Assuming the game is played without cheating, in the three-card monte, can a logical approach increase the player's chance of beating the house?

At first glance it would seem to be unlikely but a recent article in the BBC news indicates that in the somewhat similar two person game rock-paper-scissors, knowledge and application of a simple set of natural human habits can have a pretty drastic impact on the odds.

Assuming you know where the card started can you make a logical choice, that will identify the most likely current position (regardless of distractions)?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what you mean by "without cheating". The whole point of the three-card monte is to cheat people out of their money. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. May 21 '14 at 22:26

The three-card monte depends on the mark following the wrong card but being entirely certain that that is the card he wants.

So if you can "select a card" the way a mark would normally do so, and the con man hasn't seen through your double bluff, you can get away with instinctively selecting one card at first, and then committing not to select that card and selecting one of the other two cards completely randomly which gives you even odds.

It's very difficult to do so in practice, though, because the con man employs a lot of psychological tricks to make you think that the card you want really is the one he threw down, and, as referenced on the Wikipedia article for the three-card monte, if you do select the right card, there'll be somebody to intervene to make sure you never win any money.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.