Dai's 3-Card Monte

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 06/13/02 01:09 AM

Maybe somebody can answer a technical question about the monte.

In Dai Vernon's 3-card monte routine, published in the Lewis Ganson book, he uses bordered cards rather than Bees. I've always thought that was a strange choice, given that Bees hide the hype much better.

Did he like to peel off three cards from a regular deck because of the naturalness of that, and not like to bring out different-backed cards?

I've always wondered. Maybe Andrew Wimhurst or Richard Kaufman know.
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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 12:36 PM

David, I wouldn't call that a technical question.

And, don't be concerned about taking three cards from the deck.

3 Card Monte is not just another trick. It's a "con game" - it's a stand alone - it's great entertainment. Therefore, it's very "natural" to carry the three cards separate from any deck.

You're going to bend them anyway, so you might not want to return them to the deck they came from.

As far as Bees vs bordered cards - the Bees may have a slight edge. But, after you work the "hype" for a while and can do it naturally, without thinking about it - and while talking, I think you'll be confident and comfortable with either back design.

Just something to think about.
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Postby Jim Morton » 06/13/02 02:19 PM

It's harder to see the hype with borderless cards. Red Steamboats are especially nice for this. Nonetheless, the move, when properly executed, will pass muster with bordered cards as well as anything. I have read in more than one place that monte tossers on the street always use Bees, but this is simply not even close to correct. Most of the teams I see playing around San Francisco use Bikes, and they don't have any trouble fleecing marks.

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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 04:39 PM

Originally posted by Joe DeStefano:
David, I wouldn't call that a technical question....

...As far as Bees vs bordered cards - the Bees may have a slight edge. But, after you work the "hype" for a while and can do it naturally, without thinking about it - and while talking, I think you'll be confident and comfortable with either back design..
No, actually, it is a technical question.

I've been obsessed with the monte for several years, and perform it all the time in restaurants and walkaround. I'm not a beginner with the monte. I even publish my own routine, which many people like very much.

What I'm asking is: Why did Dai Vernon use bordered cards? Seems kinda perverse.
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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 04:52 PM

Question: Why did Dai Vernon use bordered cards?

I've seen him do it with "borders" - Bees - or whatever. All worked great. I don't think the impact with Bees was greater - or less.

And, I honestly never thought to question why which kind of cards were used.

Many times it was whatever was available. And I don't recall hearing him say to use Bees to make the hype less noticeable. He gave me many other tips, but that was not one of them.

I'd almost guess that the reason borders were used at the photo session was because they were there.

I wish I had a better answer for you.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/13/02 06:37 PM

The best theatrical presentation of the 3-Card Monte that I have witnessed was that of Tony Georgio. His byplay with the spectator, patter, etc. were really terrific.

I believe it is Andrew Wimhurst (owes me notes!) I like second best as he fooled me badly with the "money card" being signed, winding up in his wallet.

As far as the best clean and explained, for the audience to follow, the late Mike Rogers' routine was excellent.

Borderes on cards (such as Bikes) are essential if you do the dodge where you tear off a corner of a dollar bill, wet it, and stick it onto the corner of a card. When you stack the cards the stuck on piece will get transferred to another card... this is a great dodge, and would NOT work with Bee cards. :p
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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 07:04 PM

Pete, right-on with Tony Georgio. I never had the opportunity to meet and see him in person, but years ago a friend had some film of him in performance. (not video, or anything for sale)

Performance and presentation - none better. Skill - ditto.

Why is it that he's not mentioned more with the "big names"?
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/13/02 11:42 PM

Tony is not mentioned because he has alienated so many... sad, with his talent.

Because of the lawsuits still in progress I won't mention some of the actual things that happened (one to me that had I filed a formal complaint he would have been tossed out of the Castle years ago). :mad:
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Postby Guest » 06/14/02 04:07 AM

Thanks, Pete. for your replay about Tony G. I had a feeling it was something like that. Like you said, SAD - because he is a great talent
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Postby Andru Luvisi » 06/14/02 07:11 AM

There are folks tossing Monte in San Francisco now? Whereabouts?

My how things change,
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Postby Jim Morton » 06/14/02 08:44 AM

There are folks tossing Monte in San Francisco now? Whereabouts?
There's always been people playing monte in SF. For a while they were all over Market street (shell game too), but now they've migrated to the Fishermen's Wharf/Pier 39 area. Another common place to spot the game being played is on the Muni buses (although I haven't seen any games recently). At a show I did a couple weeks ago, I asked the audience (about 30 people) how many of them had seen people playing monte on the buses and virtually everyone raised their hand.

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Postby Guest » 06/14/02 01:57 PM

To Pete, It's a credit to you that in your first mention of Tony G. you only mentioned his great performance of the monte.

I've seen the 3 Card Monte in the Fisherman's Wharf area several times over the years, but not often. I don't ride the Muni system, but do ride BART a lot and have never seen a grifter doing monte or shells there.

Pete, is there a video of Tony G.'s monte routine?
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/14/02 06:23 PM

I really don't know if there is any tape of TG's Monte... if so I would love to have one.
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Postby Guest » 06/14/02 10:24 PM

Originally posted by Joe DeStefano:
I've seen Dai Vernon do it with "borders" - Bees - or whatever. All worked great. I don't think the impact with Bees was greater - or less.

Many times it was whatever was available. And I don't recall hearing him say to use Bees to make the hype less noticeable. He gave me many other tips, but that was not one of them.
Wow, you saw him many times? That must have been a treat. Unfortunately, by the time I began frequenting the Magic Castle, he was ancient and I never saw him. He's starting to become an historical figure now.

What kind of tips on the monte did Dai give?

As I mentioned, I'm obsessed with the monte, and find talk of it fascinating. Upon buying Whit Haydn's new complete monte book, I've been staying up late nights reading it

I mean, Haydn's monte book is a feast, man! It's quite clear and it gives all the work and references. Have you ever tried to work up a monte routoine using just the booklets by Scarne and Behnke? I did it, but it's real work!

If you haven't bought the Haydn book, buy it. It'll be the best monte book in your library for decades.
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Postby Guest » 06/15/02 05:05 AM

David, I'm talking about 50 years ago, when Vernon was still a "New Yorker".

My first 2 impressions of him - he was at an SAM meeting when I did my "initiation" trick. I was so intent on doing it perfectly, I had no presentation - just the mechanics.

After I did it, Al Goshman jumped up and started to yell at me, "That's not the way to to magic".

Dai then yelled at Goshman, "Sit down, Al. It's tough enough being up there without you making it worse."

The master spoke and all was OK.

When I went back to my seat, Dai came over and started to talk to me.

His advice, and it's still true today. "Anybody can practice and develop a perfect double lift or a good second deal. But, without a story - a presentation to get the audience involved, all you have is a perfect double lift and a good second deal. YOU MUST HAVE A STORY!"

For many years, until he left NY, I couldn't wait for the next time just to sit next to this fine person - and listen - and learn.

Oh, I mentioned 2 impressions - one day we were in a restaurant when he took a pair of dice out of his pocket and olaced them on the table. He then picked them up - turned his hand palm up and they were gone. Wearing just a shirt, no jacket, no "moves".

That was about 50 years ago, and I can still see it as though it were happening right now.

What a man! What a magician!

You asked for some of his tips on monte. "Don't worry about your finger here - or your finger there - everybody's hands are different. Work on your story - and don't make your audience feel like an idiot."

BTW, he never said skill is not important. Simply, skill by itself won't do it. YOU GOTTA HAVE A STORY!

See what Pete Biro said about Tony Georgio's monte routine. A perfect blend of skill and performance.

I hear you, "SHUT UP ALREADY" - so I will. Thabks for listening.
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Postby Terry » 06/15/02 05:25 AM

I hear you, "SHUT UP ALREADY" - so I will. Thabks for listening.
Actually Joe, I for one am not finished listening if you would like to share more stories of the past. This was a great post of your recollections of the Professor. I would appreciate hearing more stories of any magicians you want to share!
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 06/15/02 06:43 AM

I've always thought that the 3 card monte needed a climax and I contributed a routine with a climax to Ruminations some 15 years ago.

Basically:

1 I start the routine by having 4 cards face up on the top of the deck. Reading down, 10H, 10D, AS, 10C.

2 I deal the 10H, 10D, and the AS (making sure that the spectators don't see the face up 10C) face up on the table and leave the deck face up (with the reversed 10C against the table.)

3 I do a few "monte moves" with the 10H, 10D and the AS (with the AS the "it" card)

4 To end, I pick up the deck and put the AS face up on top (over the face up 10C) and have the spectator initial the face. I do a double lift and deal off the 10C (which they think is the AS) and ask the spectator to turn the 2 red tens face down. While that's being done I (i)palm the AS, (ii) put the deck on the table and (iii) put BOTH (important - BOTH) hands in my trouser pockets (the right hand with the palmed AS).

I tell the spectator that I'm going to show my "switch out move" and then I move the 3 face down cards around slowly and ask him to put his hand on the AS. I turn over the other cars and say, "Ten, you lose, ten, you lose." and then I turn over the card under his hand to show the 10C and say again, "Ten, you lose."

I explain that I did my "switch out move" and remove the AS from my right pants pocket after showing my hand empty.
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Postby Guest » 06/15/02 07:20 AM

I look at 3 Card Monte in 2 ways.

3 Card Monte (the real thing) and the monte type tricks (color changing backs, fronts, whatever).

Both can be effective, depending on the presentation. But, I think the real thing has more audience appeal simply becaus I think more people are interested in "gambling" as opposed to card tricks.

Just 3 cards - no deck etc. - just like on street corners.

I don't mean to sound like I'm putting down card tricks - that's all I do.

But, I found that when I did the same trick, giving it a gambling flavor, the impact on the audience was much greater - based on their comments.

I'm not saying I'm right - and the other way is wrong - but that's how it worked for me.

As far as "no climax" monte - it doesn't need a magic type climax - it can stand up to any of them.

But, if you are looking for a magic type climax, that's great. Whatever works for you - if the audience is glad they were there - GREAT!
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/15/02 08:42 AM

Gerald: I like your finish... good thinking.
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Postby Guest » 06/15/02 11:36 AM

Originally posted by Joe DeStefano:
David, I'm talking about 50 years ago, when Vernon was still a "New Yorker".

My first 2 impressions of him - he was at an SAM meeting when I did my "initiation" trick. I was so intent on doing it perfectly, I had no presentation - just the mechanics.

After I did it, Al Goshman jumped up and started to yell at me, "That's not the way to to magic".

Dai then yelled at Goshman, "Sit down, Al. It's tough enough being up there without you making it worse."

The master spoke and all was OK.

When I went back to my seat, Dai came over and started to talk to me.

His advice, and it's still true today. "Anybody can practice and develop a perfect double lift or a good second deal. But, without a story - a presentation to get the audience involved, all you have is a perfect double lift and a good second deal. YOU MUST HAVE A STORY!"

For many years, until he left NY, I couldn't wait for the next time just to sit next to this fine person - and listen - and learn.

Oh, I mentioned 2 impressions - one day we were in a restaurant when he took a pair of dice out of his pocket and olaced them on the table. He then picked them up - turned his hand palm up and they were gone. Wearing just a shirt, no jacket, no "moves".

That was about 50 years ago, and I can still see it as though it were happening right now.

What a man! What a magician!

You asked for some of his tips on monte. "Don't worry about your finger here - or your finger there - everybody's hands are different. Work on your story - and don't make your audience feel like an idiot."

BTW, he never said skill is not important. Simply, skill by itself won't do it. YOU GOTTA HAVE A STORY!

See what Pete Biro said about Tony Georgio's monte routine. A perfect blend of skill and performance.

I hear you, "SHUT UP ALREADY" - so I will. Thabks for listening.
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Postby Guest » 06/15/02 05:04 PM

This may be a tad off topic, but has anyone here given in to temptation and put money on a street monte game? Did you win, and did you avoid having the player or a shill beat the crap out of you?

(Many years ago, I beat a shell-game player and managed to walk away because the street was crowded, the game was ongoing, and I lent some veritas to the scam. Still, the dumbest $15 I ever earned.)
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Postby Guest » 06/17/02 04:21 PM

Originally posted by Joe DeStefano:
You asked for some of his tips on monte. "Don't worry about your finger here - or your finger there - everybody's hands are different. Work on your story - and don't make your audience feel like an idiot."
I revere Vernon's work on the monte, esp the double flash, which is a killer move (see FURTHER INNER SECRETS....), but I differ from Vernon in one other aspect: I let the audience members choose which card they think it is.

Vernon didn't want to insult the audience, as he put it, by making them lose, and so he didn't even let them choose. However, I feel that by letting them choose, you get more wallop from the magic when they find out they're wrong. They remember it more.

There's also the risk of the volunteer choosing the right card, and that introduces the possibility of failure. However, it also heightens the tensioin and makes everything more exciting, like live TV.

If you can't deal with occasional failure, you aren't a good magician.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/17/02 10:53 PM

When in London, Ken Brooke would warn US visiting magicians, "Don't even get near the Monte Gangs... there are usually 6 or 7 mugs working and if you say you're a magician, or get too close and they realize who/what you are, they'll pull you away and beat you up." :eek: :eek:
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 06/17/02 10:55 PM

David Groves,

With all due respect, I believe that Dai Vernon's approach of not making the spectator choose the card is the correct one. I don't think that magicians have a particularly clear view of the degree to which spectators "play along" for the sake of the magic, and there's nothing worse than having politeness and good nature repaid with a "see-how-stupid-you-are?" climax.

As a spectator, I understand from the first that what you are doing is not a legitimate test of how well I can follow a card. It would not be entertaining to mix three cards around ten times in a row, have me point to the correct one, and then wrap it all up with "Hey - you're pretty good at following a card! Give her a hand, folks!" That ain't gonna happen, and I know it. So when you go through your routine, and you make me point at the card, I know that it's going to be wrong. I politely point to the card that I know you want me to point to, I smile when you show me I was wrong - but why put me through that? Being proved wrong does not make the trick more memorable to me, since the direction of monte is incredibly obvious and I therefore knew where the trick was headed from the beginning. You could even say that I remembered it before you started!

A smoothly and creatively handled monte can be a real treat - a mesmerizing thing to see. I truly enjoy watching it done. But there is no reason to add a coda of "P.S. - You're dumb!"

With politeness and good nature,

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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 04:46 AM

Lisa, this is an interesting post.

Some of what you say makes a lot of sense to me and the rest, I cant figure out what your point is.

I don't think that magicians have a particularly clear view of the degree to which spectators "play along" for the sake of the magic

Yes, I believe audiences are sometimes being polite, when they catch us and dont say anything - when we dont do something as well as it could be done. Then again, we shouldnt be doing something that is not our best. And that hinders improvement, if we think, Hey that got em I must be good.

But, do you really believe that most magicians are saying, see how stupid you are?

As a spectator, I understand from the first that what you are doing is not a legitimate test of how well I can follow a card.

I dont believe its a test of how well you can follow a card, but Watch me as close as you want. See if you can make a little money.

It would not be entertaining to mix three cards around ten times in a row, have me point to the correct one, and then wrap it all up with "Hey - you're pretty good at following a card! Give her a hand, folks!"

No, its not entertaining to mix 3 cards ten times in a row (did anyone ever do it 10 times in a row?) I dont remember who said this There is no such thing as good and bad magic. Only, good and bad magicians.

Being proved wrong does not make the trick more memorable to me,

You are right. Being proved wrong does not make the trick more memorable. What does make the trick more memorable is, He only had three cards, and I couldnt catch him.

A smoothly and creatively handled monte can be a real treat - a mesmerizing thing to see.

Please tell me what a smoothly and creatively handled monte is.

I truly enjoy watching it done. But there is no reason to add a coda of "P.S. - You're dumb!"

Lisa, just enjoy doing it or watching it and dont sound so bitter. ( Im not a psychologist, but some of what you said just sounded that way to me)

BTW, I dont think either David, or you, is right or wrong if each of you has something that works - - - GREAT! Keep doing it. If we all did the same things in the same way, wouldnt magic be boring to the audiences.

Joe DeStefano

PS - Just my opinions - thanks for listening.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 05:28 AM

Before you can decide whether Vernon was right or not, you have to decide how you're going to present the Monte.

The 3 Card Monte is not a magic trick; it's a street hustle used to separate marks from their money.

So, if you're doing some card tricks for people, and suddenly start doing the Monte, they will naturally assume that this is another trick. Hence Linda's astute comment:
I don't think that magicians have a particularly clear view of the degree to which spectators "play along" for the sake of the magic, and there's nothing worse than having politeness and good nature repaid with a "see-how-stupid-you-are?" climax.
I think Linda's right. There is a danger of this happening if you don't handle it properly. As magicians, we come across many folks who think of what we do as adversarial; they think we want to trick them and make them look stupid. In fact what we want is to do our tricks FOR them for their enjoyment.

Perhaps, if you can clarify to the audience that what you are doing is a demonstration of how street hustlers take your money, you can defuse the potentially adversarial nature that is inherent in making a spectator choose the target card. But if you do this, then understand that they do not see what is happening as a magic trick. And they will be more than likely confused if, at the end, you turn it into that.

That's like escape artists who are apparently doing a legitimate escape, but then, at the end, disappear to be found as the guy holding the ax, or at the back of the audience. I think audiences feel betrayed by this kind of thing. After all, if you can vanish from the Water Torture Cell, it certainly was not a legitimate restraining device, now was it?

For myself, I prefer the Vernon procedure and by not putting someone on the spot, I'll avoid putting someone through the feelings Linda describes.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 05:39 AM

One more quick thought:

Attitude is so important in dealing with spectators.

David Groves said:
I let the audience members choose which card they think it is.
But, Linda said:
With all due respect, I believe that Dai Vernon's approach of not making the spectator choose the card is the correct one.
And that may be the crux of the matter. Are you going to LET the spectator choose, or are you going to MAKE them choose?
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Postby Andru Luvisi » 06/18/02 07:50 AM

I think it is more effective to have the spectator pick once at the very end, since it creates more of a "gaming" atmosphere, but I don't like the idea of insulting them or risking them pointing to the wrong card. What I do is to glance up at the audience briefly while I am moving just the apparent money card and pick someone who's head is moving to follow it (typically this is everyone, but I still like to be absolutely sure that I don't pick that one who's wise). Then I ask the person I pick "Where does the XXX appear to be?" This warns them that they're probably going to pick the wrong card, but also tells them to go ahead and just tell me without second guessing themselves. After they point out the one with the bent corner, I say "That's correct, and that's the card that most people would bet on!" I like to think that by playing it this way they feel like they were called upon to help me, and they did their job correctly.

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Postby Pete Biro » 06/18/02 07:51 AM

Ken Brooke, when teaching Chase the Ace (which is similar to the monte) he preaches DO NOT HAVE THE SPECTATOR'S CHOOSE where they think the card is.

With the Monte, unless you are out to take their money... and as a retired mechanic friend says, "Magicians learn all these moves but the one thing they don't have is they're not thieves. They aren't able to steal the money." sooooo... the way to do it, as those I have seen that I admire, is a demonstration.

Bob Sheets on his new Video on the Shell Game does just that... HE KEEPS MISSING... the heat is on him... "GEEEZ I thought it was there." he keeps saying.

BTW this is one GREAT VIDEO "Completely Nuts" is the title (I think)...

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Postby Pete Biro » 06/18/02 07:53 AM

Looking back at the original post in this thread... my guess is when Vernon was in England with Ganson they JUST DIDN'T HAVE ANY BEE CARDS when they were doing the photos... in those days even Bike's were literally unavailable.

Ask Ricky Jay what we had to pay for a deck of Bikes one time in Europe! :eek:
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 11:47 AM

I'm so glad to see so many people deeply involved in the monte. It's like having lots of friends listen to your favorite record, and all smiling together.

Originally posted by Joe DeStefano:
Yes, I believe audiences are sometimes being polite, when they catch us and dont say anything -
Man, this is a difficult question.

Of course, if a magician's audiences are just being polite, there's something wrong with his magic. But in this day and age, there are just as many audiences who will be rude and want to stick it to the magician.

Have you ever run into an audience member who was once told: "If you want to know what a magician is doing, always look at his other hand"? And they'll sit there and focus on your other hand throughout the whole trick?

That's an audience member who's intent on NOT being polite. Intent on catching you.

After the '60s, lots of politeness went out the window. You get lots of both these days.

[/QB][/QUOTE]But, do you really believe that most magicians are saying, see how stupid you are?[/QB][/QUOTE]

There are some, I agree, and a magician must always be aware of the subtext of his tricks.

At the end of the monte, I always try to defuse that by saying, "So if you ever see the monte players on the street, promise me you'll walk the other way. Because you can never win."

It not only takes the sting out of their "defeat," if they want to see it that way, but it is also a helpful instruction to people as to how to live in the urban jungle.

[/QB][/QUOTE]BTW, I dont think either David, or you, is right or wrong if each of you has something that works - - - GREAT! Keep doing it. If we all did the same things in the same way, wouldnt magic be boring to the audiences.[/QB][/QUOTE]

I do agree that it's a choice. I mean, far be it from me to say that Dai Vernon was wrong. What I'm saying is that when you make a choice, you gain something and you lose something.

When you choose to let the spectator pick the card, you make a choice. And you gain more spontaneity and more audience involvement and more audience investment. And you lose 100% certainty that the trick will work perfectly (although there are ways to rescue yourself from this, believe me).

When you choose to force the spectator to watch, you gain certainty and, above all, politeness and a graciousness to your presentation. But you lose audience investment and the feel that anything can happen.

Just a choice.
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Postby Andru Luvisi » 06/18/02 01:13 PM

What do you do when they pick the wrong card?

It's never happened to me, butI hedge my bets as I describe above.

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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 02:08 PM

When the magicians do not let the spec pick the "money card" - and there is nothing wrong with doing it that way - could it be because they are afraid the spectator might "win"?

I think challenging the spectators makes it more of a gambling thing - and that's what 3 card monte is. But, the "tosser" must win.

The idea is to do it without making the audience feel "stupid".

I've gotten some good results by "lending" one of the spectators Poker chips to bet. This makes it seem like the real thing. And it gets across the point - "you can't win".
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 02:31 PM

On his Three Shell Game Video, Phil Cass talks about how important it is to get the spectator to bet their own money. IMHO, that's a very, very, good reason to reject any thought of doing it that way.

You see, I think this is the second most obnoxious "entertainment" pieces I've ever witnessed. Whether it's supposed to be a gamblig demonstration, or a magic trick, he works the spectator over so that the stress level in the room is oppressive! He gets a poor unsuspecting spectator to wager a small amount, and then tricks them into putting bigger and bigger amounts of their own cash on the outcome. All the while insisting that the play is for real. In the end, he doesn't take their money, of course, but everybody in the room hates him.

The most obnoxious, you ask? The same performer's presentation of the old "Electric Chairs" on stage. When he did it for a convention in Sacramento, half of the audience walked out on him.

Point being: if you don't know how your audience feels about any trick or routine which puts a spectator on the spot, then ask some of them after a show. We can discuss the right approach, the psychology, etc., forever. Get some real feedback from real lay people. If you're stressing people out, you may want to rethink your approach.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 02:33 PM

Here's an idea (which can be useful when giving out 'lame' giveaways)

If/when the spek loses, they HAVE to TAKE a trinket.

I occasionally work Riverboats here in New Orleans and have been using Mardis Gras beads.
"Oh, you lost, too bad... you must wear the Beads of Shame" .... that kind of thing.

it takes out the 'sting' out by giving them something for losing.

this idea can also be used with business cards (etc.)

hope someone finds this info useful,
Doug Conn
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 02:49 PM

Originally posted by Andru Luvisi:
What do you do when they pick the wrong card?

It's never happened to me, butI hedge my bets as I describe above.
I end with the bent-card ploy. If they catch me on that--and sometimes they do--I say:

"Very good! You're a smart man!"

Giving him the credit he is rightly due.

And then I proceed into one of several other finales that will, indeed fry them--one not based on the hype, which is probably the ploy that they know about.

My favorite is the All-Black Ruse, which I came up with and have published, and which openly switches out the two red cards and puts three black cards into play, so that there's no way for them to win. It's pretty neat, and not based on the hype.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 02:56 PM

Originally posted by Dennis Loomis:
On his Three Shell Game Video, Phil Cass talks about how important it is to get the spectator to bet their own money. IMHO, that's a very, very, good reason to reject any thought of doing it that way.

You see, I think this is the second most obnoxious "entertainment" pieces I've ever witnessed. Whether it's supposed to be a gamblig demonstration, or a magic trick, he works the spectator over so that the stress level in the room is oppressive!.... If you're stressing people out, you may want to rethink your approach.
I certainly respect your attitude toward the audience. My mentor Johnny Ace Palmer believes that a number of tricks that I regularley performe are obnoxious, aggressive, invasive, and shouldn't be done.

Johnny is philosphically against performing, for example, Ring Flight, Paper Balls Over the Head, Knife through the Coat, Card Under the Glass, and a number of other tricks.

I believe that's something that each magician must decide for himself: Where is the line at which a trick becomes obnoxious?

The answer is as much a Rorschach test as it is a philosophical question.

As far as the "oppressive tension" in the room, some people like to work with more tension in the room than others. One man's tension is another man's excitement!

Some examples: Amazing Jon, Gazzo, and the king of them all, Joel Bauer.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 03:42 PM

To David,

Your points are well taken. I'm certainly not opposed to excitement in a performance. Quite the contrary; any positive emotions you can raise are worth the effort.

You're right that we must each make a decision for ourselves. Furthermore, what each of us considers acceptable will vary from venue to venue and from audience to audience. I'm certainly going to do different things in a bar that in a Church show. Different things for the Elks Club than for the Daughters of the American Revolution.

And, how we approach a particular trick or routine and our own personalities also affects the decision of where that line is. Did you ever see the late Donald "Monk" Watson perform? He was such a loveable old guy, with such an infectious laugh, that he could get away with things I'd never try. Saw him work for a mixed audience of children and adults in a conservative community in upstate Michigan in the 60's. Some of his language was rather blue, but somehow, he could get away with it and they just loved him.

But getting back to the Monte: this necessitates putting one spectator on the spot, so to speak. You can make it engratiating, you can soften it a lot, but my decision is that for monte and the shell game, I'll stick to Vernon's way. I don't buy the argument that it's any less effective, but even if some one convinced me that the impact was somehow less, I'll balance that against the possibility that someone will feel as Linda does, and still do it Vernon's way. The location of your line may vary.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/18/02 03:56 PM

I don't believe anyone has brought up this tactic (which I learned from Whit Haydn's “Fast & Loose” lecture many years ago) for gambling themed effects, which I think is brilliant: The magician wagers his money against the spectator's nothing. The spectator cannot lose, but he/she can win (of course, he/she doesn't). Handled correctly, the audience roots for the spectator, but in the end doesn't hold it against you for winning.

Dustin
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Postby Guest » 06/18/02 04:21 PM

Ralph Bonheim asked "has anyone here given in to temptation and put money on a street monte game? Did you win, and did you avoid having the player or a shill beat the crap out of you?

(Many years ago, I beat a shell-game player and managed to walk away because the street was crowded, the game was ongoing, and I lent some veritas to the scam. Still, the dumbest $15 I ever earned.)"

The fact is you cannot beat either 3-card Monte or the 3 shell game if they are properly executed. If you beat a shell game, the operator wasn't good enough at the shell game to be doing it publicly. It's got nothing to do with knowing how it's done - in fact, as they say, the best mark is one who thinks he knows how it's done.

Incidentally, I still see 3-card Monte operators near the Powell Street shopping district in San Francisco in the winter months. One guy is really good - older guy who usually wears a cap.

best regards,
David L.
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