More con game than magic trick and brethren to the Three-Card Monte, the shell game is a street classic. To teach beginners the basics of performing the game, An Introduction to the Shell Game: Volume 1 on DVD, by The School for Scoundrels (www.schoolforscoundrels.com), offers an excellent primer.
Taught by magicians Whit Haydn and Bob Sheets, the DVD offers a basic routine with explanation, as well as advanced and master moves. According to Haydn, the advanced and master moves will take a beginner to an intermediate level, and this DVD is the first in a set that may include up to five volumes.
Most magicians understand the basic workings of the shell game. After all, a lot of us played with cheap versions that came in magic sets. And inexpensive versions of the game, mostly from Adams, are available in any joke and magic store. But witness the shells in the hands of a master such as Sheets or Haydn, and you quickly realize the power of this con and effect. In their hands, spectators dont have a chance as these pros can make the pea appear under any shell at will.
Haydn offers some useful background on the basic shells and peas on the market, and Bob Sheets performs a fun, basic routine with spectators, and adequately explains the basics, setup and steps. The DVD offers a series of powerful advanced and master moves, but for the most part, does not present them in the context of a routine. If you learn these moves, youre on your own to incorporate them into your own work. I would have preferred to see an intermediate routine that used some of the advanced and master moves.
Advanced moves include the Deep Pinch, Back Pinch, V-Grip, Side Steal, Inside Shift and Side Load. I particularly like the Back Pinch that lets you seemingly show an empty shell or hand. Whit Haydn explains these techniques well.
Master Moves include the Sheets Acquitment, Sucker Load, Chanins Favorite, The Haydn Turnover and Maneuvers. All are amazing techniques that are excellent additions to any routine. I particularly liked the Sheets Acquitment and Chanins Favorite and The Haydn Turnover that seemingly show an empty shell that isnt.