David Berglas, eat your heart out.

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Joe M. Turner » 11/11/09 08:37 AM

Over the past few years I have been performing a couple of versions of the Berglas effect, aka "Any Card at Any Number." I also perform some other card routines that have certain elements in common with that effect, which allows me some useful leeway in various situations.

Monday night I performed at a corporate event where I had the opportunity to do an abbreviated version of the basic effect suitable for a strolling situation. Upon completing this minimalist version, one of the gentlemen watching me - an engineer with just enough alcohol to get a touch more assertive than usual - began peppering me with questions. He took the cards from my hand and began shuffling them. "Can you do it again?" he asked, with a challenge in his voice.

Being the unshakable professional that I am (?) I naturally told him to go ahead... while I mentally plotted a new course. As I said, I have enough approaches to the basic effect that I knew I could compensate for the unexpected change of plan and still create a fun and magical experience. Let him locate a wrong card, maybe do a transposition, a color change, etc. to rectify the situation. Something.

In this case, though, the spectator had his own procedure and his own very strict conditions in mind. He shuffled the pack himself, then named a card and a number. I had no choice but to let him continue with his own procedure. He named the 2 of Clubs, the number 26, and began to count.

I told him to set the 26th card aside, face down, isolating it from the rest of the pack. Now that he was focused on that card - which he was vigorously protecting - I was able to retake take the rest of the deck and get back into control of the moment. I immediately began scanning for the 2 of Clubs, ready to move it into position so that I could play off the experience as a joke, then create a subsequent magical climax.

I quickly scanned the deck. The 2 of Clubs was not in the pack.

I double-checked. It was not there.

It had happened.

I did not have to resort to culls, passes or top changes. I did not have to palm a card to my pocket. I did not have to do anything. I was in a position to savor a truly wonderful moment.

I reiterated the conditions that had just happened... snapped my finger over the card under his finger, and told him to turn it over. There was the 2 of Clubs, a mental selection which he had shuffled into a mentally chosen position and then dealt to himself.

His face was a perfect vision of shock and awe. The former assertiveness was gone; the slack-jawed engineer and the other guy were speechless. After a moment, the guy said, "Okay, that was good. I have no idea."

They have no idea what a great trick they actually witnessed!

Joe M. Turner
Joe M. Turner
 
Posts: 418
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA

Postby mrgoat » 11/11/09 09:04 AM

How wonderful.
mrgoat
 
Posts: 4047
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Brighton, UK

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 09:34 AM

It is indeed wonderful. The method sounds a trifle unreliable though. Mind you I have always thought the trick is over rated anyway. I have never understood what the fuss is about. It is a good trick but so are many others. I suspect the appeal is that it fools magicians as well as laymen.

I am different. I don't know how some tricks are done but what is more important I don't CARE how they are done. I grew out of that a long time ago.

Sadly I lost interest in magic a long time ago unless it happens to be me doing it. Even the best magicians bore me stiff. And the worst magicians make me want to jump off a tall building. I always pay no attention whatsoever when somebody is lecturing. I generally try to hide behind a fat magician in the audience so the lecturer doesn't see me reading a book.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Stan Willis » 11/11/09 09:52 AM

Joe,

It's out there! You witnessed proof that it does exist! It is a pleasure to hear that you experienced "the Ultimate ACAAN" formerly known as "the Grail". This is exactly what I was referring to in a previous post a couple of months ago.
Congratulations!
Stan Willis
 
Posts: 78
Joined: 01/20/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Keith Raygor » 11/11/09 10:11 AM

Great story, Joe.
www.KeithTheMagician.com
www.TheMusicalMindreader.com
User avatar
Keith Raygor
 
Posts: 101
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Naples, FL

Postby Tom Gilbert » 11/11/09 10:16 AM

It's great when the planets line up in your favor..
Tom Gilbert
 
Posts: 408
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: NH

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/09 11:22 AM

Joe, allowing the spectator to take charge is nothing to be proud of--it's a failure of your ability at spectator management.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 11:45 AM

Yes, but Joe is an exception since he is a very spiritual person and knew that a higher deity would help him out. I suggest he doesn't try it again though in case the higher deity is in a bad mood.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Mark Tams » 11/11/09 11:51 AM

The next 51 times it won't work! :-)
Mark Tams
 
Posts: 60
Joined: 04/05/08 07:44 PM

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 12:01 PM

I think it might be wiser for Joe to do on future occasions what I think I would do. Absentmindedly say,"what day is it today?" If the spectator replies "Tuesday" then you merely say "Oh. I never repeat a trick on a Tuesday"

By doing this you will avoid complaints by Richard Kaufmann.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Magic Newswire » 11/11/09 12:02 PM

Great story Joe!
User avatar
Magic Newswire
 
Posts: 2468
Joined: 03/29/08 12:32 PM

Postby Joe M. Turner » 11/11/09 12:12 PM

Richard:

I appreciate your observation. I think if you had been there, you might have a different take on how I was handling myself and the spectators. This was an unusual circumstance, he was being a bit pushy but not super negative, and I was confident enough in my ability to reach a successful conclusion that I didn't mind exploring a detour. The conclusion I reached was unexpected and delightful.

Thanks for your concern and encouragement, though!

JMT
Joe M. Turner
 
Posts: 418
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/11/09 12:19 PM

First, congrats JMT. Fun when they happen.

Keeping an ear open for such loud/grabby ones might be a good excuse to have the two pack premonition setup onhand.

What card? What position was that? Well I usually make the person who gets grabby vanish but in this case I will simply vanish that card - really.

Not FASDIU but just saying...
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6636
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby Tom Frame » 11/11/09 01:47 PM

Joe,

Congratulations on that magical happenstance! I'm sure that you'll savor that amazing experience for the rest of your life.

Richard,

Why piss on Joe's parade? The guy was being aggressive. Sometimes, despite our best efforts at participant management, these situations arise. I think Joe managed the incident quite well. He didn't freeze up. He was thinking on his feet. He had contingencies in mind and he was in the process of implementing them when he discovered the happy event.
Tom Frame
 
Posts: 846
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: San Francisco

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/09 02:00 PM

Because it's exactly the type of circumstance you should ignore in your mind as a performer. It'll never happen again, and allowing yourself to be forced into that position is not good.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 02:09 PM

It is actually quite tricky to bow out of a challenge without either offending the spectator or giving him a sense of victory that you couldn't do what he wanted. He could well smirk inwardly that you are bloody useless since you have avoided his challenge.

For impromptu work you can afford to go along with his challenge. For paid work you often can't since it can slow up things for other people watching.

It all depends on the circumstances. Again I recommend the Charles Hopkins book, "Outs, precautions and challenges"

Oddly enough Joe is one of the few people on this forum who have actually seen me do close up magic for laymen. I expect things went wrong on that occasion. They always do. I have never performed a single show in my life without something screwing up. Oddly enough I consider this to be a very good thing. It lowers the resentment factor and it makes me human. I never try to be perfect. I far prefer to be human.

I have always considered it to be a great mistake to be perfect. And perfection is actually a fault in itself. And minor faults don't matter a great deal. It is when you lack virtues that you have to worry.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Joe M. Turner » 11/11/09 03:00 PM

The guy wasn't being belligerent. It's not like he violently wrested the cards from my hands - he asked for them before he took them from me. I was in a 4-hour hospitality setting and he was in the mood to be mildly challenging with the magician... a little assertive, but definitely from a "I can calculate an answer to this" point of view. I knew I could let him shuffle the pack and I would nail him with something else, and that we would have a great time along the way. I had no idea the effect would be the one that we got, but I was pleased at the happenstance.

I'm not arguing with RK on his underlying point about the importance of managing your spectators and their actions. I stand by my previous opinion that if RK had been there watching me, he wouldn't have found my approach to this situation lacking in skill, even if he would have handled it differently as a performer. My telling of the story may make it sound a bit more confrontational than it actually was - a little artistic license for the anecdote, please. The point of my sharing was the wonderful serendipity that happened at just the right moment.

For me, the end result was worth taking the extra time to play along and explore with those attendees. Their comments to the client were certainly glowing.

Best,
JMT
Joe M. Turner
 
Posts: 418
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA

Postby Pete McCabe » 11/11/09 03:23 PM

The lesson is to always use a marked deck. Then you wouldn't have needed to spread through the cardsyou'd know about the miracle as soon as it happened.
Pete McCabe
 
Posts: 2076
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/09 03:29 PM

Plenty of laymen know about marked decks, and plenty also know that if you riffle them and watch the backs, you'll see the marks move.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Pete McCabe » 11/11/09 06:46 PM

Every layman in the world knows about bottom dealing. Should we stop doing tricks that use the bottom deal?

Do you think if Joe did what he did that anyone in the audience would think a marked deck was responsible?
Pete McCabe
 
Posts: 2076
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/09 08:25 PM

No, because when Bottom Dealing is properly done it cannot be seen: it is an invisible sleight.

Marked cards are not invisible--they are always there and you can't hide them.

If laymen suspect marks and have the time to examine the backs of cards, they may find them. It's surprising how many laymen still know the old "Scarne" test of riffling through the deck that he used to teach servicemen during World War II.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Doc Dixon » 11/11/09 09:34 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Joe, allowing the spectator to take charge is nothing to be proud of--it's a failure of your ability at spectator management.


Richard,

I've got to disagree with you on this. First, despite our best efforts, some times spectators can't be "managed" in the exact same way. I know you realize this, but your comment contradicts that.

Second, Joe did indeed manage the spectator. And not by getting lucky. Joe wrote:
I was able to retake take the rest of the deck and get back into control of the moment..
That's management.

Let's look at the opposite scenario. The guy presses Joe and Joe declines. The spectator, mostly likely a wannabe alpha dog, feels victorious. In that scenario, Joe would have only managed his props, not the spectator.

With respect,

Doc Dixon
Last edited by Doc Dixon on 11/11/09 09:36 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: typo
Doc Dixon
 
Posts: 216
Joined: 04/16/08 01:45 PM

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 09:48 PM

Again a lot depends on the circumstances. In a fast moving scripted show ( and I hate that awful word "scripted) such as at a trade show or suchlike you can't afford to slow things down and react to challenges. But in a more informal environment then you can indeed. It is always a judgement call. You have to play each situation by ear. As I keep saying any fool can manipulate cards, coins etc;. A good magician needs to manipulate the PEOPLE. And I don't apologise for repeating this ad infitum. It is one of the most important things in close up magic.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby rkosby » 11/11/09 10:01 PM

Nice Trick That Cannot be Explained story JMT,

I wonder though if the alcohol enhanced spectator was expressing what other audience members were thinking when they watched that version of Any Card at Any Number. Even if it never happened before it may be worth considering.

I think marked decks are fine when implemented in effects where they wouldn't be suspected. I don't think Any Card at Any Number would count as one of those effects. Same with bottom deals. If the audience doesn't suspect it they're great but if all the heat is on that last card dealt I don't think it's a good time to deal it false for that matter yourself.

Ray
rkosby
 
Posts: 79
Joined: 03/13/08 03:28 AM
Location: MD

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 10:15 PM

The first thing an audience suspects with ANY kind of card trick is marked cards. I would steer clear of them.

Mind you I have pitched and sold marked cards to the public. They sold well. I worked out a killer routine with them but I wasn't daft enough to try and read the marks since they were the Chinese cheap quality marked cards you see in dollar stores. You would have needed a magnifying glass to see the marks and that may have had a detrimental effect on the performance.

No. I just used a stacked deck and pretended that the great results I was getting were as a result of the marks. I sold a ton of them. We pitchmen/grafters are a very deceptive bunch of people.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/11/09 10:27 PM

What if they're all marked and say "pick me" in different places?
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6636
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby Pete McCabe » 11/11/09 11:35 PM

I imagine things would be different if I were a professional and performed for thousands of people over the years. But every deck I use is marked and has been for almost ten years. No one has ever asked if the cards were marked and no one has ever performed a riffle test on them. I'm sure part of the reason is that I go out of my way to keep the audience from suspecting marked cards. You can hide them -- it's not really that hard.

The real lesson, as always, is: know your audience.
Pete McCabe
 
Posts: 2076
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/09 11:46 PM

Maybe I should take one of DeLand's Dollar Decks out of the drawer. Would take a lot of work out of doing Any Card at Any Number.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/11/09 11:47 PM

If people accuse me of marked cards I have a certain procedure. I say "Yes, they ARE marked. Let me show you" Then I show the FACES rather than the backs. I continue, "This card is marked with 7 spots so you can tell it is a seven. This one is marked with two spots so that you can tell it is a two.This one is marked with 5 red spots so that you can tell it is a red five and this one has 8 black spots so that you can tell it is a black eight." You point out the spots individually and you have to be a good actor when you deliver the lines. At first they think you are serious but when they realise that you are kidding they burst out laughing. YOu finish by saying "of course they are marked on the faces but never on the backs"

They get the message.

As for the De Land deck I am a massive fan of it.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby Jim Martin » 11/12/09 12:45 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Maybe I should take one of DeLand's Dollar Decks out of the drawer.


http://www.amazon.com/Delands-100-Trick ... B002BZY2KQ

Is any manufacturer currently producing a version of the Dollar Deck?
Jim Martin
St. Louis MO
Jim Martin
 
Posts: 455
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: St. Louis

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/12/09 01:28 AM

Magic Makers purchased the S.S. Adams line and currently sells the Dollar Deck, which has been sold under the title "Automatic Playing Cards" since about 1919.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20529
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/12/09 08:25 AM

They are still available. Regrettably the quality of the stock is not as good as it used to be. It actually used to be an old pitch item. The main man who used to sell them was a guy called Seewald. His orders kept Adams in business in the early days.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby rkosby » 11/12/09 09:57 PM

Pete,

I've never used a marked deck, but I've had people examine the deck exactly like Richard described on many occasions. The funny thing is I didn't know what they were looking for until I saw Richard's post.

Ray
rkosby
 
Posts: 79
Joined: 03/13/08 03:28 AM
Location: MD

Postby Pete McCabe » 11/13/09 12:38 AM

Admittedly it's just two data points, but with both Ray and Richard in the general DC area I wonder if there is a regional effect.

When I played poker regularly, in my early 20s (i.e. the early 1980s) I read many of the then-current books, and I don't recall seeing the riffle test mentioned there. I wonder if more modern books include it as a standard cheating-prevention technique.

Can someone more current on poker books shed some light?

One of the benefits of the Ted Lesley marking system is that if a typical person does the riffle test they usually are only looking at the outer third of the card and will miss the marks.
Pete McCabe
 
Posts: 2076
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Postby John Wilson » 11/13/09 02:58 AM

None of the poker strategy books that I've read deal with protection against cheating. Gaming protection books always cover the riffle test to check for marks. I have not had anyone use the riffle test on my cards, but I have been asked whether I use marked cards. I have also been asked whether I "count cards". I think even though laymen have heard of the bottom deal, marked cards, et cetera ,that does not mean that they have any idea how or why these things are used. Most of the time when this comes up the spectator is just grasping at straws. The way some laymen think, as soon as they accept one of these methods as a possible explanation (no matter how implausible) then the mystery has vanished.

Also, to the point of allowing a spectator to have some control over a challenge, I don't see a problem with it provided the performer is confident (and rightfully so) in his or her ability to improvise an effect fulfilling the challenge. I have done this on a few occasions to great result. These were some of the most exciting performance memories that I have experienced. While it is not something I regularly do, when the situation is right... why not. I think of it as being "The Trick That Cannot Be Explained". Some initial conditions are set by the spectator and then a method is devised on the spot. While I wouldn't recommend it for a formal show or to a beginner, if you can pull it off I can't recommend it highly enough.
John Wilson
 
Posts: 98
Joined: 06/23/08 07:43 PM

Postby Richard Perrin » 11/13/09 03:28 AM

Hey Joe
Let suppose if it wasn't the card they name... what would you do next? Since you were looking for it... you found it in the pack... what was your plan? Just want to know. I love that story you shared with us. Thanks!
Richard Perrin
 
Posts: 324
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Grovetown, Georgia

Postby Joe M. Turner » 11/13/09 09:27 PM

I was thinking in terms of "easy outs" - just enough to get through that moment and then move on to another routine. In my mind, I was thinking to cull the named card into position to get ready for a top change or more likely a color change ("Actually, this really is the 2 of clubs...") and then just palm the other card out of my pocket. Having laughed off the moment, even if it was a groaner, I'd then go to one of the other routines I do to cause a peeked selection to appear at a named number... and that can be sold as a "random, thought of" card if you give it a little room to breathe.

It was all in good fun. I was certainly pleased with the surprise miracle, though. It's nice to occasionally be the one most fooled by something you perform yourself.
Joe M. Turner
 
Posts: 418
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA

Postby Richard Perrin » 11/14/09 02:45 AM

That's make sense! Thanks!
Richard Perrin
 
Posts: 324
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Grovetown, Georgia

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/14/09 05:44 AM

With regard to the "Trick that cannot be explained" mentioned by
John Wilson I wish to announce that I have the best procedure with this trick that has ever been conceived. Of course this is to be expected since I am [censored].

My method takes all the uncertainty out of the trick and does away with all that "jazz magic" rubbish that can end in either a miracle or more likely a contrived exercise in boredom.

My method is a mixture of Stewart James, Harry Lorayne, Paul Curry and a tiny bit of Vernon.
Naturally however I should get the main credit.

There. I have made my announcement. You can now go back to telling Joe what a hash he made of things instead of producing the miracle he thought he did.
Mark.Lewis
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 09/12/09 07:18 AM

Postby James Munton » 11/14/09 10:54 AM

Pete McCabe wrote:Admittedly it's just two data points, but with both Ray and Richard in the general DC area I wonder if there is a regional effect.


NO, I lived in DC for ten years and never once had someone do that. I think it depends how you want to present your magic. Nobody cares about the deck you are using if they are being entertained. If I get a sniff of challenge from a spectator I try to snuff it out with comedy and entertainment as Mark suggested.

I think the audience problems tend to occur far more when the magician is focused on fooling the audience rather than entertaining them.

In Joe's original story, the mistake happened as soon as the spectator said "Can you do it again?"

I'm really surprised that a working performer like Joe wouldn't have at least a dozen great lines in response to this very common question.

James
James Munton
 
Posts: 131
Joined: 05/30/08 10:27 AM
Location: Dallas, TX

Next

Return to Magic History and Anecdotes