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Northeast Ohio
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Profile of Bohh
What do you guys think? I've mostly been into cards and some coins but would like to get some shells or cups in my routines.

What do you get more reactions out of?

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Boston area
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Profile of rgranville
It's not so much "how much" reaction as "what kind of" reaction. Most shell routines are presented basically as con games: No matter how closely you watch me as I move the shells, you can't follow the pea. Most cup and ball routines are presented more as "straight" magic: Balls penetrate solid cups, move from various locations to cups, etc. An analogy for cards might be three card monte and twisting the aces. As always, first think about the kind of character you want to portray with your magic. Then employ the effects that enhance that character and avoid the ones that distract from it.
andre combrinck
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South Africa
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Profile of andre combrinck
Cups and Balls anyday.
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Inner circle
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Profile of rannie
I suggest cups and balls. It can be done with regular paper cups and bills, even balled up tissue paper. Study the moves , there are hundreds of books and videos on the cups and balls. Its also the oldest recorded trick.


"If you can't teach an old dog new tricks, trick the old dog to learn."

-Rannie Raymundo-
aka The Boss
aka The Manila Enforcer
Joker 808
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There are so many more things you can do with cups and balls. the introduction of fruit has always worked wonders for me as it startles them that I can do it right under their nose with such a large object.

By 'conning' them it may seem a little unfriendly in comparison so definately go for cups and balls

.....or why not get both!!!

Joker 808
What's that rabbit doing on your face?
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Profile of Niko
The 3 shell game is perhaps something different. Everyone has heard of cups & balls, but the 3 shell game is a bit of a variation on the idea. It's only portrayed as conning if you tell them it is and you ar playing for money. If you just call ti a simple 'guess which shell the pea is in game' then it would make the idea more 'friendly' and should go down well anywhere.

Cups & balls is a clasic though, and every magician should have them. Its up to you though, but why not go for both?

When you do something right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
Gary Barnard
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I would take the cups and balls. and like Niko said, its a classic. I also agree that you could have both in your routine. Also, a chop cup might be cool to have.

"It's in the very trickery that it pleases me. But show me how
the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein."
- Seneca the Younger, In his 45th Epistle to Lucilius
(4 B.C.-A.D. 65)
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Profile of Mxn
Make mullah!!!when you master the trick...
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Profile of bishthemagish
I suggest both the cups and balls and the shellgame. One is an old time swindle and you can get great entertainment value out of it because people like to guess which shell has the pea.

Cups and balls is also a great effect and a classic in magic.

If you get a set of cups or shells or both chose a routine and start doing it.

When you choose your props... Anything can work. With the shellgame you can use real shells, bottle caps and other sets you can get at a magic shop.

Same thing with the cups. from copper combo cups to paper cups and pots and oranges like Tarbell used.

Have fun they are great classics of magic and will searve you well if you perform them in a friendly and entertaining manor.

I hope this helps,

Glenn Bishop
Glenn Bishop Cardician

Producer of the DVD Punch Deal Pro

Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
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Wisconsin USA
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Profile of Poindexter
I'm thinking the same way Glenn is: both; but would add that I believe the deciding factor should be: How big an audience do you want to play to?

With the right props you can do the cups and balls for a hall, or a marketplace full of people...lots more visible. By the same token, it's lots more visible, so more care is needed in watching your angles.

I don't care where you are, if you have a crowd of 50 people watching you do the shells, most will not be able to see the action. This is one of the things that makes it so easy to work as a swindle, i.e., ability to conrol who is seeing what, and from where.

The Cups and Balls are usually, in my somewhat limited experience, presented as a demonstration of skill, mastery of the oldest trick, etc. You do the vanishes, the penetrations, etc., and then knock 'em over with the final loads.

A big factor in considering the Cups and Balls is---Cups + Loads + working surface = NOT necessarily portable Smile

The most entertaining shell work that I've come across presents it not as a con, but rather a narrative describing how the performer saw the game presented---Example: "I was on the midway last [week, month, whatever], and I happened upon a [man, woman, child, talking squirrel] with three shells and a little green pea...."
and as the action is described/presented, flashes and (almost) all, the performer is able to act astonished right along with those watching.

With a little effort, you can elicit hysterics from people, and when you're through, props go in your pocket and you're down the road.
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Profile of Burrich
I would also agree with both. I believe that every magician should learn the cups and balls. It is a classic of magic. Also the three shell game is a lot of fun. Spectators love guessing where that little green pea has gone.

Just my opinion,

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Inner circle
Portland, Oregon
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Profile of rtgreen
If anyone is interested in learning more about Cups and Balls, check out my post:

Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
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Profile of Michael Baker
On 2004-04-26 22:47, Gary Barnard wrote:
Also, a chop cup might be cool to have.

Depending upon your venue, a chop cup may be the best choice. Fewer props, cleaner plot, less space required to work it, super fast reset, and the impact is no less powerful.

If you are new to the game, the chop cup also is a less tedious routine to master. Since the chop cup and most C&B routines hinge on the big finish aspect, the chop cup is going to give you the timing required to do those loads... before you have to do it 3 or even 4 times in the routine, as with the 3 cups.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Profile of prettylady1990
I go for cup and balls
Will Gordon
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Las Vegas
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Profile of Will Gordon
I'd go for the shell game.
The Magician
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Profile of The Magician
Cups and balls for me anyday
The Magician

Expect the Unexpected
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Profile of tbaer
Both in my opinion.
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Charlottesville, Virginia
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Profile of the_houdini_jester
Cups and balls as in chop cups. if its just penetration shell game
All the Magic things I don't have are like the foods I've never had. One day I'll have some but I will never have all.
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Profile of Salah AAZEDINE
Both are realy great and get a great reaction if you master em.
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Las Vegas , NV
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Profile of unilogo
I personally do not own the cups and balls and have ALWAYS felt it is way played out! Sure: it's a classic,sure it has served some of the greatest magicians ever incredibly well, and sure you will create amazing reactions with the old "oldest effect in magic" theme. Then theres the final loads which always incredibly create the "how did you do that" question in the audience.If that is your ideal reaction , you will LOVE the cups and balls. Comedy blends right in EASILY. There is endless combinations on your routine so you will even have fun creating your routine too.


I personally never seek out that reaction and for that sole reason I am going with the shell game.

Maybe since I am a bizarrist(for the most part) I like to look at the sky as having a black hole sun instead of seeing the world as a pure beautiful thing. Hence the possibilities of an interesting story arouse from the shell game. The shell game is Very portable, close up it's basically angle proof , and it is just as mind blowing to the audience in the "how the.." reaction but more subtle for some reason. That's where I believe it kicks in(the played out factore) , rather than being seeing as "the oldest trick in magic" , this effect is more modern and people relate to it much more. The added money theme , just kills.

For personal choice I own the three shell game. It has served me BEYOND well. I will continue to use it for many years to come.My presentation just kills with the effect. There is no reason why I would pick the cups and balls over it. I like to carry effects that look like every day items. The shells fit straight right in. For this and many more reasons I say...

SHELL GAME>chop cup or cups and balls.That simple.

But in the long run is up to you and what you wanna portray. Look at my post compare it to a few here and I am sure you can make a choice based on your act and personallity.

You want the darkside, shell game. Scams, etc....

you want fun and impossible. Chop cup, and cups and balls.

For the most part unless you can elevate either of the two to a new level. Which I hope you do cause it is always amazing. It reminds you of Penn and teller and the clear cups and balls. They would shut right up everything I said , but it really does go to tell you that if it fits your personallity most magic tricks just "come to you." They really do.

Good luck and take care.
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