Green’s Dictionary of Slang

monte n.1

[abbr. three-card monte n.]

1. (US Und./gambling, also monte game) the three-card trick, ‘find the lady’; also attrib.

[US]Southern Literary Messenger VII 77/2: At a short distance were seated the proprietors of this immense herd, busily engaged in the game of Monte [DA].
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 327: Monte is most generally known in the South and Southwest [...] passionately indulged in by the mixed population of those regions.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 15 Oct. 6/1: ‘His benefactress backed him in a monte game’.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 30: A man that will bet on a game such as monte is a bigger robber than the man who does the playing, for he thinks he is robbing you, and you know you are robbing him.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Dec. 11/4: Nine out of every ten of them will go through you cleaner than a monte-spieler goes through a country mug.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 May 4/5: I was living on the racecourse, at monte and spieling.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Hostages to Momus’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 198: Me and Caligula Polk [...] was down in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas running a peripatetic lottery and monte game.
[US]J.E. Grinstead ‘Old Pard’ in Goodstone Pulps (1970) 66/1: All trailed into the Shorthorn Saloon [...] to play poker or monte.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 55: Most of the Monte tricksters were accompanied by from one to five confederates, who worked up interest in the game and brought victims to the block.
[US]P. Johnston Gold Rush 19/1: The miners [...] started games of poker, blackjack, and monte [DA].
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 193: Monte The three-card trick.

2. (Aus., also monte-man, monty) a racecourse tipster.

[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 10 Jan. 5/7: The whispering tipster is more difficult to detect than the monty-man.
[Aus]Ozwords Oct. [Internet] monty (also monte): a certainty, a sure winner, especially a horse considered certain to win a race [...] Earlier, the term (sometimes in the form monte man) was used for a racehorse tipster.

3. (Aus./N.Z., also monty) an absolute certainty.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Martin Farrell’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 269: Chaps, I’ve got a vote for Hughie — but it ain’t no monte yet.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 99: Monte: a sure thing, a dead bird, a thing very sure to happen or win. Nothing has a chance, as in the monte game.
[Aus]Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 181: I saw / Dat I ’ad de biggest monte / Dat I ever ’ad before.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 23 June 4/7: It’s a monty that Greville and Grenike know / The strong of ‘invisible pepper and salt’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 19 Nov. 5s/4: We’re in the bag for certain. It’s a monte that we’re dead.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 41: She’s the chance of a life-time [...] The biggest bloomin’ monty ever started on a racecourse.
[UK]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 121: The others came on. Jerries, for a monty.
[NZ]G. Slatter Pagan Game (1969) 163: Maleesh the condys — I’m a monty for the big double, Saturday.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 73/2: monte a certainty, often in reference to a likely winner; from the three-card monte trick of Spanish American card game; eg ‘Put your money on Bluebell in the Fifth, she’s a monte.’.
[Aus]R. McDonald Rough Wallaby 210: A jockey was a ‘fork’ [...] a sure thing a ‘monty’ or ‘soda’.
[Aus]Ozwords Oct. [Internet] monty (also monte): a certainty, a sure winner, especially a horse considered certain to win a race.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

4. one who plays sense 1 above.

[US]C.L. Cullen More Ex-Tank Tales 81: ‘You don’t jes’ happen t’ have any little game with three kyar about you?’ he asked me [...] ‘D’ye think I’d have been ditched if I’d been a monte?’ I got back.

5. (Aus.) a lie.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 750: since ca. 1935.

6. (N.Z.) an admirable person.

[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 73/2: monte [...] a fine person or thing, by extension; eg ‘Old Claude’s a monte, he’d do anything for you.’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

In compounds

monte-man (n.) [sense 1 + SE man; however, he does not necessarily practise the three-card monte swindle]

1. (Aus./US) a confidence trickster.

A. Worth in Napoleon of Crime Macintyre (1998) 63: He knew nobody but a lot of three-card monte men and cheap pickpockets.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Feb. 18/3: Later the publican remarked to the monte-man: ‘That was a good snap, kiddin’ ’em I was buyin’, eh? Now, let’s have that four quid! [...]’ ‘Not much!’ said the fake-man. ‘Yer bought the blanky purses all right, and yer don’t get a stiver out of me!’.
[US]C. M’Govern By Bolo and Krag 19: All the mugs thought I couldn’t play poker and buck the monte man’s game worth thirty cents.
Lone hand (Aus.) 1 Nov. 59/2: It is foolish to play for stakes with any stranger; to do so with the ‘monte-man’ type of stranger is plain lunacy.
[US]W. Irwin Confessions of a Con Man 39: These were old-time monte men, who [...] looked what they were.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Aug. 24/4: [A] gentle boy [...] was pickin’ her out quick ’n’ lively, ’n’ takin’ the bright pound-notes from the Monte man the same you’d strip a cabbage.

2. see sense 2 above.