Is The Expert at The Card Table really all that?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Maaz Hasan, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. One of the biggest thing in Magic at the moment is Erdnase x Madison. For those of you that don't know, Daniel Madison has set out on a quest to prove he is better than Erdnase. Some people got offended on the internet and the whole thing spread like wildfire.

    Personally, I think Madison is already better than Erdanse. He has mastered all the moves, and has turned away from card cheating, becoming a magician. He goes in depth on how to use his moves, and explains them clearly

    Furthur more (and I know I am about to get a lot of hate for this), I think The Expert at The Card Table isn't even that good of a book (unless you are specifically looking to become introduced to gambling moves). I mean don't get me wrong, it is full of useful stuff, but is it "the Bible of Card Magic" that it is chocked up to be? I personally think it is just overrated.

    I picked up the book all excited about it, but realized its pretty much a quick cash book (as it says in the forward). Erdnase himself was a card swindler, as well as a major felonist and possibly a murderer. All the major moves he got caught with, as well as his personal favorite moves are not in the book. Most of the moves in the book are poorly explained, and/or useless, as Martin Gardner explains in his forward. Very few things are actually useful and explained fully. And a lot of the stuff is just repetitive. I mean, how different ways are you really going to need to learn on how to maintain the bottom stock? Sure, a lot of the false cuts and a lot of the moves are useful, but he never truly elaborates on how to use them, and he teaches a good portion of them incorrectly.

    Finally, I don't find a lot of the stuff usable in my routine. Maybe its because I don't do a lot of gambling-style magic or cheat at all, but a lot of the content is useless. For example in a performance, I (myself, not giving the deck to the spectator) would only really mix up the deck once or twice, if I even do that over a different control. If I mixed up a deck 16 times (exaggerating here), wouldn't you get suspicious, or bored? (

    So The Expert at The Card Table is obviously a decent book, but is it a great "Bible of Card Magic"? I mean, can you even compare to to Card College, or the Royal Road, or any major book out there?

    So obviously this is my personal view point on the book, though a lot of what I said can actually be proven, or has been proven by other magicians. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
  2. I can't say it any better than this.....

    OEastman likes this.
  3. I was wondering when this would come In terms of the book itself, I believe you get what you put into it. As an example, everyone talks up Royal Road to Card Magic. I've read it twice, but to me it's not great. The reason is I've never put in the work the book requires to make it worthwhile.
    I'm sure it is a great book. I just don't give it the time it truly deserves. Now, not to say you didn't work at Expert at the Card Table. I have no idea. Just my opinion, the 'classics' as it were, need that work.
    Maybe one day I'll quit being so lazy and spend time with these books.
    The only "bible" in card magic is the one you give and get the most out of. I hope this makes sense. I talk better than I write.
  4. I think Madison and Erdnase have a lot in common. Neither are that great but lots of people think otherwise.

    Also, despite my love for Martin Gardner's work in puzzles, math and magic, it is likely that his guess as to the identity of Erdnase is incorrect.
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  5. I'm fairly certain there was an actual "quest" to seek out Erdnase, where they did find evidence that Erdnase was Andrews.
  6. But besides the point of E x M, I'm talking more so of the book.
  7. I see what your saying. I personally have found The Royal Road to be a great book, probably my favorite (granted, I've only had a few so far).
    Taking the example of Royal Road, nothing major in that book (or any of Hugard and Braue's stuff) really shows false methods, or repitition of the same thing over and over. Rather, it goes in depth into the moves, and gives you the proper way to learn them, unlike Erdnase.
    RealityOne likes this.
  8. Erdnase really is all that... If you have the time to sit down read, and practice. The Expert at the Card Table has been used by many of the top card men as a sort of blueprint to attain the highest levels of card mastery. There is a reason why it has been in circulation for over 100 years. I don't know everything , but I do know when I see a recurring pattern. Why would so many publishing companies put out The Expert at the Card Table , is it for their health?? That being said , I think everyone here made a good point about why Erdnase is or isn't all that. I am personally with the former, but still have a lot of learning ahead of me, I have 5 different copies laying around in my room.

    1 Bible Edition
    1 Martino Publishing Company
    1 The Annotated Erdnase by Ortiz
    1 Revelation by Dai Vernon
    1 The Experts at the Card Table David Ben E.S. Andrews

    And let's not forget my signed copy , but that is not for reading so I excluded that one. :)
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  9. Signed by Erdnase? Very cool!

    An interesting series of events. Expert at the Card Table was published in 1901. In 1940 Expert Card Technique was published by Jean Hugard and Fred Braue with the title intentionally being similar to EatCT as an attempt to be the most comprehensive book on card magic. Eight years later, Jean Hugard and Fred Braue published Royal Road to Card Magic which was directed at people just starting out in card magic.
    Gabriel Z. likes this.
  10. Yeah right. I wish. Signed by Jason England and Steve Forte..... Those guys embody The Expert at the Card Table so it's just as cool.
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  11. Because magicians will buy it. Doesn't actually mean it's a great book.

    Personally I did study EATCT for some time. I think it is a valuable book that has the seeds of most modern card techniques in it. I think that is a valuable thing to learn. It does require study, though, and the language is not always easy to read. It could probably be skipped without much worry, but it's also valuable to study.
    Mr_ARPY and Maaz Hasan like this.
  12. I agree with you that Madison is probably better than Erdnase. It's for that exact reason that I was let down by Erdnase x Madison. Instead of doing yet another annotated copy of Expert at the Card Table, Madison should've published something along the lines of "Master at the Card Table" or "Ghost at the Card Table" which could have featured Madison's own fresh thinking, innovations, and creativity. Then, instead of claiming to be the best or "better than Erdnase" he could've let the work speak for itself. Hopefully that's the next project.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  13. Anyone else see this email?


    What started as a campaign with an outspoken member of our community has turned ugly.

    As a first in Ellusionist history, one of our team has received death threats.

    More than one.

    For those that don't know about last week's social uproar regarding Daniel Madison's release 'Erdnase x Madison', the tongue-in-cheek claim of "I'm better than Erdnase, and I can prove it..." created both a positive and negative response.

    If there are any who are unaware of what we’re talking about, this is the project.

    Madison embraced the good with the bad in these responses.

    100% of the negativity came from non-buyers; people who didn't own the project.

    In a community this large, not everybody will appreciate the same things, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the project has value.

    Well respected names in the industry started to have their say and some purchased the work to see if they were right or wrong.

    As planned from the beginning, we knew that line (I’m better than Erdnase) would be controversial to some but decided to continue the campaign releasing our various videos and upcoming t-shirt images.

    "Choose a side" was our lighthearted way of addressing those in favor, and those against Madison.

    This kind of fun has been missing from the magic industry and if anything, Ellusionist is all about fun. We ALL came together, even though our opinions differed.

    Magic is, after all, a brotherhood.

    Despite all the controversy, the project shot to the top of our best-sellers list for this year and has received rave reviews (It's only been released for 6 days or so)


    With over 8 hours of content and a year put into the concept, we were and are genuinely proud of what it's become.

    The first part of this letter was written to get you up to speed on the issues at hand. But that context informs a very real danger that a member of our community is living right now.


    A friend joked that there was a price on his head, and Madison's formal apology video had ruffled some feathers. Coming clean on how it was all planned with boastful and comedic timing that quoted UFC Champion Conor McGregor.

    3 of these texts were shaken off as keyboard warrior intimidation, but some more threatening texts and intimidating calls started to come through and it all became a bit too real.

    Madison is a tough man to intimidate, but Ellusionist as a whole is responsible for his safety, so we’ve chosen to take action on these issues.

    Here are two examples out of seven we've asked Madison to screenshot for you... We apologise for the strong language.


    The unrecognized numbers and screenshots of threats have been given to Police, along with the information leading up to this. We've been asked to block out numbers incase members of our community contact these aggressors and interfere with Police investigations.

    Those responsible, in our view, must have prior knowledge of Madison’s details, and we’d rather it didn’t escalate to real danger at his family home.


    As of today, Ellusionist has removed all content from Social Media that could incite such behaviour until this threat has been investigated.
    We’ve been asked by local law-enforcement to cease campaign activity in the event that it provokes an attack.

    Plans were made for YouTube LIVE game-shows, more videos and contests, but we’ve pulled all of these.

    We loved our campaign, but we don’t want to risk Daniel’s safety over a few sales.

    On creative calls last week, we joked about #MadisonGate.

    Nobody is joking now.

    We didn't believe a magic industry release would turn potentially dangerous, with one of our staff coming under threat of attack. It’s not just a social media post on a fan page, this is correspondence and harassment to Madison’s personal phone. Something we’ve never given out as a company.

    We implore anyone who knows any information at all to contact us at, your details will be shared with local Police within the UK to find those responsible.

    Please join us in appreciating the creative works of all artists within the industry, regardless of their affiliation or views.

    Many thanks,

    - The Ellusionist Team

    (Brad, Adam, Geraint, Daniel, Lloyd, Pete, Will, Oban, Jen, CT, Chris & Dave)

    This isn't right. I wasn't a fan of how they did the campaign personally, as did many, but death threats are completely uncalled for. I expected more from the magic community.
  14. See, as much as it is a beginning point, just like all of the other greats you mentioned, the book itself states that it was made for quick money, and with not a lot of effort, unlike the works of the Greats. In fact, the artist who drew the pictures has stated that he made the drawings in sitting, in a hotel room.

    Also, I think my initial statement was taken the wrong way. I have a lot of respect and have found great stuff from the book, just not as much as I could from other books. Furthermore, the moves taught in the book aren't in depth (as I have stated above), which is troubling, since you would pick this book up as a beginner ready to get serious about magic. I can understand your points on the subject, but I can not agree with them (though I do accept your opinions).

    One further thing: Some people brought up the point of it being a great tool because it sells. First off, it didn't sell extremely well until it was popularized by a few magicians, and only got massive very late after its publication. Second off, a lot of beginners buy the book, to learn, because of all the hype (for lack of a better term) around the book. That doesn't mean it was good. I mean, when I first opened it and read the last words of the preface, I was kind of disappointed, knowing that not much effort was spent writing it. However, I still read it to learn stuff. Finally, just because something sold well doesn't make it amazing. Check out the Bestsellers list over the years and there are a ton of horrible books on there. Other examples: The Wii U did not live up to standards, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad, Mario Ballotelli, and a ton of other things that were hyped, sold brilliantly, and turned out to be pretty bad.
  15. Honestly, I still don't understand why people are freaking out over E x M. If you watch Madison's actual reasons as to why he is doing this, he shows that he has a lot of respect for Erdnase. And death threats? For saying that you are better than a book?

    Also, why didn't I get that email? I've gotten the others...
  16. People like to find things to complain about. Especially when it's about something as beloved as their "bible". This really got out of hand though.
  17. #18 JPS, Mar 9, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2017
    The amount of respect magicians have for a dead man is absurd.
    I don't believe magic is some sacred art that we take to the grave, we do card tricks, it's all for fun. I read Expert at the card table cover to cover and I think more than anything it's a better piece of history than it is a how-to. Erdnase was the fundamentals of magic, and is the stepping stones of all modern effects. Is it a good book? Sure, it was the first. But we've moved past it. Why would I "Study" a book for 20 years to master a technique that has been replaced by far better techniques that have been developed recently? Magic has blown up and there are A LOT of options in terms of controls and tricks and teachers. Expert at the card table: Fundamental techniques we still use, but not nearly enough if you want to get ahead

    The debate itself is painfully useless. It's like people fighting over whether John Mayer or John Lennon is a better musician. It doesn't even matter if there is an answer. It's two groups of fanboys who think that if they "Defend there heros!" people will think they have some sort of validity in the community.

    Anyone who jumps out to say: "How DARE you Daniel Madison! I've read erdnase cover to cover so i KNOW how much value is in it" is really just saying, "Hey, i read (im sorry, i 'studied') this old book which probably wouldnt be relevant anymore if us 'hardcore' magicians didnt respect the 'art' so much."

    Its as cringey as the people who idolise the pass
  18. #19 Maaz Hasan, Mar 10, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2017
    Even though what you said is true, you can't argue that Madison is not almost as skilled as the Greats you've just named, at least on a gambling magic level. He probably has the cleanest handling on some of the moves I've seen.

    The thing about Madison being caught and stuff also adds to the discussion. Erdnase was caught many times (most of his "suspected" aliases have). Furthermore, Madison turned is life around after that moment. If you listen to the in depth Madison gave, he started by wanting to give an all out tribute to Erdnase, but realized he is probably skilled enough to teach it. I never thought of the fact that there are others more qualified to teach Erdnase (Jason England for example), but I feel like Madison is still qualified enough.

    Also, I think E stated that the "I'm better than Erdnase," was just a marketing scheme, because you know how E likes to have fun with Madison.
  19. Oh, I think no one explained it better than this guy. Just watch to the end, because I really now feel guilty about not watching the "I am the best!" video.
    DominusDolorum and Gabriel Z. like this.

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