June 2006 Newsletter
We are very pleased that fattyonadiet setup an interview with Jerry in this newsletter. As many of you know, Jerry is a legend when it comes to card flourishes.
We've been busy here at 21ace since the last newsletter. Our key chains came in and they look awesome! Check them out here: http://www.21ace.com/custom-poker-chip-key-chains.php
We've been working on other cool projects behind the scenes, hopefully there will be more good news soon.
The wsop is just around the corner so this is an exciting time of year! Enjoy the interview with Jerry and the rest of the newsletter. :)
Interview with Jerry Cestkowski!!!
How long have you been flourishing?
I started when I was 14. I got "The Amateur Magician's Handbook" and was drawn to Henry Hay's distinction between hand magic and head magic. I found that I disliked head magic (mentalism mainly, but all magic that involves misdirection is head magic to some extent). I found that I loved sleight of hand, and loved flourishes even more.
My first memories of cards are of flourishes I saw on TV and in movies. A card trick never had as much impact on me as a fancy stunt. I never believed in magic or the supernatural. But to see someone blatantly showcasing their dexterity always gave me Goosebumps. Whenever I saw something that no one else in the world could do, and in a few rare cases, no one else in the world could ever hope to do, I felt that that was as close to supernatural that I was ever going to see.
Do you think that XCM has affected flourishing in a positive way or has it been a fad that is dying out?
XCM will never die. Simply juxtapose "flourish" and "XCM" and the reason is readily apparent. "Flourisher" is not catchy, and does nothing for laymen. "Card shark" is catchy and appeals to laymen, although it does not capture the special nature of XCM. The term XCM does not yet register with laymen, but it will someday. In the meantime, call yourself a card shark and take advantage of all the positive conations it carries. Never fight convention in spite of yourself.
XCM as an art form, whatever terminology is used, is here to stay. Non-magical card manipulation is too fun, and the explosion of interest that has taken place in the last five years can not be likened to a passing fad for several reasons. Although flourishes have always been around, it is only recently that enough of them are available to learn and enough people are interested enough to learn them. The internet, my book, De'vo's tireless efforts a few other artists and serendipity have helped get the ball rolling. I think enough people will do XCM because it is so fun that eventually it will reach the critical mass that skateboarding and snowboarding have. Sponsors, specialized gear, competition, conventions; all will be commonplace someday.
As far as terminology goes, I prefer to use the word "flourish" when referring to the occasional fancy manoeuvre done as an accent to a magic performance or routine or trick or whatever. Flourish means an embellishment, so it makes less and less sense to refer to an act or routine of nothing but non-magical card manipulation as "all-flourishes." All accents or all embellishment rises to a different level, the level of extreme card manipulation. It is extreme in the quantity, beauty, variety and difficulty of the stunts.
What is your favourite group of flourishes? (Fans/cuts/shuffles)
Deck Twirls, because they offer the most in terms of continuous flow. They are also the ideal transition move. They are also the funnest moves to practice.
What is your favourite single flourish?
The Overhead Spring is certainly up there, although I'm fond of my Deck Twirls. The Overhead Spring is so eye-catching and impossible-looking to laymen, it is probably the most valuable move I have. Instant reputation maker, and crowd producer.
What is you favourite flourish you've created?
If we leave out the Deck Twirls and the Overhead Spring, I'd have to go for the Double Armspread. Houdini could do it, but used a different method. That method was lost and the stunt was said to be impossible by such authorities as Walter B. Gibson. In about 1979, I came up with my method.
If there was ANY card effect that you could create anything at all, what would it be?
Well now, I'd want something that would make me instantly rich beyond measure, so "Card Changes into 100 Billion Dollars" would be my first choice. But if you really think about it, even this would seem cheesy if given total omnipotence. "Infinite Procession of Supermodels Wearing Nothing but the Four Aces" would be the only trick I would need. You could make card tattoos appear on people, make them puke up thought-of cards, have a picture of you holding their card on their driver's license where their picture was, and then that picture changes to a grinning supermodel -- the sky's the limit. If you want to be more or less reasonable, cutting to any card called for from any deck would suffice. Or dealing any hand called for. Or dealing 4 perfect bridge hands from a spectator shuffled deck, or making the cards change into giant gold bricks that change into supermodels on command, sorry, I can't be reasonable for very long.
What flourish or trick took you the longest to perfect?
I have some things in reserve that take years - I save some of these things for special occasions like a contest. Juggling cards took me a long time because I am not a juggler really. Spinning a card on the finger indefinitely (not just for a couple of seconds but for several minutes if you wish) is grotesquely hard for those without some kind of background spinning larger objects. The body spin and kick over moves are tough as well - anyone up for three rotations?
Do you do any chips tricks? If not, have you though about starting doing chip tricks?
I do a few, but nothing compared to what's out there. Chips feel a little small to me, but maybe someday. I love watching chip vids though.
Who were your inspirations that got you started in magic?
I honestly never was attracted to things like the linking rings and stage illusions. I thought it was a little disingenuous to claim credit for skill when doing grand illusions and gimmick-aided effects. I have long since gotten over my reticence to employ gimmicks to aid in magic effects, but the beauty of XCM is in its purity. What you see is what you get, no head games, no misdirection.
How often do you perform live? Does your act consist of magic? If so, how much of it is magic compared to flourishes? In other words, I'd like to know what your live performances are like, including the crowd types and sizes, stuff like that.
It's been years since I had a steady restaurant gig, but when I have time I will acquire one. No better way to keep in shape. Right now, I do private parties and some charity stuff; I appear at the World Sport stacking Competition every year and do four hours at a booth. I might have a public show in July; I'll let you know if you want to come. I've been doing a two-hour live radio show on Magicbroadcast.com for almost a year now (Wednesdays 3-5 Pacific), so that provides another outlet for my urge to perform. Once all the projects for products are off my plate, I want to get a nice gig downtown doing table to table.
As far as ratio of magic to XCM, it depends on the venue. Close-up I am just as likely to do a set of nothing but card tricks or nothing but XCM, sometimes a minute of each. You don't have long at a table. Walk around I have more time, so a four minute set might be two minutes of each. My act consists of one minute units that are interchangeable. So for a stage show of fifteen minutes, I select twelve or thirteen of my pre-packaged minutes and add a location specific intro and ending. I love doing XCM to music, so the above show might have six separate one-minute musical XCM routines. Alternating with five one-minute card tricks and a couple minutes of productions vanishes and changes and you have a well-balanced act with plenty of variety.
Where and when do you perform....in case one of us wants to come and see your act?
I will email next public show I confirm. Any one who is in town can email me and we can get together for a private jam session as well. I don't really do lessons though; I'd rather trade material.
You've worked with other legendary card flourishers. Who have you enjoyed working with the most?
De'vo is creative in a lot of different media but De'vo is the most creative dude I have ever met as far as brute dexterity and ingenuity are concerned. The moves he has created (many of which haven't been made public) are in a different realm altogether from the way anyone else goes about this. No one I have ever jammed with could hold their own move for move like De'vo.
Is there anyone you'd like to work with but haven't?
Although I have met him and jammed with him once, I think Sal Piacente is the most chilling performer with a deck of cards out there. The stuff he does really is impossible. He doesn't need that wish granted about doing any card effect, he granted the wish already to himself.
Do you buy DVDs from people like Dan & Dave or Tudor to learn their moves?
Luckily, I get all the latest products and a lot of out of print and hard-to find ones as well from my network of friends. I did buy McBride's Art of Card Manipulation series, but otherwise the stuff just appears in the mail.
What part of The Encyclopaedia of Playing Card Flourishes did you enjoy writing the most?
Trying to make dry descriptions funny was the most enjoyable part. I also liked the dry technical writing as well. I can't help being silly when I write, so it was fun trying to strike a balance between clear technical descriptions and my urge to just write drooling gibberish.
What research did you do to compile EOPCF?
I have a library. I also have the aforementioned friends sending me stuff. I wrote it pre-internet, or I would have used that as well. I invented a lot of the material as well.
Any new projects in progress? A new installment to the EOPCF?
Completing the series of four Companion DVDs to the Encyclopaedia, plus a DVD called "The Flourishman Does Magic," which contains my unique close-up stage manipulation routine and a lot of other original effects and routines. Then, maybe another book.
Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to the 21ace community?
Awesome site! Really great content and vids! If I had to offer general advice, it would be, do the stuff because you like to do it, not because someone else likes it. It sounds selfish, but those who love doing what they do more for themselves than others end up pleasing others even more. XCM is very special in that it has the potential of being appreciated like a spectator sport, something that is impossible for magic. Athletes are entertaining to watch, but ultimately they play for themselves, not for you. If they weren't concentrating on their game, their art, they would not perform at the level necessary for them to be where they are so you could watch them at all! If you want to perform magic, you are going to learn to be an entertainer, which is also an art, but a different art. XCM offers the opportunity to pursue art for art's sake, and entertain at the same time. Try it and see!
Calling the Bluff
Many players ask about picking of bluffs and getting tells online. Since you can not physically see anyone online, it becomes almost like a 6th since to be able to read an opponent accurately. Fortunately, that is not entirely true, I’ll admit some players have a natural gift for reading other players hands online but most of us it take a lot of practice.
Personally, I spent hours and hours watching the real money tables before even sitting in one always trying to put players on hands and understand why they are playing the way they are. I soon realized that to be decently accurate at the reading part of there hands you have to watch and time how long it takes them to bet and there betting patterns, of course in limit they can only bet X amount, it’s more about the hesitation or instantaneous bet the timing of when the card comes down each street… picking off the bluff for instance against a decent player you have to know that he is CAPABLE of making a play like that on just a bluff. Let’s say it’s a bad player that would no way make a bet on the river without a hand. Well then the probability of this time being a bluff is near 0. If it’s a good player and he has been betting aggressively all the way down on a board of say T52 8 3 and there was a FD out on the flop and he had raised PF you hold A8 lets say, in a HU situation where both of you were in the blinds.
Sure he could have you beat here, with a T but so many more hands bricked he could have been on, you are priced in to call 1 bet on the river, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, QJ, if he has a pair over yours well then ohh well shit happens, but AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99. In a blind situation comes up less often then the first group of hands simply because they can only be dealt 6 ways (group of big pairs) where the other group can be dealt 16 ways (group with AK in it). So lets say he raised PF you called, 4 small bets in the pot, the flop is as mentioned before, he leads out, you diced to call because you Ace has a backdoor draw and you think a pair might be good HU making the pot6 small bets (I’m not going into this theory of blind wars this article). So the turn is the 8 giving you middle pair no backdoor FD. He bets into the pot again, now is your decision, should you play to SD or fold? Obviously the play is to see SD in my opinion, you call the flop thinking a pair might be good why would you fold when you actually hit that pair? Lets just say that this opponent is typically not aggressive in a situation like this, hell I fold the flop no questions asked I just can’t see my A8 being good there, but if the player is argo and will bet down a FD or simply Ace High in this situation pairs GO WAY up in value. So the lesion on catching a bluffer becomes a lesion on playing the player, you have to know your opponent well enough to realize if it could be a bluff in the first place.
Opponent’s tendencies, thinking, betting “speed”, and what you think that he thinks you have all come into playing the hand correctly online, you have to revert to smaller harder to pick up on things. They are often called “online tells”, I mean there are not many of them I could probably list them out but I don’t need to really. I’ll just though out an example I saw tonight, this player was extremely bad and over aggressive, unfortunately for him he couldn’t figure out why I was winning bottom as pair when he had nothing and I was folding when he had a monster. Well his tell was that he would bet and raise weak to air hands, but slow roll monster hands. When he was betting and rising I wasn’t worried when he would check/call I RAN, and ran so fast. I was done with the hand unless I had a huge one myself. Little things like that are not just out in the open you have to be watching and looking for things like that, though there are a lot of software’s out there that help you determine how a person is playing, they don’t tell you the little things that make you the extra money.
In conclusion, if you want to get bettor at picking of bluffs online, you should get bettor at recognizing the type players you are at the table with in the first place. I have an entire post on types of players which is the link at the end of this article, read that post, and then watch tables and see if you can figure out each player use the notes feature to note something you see. The more you try this, the bettor you will become. Fortunately when I was doing this process they had observed hand histories and I could check myself, so I recommend that you find a site that allows this still because party poker doesn’t.
Here is the link to my post on player’s styles:
From Murphy to Miracle
I should begin by pointing out that the presentation of this routine is important. Namely, you are going to begin by acting as though things are messing up for you and that you are baffled. The first portion of the routine is totally impromptu and can be performed with a borrowed shuffled, even incomplete deck, but I feel it is greatly strengthened by the last effect, which isn’t impromptu, you can choose to take it and do as you please with it.
Effect: The magician turns over the top card of a shuffled deck as the spectator’s card, then goes to place it into the centre only to find it has changed. When he looks, he can no longer find the initial card, upon trying again, it is back on top of the deck. Taking it, he places it in the centre in an out jogged condition, only to notice that it has changed once again. Frustrated, he looks again and can’t find it, turning the deck face up, he spreads through the cards and locates the card in the centre of the deck, face up.
Finally, he spreads the deck face up and every card in the deck has changed to the card in question.
Method: If you plan on performing the final phase, you’ll require a forcing deck and you’ll be required to keep the card that matches the forcing deck second from the top. Generally, I simply palm off the card in question, plus a cover card and have the deck shuffled, only to palm the two cards back onto the top at the end, however it’s up to you, you could skip the shuffling, or locate the card later, perhaps via a corner short etc.
If you don’t plan to perform the last effect, it’s irrelevant.
Take the deck back and perform a double lift showing the “top” card and indicating that this will be the card to use (we’ll assume it’s the nine of hearts). Then turn the double back over and thumb off the top card, taking it and saying, ok so we have the nine of…turn it over and reveal that it’s wrong. Act like this is an unexpected mistake and you didn’t intend for the card to have changed.
Next comes a somewhat difficult move for those who aren’t very familiar with double lifts. You’ll perform a double lift while holding the indifferent card between your fingers. I use a strike double with my right middle finger. Immediately add it to a sort of face up spread along with the card you’re already holding (hold them in a sort of Biddle style spread) and begin using them to flip over the next few cards on the top of the deck, adding each to the spread as you go, apparently looking for the card in question. Your attitude should be that of “I hate it when this happens”. Afterwards, rotate the right wrist so the spread is face down and thumb the cards off onto the top of the deck, simply reversing the situation and restoring the desired card to it’s former position second from the top.
Now, immediately pick up the top two cards as one. I pick up at the back take them off the deck in a forward motion, exposing that the nine of hearts has returned.
Apparently things are back to normal. Take the cards as one, face up in position for a miracle card switch and show as you insert them into the centre of the deck in an out jogged condition, but as you turn them face down, steal off the desired card in a miracle card switch action. You can either replace the card to the top of the deck directly here, or you can perform a reversal and replace it to the centre of the deck. Perhaps the easiest and cleanest method is to turn the deck over with the left hand, to show “so we have the nine of hearts…” and of course it isn’t the nine of hearts, and in the process of removing the indifferent out jogged card, replace the Tenkai palmed, face down card into the centre of the face up deck.
You’ll now remove the indifferent out jogged card from the deck and set it aside, table it, hand it to someone etc. and in the process, turn the deck back face down. Now, if you simply did a face down Tenkai replacement to the top of the deck, you’ll use the misdirection of handing out the out jogged card come back and reverse the top card (the desired card) to the bottom of the deck. Either via a one-handed reversal, or a Braue reversal. Immediately start flipping over the top cards on the deck as you did previously, but without the double and reverse the process. If the card in question is reversed on the bottom of the deck, before replacing the cards on top, give the deck a quick one-handed cut, centering the card face up, otherwise, simply replace the cards. Then turn the deck face up, asking, “what card were we using?”
Spread through the deck and locate the face down card, out jogging it and spread through the rest of the cards. I recommend a somewhat artistic removal of the card along with the appropriate revelation.
Now honestly, this isn’t a great climax, hence the final effect, which is quite effective since you’ve just spread through the deck and shown that all the cards are different without saying so. In this case, you’ll want to replace the desired card face up on the face of the deck as you draw attention to the card you’ve set aside. During this moment of distraction, you perform the deck switch, there are many methods for this and it depends partially whether you’re standing, or working at a table. The easiest method if you’re sitting at a table is simply to lap the old deck and take up the forcing deck in the moment of distraction. You then add the card you set aside earlier to the deck and vanish it (you can either place it into the centre and side steal it, or place it on top and perform a colour change, or a reversal to the bottom where you’ll cop it off, or any number of other methods, I prefer the former). Now spread the deck face up, showing all the cards in the deck have turned into the nine of hearts. If you’re performing the effect in the hands (the deck switch is then slightly more difficult, which I would recommend you cover with better misdirection), you could use the side steal method, but instead of doing the side steal, you could vanish that last card by performing an under the spread cull as you spread the cards in your hands.
A simple idea for the standing deck switch goes as follows. Have the force deck in your left pocket, ideally a large jacket pocket, but a pant pocket works as well, though I don’t recommend anything tight like jeans. Hold the original deck in a left-handed dealers grip. Now, as you reach for and draw attention to the card on the table or in the hand of the spectator (wherever you left it), turn your body slightly to the left, so your right side is facing your audience (your misdirection should be and must be strong) and reach out with your right hand. Your left hand meanwhile has dropped roughly to your left side, which is away from your audience so your body obstructs the view of your hand, but is slightly curled so it’s at pocket height. Simply reach into your pocket with your left hand and switch decks. There are a few points to consider on this process. You were holding the left hand deck face up, so ensure the deck in your pocket faces towards your body. Also, ensure the face up deck in your hand had the selection (the force card) on the face. As you reach into your pocket, open up the last three fingers of your left hand and hold the deck by your forefinger. Slip the deck in your pocket underneath the last three fingers of your hand and pinch downward with your forefinger while releasing the old deck and pull upwards. Re-grip to a proper mechanic’s grip as you remove your hand and bring out the new deck, keeping it hidden by your body.
Take the formerly tabled card and place it face up on top of the deck. Pause a moment and wonder, rub the card (performing some kind of colour change, there are lots of options, but an Erdnase change is almost as good as any, personally I use a one-handed reversal to the bottom, but that’s just my preference). Apparently, it’s changed into the former selection, not a big deal. Pause…now spread the cards. If you performed an Erdnase change, simply push over a top block to begin with as a means of hiding the former top card. You should receive a lot of reactions at this point. If the card is under the bottom, conceal it under the spread. You can cop it directly and hand out the deck for examination, an easy piece of misdirection to ditch the card. If you performed the Erdnase change, turn the deck face down and spread through the cards quickly in their face down condition, obtaining a break beneath the bottom two cards then close the spread and cop them off as you hand the deck out.
Presented well, this is a fairly effective little routine.
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The people that contributed to the making of this newsletter include:
Eric and Shadow – Technical Support.
Fattyonadiet – Editor.
Drey and Pokerfanatic01 – Authors.
Also; a big thanks to Jerry (The Flourishman) Cestkowski for allowing us to interview him.