What does it mean to be card sharp at gambling?

May 5, 2022

A cardsharp person uses his skills or deception to win card games, such as poker. The most common way they win is through fraud, and in most cases, card sharp is used to describe a person that cheats. Cardsharp can also be written as a card shark, and it has the same meaning. The first term is more common within the UK, whereas the second is in all other countries, especially the US.

Caravaggio's Cardsharps

In 1584, Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio, the famous Italian painter, created a painting that depicted card players. He named it “The Cardsharps”. Of course, Caravaggio gave the picture a title in Italian, and it is pretty vague. The English translation came afterward. Even though the title might not be completely accurate, the painting shows card players cheating.

However, the cardsharp term was used for the first time in the 19th century to describe the tricksters.

The origin country of the term

The term most definitely appeared in print in the USA and then moved to other countries. In 1859, in a Kansas newspaper, Freedom's Champion, the first term showed up.

What do card sharps do?

They cheat using various methods. They either use a sleight of hand, or they land false shuffles or false cuts on the deck. The most skilled ones can manipulate the cards by putting a certain one in the desired position.

Do they always cheat?

No, a cardsharp person might be highly skilled in card games and does not always use tricks to cheat.

Card sharps in pop culture

Cardsharps are no strangers to pop culture. They appear in comic books (Marvel's Gambit), TV series and movies, and video games. If you are looking for an example, watch Friends, Prison Break, or Mission Impossible, and you'll come across it.

Gus Anderson
Gus Anderson is a gambling wizard. As a kid he dreamt about becoming a Tennis, Hockey and Golf professional but ended up as a gambling professional with focus on both sports & casino.