Medina/Chanin/Rivera Shell Game Set

Yesterday was an exciting day at the post office, I had one of Rolando Medina’s Chanin/Rivera shell game sets arrive and an extra set of peas!

These are made from the original mold and look great!

I like the shape of this shell with it’s high top. It covers any flash if your fingers have a gap at the back of the shell. The shape of the shell really poops the pea out the back nicely!

I have several sets of shells made from this mold:

What I like the Medina Set is that it looks semi realistic, less like plastic that’s pretending to be a shell than the other sets. I’m home for a couple of weeks doing local shows that are all stage shows, so I won’t be able to try them out for real until I hit the road…but I’m excited to try them!


Isolated, Interactive show…

Today’s show is going to be a stressful show. It’s a virtual show that’s for a group that wants and interactive show…but I won’t be able to see or hear the audience and chat won’t be enabled on Zoom. When I was talking to the booker, I clarified that they want an interactive show, but I can’t interact with the people in the audience and they confirmed that was the situation.

There are essentially two options at this point:

  1. Decline the gig
  2. Take the money and do it

I decided to take the show as a challenge to see what I could come up with. I’m treating this show like a live prerecorded virtual show. What I mean by that is it’s the content I would put into a prerecorded virtual show, however I’m doing it live. This opens up some possibilities, like I could roll dice for a random number or spin a wheel to get a random item. While those methods of selection aren’t as strong as having someone from the audience select the item, it gives me options that aren’t there with a prerecorded virtual show.

I have one trick that’s a “touch the screen” style of trick which is a custom version of Interactive that I made that uses Bigfoot sightings. I do have some tricks where the audience has a job at home, but what they do doesn’t really affect me or the outcome of the trick. One of these is the shellgame, which is good because they can play along at home by picking the shells. I’m using my Russian Shell Game for the show as it’s got a fun ending.

We’ll see how it goes…


Fun Pics….

I’m always on the look out for fun photo ops when I do my show. One of the things I do is the shell game, and whenever I see police officers, I always try to get them to play it.

With everyone now having a camera in their pocket, it’s super easy to get these pics. You just need to be alert and looking for opportunities. Right now is a good time to get pics of you doing tricks for Santa or elves.

When you start looking for photo ops, you’ll see them everywhere.


Empty Venue vs Full Venue…

A couple of nights ago I went to a Seattle Mariners baseball game. It was interesting as there was virtually no one there. In the state that I live in they can have vaccinated sections as well as pod seating. I sat in the vaccinated section, which was pretty empty…the whole ballpark was pretty empty.

What was really interesting was the things that they played to get the crowd pumped up. All the little graphics with sound effects fell flat on the crowd. Whoever plays the sounds was playing them like it was a bigger crowd. I don’t know if they have incentive to mess around with other techniques, especially when our state opens up in less than two weeks.

Performers know that you really need to work a small, spread out crowd differently than a packed house.

Here’s what worked: The interactive things on the jumbotron, we have a hydroplane race where the crowd cheers for a color, and they do a shellgame with baseball hats and a baseball.

Seeing that I would have tried doing some facts or trivia about the batter, then rolling the reaction into a sound/graphic that pumped up the crowd. I don’t know if it would have worked, but it would probably have done at least as well as what they were doing.

Returning to My First Virtual Gig!

Later this evening I’ll be performing a family night show for the first group I did a full, live virtual show for. I’m amazed that a year later I’m still doing these shows and the show has come a long way! I’ve added a bit more production, I’m using more audio effects, and have tricks that are better suited / created for the virtual viewer.

This is the promo video I made from that first show:

It’s also the promo video I still use to promote virtual shows. I probably should have updated it a months ago, but it’s gotten me a lot of work!

Some of the core of that show hasn’t changed, like the silk in peach and the gypsy thread, however a lot has been changed or added.

I used to do a coin sequence that ended with some jumbo coin manipulation. That’s gone, it’s been replaced with my coins under glass routine.

Right now the show opens with the three shell game, a year ago that was in my recorded preshow video.

wheel of dinner

The show used to open with my flea circus, which was great, however it’s now too much work to set up. Early on in the virtual show timeline, I had a studio in my buddy’s garage that I could leave the flea circus set up in. Unfortunately he moved and that studio is now 5 hours away and my virtual studio is now my office. There’s really not enough room to do it in the office.

I would close the show with a password prediction, but that has changed to the Wheel of Dinner.

I’ve learned soo much over the last year, it’s been a very educational time. Like any show, it’s evolved over the last year and I’ve evolved in how I perform in the show as well!

Shell Sequence…

Yesterday I wrote a post about what playing with gimmicked shells, pea and table for the three shell game. Here’s a simple sequence I put together with them to highlight what you can do with the combination:

My end goal is going to be having “zones” on my table that make the balls appear under that specific shell. I think will have some interesting possibilities…

Shell Game Embellishments…

When I was a teenager I ended up with a set magnetic set of shells for the Three Shell Game. If I recall they were Martin Swindle Shells. This set of shells had a magnet in them and a magnetic pea. I never really used the magnet as I couldn’t really figure out a way to get the pea off the magnet. That function seemed to be simply for a vanish of the pea, and that’s it.

Over the weekend I was playing with the idea of getting the pea off of the magnet while in the shell. The second phase of the video has what I’ve come up with:

My solution to getting the pea off of the magnet in the shell was to use a stronger magnet in the table. When the shell goes over that spot, it pulls the pea off the shell and onto the table. The larger idea is to have multiple magnets in the table, so it can be a larger routine with more phases.

Working On It…

One of the hardest things about creating magic right now is that due to restrictions I can’t really audience test things. I’ve written about my endings to the three shell game on this blog before and one that I’ve started doing post-COVID is the solid shell game.

One way to break things in are on live streams. My buddy was doing a live stream a few night ago and needed a guest, so I popped in, hung out and worked on some material.

Here’s the shell game from that live stream:

It’s coming along, just being able to do for something and not the wall at home makes a big difference! If you’ve got stuff you’re working on, go out and be a guest on someone’s live stream. It’s a much better space that doing your own live stream show, and there’s a lot less expectation for you to carry the show.

Shell Game Ending…

When I perform and have tried doing the solid shell kicker, it never played how I’d like. I think there’s a disconnect between the shell game and when the solid shell is reveals, it’s a little out of left field. I was playing around with an ending as a topper to the kicker of the solid shells that I found in an old notebook of mine.

You can read this post about it from about a month ago.

I don’t think I ever posted video of it. Here’s the first version of it. I need to remake it, but you get the idea

I’ve done this a few times over a livestream and so far it’s playing really well. I can’t wait to try it out for real people, whenever that will be!

Shell Game Ending…

If you read this blog or follow me on social media, you know I’m not the Three Shell Game. I’ve come up with several original takes on the classic trick, which is great for a routine that’s basically been unchanged decades. I just built an ending for the shell game that I think is pretty cool.

Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you the two types of tricks that I think are usually the most lazy ways of being creative with magic. They are items that are hollow and turn solid and items that turn into glass (or clear plastic). Yes, there are execptions, like when Jerry Andrus and Danny Korem first did the Omni Deck. If you take a marker an turn it clear…great, but unless you have a really original take on the switch, it’s just a color change and no different from turning the marker from red to black.

So now, let’s get back to the shell game. Personally I’ve never done the ending where the shells turn solid. Why? I don’t think it makes sense. It’s a kicker ending that’s not really logical and doesn’t really move the ending forward. It’s too different from what has happened the whole time. It’s a “what?” moment because it thinking of the audience has to shift a lot from what was happening the whole routine. It’s almost like it’s the beginning of a new routine.

How did I fix the solid shells? I took it a step further. I used it as the starting point for another effect. Here’s how the routine plays. You do a few shell sequences, then cover a shell and pea with a shot glass. They are mixed around and guess where the pea is. When they lift the shot glass, then the shell, they see no pea, and then they discover the shell is solid. Now it’s a mystery they just discovered. They will turn over the other two shells to check them, and they are solid as well. Having them discover the solid shell is soo much better than you revealing it.

Now for the new ending:

When they look at the shotglass that’s sitting on the table, they see the pea under it. When they pick up the shotglass, they realize the shotglass is solid! The pea is embedded in the solid shotglass!

three shell game

This is a solid (pun intended) ending for the solid shell game. It takes the routine one step forward to an ending that’s more logical than just the solid shells.