Unfortunately the world of magic lost one of its great cardmen recently.
I never had the opportunity to meet the man, and don’t have any unique or personal stories to share about the incredible Ricky Jay. But you cannot study gambling sleights and the various methods of cheating at cards without learning of his unmatched expertise and undeniable talents in the field.
He was an incredible magician and performer. He starred in multiple TV shows and movies and was often seen slicing into watermelons by throwing cards at them with the finest precision.
I will continue to enjoy learning all that is available to me through his legacy of video productions and book publications.
As my humble tribute, I will share some of Ricky’s work below. The following clip is one of many examples of his mastery with a deck of cards.
The routine “Hold’Em Hands” is a simple poker hand demonstration that utilises the Texas Hold’Em community cards. A small packet of face down hole cards is spread through one at a time. Each time there are different hole cards face up that (when combined with the community cards) display every possible poker hand in the game.
This video was shot in one take with no edits used as part of the effect. It was a secondary project while I was filming the demo for a new card effect. It is a simple routine that is not designed to be flashy.
It has evolved from 3 core ideas:
I wanted to create a Poker Hand Demonstration using the Texas Hold’Em Community Cards
I wanted to incorporate a “Twisting the Aces” style presentation where different cards (the required cards) would appear face up in the deck.
The final reveal of the Royal Flush with the community cards.
The challenges came from deciding on a set of community cards that could support every single poker hand with the addition of having only a small packet of hole cards to cycle through for the routine.
I like that this routine can be enjoyed on a few levels. Lay people can either watch or interact by guessing the next hands to appear. Magicians and Gamblers working (or anyone who watches to work out the method) will no doubt spot a few popular sleights, but will also hopefully be surprised by a few aspects of the handling.
I will release a free video tutorial soon demonstrating the method behind this routine and some others I have recently created.
As things get busier out IRL, things do get quieter here on my website. This is not reflective of my card work and magic practice. My days have been filled with learning new tricks, new sleights and, most importantly, working on some great new ideas.
Over the the last few weeks, I have created and updated multiple new routines to add to my live set and to potentially sell. Whenever I get a wave of creative inspiration like this, I know not to waste it.
I have created so much in the last few months, it has been hard to find the time to note it all down. Some of my new tricks include a fun new torn card reveal, an ACAAN effect and an impossible card penetration illusion called “Beeline” that (even though I know how it works) still sometimes fools me!
I am cautious not to go into too much detail before releasing my creations so I can protect and properly copyright the ideas. For now, the goal is simply to test and fine tune everything as much as possible.
REFINING, REHEARSING, RECORDING
The time has come to produce demos and instructional videos for the stronger of my multiple new tricks.
This is always great fun, but very time consuming. I have tested my new 4k equipment regularly filming songs with my band Walker St and I now have a powerful new laptop capable of editing the UHD footage to professional standards.
My new illusion trick “Beeline” will be produced and released first as it is a routine that requires very little spectator interaction to demonstrate. The other routines are much more interactive so I will need to wrangle friends and family to be involved to film them effectively.
SO HERE’S THE PLAN
The time has come for me to structure a solid 30-45 minute routine that I can perform regularly and reliably to build up the match practice I need to move forward in this craft.
In the coming months, I plan to visit as many people as I can (as many as will have me!) to practice my brand new (and first ever!) live card magic / gambling demonstration show. I look forward to finally demonstrating what I have been working on and hearing everyone’s feedback.
During the performances I will take the opportunity to video some demos of my original work and catch people’s reactions. The videos will have much more effect when filmed in front of spectators and will better demonstrate the routines to those who may wish to purchase and perform the tricks themselves.
So … who’s in?
HERE’S ONE I PREPARED EARLIER
Meanwhile, as you wait for my new videos you can check out all of my previous video releases on Penguin Magic.
On July 25 this year I had the honour of seeing one of my magic ideas (Rubber Band Through Card) published on one of the world’s largest magic retail websites. This would have been a fantastic moment for me had I been the one to release it.
Obviously curious, I purchased the familiar looking, but differently named, trick only to find it frighteningly similar to something I released three years prior in 2015. It mirrored my trick in:
The video was subtitled, but the translation used many of the same words and phrases in its advertising, and even followed very similar steps in teaching the method.
It is easy to think that I was directly copied, but as a songwriter I am very aware of how one person’s creative process can overlap another’s. My concern was not that my effect was stolen, it is that, no matter how independently conceived, it is just too similar.
For an almost identical trick to be released on a web marketing juggernaut like this, runs a huge risk of overshadowing my work in all series of online forums and markets. Essentially, my original trick could become known as the “other” version or referred to as “just like” this more robustly advertised clone.
I reached out to the magic company in private. I asked for them to discuss the issue with me so that we could clarify if the trick was indeed too similar.
After a few requests I managed to get in touch with one of there core members who was kind enough to review my work and compare the similarities.
Side note: When they asked for a copy of my method for RBTC, I very nearly replied saying “You have a copy! You’re selling a copy of it!” but I took the high road and sent them a copy of the video.
According to them, the 3 levels that classify an effect’s originality are:
When comparing our two versions of the same trick, it was deemed that the tricks “have the same foundations” but a different plot and alternate handling.
I accepted that mathematically it could be proven that the two tricks were different enough to both be sold separately. Unfortunately there is just no way to accurately measure the “feel” of the effect which I believe to be almost identical.
“In all honesty the hole actually adds something more … as you’re proving the magic by having it stop in a hole halfway.”
The email from the core member of this magic company continued saying:
“Some could consider yours superior as it has the hole plot/handling to it.“
Regardless of the circumstances, it was great to have my work reviewed by a company that I have been a member of for many years, and hold a great deal of respect for.
I will let you be the judge as to which effect is more deserving of your US$4. I have learned a little more about the industry through this experience and I want to make it clear that I don’t hold any grudges.
However, I will be very hesitant to release material publicly that I am unable to clearly claim later as my own creation. There is simply too great a risk these days of even a demonstration being reverse engineered.
I look forward to sharing some of my new material with you all very soon!
Sleight of hand is something that requires a lot of time and practice working on moves that are only really ever used in performance. On this blog I plan to do a series called “EUFM” (Everyday Uses for Magic) that will put those hard earned skills to use in day-to-day settings.
The dexterity and shade awareness achieved while working on magic tricks can not only be practiced everywhere, but can be used to get a slight edge in many other non-magical circumstances.
No Biscuit Tricks
Here in Australia, biscuits are what others might call “cookies”. Regardless of there name, its important to note that I am not referring to their use in magic tricks. Although if I were …
This article is aimed at highlighting where knowledge of magic and sleight of hand can give you a huge advantage at home, in the office, or any other biscuit sharing situation.
The “Fair Share” palm
The idea behind this sleight is to clearly present to family members or coworkers (or anyone else you might be sharing a plate of communal biscuits with) that you are only taking a single biscuit in assurance that everyone gets their fair share. This is demonstrated in picture 1.
As you can see in picture 2, using your awareness of palming and angles, you can quite easily hold out 2 or 3 more unfair biscuits to enjoy later. I recommend ditching the extra load into a pocket or biscuit sized topit of some kind to lower your chances of flashing what you’re holding out and being outed as a greedy cheat.
The Bad Bikky Force
A common tool used in tricks is called “Magicians Choice”. This is also known as “equivoque”. This specially crafted method of social engineering can also be used to ensure you get the best of 2 available choices. For this example we will use the following 2 biscuits.
Let’s assume you are really in the mood for a cream filled double layer biscuit (pictured left) and have to get someone else to “choose” the other, non-creamy, single layer biscuit (pictured right). You simply ask them the following question:
“I want to eat one of these biscuits, which would you prefer?”.
Outcome 1: They respond “The creamy one”:
In this instance, you immediately pick up the creamy one, clarifying that the creamy one is the one they preferred you to eat.
Outcome 2: They respond “The non-creamy one”:
In this instance, you immediately pick up the creamy one, clarifying that they just said they preferred to eat the non-creamy biscuit.
The quicker you take a bite of your preferred biscuit, the less chance your loaded question will be challenged.
The One-Handed Multi-Hold
With all the props and flourishes used in tricks these days, magicians tend to get quite strong and flexible hands. This versatility and dexterity has previously only been used to shift card packets or sleeve coins. Using these same skills on your coffee break brings a whole new angle to the simple acts of lifting and holding.
One simple example is pictured below:
With one hand I am able to hold my biscuit (the creamy one I conned someone out of earlier), my coffee cup and a handy saucer to catch drips and crumbs. I invite all those practicing sleight of hand to hold items in non-standard ways like this – being careful of hot liquids or sharp edges.
This way of holding my cuppa and bikkie may seem a little over the top to some, but with my other hand now free, I am able to lift more delicious items. Theoretically, at any given time, I could have my coffee, saucer and current biscuit in my right hand, while palming multiple future biscuits (or other communal foods of choice) in my left.
The goal with this experiment is to utilise sleight of hand in common, non-magical and non-harmful ways. To make use of the unused skills earned by magicians and card sharps. Being creative with every part of your day can only help make you a stronger performer!
If only there were some real magic around that could make the extra weight gained from eating all the additional biscuits disappear!