Shell Shocked by Giovanni Livera

A bit ago someone mentioned Giovanni Livera’s three shell game routine. I wasn’t aware of this routine, so I tracked down a his book Confessions of an Italian Magician where his Shell Shocked routine is written up.

His routine has an ending that’s unusual, it ends with three production items. The first two are dice and the third is a plastic P. I have all of the props except the plastic P, but that’s where my 3d printer came in handy.

Within about 15 minutes I had made a plastic letter P and had it printed and can now learn the routine!

I’ll get started working on it later today!

Shell Game Set (Homemade?)

I just added a new shell game set to my collection:

Three Shell Game

I’m pretty sure this was a home made set, as they look like nothing I’ve ever seen. The look like they started as candle snuffers, and someone took the stick off of them and glued a bearing over the hole. I like their weight, but don’t like how tall they are. The height and strange shape makes working with them a bit awkward.

They’re a great addition to the collection, but won’t replace my working set!


Obedient Walnut

A few months ago I found some Obedient Walnut tricks in a bin of junk magic at a magic shop. This is a version of a classic trick where you have an object with a string running through it, in this case it’s a plastic walnut. As the walnut slides down the string, it stops whenever you want it to.

Honestly, from a magic perspective, it’s not really a good trick, it’s pretty obvious how it works. I did pick up three of them out of the junk bin as I had an idea for a routine with them. The routine is an interesting idea, but still a bad trick.

I did it once, it confirmed it’s not the best idea or trick and now I can throw away the Obedient Walnuts.


Make it Memorable!

When I do TV spots, I try do more than just a magic trick, I try to make it a moment that’s memorable. Sure you can do sponge balls and it’s fine, however I try to do things that are fun.

Here’s an example from a media spot a few weeks ago:

@louiefoxx News Reporter Hustled with Classic Con Game! #reporter #game #gambling #congame #cantwin #pushups #shellgame #hustle #newsreporter #louiefoxx #sleightofhand #payyourdebts #magic ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

It’s not always possible to do more memorable or fun spots due to time, or other circumstances. However, when I get a chance to do a little bit of planning, I try to do something fun!


Vintage Three Shell Game?

The other day I was looking at some three shell game sets on ebay and came across this set:

three shell game

And here’s the description:

Vintage Original Three Shell Game
This Is the Oldest Con Game Ever Played A high-performance set of shells that handles well on the STREETS. This is YOUR CHANCE to learn this crowd-pleaser and get a top-quality set of shells. Highly recommended! THIS VINTAGE SET IS FROM A MAGIC ESTATE SALE. I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THESE WERE PURCHASED IN THE LATE 1940s to EARLY 1950s. I CAN’T TELL IF THEY ARE REAL OR MANUFACTURED! THEY LOOK AMAZING! NO INSTRUCTIONS! YOU GET THE -3-SHELLS AND -1- PEA


What’s wrong with that description is that those shells are 100% 3d printed or made from a mold of a 3d printed shell. How 3d printing works is that it makes things in layers, and that leaves ridges and those are clearly visible in the picture.

The seller say’s they’re from the 1940’s or 1950’s, when really the oldest they’d be is probably 2010, which is a solid 60 years newer than the seller claims. I’m not saying the seller is knowingly lying about the age, however whoever gave them the mid 20th century claim is incorrect.

This is a situation where having a little bit of knowledge of materials will save you $80!!!


Ray-Mond Walnut Shell Game!

One of the things that I collect are three shell game sets. I have a pretty big collection of shell game sets, and it’s getting harder and harder to finds ones that I don’t have. I recently came across this set:

Ray-Mond Walnut Shell Game

And here’s the under side of the shells:

Ray-Mond Walnut Shell Game

Initially I thought these were resin, but thank to Andrew Pinard’s suggestion, I did some more inspection and they are natural walnut shells that have been filled and coated.

I’m glad to have added these to my collection!


The Shell Game at Sea…

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:

If you’re into the shell game, it’s worth checking out!

Phil Cass Show

Phil Cass Magic Show

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!


Shell Game Phase

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!

Photo Ops!

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!

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!

card sticker on kid

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!