(Close Window)
Topic: 3 Shell Boot Camp Diary
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Jan 26, 2011 02:06PM)
Day 1/21

Package arrived. 3 bottle caps. 7 SfS peas. A DVD.

Watched Bob's presentation... a great minute routine filled with intermediate skill level things and advanced level thinking.

I watch Glenn's tutorial. Wha-- Can't follow it... yet.

Plus... I realize as a left-hander the front-on views are great-- like watching a mirror-- but the overhead shots are mess me up.

I hate the caps! They don't let me get away with anything. I miss my shells.

More tomorrow.

Message: Posted by: jakeg (Jan 26, 2011 04:33PM)
What helped me the most was to write the routine out, step by step, and practicing from my script. It took a long time to do it with lots of mistakes that had to be corrected, but is sure helped.
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jan 26, 2011 05:52PM)
Here are a few ideas from another thread that might be useful.

On 2010-12-22 13:47, Glenn Morphew wrote:
If you position a mirror in a way to watch your TV through the reflection of the mirror, it will reverse the image for you and it will appear that Andi is doing the pushoff with his left hand.


Another Café member added this...

If you watch the DVD on your computer using the KM Player (free download), you can automatically mirror image the video by hitting CTRL + F10 during playback. A very handy feature!
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Jan 27, 2011 01:06AM)
Day 2/21:

The routine is down. Not good but down. I'm flashing like a b@stard but that's okay.
I video-ed myself and got some helpful comments from Glenn.

I'm going to try taping myself every day to get a sense of progress...
I have a feeling it'll be two steps forward one step back.

Thanks for the tips fellas.
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jan 27, 2011 02:29AM)

Now that you have the patterns down, I think you will move forward on some level every day. The more reps you get under your belt, the better and more confident you become.

At some point, (sooner rather than later) your hands will start to move around the table with good tempo, an economy of motion and little conscious thought on your part... you'll be on auto pilot.

That's the reality and the beauty of practicing with spaced repetition.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Jan 27, 2011 12:51PM)
Day 3/21:

Absolutely, Glenn

Today was about gaining speed... but also in sloppiness.
I've got to keep an eye on that.

Positioning... or rather pre-positioning the load-- if you're boot camping you know what I mean-- is another thing to worry about-- especially during "the arc".

But it's definitely coming along... I'm losing my "death grip" on the B.C.
And I keep having great moments where part of me is actually fooled when I lift up the cap under the finger. My brain goes-- "Huh?! Where did it go?!"

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jan 27, 2011 02:08PM)

Try not to worry or focus on speed. Instead, focus on precision, smooth actions, rhythm and good tempo. Your speed will come. In fact, you can easily get to the point to where you're doing it too fast. You never want to move so fast they have difficulty keeping up with things. If you do, you'll loose the ultimate effect you're striving for.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Jan 28, 2011 06:45PM)
Day 4/21

I'm discovering different thing when practicing in different positions.
Practicing standing up definitely gives me the cleanest performances.

Doing it while watching TV is fine for piece-work, like practicing BC's and loads but routining certainly requires my attention.

The scripting is underway and I'm already finding it makes a difference with the pace.

Slow progress.

Oh. and I tried the routine with my Shells that I missed so much. It's a different animal and if you're going to be performing with Shells I'd recommend practicing with them the transition isn't easier, just different.

Have a great weekend all and thanks Glenn for all your advice and support. It's been an incredible experience so far!


Posted: Jan 30, 2011 2:16am
Day 5/21

Just checked out the "bonus" material on the DVD. great info hidden here!
The bootcamping continues.

Message: Posted by: filmyak (Jan 30, 2011 11:47PM)
If you don't mind my butting in... =) Got the DVD about 4 days ago, too.

Overall I love it, but let me hit a few problem spots first.

1 -- DVD quality is awful. By this, I mean the disc, not the footage or material on the disc. They went cheap with duplication and it shows. (I've heard a few other folks are having the same issue.) Won't play at all on my PS3, which is what I use with my primary TV, with my table in front, to practice while I watch.

Only solution was to take the time to rip the entire DVD to my computer, re-encode it, and burn to another DVD. Solved the playback problem, but lost all chapter markers, so now I must manually scan the disc to get to where I want to be.

2 -- Routine is great -- for the first time, I feel I can learn this routine and actually use it, especially as there is zero audience interaction. I don't need to be good enough (yet) to be versatile at audience management. I can get this routine down and then slowly build in a more "standard" presentation if I choose.

But... I don't think it's taught right for a DVD, sorry, Glenn. The multiple angles are great, but I am desperate for a truly broken down routine. The moves are either quick and fluid and hard for a beginner to follow, or (like with the "hand behind the back" alternates section) filled with so much explanation, I have to put my shells down and fast forward past it. Once I know the alternates, I just want to go through the routine without any additional explanations.

Even better, I'd love each phase separated and really broken down. Graphic: phase 1. Here are the moves. Learn it, then move to phase 2. Etc. Especially with the 4th and 5th phase, where things get a little complicated (pea moving in one hand as misdirection as you "do the work" with your other hand, must be well coordinated).

Now, the good part is that the above are MINOR gripes. They do require a little extra effort on the viewer's part -- be prepared to use the rewind and pause button frequently, which is hard when you've got both hands in play on the closeup mat -- but the information CAN be learned with a little perseverance on your part. I finally have about 90% of the routine down, and I'm noticing improvement every day.

Glen Morphew's enthusiasm is contagious and I really like his own routine that he teaches after the 1-min boot camp. Once I have the boot camp portion down pat, I'm going to move onto that routine as well. And he really does teach well, it's just not quite as compartmentalized as it could be on a DVD.

Even with the minor issues above, it's still the best intro to shell game dvd/book I've seen. I've taken the SFS class and loved it, but found the routine daunting and too free-flowing for my amateur self, so when Whit recommended I try this DVD as a primer, I got it the next day. Seriously, my shells are being used for the first time in years (learning with the included bottle caps, and also trying the shells now and then), and I'm convinced I'll be doing the shell game in front of an audience within a month, tops. Then I can start adding some real moves and building up to a legitimate shell game scam routine.
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Jan 31, 2011 10:48AM)
Hey filmyak

I don't mind you posting on this thread, but I think there's a review thread elsewhere and it's probably best to keep them altogether.
That said, I'd be happy for you to use this thread to track your progress day-by-day
and any comments about the dvd can be how it relates to your work and progress.


Posted: Jan 31, 2011 12:03pm
Day 6/21

Today I thought I'd try and transfer whatever I learned over to my set of shells.
It was a real wake up call.

First I was shocked how easily I am handling the bottle caps now, second I was shocked on how difficult I found doing the routine with my shells.
Just the key move particularly. While my shells are great for pinch s***ls I felt like I could get the proper grip on them.

Ironically that's around the same time I discovered Glenn's bonus section on the DVD which seem to anticipate the problems I was going to have. Before I make the changes to the shells that Glenn suggests I'm going to try changing the texture of my hands, which are a little dry. I picked up some great hand "stuff" from Jason England the last time he was in town for a lecture and see what difference that makes.

I'm also working on my script. I'm just trying not to steal ALL my lines and since I'll be performing this mostly while busking I want to tailor it for my situation. It's not so hard once it's broken down I've got my opening bally 5 phases and a hat line outro. And it does make practicing the routine easier as well as making the beats of the routine nice and clear.

So my goal for week two is to bring these things together and to keep that darn pea in back c**p! (I know I don't think I'm being consistent with my asterisks)

Posted: Feb 1, 2011 6:09pm
Day 7/21

I don't know what happened over the weekend. I continued to put in my 15 minutes a couple times a day without any surprises. But this morning's session was amazing.

Relatively amazing anyway. All the bumps seemed to smooth out. None of my shows had embarrassing "pop-outs" if you know what I mean.
Everything seemed to start clicking together.

Very encouraging.

I also finished a draft of my script. I'm a little verbose so it ain't no one minute workout any more... but having the script has certainly helped.
It's not quite memorized yet so I've recorded it and I let it play on my laptop while I do the workout. I usually talk along with the recording and I make some changes on the fly and try to remember to note them up.

As I mentioned before I intend this to be a kind of bally for my street act so it's a little stylized and formal in a structure/rhyme sense. I've stolen from the best but still have tried to make it my own whenever possible.

So for anyone who is a little discourage from his apparent lack of progress, stick with it. You're getting better and training new muscle with every session.

Of course tomorrow may be the two steps back but that's okay.


Posted: Feb 2, 2011 10:59pm

... and two steps back

But most of the fumbling was around trying to work the script into things.

Also I'm being a little tougher on myself about flashing, particularly during the turn overs.

Still a ways to go.


Posted: Feb 5, 2011 1:13am
Day 9/21

After having trouble transferring my work with the cap to my SfS Street Shells I took Glenn Morphew's advice from the Bonus section of the Boot Camp DVD. Wow! Having only complete the first phase of the work (adding texture, those how have the DVD will know what I mean) and it's changed everything.

Bob mentions at the beginning of the DVD how frustrated he was that so few people were using his work from Absolutely Nuts. I think this might very well have been the problem. My experience with other shells, especially expensive/heavy ones is very limited so it might not be the same problem but using the Street Shells-- the work was very difficult.

But with this very simple changes, it's a whole new world baby.

Okay. I might be overstating it but still, a BIG difference.

Message: Posted by: Feral Chorus (Feb 5, 2011 10:18AM)

I am working through the boot camp as you are, although at a slower pace. Just wanted to let you know I am enjoying the diary.

Like jakeg, I had written out the routine and found it helpful and recommend doing it. I am a lefty like you, but I didn't find any benefit from reversing the hands from what was taught. I found learning the moves, as is, was best and that my hands "got it" easily enough.

Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Feb 5, 2011 12:13PM)
Glenn's Texture formula is excellent!
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 5, 2011 10:49PM)
Hey FC!

Thanks for the kind words. It's my hope that something I experience might help.
And frankly it's something to keep the motivation up and me on schedule.
And I was tempted to do the same as you and just work the routine right-handedly... because sooner or later I have to do the moves equally well right-handed.
but I had already started and had been working on the SfS DVD for a while.

And yes, Mickey, Glenn's formula makes a huge difference... I haven't completed all three stages yet but even the first has helped immeasurably.

Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Feb 6, 2011 11:06AM)
Not only is Glenn's texture formula a great aid in grippage but I feel they look more like a real shell! I have a set I made from real English walnuts and side by side it's pretty hard to tell the difference from a couple feet away IMO!

Keep up the good work D, I'm enjoying your diary!

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 6, 2011 01:51PM)
Day 10/21

That's a good point Mickey. I haven't got my Brown Boot yet but I'll bet you're right.

Worked strictly on the shells instead of the caps today. By the end of the work out it was feeling much better. Oh, the irony-- I hated the caps so much when I started. Now I'm missing how much easier they are!

The script is coming along. I'm loosening up a little on that too. Because it's a poem there are a couple scansion issues but I'm trying to make it fun. Resisted the temptation to plug in a shot=glass on the second last phase-- patience-- 11 more days and I can make all the changes I want, if I do.

Also thinking that I'll video my first street performance and if I don't embarrass myself too badly I post it for anyone who is interested.

Posted: Feb 7, 2011 7:06pm
Day 11/21

Today was good, solid work with the shells.
It's starting to feel more like rehearsal and less like practice which is a little scary.
I have taken one or two very small liberties with the blocking while still trying to stay true to Bob and Glenn's intent to get this down before "adding on". It's just a little beat I've added to help sell the story a bit better for me.

The script is pretty well down except for the occasional brain-freeze and the tweaking of lines continues.
Two new things today.

First I finished the "process" with my shells. I kinda liked them more before the last two stages. I felt more secure with the first stage alone. But they still work great. Let's face it I might just hate change.

Second is that I've started playing with how I'm getting into the routine. I mean physically. How do I end up with Shells and Pea where they need to be? It's pretty straight forward but important none the less.

That's it.


Posted: Feb 8, 2011 6:38pm

Script running smoother.
Making eye contact with pretend audience members, I think I even winked at one.

Am wondering about how spectators' reactions will throw off my precious rhythm

I am definitely going to play with my "shell treatment" again before too long. I liked the "grippy=ness" of stage one.
I am feeling almost as good with the shells now as I did with the caps, not quite but almost. The milling on on the cap edges was a definite bonus.

Starting to itch for a proper performance. Good sign I think. I owe Glenn M a new video.


Posted: Feb 9, 2011 5:36pm
Day 13/21

More of the same.
Still playing with the 'set up' but I think I've stumbled on a very simple solution.

Still a hiccup here and there but am starting to figure out how to recover from some problems on the fly-- a good sign.


Posted: Feb 10, 2011 6:45pm
Day 14/21

The shell are definitely starting to lose their grip, or rather I'm starting to lose my grip on them. That said, I'm surprised how well everything is going.

It is the benefit of the boot camp approach that many useful =small= ideas are coming right now. Yes, at the beginning there are many interfering =big= ideas which Glen and Bob ask you to ignore and rightly so I think. but the ideas that are coming now are all-- is this the best blocking for this moment? is everything clear here? all the minutiae that goes to make a better performance.

but whatever lofty dream there are-- there are still the occasional 'pop-out' that brings the performer back to bootcamp. there is no mistaking that new muscles and muscle memories are being created.

Message: Posted by: Boudje (Feb 11, 2011 05:26AM)
Each day I came to read your review, and each day I'm tempted to buy it... At the end, I probably should buy it 2 weeks ago and compare my review with yours...

Anyway thanks for all thoses details.

A quick question: can yo practice (present it) on a flat table, or have you got to found a big close up mat or a linen table?
Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Feb 11, 2011 08:59AM)

The beauty of S4S Perfect Pea is you should be able to do it on any surface!

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 11, 2011 06:13PM)
Day 15/21

Hey Boudje... I'll post this instead of what I was going to write today.

I'm not trying to use this thread to shill for Bob or Glenn, this is honestly just an attempt to write down my experience trying to learn-- AND PERFORM-- this routine.


I think it's interesting to look back on our purchases and really think about our best investments... I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this will be up there. Which is not to say this is the be-all and end-all of 3 Shell Routines-- both Bob and Glenn perform others... or extended versions of this-- but if you want to perform a GREAT 3 shell routine this is a great place to start.

I didn't start here... I started with George Anderson's Magic Digest when I was a teenager and more recently with SFS's fantastic products. But I'm actually starting to see how I might create my own routine built on the strong bones of this little one minute miracle.

There is also a service after sales component to 3SBC that is simply outstanding. I don't feel comfortable talking too much about this because it's not advertised as part of the package but let me say that if you had questions that came up while you were working on this routine that you would find a lot of support available to you.

And Mickey's right about the peas-- they're great-- but every surface has it's own personality and if you're going to perform it practice on the surface you're going to use. That said I mostly practice on my close up pad. But I have used my kitchen table, a glass table, a restaurant/cafe table, and a cardboard box. It was possible to do it everywhere-- but there are moments when familiarity with your performance space is needed... just for minor adjustments, etc.

Message: Posted by: BobSheets (Feb 12, 2011 05:16PM)
I love the posts here because ya'll are talking about "doing" it. I think Moses is having fun. I hope Moses is having fun.

I just got together with my DVD doctor, Ken Norris, and most of the issues have been addressed. So the new duplications should work on all DVD players and computers.

I'm not sure about the play station yet so I'll have to have someone test that out.

Glenn is a marvelous teacher, great shell man, and working with him to get this out over the last year has been a real pleasure.

Make sure you get your presentation reminds people that you are demonstrating and not "gambling" with the three shells. Now drop and give me 20. bob.
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 12, 2011 10:50PM)
Day 16/21

Hey Bob! Thanks for dropping in!

I am having fun... and I bet once the performing begins it'll be twice as fun.
I say that because I did a rehearsal today for the first time with a couple of live laymen watching.
The reactions were great.

I only wish I has my notebook and stopped my set to ask them all questions I was wanting to. Maybe I'll get the chance later.
Even in this very informal rehearsal environment a couple of things were underlined for me:
Don't rush.
Be clear.
And have fun.

Looking forward to performing this soon.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 14, 2011 06:31PM)
Day 17/21

This is definitely the hardest part. The part where you've learned the routine. You've got what you're saying, you know what you're doing and everything is pretty good--
almost good enough.

Gone are the days of big progress... and now it's all down to little tedious things. Practice can be a little thoughtless and rote when it's more important than ever not to let the little things slip.

So I added another treatment to my shells.

That felt better.

Performance is approaching and I still haven't finished my new table top!

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 15, 2011 12:17AM)
Day 18/21

Today's big discovery?
That I should use my right hand to turn over the shells at the end of the third phase instead of my left.

I'll count that as a good session.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 16, 2011 01:22PM)
Day 19/21

With performance day looming my thoughts have turned to putting this into a set obviously.

It was my intention to perform this on the streets as a stand alone piece or opener... my script has a bally and hat line built in-- however I was given some sobering advice by some smart fellows which has given me pause. However because my act is mostly a mind-reading act there's a problem of context that I have to deal with-- but again, scripting has come to the rescue here too. There will be a lot of jiggery-pokery to see how this will finally fit into my act. Whatever gives me the best performance/hat ratio.

So.... I WILL try it as a stand alone piece-- AND, as suggested-- as a closer. I'll let you know how it goes when the time comes for performing-- if it ever stops raining here.

I'm in Vancouver Canada, so the reaction to a performer doing a 3 Shell Demo here (and my presentation is pretty theatrical so that there's very little chance of me being mistaken for a real hustler) might be very different to someone doing it, as we Canucks like to say, South of the 49th Parallel.

I've been working/rehearsing standing up, at performing height for about ten days now. I find it much easier and natural for me. Much less flashing, less popping out, just generally easier to do. I still run the routine seated from time to time-- but I do prefer standing.

That's it for now... there's still a few days and plenty of practice to go.
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 18, 2011 10:41PM)
Day 21/21

First public performance!

When I began this 3 Shell Boot Camp Diary it was my intention to document this experience from the first day practice to first day performance.
I'm happy to say that I've done it.

This afternoon, while my buddy Vancouver street magician, extraordinaire Travis Bernhardt was preparing for his set I took out my shells and pea and started my bally at his table. It was my intention to video tape this performance and post a link to it here... unfortunately, I gave Trav some bad advice and although he got my 'post-show' comments, the actual performance has been lost. Ah well.

I will still post a video of an actual public performance... it just won't be the very first.

That said, I will give a link to the post-show video at the end of this. But for those who are stingy with their bandwidth these are the highlights:

1. It was nice day here in Vancouver, which means it wasn't raining. There were a lot of people about and we set up our pitch at this place I had had my eye on for a long time-- a kind of quasi-pedestrian mall in a popular downtown area. It was nice... but cool. And being outside for any length of time meant cold hand. Cold, dry hands. Not the ideal environment for sleight of hand generally-- but especially this routine.

2. I did a quick run through without my script just to test out the table... I opted to use my CU mat on top of Trav's workmat, my dry hands kept messing with the fabric of his workmat and I said, screw it. Once I figured that I could work the table okay I just gave Trav the nod and started a practice run. No energy, no playing to the folks walking by, just doing my warm-up run-through-- people were slowing down to see what was going on. Several people actually stopped as I went through my paces. And when I was done they said: Do it again!

3. PEOPLE LOVE THE SHELLS! I'm sure this doesn't come as a surprise to anyone but people are totally drawn in by the sight of a little green pea and the three shells. They can't help themselves, they want to look. They want to stop.

4. This is a great routine with one surprising moment after another. If you practice this any length of time you might start to forget how powerful it is... (more on this and how it relates to performance later) but the audience reminds you. Right off the bat with arguably the simplest of the phase there were gasps, smiles and head shakes. It was a great feeling.

5. Bob is right! For the three weeks of this routine discipline yourself to practice the routine "as written". I had a ton of little additions and nuances and subtleties-- some of which I wrote about on previous posts-- but everything went out the window in front of the audience. It was the routine, the simple basic routine, that got me through. That's not to say I'm not going to put them on... on the contrary... it's just that in the moment and rush of my first performance all that other stuff went out the window and it was the routine that carried me through.

6. This was performed, as an experiment, as a simple stand-alone set. 3 mins from bally to hat. This will be part of a larger set for me however on the strength of the reaction I would consider performing a (slightly) longer routine (like the one Glenn teaches on the DVD or something that incorporates bits from other routines I admire) I chatted with Glenn Morphew about where this might go in my set... I rescripted to put it at the end... but man, oh, man, today it really felt like it could be a great tip builder. This is something that I'll play with and see.

7. There was a little concern that the 3 Shell Game might make "the tourists wary"... but I found the opposite to be true. Everybody, young and old were drawn in. To be fair the context of the show -- my outfit, my patter, etc-- makes it pretty obvious it's a show. But again, one of the strengths of the routine is that it's a demo. Here in Canada at least I can't imagine any authorities getting the wrong idea.

8. What I'd change... or will change. This isn't as tough a question as I thought it'd be. First of all to anyone learning, or wanting to learn this-- don't change anything. Just make it easier on yourself right now. Don't imagine you standing in a parlour and opening your mouth and hearing Pop Hayden's voice come out of your throat while Bob Sheets wipes a tear from his eye whispering "why didn't I think of that!" No. Just learn the darn thing and start to perform it. THEN to whatever the heck you want. That said, for on the street the one thing that I'll be doing is more audience interaction. I could tell they were all waiting for it... they wanted to interact... if only I would give them a chance-- and if I can give them that experience that will doubtless translate to more money in the hat. Fortunately the routine is in five easy pieces that you can play/add/edit/riff with.

That's it for now. I'll post again after I've performed some more. It was my intention to go out this weekend but I'm heading to Seattle for Max Maven's workshop.

I'd like to thank everybody for the great notes. Thanks for posting and feel free to use this thread to post about your own experiences actually doing the bootcamp. Let other threads be for the armchair critics-- this one is for workers.

Also: a big thanks to Bob and Glenn for sharing this... and for sharing their thoughts on my progress through PM's and the like. Glenn has especially given me a LOT of help. He is a great teacher and his generosity was really appreciated.

Finally thanks to all the performers whose shellwork has and continues to inspire me. And though I've tried to make them my own... I've borrowed more than a line or two: Soapy Smith, Pop Hayden, Chef Anton, Glenn Morphew, Bob Sheets, Charlie Frye... and the late great Gamblin' Sam.

Thanks fellas.

Dave "Deemo" Moses
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 18, 2011 10:47PM)
Sorry here's a link to the post show video.


I'll leave it up for a week for those who might be interested.
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Feb 18, 2011 11:47PM)
Congratulations Dave!

You bought Bob's Boot Camp, you drilled it, you added your own touches to it and 21 days later you're performing it for real people on the street! Awesome!!!

As you know, it's all downhill from here. The more you perform the shells for real people, the more you'll be on auto pilot and the more relaxed you'll become.

I was like you initially... I was totally amazed at the automatic built in interest the shells generated. If all close up workers only knew this... heck, if I would have known this, I wouldn't have waited 35 years to learn them.

I'm glad to hear the shells might work as an opener as you had planned... as you know, I had my concerns.

Thanks for sharing your boot camp experience with us, I really enjoyed checking in every day to read about your journey.

I'm looking forward to seeing your next video with performance! Just be sure to have your buddy spin the camera 90 degrees or I'll never be able to follow the pea. Oh, and my neck seconds that suggestion.

Thanks again Dave, I'm really proud of you!

Message: Posted by: Mr. Mystoffelees (Feb 19, 2011 08:27AM)
I just stumbled on this thread- what a great one! Wish I had seen it way earlier, although it has been fun and instructive to read through. I "graduated" boot camp late last year and highly recommend this to anyone who wants a great, full routine that audiences will love...

Message: Posted by: BobSheets (Feb 19, 2011 09:24AM)
Dave- since we can't see the shells, did you end up using the caps?

You can easily add the poker chips to "stop the yelling." You can let someone try in the middle sometime and then finish the routine showing how they could never win. Once you have the skill set it's very easy to expand the routine.

You're working on ingesting and feeling the confidence that the moves fool them as much as we said they did. We can tell you that all we want but you have to prove it to yourself. Your growth from this point is going to rise exponentially as you now move into the experience stage. Your fun is just starting. You'll start to infect your audience the more you start to Jazz with you audience. Up to now it's been all about you and that's going to change as you start to play off their reactions.

Here's a good place to put this thought in as there will be kids in your audience and the parents will encourage them to play. I roll my eyes and say "oh goody. That's fine, you can play. But, you're still gonna lose. You're cute, your parents think you're cute, I think you're cute, everybody thinks you're cute! You're still gonna lose. You can handle that? Good boy. (like good dog)". After plays I add "Nice kid and he was cute but, he's still a loser".

If you let anyone win they do the pee pee dance. "I beat the magician, I beat the magician" and when it's over they say, "yeah but I won." kind of dilutes the effect. They won't remember any thing else, only that the won.

I can't wait to read more of The adventures of Dave. Bob.
Message: Posted by: Magic Marine (Feb 19, 2011 03:49PM)
Any plans to teach a class or workshop at Denny's or Barrys in Maryland?
Message: Posted by: filmyak (Feb 19, 2011 11:32PM)
Ok, so I've been absent from the day to day here, haven't logged on since my initial post, and I have to say I'm a changed man. Technical issues aside, the DVD is spectacular. I did my first 2 performances yesterday -- small ones, just for friends to see if my work has paid off. Bam!! Amazing!! OK, there was one minor oops moment, but nothing major and I was able to recover. And the second performance from another friend went flawlessly.

I'm still working it every day, and when I'm truly happy with the performance I'll consider posting a video. Meantime, Glenn has offered to review any videos I send to him, so I may just have to do that. =)

One of the best magic buys I've done in years!

PS - learned with the caps, now have switched to the shells. I have a set of SFS shells that have been sitting around for years, but they're not quite right for my hands. So using the Magiorre shells (forgive the misspelling) and they work for my hand size, but I will eventually try the SFS shells again once I have more experience. See which ones work best for me.

OK, 'nuff posting. Time for me to go back to practice.
Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Feb 20, 2011 02:16AM)
Congrats Dave!

I have thoroughly enjoyed your diary and picked up a few tips along the way, THANKS!

Lookin forward to a full performance video!

Message: Posted by: Boudje (Feb 20, 2011 05:12AM)
Your Diary made me to purchase this course.

I'm curious to see your performance too. And are you starting from nothing, or have you play we the shells sometimes ago?
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 21, 2011 11:54AM)
Day 21 + 3

Hey guys.

Thanks for your comments. There's nothing like knowing other people are watching to give one that gentle boot to the butt that keeps one motivated.
Speaking of which... I was just telling Glenn I was down in seattle this past weekend for the Max Maven lecture and did the bootcamp for my pal TheShockDoc aka Jeremy Weiss... and he was ruthless.
He deliberately sat at the worst angle (the kid's POV) and tried to bust me at every move... He caught some flashes a couple of times... particularly around some lazy "shows" and a couple of "turn-overs"
I tell you it tightened up my moves pretty quick. We came up with a rule of thumb pretty quick which is "keep your hands low and your knuckles out".

And there will be a performance video ... a PUBLIC performance video within the week.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 21, 2011 11:55AM)
... and sorry for that sideways post-show video. duh! I'll see if I can fix that up.
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 21, 2011 11:59AM)
On 2011-02-20 00:32, filmyak wrote:
Ok, so I've been absent from the day to day here, haven't logged on since my initial post, and I have to say I'm a changed man. Technical issues aside, the DVD is spectacular. I did my first 2 performances yesterday -- small ones, just for friends to see if my work has paid off. Bam!! Amazing!! OK, there was one minor oops moment, but nothing major and I was able to recover. And the second performance from another friend went flawlessly.

I'm still working it every day, and when I'm truly happy with the performance I'll consider posting a video. Meantime, Glenn has offered to review any videos I send to him, so I may just have to do that. =)

One of the best magic buys I've done in years!

PS - learned with the caps, now have switched to the shells. I have a set of SFS shells that have been sitting around for years, but they're not quite right for my hands. So using the Magiorre shells (forgive the misspelling) and they work for my hand size, but I will eventually try the SFS shells again once I have more experience. See which ones work best for me.

OK, 'nuff posting. Time for me to go back to practice.

Hey mister thanks for posting... I hear you about the SFS Street Shells (which are what I'm using at the moment) I have to tell you though-- use the modifications to the shells the Glenn describes in the Bonus section of the DVD-- it makes the world of difference. Seriously you won't regret it... that said, I did order another set of shells that I hope will work even better.... :)


Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 23, 2011 11:23AM)
Day 21 + 5

Okay... with the one minute workout under my belt I am going to turn my attention to the routine extension that Glenn demonstrates on the DVD... for those of you who have seen it know there is at least one incredible move on it that would be great to have in your arsenal.

All this would be to eye of adding a participatory phase to my existing routine.

Work continues on my short routine though. All my run throughs are about tightening up all my clips, turn overs and shows. Being very ruthless so that I can just relax during show time.

Message: Posted by: jakeg (Feb 23, 2011 04:35PM)
I cannot recall a DVD that I ever bought, that I got more out of, or spent more time with.
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Feb 23, 2011 06:10PM)

Thanks! It's really nice to read and hear positive feedback. I'm honored to be a part of Bob's 3 Shell Boot Camp.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Feb 28, 2011 03:20PM)
Day 21 + 7

It was all snow this weekend-- even here in Vancouver!!!-- so no chance to shoot the video.

However, I was mentioning earlier about a pal of mine doing a "flash" check on a run through of mine last week.
I had another one do it again this past weekend. Again I had them sit in the absolutely worst spot: a child's POV.

I was pleased how everything had tightened up however... during the last turn overs I was busted three times in a row.
(you know the part where the three shells are turned over for the final time). Nothing major but I flashed.

I fixed the problem by making sure the fingernails of my clipping hand were pressed into the heel of my hand. Once I did that-- no more flashing.



Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 15, 2011 12:33PM)
While wait for the skies to clear here in Vancouver I've been playing with four different sets of "shells" and I thought I'd share some of my reactions to each--

I have a set of SfS Street Shells, a set of Maggoire's, a set of Shagbarks, and the three bottle caps that came with the Boot Camp DVD.

First of all let me say that I can and have used all of these in performance-- I'm not trying to convince anybody to buy new stuff-- and if you're just doing a standard routine without using what I would describe as the "key move" from the boot camp DVD my comments might not even apply to you.


At the moment I'm really enjoying my Shagbarks and Maggoires-- and two more different sets of shells would be hard to find:
The Shags are small, tall and round. They look like little hedgehogs that are a little bigger than a bottle cap.
The Mags are huge (relatively), roomy and ovaline-- like little stadiums [or stadia].

What I like about both of them is the textured surface. They are both very easy to grip and handle generally well.

I think that the Mags are more what the audience imagines the shells of a classic 3 Shell Game would look like. Their size makes them easy to see, obviously and they look great on the table. A couple of "drawbacks": the Mags' size makes the pea look smaller and one might argue that the routine suffers aesthetically a little, more importantly however is that it's so big that a "standard" shot glass will not fit over it. At least not one of five in my house. Instead I use a small chop cup, although it isn't clear the reactions have been just as good. I also find that the loading on the Mags isn't as smooth as with the other shells. The Street Shells load like a dream. But the shape of the Mag, and its Channin dip isn't as optimally designed. It still works fine, just not quite as smooth.

The Shags are cute. I don't know how else to say it. They're tiny, grippy, and stout and inspire grown men to break into rhyme. :) The texture of the shells and their size makes the boot camp routine a whole lot easier for me. There is no awkwardness of the grip, they load well (again not quite as good as the Street shells but better than the Mags) and they just zip around the table. Their small size might not make such a big impression as the Mags but the pea looks much bigger next to them and therefore the routine might seem even more impossible. Just saying. However, it could be argued that you need a little more precision with your moves. But if you practiced with the bottle caps that came with your Boot Camp set I don't think you'll have any problem at all. I gotta say I have a soft spot for these guys.

The SfS Street Shells. These are great little workhorses but frankly I had a lot of trouble maintaining my grip on them while doing the Boot Camp routine. Glenn Morphew's "Shell treatment" described in the bonus section of the DVD certainly helped but I found myself having to re-apply the treatment on the regular basis. There might be another workaround but I haven't found it yet. Again, for the standard routine (like the one's found one the awesome SfS Shell DVDs) the Street Shells will work great. There's just one move particularly that I find that a shell with more texture makes easier. I also own a SfS Sharper... those of you who have one you know what it does-- although it works with all three sets, the Street Shells is the easiest.

Finally the bottle caps. They're a great training tool, provide a great grip and nice size. They can give your routine a real "street" feel. I would certainly use them... but they certainly "bump" more than the other three and unless you sand the bottoms (by rubbing them against the pavement of the mean streets or otherwise) they can be a little less forgiving.

That's it for now... I'm too lazy to proof-read-- if I get ambitious I might even post a comparative photo-- I said "maybe" don't push me!


Message: Posted by: jakeg (Mar 16, 2011 05:31PM)
In my hands, the shags are the easiest for me to work with, but have to say that I've seen the game played with all four that you mentioned, and the all looked great. (I also have seen some pretty bad handling with most of those as well.) I guess it all depends upon what you practice and get used to. Phil Cass, on his dvd, says that he likes the Vernet's, that everyone else hates. If you read some of the posts on the SFS forum, you'll find a lot of people who love the SFS shells. Natural walnut shells were the only shells that were available for a hundred years. I think that Bob Kohler is using the Mags on his dvd ..... and on & on.
Anyway, I'm still waiting for Roscoe to come out with his new shells. I'm anxious to see what they're like.
Message: Posted by: Neznarf (Mar 17, 2011 12:33PM)
Last time I saw Bob Sheets lecture he used a certain brand of shells.

Does anyone know what brand it is?

I have severl sets but not that one.

Answer here or PM me.

Thanks -
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Mar 17, 2011 12:47PM)
Bob either uses the Black Fox master shells or the Black Fox superior walnut shells. Here's a link.


The way the copy reads, it kind of sounds like Bob uses the Superior Walnut shells but to my eye and memory, I think he uses the Master Shells. To be sure though, I'd shoot Bob a PM or an email.

Message: Posted by: BobSheets (Mar 19, 2011 09:12AM)
Bob uses the the the Black Fox Master Shells from School For Scoundrels. Isn't that right bob? Correct. Bob.
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 19, 2011 07:05PM)

Thanks Bob.

Also... for those of you who might be interested I'll be posting a video of my second time on the street performing the Boot Camp Routine.
I'll post here on this thread when it's up.

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 20, 2011 12:44PM)
Okay... the video is up.
But because I can't "un=post" this...

Just PM me and I'll be happy send you the link and password to the video--
It will be taken down after April 1st.


Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 21, 2011 01:20PM)
Hey folks

Thanks to everyone who's contacted me about the video... and thanks for the very nice comments.
In fact enough of you have PM'd me to make me go-- what the heck I'll just post the link and remove the password

Here it is:


Message: Posted by: BigSmile (Mar 22, 2011 10:41AM)
Great! Thanks for removing the password! Nice on! :)
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Apr 9, 2011 11:00AM)
Just to update...

I've been performing this quite a bit yesterday... but I must be getting sloppy because I was busted not once-- but twice by a 12 year kid.

And I was busted holding out.

Tighten up! And watch your blocking!

Message: Posted by: guitarmagic (May 19, 2011 12:06PM)
Can NOT thank you all enough nor appreciate you enough. The Bootcamp-1-minute workout, improved grip strategies, keep knucles "low and out" have caused my narcissism to become pathologic! Many thanks!!!

Regarding Phil Cass, I recently got a set of the inexpensive Vernet Shells and they hung on the close up mat, even after running them over some fine sandpaper in an attempt to make them workable. But they do work fine on glass, marble and smooth surfaces.

I carry a hard pea, 2 perfect peas and set of S4S Street Shells in my right front pants pocket for the demonstration of the 1 minute workout and further experimenation.

Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jun 27, 2011 12:51AM)
I'm really lovin' the one minute workout. I'm about a week in. I have the pattern down. I'm working on getting my moves solid. My biggest issue is the BC to open hand show. I seem to have a little gap between my ring and middle finger between knuckle one and two. It's pretty much where the pea lays. You can see the pea a teeny bit through the gap. I'm worried about that. I trying to adjust my fingers to hide it but it's a bit unnatural right now.

As for fixing the SFS street shells grip issues... if you hit them with the Krylon Fusion Paint in Brown Boots it makes them easy to hold on to. I used three or four coats. Simple and quick. The fusion is made to paint on plastic so no top coat/finish is needed and it has a grip to it.

More soon.

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jun 27, 2011 01:35AM)

There is a better chance than you might expect that the flash you're seeing is only visible from your vantage point. Have someone closely observe things from different vantage points your audience is likely to watch you from... there's a good chance it's all good.

Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jun 28, 2011 09:18PM)

Do you find that if you have dry hands that it's harder to do the BC move?

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jun 29, 2011 03:09AM)

The condition of your skin could definitely have an affect. I know it certainly does with card handling. I make up a spray concoction with 1/3 glycerin, 1/3 glycerin and rosewater (sold in its own bottle) and 1/3 rubbing alcohol and I keep it in spray bottles. I heard from a good friend and reliable source this was a Marlo idea. Other people use different products to combat the dry hands issue but I've used the above mentioned concoction for the last 10 years or so and it works well for me.

Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jun 29, 2011 03:00PM)
That's a really great tip Glenn... I'll try it.

Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jul 2, 2011 11:58PM)
I just posted my a video of me doing the bootcamp drill with my version of the patter. It's the Flea and Shell Game. Let me know what you think.

Message: Posted by: BigSmile (Jul 3, 2011 04:21AM)
Nice one. :)

The revelation on 0:54 isn't that clear. You should place the shell not in front of the pea. The spectator can't see it (from camera angle) because the shell covers the sight to the pea.
Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jul 3, 2011 06:41AM)
Thanks Bigsmile. I'll tweak that and shoot in lighter conditions. Great feedback wasn't thinking about that.

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Jul 3, 2011 11:18AM)
Jimmy, I think your mechanics are coming along really great!

Here are a few suggestions though... At the end of both phase 3 and 4, the reveal should be done with the left hand. I also think you'll find the final reveal to play better if you open your left hand and let the pea roll onto the table rather than dropping it to the table from a closed fist.

Keep up the great work. I look forward to seeing your next video. Out of curiosity, how many days were you into boot camp at the time of this video?

Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Jul 3, 2011 05:50PM)

Thanks for the really great feedback. I'll make those corrections right away. I picked up a shell for the first time about 19 days ago. The bootcamp rocks. I've been utterly immersed in the 3 shell game since and even a bit before I started working the shells and Bootcamp. I've read *** near all the material I can get my hands on and have also gone over all the SFS DVDs and many others. All in all, the Bootcamp is the toughest routine move wise and the best learning tool I've found. If you can master the Bootcamp, you can master the shells. And with your bootcamp training it's more than possible, it's a sure thing. Just do it. Thank you to both you and Bob.

All my best,

Message: Posted by: nspikito (Aug 26, 2012 02:24PM)
I am a newbie at the 3-shell game (I'm mainly a card guy), but I was captivated the minute I got a glimpse of Bob & Glenn's fabulous Bootcamp videos. I've been diligently 'doing the drill' now for a couple of weeks, and I'll be ready to perform this within a couple of weeks, I believe. I mostly perform strolling magic without a table, so I won't be able to use this all that often. But I do have less-frequent parlor shows that would be ideal for the 1-minute workout. In particular, I have a gambling routine that includes a strong 3-card Monte effect. I can easily imagine the 1-minute workout following 3-CM.

For those of you who use this and similar effects, do you think that the bottle caps or walnut shells are inherently more impressive for laymen spectators? I've only used the bottle caps so far, but I just ordered a set of Street Shells.

Message: Posted by: shellgame-al (Aug 26, 2012 07:37PM)
I would work some with your street shells, then compare which ones you feel you are the most comfortable with. If you have worked with the boot camp bottle caps, I see no reason why you couldn't be comfortable using the street shells. I think I would use the street shells in the parlor shows. But everyone has their own feel for what works best for them. Once you work with both, you will know and it will get easier as you go. Try both and see how the spectator reacts.

Good luck and have fun, Al
Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Aug 27, 2012 03:59AM)

I think your audience will be equally impressed regardless of what you decide to use. There really is no wrong choice. Like Al suggested, I’d go with what you're most comfortable and confident with.

I also do a lot of strolling magic where tables aren't readily available, but often there are tables sparsely scattered throughout the room, so… you might get more opportunities to perform the shells than you think in a strolling situation, you’ll just have to pick your spots.

The main difference will be, you will not be performing on a soft surface like you primarlily practice on, so you will need to get plenty of reps working on hard surfaces to get a feel for the differences. Ideally, you’ll be able to get a few reps on one of the tables at the venue you’re working before the gig starts.

You already have the best peas, as the SFS peas work equally well on a soft or hard surface. The street shells you just ordered have built in features (the bottle caps don’t have) that will make working on a hard surface easier. Their design will minimize the dreaded “bump” you tend to feel when working on a hard surface with the caps.

The thing you are likely to feel with your new street shells is they might feel slick or slippery right out of the box, so wash them with dish soap and water to remove any residue left from the manufacturing process. I also highly recommend you pick up the paints I discuss in the bonus section of the Boot Camp DVD and modify your shells. Your shells will both look and handle great if you do.

Regarding parlor shows… just a word of caution (also discussed in the bonus section of the DVD) be very cognizant of your table height in relation to the eye level of your audience when you perform the Boot Camp routines. With the exception of phase one, you are using techniques that are vulnerable if your table is not lower than the eye level of your audience and… most likely they will be seated in a parlor setting. I suggest you set your camcorder at audience eye level and record some practice sessions to make sure all is well.

Keep up the good work Spike!

Message: Posted by: nspikito (Aug 28, 2012 09:46AM)
Here's another question for you, Glenn, or anyone else. I'll be getting a spanking new set of street shells this week, and I saw your suggestions, on the bootcamp DVD, for treating them so that they look good and aren't too slippery. The treatment uses 3 different products. I was wondering whether I could use just one product, namely Super Grip. Does anyone know that would work on new street shells that are freshly washed?

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Aug 28, 2012 12:09PM)
Spike, there is a good chance it will. I just hit one of my sets of street shells with a light coat of super grip (although they were previously treated) and it did improve the grip.

Another one product option that works great is Krylon Fusion paint. If you can find it in the Brown Boots color, that's the perfect "one product" solution. If not, the color won't be ideal and I'd add a coat of the brown boots color over the fusion paint right a way, while it's still wet. This will result in both good color and grip. If you go with this option, you don't need to use the dull coat.

It seems like paint companies are adding more textured options to their product lines lately. The Krylon Fusion product was not available when Bob and I made the Boot Camp DVD. The nice thing is the caps used on spray paint cans are accurate representations of what you'll wind up with, so you can get a good idea if a particular paint or brand will be a good option for you. There are many stores (ranging from Home Depot to Walmart) that have a pretty big selection of spray paints, so it's worth taking a look next time you're there. You might even discover a better solution. If so, be sure to let us know.

Message: Posted by: nspikito (Sep 3, 2012 02:54PM)
I got my street shells and after sanding them a bit, they glide smoothly over my close-up mat. I've ordered some Krylon Fusion in 'brown boots' color, so I should be up and ready very soon.
After playing around with the street shells, I realized that by contrast the bottle caps don't move smoothly at all on my close-up mat. I tried sanding them to smooth out the bottoms, but it doesn't seem to help much.

Anyone have suggestions how to make the caps slide more easily across a close-up mat.

Incidentally, I'm doing my very 1st public performance of the 1-minute workout at the end of this week (using the caps, of course). I have 2 parlor shows on tap on Friday.

Message: Posted by: Glenn Morphew (Sep 3, 2012 07:02PM)
Spike, the caps you get with the Boot Camp glide as well as caps will glide. They don't have the barbs that you try to sand off the bottom of a pop bottle top. I think some of it has to do with what the surface of your mat is made of too.

The street shells are far superior to the bottle caps in many ways. After you paint them with the Krylon Fusion Brown boots, you'll think you died and went to Boot Camp Heaven!

By the way, who did you order the Fusion Brown Boots from? I'd love to get a can of that!

Message: Posted by: nspikito (Sep 4, 2012 09:15AM)
I got it from Amazon, Glenn. Here's the link:

Message: Posted by: dmoses (Dec 23, 2014 02:45PM)
I just watched Bob Sheets Penguin Lecture where he shared the bootcamp routine right at the end of the lecture.
It made me haul out my three shells and I gotta say... it was like riding a bike.

Message: Posted by: rosariorose9 (Jul 31, 2018 03:55PM)
Just found this thread. Better late than never, I guess, although the videos of dmoses have long ago been removed. In any event, thanks so much for posting your diary. Invaluable as I begin my own Boot Camp journey. Interesting to me is that this routine (and some of the required sleights) pretty much require that the specs be positioned higher than the performer...in contrast to Whit's Exhibition routine, which can be performed with specs positioned below the level of the shells. In any event, looking forward to this...
Message: Posted by: LeoH (Jul 31, 2018 04:07PM)
The "bootcamp" is a wonderful practice routine and effective "eyecandy" as a demo for potential bookers.
Message: Posted by: rosariorose9 (Jul 31, 2018 04:44PM)

Agree! In Bob's and Glenn's hands it really is a thing of beauty. Now, in MY hands...we'll see? :)
Message: Posted by: rosariorose9 (Jul 31, 2018 06:02PM)
By the way, Leo, I don't expect to achieve Glenn's level of skill with the shells. I've seen his 'cards to pocket' on Fool Us, and I definitely was not blessed with his dexterity.
Message: Posted by: LeoH (Aug 1, 2018 08:14AM)
[quote]On Jul 31, 2018, rosariorose9 wrote:
By the way, Leo, I don't expect to achieve Glenn's level of skill with the shells. I've seen his 'cards to pocket' on Fool Us, and I definitely was not blessed with his dexterity. [/quote]

Stick with the practice, and you will surprise yourself on how your skills with the shells grow. Keep us posted on your boot-camp journey!