The Svengali Deck

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Joe Mckay
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The Svengali Deck

Postby Joe Mckay » May 6th, 2018, 7:09 am

I will wait for Mark to join us before continuing...

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Okay - he is here now. Let's get on with this.

I have spent a few weeks researching the Svengali deck. As well as studying different uses for the deck - I have been checking out a lot of different threads discussing the deck as well. One argument that comes up over and over is whether or not to do the "Show the cards all alike" display as part of the routine.

Most magicians think this is a bad idea. Since it advertises that you are using a gaffed deck. And in a lot of cases it reminds the spectator of a deck they may well have purchased in the past. I am not sure how well known the Svengali deck is over here in the UK. But apparently it is pretty well known in America. Which is hardly surprising since Mark Wilson used to advertise them on TV (I believe?).

As such - you have a lot of magicians advocating subtle uses for the Svengali deck. And indeed it can be a great tool for catching out your magic buddies. And then you have people - such as Mark Lewis - who say the whole point of the Svengali deck is the "all alike" display since it is an eye-popper for laypeople.

Well - buried in one of the threads I checked out was a profound observation from Bill Duncan. And I felt it was so good that I would try and share it here.

Bill felt that the subtle uses for the Svengali deck were neither here nor there. The effects you can achieve by using a Svengali deck in a sneaky way left him unimpressed, so he didn't see the point. He then went on to say that the whole point of the demonstrating the Svengali deck is to do so in a pitch situation. Where the interest is generated by the fact that the spectator is not watching a card trick but a sales pitch in which he is just ten bucks away from getting his hands on this wondrous deck.

As such - the best use for a Svengali deck, in terms of sheer entertainment, is not to use it for a card trick. But to use it in a pitch setting where the spectator has the option of buying the secret at the end of the performance. And as such - you should be stressing the gaffed nature of the deck during the performance and therefore throwing in the "all alike" display as part of the routine. Since you are no longer showing a trick. Instead you are selling a product.

I found that observation to be very smart. And probably - Mark Lewis feels it is such an obvious point that he never bothered making it in any of the threads that I checked out.

It is the fact that the performance is taking place during a sales situation that makes the performance more compelling. And far more compelling than using it as just another secret tool in order to pull off another (let's be honest - boring) card trick.

You see this dynamic at work in infomercials. If I were to talk to you about an amazing knife I bought the other day - your eyes would quickly drift to your smartphone. But if you are watching an infomercial in which a half hour is devoted to selling the amazing features of this amazing knife - that can by yours for just 19.95 plus P+P, it can become oddly compelling and hypnotic after awhile.

Jerry Seinfeld made this point once in one of his routines:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH0M03_jKvs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wzULnlHr8w

So to summarize. The best way to use a Svengali deck is in order to stress the gaffed nature of the deck in a sales setting. Just as Mark Lewis has spent much of his life doing. And even though such a performance is done under the heading of sales rather than entertainment - it actually makes for a more compelling piece of entertainment than simply showing another card trick.

Hopefully that will of be of interest to somebody else as well. I just felt like I had to put together a post sharing Bill Duncan's astute observation. In my opinion has cut the Gordian Knot as far as the Svengali deck is concerned.

And if you ever do decide to pitch a Svengali deck, then the two best resources are Mark Lewis's book and the Mick Ayres script.

Links are below:

https://www.marklewisentertainment.com/html/magicians.html

http://www.mickayreswares.com/pro-pitch_routines

Don Driver is another influential voice as regards pitching Svengali decks. But I have yet to check out his work.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bob Farmer » May 6th, 2018, 8:24 am

I've used a Svengali deck to fool magicians. If you change the effect you change the expectations, so I used it for a Three Pile Monte routine. I remember a lecture I attended at the Magic Circle by a magician who in the first segment did all kinds of great effects. Fooled everybody, I think. In the second section, he explained what he'd done: used trick decks that everybody knew about but in new and novel ways.

I can't remember his name. It would have been 1975-76.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » May 6th, 2018, 8:45 am

I am always amused when magicians prattle about the svengali deck when of course they don't actually know anything about it. Grafters stole the item decades ago so it no longer belongs to magicians which is just as well because they don't know how to work it properly. Since naturally I am the way, the truth on the light in these matters I shall probably advise on it at some point in the future when I have the energy.

Which reminds me. What the hell happened to the article I wrote for Genii about the svengali deck? It seems that it will be published posthumously at this rate and I will have to read it from the spirit world.

And of course you should show the deck all different and then all the same. That is the whole point of the bloody trick! It is the most effective of all the other tricks you can do with the deck. And no. You DON"T have to do it only in a sales situation. I tried not to do it in normal performance situations since I am sick of looking at the bloody things but I was FORCED to because it is such a strong PERFORMANCE item. That is if you use MY routine since all other routines are pathetic in comparison.

I do it in trade shows where I am representing companies. I HAVE to! That is because it is made for trade show situations. I do it in formal close up shows even though I don't particularly want to. I do it because of the great reactions from laymen. And I don't just do it because I can't do tricks with regular cards. I can entertain with normal regular cards very well indeed but the svengali deck refused to go away and give me a bit of peace. That is because the laymen love to watch it.

I am well aware of the silly argument that laymen will be aware that you are using a trick deck if you show them all the same and then all different. Well, there are myriad ways of getting around that problem. I have described them in my book.

Which reminds me. I should really exert myself to go to Collectors Marketplace and advertise my new 3 DVD pitch course on the svengali deck. It includes my svengali book, the mouse book, the Dutch Looper manuscript, a free mouse, a free Dutch Looper and a partridge in a pear tree. I will get around it when I have the energy. I am always too lazy to promote my products. Alas I am not as greedy as I used to be. I must be losing my touch. Age I suppose. Still, I will most certainly do a bit of advertising when I am in the mood.

In the meantime for those of you who have not seen me working the deck here are three examples. I have posted them before but it can't hurt to do it again and nobody is forced to watch them anyway. On the other hand I have been forced to watch myself do it thousands upon thousands upon thousands of time so I don't see why the rest of you shouldn't suffer a little too.

A flea market situation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3GSItQV6io

A trade show situation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Ok6HCjH9Y

A more spiritual atmosphere at a psychic fair: (If you do the svengali deck at a psychic fair you can do it anywhere)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4dFiakyyA4

Jackpot
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Jackpot » May 6th, 2018, 12:50 pm

I've had good reactions using a routine based mostly on "How Right You Are" by Ganson. It works well with the rough-smooth deck version, but you can't show all the cards being the same. With a Svengali deck version I've gotten great reactions showing all the cards being the same as the finale.

Here's a link to a story I think is appropriate for this thread:
https://www.stevensmagic.com/1995/mike-rogers-red-jack-playland/
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » May 6th, 2018, 2:56 pm

Jackpot wrote:I've had good reactions using a routine based mostly on "How Right You Are" by Ganson. It works well with the rough-smooth deck version, but you can't show all the cards being the same. With a Svengali deck version I've gotten great reactions showing all the cards being the same as the finale.

Here's a link to a story I think is appropriate for this thread:
https://www.stevensmagic.com/1995/mike-rogers-red-jack-playland/


Excellent. I rest my case.

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Q. Kumber
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Q. Kumber » May 7th, 2018, 11:42 am

What do the lay audience think when you do the Hindu Shuffle move where you keep showing the same (bottom) card?
Or the Nudist Deck?

They don't care. They just want to be surprised and amazed.

The Nudist and Svengali decks give those in bucketfuls.

PS. They probably think all magicians use trick decks anyway. Harry Lorayne has said many times he prefers to use a borrowed deck for that reason.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » May 7th, 2018, 1:19 pm

They most certainly do think the magician is using trick cards. The only way you can deal with that is to have the deck examined or borrow them. The scenario for borrowing them is very limited, particularly if you perform impromptu. I do agree that borrowing the deck makes the tricks more effective but having said that I don't think I have borrowed a deck more than 6 times in my entire life. Who the hell carries decks of cards around with them except for magicians and they aren't worth performing for anyway.

Harry's scenario where he goes to houses and uses the host's deck or tells them to obtain a deck in advance of his arrival works for him very well. However, they wouldn't work for me since I rarely visit other people's houses anyway.

So the alternative is to use your own deck and have it examined. And that goes for the svengali deck too. You CAN have them examined! However, you have to purchase my book to find out how.

Bill Duncan
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » May 7th, 2018, 10:10 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:What do the lay audience think when you do the Hindu Shuffle move where you keep showing the same (bottom) card?

Speaking from personal experience, I assumed a Svengali Deck*. So it was pretty darn amazing when he cut the selection into the pack (palming it out) and handed me the cards so I could shuffle them and lose the card myself.

Since it easy enough to duplicate all the standard effects of the Svengali with a normal pack, including the all the same gag, it's always seemed pointless to me to carry a special deck (unless of course you're selling them).


* - ...because more than a decade before seeing Dr. Mystical do his ambitious card routine, I saw Tommy Windsor pitch the pack and I got one.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Jackpot » May 8th, 2018, 1:41 am

Bill Duncan wrote:Since it easy enough to duplicate all the standard effects of the Svengali with a normal pack, including the all the same gag, it's always seemed pointless to me to carry a special deck (unless of course you're selling them).


To a limited extent, yes. Some things similar to the standard Svengali effects can be done with a normal pack. But in my opinion the strength of the Svengali deck is not the individual effects. They are not that powerful when standing alone. They are meant to be part of a routine so that with each subsequent effect the magic gets stronger.

I suspect if you strung together the same effects with a regular deck you could not get the same impact as doing them with a Svengali deck. The routine would not have the same flow due to some of the compromises made necessary when using the normal deck.

If you only wanted to do an individual effect or two the normal deck would be fine. But if you want the cleanest, most direct routine the Svengali deck would be the better compromise.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » May 8th, 2018, 6:06 am

Oh dear! No wonder the American Bill Duncan couldn't get on television like the Scottish Bill Duncan! Nobody said anything about carrying a special deck around with you! When performing impromptu by all means use a regular deck. I never carry a svengali deck around with me. The last thing I want to look at. I can work for an hour or more with a regular deck in an impromptu situation but then of course I am a remarkable individual. I was talking about doing the deck in a PAID situation such as being booked to perform somewhere. In that case I use BOTH a regular deck AND a svengali deck.

With regard to the Hindu shuffle you COMBINE that with the svengali deck! First use the svengali as normal turning them into the same card and then switch the deck and continue for a very short time with the Hindu shuffle and a triple lift sequence which I have no energy to explain and by the time you finish the people will swear you have a trick deck. You WANT them to think that! Place the deck on the table and sooner or later someone will grab it and find nothing amiss.

Jackpot is perfectly correct and I bet that unlike poor Bill, HE could get on Scottish television since he has the correct attitude in these matters. In point of fact although you can indeed "sort of' do the same things with a regular deck they look bloody awful in comparison. Less direct and more convoluted methods which look very wimpy indeed. And I defy you to duplicate the STRONGEST trick in the routine which oddly enough isn't the "all the same" trick! That is actually the second strongest! (and the Hindu shuffle looks pathetic compared to the spread where you lay them down to be SEEN all the same). No, the strongest trick is where you make 7- 10 little piles and show an identical card on each pile. I was quite surprised when I first started to find that part of the routine gets the strongest reaction by far. Any you can't do THAT with a regular deck.

Anyway, I shall now reveal to all and sundry the way I get around the problem of people thinking it is a trick deck. Mind you, I suspect you have to be me to get away with it. Still, here it is for what it is worth. I simply say just before I start the routine. "This is a trick deck that I purchased from a magic shop" and then I get on with it. It doesn't make the blindest bit of difference to the strong reaction. Even if people have purchased the deck in the past they will still have no idea how it works since the deck they bought will by now be tucked in a drawer somewhere never to be seen again. However, if I am in the mood (which I usually am not) I will switch the deck and do the Hindu Shuffle and triple lift sequence and watch them grab for the deck when I finish and of course they find nothing.

But you know something? Even if you gave a svengali deck out to be examined they would STILL be baffled. All they would find is a whole bunch of identical cards but it won't tell them anything and they will be none the wiser. However, there are other ways of having a svengali deck examined without switching them out and they are described in my most wondrous book "The Long and the Short of It" which can be obtained here:
https://www.marklewisentertainment.com/ ... short.html

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » June 5th, 2018, 10:39 pm

Jackpot wrote:I suspect if you strung together the same effects with a regular deck you could not get the same impact as doing them with a Svengali deck. The routine would not have the same flow due to some of the compromises made necessary when using the normal deck.


I would suggest that Daryl's Ambitious Card routine is considerably more entertaining than ANY Svengali routine. But the trick deck does allow people to take it easy and "focus on presentation."

Sorry, it's hard to post anything in a thread Mark is posting to that isn't dripping with sarcasm. My bad.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Edward Pungot » June 6th, 2018, 12:33 am

1) riffle-shuffle the deck x 3
2) have a card selected via dribble force.
(Be sure they be dribbled high and long so faces can be seen diff.) [Throw in a couple of jests of having them say stop with all the cards being dribbled into the other hand]
3) have the stopped card shown around and placed back, dribbling the remainder on top of selection.
4) shuffle the deck x3
5) have them cut the deck in half mimming the cut
6) let them turn over the card they cut to
7) turn on the sprinklers only if you want to sell the deck.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 6th, 2018, 8:30 am

Bill Duncan wrote:
Jackpot wrote:I suspect if you strung together the same effects with a regular deck you could not get the same impact as doing them with a Svengali deck. The routine would not have the same flow due to some of the compromises made necessary when using the normal deck.


I would suggest that Daryl's Ambitious Card routine is considerably more entertaining than ANY Svengali routine. But the trick deck does allow people to take it easy and "focus on presentation."

Sorry, it's hard to post anything in a thread Mark is posting to that isn't dripping with sarcasm. My bad.


You HAVE to be joking! The Darryl Ambitious Card routine is the most horrendous exhibition of card magic known to mankind! It goes on and on and on and on and on and on for ever and ever and ever and ever. Magic for magicians. Or as old Murray the escapologist used to say "Conjuring for conjurers"

I can get more reaction out of laymen with the svengali deck in seconds than Darryl's trick does in the several hours that it takes to perform.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 6th, 2018, 8:36 am

Edward Pungot wrote:1) riffle-shuffle the deck x 3
2) have a card selected via dribble force.
(Be sure they be dribbled high and long so faces can be seen diff.) [Throw in a couple of jests of having them say stop with all the cards being dribbled into the other hand]
3) have the stopped card shown around and placed back, dribbling the remainder on top of selection.
4) shuffle the deck x3
5) have them cut the deck in half mimming the cut
6) let them turn over the card they cut to
7) turn on the sprinklers only if you want to sell the deck.



The Dribble force is the worst possible way of getting a card selected with the svengali deck. In fact it makes we want to dribble. I cringe whenever I hear a magician say "tell me when to stop" whether with a svengali deck or a regular deck. In fact I cringe when I do it myself as I sometimes do on occasion.

No, dearie me no. You must never use that awful move with the svengali deck. You must do the SPREAD move when you want to force a card. The move has been out there since prehistoric times and has been described in print but for some peculiar reason magicians don't use it. Very odd if I may say so.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Jackpot » June 6th, 2018, 11:11 am

Bill Duncan wrote:
Jackpot wrote:I suspect if you strung together the same effects with a regular deck you could not get the same impact as doing them with a Svengali deck. The routine would not have the same flow due to some of the compromises made necessary when using the normal deck.


I would suggest that Daryl's Ambitious Card routine is considerably more entertaining than ANY Svengali routine. But the trick deck does allow people to take it easy and "focus on presentation."

Sorry, it's hard to post anything in a thread Mark is posting to that isn't dripping with sarcasm. My bad.


No offense taken. But my above statement was made in response to your statement:
"Since it easy enough to duplicate all the standard effects of the Svengali with a normal pack, including the all the same gag, it's always seemed pointless to me to carry a special deck (unless of course you're selling them)."

I am glad to hear that you find Daryl's ACR more entertaining than a Svengali routine. But when taken in context it sounds like you are suggesting that Daryl's ACR is an imitation of a Svengali routine. I disagree. I would also disagree with your statement about "more entertaining". In the right hands and in front of the appropriate audience either routine can be equally entertaining. It depends on the performer presenting the routine and the audience watching the performance and not our personal prejudices.

You appear to have some disdain for magicians focusing on presentation. If more magicians focused on presentation more magic would be entertaining. I use a variety of tools to entertain with magic. All of these tools have advantages and limits. Besides using a Svengali deck I also do effects like Merlin's Lost Ace Trick. I cannot think of a time when I would perform both as part of the same performance.

And yes, sarcasm is tempting.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 7th, 2018, 4:45 am

I agree with Mark. However, I don't think a magician would really understand why it is so great unless they pitched the decks for awhile. The recreations of the Svengali effects using a regular deck do pale in comparison to the real thing.

Joe's original post is very much magician thinking and does not reflect my experience at all. They simply don't care that it is gaffed deck and it still fools them. And, as Mark says there are several ways to end clean if you want to bother.

There is a reason things stay around for 100 years.

Fine with me if everyone thinks I'm wrong though. I don't mind being the only one doing it.

And Daryl himself might be more entertaining than the guy doing the Svengali deck but there is no way in hell that ambitious card routine is more entertaining than the Svengali deck. I'll paraphrase the late Harry Anderson and say , "After the card is lost in the deck and comes back to the top, you better start wrapping it up."
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 7th, 2018, 6:45 am

I think Harry Anderson was almost right. You can overdo the ambitious card routine and I think Darryl did precisely that. However, I don't think it is sensible to make it come to the top just once. The trick builds with repetition. All I am saying is that it should not go on for ever like Darryl's routine does. 8 minutes of it is bloody stupid.

Oddly enough I do the ambitious card routine myself with regular cards. And ironically the bit that gets the best reaction is where I show them to be all the same with the Hindu Shuffle!

In any event my claim that it doesn't make the blindest bit of difference if the audience know you have a trick deck is proven by the video I posted earlier of me perfoming the svengali routine at a trade show where I am NOT selling them. I TELL the people I am using a trick deck! The reaction is just as strong as if I didn't tell them.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 7th, 2018, 12:02 pm

Harry Anderson was actually talking about the Linking Rings and he said "Once the rings link and unlink, you better start wrapping it up." His ring routine went on a little beyond that but is amazingly restrained.

Of course I was exaggerating about the ambitious card. I think 3-5 phases is plenty and that should have variation of effect. Most you see go on too long for my taste.

Daryl could make a lot of things look good and be entertaining that most people just can't
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby erdnasephile » June 7th, 2018, 1:32 pm

I would agree that many Ambitious Card routines go on too long. (I think I read that Sol Stone judges how good a magician is by how short his AC routine is).

However, to add context, I wanted to respectfully point out that Daryl (RIP) rarely performed his full AC routine. Rather, he simply expanded or contracted it based on the audience response and circumstances. This was very much in keeping with his philosophy of Jazz Magic. I don't believe the atypical full routines seen on magic instructional videos should be taken as emblematic of how he used he routine in the real world.

Daryl was a master, and IMHO, one of the greatest close-up entertainers many of us have ever seen. I would like to think that if anyone had a high percentage of being right about when to stop, it'd be him.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » June 7th, 2018, 10:21 pm

Jackpot wrote:You appear to have some disdain for magicians focusing on presentation.

Not at all, just a distain for magicians who don't bother doing the work so they can "focus on presentation." That was the sarcasm I was talking about.

What I think about what is important in magic (or any performing art really) was stated in the dedication page of my booklet Tubthumping..

That's out of print, but the important bit is:
With gratitude, to Mr. Martin A. Nash who proved that is possible to be a consummate entertainer and an expert sleight of hand artist at the same time, long before it was fashionable to do so. His work continues to be a source of inspiration more than twenty years after I first encountered it in the pages of Sleight Unseen.


My thinking is, that if you can entertain with a Svengali pack,you can probably entertain without one, and carrying one around is a waste of pocket space.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 7th, 2018, 11:37 pm

Well, I NEVER carry a svengali deck around with me! The last thing I want to look at if I am not working! As for Martin Nash or Darryl I am afraid I don't share your opinion of them. I did think they were adequate enough but nowhere near as exceptional as magicians think they were. But then I don't share the admiration bestowed on other so called legends in magic either. They either look too pleased with themselves with smug expressions of superiority or they over present so much that it distracts from their work or worst sin of all they are not interesting characters and suffer from the sin of a mundane or non existent personality .

So it is no good quoting big names in the world of magic to me since the odds are that I will sniff derisively at them and suggest they have rather a lot to learn.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » June 8th, 2018, 2:16 am

performer wrote:So it is no good quoting big names in the world of magic to me since the odds are that I will sniff derisively at them and suggest they have rather a lot to learn.


I think you misunderstood Mark, I was addressing someone else. But thanks for sharing such valuable information.

[censored], there I go again.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 8th, 2018, 5:17 am

Bill Duncan wrote:
performer wrote:So it is no good quoting big names in the world of magic to me since the odds are that I will sniff derisively at them and suggest they have rather a lot to learn.


I think you misunderstood Mark, I was addressing someone else. But thanks for sharing such valuable information.

[censored], there I go again.


No. It seems that you misunderstood ME. I was also addressing someone else. Do pay attention--there's a good chap.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 8th, 2018, 6:10 am

I shall now go over this thread and see who I was addressing. One moment please.

Ah! It seems you were only half right. I was half addressing you and half addressing someone else. I was merely making the point that for most of my life in magic I have been utterly puzzled at how differently magicians view certain performers compared to the way that I view them. The throw accolades at people for all the wrong reasons. They admire the technical skill, the creativitiy etc; whereas that has no interest for me whatsoever. And it doesn't interest laymen either because they don't know it exists either. They shouldn't be able to see the technical skill anyway and they don't care who created the trick in the first place. They just see some smug guy looking very pleased with himself, or perhaps some loud mouthed performer who thinks brashness is showmanship, or someone mumbling with the personality of a dial tone, or someone who talks too much, or even worse someone who talks too much before the trick even starts because he thinks long preambles set the stage for entertainment when in actual fact it sets the stage for tedium, or someone who talks too fast, or too slow, or has crude humour, insults audience members or worst sin of all uses profanity in their performances. These are the type of performers worshiped by magicians in emperor's new clothes fashion.

These are the sort of people who are admired and feted by magicians and who quite frankly I regard as adequate at best and mediocre at worst. Let me take one branch of magic as an example. Close up work. I don't think I have seen 6 really good close up magicians in my entire life whereas most of you will think you have seen dozens.

Not that I have a cynical nature of course.................

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Joe Mckay » June 8th, 2018, 8:52 am

There are very few good performers in magic. Particularly close-up. I agree with Mark on that.

Often the best performers in magic are those who don't particularly care for magic. Penn Jillette is one example. He was a juggler not a magician early on in his career. And Derren Brown came to magic from hypnosis.

Jay Sankey and David Acer are both excellent performers. But they both have strong stand-up comedy backgrounds. Jerry Sadowitz is another brilliant performer who is also a stand-up comedian.

Magic is an introverted pursuit. It tickles the same part of the brain that wants to pull apart a computer and see how it works. As such - the pool of magicians is not overly filled with the types of personalities that are o interesting to laypeople.

Of course - you get the rare exception. David Williamson comes to mind. He is incredible.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Jackpot » June 8th, 2018, 1:55 pm

Bill Duncan wrote:My thinking is, that if you can entertain with a Svengali pack,you can probably entertain without one, and carrying one around is a waste of pocket space.


I agree with the first part of your sentence, but whether carrying one is a waste of pocket space or not is an individual choice. I have not doubt it would be a waste of space for you. Do I carry one? Very seldom and then only when it is going to used.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » June 8th, 2018, 9:51 pm

I wonder why magicians think it's a notable observation that most magicians are bad? I've seen a [censored] of bad comedians, but I don't hear the same complaints about how many bad comics there are.

Hell, Max Maven once quoted Sturgeon's law (90% of everything is crap), but suggested that in magic, the percentage is closer to 99%. And he's see a lot of magic, so while it may have been a bit of dramatic license when he wrote it, I can't say he was wrong.

But here's what I know from personal experience. I've seen a considerably larger number of stand up comics than I have magicians, and I've seen a lot of magicians. I can think of roughly equal numbers of people I would go out of my way to see in both arts, which suggests to me that the percentage of entertaining magicians is higher than the percentage of entertaining stand up comics.

While some skills are transferable, and knowing how to interact with people certainly helps in life generally, people like Chad Long, David Williamson, and David Acer are exceptional because they're really good at two hard things, not because being a comic makes you a better magician.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 8th, 2018, 10:56 pm

Bill,

Its subjective though. I don't have an opinion about your sense of humor, but what if I did think that you had a terrible sense of humor? Then your stand up comedy stats are out the window for me. They are only right for you.

Magicians are the same. Although, since we are involved in magic, its easier see if certain theatrical rules are being observed. But, context matters too, for comics. For example, a political comic would bomb in front of an audience that didn't agree with him and kill for the right audience.

Tricks are not really like that. I think tricks might be easier judged simply from observing the audience.

I know Daryl was a brilliant performer, I think most of us would agree on that. I also have no doubt that he shortened the Ambitious Card routine as needed. I think audiences like the ambitious card because it is extremely simple to follow and direct. Personally, I hate the effect and find it dull and uninteresting. But of course I have used it in the past like everyone else that has handled cards. I find for laymen there is no comparison to the effect of the Svengali deck.

But that's just down to different opinions. Most of these things are opinion. and all I objected to was Joe's assertion that the Svengali deck must be used only in a sales context to be effective. I've seen no proof of that in my experience.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Joe Mckay » June 9th, 2018, 4:32 am

Thanks for that, Ryan. I was kinda' hoping I was wrong when I posted up my theory (taken from Bill Duncan).

I like the idea of performing the Svengali deck and it pleases me that, despite my concerns, it really can be effective for laypeople.

Hopefully I am wrong and based on your input I will go away and find out for myself!

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 9th, 2018, 5:36 am

OK. Here is the proof that you can perform the svengali deck in a non sales environment. This extract is taken from two sources. One is from my memoirs, "The Lives of a Showman" and the other is from my book on the svengali deck,, "The Long and the Short of It" The same extract is in both books. It does take up a lot of space but I think it is worth it since it proves Ryan's point admirably. Besides it makes for a great story.
............................................................................................................................................................................................

I had managed to obtain a booking on odd nights at a small London night club named the Negresco. It was owned by a former entertainer named Ronnie Ross. I was hired to do mainly close up magic at the tables but would occasionally do my cabaret act as well.

A lot of gangsters habituated the place and loved for me to perform for them. They would invite me to their table and insist on seeing card tricks. I always did this with mixed feelings. They were a fantastic audience but I would feel very uncomfortable when they would talk business. I was amazed that they would openly discuss which bank they had robbed and who they had shot that week. There were two reasons I resolved to avoid them the next time they came in. One, I didn’t really want to know who their next murder victim was; and two, they kept offering me large sums of money to cheat for them. I was a naïve innocent kid and much more honest than I am now. Besides, I didn’t really know how to cheat at cards anyway, so I always refused their offers. They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to make vast amounts of money for myself. I tried to explain the concepts of honesty to them, but I wasn’t very successful. They kept trying to convince me and I kept refusing, so I got quite uncomfortable when they would come in.

Actually the main reason I didn’t want to perform for them was that I was running out of material. I had, and still have, a large repertoire of close up magic but the gangsters just dried me up. I really had nothing left to show them. I resolved that the next time they arrived I would make an excuse and not join them at their table. Unfortunately, when they did come in they beckoned to me and said, “Son, we’ve got a present for you.” Then they presented me with a beautiful set of cufflinks with playing cards on them. After that came the usual request to perform and this time, because of the gift I couldn’t say no. I tried to though. “You’ve seen all my tricks” I said, “I’ve got nothing left to show you” However, they demanded, “Come on, just one!” I was about to try and get out of it when I realised that I had a Svengali deck with me that night. I had been to see a department store buyer and I just happened to have the deck with me. I never performed it as part of a close up magic show, I only demonstrated Svengali decks at venues where I could sell them. But that night I was desperate for material so I decided to show them the Svengali deck.

All I can say is the reaction from those gangsters was unbelievable! They told me it was the best card trick I had ever shown them. The laughter and shouting was so loud it attracted attention from the other tables. I had garnered great audience reaction from these nefarious characters in the past when I worked with regular cards, but this was nothing compared to the excitement generated from the Svengali deck.
Later the owner of the club informed me that the gangsters told him that the trick where the deck all changed to the three of diamonds was the greatest thing they had ever seen.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Bill Duncan » June 9th, 2018, 6:58 pm

Ryan Matney wrote:I agree with Mark. However, I don't think a magician would really understand why it is so great unless they pitched the decks for awhile. The recreations of the Svengali effects using a regular deck do pale in comparison to the real thing.
"


Ryan,
Can you describe or demonstrate one of the effects commonly used in routines with the Svengalli Deck that is so much better it makes the slight of hand version pale in comparison? The only one that comes to mind for me is the multiple card display where you actually show two of the same card, at the same time. And since my personal experience of seeing the Flustration display was to believe there were multiple cards I can't imagine that's enough to say it "pales in comparison" because convinced, is convinced.

Also puzzled about your statement, because my initial thesis was that the deck had great value if you were pitching it, but minimal value if you were not, it sounds like we're in agreement.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 9th, 2018, 7:03 pm

Fascinating discussion.

I defer to Performer on all things "Svengali."

I will say, however, that it has been many a decade since the high profile "T.V. Magic" Cards, and like so many things in life, eventually the old becomes new again.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 9th, 2018, 8:01 pm

Oddly enough showing the cards to be all the same and all different is NOT the best trick you can do with the deck. It is merely the second best. I wonder if any of you can guess which bit in the svengali demonstration gets the strongest reaction? It actually is the best thing you can do with a svengali deck although when I first started to work the deck I was quite surprised by it. I thought it would be the weakest bit rather than the strongest bit.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 9th, 2018, 11:35 pm

I would guess the bit that gets the strongest reaction is the cutting sequence into multiple piles where the spectator is asked on top of which pile would they like the featured card to be, and it turns out to be all the piles.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 9th, 2018, 11:54 pm

Absolutely correct. The reaction is astonishing! In that story of the nightclub gangsters I recounted above this was the point that they really went nuts with really loud shouts of laughter and yelling. In fact when I am pitching them this strong reaction is actually a dangerous part of the pitch because it can unsettle the crowd and people can walk away because of it. David Walker in his pitch book mentions this phenomena somewhere. They can actually laugh themselves out of the crowd. I am very alert at this point in case this happens. I often have to say, "hang on a minute" to keep people there to the end.

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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 10th, 2018, 12:04 am

Bill Duncan wrote:
Ryan Matney wrote:I agree with Mark. However, I don't think a magician would really understand why it is so great unless they pitched the decks for awhile. The recreations of the Svengali effects using a regular deck do pale in comparison to the real thing.
"


Ryan,
Can you describe or demonstrate one of the effects commonly used in routines with the Svengalli Deck that is so much better it makes the slight of hand version pale in comparison? The only one that comes to mind for me is the multiple card display where you actually show two of the same card, at the same time. And since my personal experience of seeing the Flustration display was to believe there were multiple cards I can't imagine that's enough to say it "pales in comparison" because convinced, is convinced.

Also puzzled about your statement, because my initial thesis was that the deck had great value if you were pitching it, but minimal value if you were not, it sounds like we're in agreement.


Bill,

Basically, most of the effects. The two card transpo is stronger because it uses a duplicate. Sleight of hand version can't match that for clarity and directness. Card at any number is cleaner with no manipulation or outs. It's a really good forcing deck too for uses with other props and tricks.

But the main effect of changing all of the cards into the same card and back again is made much stronger the various displays possible. The standard riffle display is stronger than the Hindu display (you don't use the Flushtration Count with a full deck) because the multiples of identical cards are seen clearly and separate. Then there's spreads and drops that look even better.

The Hindu display and the Flushtration Count work. But they are not as strong as the Svengali deck. Rather they are better used as "casual proof" after already establishing a condition. I don't think either one can really hold up as the sole convincer, because both use a mannered and unnatural display. It's ok as a touch, but I wouldn't want either doing the heavy lifting.

I don't think we are in agreement. Not sure why you read my comment that way. I think the deck has GREAT value as a performance tool, at least equal to its value as a retail item, and maybe greater depending on the performer.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 10th, 2018, 12:06 am

Mark,

I find one of the biggest reactions is when the spectator cuts to their own card the first time.

And it suddenly occurred to me, why in hell are we both arguing for anyone to be doing this? If they think its old and only good for pitching, shouldn't we just keep it to ourselves?
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Jackpot » June 10th, 2018, 12:08 am

performer wrote:Oddly enough showing the cards to be all the same and all different is NOT the best trick you can do with the deck. It is merely the second best. I wonder if any of you can guess which bit in the svengali demonstration gets the strongest reaction? It actually is the best thing you can do with a svengali deck although when I first started to work the deck I was quite surprised by it. I thought it would be the weakest bit rather than the strongest bit.


I've had great reactions to the Svengali deck. Beside all cards are the same, in particular are the sequence where the cards are cut into multiple piles and the top card of the pile selected by the spectator match the selected card, and dealing out out six card - the spectator rolling a die - counting 1, 2, 3,4 5 or 6 and there's the card without any convoluted force. You really have them count the number they roll. No convoluted spelling needed.

If the choices are "clean and direct" or "convoluted and suspicious" I'll go with clean and direct every time.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby Ryan Matney » June 10th, 2018, 12:11 am

Maybe the best way to say it is that the effects can be duplicated with a regular deck but the handling can not be duplicated. Same with Invisible Deck, there are ways to do it with a regular deck but who does them? Not many.
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Re: The Svengali Deck

Postby performer » June 10th, 2018, 1:04 am

Ryan Matney wrote:Mark,

I find one of the biggest reactions is when the spectator cuts to their own card the first time.

And it suddenly occurred to me, why in hell are we both arguing for anyone to be doing this? If they think its old and only good for pitching, shouldn't we just keep it to ourselves?


I suppose this is true. The trouble is that I don't really practice what I preach since I only perform the svengali deck for business purposes. In other words when I am being paid either by pitching the cards or using it in a paid performance. I never perform it impromptu for two reasons. One is the inconvenience of carrying a svengali deck around with me and secondly and most importantly I am sick of the bloody things and don't want to even look at them when I am not working. And of course I am particularly good with regular cards anyway so I don't need the damn svengali deck! And I ALWAYS carry a regular deck with me!

Mind you I once read that Leo Leipzig (brother of Nate Leipzig) who also did magic would always carry around a deck in Si Stebbins order. I suspect that might have been even more inconvenient than keeping a svengali deck on you the whole time.


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