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Interview with Rich Ferguson


Review: Chip Tricks DVD
Rich Ferguson is a busy magic pro who has performed corporate shows for major companies such as Aetna, Mazda and AT&T, as well as for casinos such as Caesar’s Palace, Sahara, and Mandalay Bay. He is the host and talent for Official Poker, Inc’s Instructional DVD series, as well as a magic consultant and effects creator. He recently took time out to talk with Magic & Illusion about his “Official Poker Chip Tricks DVD Volume 1" and other projects.

Magic & Illusion: Why are stunts with poker chips so intriguing?

Rich Ferguson: Good chip handling like good card handling shows a sort of James Bond style and confidence. Players like to have a coolness or edge to their game, and for many, stunts with poker chips are the answer. Many newer players see some of the standard chip tricks on television and want to mimic the look of a seasoned pro. “The Official Poker Chip Tricks DVD” teaches players and magicians alike just how to do that.

M&I: Are magic tricks with coins distinctly different from tricks with chips? What do you see as the major differences between the genres?

RF: There is a difference between coin tricks and chip tricks. With coin tricks, you are very likely to be demonstrating magical effects. Although many magic coin effects could be done with poker chips they are not because regular coins are more familiar and might be considered more appropriate and less distracting. When doing Chip Tricks, the goal is purely showing off, stalling or intimidating. The goal at the card table is not to demonstrate how poker chips can vanish and reappear.

M&I: Will there be a Chip Tricks Volume 2? If so, what can we expect to see?

RF: After “The Official Poker Card Stunts Volume 1 and 2" and “The Official Poker Card Handling, Shuffles and Cuts Volume 1" there will likely be a second “Chip Tricks” DVD. Since “The Official Poker Chip Tricks DVD Volume 1" contains all of the commonly known chip tricks the second DVD is going to contain some variations of current tricks, more difficult manipulations and some original, unorthodox techniques that haven't been taught before. There will likely be a handful of easy to master ideas that didn't make the first DVD.

M&I: What are your biggest projects these days?

RF: I am writing a monthly column in Bluff Magazine were I give advice and tips and teach poker stunts each month. I will be demonstrating many of the new card stunts and chip tricks in Las Vegas the beginning of July at the first Poker Convention. That should be a blast hanging with the guys from Bluff Media and the WPT.

As far as new shows go, I am always fine tuning my unique blend of sleight of hand and interactive mentalism. My current favorite effect is having someone think of a word while instructing a second person to point anywhere in a dictionary which turns out to be the first person’s word. Fun JEDI mind control stuff.

M&I: Do you think that this big interest in Poker is a short-term or long-term trend, and why?

RF: I think the interest in poker is huge and will continue to grow for a few years to come. Although the market might seem to be saturated with poker stuff, many people are still joining the masses every day. I believe the "craze" will peak in the next few years but poker will continue to be a big part of gaming as well as a very popular past-time with friends.

I have a theory on why it is so popular in home games. People are a little overwhelmed at the choices with cells phones, PDA, computers, cable, game systems, web, etc. At times, I think people are looking for something social to do with friends. When our parents grew up, they knew their neighbors and passed the time playing cards or enjoying the outdoors. Our current society has gotten a little busy and poker, in my opinion, is one of those great things that has brought people together.

Asking coworkers over to play some poker sounds cool and hip compared to asking them over to play board games or other types of card games (although, I must now admit that we have "game night" at my house each week consisting of any game in the closet). Even though poker might take a lifetime to master, anybody can start with only a few minutes of instruction.

The huge explosion of poker on television has made people curious to finally try it out. For millions, poker is no longer looked at like some risky and dark activity but rather psychological, thrilling, challenging, social, safe and fun. Poker has been around for a long time and it is here to stay.

M&I: Anything else that you would like to mention or discuss?

RF: Being a full time magician, I hope that I can help teach magician some useful techniques through the “Official Poker DVD Series.” Our DVDs might be giving techniques that are appropriate for the card table, but magicians can benefit from any of the techniques taught. After all, they are the techniques that I use.


-Wayne N. Kawamoto

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