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Pricking

What is ‘Pricking’?

‘Pricking’ is a cheating technique similar to ‘nailing’ which is used in card games at casinos and in private games. Like other forms of cheating by tampering with cards, pricking is a prohibited act and is usually classed as a crime under national laws, as it shows an intention to defraud the casino or the other players.

‘Pricking’ Explained

A player who uses a ‘pricking’ technique is marking cards as they receive them in the hope of identifying them later. Pricking is very similar to ‘nailing’ – the player uses a fingernail or a small sharp tool in order to make a mark on the card, usually in the side or on the reverse. This mark is not noticeable unless somebody knows where to look for it, so the card can return to the game and those at the table will be none the wiser.

When the card appears again in the game, the player will know from a glance what its value is and can react accordingly. Pricking is often used to mark out high cards like kings and aces. There are special devices which can be used to prick cards, though often a piece of jewellery or small pin is used. Pricking, like any form of cheating, will result in being ejected from the casino and could also lead to prosecution. Players caught cheating will usually be banned from that venue (and any associated casinos) for life.

Pricking can also occur accidentally. A player might mark the card through improper handling, leaving a slight fingernail indentation which another player can pick up on and use to their advantage. There is still some risk involved with pricking, as only a few cards can be marked. Casinos have machines designed to detect altered cards and will usually replace a deck that seems to have been damaged or otherwise tampered with.