How far can sleight of hand magic go?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 7ri_Kings, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Sorry, I don't know how to word the question. Just curious, if all you have is a deck of cards (plus any everyday items like Sharpie and paper), is there a point where classic sleight of hand magic just cannot compete with card magic done with expensive props or gimmicks?
  2. In general I'd say sleight of hand can more than keep up, but it can require countless hours of practice. Most effects with gimmicks can be done with sleight of hand.
    7ri_Kings likes this.
  3. well, sleight of hand effects will always beat gimmick magic. Why? Because if I did something that required a gimmick anyone else who had that gimmick could copy me (maybe not in style, but in laymen's eyes, they do) exactly and achieve the exact same effect I would had if I never did magic but just picked up a gimmick. All in all, the are not impactful and uniue to yourself.
    But sleight of hand requires a LOT of practice. A simple false transfer can keep you busy for years. That's why when you do effects with them, they look more special than gimmicked ones and an arrogant magician who has absoutely no practice won't b able to put you down, should a situation like that arise.

    Therefore do focus on sleights a bit more.
    There's a reason that even after so many revelations of trick on YT, magic still exists. That's because if an amazing effect is uploaded, it will have some serious sleight work. Therefore it will require practice and non-focussed magician won't wanna try that. So they will be resigned to some simple plotless colour change while you can perform miracles if you do practice the sleights.
    srsly, sleights can up your quality AND put you ahead of the heckler-magicians...and believe me, you want that.
  4. In my eyes, if a card trick is not completely impromptu but is a close-up card routine, it is almost always a failure. The only exceptions I see are using a stacked deck specific to your own tricks. Even then, you need to know how to perform a great false shuffle.

    For example, I'm a huge fan of Lennart Green's work as a close-up card magician. He often performs tricks where a card is named or called out from the audience, and he quickly locates it and palms it to perform an appearing card trick. This can only be done with a stacked deck (unless you look at the cards beforehand), so I see an appropriate use of a stacked deck in that situation. However, unless you have a very specific trick, card tricks must be impromptu when performing close-up. Therefore, I really think gimmick-heavy tricks should only be left to stage performances because, in a close-up situation, you should leave your deck examinable.

    It's also worth noting that I'm a fourteen-year-old who's only been practicing card magic for 4 months and that I've only performed for friends and family members. Take my advice with a grain of salt. ;) Hope that helped, have a nice day!
  5. You don't need expensive props and gimmicks to do strong card magic. Let me explain.

    Card magic can be done through the combination of sleight of hand, principles and gimmicks. An effect can use one, two or three of those methods. Sleight of hand includes all the moves like forces, controls, counts, color changes, etc. Principles include non-sleight of hand methods like the key card principle, the Gilbreath Principle, Miraskill, the Jonah Card principle, card counting principles, etc. Gimmicks include gaff cards, short cards, double backed cards, double faced cards, rough and smooth cards and things as simple as double-sided tape or restickable adhesive. You can have gimmicked cards or gimmicked decks like a Svengali, Stripper, Mirage, Mene Tekel, etc. None of those gimmick are that expensive.

    The real question is what combination of sleight of hand, principles and gimmicks provides the best method to achieve the desired effect based on your performing ability and circumstances.

    I disagree. When you use a gimmick, the audience shouldn't know that you are using one (unless of course that is the point of the trick like a gaff card with the "Tree of Diamonds" or two "3 1/2 of Clubs" cards where the spectator picked a 7 of Clubs). I can do things using a short card which will leave most magicians completely fooled. There is a great effect from Andy Nyman in Genii a couple of years back using a Mirage Deck. A double-backer has a hundred different uses. It just requires a bit of knowledge to use gimmicks in a way that disguises their existence. Christian Englbloom completely fooled me (and a room full of magicians) using a Cheek to Cheek deck from four feet away.

    There are things that can't be done with just sleight of hand and things that can't be done with just gimmicks. Focus on what effect you want to accomplish and then use the appropriate method.

    Although there are times were doing an effect FASDU (From A Shuffled Deck in Use) is miraculous, there is no reason in a close up performance you can't use a gimmick. One of my favorite effects is Wildcard which uses gaff cards and is designed to be performed close-up. I actually give the spectator a deck and have them force a card on themselves using a double backer. Take a look at the Ellusionist gaff deck teaching videos - all of those effects are close-up. One of my favorites is Justin Miller's Stranger Card on Army of 52. I've performed close-up using Mirage, Svengali, Stripper and Invisible decks. Did you know a spectator can shuffle a Svengali deck? One effect that I do is Jim Steinmeyer's Khardova Deck which uses a gaffed deck with a gaffed card given to the spectator to do all of the handling.

    My sense is that the word "impromptu" is used to market magic to beginners. I think that having effects planned out and set up ahead of time usually leads to a better performance. As long as your audience doesn't know you have a set-up or use a gimmick, it will seem impromptu to them. Proper preparation prevents poor performances.

    As far as having the deck examinable, a performer should demonstrate that the deck they are using is "normal" through the design of the effect. The performer should be in control of the performance. Letting spectators examine props just continues the impression that magic is about being fooled or figuring it out.
  6. @RealityOne Naturally nailed most of the points I would have, but I would add that, any trick, sleight of hand or gaff is really what you make it. I know when people come up to me and want to see "Impromptu magic" aka show me a trick, I will do a quarter vanish or if I have a deck on me, a simple 2 part ambitious card trick. When I started I did Svengali and all three of those things got the same reactions for the most part. What brings magic to the next level isn't the moves themselves, but how you present the moves and how the trick is performed, be it for one person or a group.
  7. Thanks for all your insightful replies. I'm new to magic, and reading all that made me love card magic even more.
  8. I think it is worthy of mention that some of the most amazing and baffling card tricks I know require neither sleight of hand nor gimmicks.
    RealityOne likes this.
  9. You must be a Bannon guy :)
  10. Some examples which may require some set up but almost no sleight of hand:

    Giobbi's Intuition (version of Paul Curry's OOTW)
    Tamariz's Paradise Found
    Aragon's Jonah Poker Deal
    Fulves's Gemini Twins
    Brannon's Play it Straight
    Carlyle's Upside Down Deck
    Scarne' Drunken Poker Deal
    Brannon's View to a Skill (version of Stewart James Miraskill)
    Henry Christ's Dead Mans Hand
    Poker Players Picnic / Swimmers
    The Piano Card Trick (first published as "The Odd Card" in 1873)
  11. Well, actually, Bannon is an Al e cat Dabra guy. LOL.

    Actually, I do perform Bannon's Play It Straight Triumph, which is a beautiful effect, although it does require a set up. RealityOne has a list of excellent tricks in his post above.
    RealityOne likes this.
  12. O well the ''gimmick magic'' I meant was the one which relies solely, like SOLELY on the gimmick. For the short card, you need to handle the cards well.
    But some kids go, buy a magic kit, and perform the EXACT way the attached booklet tells them to. In that case, the trick involves only the gimmick, no sleight of hand, no experience, and essentially, no sense of magic.
    Anyways...a gimmick can be cleaned after, but it can never be as clean as pure sleight of hand, where you have nothing to hide, nothing to get rid of, nothing to sleeve or pocket or lap or drop. That is seriously gold. Tbh, an effect which implies pure sleight of hand (you can just sense it you know...even a layman can) makes me feel like a Spanish Masterchef or something and say "Mwah! Delectable!"... :) :) it is THAT beautiful.

    Obviously, that sort of perfection is very hard to develop. But most good tricks need sleights and gimmicks, both.
    I was just implying the ONLY gimmick tricks (as I elaborated on above) is not as great as sleight of hand stuff, not ALL gimmick tricks in the world.
  13. I think that magic should not imply any method. My favorite effects make it appear that I've done nothing. It is hard to give up the "wow, you are really good" reaction from magician focused magic. However, it is worth it when you get the "wow, that.. was... impossible but... there is no way... I mean you didn't... but it did..." reaction.

    Magic should be viewed from the spectators perspective. The spectator doesn't now if you are using a gimmick, gaff, sleight of hand or other method. The spectator shouldn't know if you are dirty or clean.

    Don't elevate method above effect. I am willing to use whatever means necessary to create astonishment. I will do everything possible to make the spectator believe that they saw something impossible without seeing me doing anything
  14. I think this is the best quote I know from a book so far and answers the question briefly....."It is impossible to devote too much time to the acquirement and practice of these moves, there being practiclaly no limit to the degree of dexterity that can be reached by practice and only by practice." - New Era Card Tricks A. Roterberg.
    DominusDolorum and RealityOne like this.
  15. That's not "gimmick" magic, that's "bad" magic.
    ZackF and Lord Magic like this.
  16. Is it possible to break the Like button on this site?
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  17. I agree with a lot of the people in here, but I'm gonna show my bias a tad. Sleight trumps gimmicks. Every time. Card handling, in my mind, will always surpass gimmicks on the simple merit that there is a degree of grace to it not found in gimmicks. There is something truly beautiful about picking up a borrowed deck, shuffling it, and then proceeding to perform miracles for your spectators. I'm not downplaying gimmicks, but as someone who relied on them forever, and then whittled them down, I have learned that whatever can be produced by gimmick, can also be done with sleight, indistinguishable by laymen. Expanding on this, I follow the school of thought that magic entertains magician and spectator alike, for different reasons.
    As a spectator, the effect is king. Watching cards change, vanish, warp and teleport is the mystery cherished.
    As a magician, we are enthralled by method. It's about how clean, how smooth, how ingenious.
    A perfect example of this is the ambitious card routine, which illustrates this perfectly.
    To a spectator, the card rises from the middle to the top every time, each time a little more dull. You look at it again and again, and it sort of cheapens each time. No less magical, but you've seen it already.
    For the magician though, each rise has a different method, so it keeps entertaining the magician. A magician could watch an ambitious routine forever, provided there were different methods, whereas a spectator would get bored after a few minutes. To entertain both, both method and effect must change.
  18. It's ironic that you're saying the audience's perception is the most important thing, but also that sleights are better than gimmicks.

    Can you see how that is a contradiction?

    The smart performer uses the best method for the situation, period. That method may be sleight of hand, it may be gimmicks. It may change from one performance to another. The performer who excludes a large section of methods due to some perception of "purity" is deluding themselves and thinking like a magician.

    The audience doesn't know or care if you're using a DPS or an Extractor. The end result should look the same to them.

    It's like how in mentalism, there's a train of thought that says propless work is better - but it's not better, it's just another option.
    Hakaari likes this.
  19. Wait, me? How is it a contradiction? Magicians appreciate different things than the spectator.
  20. You're saying that the way to measure the value of a method is how the audience perceives it.

    Then you are also saying that sleights are better than gimmicks.

    But the audience shouldn't ever know whether you're using sleights or gimmicks - from their perspective, both should look pretty much the same. Therefore, one cannot be better than the other, by the criteria you have proposed.

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