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Last Laugh
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I've lurked a bit but never posted much time here in The Gambling Spot in the past.

I've always enjoyed sleight of hand with cards, but I'm not really a magician. I'm a mentalist.

As I've spent time reading through this forum, I've noticed some really interesting parallels between the mentalism world and the world of the cardsharp.

Serious mentalists will tell you that mentalism descends, not from magic, but rather from the techniques of fraudulent mediums in the spiritualist heyday. The livelihood of those mediums could most definitely be affected if their tricks were found out. They were cheaters.

Today, the more hardcore mentalists are basically fake psychics and although they aren't going to lose their kneecaps in most cases if they are discovered using tricks, it is still a much bigger deal than if a magician accidentally blows a trick. The deception needs to be more bulletproof and more 'real'.

In the mentalism world, there is a constant back and forth between magicians who don't see mentalism as anything other than a type of magic, and mentalists who understand that it's a different art altogether. I see a strong parallel between the idea of the hustler and the magician demonstrators here in this forum.

In my limited exposure the hustlers, I've heard that the most important edge is mental. Sleight of hand is worthless if you can't think on your feet and see opportunities or dangers for what they are. While mentalists (including myself) do you use sleights in our presentations, the most important skill is being able to influence the perception of your audience and the biggest miracles occur when you see an opportunity and take advantage of it (and take credit for it).


Anyway, just thought it was interesting! Carry on...
Thomas Gilroy
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I am not a performing magician, demonstrator or mentalist. I do not cheat in games nor do I con people by claiming to be a medium or psychic.

It seems to me, however, that mentalist has much more in common with a gambling demonstrators than with advantage players. Both the demonstrator and the mentalist use methods and techniques originally developed to deceive with the aim to defraud, but for the purpose of entertainment.

It would also seem to me, that the cheaters and the fraudulent mediums/psychics also have much more in common with one another than with the entertainers. broadly speaking, the same questions have to be addressed. Who is the ideal target and how can you recognise them? How do you make initial contact with your target? How do you remove any skepticism or suspicion they may have initially? How do you maximize your take from them, do you go for one big take or try to build a relationship and extract less from them more often? If you aim to build a relationship of false premises, how do yo do it? How do you allay any suspicions that they might develop later? If concerned friends or family have suspicions that they communicate to your target, why will they trust you over them? How do you recognize when you've been made, and what's your exit strategy?

It seems to me to be a much different thing to entertain a spectator, even by deceptive methods, than it is to make a target a willing participant in their own victimization.

What amazes me is how openly those who claim to be psychics or mediums are still allowed to operate. They offer phone services and private "consultations," either in individual or group formats. They target the recently bereaved and offer grief counselling without any legitimate credentials or accreditation. They also target victims of trauma and tragedy. They do all of this without fear of any legal repercussion. I cant imagine other scammers and con artists could operate so openly.

I think it's heinous. I think when mentalists present themselves as genuinely having psychic abilities, even if they're intent to to entertain, they unintentionally give credence to the frauds and enable their predatory behaviour. Maybe demonstrators unknowingly enable the cheaters to operate also. By demonstrating unrealistic moves or scams as "the real work," maybe an audience member leaves with a false sense of confidence that they can no longer be cheated, which only eaves them more open to being cheated by other, less dramatic or flashy methods.

I enjoy gambling effects and I enjoy mental effects. I consider both to deception for entertainment purposes. Is that not a reasonable definition of magic? I respect that the methods and practices of both fields are very different. I acknowledge that the specifics that make for a good performance in both disciplines are very different. The same could also be said about stage magic, or any other form of magic. Could you explain to me why you believe mentalism to be a distinct art from magic? Is my definition of magic simply too broad?

I'd love if you could give me your take on this. I don't mean to sound dismissive of your field in this post. I was trained to write in a formal, language of argument style, and I've been told in the past that it can come across as aggressive or condescending in the context of message board discussions. That is not my intention.
Mr. Bones
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2018, Thomas Gilroy wrote:
Could you explain to me why you believe mentalism to be a distinct art from magic? Is my definition of magic simply too broad?

I enjoy your posts Thomas, but it would be great if we could keep detailed discussions about mentalism and magic in the appropriate forums, and stick to gambling, demonstrating and hustling discussions here.

Others may disagree with me ... and they're welcome to - but the forum struggles as it is to remain on-topic and relevant ... and introducing the magic/mentalism debate here will only exacerbate the fact that posts are already quite sparse here these days.
It will also invariably bring people into the forum that have zero interest in the relevant subject matter, but are more than willing to engage in a magic/mentalism debate anywhere they see an opportunity to participate in one.
Mr. Bones
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Thomas Gilroy
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2018, Mr. Bones wrote:
I enjoy your posts Thomas, but it would be great if we could keep detailed discussions about mentalism and magic in the appropriate forums, and stick to gambling, demonstrating and hustling discussions here.

Others may disagree with me ... and they're welcome to - but the forum struggles as it is to remain on-topic and relevant ... and introducing the magic/mentalism debate here will only exacerbate the fact that posts are already quite sparse here these days.
It will also invariably bring people into the forum that have zero interest in the relevant subject matter, but are more than willing to engage in a magic/mentalism debate anywhere they see an opportunity to participate in one.


Sorry, I don't mean to bring that kind of debate into this forum. Maybe Last Laugh can address my questions in a PM if he has time.

My point was that as somebody who is neither an entertainer or scammer, it seems that to me that scammers similar to other scammers and entertainers similar to other entertainers despite the differences in their methods, and that entertainers and scammers are very dissimilar, despite sometimes using similar methods.

I'll try to keep my posts in line with the topics of this forum in future.
Last Laugh
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Yeah, don't mean to start a debate here - there are endless mentalism vs magic debates over in the other forums.

I just noticed some interesting parallels. Also, FWIW - I'm 100% an entertainer and I don't pretend to be anything else.

Thomas, I'll shoot you a PM when I get a minute, but to be clear - I'm not advocating any particular viewpoint, just pointing out some similarities.

Cheers!
Mr. Bones
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On Sep 12, 2018, Thomas Gilroy wrote:

Sorry, ....

No mate, don't apologize ... I'm not the Gambling Spot cop.

My point was only that the Magic Café has a dozen other forums where this argument has raged endlessly for the last decade or more, and in may ways, the Gambling Spot can, with a little effort ... be the most "on topic" sub-forum on the entire Café Smile
Mr. Bones
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Cagliostro
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On Sep 11, 2018, Last Laugh wrote:

Today, the more hardcore mentalists are basically fake psychics and although they aren't going to lose their kneecaps in most cases if they are discovered using tricks, it is still a much bigger deal than if a magician accidentally blows a trick. The deception needs to be more bulletproof and more 'real'.


Fake psychics are basically con men looking to defraud, much a like a card or dice hustler. So whether one is using cards, dice or a crystal ball, there is a direct parallel here.

Quote:
In the mentalism world, there is a constant back and forth between magicians who don't see mentalism as anything other than a type of magic, and mentalists who understand that it's a different art altogether. I see a strong parallel between the idea of the hustler and the magician demonstrators here in this forum.


Absolutely and I agree completely. This to me is a relevant concept. There is a major difference between magician/demonstrators and hustlers who actually can get the money.

Quote:
In my limited exposure the hustlers, I've heard that the most important edge is mental. Sleight of hand is worthless if you can't think on your feet and see opportunities or dangers for what they are.


That's it...a necessary skill for those hustlers who operate on a higher level than just being able to do some "moves." Using basic sleight of hand is pretty meaningless unless one is beating relatively easy to beat amateur games, and even then one needs more that a manipulative move. This to me is a very important concept in hustling...grift sense and con.

Quote:
While mentalists (including myself) do you use sleights in our presentations, the most important skill is being able to influence the perception of your audience and the biggest miracles occur when you see an opportunity and take advantage of it (and take credit for it).


Just substitute "hustler" for "mentalist" here and you have a key element of grift sense. So there is a meaningful relationship here from what I can see.
Cagliostro
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On Sep 12, 2018, Thomas Gilroy wrote:

It seems to me, however, that mentalist has much more in common with a gambling demonstrators than with advantage players. Both the demonstrator and the mentalist use methods and techniques originally developed to deceive with the aim to defraud, but for the purpose of entertainment.

It would also seem to me, that the cheaters and the fraudulent mediums/psychics also have much more in common with one another than with the entertainers. broadly speaking, the same questions have to be addressed. Who is the ideal target and how can you recognise them? How do you make initial contact with your target? How do you remove any skepticism or suspicion they may have initially? How do you maximize your take from them, do you go for one big take or try to build a relationship and extract less from them more often? If you aim to build a relationship of false premises, how do yo do it? How do you allay any suspicions that they might develop later? If concerned friends or family have suspicions that they communicate to your target, why will they trust you over them? How do you recognize when you've been made, and what's your exit strategy?


Seems like that is hustling to me, regardless of what the venue for the hustle is. In fact, I think that Thomas Gilroy and Last Laugh have captured the essence of such very nicely and possibly better than most.
Mr. Bones
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This is all dealt with in painstaking detail in the second half of the Steranko edition of Road Hustler.

The magic/mentalism/hustling triangle is certainly nothing remotely new ... indeed it's been examined to death in the book noted above.
Mr. Bones
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Thomas Gilroy
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Mr. Bones wrote:

My point was only that the Magic Café has a dozen other forums where this argument has raged endlessly for the last decade or more, and in may ways, the Gambling Spot can, with a little effort ... be the most "on topic" sub-forum on the entire Café Smile


Cheers. I agree that it would be best for this sub-forum if discussions remain on topic. It's just a shame it's so quiet here. I was thinking of making some threads about some topics I've been thinking about, but I didn't want to do it before reaching "50 legitimate posts," I didn't want a spike in activity to be taken as spamming for privileges by moderators.

Quote:
Cagliostro wrote:

Seems like that is hustling to me, regardless of what the venue for the hustle is.


My thoughts too. It doesn't matter if you're an advantage player, a fraud posing as a medium, or a broker mis-selling stocks to up your commission numbers. It's all hustling, the core principles are the same.
Cagliostro
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2018, Mr. Bones wrote:

This is all dealt with in painstaking detail in the second half of the Steranko edition of Road Hustler.

The magic/mentalism/hustling triangle is certainly nothing remotely new ... indeed it's been examined to death in the book noted above.


Certainly that point of view is well taken. However, perhaps there is another way to look at this.

It would be hard to find a topic or concept pertaining to the subject matter of this board that has not been mentioned, hinted at, discussed directly or indirectly, in detail or peripherally that has not been addressed in some manner before. The concepts discussed herein, while varied, are limited in nature although the applications of same are not.

Also, most may not have not read all the books ever printed on hustling, gambling, conning, deceptive ploys, magic/mentalism or what have you and many on this board, including myself, may not have an unlimited encyclopedic knowledge of same. In a broad sense there is nothing new under the sun...it has all been done before in some form or another.

However, looking at these concepts from a different angle or with a fresh take on the subject can be beneficial to many current members on this BB in my opinion.

So, my post was written to elaborate further on this subject from a different point of view, either correctly or incorrectly.

"Different Strokes for Different Folks" Smile
Last Laugh
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'Road Hustler' has piqued my interest, but appears to be out of print and expensive on the used market.

Pity! I'd love to read it.
Mr. Bones
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On Sep 13, 2018, Last Laugh wrote:
'Road Hustler' has piqued my interest, but appears to be out of print and expensive on the used market.

Pity! I'd love to read it.

It's an excellent book. Prus, the author was a university professor who became deeply involved in the subject matter, and delved further into the mindset of the hustler than had anybody before him. C.R.D. Sharper was the anonymous hustler that gave Prus all the inside information contained in the book.

IMO, there are two "must haves" if you want a deep understanding of grift sense and the mind of the hustler.
1) Road Hustler by Robert C. Prus and C.R.D. Sharper
2) The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer

Both of these books are heavily weighted as purely academic tomes, as noted Prus was a university professor, and so was Maurer ... these books are definitely not light reads.

FYI, there are two editions of Road Hustler.
The first edition is the slimmer of the two volumes and has nothing in it on the presumed relationship between magic and hustling
The second edition (the one with the Steranko artwork on the cover) has a large section added that wasn't in the first edition ... focusing on the presumed relationship between hustling and magic/mentalism

Having copies of both, I personally prefer the second edition ... although there are a few folks that consider the additional section on magic to be superfluous to the actual subject matter of the book ... and who don't speak highly of the second edition as a result.

My first edition is a paperback with a basic black cover ... nothing too special.
The Steranko artwork is only on the second edition ... and is almost worth owning the book simply to look at Steranko's print on the cover!

Money wise, the Steranko book goes for around $100.00, with the first edition going for between $70.00 and $90.00
The $300.00 and up you see on Amazon is B.S.
If you really want a copy, I'd say so here in this forum, and also put a WTB note in the Café's "Books for Sale" section.
I know quite a few contributors to The Gambling Spot have copies ... maybe one of them would sell to an interested party for a fair price?

(Interesting aside is that one of the stories (The Wire) in Maurer's The Big Con was the basis for the Paul Newman/Robert Redford mega-movie "The Sting".)
Mr. Bones
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Last Laugh
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Thanks for the info. I'll have to consider how badly I want to read it!
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2018, Mr. Bones wrote:

1) Road Hustler by Robert C. Prus and C.R.D. Sharper
2) The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer



These are books I do not have.
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