Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

User Tools

Site Tools


Ten-card Poker Deal

Precursors with Other Games

W. Hooper describes several examples of demonstrations designed to prove the gambling expertise of the demonstrator. Hooper's examples, using the game of Piquet, appear in his Rational Recreations Volume One, 1774, pp. 113-131. The most elaborate item in the section is, “Case at piquet, where you give the other player not only the choice of the suit in which he will be repiqued, but that of dealing the cards by twos or by threes, and of taking either hand after they are dealt, you being to tell and play first.” (See p. 121.)

A simpler approach to the demonstration was later created for the game of All Fours, called “Big Hand”. In it, the dealer lays out two face-up hands of five cards each. One is clearly a strong hand, the other a distinct loser. The player is given the option of choosing either hand he wants. Even with this freedom of choice, the dealer bets that he'll win against the player. Unknown to the player, all ten cards were carefully chosen to seem clear cut on first view, but subtly crafted to allow the “weak” hand to beat the “strong” hand once the game of All Fours is played out. This appeared in Jonathan Harrington Green's Gamblers' Tricks with Cards, Exposed and Explained, 1859, p. 21. Green makes it clear that it's not a real scam, but merely an amusement or trick to break up normal game play.

Poker Deals

The first mention of the modern Ten-card Poker Deal—using the Jonah card principle—was a brief description in Arthur Buckley's Card Control, 1946, p. 103. It cannot be found in all editions, though. A fuller treatment appeared in Phoenix, No. 168, Jan. 1949, p. 672. Also see the “Ten Card Deal” in Bruce Elliott's The Best in Magic, 1956, p. 190.

Interestingly, according to the first printed description of the game of Poker, it was originally played with only twenty cards. This means that with the ten-card variant, the magic world took the game closer to its roots, rather than away from it. For the original game, see Jonathan Harrington Green's An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling, 1843, p. 95.


Page Tools