The world’s greatest cardsharp reveals all
by Kevin Pang
Fremont Street, once the world capital of swank, used to be Steve Forte’s turf.
But on a spring day, he was just another face in a crowd, snaking through two relics of downtown Las Vegas, Binion’s and the Four Queens casino. No one bothered the man many consider the greatest card handler who ever lived.
Within the world of casino experts and magicians, Forte handles a deck of playing cards the way Roger Federer wields a tennis racket. Not just among the best, but the best, full stop. In his hands, cards appear to shuffle but remain in perfect order. Cards apparently dealt from the top of the deck are taken invisibly from the bottom.
After years of being a reclusive figure, the 65-year-old Forte has published “Gambling Sleight of Hand,” his life’s work of underground card moves in a two-volume book of nearly 1,100 pages. Among sleight-of-hand aficionados, the book was a once-in-a-lifetime sensation: Even at $300, the first printing of 1,000 sold out in one week.
On this day, Forte agreed to visit places he doesn’t have much use for now. But soon enough, he showed his skill, making jaw-dropping observations about the games unfolding around him.