Every now and again, audiences ask about the classic game of Three Card Monte. I always start by telling them the same thing: it’s called a game, but is really a con.
This game is illegal but is sometimes played on the streets (it has been spotted in London, New York, Las Vegas and many European cities); the dealer mixes up three cards (normally a Queen and two indifferent cards) and the player bets on where he thinks the Queen is. While it looks incredibly fair, the player is always cheated into losing when the stakes are high.
I was lucky enough to see a version of this game played on the streets for real. It sounds weird to say, but it’s so rare to get up close to a real Monte gang so it was one of the highlights of my life in magic (I also proposed to my girlfriend that day, so it was a great day all round!). The gang consisted of four or five people and the game was played with bottle caps, which I hadn’t seen before.
A few years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Boston and was taught how to deal Three Card Monte by a professional “tosser” (that’s the technical term) who used to be part of a genuine underground Monte gang. It’s very, very rare to be let into their secrets so I consider myself to be very fortunate.
To deal the game takes a lot of practice as it is technically very difficult sleight of hand, but what people don’t expect is that it also requires a lot of psychology to second guess where the player will place his bet. While I now only perform it once or twice a month, I sometimes play this game in my show when I have audience members who I know will enjoy it (normally groups of lads or card players). It’s a lot of fun and is surprisingly magical as by the end of it, players are one-hundred percent convinced that they know where the Queen is … but they’re always wrong!
It occurred to me recently that having a Monte dealer would be a great addition to parties for card players etc, so see my sleight of hand magician page if you’d like to invite me along to challenge your friends to a game!
A lot of brides and grooms that I talk to often tell me that they hired me to perform at their wedding as they wanted different wedding entertainment to the norm. They didn’t just want a disco; instead they wanted something that stood out from the crowd and something that everyone would remember.
With that in mind, I put together a wedding entertainment page to describe why adding a magician to your wedding is such a great idea. I’m biased, of course, but truly believe that a close-up magician is the best wedding entertainment possible!
Here’s a nice snippet from an email that I received after entertaining at a birthday party in the Hereford area a couple of weeks ago. I performed close-up magic for a group of friends who were on holiday in the area, celebrating a birthday.
“Thank you very much for entertaining us on Saturday evening. You were so clever!! My friends and I were very impressed indeed and are still talking about you and your magic.” —Sally Naish
You can review more comments about my performances here and view more about me performing as a Hereford magician!
It felt like Groundhog Day driving down the same round for the fourth time this week yesterday. This time was more fun though as I spent the day in Reading with another professional magician discussing card magic.
In order to withstand the minor loneliness of spending all day answering phone calls and emails, followed by dozens of hours a week in the car, I try to meet up with likeminded magicians as much as possible. This magician in particular performs a similar style of close-up magic to me so it’s always great to meet up and discuss our latest ideas, experiments and new tricks. To me, that’s far more interesting than learning magic from a book or DVD.
Reading is a great place and I enjoyed spending the day there. Due to some shows near London later this week, I’ll be making that trip down the M4 a few more times!
Something that you may not realise is that hiring wedding magicians is very much a British thing. Whereas a large number of couples hire a magician for weddings in the UK, the rest of the world haven’t caught on yet.
I have magician friends in many countries across the world and they tell me that it is extremely rare to hire a magician for your wedding in their countries. I did a little research on this and found that people in Canada, Australia and Japan sometimes hire wedding magicians but nothing compared to what we have in the UK.
In fact, after a little number crunching I found that more people in the UK search Google for “wedding magician” than the rest of the world put together … by a long way! In fact, roughly 88% of all people that look for a wedding magician online are from the UK.
So if you’re organising a typically British wedding and are looking for wedding entertainment ideas, why not try a wedding magician like me!
For the third time in the last few weeks, I returned to Manchester to perform close-up magic. Along with three other great close-up magicians (actually some of my favourite three magicians to work with!), I performed at the British Cardiovascular Society’s awards ceremony at the Manchester Town Hall.
The party was part of the British Cardiovascular Society’s annual conference and was attended by doctors, sales reps and more. At the start of the party, the magicians performed during the cocktail reception. This is always a nice way to introduce yourself as a magician and perform for lots of small groups for a few minutes each.
We then moved on to perform at the banquet where we performed close-up magic for each table, between courses. Everyone had a great time and I received some extremely positive reactions.
I love working alongside other magicians so if you ever need to hire more than one close-up magician for an event, let me know and I can arrange it very easily; not just magicians in Manchester but anywhere in the country!
I spent the last two days in a studio in Newbury filming my first DVD for close-up magicians. If you’re not a magician, that may sound like a very strange thing so let me explain! If you are a magician, you can jump to the photographs below!
A very small number of close-up magicians (like me) create their own magic and therefore many magicians from all over the world learn that magic from DVDs. I have previously published about ten books on close-up magic but this is the first time I’ve ever stepped into the studio to record my magic on video.
The DVD focuses on a very specific sleight of hand technique. If you’ve ever seen me perform card magic, I would have definitely been secretly using this technique. It has taken me twelve years to develop it but now that I’m completely happy with it, I’m happy to teach it to other magicians.
Here are a few photographs that we snapped during the shoot:
Tonight I was treated to the rare pleasure of performing just a few miles from my house. I performed magic for a joint sixtieth party at the Ross-on-Wye Chase Hotel in Herefordshire (not to be confused with the Cheltenham Chase Hotel, just a few miles down the road!).
This was exactly the type of show I love and the reason I enjoy being a close-up magician so much. The party consisted of two tables of fifteen party-goers who were all there for a great night out and to enjoy being entertained by a magician. I was asked to perform for each table for about twenty minutes, which is a luxury that I don’t normally get as with bigger events where I need to move on to cover a lot of people in a short amount of time.
With thing kind of party, I get the opportunity to find out about everyone at the table and customise my tricks and jokes to them. I always finish these kind of shows with my favourite (but most difficult) piece of sleight of hand magic: having all fifteen people at the table pick a card, shuffling the deck and then rapidly finding all fifteen cards in just two minutes! Last night I received some of my best reactions for the trick with loud laughs, gasps and several long rounds of applause; much to the confusion of everyone else in the restaurant!
This week I’m at a family party in Gloucester, then in a studio in Newbury filming a two-volume DVD set for magicians (focusing on my sleight of hand magic) and then performing in Manchester and Reading toward the end of the week. It’s going to be an incredibly busy week!
Venue: sorted. Photographer: sorted. Disco: sorted. What about the magician?!
If you’ve left booking a close-up magician to the last minute, don’t fear; I’m here to help. My schedule tends to fill up pretty early for key dates so it’s not always possible for me to perform at your event when you book last minute. However, I have always been able to find a magician last minute for you by contacting my professional magician colleagues on your behalf. I am in constant contact with the best close-up magicians in the UK, so it’s always easy for me to find a magician for you.
So if you’re looking for a last minute wedding magician, or a close-up magician for a corporate event that your boss gave you two days to organise; I can always help. Give me a call and if I’m not available, I’ll help find you a last minute magician!
Lots of people ask me about The Magic Circle and want to know what really goes on behind those big wooden doors. Here are a few of the questions I often get asked:
1. Can anyone join?
No. You have to be an established magician and have to pass an interview and audition stage to be granted membership.
2. Where do you meet?
The club meets at their headquarters in Euston, London. I only get time to go once every three or four months so am certainly not a regular.
3. What happens when the club meet?
To be truthful, it’s mainly just a bunch of old guys sitting around drinking coffee. However, there are also shows and lectures by popular magicians each week. I have a small group of friends that are also professional magicians so we normally share war stories over a pint or two and share the tricks that we’ve been performing since we last met.
4. Who started the club?
The Magic Circle was founded by 23 amateur and professional magicians. The first meeting was at the Green Man pub in Soho, but meetings were later in a room at St George’s Hall in Langham Place, where famous magicians David Devant and John Nevil Maskelyne were regularly seen. This was back in 1905; things have moved on a lot since then!
5. When did you join?
I joined a couple of years ago, when I was living in London. A few years prior to that, I was a member of the junior version of the society and was awarded their close-up magician of the year trophy. To join The Magic Circle I performed close-up magic for about fifty magicians, which was a lot of fun.