Card Cheats & Achieving Goals

So, how are your 2018 resolutions and goals coming? 

Confession #1: I can cheat at cards

Confession #2: I have cheated in card games. No. Not for money, but for amusement. Dealing one of my friends seven Wild Cards in a game of Uno and then watching the expression on their face is a guilty pleasure of mine. Yes, cheating at Uno won’t get me on the cover of Casino Monthly, but it will keep me from getting beaten up by security.

Confession #3 (last one, I promise): A huge chunk of the hundreds of books in my personal library deal with the methods, devices and legends of card cheating. And there are few legends bigger than P.J. Kepplinger and his holdout device.

I have to admit, I love these things. Equal parts card cheating gadget, Rube Goldberg device and a gizmo you’d see Artemus Gordon use on the TV classic The Wild, Wild West, these devices are hidden up the sleeve and take and place cards in the hand.

These devices arrived shortly after the civil war (much like Artemus Gordon) and were touted within the cheater’s world as an easier way to achieve the same results of difficult sleight of hand. Also, these devices were an easier way to get caught and shot. That is until the Kepplinger Knee-Spread Holdout.

kepplinger_holdout_machine_example

Beautiful, isn’t she?

P.J. Kepplinger was a San Francisco card cheat and mechanical whiz. His holdout design and its release made his name immortal in the card cheating world.

The genius of its operation is the invisibility. No awkward bar to push up and down; the activation of this holdout is entirely invisible because it happens underneath the poker table. A cable goes up from the knees, up to the hip, then the shoulder. There it goes down the arm where the sneak (the part of the device that grabs the cards) can go in and out of the sleeve at the owner’s will. The cheat sits down and reaches into a small slit in one knee of his trousers. He takes out a cable and attaches it to the other knee. He moves his knees apart and the sneak appears in his palm. He moves his knees together and the sneak scurries back up his sleeve. It may sound crazy, but when used in the hands of a practiced professional it is a thing of deceptive beauty.

How The Kepplinger Holdout Was Unleashed For The Poker Cheats Of The World

From John Nevil Maskelyne’s, Sharps and Flats, 1894 …

In 1888, then, Kepplinger’s relaxation for some months consisted of a ‘hard game’ with players who were all professional sharps like himself. The circle was composed entirely of men who thought they knew the ropes as well as he did. In that, however, they were considerably in error. He was acquainted with a trick worth any two which they could have mentioned. However much the fortunes of the others might vary, Kepplinger never sustained a loss. On the contrary, he always won. The hands he held were enough to turn any gambler green with envy, and yet, no one could detect him in cheating. His companions were, of course, all perfectly familiar with the appliances of their craft.

Holdouts in a game of that description would have been, one would think, useless encumbrances. The players were all too well acquainted with the signs and tokens accompanying such devices, and Kepplinger gave no sign of the employment of anything of the kind. He sat like a statue at the table, he kept his cards right away from him, he did not move a muscle as far as could be seen; his opponents could look up his sleeve almost to the elbow, and yet he won.

This being the condition of affairs, it was one which could not by any stretch of courtesy be considered satisfactory to anyone but Kepplinger himself. Having borne with the untoward circumstances as long as their curiosity and cupidity would allow them, his associates at length resolved upon concerted action. Arranging their plan of attack, they arrived once again at the rendezvous, and commenced the game as usual. Then, suddenly and without a moment’s warning, Kepplinger was seized, gagged, and held hard and fast.

Then the investigation commenced. The great master-cheat was searched, and upon him was discovered the most ingenious holdout ever devised.

STORY BREAK:
What do you think happens next? Did the other cheats beat him nearly dead? Did they shoot him dead? Keep reading …

What did the conspirators do then? Did they ‘lay into him’ with cudgels, or ‘get the drop’ on him with ‘six-shooters’? Did they, for instance, hand him over to the Police? No! ten thousand times no! They did none of those things, nor had they ever any intention of doing anything of the kind. Being only human—and sharps—they did what they considered would serve their own interests best. A compact was entered into, whereby Kepplinger agreed to make a similar instrument to the one he was wearing for each of his captors, and once again the temporary and short-lived discord gave place to harmony and content.

Had Kepplinger been content to use less frequently the enormous advantage he possessed, and to have exercised more discretion in winning, appearing to lose sometimes, his device might have been still undiscovered.

So what’s this have to do with keeping 2018?

Everything. Kepplinger’s victims had been cheated. Sure, they were cheaters, too, but let’s not get tied up technicalities. Bottomline: They lost money.

In 2018 you will probably face cheating and loss. 

Kepplinger’s victims faced the facts and didn’t ask,  “How can we get even?”
They asked, “How can we get ahead?”
They didn’t act on their anger. They acted on their ambition.

You and I won’t meet up with a cheat packing a Kepplinger holdout. (Well, you probably won’t.)

We will meet up with business competitors, failing vendors, bad weather, lousy luck, illness, liars, slackers, bad customer service, late deliveries, no deliveries, rush hour traffic, cookies when trying to lose weight, too much to do when trying to get to the gym, rude people, people that won’t buy, people that won’t sell, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera …

Will we stew in our emotional juices, thinking up ways to get even?
Or will we act on our ambitions?

Have a great 2018!

Doc Dixon
Comedian ♠️ Magician ♦️ Keynote Speaker ♣️

PS: If you’re looking for a speaker that’s a little different (and much more amazing and funny) for you next meeting, convention, business event, reach out to me at 1.888.Doc.Dixon or drop me a line here

 

 

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Snow Day & Six Boys. At Least There’s Coffee

I’m a husband of one and father of seven. Our eldest child, Chelsea, is married and lives in Virginia. At home are our six sons, ages 11, 10, 9, 6, 5 and 2. Five of them are in school. I have a home office. 

TODAY WAS A SNOW DAY. 
All six boys are home. I’m typing this while the boys are having a snack or, as my wife and I call it, “a tiny window of quiet”

Today I had plans to get much accomplished.
Pages to read. Calls to make. Emails to send. Errands to run.

Nope. Not today.

Today I’ve been given other opportunities.
The opportunity to get ticked off. The opportunity to get cranky because I can’t get stuff done!

Nope. Not today.

Instead … 
I lead the kids in a little house cleaning. Hung out. Took a day that borders on Christmas to them — I mean, it’s not just a two hour day, it’s an ENTIRE DAY WITHOUT SCHOOOOOOOOL — and made it special just by getting a little more hangout time with Dad. Spent time with the Mrs. 

Life and business are full of snow days, with and without actual snow. Snow days can be flight delays, surprise visits, computer crashes, etc. All are snow days. Don’t let them seize you. Seize them. Play the ball as it lies and go with it and don’t waste time getting ticked about what coulda, woulda, shoulda been. Work with what’s there.

Gotta go. The tiny window of quiet is closing. 

Best,

Doc Dixon
www.docdixon.com
1.888.Doc.Dixon

 

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What’s it like to appear on The Late Late Show with James Corden?

“Thanks so much for a tremendous performance, Doc!”
Talent Booker, The Late Late Show with James Corden

On January 27, 2017 I shot a performance for The Late Late Show with James Corden. It aired the night of February 2 (actually 12:37 am February 3). Here’s how it all went down. 

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” The Beatles

A few months back one of my favorite show biz buddies appeared on The Late Late Show with James CordenAfter the show airs, he suggests I submit a few videos to the show for the segment.

The show segment is called Stage 56 Bar Tricks. Four different performers come on and perform feats ranging from challenging juggling, balancing or just plain silliness. I noticed that no one has done an actual magic trick for the show — plenty of juggling stuff, but not magic.

So I send in my first submission: a video of me tossing 3 separate pretzels at each other making them link in mid air. Cool trick. And I wait to hear from the booker at CBS …

…nothing. 

Now I realize it’s probably because they were not filming the segment yet, much like nobody buys Christmas trees in July, so I send another clip a few weeks later. In this submission, I spread a deck of cards on the back of my right hand and forearm, then flicked my right arm up, causing the cards to fly in the air, and I catch the cards with my right hand without dropping a single one.

Oh, and one more thing. Before I did this I soaked the cards with lighter fluid and lit them on fire.

I email this to clip to the show booker and got a response the same day.

January 20: I get the email

On January 20 I get an email from the show asking me if I’m available to tape on Friday January 27th to do …the pretzel trick. I thought the fire trick would be their first choice, but it’s their show. So I’m booked!

January 27: The day of the taping

“Pro wrestling isn’t the only fake competition on TV.” Common sense

The show guests were Bill Paxton and Mindy Kaling, plus surprise guest …Queen. Yes, I will now be able to tell my grandkids “Queen was my opening act on national TV”. They won’t believe me either. 

In the Bar Tricks segment, four people are brought on to perform their trick or stunt. One of them is “voted off” the show and escorted off by actors dressed like night club bouncers. It’s a hilarious exit and is part of the funny of the segment. Is it a real competition? No. My friend, Mark Hayward, who is a world champion yoyo guy, was escorted off when he was on the show. All performers on this segment go into it with that knowledge and realize that if they’re are the one escorted off, it’s an opportunity for more funny. 

When I arrived and met the other three talented performers — 2 jugglers and a strong woman who would bend a frying pan with her bare hands — I knew I was going to be escorted off. Why? Juggling and strength exhibitions climax with “Look what they did!” Magic, at least in this very brief context, ends with a “How in the @#$ did he do that?” In the 60 or so seconds allowed for each performer that difference alone made me the logical choice. Again, it’s not a real competition and if I’m not a pro and play along, the show suffers. 

We go through a couple of rehearsals. Everyone does well. James Corden is friendly and likable behind the scenes as he is on the show. The crew are not only total pros, but totally friendly pros, particularly, the show booker. I can’t imagine how many plates this guy has to spin, but he keeps them all spinning while at the same time making everybody feel like a million bucks.

SHOW TIME!

The four of us are escorted to the studio and marched out one at a time to do our thing. I was second. Here’s the clip, starting with Corden’s segment introduction and with all four performers. Thanks for watching! And if you need someone to do magic with pretzels (or anything else for that matter), you know where to reach me. 

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Introducing my newest office coworker, Bella Tiberius Dixon.

Bella the pig

Bella is our 18 month old pot bellied pig. A wonderfully friendly, house broken, affable creature. Best of all, her favorite website is www.docdixon.com. You have to respect that. 

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Thanksgiving Thanks

I have five handsome healthy sons and a beautiful healthy daughter.
I have a cute healthy grandson.
I have the awesome Smokin’ Hot Wife.
I am paid to travel and perform all over the country, seeing things like this …

las vegas cowboy pic

Fremont Street, Las Vegas

And this …

11th Hour Project - 2007, Shot 1, 7:00p.m. to 7:30p.m. (GMT -4 hours)

Longaberger Basket HQ

And of course, this …

IMG_3538

A standing ovation near Houston, TX.

And all of this is made possible, not to mention paid for, by the wonderful people that host my shows at their meetings, specials events, trade shows and clubs.

Thank you. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Chris “Doc” Dixon

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A Road Warrior’s Travel Cup Of Choice

I love coffee. 

Not as much as I love my kids or my wife. No, but this love is way more clingy.  If I don’t take a few minutes to drink some every morning and throughout the work day, bad things happen.

Bad things.

My wife is the same way. For those mornings when I’m not on the road, one of the first things I do is bring my wife her coffee in bed. Then she says, “I love you.” 

I spend a lot of time in a car and on planes, so I like to get the details right. One of those is having the perfect travel mug.  No leaking tolerated. No cold coffee after 30 minutes tolerated. With this in mind, here’s my suggestion to make your coffee love life better.

The travel mug of choice: Stainless Steel Thermos 16-Ounce Vacuum-Insulated Travel Tumbler. Does it keep the coffee hot? I’ve had coffee stay hot in this for over five hours. Does it leak? I’ve thrown a full one into my prop case without a drop spilling. Not cheap at $23, but worth it.

You can be sure, if I’m flying or driving to perform at a show near you, one of these cups is near me.

Doc Dixon
Working hard for audiences nationwide since 1982

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What I Learned At The Amusement Park

Two days ago I took my wife, my three year old son, my one year old son and my two year old grandson to an amusement park. Here’s what I learned:

The only thing worse than schlepping around a 4 seater stroller all day is wishing you had. When in doubt, schlepp.

People really spend too much time texting. Live in the now, people.

My kids are better looking than everyone else’s kids.

If you’re a four hundred fifty pound fat guy, do not, I repeat, DO NOT wear a T shirt that is nearly identical to the color of your skin as from thirty yards away this will make you look like a topless four hundred fifty pound fat guy. No one wants that at the amusement park.

It was a fun day. DD

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