One Trick Decks

Sep 1, 2007
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Belgrade, Serbia
I was looking at the new Triumph DVD called "Modern Triumph", and one thing caught my eye in the comments section on YouTube. This is what a guy said, I quote: "Anyone foolish enough to carry around a gimmicked deck that can't be examined in any way just for one effect should seriously walk away from magic. Dai Vernon is turning in his grave! " And no, the guy is not a kid/teenager (at least according to his profile picture).

His comment is pretty harsh and I could not disagree more. I'm talking as a working restaurant magician, and a huge lover of Invisible Deck. First of all, believe it or not, NOT ONCE did anyone asked to inspect the deck, ever. It doesn't matter if I use a regular or a gimmicked deck, no one ever asked to examine it. The only exception is when I performed "Cataclysm" by Alakazam, because of the nature of the deck since it has numbers written on the back of every card, and you predict the numbers on a photograph. It's actually a common sense that audience wants to inspect the deck to make sure that all numbers are different, but through experience I found a way to avoid that.

Second of all, at one point in time, more of an experiment, I had 4 (four) different gimmicked decks on me at the same time, plus one regular deck. Talk about pocked management huh. I had Invisible Deck, Cataclysm, Prism Deck and Jurassic Deck. None of those are examinable, except Prism Deck at the very end. And I got great reactions with all of them, and it didn't bother me to carry them all on me at the same time.

So in my opinion, it's not foolish to carry a deck that only does one trick and that cannot be examined, if you know how to manage audience. I think what he was trying to say is that if you can only carry ONE deck, it may not be the best idea to carry a deck that can only do one trick. But I don't know, I don't read minds.....yet.
So what are your thoughts on the subject?
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
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"Anyone foolish enough to carry around a gimmicked deck that can't be examined in any way just for one effect should seriously walk away from magic. Dai Vernon is turning in his grave! "

Those that do not study the history of magic are doomed to be labeled idiots. Click here to learn something about Dai Vernon and one trick decks...
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
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The guy does sound like a bit of an ass but I can see where he is coming from. I too thought that particular effect was a little ridiculous. Why bother to gimmick an effect in which there are scores of very nice sleight of hand methods? Just doesn't make sense to me. Invisible deck....sure. But that is quite a different thing. Even though there are a few sleight of hand methods available for the invisible deck effect those methods tend to be real knuckle busters. Could take you a LONG time to master SOH methods for the Invisible deck whereas buy the gimmicked deck, play with it for a little while, and you are good to go. But Triumph? I learned my first triumph effect with Royal Road within a month of my first foray into magic. And if you love the triumph effect you can continue to use easy triumph methods while you perfect more difficult ones. And whether you are using an easy method, a difficult method, or a gaffed deck they all look the same to a laymen.

So in this case I say...why bother other than lazyness? Also...I Don't want to carry around 4 decks. I got enough pocket management issues with two! It really depends on your walk around effect repertoire. That determines how much pocket space you have for decks. That determines whether you should just practice your sleight of hand a bit more or whether you can afford an entire deck dedicated to one effect.
 

RealityOne

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Nov 1, 2009
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But Triumph?

Speaking of Triumph, Christian Engblom fooled the crap out of me on Tuesday night performing a amazingly clean Triumph using the Cooler and a Cheek to Cheek deck.

My test for a gimmicked deck is similar to yours - does it do something I can't do using sleight of hand.
 
What a fool. Who said that about trick decks? Two of my favorite trick decks are the mental photography deck, and the invisible deck. And say what you will but you will never beat a Svengalli deck when it comes to doing a card stab. Very clean, no sleight involved.
 
Aug 17, 2010
411
4
One should use the best solution for the situation.

I mean, it's possible to drive a nail in with a pipe wrench, but a hammer does a better job.
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
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If the method creates the desired illusion, it does not matter what that method is, or how restricted the method is. The perfect illusion may only work in very specific instances, but if it works, it works. That's it. That's all that matters.

The audience's perception is, literally, the only thing we need concern ourselves with.

This is, of course, my opinion.
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,400
7
35
Belgrade, Serbia
If the method creates the desired illusion, it does not matter what that method is, or how restricted the method is. The perfect illusion may only work in very specific instances, but if it works, it works. That's it. That's all that matters.

The audience's perception is, literally, the only thing we need concern ourselves with.

This is, of course, my opinion.
Exactly, it's not about the method it's about the effect, or at least I think that's true. I always go for the economy of moves to achieve the effect, even if that means that the economy of my pockets is gonna suffer. Let's take Invisible Deck for an example. Why would I spend months trying to perfect a slight of hand method and then still risk to flash or drop a card because the method is so knuckle busting, when I can just carry one extra deck and achieve the cleanest possible method for desired effect.
Btw if you are a working magician, this thing saved my life and my pockets: http://www.mjmmagic.com/store/stealth-belt-by-darryl-vanamburg-trick-p-13632.html

I think that the guy who left that comment was talking in general, not just about Triumph. So what about Christian Engblom then? He was using (I assume) two decks, one normal and one gimmicked, plus one extra gimmick just to achieve one effect.

Plus there are effects that you cannot achieve with a regular deck and slight of hand (Jurassic Deck, Prism, Cataclysm, Trilogy Streamline, Blizzard, etc.). So it's not about being lazy, it's about achieving the best possible effect with cleanest possible method.
 
Dec 12, 2012
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I think one or two gimmick decks is fine, but you should always have a regular deck and know some tricks with that too. Perhaps the quote is referring to someone who only does one trick - with a gimmick deck? If that is the case then I kinda agree. If not then its a bit ridiculous and puritan, gimmick decks can produce some amazing effects that can supplement your routine with a regular deck. Especially if you use a regular deck that looks the same as your gimmick cause then you can do a switch and no one would have to know it was a different set of cards. As long as you pop the cards in your pocket after the trick before they have a chance to ask to look at the cards - then you can always just pull out your regular deck and say 'sure take a look at them' if they do end up asking.
 
Feb 4, 2008
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To be fair Toby, my comment about being lazy would not apply to any of the decks you mentioned. You mention decks that are very unique(Jurassic deck or a blank deck) or they accomplish feats that would take a year to perfect with sleight of hand and even then there would be a decent chance of a flash. My comments do, however, apply to the modern triumph deck. There are some very sleight differences in the modern triumph than there are with the basic triumph. Things that magicians might pick up on (or laypeople who watch a lot of magic) but not strong enough differences to excuse not bothering to get through one simple beginners guide to card magic. Gimmicks are great! And I still agree that the guy in question was a bit of a jerk because his attitude seemed to be extreme but there is a kernel of truth in his statement. That being that you ought to be willing to learn the basics. Do we need a gimmick to do our double lifts for us?

Now think more carefully about the Christian Engblom situation. Is it really 3 decks for one effect? Probably not. First, the cooler is a gimmicked box If I recall right. It is a single gimmick that....well rings in a cooler! So first we are looking at two decks. One of which I bet is a normal deck, the other is a cheek to cheek deck. So with a normal deck he can do a miriad of SOH effects and with the cheek to cheek deck he can do...Cheek to Cheek! Using his gimmick he can combine the two into a wonderful triumph! So in actuality he is using his gimmick to expand the repertoire of his cheek to cheek deck. Josh Jay also used a cheek to cheek deck to create an interesting set of effects. In his you got first a triumph effect and it was followed up with an aniversery waltz effect. Again, taking a gaffed deck and expanding the repertoire possible with it.

I'm all for expanding repertoires....I am just not crazy about making gimmicks just for the sake of using a gimmick.
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,400
7
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Belgrade, Serbia
To be fair Toby, my comment about being lazy would not apply to any of the decks you mentioned. You mention decks that are very unique(Jurassic deck or a blank deck) or they accomplish feats that would take a year to perfect with sleight of hand and even then there would be a decent chance of a flash. My comments do, however, apply to the modern triumph deck. There are some very sleight differences in the modern triumph than there are with the basic triumph. Things that magicians might pick up on (or laypeople who watch a lot of magic) but not strong enough differences to excuse not bothering to get through one simple beginners guide to card magic. Gimmicks are great! And I still agree that the guy in question was a bit of a jerk because his attitude seemed to be extreme but there is a kernel of truth in his statement. That being that you ought to be willing to learn the basics. Do we need a gimmick to do our double lifts for us?
Well yeah, I agree with you on that one, I was talking about the trick decks in general, not just about the Modern Triumph.
And funnily enough, I watched a video recently of a guy that uses a gimmick for his triple lift, and that was the sole purpose of the gimmick.
Now think more carefully about the Christian Engblom situation. Is it really 3 decks for one effect? Probably not. First, the cooler is a gimmicked box If I recall right. It is a single gimmick that....well rings in a cooler! So first we are looking at two decks. One of which I bet is a normal deck, the other is a cheek to cheek deck. So with a normal deck he can do a miriad of SOH effects and with the cheek to cheek deck he can do...Cheek to Cheek! Using his gimmick he can combine the two into a wonderful triumph! So in actuality he is using his gimmick to expand the repertoire of his cheek to cheek deck. Josh Jay also used a cheek to cheek deck to create an interesting set of effects. In his you got first a triumph effect and it was followed up with an aniversery waltz effect. Again, taking a gaffed deck and expanding the repertoire possible with it.

I'm all for expanding repertoires....I am just not crazy about making gimmicks just for the sake of using a gimmick.
I didn't say 3 decks, I said 2 decks and a gimmick (aka. a gimmicked box). I don't know the whole story, maybe RealityOne can tell us if he stopped there or if he then used cheek to cheek to continue his show, but by the sound of it, he just did it for this one trick. And I am with him, not against him, I would do the same, that is the whole point of the thread. It may not work great in walk around (what Christian did), but if you're doing an actual close-up show, then it's perfectly fine.
Btw. am I the only one that thinks that Cooler is very weird looking, suspicious and illogical? One moment the cards are on top of the box and then you lift the box up and now the cards are under the box.... it looks like exactly what it is doing, switching two decks with a trap door on the box. I don't know how it actually work, because I don't have it, but it looks terrible in my opinion. However with misdirection it can be pulled off.

And I agree, if you can only carry one deck, it's best if it's a normal deck with which you can do tons of tricks and can be examined.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
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Well yeah, I agree with you on that one, I was talking about the trick decks in general, not just about the Modern Triumph.
And funnily enough, I watched a video recently of a guy that uses a gimmick for his triple lift, and that was the sole purpose of the gimmick.

I didn't say 3 decks, I said 2 decks and a gimmick (aka. a gimmicked box). I don't know the whole story, maybe RealityOne can tell us if he stopped there or if he then used cheek to cheek to continue his show, but by the sound of it, he just did it for this one trick. And I am with him, not against him, I would do the same, that is the whole point of the thread. It may not work great in walk around (what Christian did), but if you're doing an actual close-up show, then it's perfectly fine.

Btw. am I the only one that thinks that Cooler is very weird looking, suspicious and illogical? One moment the cards are on top of the box and then you lift the box up and now the cards are under the box.... it looks like exactly what it is doing, switching two decks with a trap door on the box. I don't know how it actually work, because I don't have it, but it looks terrible in my opinion. However with misdirection it can be pulled off.

And I agree, if you can only carry one deck, it's best if it's a normal deck with which you can do tons of tricks and can be examined.

Christian had been using a "regular" deck. I recall the deck being spread face up on the table, turned over so the deck was face down and a card selected. The spectator then put the card back into the face down spread. Christian then took the deck and spread half of it face up and half face down. He pushed the cards together in a partial weave. Asked if the deck was shuffled, the audience said yes, he said no. He then pushed the cards together and squared them -- well, he almost squared them - there was a three millimeter offset between the two packets (I was very proud that I noticed that). He then asked if the cards were shuffled, the spectator said no. He then had the spectator push the cards completely together and square them. He asked again if the cards were sufficiently shuffled. He picked up the deck, turned over the top card and then spread it on the table. He then continued with another effect which appeared to use a regular deck. I had no clue until he explained it.

My initial reactions to the Cooler were similar to Toby's -- until it fooled me very badly from less than ten feet away. Christian said that Tom Stone had used it at the Genii Bash and it fooled Christian. Christian knew that a deck switch was needed to do the effect, but had no idea how Tom did it. Watching Christian demonstrate the Cooler was amazing - it was difficult to comprehend what you are seeing and your brain fills in the blanks to comport with how a normal deck and case would operate - and that is after you know what is actually happening. If you understand how to truly use misdirection (i.e. study Tamariz), the Cooler will fly by seasoned magicians.
 
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Aug 8, 2012
11
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Montreal
I believe the issue that person had with "one trick decks" has to do with an elitist mentality when it comes to card magic. Believing that the skill required for slights is vastly Superior to a deck that any layman can use. This is not new.

I can safely dismiss his (or her) opinion and be fully comfortable with my skill level.
 
I personally have many one deck tricks, I've even made a load up! Do i use them? No. Quite simply because a) I'd get the decks mixed up between which one is which, and b) If I'm using a regular deck, I put it away and pull it back out again for another trick, then put it away and pull it back out again, I personally see that as problematic. I want my set to look as smooth as possible. And since I do a lot of card magic, this is a problem for me.

For others, it will work very well, but it just isn't my style. Same with gimmicked cards. If I have to put them in and get them back out again, it's too much hassle.

Simon_Magic
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,400
7
35
Belgrade, Serbia
I personally have many one deck tricks, I've even made a load up! Do i use them? No. Quite simply because a) I'd get the decks mixed up between which one is which, and b) If I'm using a regular deck, I put it away and pull it back out again for another trick, then put it away and pull it back out again, I personally see that as problematic. I want my set to look as smooth as possible. And since I do a lot of card magic, this is a problem for me.

For others, it will work very well, but it just isn't my style. Same with gimmicked cards. If I have to put them in and get them back out again, it's too much hassle.

Simon_Magic
That's why you shouldn't use the trick deck more than once in a performance. You can use it to close the set, or open up a set. Since I usually only do one trick per table, then it's not a problem at all.
But if you are doing a close up show, and all your tricks are card tricks, what you can do is do a trick with a normal deck, then put the deck away and pull out a packet trick in a wallet, then put it away and pull out a trick deck, put it away and do another packet trick, etc...
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
Well yeah, I agree with you on that one, I was talking about the trick decks in general, not just about the Modern Triumph.
And funnily enough, I watched a video recently of a guy that uses a gimmick for his triple lift, and that was the sole purpose of the gimmick.
Yeah I think you and I are not too far off. That is to say neither of us are "extremists." You are able to keep more organized with your close up pocket management and thus you are more comfortable with extra deck than I but the philosophies are not too far off. There are definitely uses for "one trick" gaffed decks, especially the ones that create effects that are impossible, or at least incredibly difficult to perform otherwise. But that is also best balanced with a dedication to the craft of sleight of hand. I, for example, am capable of a S.O.H. invisible deck but at a paid gig I would never risk it. Thus....the I.D. has a place for me.

Triple lifts and triumphs...LOL...I think I can manage on my own thank you very much!
I didn't say 3 decks, I said 2 decks and a gimmick (aka. a gimmicked box).
It appears you did! Sorry I mis-paraphrased you.
Btw. am I the only one that thinks that Cooler is very weird looking, suspicious and illogical?
Yeah I guess it does. Daniel Madison had an interesting gimmick that I almost like a bit more but it too had an odd look to the move. But I think the point is that you need to rely on misdirection for any deck switch and devices like the cooler and Madison's gimmick(forgot the name) allow you to do the deck switch with a minimum of misdirection.
There are guys who can ring in a cooler with the heat on(Richard Turner and Michael Vincent come to mind) but for us mere mortals I think the cooler is as close as we will get.
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
I believe the issue that person had with "one trick decks" has to do with an elitist mentality when it comes to card magic. Believing that the skill required for slights is vastly Superior to a deck that any layman can use. This is not new.

I can safely dismiss his (or her) opinion and be fully comfortable with my skill level.
Well said. And to be fair, I have that a bit too. Thus the reason I was nonplussed about the triumph deck. But being a bit of an elitist and holding yourself to a high standard is quite a bit different than forcing elitism on others. If someone was incapable of performing Triumph without screwing it up then I would personally prefer they use the gimmicked deck. Just as I am sure (borrowing from the example in my previous post) Richard Turner and Michael Vincent would rather a guy of my skill level use a cooler gimmick than trying to cold deck with my current level of proficiency.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
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There are guys who can ring in a cooler with the heat on(Richard Turner and Michael Vincent come to mind) but for us mere mortals I think the cooler is as close as we will get.

Roberto Giobbi has a deck switch book coming out - Stephen Minch is publishing it through Hermetic Press. He had the lecture notes at the Genii Bash and they sold out instantly.

I learned one of the best deck switches from Greg Wilson at a lecture... not sure if he teaches it on any of his DVDs, but the justification is flawless.

On the topic of trick decks, there was some great stuff from Andy Nyman in Genii April 2009 using trick decks.
 
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