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bishthemagish
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Erdnase And Three Card Monte

As many of the magicians know me they would know that I am a big fan of Erdnase and the book “Expert at the card table”. My favorite copy of this classic is the book Revelations because it has Dai Vernon’s comments on the original Erdnase work.

One of the things that is covered in the book is the classic game called Three card monte. I remember seeing Dai Vernon do this when I was a kid on television.

I asked my Dad (The Late Billy Bishop) about the effect and he said it was a swindle and then handed me the Book “Expert at the card table” and told me that it was in that book.

That started a love for the old swindles of three card monte - the shell game - and the chain of chance often called fast and loose.

As an adult I still read Expert or Revelations and have formed an un-popular theory as to what kind of a man Erdnase was. For many a magician have said that he was probably a card shark.

My theory is of course is that he was a magician… He may have played games of chance as written in the book but that hardly makes Erdnase a card shark. But I feel that he did not make a living cheating at cards and being a card shark was not his profession…

One of the statements in the book Expert at the card table is written at the end of the chapter that is about three card monte…

Erdnase calls the tosser the dealer and the marks players. To me most of Expert at the card table the copy reads like a magician playing the part of a card sharp.

The reason I feel this when I read the book is that it seems to write about coming from the point of view of an entertainer. Not a card shark with the attitude of that this game will “get the money”.

Even when he writes about the crimped corner it is not about using it to get the money. He doesn’t write about how good the ruse is to up the bet of the player or the mark…

Rather stating that “when the perfect confidence is inspired, and the cupidity of the player temps him to cover the odds”…

This reminds me of a magician doing and explaining the crimped corner to an audience rather than a card shark writing how to use this to get the money. And there is no mention of how the monte mob sets up the game on the streets… Protects the dealer or tosser and sets up the mark.

In fact - the fact that you can bet with the game of three card monte and how to really use this game that is one of the kings of con games - betting is hardly mentioned - and used in the text as an outline - perhaps as a reference point?

Erdnase writes… But there is not one single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, WILL MYSTIFY AS GREATLY AND CAUSE AS MUCH AMUSEMENT… Or bear as much repetition as this little game…

Again it reads to me like a magician writing and talking about the entertainment value of doing this effect as a demonstration. Calling three card monte a card feat - not a card shark stating how much money can be made. And the fact that in those days a good monte player or tosser could make more money faster with this game than any other game in the whole calendar of card games…

I myself never went after the sub culture of magicians market until I produced my DVD on card magic.

Until then I kept to the shadows not letting other magicians know how good I was. My audience was the paying public not the magicians. For my own reasons I have let the magician public know about my skill because if I don’t other magician will take credit for it.

As they did with my Fathers rope tie and some of his other ideas.

Before I decided to get more known to magicians not many people heard of me even though I have had a successful stage performing life for over 20 years and have had over 30 years performing in over 87 different restaurants.

I feel that Erdnase was taking credit by publishing the book… But the success of the book was very limited. The book could have been the first part of his promo.

I feel that Erdnase did not know how to promote himself and did not know how to promote his book.

Or he was not successful at promoting himself or his book. He may have tried but had he been good at it we would know more about the man called Erdnase.

Most of the people that had more success and made more money with “Expert at the card table” came after the self published copy that Erdnase published.

And if he was a card shark why couldn’t Erdnase go out of that hotel room and walk down the block to a saloon and do three card monte for about three hours and get the money?

Why couldn’t he get a job in any saloon doing three card monte. According to the history I have read saloons in 1902 had people that delt poker for the house. And had people that delt faro and had people doing three card monte.

These people were employed by the saloon or had a deal with the saloon…

Whit Haydn talks about one guy that did just that who did it in a tent saloon with permission from the saloon. This is stated on his new Three card monte DVD set that is produced by the School Of Scoundrels…

Why couldn’t Erdnase get the money that way - instead of writing a book that is a slow sell to get the money. Why would he do a slow sell - If he needed the money?

I don’t think that real cheating was in his nature… And he was a magician Like Vernon and Miller…

You may not think that “the theory I propose has any weight at all”…

But I do!
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Euan
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Dear Mister Bishop

From what I can gather, you're main point seems to be that as Erdnase stated "if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money." (Erdnase, Preface, page x) which, by your standpoint offers undeniable truth that Erdnase was a magician.

Surely this is quite a weak argument? How can you be sure that this small fragment of text was not offered up as a joke? Books focusing on such a small specialized field almost always sell miserably, perhaps he was being sarcastic? Or was writing with tongue planted firmly in cheek? Personally I don’t think money was Erdnase’s main concern at all, a view which is backed up by the text itself. “The passion for play is probably as old, and will be as enduring, as the race of man. Some of us are too timid to risk a dollar, but the percentage of people in this feverish nation who would not enjoy winning one is very small. The passion culminates in the professional. He would rather play than eat. Winning is not his sole delight. Some one has remarked that there is but one pleasure in life greater than winning, that is, in making the hazard.” (Erdnase, Introduction, page xi)

The most important point being “there is but one pleasure in life greater than winning, that is, in making the hazard”.

So, it appears that this is not really your theory at all.

Books written with the sole purpose of making money are seldom as well written as The Expert At The Card Table. It must have taken quite some time, perhaps even a number of years to complete the text. With that in mind, what are you're theories as to how he survived while writing the book?


Best wishes

Euan Smile
bishthemagish
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I never said it was my personal theory Euan - thank you for bringing that up. Chigago magicians Jack Pyle and Billy Bishop also had the same theory.

The reason's so I was told - were because of the way the magic section was written. The person that wrote that in their point of view and I also agree - it was written by a performer.

Even Ricky Jay uses some of the patter for one of his effects. That is how good some of the performing material is.

And in their point of view as well as my point of view there is material written from the demo point of view being the twelve card stock and three card monte - there is more but that comes to mind right now.

When I started the orginal thread I was sort of wanting to start a book club look at Erdnase.

I also stated that everyones point of view is important.

One of the clues that I have not gotten into yet is to look through the old magic mags like very old issues of the Sphinx and see if there is any mention of a card magician names Andrews...

This comes to mind… When Dai Vernon needed money at one time Faucett Ross wrote up and he and Vernon published his famous Twenty Dollar Manuscript…

This sold Ten of Vernon’s card problems mail order for the price of Twenty Dollars. A large sum of money in October of 1932... According to the book Early Vernon published by Magic Inc…

I have only met Vernon once but I have seen him deal seconds and other card shark moves at his lecture and three card monte. But instead of going out and doing this to get the funds he needs he instead chooses to PUBLISH his Twenty Dollar Manuscript…

This is very successful for Dai Vernon because by 1932 he is well known in magic. Early Vernon talks about an interesting advertising method that Faucett Ross came up with.

Erdnase - I would think was a slow sell being 1902 and less of a magic market. And I do not think that Erdnase was known to the magic world or the publishing world at the time he self published his now classic book.

An interesting footnote on page 71 of my copy of Early Vernon. It announces a completed work on a companion book to Erdnase called Revelations… Publishing date… Sept. 1, 1962...

Publishing magic and moves seems to be how magicians make money rather than card sharking even when you know the moves.

As I mentioned Jack Pyle was a student of Erdnase. One of his favorite things in the magic section Erdnase Method of Determining a card thought of…

Jack used to use the peak a lot because his deck was rigged for the bridge deal… So he would have people peak at a card instead of take a card.

Jack was also left handed so he would throw you off because he did his moves left handed. He would have a card peaked at in the Effect like Erdnase and then steal it out and put it in his left pocket.

Before producing it he would pull out keys coins bills and all sorts of stuff filling up the hands of the spectator. The last thing he would pull out was the card that was though of by the spectator.

Jack used the peak a lot and got so good with it he would have five or six people peak at a card and steal them out in his left hand and he would find the in different pockets.

Most of his act was poker and bridge deals and he closed with the bridge deal…

I remember doing a show with Jack in later years and walking him to his card. On the passenger side seat was a copy of “The Expert at The Card table”…

One of the things that I find interesting in the Erdnase text is how Erdnase uses some magic terms… On page 41 of Revelations in the section - “To Retain the top stock” he writes about using a “break” a magic term more than once.

Later in the last part of Revelations Vernon writes of the Mysterious kid and his cull and talks about “Throwing in briefs”…

Vernon in the Video tape Revelations also said… “Gamblers laugh at magicians”… And tells a story about how a Gambler liked Vernon’s bottom deal and said that it would get the money.

And did not like a move that Charlie Miller did for him…

This story is on the video tape of Revelations. What I get from it when I watched the tape that the Gamblers have little respect for magicians.

Another thing that is not mentioned in Erdnase - is the punch deal. It is hardly mentioned and from what I understand from a card shark that used it named Carl that I did know - and made a living with it - the punch deal according to him was quite popular…

There are a lot of magic terms in the card shark section of Erdnase… And I find that most interesting after seeing the video Revelations and heard what Vernon said about Gamblers and what they think about magicians!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Euan
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Bish....

page 20.. "The design and use of the break originated with us"

Euan Smile
bishthemagish
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Very interesting - and please do not take this wrong as we explore- most of the live card sharks and card players I have met and talked about Erdnase about call it briefs...

Thank you for posting that... The reason I started the Erdnase thread was to get the ideas of more magicians that are into Erdnase...

Sort of a book club...

Put our heads together over the Café and perhaps come up with more info - together as a group about the man called Erdnase...

For the record…

What I feel fast company in magic is a person with great magic skill that conducts themselves as a gentleman.

What pops into mind is what Leipzig said to Dai Vernon that is Quoted in the stars of magic… “Dai - I’ve been doing magic for over 50 years - They (the audience) like to feel that a gentleman has fooled them”…

The people I knew back in Chicago - Ed Marlo, Jim Ryan, Eddie Fields, John Shirley, Jack Pyle, Jay Marshall, Don Alan, Tony Marks, Jack Kodell to name drop a few manes were gentleman…

They were hard case showman to be sure and I carried more than my share of water to get close to them and to be around them.

But I noticed while growing up around them that they treated each other like gentleman. And went out of their way to help each other.

When I met Dai Vernon at a convention he was the gentleman’s gentleman… He did not hide away in a room or hang out with a click of card guys. But he was at the convention and did as much face time as anyone could do. Signed autographs and told stories and helped people with magic…

From what Jay Marshall told me the same thing was true of Charlie Miller… Yes all performers have their heated moments but the Pro’s or the fast company that I knew in Chicago were a little different…


One of the more interesting lines I find in Erdnase is in the card shark section where he talks about the bottom deal. In Vernon’s Revelations page 56... The last line - “But neither of the maneuvers is desirable, or necessary to a good performer”…

I think when reading this - why did he write good performer?

Why not to a good player? Or Good advantage player? Or Good Card Player?

Reading Erdnase I feel he was a writer that he wrote and was choosing his words for the text very carefully…

What feelings and opinions do you get when you read Erdnase?
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Glenn, I must say that I am certainly not convinced of your theory. I don't see what is non-adult about picking apart a theory (unpopular or not).

As a masters student in science, proposing as well as attacking new theories is what I am currently doing for a living. There's certainly nothing childish about it.
That's how one decides if a theory has weight, and that's how to get to the truth of the matter. What use is a theory that cannot be defended on its merits. It becomes merely a fanciful idea not to be confused with fact.

I thought you offered up your theory for discussion, in which case let's discuss the arguments for and against it. If this is not the case, let me know what we should be talking about exactly.

Quote:
Another thing that is not mentioned in Erdnase - is the punch deal. It is hardly mentioned and from what I understand from a card shark that used it named Carl that I did know - and made a living with it - the punch deal according to him was quite popular…


Erdnase never pretended that this was an exhaustive survey of card cheating methods.

Okay, he doesn't mention the punch deal, which may or may not have been in use at the time.
Sure, he doesn't mention the spread either. But if he gambled, perhaps he wasn't willing to show all his cards anyway.


Note that just 'cause he cheats at cards, it doesn't mean he's familiar or used with any frequence all methods available. From his description of 3 card monte, he may not have had that intimate knowledge of that particular hustle, but there are more plausible conclusions to draw than just that he never cheated at cards.

Also, his legerdemain section certainly wasn't exhaustive. And that isn't reason enough to say he wasn't a magician. Why is it your theory much harsher on Erdnase with regards to the comprehensiveness of the card-table artifice section?


Like you I am in search of the truth, though my methods are colored by my academic background.
Cheers,
Derrick
bishthemagish
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Thank you for posting Derrick...

I an not trying to convinced anyone of any one theory... My hope is to bring together in a book club way many people that have the love of Erdnase and want to talk about many theories ideas and the moves.

I love the book expert at the card table and I speak of Erdnase from my one- point of view. That doesn;t make me an expert or does it may my theory or Marlo's or Jack pyles - any more true...

Wehn I read theories of others that have the same love of Erdnase I have I feel wow thanks for pointing that out!

I have the honor of looking at a book I love from another angle - from another person that is just as right- and importsnt - and has the same love as I have for the book.

Doing that makes me learn more - faster - and I get a larger view of the book!

I am no expert on the book expert at the card table. Just a student that loves the book. I want to hear from other people that love the works and the action that the past masters have said about it.

Thanks for posting...

A lot of what I posted about Erdnase and three card monte came from talking to Whit Hayden and the difference in the way a street shell game or three card monte man uses the game to hussle.

And then I to that conversation and read the three card monte text in Erdnase...

I love what you posted... What kind of a man do you think Erdnase was?
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Denis Behr
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Glenn, you present a theory, other people discuss your arguments and you do not respond to the points brought up at all, or do I miss something? I thought that is what a discussion is about.

Well, good luck with your discussion-book-club Smile
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I have not made up my mind yet about Erdnase but he certainly grips the imagination and evokes passionate ideas about who and what kind of man he was.
I can not give an informed opinion about Erdnase having not read the opinions of those who have studied the book and moves in depth and know more than I about magic.

I have spent many years at the card table and what I read in the cardsharp section seems to me to be credible. He seems to know what he is talking about and all the moves he details could pass in a real game I believe. He also seems to know how a real pro cheat thinks and behaves.

On the other hand he appears to know great a deal about the performance of magic.

From these basic opinions that I have formed I have not come to a conclusion but I tend to think he might have been both a magician and an advantage player.

Why would he write the book is probably where the answer is to the mystery. It is like asking who killed JFK. If you know why, you would know who. That however leads to a lot of different answers.

I have not read “The Man Who was Erdnase” but from what I have read about that books theory it appears to me that the theory does not hold up. I have a personal friend who is a top advocate and he makes a fortune out of arguing points. He told me “Never make a bad point in an argument” I did not understand and he explained that I could win 100 trivial points and make just one good one and lose the argument because your good point is lost among the hundred, so it is far better to make your good points only and leave it at that. The Man Who was Erdnase book seems to me to make a lot of bad points to support the theory that he was Milton Franklin Andrews. I myself have not learnt the advocates lesson but think it a lesson worth the learning.

I have read Glens theory and saw PC and others argue with it but I do not think we have heard their theories. Forgive me if I am wrong. With respect, I for one would like to hear them.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Thank you for posting Denis Behr This theory about Erdnase being one of the first magicians to exploit the card shark expert market in magic grew out of a line that was written by Ed Marlo...

Ed Marlo wrote in seconds centers and bottomes about a deal called the Havana deal that he invented and now claimed.

When this deal was frost sold by magic inc Marlo was not known. So they invented a stage persona or a false id... And a story that it was invented by a Havana card shark.

Then when Marlo got his rep over time and publishing many books the story was printed in seconds centers and bottoms.

To me this was a great show buisness story about how a persona was invented to sell a product. It happens all the time in show business. This made the deal seem special - bigger than life... That is show business.

I took this book to Marlo after I met Ed years later and we talked about it for a while.

Then it grew into the theory that I have stated in this thread.
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Glenn

Quote:
Very interesting - and please do not take this wrong as we explore- most of the live card sharks and card players I have met and talked about Erdnase about call it briefs...


How many of these people were alive circa 1902?

Just a couple of quick questions for you mister Bish.

Do you believe the man behind the deck was the same as the man behind the typewriter?

Also, most people have interpreted Erdnase by performing the moves in a slick and skillful manner. Do you think this is what Erdnase intended?
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Thank you for posting Euan I love the questions. But I don't want to be the only one answering these questions - I want everyone that wants to to answer these and other questions.

I want this to be a think tank on Erdnase...

If people are writing to just me were back into that one point of view... I want this to be lots of points of views - lots of theories...

What I mean when I say the excitement around Erdnase is the old masters that read the book. These were people like Vernon, Miller, Jack Pyle, Ed Marlo, Paul LePaul, Jim Ryan, Eddie Fields.

They would say things about Erdnase in the old magazinges and other published works. All of them are clues and they were doing what we are doing right now- talking about Erdnase.

None to your first question - of these players that I talked to was alive back in 1902. Thank you for pointing this out. Back in those days the slang might have been different!

Yes I feel that the man behind the typewriter is the man behind the deck. The reason I feel this is that I think Paul said that he owned a first eddition of the book and it was a self published work.

Revelations the Dai Vernon Erdnase was printed by taking a first eddition Erdnase and taking it appart and then photographing each page.

I agree with Paul as the Erdnase part of Revelations looks like a self published work. And since Paul had the real book in his hands for many years... (And I do accept Pul as an expert on Erdnase - (I just did not like the way he was talking down to me or writing down to me - but that is my personal problem)... Nuff Said!

I have not seen anything that told about anyone that edited or co-wrote it. But if it was a self publised work and Erdnase was with low funds - getting back to the needing the money clue... And this leads me to think that he was...

He may have not been able to pay an editor because it would have cost him more money. This is all feelings I get when I read... And is no way written in stone or proven fact!

And in the action that is around the book there is a quick story from the Ross Bertram book that states that Martin Gardner found MD Smith and got him to a magic convention in Chicago around the 50's.

He talked about Erdnase and their was no mention of a second writer in the hotel room when they did the drawnings from life.

So this is not written in stone and is just a feeling as well. There could have been two people that wrote Erdnase but since there was no record of a mention of two people in the project I feel that there is one person that wrote the book.

But again this is what I feel from my limited one point of view. What does everyone else feel?

As a hypnotist I would have loved to been at this convention. I would have offered to hypnotize MD Smith. And if he let me do it and we had subject acceptance and he went under. We would have been able to probe his subconsious mind and come up with clear memories of that meeting in that hotel room.

But they may have not let me do it becuse magicians in the 50's thought that hypnotism was fake and a load of bunk.

The last question is a wonderful question and one of the best things that I have heard about Erdnase in years... Thank you very much for asking that. I also want to hear your point of view and others.

To me this is a very important question and I must think on this and answer it in my own way and in it's own post!

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Also, most people have interpreted Erdnase by performing the moves in a slick and skillful manner. Do you think this is what Erdnase intended? Either way, please cite three examples from the text to comfirm your answer.

Euan


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I think that this is a great question and it has been bouncing around in my brain and this is what I feel about it so far…

I feel the same way. When I read the text in both the Magic Section and the Card Shark Section I feel that Erdnase did perform cards in a slick and skillful manor.

In the Magic section page 177. Invisible flight. Dai Vernon writes on the side - “note how the palming is done at the opportune moment.- the misdirection is quite perfect.

On page 172 in the effect the Exclusive Coterie…

Vernon writes note how Erdnase creates a favorable moment to palm the necessary cards - a little lesson in it’s self..

Then I read the text of the effect and they are both magic effects that I feel (my point of view) that Erdnase not only worked out from every angle.

But also performed and entertained with these effects. I feel that Erdnase did these two card effects for people in shows or impromptu performances.

The reason I feel this is told by Vernon on the side in Revelations. These little things that Dai Vernon wrote are bits of business. A moment that a magician does to cover a move. Like leaning forward.

In Erdnase case in the Effect of the Exclusive Coterie… The moment is that he hands the four queens to the spectator to examine. And then as Erdnase writes “and now secretly palm three cards in the right hand”…

A perfect use of misdirection in magic using the cover of the examination of the four queens to cover the palming of the cards.

That is a bit of business that I look for when watching magicians perform.

With me when I am working on a new effect or doing a new effect I have learned - with me that most often those bits of business don’t develop unless I perform the effects for people…

And the more you do the effect for people the smoother and better the bits of business become… (At least that is what I have experienced)…

This leads me to believe that Erdnase did perform for people in 1902. I can’t say he was a paid professional performer but I feel he did magic for people for a long time. Using the above and what is written in the book to form my guess.

In the card shark section Erdnase explains a fancy true cut… Page 46 - 47 in Revelations… But the last line he writes - “the only drawback is the danger of making a display of even such simple ability“.

This is a clue that suggests to me that Erdnase knew and it was warning the student reading the book that if you flash your skill when your advantage playing it could be dangerous.

One of my favorite parts of the book is in the introduction. Page 11, in Revelations Erdnase writes about the proprietors or managers of Gaming houses and how their profits are much the same as any business enterprise… (Not quoted exactly because of a lack of time)…

And goes on to write and I quote from Revelations - “The card tables play a percentage or “rake off“ and the management provides a “look out“ for the protection of the patrons“…- “

COULD THIS BE A CLUE AS TO WHAT ERDNASE DID FOR A LIVING IN 1902?

Could Erdnase have been a “look out” in a gaming house in 1902?

And then the book was to set him up as the expert or the authority on the subject and then the other gaming houses would have been his market?

Then Erdnase writes and compares the “card conjurer” to what must be done at the card table “That the entire conduct must be in perfect harmony with the usual procedure of the game. The slightest action that appears irregular, the least effort to distract attention, or the first unnatural movement, will create suspicion;

This suggests that Erdnase knew when to be smooth and when not to be. And that was all from your wonderful question.

And it suggests to the student reader or at least to me - to survive as a card shark and the card shark is to slick as Erdnase writes it could be dangerous.

For me being a look out - or having a job - where Erdnase COULD have been around card sharps and card playing in the gaming houses is an interesting theory or guess…

More later.
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Is “The Exclusive Coterie” a clue? Perhaps W.S. Erdnase was a gay French magician, a Queen, working with a select circle of society known as a gay magic ring, made up of himself and three other Queens and the plebeians represent the people trying to break into his secret world through his book. Maybe he is telling us, entrée into his Beau-mound is forbidden and futile to try.

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Tommy
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Tommy that was a riot...
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Hmmm, there is that photo of Houdini in the red tie mentioned in Carter Beats the Devil.

Could it be the club of queer trades has a branch in magic?

I blame it all on Connan Doyle, but prefer to read GK Chesterton.
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Hi John - that is a riot to...

Here is a link to the original thread that I started when I just joined the café and started to post about Erdnase…

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......;start=0


I feel that Erdnase was a magician and the card shark section was to make the book sell to the general public because it was in the front of the book.
The reason it was in the front was I think that the general public might buy the book just to find out and have a look at how the card sharks do what they do. In fact I feel that is one of the strong selling points of the book.

And I sold Erdnase car loads of them for over 15 years.

My Dad also felt that Erdnase was a showman in the way that he put the card shark section first. Because the public that has an interest in magic in 1902 was a very small market.

He also felt that because of the amount of saloons and places to play cards that there were in 1902 it would help sell the book because of the interest in games of chance were high in those days as it still is today.

I also usually don’t go along with the general agreements about any subject. The above are legends in magic and this may shake things up a bit.

But none of these legends in magic ever met Erdnase.

The only person that were proven to have met Erdnase was Drake the publisher and MD Smith… They had business relationships with Erdnase.

Drake we assume met him when he got the rights to the book. And M.D. Smith did the drawings for the book.

Pratt only claims that Milton Franklin Andrews was Erdnase… For me that is not a fact… Plus Pratt wasn’t a very good card man when showing Martin Gardner card moves…

And hardly a man “wised up on Erdnase methods before the book was published”.

All the men that were around Ed Marlo are wonderful card men…

And I do not think that the magic was "cribbed" from other books of the time, like Roterberg, Sachs…

The reason is in my past post on the magic section. I pointed out in two routines that had little bits of business included with the performance of the effects. These little bits of business are important. Because It makes the reader feel that Erdnase went out and performed these effects.

And these bits of business only come out when performing an effect over time… And with some performers over a long time.

That is why I do not believe that the magic routines were performed by Erdnase and not pinched from other books.

As I said it is a performers point of view. Not a card shark point of view. And he wrote and self published the book but had little money and only himself to promote it.

And I and other performers have walked that road of putting out self published works with little money. And had forced to be a one person promoter. This is a very hard place to be in. Speaking from my own life experience.

There comes a time that many performers will sell the self published works for less than it’s worth and walk away… That happens a lot in magic and it may have happened to Erdnase.

As I mentioned in another thread I enjoy doing three card monte and the shell game and the chain of chance. I like the old time street swindles a lot and have spent a lot of time learning them and working on them.

I am from Chicago and I have done street magic there - quite a while ago now. Over the years I have seen people in the streets do three card monte as the street swindle.

While performing street magic for the state street mall and at the time my closer was the shell game I met a con man - had lunch with him and he wanted to team up to do a salt and pepper con…

I have appeared on Chicago television including networks and cable doing the shell game and three card monte. I met Dallas Tyler the head of the Chicago bunco unit on one of these TV shows and Bruce Walsted the head of the Franklin Park Police Dept. Bunco unit.

Dallas Tyler who has watched the street con men for years told me that I was the best he had ever seen. Bruce Walsted said the same thing. This led to doing a video for Bruce Walsted and the Franklin Park Police Dept on Cons and scams to be used to educate the police officers for Bruce Walsted‘s lectures. I still have the thank you letter.

I mention this not to brag but I have been into the con games for many years.

The way that the magician does three card monte for entertainment and the way the street con man doesn’t three card monte are two different ways.

The magician entertains and then gets the money.

The street con man is only interested in getting the money. To do this the street con man uses a mob. And mobs used a script that points out what each member of the mob is there to do.

With the mob working with the three card monte hustler. There is no chance for the mark to win and it is a well rehearsed group effort to con the mark out of his money.

Yet the mob and their important part in the con is not mentioned in the book “Expert at the card table”.

To see the best info I have ever seen on three card monte get Whit Haydn’s School for scoundrels DVD on three card monte.

This is the first video explanation that I have ever seen about how the three card monte mob works and how they get the money.

It is certainly different than the way Erdnase wrote up the routine in “Expert at the card table”

Could have Erdnase used it as an after game, game to win money after the poker game was over? Or is it written up as a magician in a persona of a card shark doing a demonstration?

I feel that a lot of things in Erdnase are better and written up as a demonstration rather than a way to cheat at the card table.

I like to feel that Erdnase was a magician. And perhaps where he learned and worked on his moves and ideas was from his contact of card sharks - through a job he may have had as a “look out” in a gambling hall. (Page 11. In Erdnase)

Like having a job as the eye in the sky in a casino.

Rather than a card shark and con artist Milton Franklin Andrews…

This brings this train wreck to a close...
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Thank you Glen for this knowledge and fascinating theory that you are giving us. I try to read it with an open mind but I find it difficult to accept that Erdnase was not a professional advantage player. Having never been a pro magician perhaps I lack the insight that being such would bring. I respect you opinions and may well change my mind some time in the future but at this point in time I am of the following opinion that:

Erdnase was a fine scholar and student of magic and learned the art to such a degree that we could describe him as a master. His motive for his study of the art was because of a vice that grips many. The one thing he loved more than magic was gambling and like a highly talented painter can turn his artistic talent to forgery so did Erdnase turn to the card table.

“The passion for play is probably as old, and will be as enduring, as the race of man. Some of us are too timid to risk a dollar, but the percentage of people who would not enjoy winning one is very small. The passion culminates in the professional. He would rather play than eat. Winning is not the sole delight. Some one has remarked that there is but one pleasure in life than winning, that is, in making the hazard.”

- W.S. Erdnase -

If this insight was not written by a professional player I will eat my hat! There are, of course, many others that I could quote.

Moving on Erdnase gives a fine description of what will and what will not fly at the card table. If the move fits this, it will fly, if does not it will not.:
“That the entire conduct must be in perfect harmony with the usual procedure of the game. The slightest action that appears irregular, the least effort to distract attention, or the first unnatural movement, will create suspicion;

He then goes on to explain many moves, that if mastered, will fly. I have read other moves, claimed to have been lifted from the card table, which have been written by magicians, but I can not recall any, that I could agree would fly.

The above and many others things have lead me to the view that Erdnase was a player.

I do not rule out the fact that other conclusions could be dawn and I will endevour to be receptive and open minded.

Icidently I have noted a book on Libray.com said to be written in 1900 by a German
all about card cheating. I have tried to download it, but not being a computer wiz kid I am not succeeding yet. Also I note that on that site that a magic mag was dated from 1902 and I heard that the first advertisement for the Erdnase book appeared in such a mag?
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Thank you for that info and your open mind and your posts Tommy... BC - Before the Café thread I used to think that this was fun to talk about.

And it was with people like you! And a few others.
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Glen
I think some of the best ideas can come out when we see a heated debate and it has brought out some great ones from you. It might not be fun for you defending your theory from all sides but I don't know why because your putting up great fight.
I am only disappointed that others have not come up with more ideas so far.

I am more interested in Erdnase now than ever before and I thank you for that.


Regards Tommy.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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The point of this thread was to talk about Erdnase and three card monte. Because the way that Erdanse wrote it is a lot different than the way it was done on the streets even in those days they used a mob.

By the way I am adding new video at my web site... Me doing the shell game and three card monte in 1975 on TV.

That will be it for a while because I have to get back to work. Enjoy!

And a silent film featuring Dai Vernon - Silent Mora and Charlie Miller doing short effects. 8mm film converted to video streamed for the web.

Tommy I want to thank you for posting the last few posts. They made me feel better!

Thanks again...
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
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