Green’s Dictionary of Slang

broads n.

1. [mid-18C+] playing cards.

2. [late 19C+] the three-card trick; also attrib. in sing.

In compounds

broad cove (n.) [cove n. (1)]

[early 19C] a card-sharp.

broad faker (n.) [faker n. (1)]

[late 19C–1900s] (UK Und.) a card-player, usu. a cheat.

broad-faking (n.) [broad faker + sfx -ing]

1. [mid-19C] card-playing, esp. with a tinge of illegality/cheating.

2. [late 19C] the three-card trick.

broad-fencer (n.) [-fencer sfx]

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a peddler of lists of racing tips (known as ‘correct cards’) at horseraces.

broad mob (n.) [mob n.2 (3)]

[late 19C+] a gang of card-sharpers.

broad pitcher (n.) [SE pitch, to toss, to throw]

[mid–late 19C] (UK Und.) a street criminal who works the three-card trick.

broad-pitching (n.) [SE pitch, to throw]

[mid-19C] (US Und.) the ‘three-card trick’.

broad-player (n.) [SE player]

1. [early–mid-19C] an expert card-player.

2. [late 19C+] a card-sharp.

broad sharp (n.) [sharp n.1 (1)]

[mid-19C] a skilful and/or cheating card player.

broadsman (n.) [SE man]

[mid-19C+] a card-sharp.

In phrases

fake the broads (v.) (also work the broads)

[19C] to cheat at cards, to perform the three-card trick.

smoked broad (n.)

1. [1900s] (Aus. Und.) a marked card used in the ‘three-card trick’.

2. [1910s+] (Aus. Und.) a horse whose form has been kept hidden in order to increase the odds in a race, or a horse whose odds are shorter than its known form would justify.

spread (the) broads (v.) [? the ‘breadth’ of the piece of card; but note G. Parker (1789), ‘who are continually looking out for flats in order to do upon them the broads,’ implying a play on flat n.2 (1), although note also flat n.1 (1), i.e. dice]

[mid-19C+] to play cards, esp. to cheat or to play a swindling game such as find the lady; one fans out the cards across the table for the punters to make their choice.