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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » What are the performance premises of the three shell game? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mike Walton
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I'm considering starting my long process of researching, studying the game and existing work, and practicing the sleights for a 3 shell routine.

It truly is a classic con game but I'm wondering how that translates into a parlor or close up performance.

It's easy to compare my initial impressions of a 3 shell routine to that of the chop cup or certain CSB routines. Where's the ball? Wrong. What coin is in my left hand? Wrong. Seems you have to dig a little deeper to find non-zinging premises that can be used with a CSB set or chop cup, but they're not the low hanging fruit that are first mentioned when talking about both types of routines/tricks.

Do different 3 shell game premises exist other than the "Where's the pea? Oh no, it's here. How about now? No it's here" type of routines?

Maybe the mentioned traditional premise of the 3 shell game is more than enough, but I'm curious if anyone uses a routine premise that's different to appeal to a different crowd, for example, or to make the routine more magic than con, or to set up a unexpected surprise as an ending, like utilizing the solid shell, or producing surprising loads similar to cups and balls, or something even more surprising and dastardly that makes more sense.

I'm going through and enjoying Tubthumbing by Bill Duncan and his excellent thinking is spoiling me with routines that explain the action a little better and make the spectator care about what happens due to increased interest. Has anyone offered something of the same with the 3 shell game?

Or is this needed? Maybe it's not needed...
Jim Wilder
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Try looking here for some lively discussion and priceless information on routines, practice, and performance of this effect.
-Jim
Leeman
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I admire you for not wanting to go with the "you're wrong again, I'm smarter then you" approach. But I would strongly appose the use of final loads or an openly gimmicked shell. I feel that this goes against the interest of the shells. People know that they are used for a con game. Use this to your advantage. gary Ouellet in his routine describes a story that happened to him. This is an easy way to stay away from the "gotcha" style of presentation but still show the game as a con. You show the shells in more of a presentational aspect. But remember that some people may want to try to guess which shell the pea is under. If they do want to guess then let them, but do keep there guesses to under 2 or 3 so that you don't beat them up to much.
el toro
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I've been thinking the same. How to make this really entertaining? I think we all agree that you shouldn't make the spectator look bad. Tell a story about a con man that took YOUR money, and tell the spectators to NEVER play this game on the streets. Like Cups and Balls you need a climax, but instead of a final load, use a shotglass. I remember first time I saw Eric Mead doing the 3 shell game at the Tower in Snowmass. It was that shot glass ending that really made me remember his fantastic act.
Eric Woods
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Phil Cass has a really entertaining version, its worth looking into!
drwilson
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I'd say look into all of the con routines and you will see some good thinking that can be applied to the shell game.

I particularly like Daryl's Ultimate Three Card Monte DVD. Here you can see a really fun guy doing amazing things. Everyone is having a good time. When he asks someone which is the winning card, he is very careful to say, "That's what I would have said. That's the one they WANT you to pick."

When he does the revelations, he often says, "You can't win! You just can't win." He is letting them know it's not a fair game. Of course they can't win. It's not their fault.

Notice that he is on the same side of the table as the audience, as it were. He is not lecturing them to just say no to street hustlers, he is having a great time and so is everyone else.

For the shells (which I am just starting with) I think you need a demonstration phase to explain the premise of the game, during which time the pea is under the middle shell, which never moves. There is no funny business in this phase; the pea is where they saw it. They might even be asked where the pea is and find out that they would have won if they had been playing for money. Then you need a "betting" phase in which perhaps there is a fast transposition done as a demonstration and then a slower set of moves to ask them where they would bet. Of course, they choose incorrectly. The middle phase might be extended a bit and then the closer is something wild, like under the shot glass or in their hand.

Bob Sheets has a routine with these elements on his "Absolutely Nuts" video. Bob Sheets is a very funny guy, a little on the manic side, he is a riot to watch. No one in their right mind would ever bet him, he doesn't play it like a hustle. I can't imagine anyone successfully imitating his style, but the structure of his routine can certainly serve as a good basis for building a personal one, and he explains the moves very well.

Yours,

Paul
Kent Wong
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I developed a vegas style routine a while back, using dice, coins and cards. The three shell game was easily incorporated into this routine. I explain that although gambling is legal in Las Vegas, there is one game that continues to be outlawed. The Three Shell Game. This is because of its reputation as a con game that no one can win. For instance, let me demonstrate ...

Once I've completed my demonstration, I flow into a cups & balls finale. I explain to the spectators that although street hustlers perfected the three shell game, it was magicians who invented it ...
"Believing is Seeing"
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Whit Haydn
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Actually, the Cups and Balls was most probably a take-down game from the earliest times. Although it was presented as a magic trick, and not as a guessing game, the presentation hid various schemes for setting up the suckers.

The Thimble-Rig simply made the scam more portable, and eliminated the magic presentation in favor of a betting game involving the supposed skill of the operator's hands versus the quickness of the spectator's eye.

There was probably not a lot of distinction between the early practioners of street magic in Greece and Medieval Europe and their contemporary "hustlers."
Kent Wong
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Remember, the street magicians of old were once considered vagabonds and rogues!
"Believing is Seeing"
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bishthemagish
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The reason to do these effects is to entertain an audience. Routines like the shell game and the thimble rig are classic swindles. And part of our history.

People have heard of these classic swindles and they enjoy the opportunity to play them. The general history is that most people feel that the shell game and the thimble rig came from the magicians effect called the cups and balls

If a performer wanted to do things like the cups and balls in the shell game I suppose that they could. Things changing places and size can be quite entertaining.

I like to do it as a short entertaing routine with a fast ending. I have added the thimble rig to my routine and it is the same routine I do as the shell game.

The only difference is that I do a few thimble moves before I do the effect. And I have changed the steals and added some new moves to the thimbles because thimbles have a different shape.

I also use a sponge pea...

After many years of doing this effect I have found that the audience wants to guess... So I let them but I do not make them wrong. Nor do I make fun of them if they guess wrong. It is a fun routine if performed light hearted and tong and cheek style...
Glenn Bishop Cardician

Producer of the DVD Punch Deal Pro

Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
Mike Walton
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Quote:
On 2004-10-13 10:18, bishthemagish wrote:
After many years of doing this effect I have found that the audience wants to guess... So I let them but I do not make them wrong. Nor do I make fun of them if they guess wrong. It is a fun routine if performed light hearted and tong and cheek style...

Glenn, thanks for your performance of the three shell game on your website. It's great.

How do you manage the spectator so they don't feel wrong? Is it just the subtle lack of noting so and showing the "correct" location or do you say something else?
twistedace
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I saw Glenn perform his 3 shell game with the thimbles for me personally, live at the SAM national convention this past summer and he has some unique and surprising moves done fairly with one hand. I'm not a fan of the 3 shell game but he does excellent work with them! Glenn I was the younger guy working with Bob Little and we sat off to the side one afternoon sessioning and also that night with Jay Marshall. I hope you've been well since we last met!
bishthemagish
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Sure they guess wrong but I don't make the guess of them being wrong personal. They as the person that will guess the thimble or shell is a rep - for the whole audience.

One of the ways of getting aroud this is to have more than one person guess. I let the audience guess about three or four times in my routine then I am into sort of an explination part.

This is where they think they know where the pea is but they do not useally guess. This is where I do the bust out bluff moves and the shot glass moves.

I also try to take away the challange in performing magic and make my routines more of a situation comedy. So they are laughing at the situation not at the helper.

Hi twistedace as I remember you did some great card work. If you see Bob Little give him my best reguards...

I had just gotten the thimbles then and was working on some moves and took it to the convention to try them out. That convention was a great one Jay Marshall got a stand ovation as the opening act.

He was hard to fallow! He is also one of the best acts in show business.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

Producer of the DVD Punch Deal Pro

Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
dlcmagic
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How about Gary Ouletts shell routine.
He avoids the usual "Where is the pea?" No, wrong
it's here. Great ending also. Check it out.
Jonathan Townsend
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Think of it as a swindle performed within a frame, so the action stays in quotes and nobody gets taken.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
twistedace
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I have always liked it appearing under the shell under the shot glass but have always seen it as kind of obvious as well. I think that having the spec cover the shell with the pea in it, then giving them a convincing second look and letting them cover it again after you show it would be the best way to end it. Of course having it appear somewhere else like tell them to point to a different shell and cover it with their other hand and have them think like a gambler would be the best ending for my taste.
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