S.W.E. Shift?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MagicShadow9, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. Well i've recently been interested Erdnase stuff lately after watching this video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6DmIV2qIIso

    Anyways, i'm much more of a video learner and its been a bit difficult for me to understand the stuff in EATCT. The only video tutorials i've found on erdnase stuff is the erdnase change and S.W.E. Shift.

    So i was just wondering, is it really worth perfecting? Cuz its not a casual way of holding a deck and it seems really awkward. Or is it just one of those things you show off to one of your magician friends?

    Also, if you happen to find any other video tutorials on Erdnase stuff, please tell me (it doesn't matter if i have to buy it). Thanks!
  2. If you're serious about diving into Erdnase but want to learn it through DVD, I can only recommend Allan Ackerman's set of DVD's on Expert at the Card Table which can be found here: http://www.allanackerman.com/erdnase.htm

    Wesley James also has a set of DVD's teaching EATCT but from what I have heard, the teaching is absolutely terrible and Mr James cannot even do most of the moves he tries to teach.

    A lot of stuff from Erdnase is taught in The Dai Vernon Revelations series, which in itself is an amazing set of DVDs.

    Jeff Wessmiller has 2 DVDs out called Weapons of the Card Shark (1 and 2). These DVD's don't teach everything from Erdnase, but teach you a handful of useful material taken from the book. Things like the false deals, stacking, false shuffles etc...

    That's all the DVD's I'm aware of that teach Erdnase. Some other people on this forum may know of others though..

    To answer your first question though, it's really a matter of opinion. In the book Erdnase holds it very highly and says "for certain purposes, the most perfect shift ever devised" I think that's what every magician is looking for; perfection. And after a lifetime of searching for the perfect shift, this is the closest Erdnase got.
  3. Woah, thats pretty expensive. I'm gonna have save up money for a while =(
  4. It is very expensive, but definately worth it :)
  5. Interesting question. Why do magicians practice second/bottom/centre deals if they hardly ever use them in professional situations? I believe Roberto Giobbi offered a rather good answer in the back pages of CC2. Unfortunately I cannot remember what he said but it is a reference that i shall look up.

    I think there are more important things to practice and perfect and unless you've got them all down, i would wait a bit before getting my teeth stuck into the SWE. Shift.

    Just my 2c
  6. Cool but I would say that the book is better and free
  7. #7 Jack Spade, Nov 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
    Post deleted by J.S.
  8. Jack Spade
    You say the SWE Shift is worthless as far as card magic goes? But in Erdnase is clearly says "the shift possesses many advantages for conjuring purposes". Could you explain why you disagree with the book?

    I also feel the Classic Pass to be much easier than the SWE Shift, but that's just preference I guess :)
  9. #10 Jack Spade, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
    Post deleted by J.S.
  10. I can see what you are saying, but it seems to me that you felt Erdnase knew how popular his book was going to be before publication. I very much doubt he thought his book would be anywhere near as popular as it is today.

    Although, he does say that when shifts are used in the world of magic, they are referred to as passes, yet he still calls this the SWE Shift, so I do understand where you are coming from.

    And I would also like to say that I love your idea for use of the shift! I like using it for a number of things as I find the grip he uses practical and very exposed. My most common use for this shift though is a false cut. After the lower packet is moved to the top I just place it on the table and put the remaining half on top.
  11. Jack,

    I agree that Erdnase was an experienced gambler. He says as much in the beginning pages of the book. But you imply that he was only a gambler, and not also a magician. More on that in a second.

    First, he said this about his gambling experience:

    "...we sorrowfully admit that our own early knowledge was acquired at the usual excessive cost to the uninitiated."


    "After the awakening our education progressed through close application and constant study of the game...

    The emphasis on 'application' is mine. But, assuming he was telling the truth (and there is no good evidence to believe he was not) it pretty clearly shows that he gambled to some degree.

    But you also mentioned you felt he held information back. Considering the groundbreaking nature of the work, I can't imagine what you think he might've been holding back, but let's let Erdnase himself speak to the issue.

    Continuing his sentence from above: "...and the sum of our present knowledge is proffered in this volume...."

    Again, unless you don't take him at his word, it seems pretty clear to me that he didn't hold anything back.

    As for the "usefulness" of the shifts from the Legerdemain section at the card table, I think Erdnase knew they weren't suited for actual cheating at all, but worked very well for the magic he was performing at the time. Remember, Erdnase would have been performing in a time when close-up magic as we know it didn't exist.

    If Erdnase performed, he would have done so in a parlor setting, standing several feet away from his closest spectators. Trust me, standing on a 1-foot riser 10 feet away from your audience, and performing under gas lamp lighting, the Legerdemain shifts are perfectly usable. The fact that they aren't particularly well-suited for modern close-up distances (not to mention electric lighting) have nothing to do with their applicability under the conditions of his time.

    You mention that you didn't think a magician would have the motivation to invent new shifts, and imply that only a gambler would have such motivation. You're crazy. It's absolutely staggering how little card cheating techniques have changed in the past 300 or so years.

    Poker surveillance expert Ron Conley has one of the largest private libraries of poker security footage anywhere in the world. In the hey-day of Gardena, CA in the late 80s and early 90s, you know what the top cheats were doing? The classic shift, a couple of tabled hops, second deals, bottom deals, holding out and stacking cards using standard (boring) methods.

    You've actually got it completely backwards. It's been the magicians that have been the innovators, especially in the past 100 or so years. Guys like Vernon and Miller took moves from the gambling world and applied them in ways that gamblers would never have thought to use them.

    This is largely because gamblers have no real need for "new" techniques. After all, they just need an "annual crop of suckers" and the same old techniques that they've been practicing all their lives would work just fine. The same holds true to this day. Cheating with classic (old) technique isn't nearly as difficult as finding big-time gamblers that don't know about those moves themselves.

    In short, the bottom deal is easy. Finding a soft game where a cheat can use it is the hard part.

    As for the magicians, they weren't constrained by the card table procedures and rules that all gamblers have to follow (more or less), and so were, and still are free to invent all kinds of crazy shifts, passes, palms, steals, etc. It seems little has changed since Erdnase's day in that regard either. It's still the magicians that are inventing the "new" moves. The card hustlers, for the most part, are busy mastering the old ones that still work just fine.

    My take (after 20 years of studying the book), is that Erdnase was absolutely a gambler and an occasional cheater, that he probably specialized in holding out and the bottom deal (a suspicion shared by Darwin Ortiz), and that he was also an amateur or semi-professional magician who loved nothing more than to tinker with a deck of cards and find new and interesting ways of shifting them, palming them, controlling them, etc.

    In that sense he's not much different than a modern-day Charlie Miller, Dai Vernon, Ricky Jay, Steve Forte, Richard Turner, Darwin Ortiz, or even a Jason England. He was simply someone with a passionate interest in both worlds, and we do him a disservice by shoe-horning him into one category or the other.

  12. The shifts do have their uses which become appearant after you master them ( which not alot do :p ). To me, getting them down is a labor of love, so to speak. Heck, who would disagree with me saying that the move is just adorable? :D

    Studying priciples and complex ideas can be very intresting, thats the main reason why some people try to perfect different kinds of shifts, of course if you're a performer you should have already established yourself with solid base of sleights and effects ( which is why all the above is not advised to beginners ).

    To original poster: If you're intrested in Erdnase's material but not ready to read the book, do yourself a favor and just skip it.

    The book isnt the easiest to read, and Ackermans & Wes's DVD are purely ment as supplements for the book, not replacements. Also, "visual learners" should be able to learn from books, unless audio-learning is your thing, then there are audio-books for that.

    Surely you weren't going for the popular misconception that visual learning is learning by videos? Ask any methods of teaching expert, he'll let you in the info.

  13. I think it's difficult to learn any one of Erdnase's shifts on it's own. If you study his descriptions for all of his shifts you'll find snippets of information in the description of one that can be applied to the others, as they all share common features, like the balance of pressure between the packets which allows them to whip past each other very quickly, rather than having to push and pull them into place.

    If your conversant with current descriptions of the classic pass, or "two-handed shift", studying Erdnase's take on the move can really give insight into the execution of his other shifts. One key point in this description is his direction to "hold the lower packet firmly against the left thumb". I haven't found this instruction in other sources for the pass, and I've found that this tension pushing against your left thumb means that the move can be made faster and smoother than either allowing your left hand to do all the work, or "having the fingers of the right hand pull up on the lower packet", which he advises against.

    When you compare this use of tension in both packets with his descriptions of his other shifts, I believe it makes the instructions much more accessible. If you then move onto the one and two-hand Erdnase shifts, applying this balance of tension and pressure, you'll find that the movements can be made much more rapidly and noiselessly. Going on then to the shifts in the Legerdermain section, you'll realise that the three moves described (I'm not including the Charlier pass) are pretty much variations of the same thing, but with the deck held in different starting grips. Each shift is the result of the action of one finger's pressure, with the other hand being used as cover and to trigger the movement by slightly unbalancing the tension between the packets just enough to allow them to flick round each other. In this way, all the shifts can be executed "as quick as a flash", with virtually no visible hand movement or noise.

    Basically, my view is, if you want to learn the shifts, you have to study the text. I don't think it's possible to grasp the finer points of them from a video.
  14. #15 Jack Spade, Dec 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
    Post deleted by J.S.
  15. Jack,

    Whoever said he was a pro? In my post I specifically said "If he performed...." I certainly could be persuaded that Erdnase was merely a serious amateur rather than a professional performer that made his living from magic.

    But, don't sell him short too quickly. Yes, the effects at the back of the book were virtually all lifted from other famous books of the era, but in almost every case Erdnase improved the effects significantly. In some, he created interesting presentations for tricks that before had none. For others, he improved the method. In a few cases, he even did both. At the very least this is someone who understood good, professional magic for the time. Whether he learned this from actual performing, from simply watching good performers, or whether he was just a naturally good judge of fine magic is impossible to know for sure.

    As for the shifts being useful at the card table, I can only say that I emphatically disagree. First of all, the shift is used much less often than most magicians think. The reasons for this are several, but the main one is the relative rarity of the single-o cheater. Most cheaters work in teams of 2 or more, and no one shifts the deck (and risks a foul-up) when you can simply have a partner hit a brief, bridge or crimp for you.

    Additionally, as written the SWE shift would flash the bottom card to every one sitting to the dealer's immediate left. This simply won't fly in a serious game, though I admit that in soft games the sky's the limit. In your description of the Longitudinal shift you would also flash the bottom card to the 1 seat. Don't be surprised if the guy in the 6 seat gets a little upset when he's not given the same advantage and mentions it to the whole table.

    Finally, you're forgetting the cut card. In most of the serious games, a cut card is used to cut the card onto before dealing. In modern casinos this is usually a piece of red or green plastic, but a joker or advertising card can be used in private games. Think this is a relatively new development? It's mentioned in John Blackbridge's The Complete Poker Player which was first published in 1880. The section on cheating (and how to avoid it) can be found in chapter 3.

    Just a quick note: It's my opinion that turn of the century poker players were much more sophisticated that we tend to give them credit for being. Although not exactly definitive proof, the following items constitute strong evidence in my opinion:

    The Complete Poker Player also mentions disallowing the dealer to replace the cards "as they were," in other words, executing an apparently innocent looking "accidental" table hop. It also discusses having a confederate as a "takeoff man" to win the money.

    In an 1864, UK edition of Hoyle's Modernized Games The notion of hitting a "breef" (English spelling) card is mentioned as well as corner crimps and bridging for hitting a cut. There is also a great mention of court cards being finally made symmetrical to prevent your opponents from being tipped off as you turned them around in your hand.

    John Phillip Quinn's Fools of Fortune (1891) covers some of the same territory, but was written in Chicago (as opposed to the UK). He mentions shifting the cut, wide cards and bridging as ways of beating the cut, along with many other pretty sophisticated methods of cheating, to include a "roof." This was a partial cooler that was capped onto the regular deck during the cut. In a short-handed game I imagine this was pretty deceptive and devastating. Quinn also mentions the idea of shifting the cut after the deal to deliver 3 of a kind to the dealer's partner sitting to his left. (Hmmm, shifting the cards after the cut. Can you say "changing the moment?")

    The 15th edition of The American Hoyle (1892) mentions disallowing a shuffle to take the place of a cut.

    Koschitz's Manual of Useful Information (1894) mentions location work for the draw (holding good cards deep in the deck and keeping track of the number of cards used up so far to get to them -- probably done with a partner in the seat to your right and known as an "anchor play"). Other great items are the spread (and a way to prevent it on p. 40), the double-discard, cross-firing, running up and double-duking, and tell reading are all mentioned (though not described very well).

    The Poker Manual (1901) disallows the dealer to simply pick up the bottom portion of the deck and deal from there; he must complete the cut before dealing. It also establishes that the cards should be cut towards the dealer by the person sitting to his right.

    What do all of the above sources mean? Well, I think it makes a good case that those turn of the century players were smarter than we usually think, and that you weren't likely to fool the more experienced card players of the day (even the non-cheats) with raw technique, unless you were very, very good. There's no doubt that Erdnase was probably good enough in many cases, but I think the structural problems of almost any shift (to say nothing of the ones he put in the Legerdemain section) makes it a tough move to use at the card tables of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    He even said so himself on p. 95: "There are many methods of performing the manoeuver that reverses the action of the cut, but in this part of our work we will describe but three which we consider at all practicable at the card table. This artifice is erroneously supposed to be indispensable to the professional player, but the truth is it is little used, and adopted only as a last resort."

    Does it get any clearer than that?


    PS: A quick note, with the exception of the UK edition of Hoyle, I tried to use sources that were published in the time that I thought Erdnase might actually have been playing, or just a few years prior. But almost all of the moves listed above are actually in print much earlier, which just goes to show that most of the good cheating moves were well-known to serious card players. Stocks, double-duking, strippers, briefs, seconds and bottoms, crimping, cold decks, holding out, false shuffles and cuts, shifting the cut (he mentions that there are a "dozen different ways"), marked cards, the double discard, shifting the cut after dealing, the Bug, and the aforementioned idea of an "anchor play" for locating good cards on the draw are all mentioned in How Gamblers Win: or the Secrets of Advantage Playing which was first published in 1865.
  16. #17 Jack Spade, Dec 3, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
    Post deleted by J.S.
  17. Mr. England;
    Your knowledge is unbelievable.

    Jack Spade;
    You seem to be a smart guy, good luck in the future.
  18. #19 Jack Spade, Dec 3, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
    Post deleted by J.S.
  19. My expertise, such as it is, lies in the realm of card technique and gambling history/technique. I'm not comfortable advising on you on any sort of addiction or psychosis you may or may not have regarding magic tricks.


    PS: Try and remember to add some spaces to your longer posts in this, or any other forum. It makes them easier to read.

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