Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rope v.

1. (US Und.) of a confidence man, to gain a victim’s trust and thus lure him deeper into the ‘game’; cite 1855 ref. to a brothel.

[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 14 Apr. n.p.: Kate Wise’s nigger help are in the habit of ‘picking up’ white men and ‘roping’ them into her domicil.
[US] ‘Paddy Burke’ Donnybrook-Fair Comic Songster 66: May the Peter Funks rope ’em, / And John Anderson smoke ’em.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 203: In the meantime [he] obtained an insight into the immense profits to be derived from roping suckers to brace games.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 30 Sept. 4/6: For all the ‘roping’ and ‘stiffening’ of potential frauds [that] took place.
[US]Cameron Co. Press (PA) 29 Mar. 6/3: The latter was to ‘rope’ Biebush [...] the wary Biebush at last being drawn into the net .
[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 236: rope — To gain one’s confidence and get information.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 271: Another who sometimes roped for the Elite was George W. Post, a notorious confidence man.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 4: Steering him to meet the insideman. (Roping the mark.).
[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 235: This part of the procedure is called ‘roping the mark.’.
[US]J. Scarne Complete Guide to Gambling.
[US](con. c.1900) J. Thompson King Blood (1989) 25: She tipped the ‘fool’ she had roped, and the fool hollered copper.

2. (Aus.) in weak use of sense 1, to attract, to interest.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Oct. 2/2: Our picture posters have ‘roped’ my sympathies once again.

3. (US und.) by ext. of sense 1, to gain the confidence of a criminal.

[US]Worthington Advance (MN) 31 May 6/2: The ordinary detective does more ‘roping’ and ‘shadowing’ than anything else.
[US]D. Hammett Maltese Falcon (1965) 305: ‘Well, what do you want? Talk turkey. Who in hell do you think you are, coming in here trying to rope me?’ .

4. (US und.) to spy on criminals.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 461: Rope, to spy upon criminals.

In compounds

roped game (n.) (also roping-in game)

(US) a crooked gambling game, e.g. of faro or poker, into which victims have been ‘roped-in’ by confidence tricksters who take a share of the profits.

[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 6 June 4/3: [headline] A Dutch Roping-in Game.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 211: They play for roped games; one half of the winnings go to the ‘steerer,’ after ten per cent. has been deducted for the casekeeper, from the full amount fleeced from the victim.

In phrases

rope in

see separate entries.