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Phil Thomas
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Newark, Ohio
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Profile of Phil Thomas
Hey Guys,

This may be posted elsewhere, but I could not find it. What do you find to be the most impressive to the lay audience? Self working tricks or the ones that require some skill and impressive sleights? I did a set the other day. The first half was all self working miracles that even a 4 year old could do in his sleep. The second was a set that involved several complicated sleights.... including one that still makes me cringe.... The Pass. The spread pass to be specific. But anyway, the set that got the best reactions were the ones that were self working. People did enjoy the other set as well, but it seemed they liked the self working tricks the best because it all seemed so innocent and fair. The audience did not know these tricks were self working, but I guess it's true what they say. Simple magic hits hard. What are your thoughts on this? Have you found that the simplest effects can be the strongest? Even some of my more difficult effects don't hit as hard as the self working ones. What do you guys think?
"If we lose the sense of the mysterious, life is no more than a snuffed out candle."

Albert Einstein
Shane Wiker
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Las Vegas
1199 Posts

Profile of Shane Wiker
Personally, I find that sleight-of-hand effects always get better reactions, and to this day, I haven't seen a single self-working effect that has fooled me.

There are however, some amazing effects you can do with a memorized deck that require absolutely no sleight-of-hand.

That said, my vote goes to sleight-of-hand.

By the way, this is my 700th post. Woohoo.

And in celebration of my 700th post, please enjoy these 7 smilies.

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Shane Wiker
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Profile of raymond
Method is only a means to an end. Nothing more.
There is an old saying in magic "it's the effect that counts"

However I think you are asking the wrong question. It is not a matter of which way is better. It is a matter of which method is the best for a given effect. Some tricks would be utterly useless if there were no sleight of hand involved and yet some tricks would be no good at all if sleights were brought into it.

The answer of course is to use any expedient to gain a given effect. You should certainly have a good grounding in basic sleight of hand otherwise you limit your repertoire. However your main concern is to get the effect in the best way.

Be ruthless in your methods. If you find a double face card is the best way use that, if you find that a stacked deck is the best way go that route, if you find that intricate sleight of hand is the thing then do that or if you find that a simple and easy subtlety is more useful then do that.

Do it anyway you like but be a showman.That is the real secret of magic not whether you use easy methods or not.
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London England
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Profile of paulajayne
Self working can be fun and can be used with most people, but when people are really into and want to see magic then its time to get the fingers working and wow them with the good stuff.

Paula Jay - Magic to Remember -
I once wrote a book on elephants, I think paper would have been better.
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Naval Air Facility, Atsugi, Japan
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Profile of dynamiteassasin
I think both self-working tricks and sleight of hand both could get good reactions.

The only difference is the presentation of each.

Self-working tricks are easier to perform because, we only think of the presentation and how it should hit the audience. To the audience's eyes.. "wow! this guy is really smooth with his magic.."

With sleight of hand, the presentation is totally different because we need to think of good patter, be totally smooth with our sleights and we try to act normal. So, to the audience's eyes.. "He's good but, I think he did something but I didn't see it..anyway, he looks normal..

We must remember performance is always necessary. It doesn't matter if it is self-working or sleight of hand.
A good OOTW is as good as a killer ACR if done with very good presentation, build up of the effect and showmanship of magic.

:bikes: Smile
David Nelson
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San Mateo, CA
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Profile of David Nelson
Did they enjoy the effects because they seemed so innocent and fair? or did they enjoy the fact that you were free to interact and focus your attention on them while you performed?

The effects that get the greatest reaction from my audience are those effects which allow me to connect with my audience on a personal level. Some so called "self working" effects cause the performer to appear side tracked while doing the mental calculations that are required to bring closure. At the same time, many performers who do sleight of hand will focus their full attention on the deck of cards so that the deck becomes the performer and the audience is left behind.

The audience should never be aware that you are using sleight of hand versus gaffed versus "self working" effects. If they see a difference then you're doing something wrong. On the bright side, since they really enjoyed the self working half, you're also doing something right Smile Try to figure out what that is and replicate it with your sleight of hand. My guess is that more of your personality came out and you were more able to interact and play off your audience.

When I was in high school up until my mid 20's I got a much greater reaction out of overtly flourishy sleight of hand tricks. My guess is that because I was young and my presentations were less polished my audiences were less willing to attribute the effects to my skill and more willing to look for gaffs and setups. Since then, I've learned how to create the perception of magic in such a way that it doesn't matter what method I use. However, I still open with something sleightly showy so that they recognize there is skill involved. This makes my job much easier because I have differentiated myself from an uncle or friend who owns a trick deck of cards.

The short answer is, it shouldn't matter. You should try to figure out why the self working half went so well and apply that to all your magic.

Good luck,

Alejandro Peterson
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Profile of Alejandro Peterson
My vote goes to sleight-of-hand, and a lot of times with just two or three simple moves such as double lifts, top changes etc. you can perform miracles!!
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Profile of amccrawford
Sleight of hand effects usually have a different look to self-workers (or to use Steve Beam's definition, semi-automatic tricks).

I find that powerful sleight of hand will establish me well with the audience, so I open my act with these fairly early on.

Later on in the show, a couple of powerful sleight free tricks (including in my case mem deck) will completely blow the audience away.

Anyone who doubts the power of a strong sleight free trick need only read Total Coincidence from Tamariz' Sonata. This can only be used as a closer in my view.
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Profile of gkfreed
There is no inherent value to me to sleight of hand over self working. But if you get an "Uncle Joe" does that one reaction to a self working effect it does not sit well.

I like to do magic that not "everybody" does. I want the "I've never seen anything like that" reaction that does not come often with a self working effect.
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Profile of tensai
I personally prefer sleight of hand like most or all magcians but I don't think lay people notice or care how hard a trick is,it is the end result that counts.I do have some self-working tricks I do and they get good reactions and I have fooled a few magicians with them too they keep looking for the move but it never comes.
Eight Spades
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Ohio (northwest)
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A self-working trick is nothing but that....a trick.

When you craft it into a piece of magic it becomes a true effect. OOTW should always be more impressive than an ACR because it has much more involvement.

"Tricks are only the crude residue from which the lifeblood of magic has been drained." -S.H. Sharpe
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Lancaster, CA
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Profile of mistermudd
I find that self working magic such as "Do as I Do" can get a wonderful response.

However, with good sleights and more "work" you can get even more spectacular effects.

IMHO, your actual effects and climaxes are usually way more impressive with sleights and genuine skill involved. There is also that satisfaction you as the magician gets when you have completed a series of moves no one has caught on to.

Thats just my 2 amature cents.

-Matthew Wadsworth
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"
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Profile of joeKing
I love the feeling when you FINALLY get a seemingly impossible effect to learn to a point where you can perform it...I have such a sense of achievement.

But, in the words of Darwin, if it takes self-working to create a great effect or if it take 10 Faros, a memorized stack, riffle stacking etc...Then so be it.
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Profile of CamelotFX
The term "Self-Working Trick" is a misnomer. Think about how much work goes into creating such a trick. Just because the work is done offstage, it's masterful stuff nonetheless. Why, I'll bet that the guy who thought up the darned 21-Card Trick laid awake nights for weeks... y'suppose? Smile
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Profile of Jaz
I have to agree with dynamiteassasin.

Presentation is key.

It don't matter if you use sleight of hand or gaffs. If your audience is entertained you've done your job.
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Profile of Firebert
The majority of opinion seems to be that effect is the most important. In my personal opinion the most effectual magic contains at least some form of slight. It could be anything from a memorized stack to a glide. However, there are some essentially self-working tricks that are quite impressive, like Mexican Poker from Darwin Ortiz. Smile
“Nor is the man enriched, in repeating the old experiments of animal sensation, nor unless through new powers and ascending pleasures, he knows himself by the actual experience of higher good, to be already on the way to the highest."

Tony Noice
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Profile of Tony Noice
One problem with non sleight of hand effects is that there are not that many truly great ones compared to sleight of hand effects. OOTW is a work of genius as are a few others. But the majority of self workers are not clean and direct. That is, they require dealing two piles, looking at one of the bottom cards, etc.
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Profile of briantwig
On 2004-09-27 21:18, Shane Wiker wrote:
and to this day, I haven't seen a single self-working effect that has fooled me.

Shane Wiker

You have never met Steve Beam.

You can not imagine how badly you can be fooled by "self working" card magic until you see Steve perform, or some of his effects performed well.
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Uh, I'm the one on the right.
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Profile of pepka
In my regular repitoire, it's probably 20% self-working, 60% intermediate, and 20% real knuckle-busting stuff, (faros, multiple passes or top-changes.) And I get good reaction from all of it. Depends on the spectator I think. The good thing about self-working effects is you can relax, have more fun with them, and just concentrate on the presentation, which I agree, is far more important than the trick.
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Profile of owen.daniel
I think that a mixture between self working/semi automatic (to quote Steve Beam) and Sleight of Hand is the best option. If doing a long act the self working part will allow you to remind yourself, and the audience who you are, and helps to relax your nerves before your hard hitting poker demonstration at the end.
As long as it is not obvious that it is self working...then I think that any self working effect can be performed well...equally so, when people start to see your passes and palms, then it is no longer sleight of hand, but a poor attempt thereof.
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