This book reveals the importance of playing cards in Russian criminal culture. The handmade decks are beautiful works of art in their own right. Prohibited by the prison authorities, they are constructed from innocuous materials procured from the everyday routine of prison life. During construction, both the cards and their designs are adroitly manipulated so they can be read. Once they are completed, the virtuoso player prowls the prison, searching for a suitable victim. This process is described here for the first time. Extensive diagrams show how the cards are made, while decks of actual prison cards are reproduced in facsimile.