"You probably know this but..."

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 12/21/06 08:29 AM

This thread is about people who see you doing card tricks and want to show you a trick that they know.
99% of the time they show you a terrible card trick and you regret ever having let them touch your cards. Once in a while, someone who isn't a magician will show you something interesting. I learned the old "How much you wanna bet that the next card I turn over is your card?" scam from a layman.

This thread is about those people who want to show you, the magician, a trick.

Why do they do it?

When, if ever, do you let them?

How do you go about telling them "no, I will not watch you do a trick"?

Anyone have any stories about this kind of scenario?

Postby Fred Zimmerman » 12/21/06 04:00 PM

I'll be the first to wade in. If you have any experience working in various venues, you are bound to come upon someone doing this. I have on many occasions, although fewer over the last several years.

I feel there are two ways to think about this:

1) You should have your "set" tight enough that the opportunity never has a chance to emerge. If you are in clear control of your situation, it is much more difficult for someone to try and join in. (As a side note, if your material is strong enough, then they won't be tempted either.)

2) One of the primary reasons, I feel, this happens is lack of manners. I have been in social situations where, unbeknownst to me, a magician had been hired to work the room. Do I try and one-up them? Absolutely not. If my friends ask me to do something later, I ALWAYS demur, saying that this is his/her room, and it's not my place. Even if it would be out of sight, I still demur out of common courtesy.

The people who feel they need to pile on to your momentum are generally boorish in other aspects of their life as well, and have pronounced self-esteem issues.

They feel somehow "lessened" by your skills, and need to thump their chest a little. I'm sure this attitude bleeds into other aspects of their life; work, sports, personal relationships, etc.

Almost 100% of the time when this happens, I can see by the faces of the group that they know this person's tactics, and know that this will not end well. Therefore, you are in a no-lose situation.

1) You can be magnanimous, and allow the person to perform and comment politely when the performance of the 21 Card Trick ends (or fails, as is often the case).

Or 2), they actually have some chops and do something good. Then you are equally polite and comment in a friendly fashion about how lucky you are to have seen them work. Personally, I've never had this happen, but I'm prepared for it to happen some day.

I'm sure that I've been working a party when a fellow professional, unknown to me, has been in the room. And the reason they remained unknown to me was because they were polite and kind enough NOT to ask for some of the spotlight and were mature enough to allow someone else to be the center of attention.

Bottom line: YOU must remain calm and civilized and take it all in stride. No matter what the outcome, you'll end up looking like a professional and an adult, and keep the audience's respect.

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Postby Guest » 12/21/06 05:36 PM

There are a lot of different situations in which someone may ask to show you a trick. And depending on the situation I will either say "Yes" or "No."
For example, if a child wishes to show me a trick I will, if time permits, always say yes. If a drunk guy at a bar wants to I will always say no. If I bump into a guy at the magic shop who is working on something and would like another set of eyes to see what he is doing I will say yes. If I sense malice someone trying to one up me or make me look foolish I will say no.

I could go on for a long time with hundreds of different examples, but I think I'll just say that there are times you should say yes, times you should say no and that you should be consistent on when you say them.

I didn;t answer a thing, did I?


Postby Guest » 12/22/06 02:45 AM

Youngsters invariably want to show me the 21-Card Trick. And I simply cannot stand watching it.

I usually reply "OK, provided it's not the 21-Card Trick, because I really hate that trick", which usually terminates their request. I don't do it because I don't want them to perform, I do it because I honestly can't stand watching yet another performance of that effect.

In addition, I don't like to hand my nice deck of cards to someone whose hands are covered in ice cream, nor to someone who's gonna deal my cards onto a lemonade-covered table. So I check their hands (if they're a child), and I check the working surface.


Postby Dave Shepherd » 12/22/06 07:19 AM

A couple years ago, when I was sponsoring a conjuring club at the high school where I was teaching, the initiates required the performance of some magic trick before we would begin to talk about secrets and methods.

The one and only trick whose performance we forbade was the 21-card-trick. That was usually pretty successful at weeding out those merely curious about secrets from the kids who wanted to learn about magic.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/22/06 07:51 AM

Lately, I've been going into the Alex Berecz (I'm probably spelling that wrong) Top Change routine that's described in one of the early Burger manuscripts..."yeah, do that one, I was so impressed that night in vegas..." and I go right into it...usually that gives him (and isn't it always a him...) the message, but when it doesn't and he wants to keep insisting it can be very awkward...
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/22/06 08:06 AM

I like the psychology of using the Berecz routine because there is the moment when he first seems to fail and the line "I'm not too impressed with your trick, john" sends a gentle "settle down" signal...then when it changes and he is the hero "man he's good, did you guys know John could do that?" this gives him the spotlight while I stay in control....

Usually that ends the request...if not "I do want to see your trick at the end of the night if I have time, but right now I have to make sure that I can make it to all of the tables."

If I'm doing continous close-up at a table/station, and I've worked at least thirty minutes for the current group, then I'll take the break and watch his trick...

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Postby Guest » 12/22/06 10:06 AM

Anyone feel like describing the Berecz routine in a bit more detail? I'm not familiar with it and have basically no access to magic dealers for the next 7 months or so.

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 12/22/06 10:27 AM

It's a simple effect based on the Top Change using two spectators: one of them selects a card, and it's the job of the other one to find it. #2 naturally fails, but blows on the card (or some such magical gesture) and it changes to the selection. Just as quickly, though, it changes back to the indifferent card.

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Postby Guest » 12/22/06 11:28 AM

One good thing about the Berecz routine is that, instead of letting the spectator do the trick, which is a nightmare both dramatically and from the perspective of audience management, you and the spectator do a trick together in which the spectator looks like a hero, you look like a great guy, and you remain in complete control.

Thus, a good answer to the question "Can I show you a trick?" is "Even better, let's do a trick together."

Postby Guest » 12/23/06 11:01 AM

A citation for the Berecz thing is here.

Postby Guest » 12/27/06 01:32 PM

I had just finished a path show at the Texas Renaissance Festival -- I'd passed the hat, and was ready to move on to the next spot, when I was accosted by an urchin who shouted, "I KNOW A TRICK YOU DON'T KNOW!"

"You do? Can you describe it?"

"Yeah. You just think of a card, any card, and I'll tell you which one it is. Gimme your cards."

"You aren't going to lay out three rows of seven cards are you?"


"Every eight year old kid in the world knows that trick."


True story.

Postby Guest » 12/27/06 02:01 PM

Here's a story that is not as good as Bill Palmers:

I was performing for a group of teenagers and one of them asked, "Can I show you a trick?". I pulled a card from the rest of the deck, spun it on my finger and said, "If you can guess what this card is, sure."
"Ace of Diamonds"
And wouldn't you know it, it was the Ace of Diamonds! It was a fun moment, one of those rare times when EVERYONE (including the performer) is legitimately amazed.
Anyway, then he did that trick where the four Kings are burglars and they escape to the top of the pack. It was pretty unimpressive in light of everything else that had happened up until then. His girlfriend pointed this out to him and we all had a chuckle. The end.

Postby Guest » 12/27/06 02:46 PM

Here's a thought.
Tell them they can show you a trick after you do one more. Then do Paul Harris' Solid Deception.

Postby Guest » 12/27/06 03:49 PM

Yea-yea That's it!!! :) But make sure you have a good deck switch!!! :D

Best David Neighbors
The Coinjurer

Postby Guest » 12/27/06 09:39 PM

To this day, one of THE MOST amazing tricks I have EVER seen was shown to me by a "complete and utter layman".
A guy I didn't know: a big shot-putter on my junior-college track team found out I did magic.

Between classes one day we ran into each other and he stopped me.
As we shot the breeze, he took out a deck of cards.
He shuffled them around a bit and then put one card down on the bench where we sat and said, "Name a card".
I said, "Four of clubs".
He said, "Turn it over."
I did.
It was the f***ing 4 of clubs!! :eek:

I can still remember the way my eyes bugged out (much like the little guy above) and the way my jaw felt as it dropped at that moment. Ay carumba!!

As it turned out, the explanation was: his dad was an animator for Walt Disney that had an interest in magic.
By pure chance this shot-putter, a huge guy, had stumbled upon one of his dad's magic books, and by pure chance had read a chapter by a random guy called Dai Vernon entitled "The Trick That Cannot Be Explained". BAM!

I thank you.

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