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Topic: Three Card Monte versus The Three Shell Game
Message: Posted by: Jamie D. Grant (Jun 10, 2009 01:47AM)
Hiya!

Just out of curiosity;

Which game, if you could only operate one, would make you the most money with, do you think? Say you're in NYC, by yourself, and can only carry three cards or three shells and a pea, which would you choose?

Wondering,

jamie
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 10, 2009 03:39AM)
If you are

a) In NYC
b) By yourself

then the only choice is the shell game.

To be run as a real scam, the three card monte requires shills and confederates to be 100% successful. If the mark chooses the correct card, a lone con artist can not switch the cards. While the Mexican turnover and similar moves will fly during the mix or in a magic routine, they just don't fly post bet.

With the shell game, the swindler can switch the pea AFTER the bet has been made.

Also, the shell game is less popular in NYC so you'd find it easier to find uneducated rubes.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 10, 2009 03:39AM)
Check this out for more info http://scams.wikispaces.com/Three+Card+Monte
Message: Posted by: uhrenschmied (Jun 10, 2009 06:23AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-10 04:39, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
If you are

a) In NYC
b) By yourself

then the only choice is the shell game.

[/quote]

I disagree. Without a crew watching out for police or other trouble, you might as well turning yourself in at the next police station. This way you would at least avoid getting robbed by other, less subtle entrepreneurs.

Regards,


Regards,
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 10, 2009 07:04AM)
Obviously, if they choice is between having a crew and NOT having a crew, then you ALWAYS go with a crew.

But Jamie specifically asked the question with the proviso that "you're in NYC, by yourself" and gave as the option of either 3CM or Shell.

Given that choice, I would choose shell.
Message: Posted by: uhrenschmied (Jun 10, 2009 07:24AM)
Obviously, if I am asked whether I want to jump in front of a fast driving truck or in front of a fast train, the answer would be "neither".

Regards,
Message: Posted by: kannon (Jun 10, 2009 08:01AM)
Out of those two choices yeah I'd say shell and pea;
As Nicholas says you can hold out and steal the pea when they've guessed correctly.
it gathers more attention and people believe you can't really fiddle it...chumps!!!

If you gave me a free reign I'd say Trinidad monte!
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 10, 2009 08:55AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-10 08:24, uhrenschmied wrote:
Obviously, if I am asked whether I want to jump in front of a fast driving truck or in front of a fast train, the answer would be "neither".

Regards,
[/quote]

*sigh*

It's a hypothetical question in a magic forum. It's designed to compare the relative strengths of two similar, yet different styles of scam.

To answer your question, I would step in front of the train. It would be a cleaner kill and less likely to endanger passerbys.
Message: Posted by: mota (Jun 10, 2009 12:27PM)
Given the choice between a four ace trick and a spelling trick I would also choose neither. That wasn't the question asked here.

I agree with shell game for the above mentioned reasons. Also you can work the shell game, win, and still have people laughing.

The shells are doable working alone. Cops aren't really a factor...when you see them leave. You can also feel in the crowd if there is one.

Chad, in another section, opens his routine with shells in the streets. No problems. I suspect you could easily pass it off as a magic trick.

There is some added danger of robbery when working alone...you do have to watch for that. This could be cut down by working in bars...I knew a guy who worked the game that way. He did travel though.

There is something about cards that brings out the combative in some guys...the shells seem more like a fun game.
Message: Posted by: FunTimeAl (Jun 10, 2009 12:41PM)
I actually open with coins across and then a ring on string type effect. The shell game is my middle/finale in one.

I once had a New Orleans Police SUV honk at me on Royal Street, have me move my crowd over, and then creep past me while I was in the middle of my shell game routine. The driver looked down at my table, then at me, and chuckled.

I think it was obvious by my outfit and the situation that I was an entertainer.


...oh, and if I had NOTHING in NYC, I'd still put together a sidewalk show and make enough in tips to go buy some decent props and do a bigger show. There's never a need to resort to the con if you can put on a decent show ;)

Three bottle caps, a dollar bill TT, a couple of foil balls, a few coins, a stick, a shoelace and an orange...and I'm ready to go!
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 10, 2009 01:03PM)
Actually, in the form the question was posed, there is no [i]wrong[/i] answer just as there is no [i]right[/i] answer.

The somewhat [i]proper[/i] answer (but still neither right nor wrong) would likely be "neither", as both cons are designed from the get-go to be run in their classic forms with a crew, and both suffer somewhat without that crew present.

If I was by myself, I'd actually pick any one of the dozens of other more appropriate scams that were designed to be run single-o.

Gaffed rolling logs, red/black pencils, gaffed spinning tops.......there's a million of 'em.

........but if I [b]had[/b] to pick only from the shells or the Monte, I'd also pick the shells.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 10, 2009 01:55PM)
I've done both the monte and the shells on the streets of NYC single-o for money.

This was in the 1960's before I had learned how they should really be played with shills. I had never been taught by a con man.

The Shell Game is by far the best of the two for single-o, for many reasons.
Message: Posted by: Jamie D. Grant (Jun 10, 2009 11:01PM)
Thanks for the responses everyone!

I think that it's important when presenting to know all the angles and to have the facts down. I've done 3CM presentations for quite a while and am starting to get into the Shells, and I want to know everything there is to know- history, real world scenarios, etc.

When working on new pieces, I also want to know how they compare with other similiar type effects and how they relate.

Anyways- thanks for reponding! It seems like The Shell Game is a clear winner for Single-O.

Taking it a step further then...

2 guys approach you and say, "[i]Hey, you're not bad wth those bottle caps! We've worked with the Big Eddie Crew and know all the ins and outs. Let's work together. I think Johnny here has some cards if you want to change it up..."[/i]

Now having two conferderates, do you stick with The Shells or move onto Monte? Does one have a history of making more money than the other?

Appreciating the input,

jamie
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 11, 2009 04:51AM)
If you have confederates, the topic gets a little more complex.

Personal taste and ability is probably going to be the deciding factor. It really doesn't matter how much better one game is if you prefer playing the other.

The major benefit of the shell game, the moving of the pea post bet, remains in this situation. The 3CM crew can only prevent the mark from winning. They can not GUARANTEE that he will lose without resorting to strong arm tactics or straight theft.

However, the 3CM, with a crew has some many interesting come-ons and techniques allowing for greater flexability. Bent corners, pencil marks, one way decks etc. can all be used.

It is possible to mark the shells but the possibilities are limited.
Message: Posted by: Kjellstrom (Jun 11, 2009 05:19AM)
If you use the Magnetic Street Shells, yo do not need any confederates.
I love these things - the unfair advantage with the magnetic shells are extremely useful for real life performance and not just for some magic buddies.
Tip - I use a magnetic ring to pick and drop the "extra" pea in my special routine with a double killer ending.
I recommend these shells very much! 10 ot of 10. (true statement)
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 11, 2009 10:38AM)
One small but distinct advantage to the shells over the monte (even with crew) is that the monte when performed as a con requires some sort of a fixed table (you need both hands to work the cards), whereas the shells can be performed standing up with a piece of cardboard acting as a table in one hand, and the shells (or bottle-caps) being moved by the other hand.
The Gambling Sam portion of the new School for Scoundrels DVD brilliantly shows him working this way.

Jamie, have you got [i]all[/i] the School for Scoundrels material on both the shells and the monte?.....it's the finest work available on either or both, and highly reccommended as the prime resource for anybody interested in either the monte or the shells as a con or as part of a magic routine.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 11, 2009 10:41AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-11 06:19, Kjellstrom wrote:
If you use the Magnetic Street Shells, yo do not need any confederates.

[/quote]
I think you misunderstand the job of the crew.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 11, 2009 10:47AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-11 11:38, silverking wrote:
One small but distinct advantage to the shells over the monte (even with crew) is that the monte when performed as a con requires some sort of a fixed table (you need both hands to work the cards), whereas the shells can be performed standing up with a piece of cardboard acting as a table in one hand, and the shells (or bottle-caps) being moved by the other hand.
The Gambling Sam portion of the new School for Scoundrels DVD brilliantly shows him working this way.

Jamie, have you got [i]all[/i] the School for Scoundrels material on both the shells and the monte?.....it's the finest work available on either or both, and highly reccommended as the prime resource for anybody interested in either the monte or the shells as a con or as part of a magic routine.
[/quote]

Couldn't you do the same with the three card monte? There are quite a few one handed moves for the monte.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 11, 2009 11:16AM)
Nicholas, you definitely could as a magic demonstration, but in the pure con (ripping people off for money) you'd be giving up on a lot of moves that you'd not likely be willing to give up.

This forum often blends discussion of the actual con with discussion of the same thing performed as a magic trick, which occasionally makes things confusing in terms of responding to questions while not knowing if folks are talking about magic, or talking about ripping off a mark with a true con.

In a magic monte anything goes, but in an actual con you'd most often, if not always, use a table.

If you're asking has there [i]ever[/i] been a monte done as a pure con using only one hand and holding a table in the other hand?.......I suspect that the answer to that would be "yes"........but it's not common in terms of its use.

As well of course, the monte as a con can be performed without a table when it's done on the surface of a sidewalk......but that's a technicality in terms of using the word "table" and implying the use of both hands.

Of course, in magic montes, a marketing tool commonly used for selling monte effects is that they can be done standing up, one handed, in the specs hands, etc......so that's a definite "yes".
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 11, 2009 11:59AM)
Silverking

Yes- this discussion is not in relation to the magic trick but to the scams. Not final loads or $14 cards here! :)

Do we have a source for the claim that the 3CM is done with two hands more often than the shell game?

What about the shell game do you think makes it easier/better to do one handed than the 3CM?

I see know major impediments in performing the 3CM with one hand that do not exist with the shell game. I also see a few additional possibilities that are not possible with shells.

Man! I love this game!
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 03:16PM)
Looks like I'm late to this thread, but I can make a few comments that some of you may find informative.

First I will respond to some of the other posters.

Nicholas: You're right about the problem with no sticks using the cards that you are either ready or not, and with the tops you can come ready any time and then just move the ball back to where it should be if they bet. There is a move you can use for the cards if they are ready to bet on a natural (when you're not ready) which I will get to in moment.

Silverking: You are correct that for the most part we use a full setup (cardboard boxes as a table) for the red card, however I have had great success playing up in the air on the same surface I use for the tops. This also alows an interesting move when working single-o. If a mark is ready to bet, but you are natural, you reach toward him for the money or to make some gesture, and 'accidentally' spill one or two cards to the floor. "Wait, this one doesn't count. Hold onto your money; I'm going around again." Then you come ready since you know they are ready to go off.

As for the question of which is going to get more money, I would unhesitatingly decide in favor of the tops. There are moves with the shell game that serve the same purpose as the bent corner or a mark on the winning card, but these actually allow the mark to SEE the ball under the top. And these moves can be used again and again on the same mark, until he is broke. There is a bit of business we use after the mark blows on the top where he just saw the ball, which makes him think he simply turned over the wrong top. It's very difficult to make him think he turned the wrong card, when the corner was bent (although it can be done! a beautiful move, and a story for another day.)

Short answer: when single-o; tops. with a mob; tops. they are just stronger than the red card with the advances that have been made in the game in recent decades. The red card still gets the money though!

If you had not limited the question to tops or red card, I would say I like dominoes. You can play them right on the palm of your left hand, ad you end up with no identifiable evidence that can be linked to a known con game.

I hope you found this informative and interesting; I think it's a fascinating subject. And very good question!

-B
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 03:19PM)
Addendum:

[quote]
On 2009-06-11 12:59, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:


Do we have a source for the claim that the 3CM is done with two hands more often than the shell game?


I see know major impediments in performing the 3CM with one hand that do not exist with the shell game. I also see a few additional possibilities that are not possible with shells.

Man! I love this game!
[/quote]

I can be your source for the claim that 3CM is regularly done with one hand, but I will say it is most often played with a full setup and two hands in the classic style.

If one of your "few additional possibilities" was the dodge of dropping the cards to prevent a winning bet, you have the mind of a con man!

And I love this game, too!

-B
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 11, 2009 04:02PM)
Those were the two best posts and some of the finest information I've read on this topic in a long time topandball, thanks for sharing.
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 05:22PM)
Well I'm happy to answer any questions that don't threaten my livelihood. ;)

Thank you for your kind words.

-B
Message: Posted by: Jamie D. Grant (Jun 11, 2009 08:10PM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-11 11:38, silverking wrote:

Jamie, have you got [i]all[/i] the School for Scoundrels material on both the shells and the monte?.....it's the finest work available on either or both, and highly reccommended as the prime resource for anybody interested in either the monte or the shells as a con or as part of a magic routine.
[/quote]

Hiya Silverking!

I have The SFS 3CM DVDs and Book and Sal Piacente's 3CM. As for the Shells, I've had Sal's DVD for a while but just picked up SFS's Volme 2 (which explains my new found interest). Does Volume 1 cover things that my Volume 2 doesn't, I wonder (Whit- maybe you can answer)...

And for Everyone!

Thanks for this great information! If I'm presenting a Shell Game (in the far future) and some spec says, [i]"That's pretty good, but it'll never make you the kind of money that those guys with the Three Cards do."[/i] I'll have a reply that is founded on fact. Priceless information. I basically view deception like the scene from Resevoir Dogs where the Undercover needs to learn his anecdote inside and out....

But I digress. So it seems like The Shell Game (which is called The Tops? I didn't know that) is the winner. What's the allure of 3CM then? I love it as a magician but am wondering from a street level. Easier to carry, lol?

~jamie
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 09:46PM)
Jamie,

In answer to your question, some players are just used to the broads. They play them because that's what they are comfortable with.

There is a great advantage in being skilled with both. For example, if a mark says to us, "I lost 200 dollars on that game last year, I'm not playing again!" we can then say, "well have you seen this game? It's different." That will keep him watching long enough to get him hooked in.

Similarly, if we have beat a mark at, for example, the red card, and he still has money left, but will not play that game anymore, we can switch to the tops and he might be willing to play that game. It seems silly, but it's true.

Re. the name of the game: 3CM is called 'three card monte (or molly),' broads, and shaking the red card. The shell game is called just that, top and ball, or shaking the pea. It's called the tops because we use bottle tops as covers for the small ball.

Incidentally, we players have a catchphrase about this subject. "The red will get the bread, but the ball will get it ALL."

This whole subject of which is stronger assumes of course that the players are able to use both games to their fullest potential. If you don't know all the moves for the pea, or you are just not that used to it, but have been shaking the red card for a decade or four, then of course you will get more money with the broads.

Hope you find this interesting; they're just a few tidbits of info I thought might be of interest. Remember that I came from the magic world and crossed over to the dark side ;-) so I have an understanding of the kinds of things magicians might be interested in hearing.

-B
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 09:58PM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-10 14:55, Whit Haydn wrote:
I've done both the monte and the shells on the streets of NYC single-o for money.

This was in the 1960's before I had learned how they should really be played with shills. I had never been taught by a con man.

The Shell Game is by far the best of the two for single-o, for many reasons.
[/quote]

Whit,

If you've still never been taught by a con man, I'd be happy to give you a lesson when I come to Vegas this fall, in return for the tremendous help you have given me (you know what I mean). I'll give you a call when I head out there.

-B
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 11, 2009 11:27PM)
I am always open to learning. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 11:35PM)
Well I've been schooled on more than a few things by you and the other scoundrels. Plus I would love to meet you and the boys, so there is an ulterior motive ;)

-B
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 11, 2009 11:45PM)
P.S. I should have said "demonstration," and not "lesson." You hardly need a lesson, but I'm sure you would find a demonstration very interesting.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 12, 2009 12:34AM)
Anything you want to show me I will find interesting. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 12, 2009 03:54AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-11 16:19, topandball wrote:


I can be your source for the claim that 3CM is regularly done with one hand, but I will say it is most often played with a full setup and two hands in the classic style.

If one of your "few additional possibilities" was the dodge of dropping the cards to prevent a winning bet, you have the mind of a con man!

And I love this game, too!

-B
[/quote]

Thanks B - I'm interested in any other other differences a one handed player might experience between the shells and the 3CM.

I would imagine that dropping the cards (or tray) to dodge a win would play even better if it was bumped out of your hand by one of your crew rather than by your own clumsiness.

Some angry words exchanged with the capper about how he 'lost me money' would cool off the mark who would assume that he would have lost the game.
Message: Posted by: IanKendall (Jun 12, 2009 05:27AM)
I mentioned this to Nick last week, but for general info re monte with one hand...

Last summer I was on the High Street doing a standard table show. In between shows I was playing with three cards, hyping this way and that for practice. A man came up to me, introduced himself as 'Red' and showed me his monte throw.

He held all three cards in one hand, and dropped them onto the table with one sweeping motion. I remember that I was able to track the cards at the time, but I can't remember the handling now (a year later). I imagine this could be done while holding a board or a newspaper in the other hand.

Red explained that he was going to work the bars during the Festival. It was obvious that he was working single-o. I never saw him again.

Take care, Ian
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 12, 2009 07:48AM)
Ian, did he use his cards or yours? Did he bridge the cards or were they pretty much flat?

-B
Message: Posted by: IanKendall (Jun 12, 2009 11:14AM)
He used my cards, with a very slight bridge.

Ian
Message: Posted by: topandball (Jun 12, 2009 11:26AM)
Hmmmm. There is one move from a magic book with work in the cards. One of the losers is trimmed a little short. That lets it slide out with the motion you described. In that method the cards are held all together in one hand, stacked up. Is it possible that's what he was doing?

-B
Message: Posted by: IanKendall (Jun 12, 2009 01:36PM)
Not really, I don't have any short cards in my deck.

Ian
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 12, 2009 02:03PM)
I demonstrate this move, a one-handed throw of three cards on our Three-Card Monte DVD. I uses normal cards, bent for monte.

It also works with the Snake or "S" bend in the cards.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 12, 2009 03:46PM)
I use Whit´s one handed move regularly.

It works very wellç

eçuse the typing. I´m in barcelona using a spanish keyboard!
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 12, 2009 03:50PM)
It is not my move. It is from Scarne's booklet.
Message: Posted by: kannon (Jun 12, 2009 04:06PM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-12 16:46, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
I use Whit´s one handed move regularly.

It works very wellç

eçuse the typing. I´m in barcelona using a spanish keyboard!
[/quote]

I'm in Barcelona next month...found any good shell locations?
Message: Posted by: IanKendall (Jun 12, 2009 04:44PM)
I'll be in Barca in July too. Perhaps a mob in the making :)

Ian
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 13, 2009 04:13AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-12 16:50, Whit Haydn wrote:
It is not my move. It is from Scarne's booklet.
[/quote]

I had the S4S book before the scarne one so it´s always your move to me :)
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jun 19, 2009 12:39AM)
Thanks, Nicholas. In that case I will take full credit for inventing the one-handed throw.

Scarne stole a lot of other stuff from me as well, you know... ;)
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jul 3, 2009 06:15AM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-12 17:06, kannon wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-06-12 16:46, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
I use Whit´s one handed move regularly.

It works very wellç

eçuse the typing. I´m in barcelona using a spanish keyboard!
[/quote]

I'm in Barcelona next month...found any good shell locations?
[/quote]

Las Ramblas is the place to go!
Message: Posted by: leko (Jul 15, 2009 01:34PM)
The one-handed throw with a short card is in 'Further Inner Secrets of Card Magic'.
There was a videoclip of 3CM with a.o. the one-handed throw with three crimped regular cards on Glenn Bishop's website, but I can't find it there now.