Book of the Month: Artifice, Ruse, and Subterfuge at the Card Table

This forum is an ongoing, and evolving, discussion. Genii Forum members discuss opinions and trade notes on current and past magic books.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/16/03 11:29 PM

For this month we have a guest moderator, Philippe Noel, who would like to discuss the contents of what most magicians know as The Expert at the Card Table (or, more simply, Erdnase) by S.W. Erdnase (for an incredible thread on the identity of its mysterious author, see Richard Hatch's extraordinary essays posted under the title "Erdnase" in the General Forum).

Philippe has been a member of the Genii Forum for just about two years now. From Belgium, he has been active in magic for 20 years. An award-winning semi-professional magician, his love of close-up magic is quite obvious from his posts and the threads in which he chooses to participate. He lists Michael Ammar, Michael Skinner and Daryl among his influences. But also among them are (of course) Larry Jennings and Dai Vernon which, and I'm only guessing here, led him to choose this remarkable book as his subject.

I want to thank Philippe for taking on this task: it's a personal favor that I'm not sure I can repay. So now, I give you Philippe, and ask that you all enjoy this month's discussion!

Dustin

*****

In November 1902, a little ad appeared in the Sphinx about a book whose title was Artifice, Ruse, and Subterfuge at the Card Table. This book, written by someone unknown and still not identified today, was going to have perhaps the biggest influence on card magic ever.

Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller have in fact both proclaimed: "The Expert at the Card Table(the present title of the book) by S.W.Erdnase is the greatest book on sleight of hand ever written."

So why is it so?

First of all this book is written with an incredible attention to details. The author not only explains the techniques in great details but also explains how you get into those techniques and how you get out of those techniques (see top palm section for example, page 85).

Next, the techniques explained in the book are often still the best even one hundred years after the first publication of this book. An example is the Erdnase system of blind shuffles, which is still not surpassed today.

Finally, the philosophy that is distilled all over the book is invaluable. The following sentences are just few examples:

Whether the procedure is true or "blind" the same apparent action (must be) is maintained throughout. (Page 22.)

Like acquiring many other feats, a perfect understanding of the exact manner in which it is performed will avoid the principal difficulties. Practice will soon do the rest. (Page 52.)

It is entirely another matter to palmin such a manner that the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect, the action. (Page 83.)

The resourceful professional failing to improve the method changes the moment. (Page 96.)

That having been said, what else can be found in Erdnase?

The list is very long indeed. But to begin with and to borrow from Henry Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook: "The fountainhead of all overhand false shuffling is The Expert at the Card Table" and that is not all:

You want to learn to square a deck after a riffle shuffle, see page 38.

You are looking for convincing false cuts, go to page 39.

You want to have a very practical bottom deal for magical purposes, go to page 52.

You want to stock, cull with the overhand shuffle, see page 65.

For tips for palming from the top or the bottom of the deck, read and understand Erdnase. You will even find the first action palm in card magic literature on page 90.

For those interested in Table Passes, read "the outcome of persistent effort to devise a shift that may be employed with greatest probability of success at the card table." (See page 99.)

But Erdnase's book has many shifts. Seven in total including a very good description of the standard two-handed pass, plus the famous diagonal palm shift which is more a side steal than a shift of course.

You would like to know how professional "broad-tossers get the money," read the Three Card Monte chapter.

If you like color changes, you will find six methods with two hands and two methods with one hand.

In short, you want to improve your card magic, read Erdnase.

But right now, let's discuss the greatest book on sleight of hand ever written...

Philippe
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/17/03 07:31 AM

How about starting with a couple of non-technical trivia questions just for fun:
Who is the only author cited by name by Erdnase (excluding himself, of course) and in what context? And has anyone found the passage he refers to in the other author's work (I haven't yet)?
Who is the only other person mentioned by name in the text and in what contexts (I'll give a hint, he is mentioned twice, and the first time his name is misspelled.)?
No prizes for correct answers, sorry!
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Postby Bob Coyne » 10/17/03 07:58 AM

Without having the book in front of me, I'm sure he mentions Machiavelli. He also mentions Charlier (not an author, I know). I can't recall any other particular people (or authors) he mentions.

One of my favorite things about Erdnase is the writing style. It's both evocative and clear at the same time. I think someone here mentioned it once, but there's a beautiful and mysterious piece of music (by Gavin Bryars) accompanying text by Erdnase called "A man in a room gambling"

http://www.gavinbryars.com/Pages/writings_munoz.html
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Postby Guest » 10/17/03 08:03 AM

Hoyle and Charlier, respectively...

Best, PSC
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Postby CHRIS » 10/17/03 08:03 AM

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
No prizes for correct answers, sorry!
Dick, I am going to help you out here. Whoever is the first to answer your questions correctly will get a free "The Expert at the Card Table" ebook from Lybrary.com - instantly downloadable.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/17/03 08:26 AM

Today is the final day of the auction for the near mint copy of Erdnase, hardcover, and signed by Dai Vernon, that I have running on eBay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 14014&rd=1
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/17/03 08:46 AM

Paul had the two I had in mind, Hoyle and Charlier (misspelled "Charlies" the first time it appears). But I had missed "Machiavelli" (thanks, Bob!), so you probably should award eBooks to both, Chris! The eBook version provides the ideal way to search out that kind of info, of course. Incidentally, the Hoyle reference is in the section on bottom dealing (p. 55): "Hoyle makes a point of instructing that a dealer should always keep the outer end of the deck, and the cards, as dealt, inclined toward the table." Can anyone tell me where and in what edition of "Hoyle" this point is made? I could not find it in the 1897 COMPLETE HOYLE by Robert Frederick Foster. The latter is regarded by some as a possible editor of Erdnase (I don't think so myself, but he is definitely a "person of interest").
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/17/03 08:51 AM

Bob mentions the Gavin Bryars piece. Portions of it can be heard at amazon.com I believe. The complete work is 10 five minute string quartets "inspired" by passages from Erdnase. The original pieces had the narration read by a Spanish sculptor. French radio broadcast a translation with the narration read by an Argentian actor. I'd love to hear that: A French translation of Erdnase, read by an Argentian actor, to string quartet accompaniment!
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Postby CHRIS » 10/17/03 09:18 AM

Bob, I sent you a download link as your prize to Richard's trivia.
Pchosse, please send me your email and I will send you a download link in return.
Congratulations to the two of you!

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Postby Guest » 10/17/03 09:23 AM

Doesn't seem fair to have an E-book version as long as this thread continues - too easy to find the answers to any questions posed! I much prefer the challenge of remembering the info I've read a thousand times, or of having to search the "real" text. It takes longer, and I'm sure to get sucked into the book all over again... Not that I wouldn't gratefully accept Chris' kind offer!

Certain questions have been posed repetitively, regarding this book - for instance, how many top palms are in the book, and where are they? I know of 7 - can you list them?

Best, PSC
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Postby Bob Coyne » 10/17/03 10:10 AM

Chris, thanks so much for the ebook!
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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/17/03 10:57 AM

How many top palms are in the book, and where are they? I know of 7 - can you list them?
1.Top Palm. First Method P.83
2.Top Palm. Second Method P.85
3.Bottom Palm. When Cards are Riffled:The top palm can be made with the right hand in much the same manner, by reversing the positions.P.92
4.An other top palm P.107
5.The diagonal palm-shift:several cards may be palmed together...from top P.141
6.P.144: Top cards may be palmed...
7.P.144: A simple way to palm one card...
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Postby Nathan » 10/17/03 07:32 PM

Keeping with the motif of earlier posts, here is a find-it question that (I believe) provides some insight into the management of many sleights.

Erdnase repeatedly uses the phrase "quick as a flash" when describing certain actions. I count six occurrences of this. A seventh occurrence only uses the word "quickest." These span 4 different types of moves.

I think there is some insight to be gained here with regard to what actions ought to be performed very rapidly and which actions need not be.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/17/03 09:12 PM

For those interested in what a first edition of "Expert at the Card Table" signed by Dai Vernon is worth, the auction on eBay ended today at $3,150.
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Postby Sean Piper » 10/17/03 11:16 PM

For anyone looking for an online reference copy, 'The Learned Pig' offer Erdnase as a free download. Simply become a member (free) and there are dozens of books to view and download.

http://www.thelearnedpig.com.pa/
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Postby Terry » 10/18/03 05:45 AM

There is a problem with the learned pig site. Trying to sign on produces a blank page.
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/18/03 08:37 AM

Other then quizzes, how much someone will pay for a copy on eBay, and other trivia, I'd like to talk about the book for a moment.

Vernon said that "Expert" was one of the most misunderstood books in magic (he talks about this often in his "Vernon Touch" Genii columns). Some people consider the book impenetrable. It is not easy reading.

I have about 10 copies of the book in various forms, I guess, and my most-often read is the Dover paperback. I scrunch it up and put it in the back pocket of my jeans when I'm going to the beach. Then I can ponder some of what's in there, and it is rich -- like creme freche. I've been doing this for 10 years or so.

I'd say it is impossible to ever finish reading Erdnase. Sleights like the Diagonal Palm Shift are still being debated more than 100 years since first being described by S.W.E.

Erdnase, along with Hofzinser, provides never-ending food for the thinking magician's plate. You might not wish to attempt the S.W.E. Shift, but pondering what it is, how it functions, can be most enlightening.

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Postby Guest » 10/18/03 09:06 AM

Originally posted by Nathan Becker:
Keeping with the motif of earlier posts, here is a find-it question that (I believe) provides some insight into the management of many sleights.

Erdnase repeatedly uses the phrase "quick as a flash" when describing certain actions. I count six occurrences of this. A seventh occurrence only uses the word "quickest." These span 4 different types of moves.

I think there is some insight to be gained here with regard to what actions ought to be performed very rapidly and which actions need not be.
A bit of conjecture regarding Erdnase' motive for seeking speed in developing material. If you refer to the other texts of the time, especially Sachs Slieght of Hand, you will read in one form or another, the following observation: The less time the hands spend together at the deck, the less likely a spectator is to suspect manipulation.

Presuming that Erdnase was familiar with other material of the time, and that his own experience bore out the view expressed above, it is reasonable that he would develop material that demanded as little two-handed work as possible. If the move is "quick as a flash", then the hands are together at the deck for a limited time, and suspicion less likely to be aroused.

This view is something that I discussed with Jack McMillen and Charlie Miller many times. In fact, they originally offered this insight, I'm simply repeating it here...

Best, PSC
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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/19/03 12:37 AM

A criticism often made against Erdnase is his theoretical side. But to my opinion it is exactely what makes The Expert so interesting to read.Reading Erdnase is like reading the work of a searcher. Erdnase very often presents problems and give few solutions or temporary solutions to those problems. It is interesting to analyse the way Erdnase approach those problems and the way he tries to solve them. It is also very interesting to see how those problems have been solved or not after so many years.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/03 07:29 AM

OK, here is a question that shows just how much can be made of a simple statement in Erdnase. It has been said that it is possible to read far more into Erdnase than the author ever intended. This is an example of me doing that. I'm sure I'm not alone, and that others have done the same thing, perhaps with the same example. Anyway, here it is:

Where is the first mention of a bottom palm replacement? Assuming you've found it, speculate on the method Erdnase might use to replace the "left palm holdout"...

Also, this is one of those situations where Vernon might pose the question, "how do you get into this?" Consider the way that you are holding the deck for the replacement. How did you get there? Who did the cutting, the dealer (you), or a partner? What scenario can you envision that would allow you to reasonably use this as shade for a bottom replacement? Can you adapt this to magic? What magic move(s) seem to be an outgrowth of this slieght?

Looking forward to discussing this...

Best, PSC
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 10/21/03 11:28 AM

Right on, Paul...

However, this thread warrants another question: Why has EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE become one of the only works to be given intense, hermeneutical treatment?

Surely there are other works that could be as meticulously analyzed, debated, and otherwise examined?

How about Downs' ART OF MAGIC?
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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/21/03 11:32 AM

Where is the first mention of a bottom palm replacement?
I think it is on page 89:"To replace the bottom palm,..."

Speculate on the method Erdnase might use to replace the "left palm holdout"...
Is it really necessary to speculate?

On page 110, Erdnase clearly explains:"After a blind shuffle, with the desired cards on the bottom, the dealer palms in the left and passes the deck with the right to be cut. After the cut he picks up the deck with the right hand and replaces the palmed cards when squaring up for the deal."
Like I said in my introduction to this book, Erdnase always explains how you get into a move and how you get out of it.
Talking about a shade, what about Erdnase's suggestion to wait "just after the deal". Everybody is looking after their cards and you could do almost anything and especially a bottom palm replacement.
Can you adapt this to magic?
I would be very interested indeed to know how you adapted your shade to magic. However, do you need so much shade to replace a bottom palm when you are doing magic?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 10/21/03 11:56 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
Right on, Paul...

However, this thread warrants another question: Why has EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE become one of the only works to be given intense, hermeneutical treatment?
The mystery of the authorship draws one to study the text in ways that other books have not . . .
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/21/03 12:41 PM

The interest in who was Erdnase may have contributed to the books mystique, however I believe magicians interest in this little book is primarily due to one thing: Vernons insistence that this volume is the real-deal. Without his endorsement, its quite possible that the book would have fallen into obscurity as far as magicians are concerned. But with it, magicians became compelled to dissect the work down to the word, looking to discover what it was that Vernon knew.

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Postby Guest » 10/21/03 12:56 PM

Sorry Phillippe, but page 89 is not the first mention of a bottom replacement. The earlier reference is not nearly so clear, hence all the questions I posed. Happy hunting!

Best, PSC

P.S. I did give a hint in the phrasing of my first post...

P.P.S. Erdnase certainly DOES NOT tell you how to "get into" every move. I can name several, but for starters, how about "The Erdnase Shift, one hand" ?
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Postby Guest » 10/21/03 01:09 PM

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
But I had missed "Machiavelli"
Erdnase doesn't mention or quote Machiavelli, though he does refer to a move as "machiavellian"...

Best, PSC
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Postby Guest » 10/21/03 01:40 PM

Hi Jon,

I'd agree with Dustin about Vernon's influence. That certainly has driven many of us to at least begin to explore Erdnase. However, the fact is, once you've spent any time with the book, you can't help but recognize the virtuosity of the author. The material is simply beautiful. There is more meat in this book than in any other I've ever read, and you know Jon, that I've read a few books...

Charlie Miller truly loved Hatton and Plate and C. Lang Neils' books. And I've read those based on Charlie's recommendations. They are great resources, but the material doesn't hold up in the same way that Erdnase' does, and it doesn't demand the attention of Erdnase. There are fewer lessons, though both are larger books. Those are just a couple, of many, examples that spring to mind.

There is another tome that SHOULD engage the reader in the same way as Erdnase - at least in my opinion. "The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic" by Robert-Houdin is as dense as Erdnase, as rich in detail, as subject to interpretation, and as functional today as when it was written. I've seen RB do the first coin trick in SofC&M exactly as written, and done it myself since, and completely astonished spectators/magicians. Robert-Houdin's material is superb, and worthy of the same intense scrutiny to which we subject Erdnase.

Best, PSC
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/21/03 09:50 PM

Hey, Paul, I'll take a guess (and that's all it is!). Based on your use of the word "holdout", my guess is the second paragraph of page 15 of the standard editions: "...the hands, held naturally on the table top, receive and make the discard without a sign to denote the procedure." If the cards are being "discarded" from the left hand palm to the bottom of the deck, then that would qualify, I would think. Close?

On the book's enduring appeal: I do not think that the author's mysterious identity has much to do with this. In fact, I don't think anyone much cared who he was until the 1920s, by which time the book was recognized as a classic. Leo Rullman, in his August 1928 "Books of Yesterday" column included it as one of the "ten best" magic books. The others were Hoffman's MODERN MAGIC and LATER MAGIC, Lang Neil's MODERN CONJURER, Hatton & Plate MAGICIAN'S TRICKS, Downs ART OF MAGIC, Sachs SLEIGHT OF HAND, Goldston EXCLUSIVE MAGICAL SECRETS, Roterberg's NEW ERA CARD TRICKS and Robert-Houdin's SECRETS OF CONJURING AND MAGIC. That's still a pretty solid list, but I do think that the fact that Erdnase is practically the only one of the above that is still widely and actively studied is likely due to Vernon's influence and regard for the book. I also think that the book's unique combination of sophisticated, practical, original and challenging material, clear descriptions and illustrations, and the author's very distinctive "voice" are what convert the casual reader into a devoted one.
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Postby Guest » 10/22/03 06:46 AM

Hi Richard!

Nope - the lines in Erdnase are:

"The only advantage the cut possesses is its beauty, and a possible aid at times, by giving an excuse to square up with both hands. The run cut is liable to leave the cards uneven, and a left palm holdout can be replaced in this way."

Although the text does not specify that the replacement is to the bottom, when you consider the consistency of Erdnase' other directions it seems likely that the left hand holdout would be face down, and therefore have to be replaced to the bottom. Oh yeah, it is on page 47, at the end of the description for the "One-Handed Fancy True Cut"...

If you re-read the description you can see why I might ask the questions in my original post. So, having given away the location of the information, I'd now love to hear what people think about the remaining questions I posed...

Best, PSC
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Postby John Bodine » 10/22/03 09:12 AM

What a marvelous choice for a book of the month, I've been wondering how long it would take to get to this one.

Although I have certainly not studied the text as well as I should have, nor as well as many of the previous posters, I will add my two cents.

I believe the book is one of the few examples of concise, yet detailed writing. The choice of words and the selection of illustrations provide all of the necessary information to the reader. Unfortunately, it is this concise style that keeps so many from truly studying the book and declaring it impossible to learn from.

A while back I was visiting with a fellow magician and practicing my Erdnase Shift. He commented that I just about had the correct mechanics, but he noticed 1 major problem. Rather than telling me the problem, he instead suggested I pull a copy off the shelf and read aloud to him the description, working through the mechanics at the same time. Sure enough, right there on the pages was the missing element.

The astute reader will find all the answers within.

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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/22/03 10:20 AM

Well done Paul, I did not remember this first mention of a bottom replacement.
I should have use your hint("left palm holdout")and the lybrary.com search engine!
However I still think that you are not obliged to "speculate on the method Erdnase might use to replace the "left palm holdout"" because on page 114, Erdnase writes:" Another method is to palm in the left hand face to palm...replacing appearing as a square up...a one handed fancy cut is made with the right hand, and the cards left somewhat scattered,..., taken up into both hands and squared."
How you get into it?
Still written on page 114:"As the player who cuts was the last dealer, it usually gives him a good opportunity to hold out".
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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/22/03 11:14 AM

Erdnase certainly DOES NOT tell you how to "get into" every move. I can name several, but for starters, how about "The Erdnase Shift, one hand" ?
What does he tell us about "The Erdnase Shift"?
P.99: "the action takes place before the right hand seizes the deck".
Why should the right hand seize the deck?
On Page 111 is the answer:"The dealer holds the location of the cut until the hands are dealt and makes the shift as he lays down the deck." utilizing his right hand to do so and so seizing the deck with this hand to do it as the left hand makes the shift.
The thing that is not clearly explained is the way you change your little finger break into a second finger break. However a little experimentation will show that if your little left finger goes to the inner end as your first finger goes to the right side, the break is easily transfered into a second finger break.
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Postby Guest » 10/22/03 05:19 PM

Originally posted by Philippe Nol:
[QB]
However I still think that you are not obliged to "speculate on the method Erdnase might use to replace the "left palm holdout"" because on page 114, Erdnase writes:" Another method is to palm in the left hand face to palm...replacing appearing as a square up...a one handed fancy cut is made with the right hand, and the cards left somewhat scattered,..., taken up into both hands and squared."
How you get into it?
Still written on page 114:"[/As the player who cuts was the last dealer, it usually gives him a good opportunity to hold out". QB]
Hi y'all,

By speculating, I am referring to the method of replacement, and the blocking, who is where, and doing what? It is important to determine who is doing the cutting, for instance. If it is an accomplice, then who is holding out? If the dealer is holding out while the accomplice cuts, then the replacement makes sense, as the dealer would pick up the deck to square and deal. If the dealer is doing the fancy one-handed cutting AND holding out, then the position of the hands, and the necessary rotation of the pack in preparation for the traditional Erdnase Bottom Replacement, is somewhat awkward. If the accomplice is holding out and cutting, then it is out of the ordinary for him to complete the cut by picking up and squaring the deck, something that is obviously necessary for the replacement.

Erdnase does not spell out the scenario under the "Fancy Cut" heading, and the several problems he mentions under "Replacing Palm When Cutting", which Philippe references, include some of the objections I just brought up. So, the speculation may perhaps be better phrased:

Describe the best scenarios for using this cut and replacement and describe the best replacement in the given scenario, since there are several to choose from...

Several other things to consider: Erdnase seems to suggest that these methods are for the solo operator (...the greater the number [of cards held out] the more probability of the dealer noticing the diminished condition of the deck - page 115), so it appears that both the holdout and replacement AND the cutting are done by the same person, without an accomplice, and that person is not the dealer...

If, in fact, the dealer does the holding out, cutting, and replacement, isn't there an objection, by the rest of the company, to the lack of a cut by someone other than the dealer?

If, as in your last quote, "the player who cuts was the last dealer, it usually gives him a good opportunity to hold out", then how does this benefit the thief? Obviously, knowing the cards that are on the bottom of the deck, and therefore out of play, gives the player a huge advantage. Also, if the player cutting/holding out, is also playing with a partner (the dealer), this sets the cards for a bottom deal.

The initial material in question is on page 47, the conclusions Philippe draws are based on material that appears significantly later in the text. Are we sure the two are related?

With all these variables you can see my request for speculation, yes? The building of scenarios is a useful excercise, and I believe there are many unanswered questions in Erdnase, though others' interpretation of the material is obviously different. But then, everybody likes something different, that's why, as "Buma" used to say, "they make different colored paints!"

Are we having fun yet?

Best, PSC
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Postby DChung » 10/22/03 08:52 PM

Originally posted by pchosse:
[QB]Hi y'all,

If, in fact, the dealer does the holding out, cutting, and replacement, isn't there an objection, by the rest of the company, to the lack of a cut by someone other than the dealer?
Hi Paul,
Indeed. Although, Erdnase does give the 2 suggestions in the beginning of the PLAYER WITHOUT AN ALLY section: Dealing without a cut, and replacing the cut as before. Though neither of these would pass in fast company, it does not mean they cannot be used. Also, there is always the crimp.

If, as in your last quote, "the player who cuts was the last dealer, it usually gives him a good opportunity to hold out", then how does this benefit the thief? Obviously, knowing the cards that are on the bottom of the deck, and therefore out of play, gives the player a huge advantage. Also, if the player cutting/holding out, is also playing with a partner (the dealer), this sets the cards for a bottom deal.
Yes, knowing the cards on the bottom gives the player an advantage, but in that case, it seems the best time to make the palm is while setting down the deck after the deal with his first method. But this would necessitate getting the desired cards to the bottom anyway (again without an ally). Something else (for me) to think about.

Are we having fun yet?
Best, PSC
Judging from the number of unanswered questions, it looks like we're just getting started.

Cheers,
Derrick
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Postby Guest » 10/23/03 08:10 AM

Originally posted by Philippe Nol:
Erdnase certainly DOES NOT tell you how to "get into" every move. I can name several, but for starters, how about "The Erdnase Shift, one hand" ?
What does he tell us about "The Erdnase Shift"?
P.99: "the action takes place before the right hand seizes the deck".
Why should the right hand seize the deck?
On Page 111 is the answer:"The dealer holds the location of the cut until the hands are dealt and makes the shift as [b]he lays down the deck.
" utilizing his right hand to do so and so seizing the deck with this hand to do it as the left hand makes the shift.
The thing that is not clearly explained is the way you change your little finger break into a second finger break. However a little experimentation will show that if your little left finger goes to the inner end as your first finger goes to the right side, the break is easily transfered into a second finger break. [/b]
Hi Philippe,

You are right about there being no explanation for changing a little finger break into a second finger break. Erdnase never indicates, as a part of his description of the Erdnase One-Handed Shift, that you begin with a little finger break.
Everything that you offer as a solution is workable, even likely, given what people assume was Erdnase' style and method of play. But, there is no evidence that Erdnase did that. And that is the point. He is not clear.

Vernon and Miller have come up with solutions to the issue of securing the break for the One-handed Shift (jogging the upper packet as the cut is completed, then picking it up with the thumb to execute the shift), and Miller came up with a cover that Vernon demonstrates on tape, for the shift action (the end tap action from the "Revelations" videos). I developed another action for covering the shift action that Charlie endorsed (allowing the bottom packet to come into view below the right hand as you begin the end tap, thus giving the impression of the bottom being the top, and the top apparently never going out of sight).

All of this is supposition, guesswork, or modifications of Erdnase work. And that is my point. Erdnase doesn't provide us everything, and the things we read into Erdnase may never have been intended by the author.

Best, PSC
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Postby Ryan Matney » 10/23/03 09:12 AM

Posted by PChosse:
All of this is supposition, guesswork, or modifications of Erdnase work. And that is my point. Erdnase doesn't provide us everything, and the things we read into Erdnase may never have been intended by the author.
This is why I believe the greater value of Erdnase is not the tricks or sleights but the way tothinkabout them. The book may be of even greater value when thought of as a book of thoery rather than a book of moves or tricks.I suspect many of the lessons, such as changing the moment instead of the method, were somewhat revolutionary at the time of publication.

Isn't that what Vernon saw and what made him start praising the book?
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Postby Philippe Noël » 10/23/03 01:06 PM

Describe the best scenarios for using this cut and replacement and describe the best replacement in the given scenario, since there are several to choose from...
Ok Paul, let's speculate.
First of all I think Erdnase played most of the time without an ally.See Page 39 "It is quite possible to play alone".
Next I think he did not use his fancy true cut a lot.See P.47"a possible aid at times".
So I think that when he used this ruse, it was when he had palmed a few cards in his left hand. Let's imagine that his left elbow is on the table and his left hand is hanging palm down at the table edge.
The dealer on his left gives him the deck to cut.
He uses only his right hand to cut then slides the deck to the table edge. At this moment his left hand turns palm up and he slides the deck in his left hand. He squares the deck and gives it to the dealer knowing the identity of the three bottom cards. Quite an advantage indeed.
Are we having fun yet?
It looks like so...
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Postby Temperance » 10/26/03 05:43 PM

In the section dealing with false table cuts the cards are, for the most part held above the table. Do you think this was a deliberate attempt to describe methods which hide any skill and look somewhat sloppy and careless?

When you see a lot of magicians do gambling demos they tend for the most part to fall into the trap of 'look how clever I am' when they blitz into a flurry of manic running cuts. For me that stops it being a 'gambling' demo and turns it into a simple display of skill

Euan
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Postby Guest » 10/26/03 06:34 PM

Originally posted by Euan:
In the section dealing with false table cuts the cards are, for the most part held above the table. Do you think this was a deliberate attempt to describe methods which hide any skill and look somewhat sloppy and careless?

When you see a lot of magicians do gambling demos they tend for the most part to fall into the trap of 'look how clever I am' when they blitz into a flurry of manic running cuts. For me that stops it being a 'gambling' demo and turns it into a simple display of skill

Euan
Hi Euan!

I'm a bit confused - maybe you can clear things up for me. The cuts that you refer to in Erdnase as "false table cuts... for the most part held above the table...", and then imply are sloppy and careless, may, in fact, be the running cuts that you next describe as "a flurry", and "manic". I'm not sure if you are addressing the mechanics of the cuts themselves, or thier interpretation in performance by some magicians. There seem to be two distinctly different topics here - can you clarify your views on both? Do you think that the Erdnase technique is sloppy, or meant to be performed sloppily? And then, do you think that some performers misinterpret Erdnase intentions by executing the material in an obviously skillful display? Help an old man out here, will ya?

Best, PSC
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Postby Temperance » 10/27/03 03:26 AM

Hi Paul

If you hold the cards above the table and just draw small packets off the top until you get to the break it looks very careless and unstudied.

Which is how I interpreted the cuts to look. You could do them very neatly but then you're giving rise to suspicion of skill.

In the Introduction under 'Display of Skill' Erdnase states "One single display of dexterity and his usefulness is past in that particular company, and the reputation is liable to precede him in many another".

You hardly see anyone holding the cards off the table now. Though he does give a number of methods for flashy table cuts he also says he doesn't like them "once known as a blind, it can never be worked again, as the action is showy and easily recognized."

And again in reference to the one handed fancy true cut "The only drawback is the danger in making a display of even such simple ability."

Euan
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