By Luke Jermay - Tuesday, December 15, 2020
When it comes to gambling routines, there are two main approaches we see in performance material. The first, I think of as demonstrations of skill. The types of routines that showcase the performers technique, skill and sleight of hand abilities. The second, are those routines in which you engage the spectator in direct play of a game and win.
In my experience those routines that allow for the direct engagement of play, offer a more compelling experience for the audience. If you take a moment or two to contrast in your mind routines such as Fast and Loose or Three Card Monte with demonstrations such as riffle stacking or bottom dealing, the potential within direct engagement of play becomes clear.
However, there is a very real concern with demonstrations of direct play. If not carefully handled, they can come off as mean spirited. After all, the entire demonstration hinges on the performer ‘beating’ the spectator. In my own work, I have used these style routines and choose to lean as heavily as possible into the notion that I will do everything I can to beat the spectator. Instead of trying to soften this, I make it hard. I make it mean spirited but I frame the experience as being exactly this prior to it beginning. I believe in this regard I was deeply inspired by Ricky Jay’s masterful performance of the 10 card poker deal which appeared on his BBC Special “Hustlers, Hoaxsters, Jokesters and Ricky Jay.” When this approach is taken, for the right person at the right time, it can be sensational, dramatic and compelling.
The key words here are, at the right time, for the right person. For other times, there are other ways!
Thanks to the freedom of the method within “Hit” you are able to turn the tables and rather than beating the spectator time after time, you can magically empower the spectator to win, time after time. In my own presentation along these lines, I have the spectator think about times in their life where they were happy, content and confident. I then have them relive these feelings as they use their intuition to pick cards to form their hand. Amazingly, time after time, when the spectator is in a good frame of mind they find the cards that win. Amazingly, when not in a good frame of mind when making choices, they lose. The routine is transformed from a gambling routine into something that leads us to consider the nature of our thoughts affecting our choices.
Best of all, with this simple reframing, all are winners!
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