01. Haydn, Whit, The School for Scoundrels Notes on Fast and Loose, Canyon Lake, CA, 2000.
02. Maverick, Point Blank (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
03. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
Confidence game using a belt or strap folded in half and wound into a coil. The mark is asked to insert a stick into the center loop so it remains inside the belt when unrolled. Since either end of the belt can be released by the operator, the end result can be controlled, ensuring the mark can not win.
The con game is traditionally called “Fast and Loose,” named for holding one end of the strap fast and the other end loose, hence the familiar saying “playing fast and loose.”
The game can be traced back as far as the Renaissance, when it was known as “Pricking the Garter,” after the cloth or leather garters men used to hold up their stockings. A favorite game of gypsies across Europe, the game is alluded to in Shakespeare’s "Antony and Cleopatra" with the line “Like a right gipsy, hath, at fast and loose, Beguiled me to the very heart of loss.”.
Point Blank: Bret Maverick won five dollars from Moose Horton in Bent Forks, Nebraska, in 1871 by running the belt game on him. Bret used the money to buy a meal and a stake in a poker game. The transaction with Moose later led to Bret’s arrest for running a confidence game in town. Sheriff Wes Corwin took offense to Bret’s low opinion of the residents of Bent Forks, since “the belt game went out with the Civil War.”
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