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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Shuffled not Stirred » » Easy vs Hard to Read Marks (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
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Do you think a marking system is better/more effective if it is hard to read and small, or easy to spot and more noticeable (or somewhere in between)?
Shadowstalker
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I'd say, that you need to have marks that you can see pretty well, but are well hidden, so it all depends on your eyesight.
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When a magician lets you notice something on your own, his lie becomes impenetrable.
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alicauchy
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Quote:
On Dec 23, 2014, Shadowstalker wrote:
I'd say, that you need to have marks that you can see pretty well, but are well hidden, so it all depends on your eyesight.


Definitely. Specially, the point concerning the eyesight !!
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ddyment
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Eyesight is certainly a function. I also think it's important to have a marking system that is not self-evident (like "Working Performer ..." and that ilk). I've seen capable entertainers busted with those things, and it's not a pretty sight.

I also like a system that can be self-applied, so you can create a deck when necessary, and not be at the mercy/availability of vendors.
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Kabbalah
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Quote:
On Dec 23, 2014, ddyment wrote:
Eyesight is certainly a function. I also think it's important to have a marking system that is not self-evident (like "Working Performer ..." and that ilk). I've seen capable entertainers busted with those things, and it's not a pretty sight.

I also like a system that can be self-applied, so you can create a deck when necessary, and not be at the mercy/availability of vendors.


I have to disagree here.

When used properly, the Lesley system is a fantastic tool. I have used it for twenty years and have never been busted.
"Long may magicians fascinate and continue to be fascinated by the mystery potential in a pack of cards."
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ddyment
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Each of us is entitled to our personal opinions, but I always wonder why folks seem so sure that they have not been "busted". It's not as if all audience members are the type to spoil the performance by blurting it out loud. Most of them are inclined only to discuss it among their friends afterward, in which case the entertainer is unlikely ever to learn of the bust.

As I noted previously, I have observed successful, well-known entertainers busted with these things, once very publicly, and once by being a part of the after-performance conversation. So, given that there are much better methods available, I personally see no reason to tempt fate with something so easily deciphered. It's not as if they offer any unique advantages (the marks I used can be read from a considerably greater distance).
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Anand Khalsa
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Thanks for the food for thought!
Kabbalah
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Quote:
On Dec 23, 2014, ddyment wrote:
Each of us is entitled to our personal opinions, but I always wonder why folks seem so sure that they have not been "busted". It's not as if all audience members are the type to spoil the performance by blurting it out loud. Most of them are inclined only to discuss it among their friends afterward, in which case the entertainer is unlikely ever to learn of the bust.



Then perhaps you have been *busted* and never knew.
"Long may magicians fascinate and continue to be fascinated by the mystery potential in a pack of cards."
~Cliff Green

"The greatest tricks ever performed are not done at all. The audience simply think they see them."
~ John Northern Hilliard
Shadowstalker
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I could recommend Daniel M@dison's blood deck
It is purely self applied.
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When a magician lets you notice something on your own, his lie becomes impenetrable.
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Cain
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I bought a marked deck as a teen, long before my interest in serious sleight-of-hand card magic. My experience then, and what I've heard from others since, suggests the biggest tip-off is the person rather than the prop. You could have the most brilliantly subtle markings, but if your actions are studied, then sharp people will be more likely to deduce what's going on. Counter-intuitively, obvious markings can be less obvious by virtue of the performer's casualness.

Allan Ackerman has a wonderful you-find-my-card-and-I'll-find-yours trick inspired by Ted Lesley's marked deck. To me the idea of using a marked deck to produce that effect is way, way too A-to-B obvious, and so even using Ackerman's method I avert my eyes/have spectators cover the back of what they think my card is.

If I were to use a marked deck, then it would be used in conjunction with a stack (some of the Osterlind tricks come to mind). I would also try to follow the advice that says, "don't even rely on the marks for the first six months." I would also, at least initially, use the subtlest markings, but that could very well be a mistake. I remember when I first got into mem-stacks, I thought one of the most important factors in choosing a stack was its apparent randomness, it turns out that after some critical threshold, any more randomness has rapidly diminishing benefits.
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ddyment
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Kabbalah responded:
Quote:
Then perhaps you have been *busted* and never knew.

My point, exactly.

Which is why I would not claim that I "have never been busted."

My goal is to minimize, to the extent that I can, the chance of being discovered. So using a marking technique that is self-evident, and provides no commensurate benefit (indeed, loses the important benefit of being self-applied) is not "in the cards" for my work.
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lcwright1964
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Quote:
On Dec 23, 2014, Kabbalah wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 23, 2014, ddyment wrote:
Eyesight is certainly a function. I also think it's important to have a marking system that is not self-evident (like "Working Performer ..." and that ilk). I've seen capable entertainers busted with those things, and it's not a pretty sight.

I also like a system that can be self-applied, so you can create a deck when necessary, and not be at the mercy/availability of vendors.


I have to disagree here.

When used properly, the Lesley system is a fantastic tool. I have used it for twenty years and have never been busted.


I have a couple of Lesley decks that I got when an online vendor had them on sale. I was smitten by how obvious the marks were--but I was looking for them. That said, I do believe that a prudently handled Lesley deck should be fine. Because of my own nervousness and possibly the risk of me telegraphing that--I am a poor poker face--I would be timid about letting a spectator handle a Lesley deck too much or in a way that would bring the backs under much scrutiny. However, Lesleys usually are Bike decks, and those almost never inspire suspicion.

I would think that the Phoenix marked decks, with a Lesley-like system but with a font that is so beautifully concealed in the design--would be perfectly safe in the lay spectator's hands. Of course, Phoenix cards may be less familiar to a lay audience. Then again, I have heard it argued here that magicians worry a lot more about whether their cards are suspicious than spectators do. Then again, some spectators suspect trick cards all the time! Once, I presented Oz Pearlman's colour-changing routine Blindsided to my spouse. She was fooled, but, after seeing me take delivery on all sorts of gimmicked stuff, she dismissed the result (which is achieved with prearranged yet ungimmicked cards) with, "it's just another one of your many trick decks"!!!

As much as I love the Phoenix system I am wondering about a more subtle system that marks the cards according to number. I have Mnemonica down cold, so it just makes sense to me to subtle mark the back of, say, 4H as 5 and 7S as 37, etc.

Les
chappy
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For blockout, a practical and easier alternative to ink is to find just the right shade of Sharpie to match your cards. It's very easy to create well disguised, and relatively easy to read marks on most back designs, and many old marking systems can be adapted with a little experimentation to different designs. On bikes the pretty well-known dial system is easily updated to include suits for MD work. Les, I have not seen marks that use numbering. It seems to be simpler to mark your own cards based on ten or twelve(for MD) values, rather than fifty-two (or fifty-one) unique marks. And a simple matter to add three suits elsewhere in the design.
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ddyment
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My own marking method ("BikeMarks", from my Idiopraxis book) uses blockout work. I have used a red Sharpie marker on a red deck in a pinch (the blue does not fare so well), but when I am making up decks for serious performance use, I use proper drawing inks (best) or artists' marker systems. Both of these tools make it much easier to match the (inconsistent) colours on Bicycles.
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magicfish
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I like Harry Riser's marking system.
The_MetalMaster
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I like the blockout system myself. George Parker has a great system in his Index-derity book. I actually use the markings for Annemann's "Original Effect" in PME. The work is already done before the spectator reveals their thought of card! Killer straight forward effect
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