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Bob G
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Hi folks,



I had a sort of an idea, but I'm not sure how good it is. It's the idea in my subject line. As a teacher I'm always thinking, when learning something new, What alternative ways are there to teach a subject? I've been studying card magic, as time permits, for about two-and-a-half years, and my observations of my own learning lead me to the following tentative conclusions. 1. The small packet double lift is much easier to learn than the full-deck DL. 2. The Elmsley Count, with suitable instruction, isn't that hard to learn.



My observations are seriously biased, because I started working on the full-deck DL perhaps a year and a half or two years ago, whereas I learned the small packet DL a few months ago, and am now well on my way to mastering the EC after 2-3 weeks (more than that if you count the time it took me to find instruction that I really liked -- it was Ch. 1 of Ian Kendall's ebook, Basic Training, from Lybrary).



In other words, the two packet sleights may have come in more quickly for me, not due to being intrinsically easier, but because I already had some experience with card handling.



In favor of the idea of beginners starting with packets I can also add that Roberto Giobbi describes a packet trick in CC (I forget what it's called) that, among, other things, uses a spread cull. He says that the cull using a packet is much easier than with a deck. I've also heard of palms from packets, though I don't know how easy or hard they are compared to full-deck palms, not having tried either. As a side note, I'd be interested to hear if anyone can recommend packet tricks that use a palm.




So, possible advantages of starting with packet tricks are: (1) some of the sleights may be easier, and (2) some of the sleights are also used for a full deck, and therefore learning the packet versions might act as a stepping stone to their possibly more difficult full-deck cousins.



What do people think of this (possibly looney) idea of starting beginners with packet magic?




I should add that I have lots of great books and dvd's on beginning card magic, so I'm not looking for resources for beginners -- unless someone has already carried out my idea!



Regards,



Bob
mlippo
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Quote:
On Jan 29, 2019, Bob G wrote:
[...]
my observations of my own learning lead me to the following tentative conclusions.
1. The small packet double lift is much easier to learn than the full-deck DL.
2. The Elmsley Count, with suitable instruction, isn't that hard to learn.




#1 For me it is quite the opposite.
#2 The EC is not difficult to learn, but it is difficult to do WELL, conditio sine qua non if you really want to be able to perform many packet tricks (same applies to Jordan Count, Hamman Count etc. etc.).


Quote:
On Jan 29, 2019, Bob G wrote:

[...]

In favor of the idea of beginners starting with packets I can also add that Roberto Giobbi describes a packet trick in CC (I forget what it's called) that, among, other things, uses a spread cull. He says that the cull using a packet is much easier than with a deck.

[...]


If you're referring to The Palindrome Cards it is all but easy a trick! The cull is the least of your problems. You need clean multiple push-off and triple and quadruple turnovers...

Quote:
On Jan 29, 2019, Bob G wrote:
[...]

What do people think of this (possibly looney) idea of starting beginners with packet magic?
[...]
Regards,


Bob


Sorry Bob, as much as I like most of your posts and I like your enthusiasm for what you're learning and towards magic in general, this time I really disagree.
I would never think of starting a magic class by teaching my students packet tricks to begin with.
I think that Packet Tricks are a subgenre of sleight of hand magic and you can decide whether to embrace it or not (I have,but I do just a very small numbers of them - my decision). But if you should first be proficient with basic and some intermediate handling and you should have a decent repertoire of classics done and presented well, before embarking in the packet trick adventure.

In other words I don't think that packet tricks could be a shortcut to good card magic.
Same reason why you should start with poker sized cards, as Roberto Giobbi cleary advises in his Card College 1.
My opinion of course.

Mark
Bob G
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Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your kind comment about my posts, and your detailed remarks about this one. It probably was the Palindrome cards I was thinking of, because I was looking at that recently -- and you're right, there's a lot going on there.



Here's a question for you, given that I'm learning the EC now. How do you *know* when you're doing it well?



I'm curious to hear others' opinions. For instance, are there packet tricks, much simpler than the Palindrome Cards, that use the spread cull?
mlippo
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On Jan 30, 2019, Bob G wrote:

Here's a question for you, given that I'm learning the EC now. How do you *know* when you're doing it well?


I'm personally a big fan of what today is considered the standard handling of this false display, which is the one thought by Roberto Giobbi in Card College 2.
In other words it's the one (if you're right-handed as I am) where you start with cards in left hand dealing position and you pass the cards from right hand to left hand.

to do it well, in my opinion, is a blend of many things:

- rhythm is constant
- the multiple push off is undetectable
- the first counted card ends perfectly square under the remaining cards after the switch
- the left hand does all the movement while the right is stationary (often people move both hands during the count)

I've seen too many people not following these requirements. Even failing in one or two of these, in my opinion, makes a bad display.

Obviously you have to make sure that any similar display (or event genuinely passing cards from one hand to the other) looks exactly the same, whatever false display you're using.
If you have access to Roy Walton's books, look up the trick "As you Were". It's a packet trick that's fantastic as a practice drill, since you need to do one EC, one JC, one genuine display and one SIVA count all in one minute! And they must all look exactly the same!

Hope I have inspired you ...
Mark
Bob G
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Let me change my question a bit. There are sleights that are used in both full-deck tricks and and packet tricks. Among those sleights, are there any which are easier for packets, and that would provide a good stepping-stone to transfer the sleight to a full deck?



For instance, Giobbi mentions that the spread cull is much easier for a small packet. If I learned the spread cull for a packet, would that make it easier for me to learn the cull for a full deck?
Chris
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Bob, I agree with some of what you are writing, but not all. I agree that adding a small packet trick early on in your development as card magician is a good idea. Some moves indeed are simpler with less cards, but my experience has been that this is very much dependent on the person. In other words, you can't generalize it. If a move just doesn't work for you, try it with less cards and see how it goes. If it is a lot easier then that is certainly a possible stepping stone to learn the move. Key here is not to be lazy and remain at that intermediate stepping stone.

My recommendation to learn card magic is the following:

1) Start with sleight-less card tricks. This will focus your attention on the most important part - performing. Magic is a performing art. The sooner and the more one performs the better. One cannot spend enough time performing.

2) Learn one move and then learn at least one trick that uses that move. (Ideally you want to learn two or three tricks with that new move.) The EC is a great first move to learn in my opinion, because if done decently it is undetectable, and it allows for some extraordinary strong magic. See for example Twisting the Aces.

3) Learn more methods (sleights, gimmicks, stacks, ...) but always learn a method in combination with a trick. There is practically no limit to where you can go from here. Thousands of publications, videos, old and new, are available to the student today. When I started decades ago in Austria it was hard to get decent reading material. That problem has gone away. Most everything is available over the Internet in various forms and typically at much lower price points then I had available decades ago.
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Bob G
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Thanks, Chris, for this helpful advice. As you know, I'm a fan of Lybrary, which has allowed me to add books and other materials to my library at at a reasonable price.



Performance is a bit of an Achilles heel for me, but I've started to perform for friends and family. I like your idea of learning a sleight and then learning and performing several tricks that use the sleight. I guess we just saw an example of the non-generalizability of my idea, as Mark finds the full-deck DL easier than the packet DL, and I'm the other way around.



I like Nick Trost's and Aldo Colombini's work; it isn't all sleight-free, but much of it is, and the sleights are easy in the scheme of things.


Bob
Chris
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I totally agree that Aldo's material is a wonderful place to search for tricks that are not heavy on sleight-of-hand. The irony here is that Aldo himself was an extraordinary sleight of hand artist. But as he grew older he realized that nothing was lost by using less sleight-of-hand. Many other experts have realized this at some point in their development. Particularly when you are young you want to be able to do the hardest moves. But they are more like honor badges. It is great to know one can do them, but they are not that useful except impressing other magicians.
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Bob G
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Interesting -- I didn't know that about him, but I'm not surprised. I'm not young, so maybe I get to pass that stage!
warren
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I remember hearing a well known magician ( his name slips my mind at the moment ) saying during a lecture that he used to perform card tricks at a local pub when he was starting out and that there was an older man there who used to perform packet tricks there too occasionally that the regulars referred to as the bloke with the trick cards. So personally I wouldn't want to be known as the man with the trick cards so whilst I would and do perform packet tricks from time to to time I would always recommend starting out with a regular deck when it comes to learning card magic just like I would recommend staying away from gimmicks when first learning coin magic.
Bob G
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Hi Warren,


I share your dislike of gimmicks -- though I don't know why. Maybe because I'd like my props to be examinable at the end. And because sleight of hand is exciting.



But of course many packet tricks are done with ungimmicked cards. I do Color Monte, for instance -- and although the cards are unusual, the trick is pure sleight of hand and the cards are examinable.



Speaking of coins, I recently bought a gimmicked Scotch & Soda set. But it's examinable, so I don't mind trying it out on audiences. It's *sort of* self-working, which is what Chris recommended. (Bill Palmer was kind enough to send me his ungaffed S&S handling, which I also want to learn.)



What do you think?



Bob
Chris
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I agree with Warren that you certainly do not want to pull out a small pack of 'special' cards from your pocket just for a trick. But there is nothing wrong by taking say the four aces from a deck and then performing a miracle like Twisting the Aces. Done in that way it is actually stronger than a full deck effect, because a spectator has more ways to come up with ideas how a trick with a full deck may have worked. But with just four cards which he could inspect before and after individually, there is little left for him to come up with explanations. Thus the effect is stronger. At least that has been my experience.
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Bob G
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I'd imagine it depends on the trick, Chris? Certainly in twisting the aces the spectators can examine the cards before and after, and they're left in the peculiar position of trying to understand how all these mysterious happenings could have occurred with only four cards.




On the other hand, some of Colombini's packet tricks depend on removing regular cards from a deck, but in some of the tricks he pulls cards from a full deck, including in the packet more cards than the spectator is aware of. Later, at the end, he places the packet back on the deck, thus destroying the evidence that there was an extra card. So I'm not seeing how the spectators could examine the cards at the beginning. Hmmm.... maybe some subterfuge like finding an excuse to place the examined cards back on the deck in order to secretly pick up the extras.



And then there's Color Monte. Certainly the magician *could* use regular cards pulled from a deck, and let spectators inspect them in advance -- but that third card would have to be indifferent, and then she'd have to switch out that card and switch in the "money" card or some other unexpected card. Personally I really like the red and blue diamonds, which for me add to the magical quality of the trick. (I've modified the story a bit and use a joker instead of the $14 card.)


Since I perform Color Monte, I'm curious what either of you, Chris or Warren, would think about pulling out a wallet with the three cards. I guess I'm not sure why, in this trick, that would weaken the effect?
Bob G
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P. S. I really appreciate all of you -- Mark, Chris, and Warren -- taking the time is carry on this conversation with me. I'm learning a lot!



Bob
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On Jan 30, 2019, Bob G wrote:
Hi Warren,


I share your dislike of gimmicks -- though I don't know why. Maybe because I'd like my props to be examinable at the end. And because sleight of hand is exciting.



But of course many packet tricks are done with ungimmicked cards. I do Color Monte, for instance -- and although the cards are unusual, the trick is pure sleight of hand and the cards are examinable.



Speaking of coins, I recently bought a gimmicked Scotch & Soda set. But it's examinable, so I don't mind trying it out on audiences. It's *sort of* self-working, which is what Chris recommended. (Bill Palmer was kind enough to send me his ungaffed S&S handling, which I also want to learn.)



What do you think?



Bob


It's not that I dislike gimmicks as I use them from time to time myself however when you combine gimmicks with good SOH it can almost look as good as trick photography.

For me it's not really about if the packet tricks are able to be examined although obviously I like to end clean whenever possible it's more about removing a few cards from a small plastic wallet etc that screams trick cards, as someone quite reightly mentioned in this thread removing the 4 aces from the deck and performing something with them is quite different as is having the gaffed cards in your deck and removing them at least from the audiences point of view.

With regards to Scotch and Soda I've never owned it so can't really comment on it but from experience with other coin gaffs is that if you combine it with good old fashioned SOH it will most definitely improve the effect.
Chris
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Bob, the example I gave with Twisting the Aces which allows inspection before and after, was an extreme example, and I would not perform it that way. I perform it in such a way that when I remove the aces it is obvious that they are ungaffed, because either the deck is borrowed or has been in play for a while. Also the act of removing them openly one by one allows folks to see that these are just regular aces and nothing more. And when I finish I simply drop the cards to the table, but almost always people lunge at them and inspect the aces, because they assume the explanation lies with the cards.

With a good performance and story almost anything can be motivated. Just pulling out a pack and doing a trick is not the best way to go about it. It depends on your performing character, the situation, is it ad hoc or a formal performance, etc. etc. Here is just one random example how you could motivate a small packet trick with special cards you have to introduce: "My grandfather died a poor man, but he left me this envelope (bring out an old envelope with the special cards. ideally you want to age the cards a bit to fit the story), which holds a couple of cards. I have no idea what these cards are or what purpose they have, but I have found they behave very strangely. (Do whatever small packet trick you want to do. But always be yourself surprised when something magical happens. You do not know why it happens. It befuddles and surprises you as much as the spectators.) I wish my grandfather would still be alive to explain to me what is going on here." (Pack away the cards.) Just an example. Many other ways to go about this.
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Bob G
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Thanks, guys, your replies are a big help. There is something kind of cheap-looking about those plastic wallets that undermines the magical experience. You've given me lots to think about.
Chris
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Yes please do not use these plastic wallets. That is the easiest and quickest thing to fix. Use something else. These plastic wallets are ok to store them in, but for a performance do not use them. I could now pitch my Shuber Blades https://www.lybrary.com/shuber-blades-p-132659.html which I use for some small packet tricks, but that would be self serving Smile
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Bob G
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...and I know you'd never be self-serving, Chris! Smile



Seriously, though, these look nice, but I'll give priority to the 12 million or so items on my Lybrary wishlist.



I have a good imagination as a rule, but right now I'm having trouble thinking of other ways to introduce a packet besides the nice "grandfather" scenario you mentioned. (I especially liked the line about wishing that he was still here so he could tell us what was going on.) I'd be interested in hearing other suggestions for how to introduce a packet. ---But only if you have time. You've already been really helpful.



Bob
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On Jan 30, 2019, Bob G wrote:

Since I perform Color Monte, I'm curious what either of you, Chris or Warren, would think about pulling out a wallet with the three cards. I guess I'm not sure why, in this trick, that would weaken the effect?


Bob you didn't ask me, but I'll give my opinion just the same ... ;-)

Personally I perform Colour Monte A LOT, one of my favourites along with Frogger! and B'Wave (Max Maven) and Odd Quad (Daryl). So there you have the list of the packet tricks I perfor more often (along with Twisting the Aces and Daley's Last Trick).
Back to Colour Monte...
I use a red Queen, a Black High Spot card (e.g. 10C or 8S) and a blank card on which I've written with a Sharpie "140 Euros". Pretty standard as you see.
To answer your question about taking the cards from a wallet, I absolutely recommend doing it. Even in your case where the climax card is a Joker, I'd never take the cards from a pack I'd been using and perform the trick! For the very simple reason that if you show two identical cards coming from the deck, don't you think spectators may think something was not right with that deck?

I actually take the three cards, stressing the fact that I am using them to tell a story and I show a first black card, which represent a losing card and then a second losing card and then go on from there. I do not stress the fact that they are identical, but just in case someone notices it, then I have the excuse I had to take them from my pocket, since in a pack you cannot have two identical cards.

I used to do it, until someone said "at the beginning he must have shown us twice the same card". After changing the script, it never happened again!

Mark
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