Three Card Monte

Three Card Monte Tosser

Three Card Monte (Card Game)

A Three Card Monte dealer takes a break and waves at the camera.
A Three Card Monte dealer takes a break and waves at the camera.

Three Card Monte or Three Card Monty is a card game that begins with a feverish and often, quite mesmerizing patter by some guy with finger-less gloves usually in the back seats of a public transit bus.  The uninitiated player of Three Card Monte will often be welcomed to the game with such varied greetings as “Hey Man, you like cards?” or “Hey Dude, you like cards?”   Upon choosing to play, the player will then be presented with three small rigid paper-like cutouts adorned with medieval artwork often called ‘playing cards’ laid upon a flat surface before him.  The flat surface may be a newspaper, two 40 ounce bottles laying sideways in the dealer’s lap, or a quarter section of a cardboard box.  Now here comes the magic of the game:

  • Three cards are laid out face down, slightly creased
  • Seemingly magical disembodied hands begin moving the cards to-and-fro
  • The player then simply needs to guess which card is the Queen of Spades
  • Profit

Thrice the Monte

Only one in six players of this fun game actually win. Why?  Probably becasue they are idiots.  But then again there are three cards so any random guess will return 33 percent odds – or so it would seem.  These people who lose the game are called ‘marks’ or ‘sukkas’.

How do you win this ‘Money Making Card Game’?

Pay attention to your card dealer.  He is the key to your winning.  When he says the Queen of Spades in in the middle, you can be sure that it probably is.  If you lose the first time, increase your wager!  Follow the cards as the dealer moves them around and it is very hard to lose. If you suspect the dealer is cheating, you are probably wrong.  These guys dealing the cards are professionals.  Follow my tips and you may very well get the MONTE!!

Other Names for Three Card Monte

  • The Card in Threes
  • Bus riders bane
  • Follow the Lady
  • Round and Round She Goes
  • Make that Money
  • Pappa’s Second Income