or paint is a pasty-colored substance used as a technique for marking cards in play. Daub is made out of a combination of materials including grease, dyes, paint, soapstones, and oils, and can be created in any color. It is sold by crooked gambling supply houses, though many cheats manufacture their own daub utilizing green or blue eye shadow, pencil graphite, or cigarette ash for blue-backed decks. The cheat smears the card with daub during play, leaving a faint smudge on the back. Usually the position of the mark denotes the value of the card.

Daub can be hidden in a variety of ways. Some cheats hide it in small tins attached to their clothing somewhere behind a collar, jacket, or sleeve. It is also commonly placed in a button sewn anywhere the "painter" can easily access it. Other methods include hiding it on eyeglasses, shoes, watches, or rings.

Usually daub is used to mark the high-value cards in the deck. To use it, the cheater puts some daub on his finger and applies a mark to the center of the selected card. A good way to prevent against cheating through the use of daub is to change decks frequently, at least every hour.

A good way to detect if daub or other types of marks have been placed on cards is position the cards at different angles to let light shine on the backs. The angled light will detect a mark sitting on the top or scarring the back of the card's finish. Performing a riffle test by holding one end of the deck and riffling while focusing on different area of the design on the back is another way to detect marks. Usually your eye will catch marks jumping throughout the backs of the cards. Do this several times if you suspect someone has marked the deck.

In addition to daub, cheats often mark cards by simply nicking them with their fingernails. If done correctly, it can barely be detected by the eye. Sand work can also be done during play. Cheats glue small pieces of sandpaper to their fingers and sand the backs or edges of cards.

"Pegging" cards refer to utilizing a small device that marks cards with a bump on the opposite side of where the peg is punched. Traditionally, rings with small points on them or small pegging devices that can be glued to the fingertip have been used to mark cards.

Performing a touch test by rubbing your finger over the backs of cards can be used to detect pegs. Be suspicious of any indentations, rises, or pinpricks.

Marked cards can be utilized in many ways to cheat, including "culling," or the act of securing certain cards. If playing in a home game where the deal rotates, after marking the cards, a cheat simply needs to wait until it is his turn to deal. Every time the dealer breaks a deck for riffle shuffle, the top card on each half of the deck is exposed. It is easy to detect if either top card is marked. If a card is spotted, the dealer riffles the half where it is detected last, bringing the desired card to the top, where it can be stacked and dealt when needed.

Remember to look at both the cards and the player's actions. In poker, questions of marking cards usually arise when an unusual hand has been played, bet, or folded to indicate that the player in question might have had an idea of his, or other players', cards. A good cheat will always muck a hand before any suspicion arises, and no deck is immune to a marking system. The best way to protect yourself is to know the various ways that cheating occurs and keep a watchful eye on the way the game is being played.