The other day I saw Phil Cass‘s show, and kinda briefly mentioned his shell game routine. Phil’s routine on his VHS tape in the late 1990’s was part of what got me going with the shell game when I first got serious about it.
Here’s the trailer for Phil’s video:
It’s always great to meet people who have had some influence on what you do and how you do it…it’s also a bonus when they are cool people!
It was great hanging out with Phil and Phillipa Cass while we were on the ship! The shell game video is still available from phil, you can get it at: https://www.philcass.com/shop/
If you’re into the shell game, it’s worth checking out! -Louie
The other night I caught Phil Cass’s show. He’s been on my radar since the late 1990’s when Bob Sheets told me about Phil’s shell game VHS. Bob also showed me Phil’s handling of a making water go from one hand to the other.
Phil’s show was a packs small plays big sort of show and he was heavy on use of people from the audience. He does a great job of having multiple effects happening at the same time, so when they all start to wrap it, it feels much bigger and more triumphant and if he did them one at a time.
Phil is also the first person I’ve ever seen do the Electric Chair bit in person. Previously I’d only read about it or see it on video. It was fun to see it actually done and to see how it played for a real audience. It played well and something I’ve thought about incorporating, but had a feeling it’s not for me, and the nuts and bolts of how it actually plays onstage confirms that feeling.
Phil closed with the water that disappears from one hand and reappears in the other. It’s a very small trick, and plays pretty big! I’m glad I got to see the creator do it in person!
I frequently have people ask me about why I like Leo Smetser’s Three Shell Game set. I like it because it’s the shells are heavy, and I prefer the bowl shape. Another thing is that it all fits together into a nice container that fits neatly in my pocket.
I just started doing a phase that’s unique to this shell set. This set has rubber O rings on the top of them, and I use those for a phase:
With Leo’s set, you can do soo much more than with just a regular set. I really dig this set, sure it’s probably not everyone’s flavor, but I’m a fan! -Louie
When you are out performing, I always try to keep an eye out for photo ops. Moments where I can take a picture and it will make good social media content. Once you do this a while you start to have some ones you do often. Things like a dog watching my flea circus or law enforcement playing the three shell game!
Once you have a few “hits” you know what to look for, but don’t get soo blinded by the hits that you aren’t on the look out for new things!
For example the new thing I’m doing where I peel the picture off of the card and stick it onto a kid. This is a great photo op!
A couple of weeks ago someone asked me what shell game set I used and why I preferred that set. My working set is Leo Smetser’s Three Shell Game Set.
There’s a lot that I like about his set, but the number on thing is that it’s so easy to carry in my pocket. The trick all fits into it’s metal case which doubles as the “shotglass” that’s used in most routines to double cover the pea.
Here’s a little video I made to tell you why I like this set:
For the pea, I don’t use Leo’s sponge peas. I use the Perfect Pea from School For Scoundrels. That’s by far my preferred pea to use with every set of shells.
Last week I was doing roving magic at a fair. When I do this, I do either a street show, or close up magic, depending on which I think will get better results. The fair I was as had my times scheduled and my 1pm timeslot wasn’t the best for trying to do a street show as it was slower at the fair and there wasn’t really any shade. For those shows I did close up magic and went to the people who were in spaces more conducive to watching magic.
Here’s the props for my close up set:
And here’s what everything is:
The nut is actually over 2 inches across, hole is 1 1/2 inches. I bought the nut on a whim, and put it into my pocket and figured I’d think of something to do with it. I did come up with a way to produce it and use it!
One of the things I’ve started doing to “add value” for the fairs that book me is to make little sizzle reels of me performing at the fair.
Here’s this weeks video:
You’ll see me do my version of Sticker Kicker in this video. I’m still working out the flow of the trick. I like it and it’s such a strange visual when you peel the back off of the card. I really like it!
I remember a long time ago chatting with Dr. Lloyd Cripe who was a brain doctor and now retired and he said, “everyone collects something” and at the time I didn’t realize it, but I was starting to collect Three Shell Game sets. Currently I have a giant collection of shells, and it getting harder to find shell sets that I don’t already have.
I found this lot at a magic auction site:
I don’t have the upper set of gold shells. I can’t tell what they are made from, it could be plastic or metal, I won’t know until they show up. It looks like I was the only bidder, so I got them for the opening bid price, which is nice!
I’ve had the Dr. Beaumont Shell Game book in the past, and it’s been a while since I’ve read it. I’ll give it a reread when it arrives with the shells and probably sell it with the Vernet Shells which come with this lot.
If you’ve got a unique or uncommon set of shells, send me a note, I’d love to see a pic of them!
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!
We’re wrapping up our first move for the first time in 16 years, and it’s amazing what you accumulate over a decade and half. At our new place I set up my collection of three shell game sets, and I have more than I thought I had, and in the picture below there are no duplicates:
There are some interesting sets in the collection. For example I have three sets of Rivera Shells that are all made out of very different material. There are both sets of Karl Normal Shell Game which are bowls, the original run has a divot in the top, where the second run of them doesn’t.
The shell game set I own that’s not pictured is my main working set. I really should get a second set as a back up, and to have in the display.