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Lock, Stock, and History

The Kepplinger Holdout card cheating device, late 19th century,

J. D. Kepplinger was a master card cheat and con man in the late 19th century.  In 1888 the brilliant Kepplinger invented his own card holdout device.  The device attached to his arm, which was concealed by his sleeve, which was connected by a cable to a mechanism attached to his thighs.  When he opened and closed his legs a metal claw would popup through his sleeve and snatch away a card for later.  When Kepplinger needed that card later, he simply opened his legs again, and the device would conveniently insert the card back into his hand.

With his special Kepplinger holdout device, also known as the San Francisco holdout, J.D. Kepplinger was able to clean out many cardplayers throughout the Old West.  That was until professional gamblers became suspicious.  

One day during a pleasant game of poker three other gamblers seized him and dragged him to the back of the saloon.  There they stripped off his clothes and discovered the ingenious device.  They offered Kepplinger two options, either he construct devices for them or he face the consequences of being caught cheating at cards (which mean’t being shot or beaten up).  Kepplinger made more devices for his new comrades, who formed a team of card cheats.  For over a year the team grew rich cleaning out the table of the Barbary Coast and San Francisco.  That was until they were caught by the police and sent to prison. 

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