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The Magic Memories (181)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Mind Map Sample; Pseudo Deck Switch From Skinner Notebook; Jim Swain on the “Cold Deck”

These are The Magic Memories 181, gone online Sunday, June 16th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Mind Map Sample

I keep being asked about the use of Mind Mapping in magic.

This is a big subject, and I have dealt with it in two places: One, as part of my lecture I did at Mark Leveridge’s 7th British Close-up Magic Symposium (see HERE). Two, in an essay as part of the Genii magazine that had me on the cover years ago; you can download the PDF for free HERE.

In the past I have used Mind Maps to prepare for talks, workshops, articles, and even books; see the Mind Map for Card College Volumes 3&4 in Secret Agenda, entry for December 18, or the one for my lecture on Dai Vernon, entry for December 19.

RG practicing with Mind Map in the background

Without further comment I submit for your perusal the Mind Map I created for a personal study on the Color Change: Some of the writing will not mean anything to you, but you might pick up a term here and there, and if you just get one thing out of it, it will be worth the few minutes it takes you to study the map.

Here it is as a PDF, so you can blow it up and should be able to read everything (to understand it is another matter…).

Pseudo Deck Switch From Skinner Notebook

A few years back Kaufman & Company offered The Skinner Tapes, advertised as:

The CDs are personal audio correspondence sent to Allen Okawa of Hawaii, and have been edited down from over 30 hours of material. It’s like having Michael sit in the room and talk to you.

Plus there were two DVDs with private footage of Michael Skinner performing for his friends at various occasions.

Similar to the Vernon Revelations tapes, or the Daley Notebooks, there is a lot of material and information there. Not all is interesting to everyone, not all is intelligible, but if you enjoy deep-sea diving, I mean in a figurative sense… then you will experience several moments of great happiness.

To me, however, the best part of the package that came with The Skinner Tapes, were the PDFs of Skinner’s private notebooks.

I had the great luck to have come into their possession years before, and have taken a full month, while vacationing in the South of France with my family in a beautiful mansion we rented there, to study them in great detail. This resulted in my personal annotations that far exceeded the length of the original notes 🙂

I am not sure about how interesting this is to most of you, and also not about the copyright situation, being an author myself, but thought that for today’s The Magic Memories I would share one of my notes on one of Skinner’s notes from his Skinner Green Notebook #2 (there are several as the #2 implies…).

“The Skinner Tapes” by Kaufman & Co.

Here is the original note:

15. “Sudo [sic] Deck Switch”

Svengali Pack – show all same. Put in pocket, bring out same deck, show all different, make phony move and show all same. Say you switched decks!

Not all notes are like that, fortunately, some being more detailed, but it is such notes that are of interest to me, as they function as triggers, similar to some of the entries in my own Agendas, and you know I love those.

Maybe you want to stop reading for a few minutes here, and think about the note… what does it suggest to you?

Welcome back 🙂

Following is my annotation I made to Skinner’s note. As you will see, it inspired me to use it as a deck switch.

Have a normal deck and a Svengali Deck in the same pocket, both in similar boxes and with similar backs, of course.

Show both decks, saying one is a “special deck”, the other a “normal” deck, and announce you are going to switch decks like card cheats do.

Explain why the switched in deck is called a “cooler”, which makes for a lovely and colorful prologue (see Jim Swain’s note below).

Put normal deck in pocket.

Show Svengali all the same. Then show all different, implying that decks have been switched – use some kind of “realistic action”, such as coughing and turning away for a second to make switch half-believable.

Apparently repeat the switch and again show all the same.

Take out normal deck from pocket and show.

You have apparently switched a deck twice, back and forth.

Put Svengali away and use normal deck, which could be stacked.

This can be made into a short and baffling little routine, in the course of which a stacked deck is introduced, the pseudo-explanation taking the heat off the switch.

Although the product as such is no longer available, as far as I know, at least not legally… here is the link to Penguin’s description of the content, and by reading it, you might get an additional idea or two.

Jim Swain on the “Cold Deck”

After I had published The Art of Switching Decks (2013), I received quite a bit of most interesting feedback, a lot being variations on the deck switches in the book, a few were new deck switches, and there was also some additional information such as the one Jim Swain – yes, THE Jim Swain – wrote to me via email:

“My name is Jim Swain, and I’m a big fan of your books and articles in Genii.

I wanted to make you aware of something which was brought to my attention several years ago by a retired card hustler. Many people (myself included) believe that a “cold deck” is a prearranged deck which hustlers switched into a game.

This is not correct.

A prearranged deck which is switched into a game is called a “cooler” by hustlers, and never a “cold deck”.

A “cold deck” is a scam used by a gang of hustlers, and works like this:  During a game, one of the gang spills a drink on the cards, forcing the deck to be thrown out. A brand new, unopened deck is then introduced. This is the “cold deck.”

The deck is in a prearranged order and will “kill” several of the players in the game (suckers).

One of the gang removes the deck from the box, and takes out all the jokers and junk cards (a wonderful touch). The deck is then false-shuffled by another member of the gang, while one of the gang tells a story or joke (the shade). The game is then resumed, and the suckers are fleeced.

The “cold deck” scam using the box and junk cards has been around for over a hundred years. It’s a wonderful way to switch in a deck without having to do any sleight-of-hand, and always gets the money.”

Nice story, eh?

… and it fits into the category I created and named “The No-switch Deck Switch”, a chapter of its own in The Art of Switching Decks (p. 127); just in case you missed that, look it up right now, as you will immediately be able to use at least one of the deck switches in your own work.

As the Looney Tunes says, “That’s all folks!”… for today.

I shall be back in The Magic Memories 182 with some ideas I got from my visit to the uniquely beautiful city of Prague, plus a few more things, as usual.

Prague, a unique city

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

3 thoughts on “The Magic Memories (181)

  1. The photograph of Vernon and Skinner standing together on the box container of the Skinner Tapes package is from my collection. I scanned it and sent it to Kaufman when he requested help looking for Skinner/Vernon photos for this product. Nowhere on the box is credit to me for this.

  2. Très agréables notes sur coller & cold deck , merci !

    et je confirme Prague est une des villes exceptionnelles ( architectures , Histoire , ect…) du notre continent avec une spécialité (du moins avant ?) les théâtres de lumières noire ? Est ce encore le cas ??

    au plaisir


  3. A nice elaboration on the subject of how cheaters proceed e.g. with the 3 Card Monte, can be found in this Clip : (very poor quality, but very entertaining).
    You can see Paul Wilson, Gazzo, Pop Haydn, Chef Anton and at the end Billy McComb also appears.

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