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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Friday, 4 May 2007
Trick or treat?
Topic: Television

Sorry for the infrequent posting lately. I made a decision a few months ago to 'spring clean' my life and eliminate a few things that were annoying me. I stopped playing online poker in January and stopped looking at the Gutshot and Hendon Mob discussion forums in February. Stepped up the physical exercise, lost a lot of weight and started playing much longer hours in live action. I've been a lot happier and more successful, but the blog has suffered a bit as a result.

Derren Brown has a series on Friday nights called Trick or Treat. I didn't see the first one, but I've seen the poker one with Neil Channing, Jeff Duvall, Paul Parker, Nik Persaud and Tony Holden. And I saw another one with a 'trick' involving a dummy. While watching the latter on video this morning, I realised that his 'trick or treat' cards are exactly the same. Turn 'trick' upside down and it shows 'treat' (and vice versa). It means that the 'random choice' made by the applicant is non-existent. Brown makes the choice after the card is selected by choosing whether to turn it over horizontically or vertically. Quite funny once you realise it.

It's things like that which make you wonder though whether Brown does what he claims he does - psychological tricks - or whether it's just standard magic dressed up for a post Paul Daniels era audience. There tends to be only enough room on TV for one famous magician at any time and to break through you need a gimmic ... rude (Daniels), comatose (Blaine) or mind-controller (Brown).

Whatever the case, his show's worth seeing. In one of his shows, he did a trick involving paying for something using blank bits of paper instead of money. The trick worked by having a conversation whilst handing over the 'cash' in which he used the words 'it's fine, take it'. Viewers actually saw the trick fail in one of the three instances shown. It was interesting that this was when he approached a vendor whose English wasn't fluent. For me this supports the idea that what he did there was actually genuine.

I've spoken to all bar one of the professional players selected for the poker show and they all felt that there was something fishy about it.

Channel 4, tonight 10pm

_ DY at 2:23 PM BST
Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007 2:24 PM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Saturday, 5 May 2007 - 1:17 PM BST

Name: "Commie Boy"

Hi David,

The Cards Derren is using are called "Ambigram" cards. And yes they are quite funny! You are also bang on about his magic. Derren is a straight forward magician. His angle is that he gives phoney explanations for what he is doing and makes everyone think it's mind control. Over the last few years I have done a lot of card magic and magic in general. I would say 90% of his stuff is straightforward standard magic. I have a small number of "psychologically" tricks and the art is in how you sell it. As long as the person you're doing the trick on believes you have read their mind, you can get away with the most basic stuff. The easiest and most blatant example of this is to force a known card onto someone, have them hold it in their hand and then look them in the eyes. Start getting them to "transmit" the card to you in their mind and providing your acting is alright, make them think they sent it to you.

You can also use the same method to achieve a "I can tell if you're lying" trick. If I know the card is the ace of spades, I will ask questions like "is it black" and when they say no, i'll pretend I can see in their eyes that they are lying.

 The poker didn't seem particularly fishy to me. Off the top of my head, i would guess that he taught the old woman the basics of poker. Then convinced her she had excellent card reading abilities (by fixing the results of her "guesses" in practice), this would have boosted her confidence. I then think he just threw her in a game with a reasonably fast structure and hoped for the best. I will admit though, that I'm honestly not sure how he did it.



Friday, 18 May 2007 - 1:22 PM BST

Name: "anonymous"

In his very first tv series (I think) he went to the dog track and bought random tickets then went back after the race and pretended to have the winning ticket. He usually said "this is the winning ticket" or somethig similar as he handed it ot them and I think he got paid 3 out of 4 times. He also showed someone else how to do it and they managed it once out of 2 goes. Afterwards he walked up and asked the cashier to check the tickets and they were quite dumbfounded. It looked genuine and wouldd be a shame if it was all a fix as the whole act is quite meaningless without it.

He also told a good story about almost being mugged and getting away by talking randomly to them - I think he asked them about their shoes.  


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