Elmsley Count vs a regular count

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Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby TerryC » Mar 3rd, '15, 22:06



I was reviewing the comments on Penguin relating to the Brainwave deck. Curiously, people were somewhat negative because it is so strong, some spectators guess it's in the cards and want to examine them.

I have a packet trick that somewhat uses the Brainwave trick. I use an Elmsley to show four blue backs. I got to thinking--surely, if I were simply showing spectators that I had four blue backed cards I would merely spread them, and not use a most unusual counting method. I haven't had an issue (yet), but I wonder if anyone has been challenged on why they used "a funny count method."?

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby SpareJoker » Mar 4th, '15, 12:16

A lot of the moves in card magic look 'unnatural' to the average spectator, becasue they have not seen anyone handle the cards in such a fasion before. However, if the 'move' is performed competantly and with confidence, it will not arouse suspicion in spectators. If a performer struggles with a particular technique, the audience can pick up (subconciously) on this and they will begin to question what they see.

I think Darwin Ortiz covers this in his book 'Strong Magic' (or was it Designing Miracles?) when discussing 'natualness in performing'.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby TerryC » Mar 4th, '15, 18:01

You're right, of course. and I probably tend to think like a magician rather than as a spectator.
Appreciate your thoughts, thanks.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby Johnny Wizz » Mar 4th, '15, 22:59

TerryC wrote:I was reviewing the comments on Penguin relating to the Brainwave deck. Curiously, people were somewhat negative because it is so strong, some spectators guess it's in the cards and want to examine them.

I have a packet trick that somewhat uses the Brainwave trick. I use an Elmsley to show four blue backs. I got to thinking--surely, if I were simply showing spectators that I had four blue backed cards I would merely spread them, and not use a most unusual counting method. I haven't had an issue (yet), but I wonder if anyone has been challenged on why they used "a funny count method."?



I use Twisted Sister regularly and that relies on two Elmsley counts to show the "four red backed and four blue backed" cards. Nobody has ever shown any interest in why I show off the backs in a counting rather than fan manner. I think this is very much a case of thinking like a magician!

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby Relish » Mar 5th, '15, 14:55

I agree that it comes down to handling. My opinion is that an Elmsley count is justified as it counts the cards in the packet. In my mind the move is to show the number of cards rather than the backs of the cards.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby bmat » Mar 5th, '15, 18:03

TerryC wrote:I was reviewing the comments on Penguin relating to the Brainwave deck. Curiously, people were somewhat negative because it is so strong, some spectators guess it's in the cards and want to examine them.

I have a packet trick that somewhat uses the Brainwave trick. I use an Elmsley to show four blue backs. I got to thinking--surely, if I were simply showing spectators that I had four blue backed cards I would merely spread them, and not use a most unusual counting method. I haven't had an issue (yet), but I wonder if anyone has been challenged on why they used "a funny count method."?


I've been doing this a long time. And I can tell you that no trick is 'too strong' there is a 'Too Perfect' theory that has been floating around since the advent of sliced bread, but it doesn't hold a lot of water.

People don't ask to examine a deck or a prop because they can't figure out how else the trick is done, nor do they ask to see the prop because that is the only possible solution.

The lay person suspects for a few reasons.
1. The prop was mishandled, or at the very least handled with a different 'feel' then the rest of the routine.
2. The performer drew the wrong type of attention to the prop.
3. And most common. The performer did not really show a magic trick to entertain the audience, they showed a trick/puzzle to fool the audience and the audience naturally took up the challange and thus the prop becomes suspect.

An audience that has been drawn in and entertained by the effect doesn't really question how an effect is done. In fact in many instances you can leave the prop out in the open and nobody will even touch it because the magic they just witnessed is enough. The routine is/was complete and they are left satisfied.

If one is getting questions about the props. Don't look at the props, or the trick or come up with excuses, (and that is what they are) about how too perfect it is, or that the trick sucks. Instead take a good long look at your handling, how you perform and your thoughts on magic and what it really is. Find a performer you like and respect, who actually performes and ask for help in this matter.

Most will be more than willing to help in this situation as it shows that the person really wants to perform. To entertain, not just be a trickster.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby TonyB » Mar 6th, '15, 01:12

I have never seen an Elmsley count that looks anything but fake. It is like the DL; we are only fooling ourselves. Thankfully the public is too polite to point it out, or our egos would take a battering.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby Boris » Mar 6th, '15, 13:45

Read bmat's post again. Once you are done, read it again. After that, read it again. Memorize it, if you can. It is 100% spot on.


TonyB wrote:I have never seen an Elmsley count that looks anything but fake. It is like the DL; we are only fooling ourselves. Thankfully the public is too polite to point it out, or our egos would take a battering.

I agree that you might never have seen an Elmsley count that looked anything but fake and I admit that I've rarely seen it presented properly. Everything else in your post is hogwash.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby mark lewis » Mar 6th, '15, 14:20

I am not so sure that Tony's post is hogwash. In most cases (perhaps all cases!) every time I have seen it done there is something not quite right about it. And I think the original poster's point about people getting a vague feeling of fakery may well have something in it. A subconcious discomfort rather than something they can bring attention to. Vernon makes the same point about strike double lifts (if that is the correct term). He says that people would push the single card off rather than strike it at the side and do the move. I don't think I agree with Vernon here. I think I take the middle position in this discussion. I do disagree with Tony about DLs. When I was young I always used to get caught with it but now hardly ever. However, there is a disease known as DL indigestion and you can have too much of a good thing. In other words you shouldn't overuse it, particularly in Ambitious Card routines.

But good points have also been made by Bmat and others so I will have to give the matter some further thought. As for the too perfect theory I tend to believe there is something in it although I am not dogmatic about it.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby Boris » Mar 6th, '15, 16:38

mark lewis wrote:I am not so sure that Tony's post is hogwash. In most cases (perhaps all cases!) every time I have seen it done there is something not quite right about it.

Same as Tony's post, this cannot be denied. Only you know what you've seen and nobody can dispute that because it's you that has seen it. For my own part I have seen an Elmsley that was so innocuous and disarming that I had to admit that nothing was amiss (even though as a magician I knew better). I've further witnessed a DL that I had no idea occurred until the trick was over and there was no other explanation as to how the trick could have happened (it HAD to be a DL, but there was no DL in performance that I witnessed). That particular presentation was performed by none other than Ron Bauer.

If you can't pull off a DL or an Elmsley without it looking 100% fair, that is your shortcoming and nobody else's. To proclaim that since you can't do it or have never witnessed it that it doesn't exist is hogwash.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby bmat » Mar 6th, '15, 18:00

I've been fooled by DL and Elsmsley counts, key cards and a host of others. And I'm not saying that they were done well or properly or whatever. I was fooled because I didn't notice them. Because I was so enthralled with the effect in its totality that I never noticed any sleight going on. Afterwards I was able to reconstruct the effect because of my knowledge base. But a lay audience would never even suspect because they were not given a reason too, and not because the audience was too polite, (and yes I believe audiences are often far too polite). But if an effect is framed properly there is very little that one cannot get away with.

If after I perform card under glass at a bar, and later I hear the spectator's talking amoungst themselves and they don't have a clue, that I never touched the glass even though I told them (after a while) that it will end up there. Then certainly I could perform a false count of any kind and have it not noticed. I don't tell them to watch me count the cards, I wouldn't tell them that with a legit count, why on earth would I point out a fake one. I just help them travel down the road, I let their brains do the work.

Back in the day when performing card on ceiling, I'd hate it when later somebody who saw it earlier would come to me with another person in tow asking to see the effect where I never touched the deck and the card ended up on the ceiling. I'd have to show them something else because what they saw never happened. And I've heard other magicians having the same issues.

I happen to really like the Sylvester pitch. If you don't know what it is, briefly, you toss a coin into your hand, you really toss the coin into your hand, there is no fake. You show the coin now in the other hand, you put the coin in your pocket and it appears back in the original hand. Truth is once you understand you can toss a coin into the hand and end up with a hammer in your original hand. And guess what? both the coin and the hammer were tossed in front of the spectator at the same time. The only thing the spectator see's is the original object, in my case it is a coin. If I remember correctly I was at a lecture by Sylvester the Jester and he was demonstrating with a soda bottle.

My point being, that the sleight doesn't have to be perfect. You just have to time and frame it perfectly. I'm with Boris on all this. You guys may never have seen an elmsley count done well. That only means two things. A) You have not seen an elsmsley count done well, or if you have seen a lot of magic, B) You only think you have not seen one done well, but it may have been done so well that you were not aware it was being done. Although in some cases I am sure ones ego won't allow one to believe this possibility. I'm sure it could mean more things. But I'm sticking with my two because one or both is probably correct.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby Mandrake » Mar 6th, '15, 19:47

Before I knew what an Elmsley was I was amazed by routines which I now know used that count. Once you know about and look for such a move you will probably notice it more than a lay person would. Same applies to many moves, sleights and processes in magic - best non-card example I can think of is with big box stage magic where Mr.Magic climbs up some stairs into a lethal looking contraption of some kind which will threaten his life...etc... and then the assistants roll the stairs away off stage - go figure!

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby isb » Mar 9th, '15, 13:25

I'm with Mandrake on this.

Back when I was only just getting into magic, I was in my local magic shop and Roy Walton showed me a packet trick that totally amazed me. I can't actually remember many details about it - all I have is the layman's false recollection of it. But knowing what I know now, it definitely used a Hamman and (probably) an Elmsley or two but I was completely fried by it. Of course it helps that the man showing it to me is one of the greats of card magic...

Conversely I once (much later in my magical journey) watched Paul Gordon demo one of his effects that used a Hamman. I watched closely and saw the p****t s****h clear as day, to the extent that I couldn't believe that would fly by a lay audience. But given Paul's well-known expertise in this and similar sleights, I took great encouragement from that, and trust that with the right presentation, misdirection and lack of magical knowledge a lack of uniformity at the key moment will go unnoticed.

The biggest problem I've seen with the Elmsley is the tendency of some magicians to handle the cards in mechanic's grip for an entire presentation, but switch to fingertips to count/display them, then back to mechanic's immediately after.
And the biggest problem I've seen with the DL is the tendency to get ready at the back, then immediately change position and execute the sleight from the side.
These are the key flaws I am trying to avoid when I use either.

IB

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby soveda » Mar 9th, '15, 14:46

isb wrote:The biggest problem I've seen with the Elmsley is the tendency of some magicians to handle the cards in mechanic's grip for an entire presentation, but switch to fingertips to count/display them, then back to mechanic's immediately after.
And the biggest problem I've seen with the DL is the tendency to get ready at the back, then immediately change position and execute the sleight from the side.
These are the key flaws I am trying to avoid when I use either.

IB

Both of these points are why I found the "project" series by Liam Montier and BBM really useful.

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Re: Elmsley Count vs a regular count

Postby artychris » Mar 10th, '15, 12:49

I'm not a fan of the Helmsley count, even though some amazing things can be done with with it... It just seems an unnatural way to handle cards... (That said, I still occasionally use a version of Twisted Sisters)

I would certainly second Soveda here, BBMs Project series is an excellent magicians resource!

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