Via L.A. Downtown News, a story worthy of The Onion: Police detectives really working it to clean up the scourge of … three card monte.

Really, isn't there some punk at UCLA with a pyramid scheme who needs to be caught and prosecuted? Or perhaps LAPD should fly to Lagos to catch an Internet scam artist.

From the Downtown News story:

Two LAPD detectives broke up a three-card monte game near 530 S. Los Angeles St. on Monday morning and arrested 67-year-old Leobardo Valencia, who was acting as the dealer in the age-old street scheme.

The scam, which goads unsuspecting passersby to join in on rigged street card games….

Unsuspecting? This scam is so widely known that it has a wikipedia entry. In fact, that's where we got our photo before the jump.

This is also a great detail: “After we arrested Valencia we realized he had a glass eye. I guess we walked up on his blind side.”


The policing rationale in all this is a bit obscure to the point of incoherence. Here's the police spokesman: “You, the player, can only lose your money in these games,” he said. Sort of like Vegas, but whatever.

“The game is set up to deceive you, and like any con, you give up your money willingly.”

Well, if he's deceiving you, you're not really giving up your money willingly. Who would willingly be deceived?

But that's the whole point of three-card monte. Of course we know we're being deceived. Of course we know we're being conned and will likely lose. Just like Vegas. The whole point is that it's fun watching this con man go at it, using a scheme with a wikipedia entry and known in vernacular English as a synonym for a con.

Even someone unfamiliar with the scheme who indeed loses 20 bucks will get a good life lesson out of the game. (In fact, it would be totally awesome if the Downtown News blog's story was in fact not real and its own kind of three card monte for readers and unsuspecting bloggers who riffed off it!)

Give unto the three card monte players the three card monte.

LA Weekly