On the Fascination of Gambling for Majishuns

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In a discussion on the Genii Forum a while back, Mark Lewis wrote:

I am quite astonished at the interest of magicians in anything to do with poker, card sharking and gambling generally. I strongly suspect that any book with a gambling theme sells very well to magicians. (…)
As a result I strongly suspect that if a writer was to write any kind of book concerning gambling whether it had card tricks and sleights or not would sell very well if marketed to magicians. That is probably why the Steve Forte book has done so well.

Well, my personal guess is that there are (at least) two reasons for that:

First, we majishuns simply love magic lore, stories, and riddles, the more fantastic the better. Real-world deceivers like cheats and hustlers attract our attention, earn our respect and trigger our imagination.

Second, I think we love to fancy ourselves as suave card mechanics with nerves of steel at the poker table, but because of our embarrassing shortcomings in the real world we resort to the second best thing: we pretend to be experts at the card table by doing risk-free gambling tricks and demonstrations!


 

Tricks & Ideas: No-Card Card Magic

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Let’s face it:

1. A lot of people don’t like card tricks. (Probably more people than those who don’t like magic in general, I guess.)

2. A lot of card tricks lend themselves to other—and better—presentations without rather than with cards. But we keep doing them with our beloved 52 assistants because we are either lazy or simply because we once learned them this way and like to stick to our habits.

Here’s a good example from a recent discussion over at the Genii Forum: Richard Vollmer‘s “Tapestry Trick” from Roberto Giobbi‘s Card College Lighter. It’s easy, very visual, self-working, and delivers a surprising climax, so there’s not much wrong with it.

Yet I feel that wrapping this interesting principle into playing cards only is a bit of a stretch and „cardmen‘s thinking.“ In addition, telling a story of an expensive tapestry with a hidden mark, embodied by four playing cards… really? In 2020? Not sure about the power of that hook!

No, this principle is really versatile and would be wasted on „playing cards only“ IMHO. Instead of playing cards, I could also see this play well with other flat objects, like Memory tiles or other game cards (like cars or Pokémons) which appeal more to children.

More options:

  • How about using 16 numbers and combining this effect with a Magic Square, either as an intro or as an extra kicker?
  • Why not use 16 beer mats (4 each of 4 brands) for a bar bet or bar trick? Just drop 4 bottle caps of the „winning“ brand as a hidden prediction into the fist of a spectator, and you are ready to play…
  • You could use any stack of thematic photos or postcards.
  • Or you could use a stack of loose pages from a paperback novel, turning half of them by 180 degrees. This would make a powerful quadruple force for mindreading.
  • Maybe this could even work as an impromptu beach trick with eight pairs of flip-flops!?
  • The most organic application for folding and turning over would probably be a city or country map. (However, I think you‘d need to cut out the pieces in advance and reconnect them with small clear tape hinges, which could be cut easily once the stack is reassembled.)

Just a couple of alternative ideas. I hope you like one better than the card trick and give it a try!


 

The Sword King Has Appeared in Vanish

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If that title seems to make little sense, don’t worry. I’ll explain.

Happy to report that my card trick “The Sword King” has just appeared in VANISH. It’s a visual and quirky little thing in 3D: A selected card is returned to the deck and then found by the King of Spades, “the ruling Sword King of the world.” He even cuts out the pips and impales them on his sword (and you can take them off)! Of course they are missing from the chosen card then. You may hand out both cards as souvenirs to your spectators.

Paul Romhany‘s free magic magazine claims an amazing 100,000+ downloads per issue, so let’s see how this might boost my little blog here…

In case you are interested, please check out the latest VANISH #69 or previous issues for free here.