Best subjects taught in The Expert At The Card Table

Jun 19, 2019
53
17
Hey everyone,

I ordered my first paperback copy of TEATCT about a month ago. (it's still coming because it has to ship from America and I don't live there and well... lockdown)
I have been using a digital copy of it up until now, but I definitely think I will find it easier to learn from a physical copy.
Anyway, I've heard a variety of different opinions on the quality of the teaching in the book. Things like:
"The shifts are terrible!"
Or,
"The Erdnase grip is useless!"
I don't happen to agree with these statements, they are just examples. So I was wondering, what subjects/concepts do you guys think are taught well in the book? And what subjects/concepts do you guys think Erdnase didn't do so well at teaching?

I will say, I am a bit more interested in the first part of the book, Card Table Artifice, but I'm open to any thoughts! :)

Thanks everyone,
Elio.
 
May 3, 2018
41
25
I'd say that like many old magic books, the explanations are sometimes a little unclear. Some of the moves are only described in text and the language is old-fashioned. However, there are definitely some interesting ideas.
"The shifts are terrible!"
I actually think the shifts are quite interesting. But they are a bit weird and I've never performed them in real life.
I will say, I am a bit more interested in the first part of the book, Card Table Artifice,
I'm more interested in magic, and this book is not really that great for magic. The tricks described are pretty unremarkable. I cannot comment for how interesting the section on card cheating is, as I am not really that interested by it.

For card magic, I would say Expert Card Technique is a much more informative and interesting 'classic' magic book.
 
Jun 19, 2019
53
17
Hey, thanks for the reply!

I'd say that like many old magic books, the explanations are sometimes a little unclear.
Agreed, although I find it's easier if you search up how a move is supposed to look before you learn it.

I actually think the shifts are quite interesting.
Same here, I've just never gotten around to practising them enough! I probably will when the hard copy arrives.

The tricks described are pretty unremarkable.
I was in magic for a while before I moved onto gambling sleights, and personally I found that if you can remove his patter from it and take the trick from the bare bones, then I think a few of them are still very interesting. He has a version of "Birds of a Feather" he calls it, which I still play around with occasionally.
 
Apr 1, 2020
42
31
The number one thing I've gotten from the book is - your secret moves should look exactly like your natural moves. I forget exactly how he words it. But it's naturalness in motion or whatever. I try to keep this in mind whenever I'm working on something new. I go through the motions as if I'm just doing when the spectators think I'm doing - paying attention to exactly how it looks to them.

I try to reread it once a year or so. It's a short quick read. I just really enjoy his way of thinking about things.
 
Jun 19, 2019
53
17
The number one thing I've gotten from the book is - your secret moves should look exactly like your natural moves.
Right, he does make a very solid point with that, probably my number one takeaway from the book as well.
I think he calls it 'Uniformity in action'.
 
Jun 19, 2019
53
17
Apologies, birds of a feather is simply a line in his patter. I had a look and it's called "The Exclusive Coterie". It's the first routine in the card tricks section. Enjoy!
 
Jun 18, 2019
543
288
17
West Bengal, India
I would definitely choose Expert Card Technique over Expert At The Card Table any day. Because ECT (and any other work of Hugard and Braue) is fantastically detailed and written specifically with magicians, and only with magicians, in mind.

EATCT does have references to conjuring, but it often seems to be breaking things down if say, you actually wanted to use a shift or a false shuffle in a casino. I have also heard the allegations that apparently ''Erdnase'' (whoever that was) deliberately didn't offer absolutely clear explanations of the moves or that he didn't reveal some of the more valuable moves.

I have read both and I must say, I got EATCT more for it's collector's-item value than to actually derive anything from it. I did it only to read the instructions' of some of the moves by ''Erdnase'' himself, and nothing more.
 
Jul 26, 2016
555
760
Warning: Pure Unadulterated Personal Opinion

EATCT by Erdnase was first published in 1902; ECT by Hugard & Braue was first published in 1940. 38 years is an eternity in the evolution of card magic. Believe me when I say Hugard & Braue were profoundly influenced by Erdnase. Card magic, like magic in general, and like so many art forms, such as painting, poetry, literature, music, and film-making, have an evolution, a tradition, a lineage. Like a solid house, there is a foundation, and the foundation is built upon and added to. Or one studying history cannot fully understand and appreciate it without understanding each civilization or dynasty that came before and the dynamics of how one led to the next.

I believe that the serious student of card magic ought to start with the foundational thinkers/artists/writers/practitioners of the art, in order to gain an understanding and perspective of how we got from point A to point B and so forth. If the foundation is skipped and we jump in somewhere in the middle, we are depriving ourself of an entire culture that can enrich our understanding and our development as artists. Especially the art of magic has involved a passing of ideas, philosophies and techniques from magician to magician. It is sacred in a way. I could go on and on about it, but I won't, but in my opinion this deserves thought and investigation and contemplation, by any magician who is serious about the art.

I will say that any card magician who studied and mastered only the section in EATCT on Blind Cuts and Shuffles, would have all they needed to deceptively control cards beyond the point of suspicion. And Erdnase's thinking and advice is incredibly important, as just one example, his warning that everything should be so smooth and clean that "the most critical observer would not even suspect," let alone detect. That advice alone sets the bar high for us, as it should be, and it is pure gold. Also, he is the one who inspired me to learn and develop a presentation for the 3-card Monte. He was right on the money when he said well over a century ago in EATCT: "There is not a single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, or that will mystify as greatly, or cause as much amusement, or bear as much repetition as this little game!" There is no card routine I do that I enjoy more or that is better received by laymen, and I have Erdnase (or whatever the author's real name was).
to thank for that.

Erdnase, Hofzinser, Maskelyne, Robert-Houdin, others too numerous too mention. Such a rich culture to investigate and draw upon...
 
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Jun 19, 2019
53
17
I would definitely choose Expert Card Technique over Expert At The Card Table any day. Because ECT (and any other work of Hugard and Braue) is fantastically detailed and written specifically with magicians, and only with magicians, in mind.

EATCT does have references to conjuring, but it often seems to be breaking things down if say, you actually wanted to use a shift or a false shuffle in a casino. I have also heard the allegations that apparently ''Erdnase'' (whoever that was) deliberately didn't offer absolutely clear explanations of the moves or that he didn't reveal some of the more valuable moves.

I have read both and I must say, I got EATCT more for it's collector's-item value than to actually derive anything from it. I did it only to read the instructions' of some of the moves by ''Erdnase'' himself, and nothing more.
I have read some of ECT and all of EATCT. I very much see the credit in ECT, it's just not my first preference for a few reasons.
The reason I chose EATCT was for two reasons: firstly I prefer the focus on gambling-related sleight of hand, that's just what I most enjoy learning, and secondly, for his thoughts on things like Uniformity in Action (mostly found in the section called Professional Secrets).
ECT doesn't have as much of a focus on the sleight of hand I enjoy. However, it is definitely close to the top of my wishlist. (3rd after Card Control) (Still unsure about that decision).
Thanks for your thoughts! :)

Warning: Pure Unadulterated Personal Opinion

EATCT by Erdnase was first published in 1902; ECT by Hugard & Braue was first published in 1940. 38 years is an eternity in the evolution of card magic. Believe me when I say Hugard & Braue were profoundly influenced by Erdnase. Card magic, like magic in general, and like so many art forms, such as painting, poetry, literature, music, and film-making, have an evolution, a tradition, a lineage. Like a solid house, there is a foundation, and the foundation is built upon and added to. Or one studying history cannot fully understand and appreciate it without understanding each civilization or dynasty that came before and the dynamics of how one led to the next.

I believe that the serious student of card magic ought to start with the foundational thinkers/artists/writers/practitioners of the art, in order to gain an understanding and perspective of how we got from point A to point B and so forth. If the foundation is skipped and we jump in somewhere in the middle, we are depriving ourself of an entire culture that can enrich our understanding and our development as artists. Especially the art of magic has involved a passing of ideas, philosophies and techniques from magician to magician. It is sacred in a way. I could go on and on about it, but I won't, but in my opinion this deserves thought and investigation and contemplation, by any magician who is serious about the art.

I will say that any card magician who studied and mastered only the section in EATCT on Blind Cuts and Shuffles, would have all they needed to deceptively control cards beyond the point of suspicion. And Erdnase's thinking and advice is incredibly important, as just one example, his warning that everything should be so smooth and clean that "the most critical observer would not even suspect," let alone detect. That advice alone sets the bar high for us, as it should be, and it is pure gold. Also, he is the one who inspired me to learn and develop a presentation for the 3-card Monte. He was right on the money when he said well over a century ago in EATCT: "There is not a single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, or that will mystify as greatly, or cause as much amusement, or bear as much repetition as this little game!" There is no card routine I do that I enjoy more or that is better received by laymen, and I have Erdnase (or whatever the author's real name was).
to thank for that.

Erdnase, Hofzinser, Maskelyne, Robert-Houdin, others too numerous too mention. Such a rich culture to investigate and draw upon...
It sounds like you understand the book much better than I do!
I have to agree with you here, I find personally that when I'm reading EATCT it feels like a glimpse into the past, a slice of the beginning of a new age of experts.
Thanks for the reply, I can see now how much deeper I can go into this little green book!
 
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Jun 18, 2019
543
288
17
West Bengal, India
Card magic, like magic in general, and like so many art forms, such as painting, poetry, literature, music, and film-making, have an evolution, a tradition, a lineage. Like a solid house, there is a foundation, and the foundation is built upon and added to. Or one studying history cannot fully understand and appreciate it without understanding each civilization or dynasty that came before and the dynamics of how one led to the next.
This is so true.

Both the books (with the exception of the magic vs gambling style of presentation) are pretty much similar. I view the EATCT as, say, the ''draft'' which culminated into the ''ECT''. That's just my way of thinking about the books, because the chances of ECT existing and being as comprehensive as it is, would be terribly slim if not for Erdnase's book. But then, ECT is a ''refined'' EATCT, again, just my opinion.
 
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May 9, 2018
14
8
Hey everyone,

Things like:
"The shifts are terrible!"
Or,
"The Erdnase grip is useless!"
Elio.

All moves can be useless and terrible in the wrong context. This book is a classic because so many of these moves that are now often passed over are the basis of the newer variants. I think because we tend to rename every variation of what is, deep down, the exact same thing but with a different angle or whatever, it ends up looking like the OG stuff is no longer interesting or valuable. But that is far from the truth! If you get these basics down, the named variants all come easy because they are really not as different as they are portrayed.

Eg: I see a lot of people disparage the roll over pass. But as someone who very often rolls the deck over anyway, it's an ideal pass for my style. Nobody suspects it because it matches how I fiddle with the deck anyway. And the multiple differently-named variants are meaningless to me, since whatever adjustment they add to the formula I would already do simply out of concealing the move in whatever case it is I'm using it. The name is irrelevant. Context is key.
 
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