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Bob G
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Profile of Bob G

I'm always happy to hear your opinion -- and thanks for your careful reading and helpful response. I hadn't thought of the issue in exactly the way you presented it, but I now realize that your thinking about "two identical cards from the same deck being suspect" is another reason why I prefer the diamond cards that come with the marketed trick -- the cards are weird anyway, so why *shouldn't* there be two red cards? I don't want to speak for Chris, but I suspect he'd agree with you that it doesn't make sense to remove the Color Monte cards from a deck.

I'm also glad to hear your list of favorite packet tricks. Now that I'm learning the EC, a whole new world is about to open up to me, and I look forward to checking out the tricks you mention.

By the way, in an earlier post you mentioned that you found the packet DL harder than the full-deck DL (though somehow I suspect you've mastered both Smile ). I realized later that the packet DL that I found easy to learn was the one for Color Monte -- which involves only three cards! Doing a DL from a larger packet is a different story -- something that I need to learn how to do.

Thanks as always for posting.

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Profile of Chris
Absolutely agree that you should never remove anything but regular cards from a deck, unless there is a really good reason for it. Two identical cards could work if they are jokers or if there is some other justifiable reason. For example, you may have openly introduced a duplicate card for a legitimate purpose earlier. One can't generalize this and categorically say NEVER, but in general Color Monte is best done as a standalone packet trick. preserving magic one book at a time.
Bob G
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Profile of Bob G

Somehow I missed this answer you gave to a question I asked:

Bob: Here's a question for you, given that I'm learning the EC now. How do you *know* when you're doing it well?

Mark: I'm personally a big fan of what today is considered the standard handling of this false display, which is the one thought by Roberto Giobbi in Card College 2.
In other words it's the one (if you're right-handed as I am) where you start with cards in left hand dealing position and you pass the cards from right hand to left hand.

to do it well, in my opinion, is a blend of many things:

- rhythm is constant
- the multiple push off is undetectable
- the first counted card ends perfectly square under the remaining cards after the switch
- the left hand does all the movement while the right is stationary (often people move both hands during the count)

I've seen too many people not following these requirements. Even failing in one or two of these, in my opinion, makes a bad display.

Obviously you have to make sure that any similar display (or event genuinely passing cards from one hand to the other) looks exactly the same, whatever false display you're using.
If you have access to Roy Walton's books, look up the trick "As you Were". It's a packet trick that's fantastic as a practice drill, since you need to do one EC, one JC, one genuine display and one SIVA count all in one minute! And they must all look exactly the same!

Hope I have inspired you ...

And now here's my reply to your reply. For the EC, I've been working on all four points that you brought up. The one that I find trickiest is making sure that "the first counted card ends perfectly square under the remaining cards after the switch." But my practice is going well and I'm optimistic. So I find your description encouraging!

I also have started to do a *genuine* count, as you mentioned doing in another thread. This time I'm having no trouble with it. Hopefully that will allow me to make the false count like a real count. So I'm pretty excited.

I haven't seen Walton's books, though I know he's considered one of the great creators. I'll look up "As you were" -- with luck it's in a book that I'll find affordable.

See you,

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Profile of sirbrad
Having done magic for almost 40 years now and 28 professionally, I can say that sleights combined with gimmicks/gaffs is by far the strongest magic overall. As my buddy Jamy Ian Swiss mentions in one of his articles "The method is not the trick." You can accomplish much more amazing things with gaffs and gimmicks than you could with just sleight of hand, and that is coming from a sleight of hand purist, finger-flinger, knuckle-buster whatever you want to call it.

Sometimes simple tricks using gimmicks and gaffs slays an audience, and allows 100% focus on presentation and showmanship. Sometimes sleight of hand artists/card manipulators bore people to sleep with dry and boring presentations, and are only looking to show off their juggling skills.

I wrote an essay on this way back in the early 2000's "Sleights VS Gimmicks" which may be on here somewhere. But I combine both for maximum impact. However being very skilled in sleights allows you to maneuver gimmicks a lot more smoothly, and change gaffs/gimmicks in and out undetected if needed. They also allow you to show your audience some very magical, strange, and mysterious things that you could not do otherwise with just sleight of hand. Like with those gaff decks and all of those custom printed crazy cards, moving pips, burnt cards, double-backed, double-faced, double-blank, double-faced, etc. Many are never seen or known as well.

When you get down to it though all that matters is if the effect astonished and entertained the audience not "how" it was accomplished. No one knows you have "trick cards" if you are a competent performer. Gaffs and most gimmicks are invisible if used correctly. Only a beginner or a poor performer would openly display them and try and use them as a stand-alone trick.

Gaff/gimmicks are not tricks in themselves, they are merely "tools" to help the magician in providing the strongest effect possible and provide maximum impact. Also every thing does not need to be "examinable", your audience is there to see magic; not play doctors and detectives. If you are constantly handing everything out it is no magic anymore, it is a "puzzle" and you are challenging your audience and possibly making them feel stupid when they find nothing if you overdo this.

Not to mention it wastes a tremendous amount of time. Most competent magicians will not have that issue, and usually they have a few effects that can be examined but after that the audience knows nothing will be found anyway, so they no longer want to examine them anyway. This is called "audience management" also, something you learn a lot more about over many years of performing.

I started out with self-working card tricks, and then after that I became a "sleight-geek" as I wanted to learn all of the hardest stuff, and all of the tools that I needed for tricks I would learn later on. Pure sleight of hand magic is great, but it only takes you so far, and cannot accomplish what gaffs and gimmicks can. There is no shame in using them, that is what they are made for.

It is your job as a performer to use every tool out there to your advantage, and to provide the best, most powerful, astonishing, effect possible. I always went to great lengths to provide that, as well as using very elaborate set-ups than most other magicians would be too lazy to do, because they are "impractical" for them. Which I also wrote about in another essay long ago entitled "practical VS impractical".

The key though is to just do the best magic that you can, and what works best for you and your audience. Don't worry too much about the method, worry about the effect and how it should look in the end, and use whatever method it takes to accomplish that—because the method is not the trick.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
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