A SOLI Original Document.
You won't find it anywhere else.
YOU NEVER CHEAT AT GIN RUMMY--
WITH P. SLOANE
(c) Copyright 1975 R. J. Hustwit
Charlie Hooper was one of those shifty-eyed con-men, who
give the profession of selling a bad name. Charlie sold nuts
and bolts and occasionally some wire and clamps for a large
manufacturer of hardware. His territory was New York and
During the day, Charlie cheated his customers,
overcharging them or shorting them in the little boxes of
nuts or bolts he sold, or both. At night - ah, at night,
though - Charlie came into his own. He cheated at gin rummy.
Charlie wasn't a very good cheat, but he had found early
in life that, in gin rummy, if you look your victim right in
the eye and smile, you can cheat or lie until the world
looks flat, and your average gin player won't say a word. If
you do get caught, follow Lenny Bruce's advice and deny it.
Charlie had gotten caught quite a bit, but until he met
Phineaus Sloane, R., G.R.P., etc., etc., E., nothing really
came of it. The reason Charlie got caught quite often, is
that he was not very good at cheating. Oh, he had the nerve,
the 'chutzpah', but he just didn't have the skill. He had
studied Hugard and S.W. Erdnase and their books on card
handling, but the mysteries of stacking a deck using the
over-hand shuffle, still eluded Charlie. Every once in a
while, Charlie would have to slow down his shuffling and
kind of peek at the cards to make sure he knew which cards
were on top. They usually weren't the right ones and this
necessitated more shuffling and more looking - quite
obvious, except that old Charlie would look you right in the
eye, smile, and say, "I never was much good at shuffling,
but I'll get the hang of it someday." And then he'd smile
some more and if you really hadn't been watching too
closely, you'd probably believe that he was just a lousy
shuffler. But between his shuffling (bad as it was), his
bottom dealing (an alert six-year-old could spot it) and the
fact that he always kept score, Charlie Hooper won at gin
rummy most of the time. He even beat Phineaus Sloane - once.
Charlie learned the cardinal rule of gin rummy that week:
You Never Cheat At Gin Rummy - with P. Sloane! But by then,
it was too late. You see, Phineaus Sloane, Rainmaker, Gin
Rummy Player, etc., etc., Extraordinary, was not a man to be
trifled with. Nobody ever did, or when they did, they never
got the chance to trifle again.
Phineaus Sloane was on his way home to Newton,
Massachusetts, the night he stopped in Elmira, New York. He
drove up to the Hotel Vomisa in his two-year-old, shiny,
clean 1965 Lincoln, carefully parked the car, took out his
valise and went inside.
"Evenin', Mr. Sloane. We've been expecting you. Nice to
see you again!" Tim Everett, the owner of the hotel, greeted
Phineaus warmly. "Martha! Mr. Sloane is here, get dinner
ready!" He looked at the tall man with the hair-brush
moustache and said, "We've got your favorite tonight, Mr.
Sloane, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with gravy."
Phineaus' eyes widened with pleasure, "With the Yorkshire
pudding served first?"
"Of course, Mr. Sloane, how else?"
Tim Everett was pleased with himself. Phineaus Sloane was
happy, and that was good. Because Phineaus Sloane insisted
on paying twice the going rate whenever he stayed here,
which was about nine or ten times a year. He was a
fascinating man, who could tell stories to rival the
greatest. Nobody really knew what he did for a living; and,
although Martha had told him that Mr. Sloane was a brassiere
salesman, Tim rather suspected that that was just wishful
thinking on her part - he was good looking.
Phineaus Sloane went up to his room to get ready for
dinner. Charlie Hooper watched him move up the stairs.
"There's an athlete", he thought, "Moves like a cat."
Charlie debated for a minute whether he should offer to play
this Sloane fellow a few games of gin rummy. He only debated
for a minute, though, because Charlie Hooper liked to win at
gin. Besides, he had been practicing the cull on the
overhand shuffle, and wanted to try it out on someone.
Phineaus set his valise on the bed, loosened his tie, and
began to get ready to shower and shave before dinner. By the
time Mrs. Everett got the oven heated and the Yorkshire
pudding cooked, it would be at least half an hour, which was
plenty of time. He was a little tired, having driven in from
1897, where he had helped some people in Arkansas, but he
Martha Everett's roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner
was superb. She outdid herself. Phineaus leaned back in his
chair, graciously refusing a third helping, and thanked her.
Martha blushed, she always did when Mr. Sloane spoke to her,
and mumbled her 'your welcomes'.
Phineaus and Everett moved into the front room, where
Charlie Hooper was reading the sports section of the local
paper. He stole a crafty look at Phineaus, trying to think
of the best way to draw him into a game.
Tim Everett made it easy. He nodded at the chess set and
said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Sloane, but I won't be able to play
chess with you tonight, I've got to go to a town meeting.
Maybe next time. Hell," he said as an afterthought, "you
always win anyway."
Phineaus smiled, "That's allright, Mr. Everett, I'm sure I
can find something to do."
That's when Charlie Hooper made his mistake. "Hey there!
Sloane, isn't it? How about some gin rummy?"
Sloane looked at Hooper. Phineaus had learned over the
years never to trust a stranger who wants to play cards - no
difference whether it's poker, gin rummy or Go Fish! - never
trust him. "I beg your pardon?"
"I said 'gin rummy'. Hooper's the name, Charlie Hooper."
He walked over and grabbed Phineaus' hand, pumping away,
"I'm in the nuts and bolts game, just passing through here,
and thought we might play some gin - a friendly game.
Twenty-five cents a point?"
"Well, I am a little tired, been driving most of the day
"Oh, come on, Sloane, just a couple of games - just to
Phineaus agreed and they sat at the game table by the
window of the front room.
Charlie looked at Sloane intently for a minute, then said,
"Didn't we meet somewhere before?"
"No, I'm sure we didn't."
"Are you sure? Weren't you selling brassieres up in Benson
Mines last fall?"
"I could have sworn ..."
"Mr. Hooper, let's play gin rummy."
Charlie started, snapping out of trying to remember where
he had seen Phineaus before. "Right. Gin rummy. Twenty-five
cents a point? Dollar a game?"
"That's fine, Mr. Hooper. Cut for deal - high card."
Phineaus cut the king of hearts, Charlie a trey, which
disturbed him (he thought he was cutting an ace). Phineaus
shuffled the cards with an ease and grace that made old
Charlie Hooper even more uneasy. The cards seemed to fall
effortlessly from the deck as he dealt - it was beautiful to
After four draws Phineaus announced that he had 'gin',
catching Charlie with forty-two points in his hand. Charlie
He used his little finger to hold the break, and used both
the cull and stock shuffles, getting the deck into the
proper order. He had to stop and check a couple of times,
and was somewhat unnerved when his direct glance and smile
were met only by Phineaus Sloane's nickel-chrome, ice-grey
stare and nothing else. Charlie's "I-never-was-much-good-at-
shuffling" routine fell flat. Sloane didn't say a word or
even acknowledge that Charlie had spoken. Charlie felt
better, however, when he won after only two draws, catching
Phineaus, as planned, with sixty-seven points in his hand.
I won't bore you with the details of the game, but Charlie
continued his clumsy cheating through the night, eventually
winning twenty-five dollars from Phineaus Sloane.
Charlie couldn't know, but Sloane, on a recent trip to
1901, had met and collaborated with Mr. E.S. Andrews on a
book called, "Artifice, Ruse and Subtrefuge at the Card
Table", subtitle "A Treatise on the Science and Art of
Manipulating Cards". Mr. Andrews had published it the very
next year, and then the book's author was listed as S.W.
Erdnase (E.S. Andrews, spelled backwards), because Andrews
didn't want to take all the credit. It was later reprinted
under the title "The Expert at the Card Table", and this
book could now be found upstairs on Charlie's bed.
The next morning, as Phineaus was getting into his shiny
Lincoln, Charlie Hooper strolled out on the porch.
Hey, Sloane, better luck next time! See ya' later."
Phineaus merely nodded, started his car and drove off,
When he arrived home (Newton, Mass.) it was too late to
make the call he wanted to, so Phineaus set his glowing
I.G.R.F. card on the huge mahogany desk in his study and
went to bed.
The next morning, ready of a new day's work, he sat at his
desk and, seeing the luminescent card with the gold (24 kt.)
letters I.G.R.F., he remembered.
There were three devices amid the papers and books on
Phineaus' desk: an antique telephone, a regular telephone,
and a strange looking box-like device with a depression in
the top. Phineaus picked up his I.G.R.F. card and set it in
the depression on the third device. It glowed into life, and
almost immediately, the three-dimensional face of a very
pretty girl appeared on the side of the glowing machine.
"International Gin Rummy Federation, enforcement division,
may I help you?"
"Yes", said Phineaus, "This is Phineaus Sloane, number
"Oh, that's alright, Mr. Sloane, everybody here knows you,
what can I help you with?"
"Put me through to the director, please."
"Yes, sir." The girl knew it was important, if Mr. Sloane
wanted to talk with the director.
In a few seconds, the benign face of the director of the
"Hello, Phineaus", he said warmly, "It's been too long,
what can I do for you?"
"Hello, Mr. Director. I called because I was cheated at
Gin Rummy last night."
"Dear, dear", worried the director, "That won't do at all.
Where did it happen?"
"I see. How much did you lose, Phineaus?"
The director began doing a mental computation, "Let's see,
"Two hundred point five reds, sir. I figured it out before
"Thank you, Phineaus, that's very considerate of you.
These time conversions are so bothersome you know. Well, we
can't have the good name of Gin Rummy dragged in the mud by
some ... some, where did you say he was?"
"Yes, by some 1967-card sharp." The director was firm.
Phineaus smiled, "Well, sir, he wasn't much of a card
sharp, but I'm afraid he will give the game a bad name if he
Phineaus went on to give the director all the information
necessary: description of the man, proper co-ordinates,
"I think you've given us everything we need, Phineaus; of
course, your account will be credited two hundred point five
rads immediately, and we will take care of Mr. Hooper. Good-
bye, Phineaus." The director's face disappeared.
Phineaus, alone now in his study, began to think of his
next project. While, in Ithaca, New York, a shifty-eyed gin
rummy cheat was paid a most interesting visit by three
grave-looking men who simply materialized in his room.
"Wh...Wh....Who--what are you, you d-d-doing here?"
Charlie's complexion was the color of fresh cottage cheese.
His stomach felt like cottage cheese looks. Charlie was
"Are you Charles C. Hooper?" The tallest of the three men
spoke. He wore funning-looking (to Charlie) clothes and
boots, and he had kind of an English-Oxford accent (or was
it Oxford-English? Oh, well, Charlie really wasn't too
concerned at that point) and the most unnerving eyes that
Charlie had ever seen--they practically mesmerised him.
"Y-yes, I'm Hooper. Who are you and what are you doing in
my room? I'll call the manager?" It was more of a question
than a threat.
The tall man treated it as a question. "You will not call
anyone. Is this 1967?"
"Mr. Hooper, we are from the enforcement division of the
I.G.R.F. We recently had a complaint..."
"You're with the what?" Charlie had pinched himself, so he
knew he wasn't dreaming.
"The I.G.R.F., enforcement division. The International Gin
Rummy Federation. As I was saying, we recently had a
complaint from one of our oldest and most respected members,
Mr. Phineaus Sloane, that he was cheated by you and that you
took twenty-five dollars from him."
"Stop! Stop! I never cheated him. I never cheated
anybody!" Old Charlie looked 'em right in the eye. They
looked Old Charlie right back. Charlie backed down. "Well, I
mean I never...."
"Mr. Hooper, I can read you the list of charges, if you
like. It seems rather unnecessary, but it you persist in
denying it." The medium sized one drew out a sheet of paper
and began to read, "Let's see, the specific violations
are...ah, yes, here they are. Now, please listen carefully,
Mr. Hooper. 'One: that he did perform the stock shuffle with
the intent of placing certain cards in a certain order so
that he might benefit from same. Two: generally followed all
of the overhand shuffles, as outlined in S.W. Erdnase's
book, "The Expert At The Card Table", in order to defraud
and cheat the plaintiff in the game of Gin Rummy.
Charlie knew he had had it, as the list droned on. Finally
he could stand it no more. "All right, so I cheated." He was
just thinking about becoming surly; then he looked the tall
one in the eyes and changed his mind. "What are you going to
do? I mean, what am I going to do? I mean, I mean...oh,
Hell! What's going on around here anyway?"
The shortest of the three spoke up to explain to Charlie
the rules of the International Gin Rummy Federation (Which
will be published at a later date), quoting him the
particular section on cheating that he had violated. The man
went on to explain the I.G.R.F.'s policy on the matter of
cheating, noting that Mr. Sloane had already been re-
imbursed his loss by the Federation, and that it was up to
Mr. Hooper to re-imburse the Federation--$350.00.
"Three-hundred and fifty dollars" I won't pay it!" Charlie
was starting to get mad. "Why, Sloane only lost Twenty-five;
what do you mean three hundred and fifty. What are you,
"On the contrary, Mr. Hooper," the tall one was speaking
again, "we are here to protect our members from thieves. You
see you owe us not only for Mr. Sloane's loss, but also for
our time in coming to collect from you. You know, time-
travel is very expensive. As a matter of fact, if we didn't
do a volume business, it would be even more expensive. And
if you think that three-hundred and fifty of your dollars is
a lot of money, the cost will double, if you don't pay now
and we have to come back again."
The tall man had talked for a while longer, but Charlie
stopped listening. He was trying to remember how much money
he had on him. He checked, and found exactly $351.12. He
paid the men their money, and they de-materialized. Charlie
passed out at that point, and would have thought it was all
a dream, when he came to, except that the money was gone,
and in its place in his wallet was a slip of paper-like
material with the following written on it:
"Received from Charles Hooper, Three-Hundred Fifty and
no/100's dollars ($350.00), payment in full for infraction
of section 5, subsection 17 of the International Gin Rummy
Charlie Hooper never cheated at gin again, as long as he
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