How do you become a con man ?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Joe Garcia, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. Any tips guys on where to get the knowledge of con artists ? some books,dvds etc you can recommend.
  2. You dont really want to be...a con man...
    atleast not something you want to be asking people about...
    thats like running around yelling "how do i be a rapist? any good books or DVDs on that?"
    Isnt it more or less illegal?
  3. You're openly asking for information on how you can learn to con honest, good people out of their money? Seriously?
  4. No,no I mean where do the real artists learn their material from ?

    Like for example in shows like the real hustle, where do they get the information about cons and scams
  5. Con artists... con people out of their money through deciet.
    I dont think there is any book or DVD which will teach you how to actually do that.
    Go find a real con artist and just beg him to teach you... good luck
  6. Rule no. 1... don't tell the world you're a con man or trying to be.

  7. I don't think anyone on theory11 can really help you with this. You could go to the magic cafe and check out the subgroup that deals with confidence games (3 CM, the shell game, fast and loose etc).

    Unfortunately, if you really want to con people out of money, you cannot learn it from books or dvds. Most shell games and 3CM scams are run by teams of hustlers (the operator + some shills) and the only way to learn would be to join such a team (much easier said than done).

    Also, remember that being a conman could land you in jail, so if you really want to go for it, you will have only yourself to blame when things go bad.

    If on the other hand, you want to learn these things to entertain people, you should check out dvds by Sal Piacente (if you are a beginner) or dvds from the school for scoundrels (much more comprehensive from what I hear).
  8. You can learn short-cons from everywhere, like the real hustle for example, and if you do enough for people in bars they will teach you theirs as well.

    To actually be a con-man? There is a lot of stuff you'll never be able to learn, things you'd have to get straight from the lips of actual con men.

    If you wanted research for stories for your magic, google it, there are some books written about and by con men of the past.

    If you want to con people out of money, you won't find any books on it, so good luck.
  9. I don't agree with being a con man, but if it's for entertainment purposes go for it. You can start with the encyclopedia of pickpocketing by Byrd and Coats. Some great stuff on those volumes.
  10. There is a vast library of literature on con artistry, from the con and carnie game material that can be found from most magic dealers, through to books on the history of scamming, and biographies of some of the most famous grifters. A good starting place is

    Although there aren't really "How To" books as such, you could definitely get some ideas on how to construct a successful con from the published material.

    Not that I'm advocating fraud or scamming of's all for entertainment purposes only...honestly....
  11. Rule no. 2. Don't use your real name when you're looking for sources on conning, Mr. Joe Garcia.
  12. Expert at the Card Table ?
  13. #13 AsherF, Feb 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2010
    I think a lot of Con relies on experience and acting. But if you're interested in this for entertainment purposes... or whatever purposes you might have, I don't care... You can always start with

    Modern Con Man: How To Get Something For Nothing by Todd Robbins. I've read it a time or two, and it is a fun little book to get you started. A lot of clever material and advice in there. I personally recommend you start there to get a general idea.

    How To Cheat At Everything by Simon Lovell is another.

    Of course there are many more sources... but I think this is a good place to get started.

    A lot of Con can be applied to magic so it's of course a great thing to know.

    Study up on your sleight of hand and psychology as well. Practice misdirection. etc...

    Also if you're interested, if you look up The Real Hustle. It's a show starring Paul Wilson. All about cons and scamming, etc... set like a Derren Brown special. Very interesting.
  14. Great advice, The Real Hustle has tons of short cons and scams.

    Long cons are a completely different animal. Real con men stand out with their confidence and blend in with whoever they're trying to con. Sounds easy, but it takes tons of research to be able to even do short bar-cons successfully. (I would know, I've won $20 dollars from a friend who bet me I couldn't go a whole night out without buying a drink, free drinks and 20 dollars...a good night all together).

    ^ Not something I do often, but it is great fun whenever I decide to.

    I should add that I know a lot of 'impossible' pool shots, and the way around them. (makes life easier, every pool player wants to know the secrets to crazy shots)
  15. How to cheat at everything is, as mentioned, a great book about the subject.
    It doesn't tell you every detail of every con, but it gives you anice understanding of how things work.

    Me, I'm just interested in the history of cons, it's exciting stuff to read about.
    Sometimes I do small bar bets and other stuff like that, all in good sport, but to go out and literally con somebody, that's brutal.
  16. I find it amusing that so many automatically assume Joe is actually serious about pursuing cons and swindles as a vocation.

    Had he asked how one becomes Pope would you automatically assume that he actually aspired to be the Pope? Give me a break...

    Why can't a guy ask a question about a subject without so many snap decisions being made about the nature of the inquiry itself?

    Secondly, let's not assume that just because certain members remain essentially quiet about what they know, that therefore they aren't here. Case in point:

    Think again.

    Now that the formalities are out of the way, Joe, here is a real answer to your question.

    Start with Darwin Ortiz's excellent Gambling Scams. You won't find a better overview of basic cons and scams anywhere, in addition to the great cheating material for both casino and private games.

    Then move on to things like the Gambler's Book Club's series of small reprints that were published in the late 60s and early 70s. Titles like:

    The Bunko Book by Walter Gibson

    The Rich Uncle From Fiji by M. P. Adams


    The Little Secrets by Frank Bonville

    All three of these books (pamphlets, really) are excellent sources of information on both short cons and long cons from the turn of the century, many of which are still around today in some form or another.

    Other classics in the field include:

    The Unsinkable Titanic Thompson by Carlton Stowers.

    The Big Con by David Mauer

    Yellow Kid Weil: The Autobiography of America's Master Swindler as told to W. T. Brannon

    Any of these three books will give you plenty of insight into the nature of cons and conmen. I recommend them all.

    Additionally, although not strictly "cons" in the purest sense, I'd be sure to track down and read:

    The Change Raisers by W. M. Tucker

    Road Hustler by Robert Prus

    Keeping Carnies Honest by Lindsay Smith and Bruce Walstad

    Gambling and Gambling Devices by John Phillip Quinn

    and of course,

    Scarne's New Complete Guide To Gambling by John Scarne.

    These five books all give some interesting insights into small cons or related concepts (like carnival games, which are/were sometimes run as cons, essentially). Most of them are fairly easy to track down and are not terribly expensive.

    Also, be sure to rent House of Games, written and directed by David Mamet. It's a fun movie that gives a basically accurate, if inflated view into the lives of conmen running a big con.

    But the granddaddy of them all of course, is The Sting. If you haven't seen this movie, start here. It's great, it's accurate, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. Redford, Newman, and Darth Vader's Dad all in one movie! How do you go wrong?

    Hope this helps.

    Jason England
  17. While Jason is clearly an expert on the subject, I must take issue with the claim that Darth Vader's dad makes an appearance in The Sting.

    I believe he meant Luke Skywalker's dad.

    Please don't allow this eggregious display of non-nerdery on his part dissuade you from taking his otherwise spot on advice.
  18. And don't forget Shade, with a few cameos by Mr. England himself ;)
  19. Brad is now checking IMDB and finding out that is is actually Robert Earl Jones (James's father), and not James Earl Jones that appears in the Sting.

    Hence, Darth Vader's Dad is correct.

    Brad will be back in a moment to eat some Imperial crow.

  20. I thought that it was James Earl Jones.

    In which case, I shall not eat Imperial crow but that pawn shop winged creature from Phantom Menace.

    I figure at least that way my contrition will also serve a public service.

    (Will now got watch and hour of Jar Jar Bink's greatest hits as punitive punishment.)


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