From parasite to antihero: shifting depictions of the card sharp

BANKS, James (2021). From parasite to antihero: shifting depictions of the card sharp. In: JOHNSON, Mark, (ed.) The Casino, Card and Betting Game Reader. Bloomsbury.

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Acts of deception and fraud are irrevocably tied to games of chance. In particular, card games are synonymous with trickery, cheating schemes and methods of slight of hand. The cardsharp, a manipulator of the deck who deals in devilishness and deceit, is a recognisable figure in gambling folk lore, literature, popular culture, and mass media. From the work of Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio to Marvel superhero Gambit, this chapter charts the fictional and factual depiction of the cardsharp. In turn, it illustrates how images of the cardsharp have evolved in response to the rehabilitation of gambling across much of the Western world. As games of chance have transitioned from activities of dubious morality into mainstream leisure pursuits, so too has the cardsharp been recast. No longer a predatory figure operating on the margins of society, in contemporary imaginings the cardsharp is depicted as an antihero. The chapter argues that this mythic image of the card sharp taps in to the moral complexity of late modern life, romanticising card games that are increasingly sanitised by a corporate controlled global casino industry.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Law Research Group
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Law and Criminology
Depositing User: James Banks
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2018 12:02
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 17:13

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