In the parlance of the con operator, the sting is the goal event of the confidence game. To form an analogy between the big game and a narrative, the sting is the climax of the story. However, like most good fiction, it is not typically the end.

While some will define it as the point at which the mark hands over his money to the players, it is more accurately described as the point of no return. In essence, this amounts to the point at which the mark believes that his money is lost and irretrievable.

Take, for example, the classic con called The Wire. The gist of the con is that the mark is eventually convinced to place a large bet on a horse race. The bet is lost and the mark loses his money.

Note well, however, that the sting is not the point at which the mark hands his money to the cashier at the bet window, it is the point at which the news of his loss arrives. At this point, having taken his risk, the mark swallows his pride and accepts the loss, whether it be gracefully or ungracefully.

The best cons are the ones that are never revealed—the ones that are never understood to be scams. These sorts of scams are better because they are safer. Less risk represents not only the slimmer chances of being caught, but also the capacity to perform the same con again.

In many respects, this is what separates common theft from the confidence game: it is easy enough to take someone's money through robbery or burglary, but to do so without being detected either at the time or afterward becomes, in a way, an art.