Garbage In…Garbage Out

People love to crowd source information on the internet. The problem is that you don’t know the quality of the information you are getting back. Recently someone posted a picture of a prop they had acquired, but didn’t know what it did. It was a dice cup with a hole in the back, four dice and a jumbo die.

The misinformation starts when people don’t know what they are talking about start it tell the person what the cup is for. Here’s the first couple of responses:

Then a couple of people took the dice stacking suggesting a bit further and said you could look through the hole to see the number on the top die. Let’s start with that idea of using it to see the number on the top of the top die. Learning to stack the dice is hard…once you can do that, knowing what number is on top of the stack without a gimmicked cup is VERY EASY. It makes no sense to make the stacking aspect harder without make knowing the number uppermost easier.

Now let’s look at the props. You have regular game dice, where any marketed dice stacking set would come with casino dice which are the standard for people who stack dice. In the picture below, the casino die is on the right.

Yes, I’m aware you can stack game dice, however it’s much harder than on casino dice due to their size, rounded edges, and lack of consistent 90 degree angles. I learned to dice stack with a drinking glass and game dice, so I know it can be done, I also know who much easier it got when I had proper tools.

Next if you look at the cup, it tapers and is not straight sided. Some people stack with dice like this, however most people use straight sided dice cups. On it’s own the tapered cup wouldn’t say it’s not for dice stacking, but then you look at the height of the cup in relation to the dice. Once you get them in the up and ready to stack, they have a long way to fall, which is where you will give you trouble.

Looking at the whole picture, the style of dice and style of cup, I’m 99% sure it’s not for dice stacking. I’m leaving 1% as it’s some strange homemade prop that was never marketed.

I made a quick replica of the props shown and here’s the style of routine that I think the props are for:

The internet is a great way to crowd source answers, but the problem is that it’s hard know the quality of those answers.

Clean Cork…

I made a cleaner video of the coin to cork trick, which I’m giving the title Corkage Fee. This is the title that was stuck in my head.

I cleaned up the handling’s timing a little bit and added some context to the switch of the cork. For a quick social media video, having the balance on the nose at the beginning is a better switch than a shuttle pass. An even better way would have been to start with a bottle of wine that I took the cork out of. I don’t really drink wine, so that’s not something I have kicking around.

Unseen Kicker…

Lately, I’m trying to be better at directed practicing. This is working on something specific, versus just playing around with palms, or whatever. Last night I was I was practicing the Quad-Triumph that I posted about recently. Basically this is a Triumph type card effect that uses four shuffles instead of the traditional single shuffle.

One thing that hit me was that at the end there could be a subtle kicker. Right now the cards start in a mixed order and they end in a mixed order. If they ended in a known order, that would add a layer to the trick. Ideally that known order would be new deck order.

Last night I was able to figure out how to get the cards into an order that was one half red and the other half black and the end. Unfortunately this little touch will largely go unnoticed as it happens at the same time as the cards all facing the same direction. It’s one of the those things that if a magician see it, it will add to the effect to them. It’s the little things, things that don’t need to be there and won’t be seen by most people are what makes something art.

This is visually pretty good, and definitely takes the trick a step further. It’s a good compromise for now, but I have a feeling I’ll be working more to figure out how to get it into new deck order.

More Ring on Rubber Band…

Continuing the last few days work on to the hopefully have a working Ring on Rubber Band trick, I’ve tweaked some of the jokes a little bit. I changed some of the punchlines and streamlined the script to tighten it up.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli just to let it rot in the crisper”

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…the Senate and the deep state.”

“The ring will go through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order I got from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side, that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the most difficult, it’s the Mount Everest of Magic. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions…and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

“Like Coachella, we’ll take it off one band at a time.”

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


The script is a bit better. I’m not happy with the the “Coachella” line between the on and off phases. Right now that’s a place holder for something better.

The hard thing about right now with COVID restrictions is that I can’t just go out to a bar and try it out and get feedback from real people. The trying and tweaking phase is much clunkier and time consuming.

Routining The Writing…

The last couple of days I’ve been writing about putting together a script for the Ring on Rubber Band trick that I’ve been working on. Yesterday I wrote a bunch of jokes, and today I’m going to try to put them together in some sort of a logical way.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…a left side and tea party”

“I will push the ring through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side…that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the double black diamond. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions… and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


Alright the routine looks like more of a routine now, and not a bunch of random jokes. The routine now runs about a minute. That’s way better than the 12-15 seconds before I started writing for it.

The jokes still need some tweaking. The congress joke needs a better punchline, and the double black diamond needs a better word/name in its place. I also need something in between the the two penetration phases, where the ring is over both sides of the rubber band, but before I pull it off.

Relearing Zarrow…

the Zarrow Shuffle

Sometimes it feels like I’m perpetually cleaning my office. Yesterday I came across the DVD The Zarrow Shuffle by Herb Zarrow. I watched the very beginning and realized that I learned to do this wrong. What I’m doing looks fine, but they first way the Herb demonstrates looks way better!

When I learned to do the shuffle, it was in the context of the trick Triumph. For the Zarrow Shuffle, I slip cut one card. I used that method for other tricks as a false shuffle. If you slip cut a block, it’s soo much more deceptive than with a single card. Also Herb’s way of jogging the cards is much more deceptive than pushing them out with your index fingers.

I’m glad I came across this, but now I’ve got a challenge ahead of me. I’ve got to undo 25+ years of the way that I’ve been doing it. The changes are fairly minor, so hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain.

Recently I did this unlearning and relearning process with how I get a card injogged. I figured out a way when I was a kid by reading something wrong and it worked for me. However I relearned to do it Jerry Andrus‘s way because it looks better.

Don’t be afraid to unlearn thing if there’s a new (to you) way of doing it that looks or works better than what you were doing before. I know it’s a pain to spend time basically learning to do something you can already do, but I think it’s the little things like that that make someone an artist.

Quad-Triumph…

Here’s a video of the Triumph shuffle sequence that I wrote about yesterday. The view is my view, so you can see an angle of the cards that the audience wouldn’t normally get to see.

I kinda like the four shuffles where you flip half over each time, but I still don’t think it’s better than the standard Triumph routine that most people do.

Less Than Triumphant…

Way back in March I was playing with using the old card reveal where you drop the deck on the table and the top card flips over as a clean up for a Triumph type effect.
You can read the post here
It’s an interesting way to clean up a reversed card on top of the deck. You get a little trick that happens that does the dirty work for you.

Last night I was shuffling some cards and came up with a Triumph sequence that left you in position to do the drop clean up. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Card is selected and controlled to the top
  2. Zarrow shuffle with half face up and half face down (selection remains on top)
  3. Strip the face down bottom half to the right, flip them face up. Riffle shuffle by running about 10 cards with your left hand, then shuffling with both hands, leaving about 10 or more cards of the right hands stack to fall on top of the left hands stack. This will put the face down selection about 10 or more cards from the top of a deck that’s face up (the audience thinks they are mixed face up into face down).
  4. Strip the top half to the left, flip them over (face down card will show) and do a Zarrow Shuffle.
  5. Strip the bottom card (face down cards) the right and shuffle the card together. Have the left hand’s packet’s top card be the top card of the shuffled deck.

    The order from from the top down is a face down card, then the rest of the deck face up with a selection face down somewhere in the middle of the deck.
  6. Do the drop flip over reveal thing to flip over the top card of the deck.
  7. Spread them out to show all of the cards are now facing the same direction except for their selection.

I’m going to be 100% clear that I think this sequence isn’t the best way to do a this style of trick and is inferior to the common method of a Zarrow Shuffle, Daryl’s Triumph display (Don’t know the name of it) and then openly flipping over half the deck.

It is a sequence that gets me into a position where I can do the drop flip over thingy. It was also a fun exercise to try to figure out how to get the cards where I needed them to be.

Upgrading My Virtual Dice…

One of the things I’m always doing it trying to improve what I currently do. Right now in my virtual show I do a modified version of my Cee-Lo trick, which is a cup and dice routine. This ends with the production of two large dice. The large dice are 1 1/4 inches on each side. To give you some perspective, the picture below is one of the jumbo dice next to a regular die.

Magic dice trick

The reason that the trick uses 1 1/4 inch dice is that for a live, in person show, it makes the loading procedure work. The cup will hold two 1 1/2 inch dice, but the method where the spectator loads the cup for you doesn’t work well with a larger die.

I was cleaning up and found the old set of 1 1/2 inch dice I tried using for Cee-Lo. It hit me, since I’ve changed my loading procedure for virtual shows, and there are no spectators to handle the props, why not move to the larger size dice. To give you an idea of visually how much bigger they are, the pictures below are a 1 1/2 inch die next to a regular die and a 1 1/4 inch die.

That extra quarter inch makes it look massive! The nice thing about how I load the cups for live virtual shows is that the size of the die doesn’t really matter. I’m getting a little more visual impact for no extra work! I’m a fan of that.

Side Steal…

At night when I’m hanging out with the family watching TV, usually I’m dinking around with a deck of cards. Frequently I’m working on a fancy cut, I try to be able to do a little bit of the cardistry so the kids at magic conventions think I’m less of a dinosaur. Sometimes I work on new card sleights, or just try to keep the rust off of old ones.

The last week or so I’ve been playing with the side steal. It’s a move I’ve done for a long time and can do it, but I don’t do it exceptionally. When I do it in a live performance, it’s an attitude thing, versus a technique thing. Usually when I do it, I use Scotty York‘s method for the side jog, which automatically side jogs the card.

Sometimes I do the proper side steal technique where you push the card into a squared deck, steal the card and either palm it, or move it to the top. I’ve been working on my technique to get it into full palm using proper technique the last week. It’s starting to look a lot better, I still have a studder between the side jog and full palm. I’m working to smooth that out. It’ll take time…