Tis the season to be jolly, spend money - and get taken by the CTA Shell Game operators.
And I saw it happening again Tuesday on the CTA Red Line. The gregarious African-American guy boards at Fullerton with his board. (And yes, I have only seen black guys shill for the Shell Game.)
He sits down in the middle of the long rows of aisle-facing seats. (No doubt he likes these new 5000 Series rail cars because everyone is facing him.) And he begins shuffling three little green cups on a handheld board. There's a red ball under one cup/shell, and he asks anyone to say under which shell the red ball hides.
"The right one, the right one," exclaims an over-exuberant "player." Yes, he's a player all right. He's the "Plant" who wins some and then encourages others to play.
The Hustler tells the Plant that he's a winner of $40, but only if he can show his own $40. He does, and earns $40 on the spot.
The Hustler then asks who wants to play next, and usually finds a couple of eager takers. He tells them to show $40, and asks them to put up their $40 to try and guess.
Of course they lose, but try to get the money back on a double-or-nothing deal. No dice - or no shell. He loses $80 now.
Just two weeks ago I listened to two tourists laugh about how they lost $200 on the CTA Shell Game. Yes, they were laughing.
But on Tuesday, I didn't want to see anyone lose, so I reported the guy to the motorman via the call button.
Things got real quiet real quick on that car after I reported him.
The motorman made the announcement: "Attention - there is NO gambling allowed on this train. Put the Shell Game away and get off the train!"
The Hustler obviously was not happy. First he started saying - nonsensically - that I am a child molester. Huh?
Then as he stood at the door to leave the train, he said, "You're a snitch. Don't you know what happens to snitches."
I just stared him down as he left the train.
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