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Topic: Three Shell Game Questions: Favorite Acquitments and Moves
Message: Posted by: Richard Shippy (May 23, 2005 01:59PM)
What is your favorite acquitment for the three shells game?

On the School for Scoundrels "Introduction to the Three Shells Game" DVD there are 3 excellent methods for subsequently stealing the pea and showing a previously full shell as empty. This DVD is FANTASTIC and explains each of these moves in wonderful detail. Below are the moves...;

1. Sheets Acquitment
2. Haydn Turnover
3. Chanin's Favorite Turnover

Which of the above moves do you like best and which is most deceptive?

My personal feeling is that the 'Sheets Aquitment' looks most natural and is probably the most useful, 'Chanin's Favorite' is a bit unnatural yet the palm side of the hand can be shown which is deceptive, and the 'Haydn Turnover' is a great move if one likes handling the shells in Eddie Joseph's "V" grip.

My 'Haydn Turnover' is not very smooth since my 2nd and 3rd fingers tend to split apart while performing the 'Side Steal". Does anyone have any recommendations for performing the 'Side Steal' move smooothly? Do I need to push down hard or should a light touch be applied while performing the steal?

Anyway, I would love to get your opinions and feedback on acquitments you use most often with success. If you are unfamiliar with the School for Scoundrels Three Shell Game DVD I think this DVD is the best video resource for the three shells game available. It is such a great product!

If you know of some excellent additional moves or acquitments that are not on this DVD please let me know.

Thank you,
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (May 23, 2005 04:13PM)
On 2005-05-23 14:59, Richard Shippy wrote:
What is your favorite acquitment for the three shells game?
Hi Rich this is an interesting question.

What I like about my sell game is the way that I steal the pea out of the shell - a move I call the Bishop steal.

The fact that the routine is short and has a punch ending. And any shell routine can be as long or short as needed.

And I like my pea in the shot glass ending. And the fact the shot glass ending can be done over and over again and can almost be a running gag if you use two peas and do it like the card under the drink. I use a sponge pea so new shell peas are as close as a set of scissors and a sponge ball.

As a follow up I have sometimes loaded a large sponge ball and say something to the line that if they missed the small pea this should help.

The shell game makes for a great magic trick if it is not done to long. And you do not make fun of the spectators when they can't find it!
Message: Posted by: Magicmaven (May 23, 2005 05:10PM)
The acquitment move from Sheets is fabulous!!! The Haydn Turnover is also great. I don't know Chanin's yet, Got to get out the book.

The Sheets Acquitment is good for performing situations (formal), the Haydn Turnover is better for fooling around with friends in my opinion.


And Glen, are you sure that move is original? There's something very similar in Chanin's book, I think.
Message: Posted by: tbaer (May 23, 2005 06:19PM)
I'm still learning the Sheet's Acquitment. I want to be very good at this before I move to the next.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (May 23, 2005 08:29PM)
On 2005-05-23 18:10, Magicmaven wrote:

And Glen, are you sure that move is original? There's something very similar in Chanin's book, I think.
Yes I have never seen anyone steal the pea out as I do. When I showed it to Don Alan, Jay Marshall and others they thought it was quite original!
Message: Posted by: Glenn Godsey (May 24, 2005 12:18AM)
IMHO, if you can do the "Sheets Acquitment" well, that is all you need.

Best regards,
Glenn Godsey
Message: Posted by: swatchel-omi (May 24, 2005 08:41AM)
I think the Chanin move looks better when done with both hands. One is hiding a pea, one is not. One way I have used this, is when stealing the pea from the shotglass covered shell. I'll move my right hand back, do the Channin move (I'm not holding a shell), and at the same time show my left palm empty. It looks like a gesture. I'll say, "You can't get any fairer than this". What the spectator sees is a shotlgass with a shell under it, supposedly hiding a pea, 2 other mouth down shells, and 2 empty hands palm up on the table gesturing at the arrangement. (I should mention that only my fingers are flat on the table, the back of my hand is raised slightly in a natural position. It's hard to explain.) From there you can turn your hands back down where they naturally curl into loose fists, keepng the pea clipped between your second and third fingers and go into your finish, either loading the pea under one of the shells, or using Glen's shotglass ending.

I'm not pretending I've done this a million times, but the dozen or so times I've tried it seemed to work out OK.

Food for thought.


I'd like to thank Glenn for sharing his routine with us. The ending is terrific.

His website is a goldmine of information and he has all those wonderful video clips of his Dad and the other greats ! ( http://www.bishmagic.org )

Thanks Glenn,

Message: Posted by: fccfp (May 24, 2005 02:20PM)
Question about the SFS DVD on the shells:
Does the DVD have complete routines or is it only to learn the moves and you must routine it yourself? I love the shells and do a lot with only a few moves and a lot of patter so I am thinking about getting the DVD.

Is there a routine to present the shells as a performance rather than trying to fool the spectators? Like the differance between doing thre card monti and color monti?
Message: Posted by: Dave V (May 24, 2005 02:56PM)
It has one basic routine to get you started. The routine itself is more of the "challenge" type instead of a demo. If you prefer a demo style routine, look for Bob Kohler's "Golden Shells" video.

The SFS video is the first in a multi volume set on the Shell Game. It's like a college course on the shells and it goes much deeper than just teaching a routine.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 24, 2005 06:03PM)
Bob teaches the Dr Beaumont routine and patter on the dvd. This is a very simple routine that can be easily learned along with all the outs to create a charming routine with very little in the way of a learning curve.

The advanced and master moves, and the acquitments, outs, audience handling ideas, etc. taught on the dvd are meant to be added to this basic routine in order to expand on it and make it more entertaining and deceptive.

There is a second more advanced routine on the dvd, including patter, called the "Golden Shells." It is a routine created by Chef Anton and I, and makes use of some of the advanced moves taught on the dvd, as well as introducing the student to the powerful uses of two peas--the very center of the system we will be describing in the upcoming dvds. This routine is available in the data section of the disc.

Also, there is a demo only of the "Trade Show Shells," which contains much of the patter that Chef and I use in our regular shell game routines. So there is a lot of routining ideas and patter to draw from in creating your own routines.

Each of the following three dvds will contain exhibition routines and patter that the student can use or draw from--some will be in video, others in the .pdf files.

This dvd is packed with stuff, much more than the hour and a half of video.

The origins of the two pea work in Soapy Smith's handling of the shells is illustrated and documented.

All the moves taught on the dvd are shown in color stills with commentary that can be printed out and used as a study aid.

There is a description of Soapy Smith taking a saloon full of people with the shells in Skagway, Alaska in 1898.

There is a 1930's book by "The Old Maestro"--a true street worker--from Ron Wohl's collection which has moves and ideas unpublished anywhere else.

All of the upcoming dvds will be done in the same manner, packed with both video and written information, coulminating in "The School for Scoundrels Notes on the Shell Game" a textbook size book on the shells similar to our one on the Three-Card Monte.

Remember, the School for Scoundrels Notes and DVD's are basically the textbooks for our college level class on street swindles that Chef and I teach every year at the Magic Castle.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (May 24, 2005 07:26PM)
On 2005-05-24 09:46, swatchel-omi wrote:
I'd like to thank Glenn for sharing his routine with us. The ending is terrific.

His website is a goldmine of information and he has all those wonderful video clips of his Dad and the other greats ! ( http://www.bishmagic.org )

Thanks Glenn,


Your welcome and thank you Joe... I enjoy performing the shell game as I enjoy performing the cups and balls. Like any classic there are a lot of ways to do it. I feel that no way is really better than another as long as the audience is entertained and has fun with it.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 24, 2005 11:46PM)
I've collected a lot of the shell stuff recently.

I like Kohler's routine a lot. Well thought-out and nicely constructed.

However, I printed out the .pdf on the SFS DVD and it is VERY juicy.
I would love to see Chef or Whit perform this routine because it is packed with great stuff. It is a very interesting presentation of the shells. To me, it looks like the best of them all to learn. As Whit says, the SFS DVD is jam packed with data files, photos, history, etc. The presentation of the jumbo shells was a huge plus for me.

If you don't do a routine yet, I'd recommend the SFS routine "The Golden Shells".

Abso. Nuts by Bob sheets has a great explaination section and not only has his very good "acquitment" but explains other outs, and some elementry but excellent ideas with 2 peas. The routine I was not wild about at all.

Charlie Frye's Eccentricks 2 DVD has a shell game that is quite good and he makes use of a poker chip in a very devious way. Intersteing patter. Worth a look.

I've seen Andrew Pinard's routine which also has an excellent and unique idea for an ending.

The patrick page video is simple but also has a few ideas for endings.
One especially for the ladies.

Harry Anderson has a nice routine as well.
Message: Posted by: Neil (May 31, 2005 09:23AM)
I don't know what those names of aquitments given mean so it's hard to comment.

From how you describe the "Haydn turnover" it just sounds like the old sidesteal turnover, but maybe there is something else going on? The SS turnover is in the Gibson booklet.

Personally I like to make it as bulletproof as possible. There is always a weakness in an aquitment - you have to touch the shell in a way that COULD be used to steal the pea - be that forwards or sideways. So I like to (apparantly) remove the possibility of me having stolen it by flashing the palm of my hand. So I use the standard move taught in the classic Osbourne booklet - the shell is pushed forward and the ball taken into a b*** p****, and the shell and hand turned palm up. It looks exactly the same as the one Glenn Bishop uses in his first glass phase.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 1, 2005 01:43AM)
You do flash the palm with the sheets move.
I find it more subtle than the standard move.

I have used the sheets move a few times now and is completely invisible.
I was worried about it for a while but have since put the vegetable deeper
and I feel very comfortable with it.
Message: Posted by: Neil (Jun 1, 2005 05:47AM)
So what is the difference with the sheets move?

Out of interest, what are people's thoughts on the speed the game should be played at?
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 1, 2005 07:42PM)
As a general rule, I think that
pretty much everything should be done much slower than you think.

I am constantly trying to slow everything down.
Message: Posted by: Neil (Jun 2, 2005 07:00AM)
So what is the difference with the sheets move?

I tend to think like that too but some con type games look nice with a bit of slick pace.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Jun 2, 2005 09:59AM)
It's a method of hiding the pea so you can pick up the shells in a more natural fashion to show them empty without having the back of your hand "pinned" to the table top. You'll have to buy either "Absolutely Nuts" or SFS Shell Game vol. 1, or ask Bob himself. He's a member here.
Message: Posted by: Neil (Jun 2, 2005 11:41AM)

The one I use does the same thing. To be honest the last thing I need is more moves. More practice maybe...

I was interested because when I hear of supposedly new moves, everytime I track them down, they are in either the Gibson or Osbourne booklet already. Ouellette has a couple of novel moves but the Pinky Aquitment he teaches is really just a deeper Back Finger-Clip Slide.

I'm still developing my own routine. I like and do the Supershells one a lot but the props it requires need to be carried so it's not something to be pulled from the pocket on all occasions. Glenn's routine is really nice too with the pea-under-glass finish but that's his.

It's coming up with a suitably amazing ending that I'm struggling with.
Message: Posted by: Richard Shippy (Jun 2, 2005 01:13PM)
Dear Neil,

Have you watched Bob Kohler's "Golden Shells" video? In my opinion, Kohler's ending is very strong and would only require a shot glass. If you are not interested in carrying a shot glass then I would recommend Charlie Fry's three shell routine which appears on his "Eccentrics 2" video.

I hope this information helps.

Kind regards,
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 2, 2005 03:57PM)
On 2005-06-02 12:41, Neil wrote:
...everytime I track them down, they are in either the Gibson or Osbourne booklet already.

Me too Neil. I thought I even saw what we call the "Sheet's Acquitment" in there
in one of the routines but I was too tired to give it my full attention.
I'll have to look it up. It was one of the later routines, deeper in the book.

Is that what you're talking about?
Message: Posted by: Neil (Jun 3, 2005 03:51AM)
I can't tell cos I appear to have lost the Osbourne booklet! I searched everywhere for it last night to no avail. :-( - I take it you were talking about the Osbourne one?

Those two booklets contain so many moves. I notice quite a few of the Gibson moves can only be done with a sponge pea or a very soft closeup pad - moves like the Prong where the pea is pressed under the finger as the shell is moved with the other finger. They look like cool moves but the Perfect Pea is too hard to squash flat.

Thanks for the references Richard. I have shot glasses and can do shot glass and in-their-hand endings but what I like about Glenns routine is that any glass can be used.

I have the Supershells routine for a purely magical thing.

I'd like two other routines. One that I can do anywhere. And one that is a real gambling challenge with real guessing and outguessing filled with bluff and banter. I'm working on the last one at the moment and am coming up with ideas to cover every eventuality - stuff like if they pick the correct shell I ask them if they are really sure cos I don't want to take their money and I'll let them pick an additional shell and show them if it's empty, that being done they can still change their mind but they look like a resolute sort of person who can't be bluffed etc and when they don't change it turns out to be under the one I hinted it was under etc. The idea being to make it into a seemingly psychological game (not unlike Derren Browns rock, scissors, paper) and that I'm using old school fast talking swindling banter to bluff them. I'd like to be so au fait with it that I could jazz it but I feel better to have a planned routine which builds and every alternative play is covered and moves to the next phase anyway - So no big deal really! ;)
Message: Posted by: Richard Shippy (Jun 6, 2005 04:03PM)
I wanted to thank Glenn for sharing his routine with us as well, it is FANTASTIC!!! Thanks Glenn! :)

Whit, do you have an anticipated completion date for Volume 2 of your wonderful "Three Shells Game" DVD series? I loved volume 1 and am looking forward to purchasing your next DVD.

Thank you,
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 6, 2005 07:55PM)
No completion date yet. Vol 2 should be done by the end of the year.
Message: Posted by: Richard Shippy (Jun 7, 2005 01:38PM)
Thank you Whit, I look forward to Volume 2! :)

It has been fun practicing the moves and acquitments in volume 1. I found it valuable to use the pdf document from the DVD to follow along during practice time. Just recently, I fooled some spectators badly with the Haydn Turnover since my entire routine up to that point used the Sheets Acquitment. In my opinion it is nice knowing a few different acquitments if some people are watching for a long time. In my application, I used the Haydn Turnover casually to show both end shells simulatneously while the 2nd pea was in the center. It is extremely fun creating routines using the various moves you taught in Volume 1. Thanks for making such a great DVD product! Your DVD was my first experience with the Three Shells game and now I am hooked.

Kind regards,
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 7, 2005 05:09PM)
Thank you Rich. We gave two routines in the DVD, but we really wanted to give people the stuff to build from--stories, patter ideas, and moves and strategy. Using the master moves and the "maneuvers" anyone can create a variety of interlocking plays.

Each of the following DVD's will have new more advanced routines with complete patter, but will also be filled with anecdotes, history, real street patter, and a whole flexible system of operating the shells with two peas where you can continue working the shells in front of the same audience for hours if need be without being burnt.

It is a bullet-proof system that enables you to work casino nights, festivals, re-enactment situations, corporate events, themed parties, etc.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 7, 2005 11:22PM)
This sounds like a LOT of fun.

It's wonderful how one play builds on the next.
Things cancel each other out. Fake tells, shows.

Lots of fun.