The Shell Game

Twenty years ago, petty street hustlers flourished on the streets of New York. The shell game and three card monte were classic examples of ways to separate tourists and New Yorkers alike from their money. All you needed to set up a shell game was a couple of cardboard boxes, three thimbles, a dried pea, a shill, and naive passersby whose greed overcame their common sense. The audience always contained one or two shills in league  with the guy running the game who would “win” money periodically to show that they could beat the hustler. Of course, the game was illegal, but police presence was less than it is now and the whole game could be folded at a moment’s notice if one of the shills doubling as lookout spotted a patrol car. It was fun to take photographs of the game without anyone’s awareness, the camera in full view, knowing that the hustlers would not be pleased at all to have their activities recorded on film.

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One Response to The Shell Game

  1. Wonderful memories of NYC

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