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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Gambling Spot » » The Magician and The Cardsharp - Karl Johnson (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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NJJ
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I've just finished re-reading this fantastic book.

Karl Johnson is a New York journalist who has painstakingly researched the lives of Dai Vernon and Alan Kennedy and their meeting where Kennedy taught Vernon the kennedy centre deal who, in turn, taught it to us.

It's a great read for fans of the history of card magic and card cheating. It's also an excellent comparison of the differences between the people, moves, philosophies and practices of the two worlds.

Any suggestions of what to read next?
ImpromptuBoy
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As long as you're on the subject of Dai Vernon, if you don't have it, you should get a copy of his book 'Revelation'.
It's his annotation of Erdnase's material, and a bunch of new moves added (the hop, blackjack switch, the cull riffle of the mysterious kid AKA dad stevens, and that move alone, is kicking my a** right now). It also contains photocopies of past letters he wrote, draft manuscripts of pages he released in that very book, some letters and other stuff about the Kennedy Center deal, which is taught as well.
Great read, and a huge book. One of my current favourites.

Michael
Sonicstabber
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If you haven't read it yet, the Phantoms of the Card Table book by Gazzo and Britland is similar, if not better as it shows another side of Vernon and other magicians back in the day, as well as painting the picture of the gambling/cheating era in the US over a hundred or so year period.

I also reccommend the Revelations book, but try to get the newer edition, as it contains Vernon's original manuscript in his own draft form, and then a re-typed version with proper illustrations from Erdnase, and photos of Vernon himself performing some of the moves, as well as explaining things like the Kennedy centre deal, as Michael said. It's a great companion to put the story with the hand work side by side.

For more Vernon and his card sleights coming from the gambling world, check out the Vernon Chronicles, especially the fourth one, which has MUCH more history in more specific details. There's a funny story of Vernon in one of the Chronicles carrying a bucket of Mercury (For some reason haha), across a plank of wood as he was working in construction. The plank broke, he fell and broke both his arms. When he woke up, I think the first thing he asked I think Bertram was if he would be OK to perform that coming friday..

Very worthwhile,

Hope this helps,

Eddie
scott spencer
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I just read Magician and the Cardsharp myself and it was one of my favorite reads recently. The author really wove the stories of both men together nicely and painted a vivid picture of Mob run KC.

Im reading Phantoms of the Card table now.

S
kcg5
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I have heard that the gazzo book has many errors. I hope not, as it was a great book.
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



"History will be kind to me, as I intend to write it"- Sir Winston Churchill
KapBoy77
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Any examples as to what those errors might be?
Any day I'm walking on top of the grass instead of looking up at the roots is a good day!
kcg5
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Not so much, just heard David Ben in an interview-but then again no one is perfect. Still a great book.
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



"History will be kind to me, as I intend to write it"- Sir Winston Churchill
ein_doppelganger
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I have come across threads about that here and in other locations. Some folks were claiming that Scott was a hoax manufactured to help get inside the NY Inner Circle. The thread I read ended with this being debunked... Having not read the book yet I cant really comment more.
AMcD
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A hoax, maybe not that strong. But me, for instance, I consider it's not that far from the truth...
NJJ
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Been trying to hunt down a copy of Road Hustlers. goes for $120 on Amazon.
ein_doppelganger
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AMcD: Can you share your take on it here? I would be interested in hearing more especially since I am reading the book now.
AMcD
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No, I'm sorry. Don't wanna start an endless fight again. I simply hope one day we will have a nice discussion about it, but don't forget Scott is one of the idols the magicians adore and it's a forum for (mainly) magicians here.

Don't get me wrong, I deeply like card magic and (some) magicians. But when it's time to talk about true cheating, our paths rarely follow the same direction...
stoneunhinged
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I suppose that if one compares Gazzo's book with Ben's Vernon biography one can pretty much figure out the dispute, but it doesn't really seem to me that we'll ever really know.

Even assuming that the Scott demonstration had been set up in a dishonest and misleading manner, that is in no way conclusive evidence on whether Scott did the actual work in real life. Ben--who we must remember is a lawyer--obviously knows this, and never goes so far as to say that Scott himself was a fraud. The implications of setting up such an event, however, are also obvious.

But this hardly constitutes "errors"; rather, it constitutes perpetuating a myth that is based on a con job.

Now, if by "errors" one means grammatical errors, then "Phantoms" is full of mistakes. Chock full. Too many to give some examples. Whoever edited that book ought to be embarrassed.

In comparison, I only ran into three or four typos in Ben's book, and Ben himself clearly knows a comma from a semi-colon.

In the English wars, Ben wins. Or at least his editor does.
kcg5
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Good job of summing up what I didn't want to write Jeff.
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



"History will be kind to me, as I intend to write it"- Sir Winston Churchill
ein_doppelganger
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AMcD: I can respect that. I did a search and read the old (often heated) posts. Interesting arguments. it seems we will never really know.

stoneunhinged: Thanks for the summary! I haven;t read Vernon's bio yet. Wasn't there supposed to be a part 2?
stoneunhinged
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Ben is working on part 2, but he's one of those guys who has ten projects going at once, so it may be a couple of years before it's finished.

According to his web site:

"Currently, David is writing several books including the authorized biography of Canadian media mogul Allan Slaight, the second half of Dai Vernon: A Biography, a book on the life and magic of Paul Fox, and a mediation on Artifice, Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table."

And that's not all. There are a few threads here about other projects he's got on the burner.

Anyway, we're pretty far off topic at this point.

The main point is that the "demonstration" of Scott's skills was a set-up of sorts. It doesn't mean he couldn't do the work. I think he probably could. But those presenting him wanted a sure-fire demonstration that would get back to Vernon as bordering on the miraculous, so they fudged it a bit.

Against this evidence one ought to point out that Gazzo watched Scott deal, so we *know* Scott could handle cards with first-class skill. We just don't know how much experience he had actually cheating.

On topic, the same questions exist about Kennedy. We *know* he could do a beautiful center, but around here there have been many fights about just how useful a center deal could/can actually be; the doubters are logically led to conclude that Kennedy didn't really use it much, either.

But who knows? The truth about this stuff lies in the shadows of the penumbras of legends and myths told by cheaters and their sycophants. One might as well try to document the sexual exploits of my ninth-grade basketball team according to present re-tellings of memories of the stories we told in the locker room.
ein_doppelganger
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As for Kennedy never using the center deal I got the feeling from reading Magician and the Cardsharp he was a true artist. What I mean is he may not have needed it but he was driven to create and perfect it out of a desire to do something new. many artists have created new and somewhat impractical methods of creating amazing work simply out of their own genius. Besides, if it looked as great as Vernon said why not use it. From the sound of the games he was in the sharps usually outnumbered the marks (who often had a train to catch anyway).
magiclimber
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Hiding the Elephant is what I read next

Nothing about Vernon, but a great read...
ein_doppelganger
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That's a fantastic book as well. Glorious Deception is next on my list.
NJJ
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Any suggestions for good fictional books on similar subjects? I'm yet to read a really good card cheating novel.
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