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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Weapons of the CardShark 2 by J Wessmiller, A Review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Paul H
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Weapons of the CardShark 2 has been out for over ten months and in my opinion the reviews of this work have to date been a little sketchy and mixed. The links below are a good example of what I am referring to.

There are some definite problems with releasing this kind of gambling sleight of hand tutorial. The first is the stiff competition that exists in the market place from the exhibition game protection Dvd/Video’s of legendary card handlers such as Steve Forte, Richard Turner, George Joseph and more recently Sal Piacente and David Malek. Inevitably there will be difficult comparisons. Its all too easy to dismiss the work based on uneven technique compared to the best moves of a Forte or Turner. Secondly, there is often what I call ‘a confusion of criteria’ when it comes to evaluating this kind of material. What I mean here is the purpose of the moves. If the intention is to adapt and apply these moves to enhance gambling demonstrations as part of a magical act, then the criteria for deceptive execution are different and I would argue, less exacting. If the moves, in the mind of the viewer at least, are to be applied to the gaming table, then the importance of deceptive execution increase along with usable strategies for choosing the type of game suitable for certain techniques, ploys for providing maximum cover for the moves, the crucial importance of timing and natural execution, escape strategies etc.

Jeff’s latest DVD strikes me as positioned on the line between gambling demonstration and game protection. If anything, I feel the spirit of the work presented here has more in keeping with the concept of teaching magicians gambling techniques for demonstration purposes and sharpening displays for other magicians. In fact Jeff’s style on this DVD is warm, informal and presented very much like a live personal teaching session. For example the ’Texas Hold’em live play’ at the end of the DVD narrated by Jeff is absorbing and instructive, not least as a showcase for what a truly soft game may look like and how much you can get away with under these ‘kind‘ conditions. Jeff includes live examples of glimpsing for information, stacking the deck, beating the cut employing crossfire and cold decking with a partner. To my mind it provides impetus for thinking about new presentational possibilities as much as game protection.

And so to the guts of the DVD. Broadly speaking the moves are divided into false shuffles, false cuts, glimpses , cold culling, controls, bridges, passes at the table, chopping out cards, mucks, false deals, cold stacking, cold decking and ’live game’. This includes the sleight of hand highlights from hours of Texas Hold’em poker. As you can see, there is quite a lot covered. For this reason I am going to be a little selective and focus on moves that I have personally enjoyed and still enjoy playing with. Your choices may vary. There are two false riffle shuffles demonstrated and taught here, a push through variation similar to a Wesley James handling and a pull through variation. My preference is for the Jeff/James push through that looks very good. Of the false cuts I do like the cheeky tap cut especially because its ridiculously simple and seems to work well in some of my demonstrations. Three glimpses are then taught and my favourites are the bend glimpse and the drop one/two card glimpse, a method of peeking during the cut. One thing to note is that Jeff suggests some helpful ways of applying these glimpses for card magic. However, the cocking of the head to one side is probably best avoided. Next up is cold culling which is a unique section and a big plus for the DVD. Cold culling in this context refers to the location and placement of key cards from a fully mixed deck under the cover of a shuffle. Two methods are given, the MacDougall ‘in the hands’ riffle cull and Jimmy Molinari’s overhand cull and stack method. They are effective for card magic and gambling demo’s alike. Jeff does a valiant job in demonstrating both and I was impressed by aspects of his handling of the MacDougall. This cull is particularly difficult but has the advantage of a quicker action and is less obvious if executed deftly enough. The last point somewhat justifies its origins as a technique derived from the card tables. For the true artist, the MacDougall riffle can also be adapted to simultaneously cull and stack the deck. Awesome stuff IF you have the chops.

The next section mysteriously called ‘controls’ is also fairly unique. Among other things it contains Jeff’s variation on an aspect of the Stevens Control. This technique keeps a slug of cards intact maintaining the group at a set position in the deck throughout a series of riffle shuffles. Well worth a look and again useful for some of my card demo’s that come to mind. I have to say I also liked the next section on bridges. Another of my favourites is the top card bridge method that I had not properly appreciated until Jeff drew my attention to it. It allows for a convincing clean cut following a series of riffle shuffles. In terms of the passes section, I also liked Jeff’s own deep palm pass which offers the possibility of less movement in the vertical plane during its execution. I was less taken by the ‘chopping out cards’ section although the four mucking techniques were intriguing. My favourite here is definitely the ‘Louisiana switch in the air’.

Inevitably at some point on this type of DVD, there comes a section on the false deals usually bottoms and seconds. Well, I am pleased to say that Jeff has gone for a more quirky approach here by including the work specifically on the Erdnase bottom deal and two techniques for dealing greeks, that is dealing the card second from the bottom. I would have preferred more detail on the teaching of the Erdnase bottom deal and greek deals including grip, pressures, likely problems and how to overcome them etc, but all in all credit to Jeff for his work on this section. Just one final point. Some people may notice some finger movement during the bottom deals. Well, its there but it is not consistent and some finger movement occurs when a bottom is not being dealt out which may suggest some devious work on Jeff‘s part. In addition, I have seen finger flash on bottom deals from likes of Richard Turner, Steve Forte and Sal Piacente.

The section on cold stacking is also very enterprising and contains some of Jeff’s best work in my opinion. This section teaches a formula for stacking the hole cards to a named partner and the flop in Texas Hold’em and the approach is applied to ‘in the hands’ riffle stacking as well as the Molinari overhand cull stack. I was especially impressed with Jeff’s ‘in the hands’ riffle stacking. This is a very skilful technique to master and to see Jeff stack the deck to order whilst remaining calm and chatty was a real treat. Finally we come to the ‘Cold Deck’ section on the DVD. I sort of feel mixed about this part which is a bit like 'the OK, the bad and the ugly'. The trouble is, the cold deck is one of the most powerful as well as one of the most high risk tools in the hustlers arsenal. In lending further gravitas to the move let me quote from a recent post by Doc, an experienced cold deck specialist from the gambling forum.

'Do you have the heart to secretly take out a deck in front of 7 to 9 poker players knowing that your life will be on the line if you mess up and then position the deck in your hand in order to cold deck?'

Performed as a switch at the table, its purpose is crystal clear. For card magic in general, there are many easier ways of switching the deck. Most of these would not work at the card table. So, the work here is much more exposed to the rigors of card table conditions. As such the switches do leave something to be desired. The ’OK’ in my opinion is the deep palm deck switch, the bad is the single handed deck switch with hat and the ugly is the somewhat self conscious deck switch with a partner including an unnatural hand shielding move. The last item on the DVD is the live game that I have commented on previously.

In conclusion, I believe that Jeff Wessmiller has done a thorough workmanlike job in providing a gambling sleight of hand DVD that contains sufficiently different moves and information to keep the intermediate card worker with a passion for gambling routines fully engaged. It represents a significant step up from the first DVD in terms of skill and ability. I particularly like Jeff’s warm and self effacing presentational style. He is being himself without what Bill Malone describes as ‘ego’ or in plain language, arrogance. Therefore this DVD achieves a sound recommendation from a magician who shares Jeff‘s enthusiasm for gambling sleight of hand.


Paul H
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Weapons of the CardShark 2 by J Wessmiller, A Review (0 Likes)
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