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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » Do the Shells Have to Match? (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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BeThePlunk
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I'm looking at some hand-painted shells, and because they are so, there are detectable variations between them So, I was thinkin'... Why do the shells have to match?

Well, in a street game the idea is fast moves to convince the victim that he's not following well enough. Like 3 Card Monte. So, identical shells are important in that arena.

But in a magic routine, the pace is different, and the theme is sleight of hand not speed and confusion. As Pop Haydn says, lifting his bowler and wiping his head, "The pea does not stay under the shell it starts from". Certainly, if you place a shot glass over the shell, you aren't about to get confused. So, for magicians anyhow, I don't see the need to worry about variations in the shells. variety in the shell is not only beside the point, it MAKES the point.

David
shellgame-al
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There is no rule. If it works for you, why not. Myself, I think three matching shells works the best for street or magic.

Just my opinion.
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Shikanominarazu
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An example of a routine that uses an odd shell and works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcnr4VaIa5M
Though it's not really a shell game at this point.
I suspect that in general Al is right, but I'd like to see someone try all different.
Pop Haydn
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There was an Eddie Joseph routine published in the 40's or 50's that used a red, white and a blue shell.
Shikanominarazu
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Just curious Pop, would you happen to know where? It doesn't seem to be in his shell game book.
Pop Haydn
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It is in a magazine article. I would have to find it.

The shells do not need to match. In fact, there are reasons that it is good if they don't match. Anyone watching the game will understand within the first two or three plays that the pea does not necessarily stay under the shell it starts under. They "know" they kept their eyes on the shell, if not the first time, at least after a couple. So the pea HAS to move.

Magicians have a hard time understanding the shell game. There is no secret. The spectators KNOW how it works, or think they do. They think the operator steals the pea out from under one shell and hides it under another, or holds it out completely until the bet is made. They just can't catch him doing it. They are amazed at his nimbleness, but not amazed by the "effect." They don't understand that the pea can't travel with the shell, that it pops out automatically. That is the real "secret."

It is easier to steal the pea out invisibly than the audience realizes.

Magicians don't like hooks and come-ons with the shell game that reveal "secrets" like "inadvertently" letting an audience member see the pea pinched between the fingers, or letting them see you "steal" the pea from one shell. These are the most important moves, and magicians don't even "get" them.

Check out The Shell Game, a book by Tom Osborne put out by Mike Kanter. (Some versions leave Osborne's name off the credits.) It is the real work on the street game. The moves in it are very off-putting for some magicians because they seem to tip "the secret" that the pea can be stolen and hidden in the hand. Actually, these revelations only confirm what the spectator was thinking all along, and give him a little flash of the ankle to make him think he has a chance. By letting the spectator think they see something that you don't want them to see, they think they are on top of you already.
BeThePlunk
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Sly "double entendre," Pop!
Shikanominarazu
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Thanks for the tip Pop! I picked up Osbourne's book as a pdf last week but haven't gotten around to looking at it. Will study it over the next few days.
shellgame-al
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I think un-matching shells can work fine with the right presentation.

I believe the hooks and come-ons with the shell game that reveal "secrets" like "inadvertently" letting an audience member see the pea pinched between the fingers, or letting them see you "steal" the pea from one shell are all unnecessary with the use of the Bottom Ridge type shells that I use.

All this does is confirmed you are cheating. There is nothing wrong with them thinking you cheat in some way. But the effect is they don't know how you did it.

I don't know any gambling games where the cheater gives clues or ideas on how they are cheating.
This will only have them stop playing sooner or be less interested.

Yes, an unnatural subtle move I think can be good at the right time depending on what’s at hand.
But to me this should even be a question.

Yes, I think the only time you can have them amazed by the effect, is if they don't know how it was done.

Now the bending of the card with the Three Card Monte, I think works great for this. But normally a shill bends the card and the player thinks he is also a player.
Now he thinks it is a sure bet to bet more money.
But it is not the operator cheating. The player thinks the operator is being cheated. This is a big difference.

Letting the player win sometimes, can work much better for the big sting.

The reason these moves are unnecessary with the Bottom Ridge type shells, because they are a fair game shell. Not having to take the pea when the shell is moved or have to hide the pea it the hand. This will give a better effect and will be amazed by the sleight of hand at work without giving away any secrets.

Some think that they are not amazed by the effect for the shell game. It is because there is too many clues to what is being done to be amazed


This is just my own opinion, which works best for me. I am not saying anyone is wrong in the way they prefer to do it.
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silverking
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I must say I it's a pleasure to read Pops deeply thought out, and absolutely lucid writing on the shell game.

It's refreshing to read the writings of somebody who actually has a clearly held concept of the shells as a short con, AND the shells as performed by magicians.

Pops writing on the shells represents the most advanced thinking on the shell game available today, either as a con or as an entertainment.

As Pops noted, it's difficult for some magicians to understand the various ploys. That statement is so accurate so as to be reinforced in this forum repeatedly.
Pop Haydn
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Thank you, silverking. It is a fascinating study.
benhart
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I get a kick out of some who say some magicians don't understand the various ploys in the shell game.
We understand, we just do not agree with you. It is usually someone who thinks he is better than others.
With their ego, if you do not agree with them it's because you do not understand. Bull!

We can all have different opinions; except it. Fellow magicians think about what makes sense for you, not just what others say or how some did it in the past.
Don't be a follower, be a thinker for what truly makes sense to you; even if you don't agree with me.

Sometimes what's right for one magician is wrong for another. This is what is so good about magic Café.
You can get all sides and then decide for yourself.
BeThePlunk
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I'm still new enough to this business that I'm listening to everyone and trying to sort it out. I like the idea of sucker moves like the ones explained in Osbourne, but I'm uncomfortable that many of them basically reveal the truth. I'm more attracted to sucker moves like the ones demonstrated on Sal Piacente's DVD -- for example, letting the spectator see you clip the pea from the side (like cups and balls) and roll it under another shell. Those moves look like they COULD be the truth, but they send the spectator off in the wrong direction, giving away nothing.
Pop Haydn
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Every time he loses a buck, he has been sent in the wrong direction. No one is trying to figure out how it works. They "know" how it works. They are trying to catch you and to find the pea. There is no "secret" to the shell game. It is not a magic trick.
BeThePlunk
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OK, I see that. Thanks.
shellgame-al
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The player knowing how it is done might be the case for some with the classic type walnut shells.
But this is not the case when performing the game with the bottom ridge type shells.
They don't know. Even the ones that do know how the classic shell game is done, don't know.

You are right it would be hard for a player not to know how it is done with all the clues that come with the classic type walnut shells..

The shell game is a confidence game. Bringing the confidence to play is the key to how the con works and that is done with the shell operator having shill's in play working the mark. Without the confidence it is not a con game; it is a trick being performed by a magician for entertainment.
This is like comparing apples to oranges. It is not even close to being the same.

This is why I designed the bottom ridge shell. This type shell can bring confidence that appears to be a fair game. With these shells every move is a sucker move in setting up the mark. As the pea only comes out when you feel you have set the con in place. These sucker moves give no clues. But even with these shells, it is still a trick. This is because it is only played for entertainment by most of us.
We can fantasize all we want, but we are still a magician doing a trick.

Here again these are my own opinions; just by common sense.
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Apr 19, 2014, shellgame-al wrote:
The player knowing how it is done might be the case for some with the classic type walnut shells.
But this is not the case when performing the game with the bottom ridge type shells.
They don't know. Even the ones that do know how the classic shell game is done, don't know.

You are right it would be hard for a player not to know how it is done with all the clues that come with the classic type walnut shells..

The shell game is a confidence game. Bringing the confidence to play is the key to how the con works and that is done with the shell operator having shill's in play working the mark. Without the confidence it is not a con game; it is a trick being performed by a magician for entertainment.
This is like comparing apples to oranges. It is not even close to being the same.

This is why I designed the bottom ridge shell. This type shell can bring confidence that appears to be a fair game. With these shells every move is a sucker move in setting up the mark. As the pea only comes out when you feel you have set the con in place. These sucker moves give no clues. But even with these shells, it is still a trick. This is because it is only played for entertainment by most of us.
We can fantasize all we want, but we are still a magician doing a trick.

Here again these are my own opinions; just by common sense.



Al, what do you suppose the spectators who are watching your presentation of the shells will think?

How would they describe your performance of the shells to someone else?

Do you think they would say the pea "magically" disappeared from one shell and reappeared under another?

Do you consider your presentation of the shells a "magic effect?"
silverking
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For me, and for many others using the shells for an entertainment or a con, the shells gimmick, be it a stem-notch or a bottom ridge is fundamentally unimportant and utterly irrelevant.

Gambling Sam used un-gimmicked plastic bottle caps, and his work represents the undisputed pinnacle of the game as is available anywhere today on video.

For the mark or the spec, it's never about the mechanics of the shells, it's never about what the shells can or cannot do for the handler, and it's never about what type of shell is being used - these things have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation taking place in this thread.

What some magicians don't understand is that the game (either as entertainment or a short-con) is about HUBRIS, it's about the personal HUBRIS of the spectator or mark. They know the pea is removed from the shell, but it's IRRELEVANT to them HOW it's removed.....this because the game is about the HUBRIS of the player - thinking that they can beat the shell man at his own game.

They think they can CATCH him and turn that information back on him to win the money (or in the case of an entertainment, the game).

Really, the shell game is a short-con no matter how many times somebody wants to say it's something else, and like short-cons and long-cons everywhere, it's all about hubris and greed, ego and status, the belief that because you know that the pea comes out of the shell, or you've seen the shell man "accidentally" flash the pea......you've now got the information needed to beat the shell man at his own game.

The shell game has nothing to do with magic or magic tricks. It's got nothing to do with magicians or magic props. You can do it with bottle caps, thimbles, real walnuts, plastic walnuts, and with any one of a half a dozen additional gimmicks.....but all are IRRELEVANT to the game and the player.

The various gimmicks matter ONLY to magicians, and have no bearing on how the game proceeds.

The various come-ons Pops mentioned above feed into the already rampant HUBRIS of the spectator, such that any given intentional accidental display of the pea or unimportant feint on the part of the shell worker convinces the spec (or mark) that they've "seen something" and therefore have fulfilled their preconceived belief that they will catch the shell handler making a move, and that information will absolutely allow them to beat shell man at his own game.
shellgame-al
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No, thinking it is done by magic is silly.

Most people watching any magician perform will know it is not done by real magic on any trick.
But they can think it was a good trick by some clever sleight of hand at work and not knowing how it was done is the effect with any trick.

If they know how you did it, there is no effect. If you read what I said, I never said magic. I said trick, because I am tricking them into picking the wrong shell with the pea.

Magic has nothing to do with it.

I know the player knows that I am somehow getting the pea into another shell, but they don't know how and I don't give them any clues to take away the effect.
This is all pretty easy, as the shells appear to be fair with nothing to hide. But the shells I use are a whole different ball game in play than other shells.

To answer your last question; no I do not look at the shell game as a magic effect. I look at it as I stated; a trick that is done by sleight of hand and with them not knowing how it was done is the effect.

For the ones that don’t know the true meaning of the word “trick”, read below.

Verb
1. Deceive or outwit (someone) by being cunning or skillful.
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Eric Johnson
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Jack Chanin describes using a Red,White, and Blue shell in his booklet Hello Sucker!
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