Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby Brad Henderson » March 15th, 2018, 10:41 am

a purist is one who puts their own pleasure ahead of his or her audiences'.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby Bob Farmer » March 15th, 2018, 11:45 am

I've never understood what "cozy" means in relation to card handling. Perhaps it means odd or awkward. If it does, this is not something limited to gimmicked cards.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 15th, 2018, 12:27 pm

One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for "cozy" is: "marked by or suggesting...connivance." So, yes, I guess, by that definition, one could argue that virtually every effect done by a magician is cozy, given that there is some kind of connivance involved. However, if you get caught with gaffed cards, the jig is up, you graduate from being suspected of connivance to being convicted of fraud.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 15th, 2018, 4:31 pm

performer wrote:Here is my version of 3 card monte. Ian Kendall has informed me that my "hype" (first time I have ever heard this word in connection with this trick) is faster than his but I am going to ignore him on the grounds that I consider myself perfect in every way. Anyway here it is. It is very short but it gets the job done very well for my purposes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SJExUh ... e=youtu.be


I am most distressed that there has not been a single comment on my most wondrous 3 Card Monte routine from this miserable lot. The reason for my distress is that I posted it on Facebook and there is positive comment after comment after comment about it from both magicians and laymen. Alas it is the fate of great genius to go often unrewarded.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 15th, 2018, 4:46 pm

I actually did comment on Performer's (i.e., not my) handling of the 3 Card Monte today but it happened to be on the Jerx thread earlier today, where I wrote, in pertinent part:

"In fact, he took the time...to make and post a video, which in my view, proves the important point he made that going slower is a far better approach, and, in fact, more deceptive, than tossing the cards fast. Like Vernon said, confusion isn't magic. Nicely done, Performer."

Glad I got a chance to reiterate it on this thread, where the comment really belongs.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 15th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Bob Farmer wrote:I've never understood what "cozy" means in relation to card handling. Perhaps it means odd or awkward. If it does, this is not something limited to gimmicked cards.


I've always thought of "cozy" as when a magician handles objects or performs a sleight in such a furtive, guarded manner that it inadvertently raises the suspicion of the audience, perhaps by the inadvertent transmission of guilt.

More simply, if you can spot the use of an expanded shell or a double lift from across the room, the handling is probably too cozy.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 15th, 2018, 5:20 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:I actually did comment on Performer's (i.e., not my) handling of the 3 Card Monte today but it happened to be on the Jerx thread earlier today, where I wrote, in pertinent part:

"In fact, he took the time...to make and post a video, which in my view, proves the important point he made that going slower is a far better approach, and, in fact, more deceptive, than tossing the cards fast. Like Vernon said, confusion isn't magic. Nicely done, Performer."

Glad I got a chance to reiterate it on this thread, where the comment really belongs.


Ian Kendall said on facebook that I did the move even faster than he did!

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 15th, 2018, 5:47 pm

Not even close to being true - and you can quote me...

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 15th, 2018, 5:57 pm

He told me to "trust him" on it!

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 15th, 2018, 6:17 pm

I think he may be using gaffed trustworthiness.

Isn't this just good, clean fun?

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 15th, 2018, 6:35 pm

I am more concerned that he still has a Scottish accent but I am not quite sure what I did with mine!

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby El Mystico » March 16th, 2018, 10:05 am

Just watched Performer's 3 Card Monte.
I find it interesting that he makes very little use of 'mixing' the cards after the toss.
Contrast this with the School for Scoundrels DVD on the topic, where they place emphasis on the mixing; saying that the principle is that the spectator is meant to think they lost track of it during the mixing. If you don't mix, the basic premise goes.
Certainly, the 'real' grafters I've seen have mixed the cards.
And yet - Erdnase, Vernon and Scarne place no emphasis on this.

I guess this comes back to the question already posed; are you showing cheating? Or showing magic? If the card magically switches, that's a different effect.

Meanwhile, I love Richard Turner's handling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=191zMzL0DiI

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 16th, 2018, 10:26 am

Personally, I always do the mix, regardless of whether I toss fairly or do the hype. But then, as El Mystico noted, that is important if your routine is oriented toward a demonstration of the scam, which mine primarily is, although I do like to incorporate some magic in explaining how the mark believes that the operator must have switched out the red queen and is using "one, two, three black cards" (showing all black - thanks to Eugene Burger for that nice little sequence!). This, in addition to the magical introductory sequence I learned by watching Ricky Jay, but which is done in the historical context of talking about the various combinations of cards used by the notorious old-time scammers in the 1800's on railroad trains, steamboats and saloons, like Canada Bill, George Devol and Frank Tarbeaux.

The nice thing about mixing the cards is that it adds an additional layer of camouflage and misdirection. The cards are initially thrown fairly, then mixed about, and they clearly followed the money card. This is done a couple times to "condition" them. I'm sure that many of the members here do that in their own routines, as do the operators on the street. On one of the fair tossing and mixing sequences, I usually talk about how a shill bets and "wins," and is promptly "paid" by the operator. The spectator (or mark) sees that he/she was able to easily follow the money card, and is thereby prompted to bet - but alas. The other psychological ploy commonly used is that, despite the fact that the money card is obviously in a certain position, a different shill bets on the wrong card and "loses," (ha ha), and the operator then shows where the money card actually is - which is precisely where the mark thought it was. The mark, believing (quite incorrectly) that he/she is smarter than the apparent loser, is accordingly prompted to bet, but for a very different reason than the one involved in the ploy where a shill bets and "wins."

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 16th, 2018, 10:36 am

I do not do the trick as a gambling presentation and I make no reference to the "game" aspect. I am performing a magic trick not a card cheating expose or doing a gambling theme. I try to avoid getting people to choose the correct card so that I look superior and they look stupid. Even at the end when I do indulge in a little bit of this my patter removes the sting and it continues on like a magic trick. As for "mixing" I do mix two cards around a little bit but that is about it.

However, when I do the Dutch Looper there are occasions when I feel like growling at children I have a specific routine where I am constantly mixing the cards and letting the brats guess which one it is and I take great delight in proving them wrong. I snarl at them, "See--kids don't know everything!" and make rude remarks such as "You are not much good at this, are you?" There may well be some sensitive souls here who might think this approach will traumatise the children and I dearly hope they are correct.

You have to have had experience working 8 hours a day for weeks on end pitching magic to horrible brats to know what I am talking about. I become particularly obnoxious if they dare to utter the awful phrase: "I know that one. I went to magic camp" I do not approve of children taking up magic. The less they know about it the better. There are enough bad magicians in the world without adding more of them in future years. One thing I am really pleased about is that when they purchase the Dutch Looper from me there is no chance in hell they are going to be able to do it. One does have to protect the secrets of magic after all.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 16th, 2018, 11:30 am

El Mystico wrote:Just watched Performer's 3 Card Monte.
I find it interesting that he makes very little use of 'mixing' the cards after the toss.
Contrast this with the School for Scoundrels DVD on the topic, where they place emphasis on the mixing; saying that the principle is that the spectator is meant to think they lost track of it during the mixing. If you don't mix, the basic premise goes.
Certainly, the 'real' grafters I've seen have mixed the cards.
And yet - Erdnase, Vernon and Scarne place no emphasis on this.

I guess this comes back to the question already posed; are you showing cheating? Or showing magic? If the card magically switches, that's a different effect.

Meanwhile, I love Richard Turner's handling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=191zMzL0DiI


Agree with S4S. D. Ortiz also makes the point that if you do no mixing, it essentially advertises that the hype is a false throw. However, there is certainly a fine line: too much mixing may result in the audience not knowing where the money card is, which kills the effect. I think Ortiz just makes 2 moves tops after the hype.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 16th, 2018, 2:02 pm

That is a load of old baloney I can assure you. I have been doing my little routine for decades to great reaction. Not even once has anyone suspected a false throw and I have not always worked to nice polite audiences. Mixing is not necessary whatsoever. And it isn't my routine either. It is the Dai Vernon routine. If not mixing the cards was good enough for Vernon it is good enough for me.

This morning I decided to rebel against the grave forebodings of Lewis Ganson not to add anything to the Vernon Routine and I created an extra bit which I think might just work. It will add another minute or so to the routine but I suspect it will be rather wonderful.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 16th, 2018, 3:47 pm

performer wrote:That is a load of old baloney I can assure you. I have been doing my little routine for decades to great reaction. Not even once has anyone suspected a false throw and I have not always worked to nice polite audiences. Mixing is not necessary whatsoever. And it isn't my routine either. It is the Dai Vernon routine. If not mixing the cards was good enough for Vernon it is good enough for me.

This morning I decided to rebel against the grave forebodings of Lewis Ganson not to add anything to the Vernon Routine and I created an extra bit which I think might just work. It will add another minute or so to the routine but I suspect it will be rather wonderful.


So noted. Appreciate your opinion, Mr. Lewis, given your vast experience with the routine.

It is interesting you should mention Ganson's admonition not to add anything to the routine. I think it's funny that right after he writes this, Ganson then offers 2 additional phases in the text. (To be fair, though, his admonition does seem to be focused on not adding things just for cleverness sake.)

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 16th, 2018, 3:48 pm

Addendum: Just watched the Vernon performance of his monte routine on the "Revelations" DVD set. It appears that he either had added a a complete phase to his published monte routine or perhaps got a bit turned around and repeated a phase. (He still included the exposure of the hype in this latter day performance).

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 16th, 2018, 6:08 pm

Yes, I remember thinking Ganson was contradicting himself a trifle. And I am glad that I never saw Vernon's exposure of the hype. I don't think I would have liked that myself. I wasn't overly excited about Ganson's additions but I am going to use a phase using the well known paper clip idea but with an unusual twist to it which I came up with this morning. I think the reason for me doing this after so many years is that I didn't realise my entire routine was so short. The whole thing is only about a minute long. But then I try not to overburden a trick with words. I think it is a mistake to chatter when nothing is actually happening and I think that is often a fault that I see magicians indulging in. Long winded preambles to a trick always turn me off.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2018, 11:38 am

This truly has been a fascinating thread (well, certainly for me, given my fascination with 3 Card Monte and every aspect of it. I realize there may be others who do not share that fascination). Although this thread has gotten many views and quite a few replies, it would be a shame to see it die out.

It would be interesting to hear from members whether they do the routine, their presentational approach, whether they use the gaffed or regular cards, what they like and enjoy about 3 card monte, the reactions they typically receive from laymen, or any other comments or observations about it.

Sorry, but going to be redundant now and reiterate that, "there is not a single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, or that will mystify as greatly, or cause as much amusement, or bear so much repetition, as this little game; and for these reasons we believe it worthy of unstinted effort to master it thoroughly."

- S.W. What's-His-Name -

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 17th, 2018, 12:19 pm

If you really want to drive yourself nuts with the three card monte there are some unusual ideas in the Cy Endfield book on card magic. Marking the card with a pencil, sticking a drawing pin through a card etc, Paper clips, extra corners etc;

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby El Mystico » March 17th, 2018, 12:33 pm

That Erdnase quote; to me it is clear that he actually did this; but he also says (without the book in front of me) that it is great for amateurs performing for friends and family.
I think this says something substantial about the man.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2018, 6:22 pm

Indeed it does, El Mystico.

I wonder if it provides any kind of clue for the Erdnase sleuths on the other thread?

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 18th, 2018, 9:38 pm

Thought I would mention this for anyone interested in Moser Monte in the future: Since I'm studying this topic, I bought a set. The trick DVD is often advertised as having "Bicycle Cards", but they are currently Bicycle Mandolin cards. (Refills are also in Mandolin. I think they also offer the trick with Phoenix backs as well).

Correct me please: I thought USPS forbade altering the back designs and the Ace of Spades and Joker when making gaffed cards, but everything else was fair game. Therefore, I was a tad bit surprised that the manufacturer didn't opt for the more common Rider backs for the gaffs.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 21st, 2018, 12:20 pm

As a result of this thread I have devised three different monte ideas. I have no idea if they are any good or not since I have never shown any of them to a single living soul. The trouble is that I haven't quite mastered the technical part of my own ideas. And I am scared to add them to the routine for fear of going against the Ganson advice of leaving well alone.

When I eventually try them out I will not show them to magicians. They always give the wrong feedback. Laymen only is my rule.

We shall see.............

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 21st, 2018, 4:12 pm

Congratulations Performer! Sometimes the tendency is for us to go the safe route, you know tried and true. But that can be the beauty of these these kinds of discussions. They can be a catalyst to motivate us out of our comfort zone, to be creative, to come up with and boldly try out new ideas. In my view, the role of a writer (such as Ganson) is to accurately describe/articulate the routine, but not to stifle creativity or discourage innovation. Wise idea though to field test on laymen - not magicians!

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 21st, 2018, 5:17 pm

I do suspect there was wisdom in Ganson's approach. After all my little routine without any additions has served me well
for decades. Still, rules are meant to be broken providing you know about the rule in the first place and have given some thought as to why you are breaking it. I respect the rule but am timidly going to experiment.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby EndersGame » March 21st, 2018, 11:49 pm

erdnasephile wrote:Question to those of you who work for real folks: given an hypothetically equally strong presentation, do you favor the gaffed approach or are you in the Ortiz camp that feels authentic monte techniques are the best during performance?

Interestingly, in his book Designing Miracles, Darwin Ortiz makes a strong case that all that matters is the effect, since magic is all about entertaining through the creation of an impossible illusion. As such he advocates the easiest way of getting that job done, even if it requires gaffs or gimmicks.

It does depend on the context. If the aim is simply to entertain, then purity of method becomes secondary to the objective of creating the illusion of impossibility. If the aim is to present an exercise of skill, then a more authentic monte technique might be arguably in order.
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 22nd, 2018, 8:14 am

The easiest way is not always the best way. Sometimes it is but sometimes it isn't. The criteria should be which method is the most deceptive rather than the amount of technical expertise required. Paul Le Paul once pointed out that although the simplest method is usually the best it doesn't necessarily mean that the simplest method is the easiest.

I believe it is foolish to be skillful in a trick beyond the bounds of necessity but on the other hand if sleight of hand is the most effective tool to do the job then that is the tool that should be used.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby EndersGame » March 22nd, 2018, 8:23 am

performer wrote:The easiest way is not always the best way. Sometimes it is but sometimes it isn't. The criteria should be which method is the most deceptive rather than the amount of technical expertise required. Paul Le Paul once pointed out that although the simplest method is usually the best it doesn't necessarily mean that the simplest method is the easiest.

You're right, and I appreciate the fine-tuning here; in fact, I don't think I did justice to Darwin Ortiz when I suggested that he advocates the easiest method.

In Designing Miracles Darwin goes through a number of criteria that typically are used to evaluate the strength of a method and an effect: is it the cleverness, creativity, difficulty, efficiency, or novelty of the method, or whether it fooled you? While these are often reasons why magicians are attracted to particular effects, in the end he suggests that there's a more important consideration. While effect, method, and presentation are commonly accepted as ingredients of strong magic, it is his thesis that there is a fourth essential ingredient that is typically overlooked: design.

So yes, I agree; it's too simplistic to say that the decision about the best method is just to ask which way is the easiest way to get the job done; while it's an important consideration, it's certainly not the only one.
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 22nd, 2018, 10:16 am

With respect, I actually think the level of difficulty isn't considered particularly important in Mr. Ortiz' selection of methods.

For example, here are some excerpts from the "Picking the Best Method" section of the book, under the heading of "Difficulty" (Designing Miracles, pg. 18-19):

"The easier-is-better school often argues that easy methods allow the performer to concentrate on presentation. This claim is undercut by the fact that so many of its proponents are such lousy showmen...I suspect that's because this argument is often an excuse for laziness." (emphasis mine)

and

"As misguided as it is to say that the easier version is always better, this is only the flip side of the equally misguided view that the harder version is always better...Either way, judging the merits of a routine by how many sleights it contains is like judging the merits of a sculpture by how much it weighs." (emphases mine)

Mr. Ortiz is of the "method affects effect" school, and he stresses in his writings that he will take any route to produce the best effect possible. He is certainly not opposed to easy, but whether the trick is technically easy or hard appears to be of minimal importance to him. (That said, those will lesser skill may find that difficulty is a much more important consideration to them.)

Jamy Ian Swiss has a similar viewpoint expressed in "Gaffs versus Skill" in Preserving Mystery. In this essay (first published in Genii), he extends the argument, but also adds the wrinkle that the choice presented in the title isn't always quite as easy to make as it first appears.
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby EndersGame » March 22nd, 2018, 10:24 am

erdnasephile wrote:With respect, I am not sure if that's quite what Mr. Ortiz meant.

You're right, and I concur that I didn't represent his position entirely accurately. You must have missed my follow-up post here (which is just ahead of yours), in which I already corrected this point.

There I wrote: "I don't think I did justice to Darwin Ortiz when I suggested that he advocates the easiest method."

The quotes you have shared do a good job of confirming this - thanks for sharing those!
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 22nd, 2018, 10:26 am

EndersGame wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:With respect, I am not sure if that's quite what Mr. Ortiz meant.

You're right, and I concur that I didn't represent his position entirely accurately. You must have missed my follow-up post here (which is just ahead of yours), in which I already corrected this point.


Yes--sorry--our posts crossed paths and I missed yours--no offense intended.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 22nd, 2018, 10:30 am

Is the audience supposed to watch you do the sleights which accomplish the effect - treating the performance as face-value skill demonstration? For example openly doing the turnover switch to show how a monte operator could handle someone pointing to the money card.

Is the audience attending the performance as "in-frame" here and now or between frames, for example within a story context?
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby Ian Kendall » March 22nd, 2018, 10:37 am

The main difference is that the gaffed versions look nothing like the monte as played on the street (at all). So, if you are presenting something as representative of the 'three card monte', and referencing that game, then it would be strange to use a mid-pipped card.

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby HarryLorayne » March 22nd, 2018, 11:54 am

Just saw this thread. Amazing to me - all these knowledgeable card people and not one mention of Monte Plus, Monte Monte Plus - which I originally published in APOCALYPSE (1978) and in a couple of my books - SPECIAL EFFECTS, ONLY MY APOCALYPSE. A wonderful, different, great, impromptu 3-card monte, with which I still fool other cardmen. Credits are given to Trevor Lewis, Ken Krenzel, myself, etc.

You guys really have to start reading the good stuff!!

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 22nd, 2018, 11:57 am

Ian Kendall wrote:The main difference is that the gaffed versions look nothing like the monte as played on the street (at all). So, if you are presenting something as representative of the 'three card monte', and referencing that game, then it would be strange to use a mid-pipped card.


Dr. Gene Mastuura gave a fascinating lecture at EMC a few years ago called "Better than Natural" where (and I'm paraphrasing badly here) he posited the interesting notion that some literally unnatural moves in magic actually are perceived by the audience as more normal than their natural counterparts.

I wonder if cheating a little by throwing in some magician's moves (or even a gaff) to gain a better effect might still feel "natural" for the lay audience as long as the authenticity claims made during the presentation are not excessive.

Perhaps the strongest construction might be to start off with an authentic monte routine then for the final phase take it way over the top with a completely magical ending. An example of this would be the Wimhurst routine mentioned earlier (his ending is decidedly magical, but he treats it as a display of skill in his presentation).
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby erdnasephile » March 22nd, 2018, 12:02 pm

HarryLorayne wrote:Just saw this thread. Amazing to me - all these knowledgeable card people and not one mention of Monte Plus, Monte Monte Plus - which I originally published in APOCALYPSE (1978) and in a couple of my books - SPECIAL EFFECTS, ONLY MY APOCALYPSE. A wonderful, different, great, impromptu 3-card monte, with which I still fool other cardmen. Credits are given to Trevor Lewis, Ken Krenzel, myself, etc.

You guys really have to start reading the good stuff!!


It might gratify you to know, Mr. Lorayne, that Michael Ammar is currently using the final phase of that very routine to close his version of the Skinner Monte (and as a sneaky way to cancel out the notion of gaffs).

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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby performer » March 22nd, 2018, 1:15 pm

I haven't read Designing Miracles but I have read his other book Strong Magic which overall I think is an excellent one. I have some reservations about his ideas for handling hecklers as I think there are cleverer ways of going about it. It is however, one of the better treatises on the theory of magic that I have read. Mind you, I do wish he had written more about magicians who talk too much and over present. I think this is a MAJOR fault of some of the so-called legends in magic. Most magicians are too low key and under present with much mumbling and dull uninteresting personas but too many go to the other extreme and chatter too much and too loudly, particularly before the trick even starts. There was an example of preliminary patter in the Ortiz book and I thought it was just an example to illustrate some point or other (I forget what) but not an actual example of real life scripting. So I just brushed it off as such.

Alas later to my horror he actually meant it! It really is an awful mistake to preface a trick with a long preamble lasting a minute or even (and usually) longer. You should get right into the damn thing within seconds and not waste time with interminable yapping. And cut down the yap DURING the trick too.

I swear this fault happens more with American magicians than performers from other countries although I may be wrong. I still remember old Murray the famous escapologist complaining to me after a trip to the US "American magicians are so long winded". I think he was probably right.

Ian Kendall
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Re: Gimmicked Three Card Monte vs. Real

Postby Ian Kendall » March 22nd, 2018, 6:00 pm

Harry,

Those routines didn't really feature in the conversation because we were discussing gimmicked versions against the more traditional thrown routines.

However, since you are here and have brought up monte plus and monte plus plus, I'll give them another recommendation. I've used both for many years. Certainly they are required reading for anyone who is researching monte routines.


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