Book of The Month Update: Dave Croft

Hi Michael, 
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this first Book of The Month Challenge, thanks for coming up with the idea!  Here are my thoughts –
I was pleased when you announced Cardshark as the first book in this project because I had only very recently got hold of a copy and so had not had a chance to properly study it yet.
My first impression on reading through it was that there was a lot more variety in the type of effects than I was expecting – Cardshark being the first book of effects that I had read by Darwin, I only knew of him as a gambling expert so I was expecting mainly gambling themed effects.
I was also pleased at the fact that, although most of the material is fairly technically challenging, most of the effects would be within the reach of the majority of card magic enthusiasts.
As I don’t perform gambling themed effects very often, I am not particularly proficient with some of the false deals and shuffling techniques employed in the later routines in the book, however, this is definitely a book that I will return to when I have worked on these techniques as, from reading through them, they are definitely routines I would like to perform in the future.  I just feel I need to put more time in to the techniques before applying them to routines.
For the effects to study, I chose Signature Effect, The Unholy Three and Pickup on South Street.  With The Unholy Three being the effect I chose for concentrated study.
I chose these three effects as they all, to me, are solid effects that have been given an extra something that makes them completely impossible.  
Signature effect – spectator signs the back of a card, sight unseen, then touches the face of a random card and this turns out to be the card with the signature on the back.   A good effect in itself but then another card is chosen and the signature vanishes from the first selection and appears on the second chosen card.
The Unholy Three – A display of skill where three cards are chosen from a red backed deck and this deck is set aside, the corresponding cards from a blue backed deck are then cut to by the performer.  The cards are then turned over and found to be from the red backed card.
Pickup on South Street – A card to wallet effect where the chosen card vanishes from one spectator’s wallet then appears in the performer’s wallet that is held by a second spectator.  Again, Card to Wallet is a great effect but the addition of the vanish and the distance of the performer from the wallets elevates the effect.
This project has allowed me to get back into focused study again which I have to admit I had not done for a while.  I had got into a bit of a rut, not challenging myself to progress and just performing stuff I was comfortable with.  Learning new routines and in particular, focusing on one effect has been a breath of fresh air and I feel the enthusiasm I felt when I first started learning magic again.
I really enjoyed the book, I liked the additional thoughts at the end of each effect where Darwin went in to further detail about why he had made the choices he had for each effect, why he felt that this approach was preferable over other ways of achieving the effect.  
There was very little I did not like about the book.  Some of the routines, a couple of the gambling routines in the third part in particular, are beyond my current skill set, however, this is not an issue with the book, more of an incentive for me to keep learning and to return to the book at a later date.  In particular, I would love to perform The Sting at some point.
All in all, this has been a rewarding couple of months spent with Cardshark.  I have learnt some new material and more importantly, rediscovered an enthusiasm that had been dulled somewhat of late.  
Really looking forward to the next title in the project.

Mike’s BOTM Commentary

Firstly, let’s thank Dave for it great contribution to this conversation.

I found his evaluation honest and authentic and I am confident that Cardshark will continue to inspire him as much as it his done for me.

In many respect, I could feel my personal experience with this book from reading his evaluation. The material was and still is first class – a great mixture of easy to learn routines and some a little more challenging.

This is the sort of book you will either love or struggle to come to terms with and the final breakthrough will be in direct proportion to you as a student and your willingness to stretch and growth beyond your comfort zone. Cardshark is a book the reflects how comfortable you are and also challenges us to raise the bar, if the material speaks to you.

In reading Dave’s opinions about the book, it is clear to me that he has deep aspirations and I for one wish him all the best on his journey. 

In the final analysis, Cardshark isn’t about the book or the tricks, it is all about who you need to become in oder to bring the material to life for the enjoyment of our audience.

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