Barcelona Gypsies 1, Tom Minus $450

by , Oct 15, 2007 | 7:50 pm

I made the trip to Barcelona to play in the WPT Spanish Championship. This trip was a big mistake in so many ways, but for this particular post, I’m going to reveal what a true dumbass I really am.

My friend John lives in Barcelona and has for several years. He takes Julie and I down to this famous street called the Ramblas…don’t know if that’s the right spelling, and I don’t give a shit either. He looks at Julie’s wedding ring and suggests she not wear it and says that the only real crime in Barcelona is pick pocketers, so watch your purse and your wallet. I’m guarding my wallet like a pit bull and watching Julie’s purse like a trained assassin.

We are walking down the street and we see statue people. They dress up in unusual costumes and people pay them for this. We stumble onto this group of people in a circle making a lot of noise. I always like to see what’s going on so Julie, John and I squeeze in. The guy has 3 tops of match boxes which he rotates and scrambles while hiding a pea underneath one of them… in essence a shell game. The strange thing about this shell game is that people are winning at it and the pea is actually easy to spot in many cases. Enter dumbass.

Julie and I both see the pea under the same match box so we decide to bet. They want us to bet 100 Euros. OK, it’s for sure…NOT. We were wrong. How could that be? Oh well we watch for a little longer and people keep winning. We look interested again and the people around us urge us to bet again. They saw it too. Julie, as much as I love her, insisted that I get our money back and insisted too. I looked around for my friend John, and couldn’t see him. I was hoping he would advise, but I really didn’t want to bet anymore. The people around me virtually yelling at me to play and that I couldn’t lose. I got out my wallet to make a small bet and the GYPSIES saw my big wad, no I didn’t say unzipped my pants. Big mistake!

Now they will take U.S. $’s. A guy to my right grabbed almost all of my cash and urged me to bet it. I’ve never been in a building burning, but I would guess the mass exodus would have less confusion than what was going on here. People grabbing my cash. Other people yelling at me to bet, including Julie and her gypsy heritage. I finally got all but $300 of my cash back and voila, no pea under the box. My friend John later tells me that some old gypsy guy pushed him away from the crowd and looked like he was ready to beat the shit out of him if he tried to stop me.

I knew I didn’t want to bet, but there was literal pandemonium. The guy doing the pea thing is urging me to bet more and he knows where the pea is. This really is a great scam. There is a trap door on the platform and when he presses down the pea is gone and so is my cash. If you would like to learn more about the scams in Barcelona and this particular one go to http://www.jones.tc/barna/scams.html

Winning Wisdom: If this dumbass can win, there’s hope for everyone.


  • Why didn’t you counter w/ your match game?

  • You have got to be kidding. This is probably the most well known scam on the planet. How could you win two bracelets without knowing how to spot a bluff? Oh, and one more thing – never trust a gypsy!

  • Tom, check your email…I forwarded you an email about a business opportunity with some guys in Nigeria…it’s an easy way to make $10 or $20 million.

  • Wow. Tom, welcome back. Way to do America proud!

    I bet Hevad Khan would never fall for that shit. The things you do to give us material for Beyond the Table … oh well, at least that makes your loss tax-deductible.

  • I just don’t know what to say. This is so horribly disappointing.

    There are two people in this world that I think would be the last to fall for this shit. One would be a CPA. Or… if you want to go for overkill, let’s make him a Corporate Controller. oooh, even better, let’s say he’s a CFO. That guy wouldn’t go for this scam.

    What about a gamblin’ man. But not just any donkey. Let’s take somebody who can actually make a great living at it. I’m not talking about house games either. I mean a guy whose entire livelihood revolves around getting the best of people who are constantly trying to get the best of him. If that weren’t enough. Let’s just say he’s ranked among the best in the world. That guy wouldn’t go for this scam.

    Now… Let’s imagine that these two accomplished gentlemen “got together” and through their combined intellect were able to devise a way to asexually reproduce in the form of a financially discerning and decisive, odds calculating, people reading, bracelet brandishing, bastard child. What are the odds that that guy would fall for such a rank scam?

    The only thing that could make this scenario any more ridiculous is if you add yet another veteran gambler and a street-wise local to the list of associated victims.

    Player down

  • John

    I was there.

    It was a truly amazing scene. On one side you have the cool calculating professional gambler/astute man of finance. On the other, a band of illiterate Russian Gypsies who’ve been using this same trick since their thieving Cro-Magnon relatives first pulled it off.

    So, were watching the show from afar. Me thinking not to even insult Tom’s well honed, acute gaming skills by mentioning that this is a scam……then suddenly our hero goes all in. We need to add that Tom was looking slightly American with his shorts, white tennis shoes, golf cap, and buffet gut. But when he pulls out the club sandwich sized wallet, it was all over, baby. The pagan thieves must have realized right then that yes, there really is a God. And He will be good to them today. The gypsy jackals are yelling, and jostling and circling around the bloated tourist carcass ready for the big feed. No way was he getting out of there without a play. In my defense, I’m at the back of the pile pushing to move in and yelling for Tom not to do it, but this smelly thug has the job of physically restraining me, and I’m afraid he’s going to stab me with a dirty fork or something. Then suddenly the yelling stops, the circle opens, the gypsies release their prey.

    I will add that Barcelona is a fantastic place to visit, and this kind of thing never happens, …except maybe to the occasional American looking tourist with hug wads. I’m really sorry for Tom, but would like to thank him for giving me a story I’ll be telling my grand kids.

  • Tom Schneider

    Oh No, someone might be brandishing a dirty fork. I’ll let my buddy get screwed by bandits. I’m surprised my buddy John didn’t offer up Julie to some kid with scary roller blades on.

  • John

    A dirty gypsy fork is not to be taken lightly…. and Julie could not be offered up because she was right in the thick of it all urging you to bet the house.

  • Tom just went “shell dead,” that’s all.

  • The funniest part of all this is where you offer the following excuse: “The guy doing the pea thing is urging me to bet more and he knows where the pea is” Well gosh, if the guy who is running the game wants me to gamble it up, it must be on the square…who would suspect a gypsy running a casino on a cardboard box of having anything but the best of intentions.

  • Uncle Ray

    Did one of the “poor, illiterate” gypsies have a cam? I’d like to see this on YouTube. And, most importantly, Happy Birthday, Dan!!!

  • Tom Schneider

    Robert, you fool. Of course I’ve already taken advantage of the Nigerian consolate’s offers. Why else would I be able to blow off money to gypsies and laugh about it?

  • Ed

    Found this on the scam site that Tom linked to in his post.

    “During my mission, I hadn’t seen any type of crime or scam, except the shell game, which I think most people are wise to.”

    I think they need to change that sentence a bit:

    “During my mission, I hadn’t seen any type of crime or scam, except the shell game, which I think everyone (BUT Tom Schneider) is wise to.

  • BJ Nemeth

    Thanks to Tom Schneider for posting this story for all of us to read. If *I* had fallen for a scam that dates back to the Middle Ages, I would have changed my name, moved to a country nobody ever heard of, and killed myself.

    Just kidding — I wouldn’t really kill myself.

    But I would have *faked* my death, changed my name again, and moved to an even smaller country to live out my life as a fisherman.

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  • twentytwo

    There’s a sucker(crossed out) poker player born every minute.

  • Uncle Ray

    I keep waiting for Tom to chime in and say GOTCHA!!! I made it all up…and that he just ran the bluff of the year.

  • Ed

    “Calling Tom the fisherman!”

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