I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in my profession to have identified and befriended most of the nice names in magic and was all the time drawn to those that specialised in sleight of hand with playing cards.
Just a few of those characters crossed between the world of playing and dishonest and magic.
Martin Nash was a legend within the conjuring world, and I used to be lucky to spend many hours in his firm.
In that point, Martin taught me an incredible deal and fooled me numerous occasions with sleights and subtleties however on two events, I had the chance to the flip the tables on the previous grasp.
It Was A Darkish And Stormy Night time…
It not often rains in Los Angeles however when it does, many individuals select to stay inside, particularly at night time.
On such a moist and windy night on the Magic Fortress in Hollywood – a personal membership for magicians, celebrities and rich supporters of the artwork – the showrooms had been solely half full and the (many) bars and corridors had been principally empty.
I discovered myself alone on the finish of the Palace Bar, sitting at a inexperienced baize-covered desk the place members may carry out for friends or commerce secrets and techniques and concepts.
I took benefit of the quiet time to follow a transfer I had lately discovered from an expert card cheat and was busy shuffling and dealing when Martin Nash pulled up a chair to take a seat down and chat.
Meet Mr. Nash
For many of you, Martin’s title can be unfamiliar however for magicians and sleight of hand fanatics, Martin was a legend – and deservedly so.
He was a magician and entertainer who carried out below the title “The Charming Cheat” and will convey an viewers to its toes with astonishing demonstrations of talent and experience.
Martin himself was one thing of a thriller: On the planet of magic and magicians he was a legendary determine, however he typically hinted in direction of a shadowy different life that he not often mentioned, even with mates.
It’s potential he was nothing greater than a performer who had adopted the strategies of cardsharps however there was a notice of guilt in his voice every time he talked about making strikes for actual.
The Actual Deal
I used to spend so much of time with a gaggle of crotchety curmudgeons on the Farmer’s Market on Third and Fairfax, lengthy earlier than the trendy Disney-like “Grove” carbuncle was constructed subsequent door and the market stuffed with wannabes, posers, and fakers.
Within the good previous days, it was stuffed with a rogues gallery from all walks of life, together with previous crews from the unhealthy previous days of the Gardena Card Rooms.
These guys thought Martin was only a pretender however once I requested in the event that they’d even seen him in motion, none of these retired railbirds had even seen a present.
“Phil H” – a widely known former cheater (and unlawful bookie) – would typically go to the Magic Fortress to see mates and quietly loved Martin’s Hollywood model of the crooked gambler and Phil as soon as informed me that Martin had “one shot” that will positively get the cash!
Sadly, I by no means bought the thin on what the transfer was or how and the place (or if) Martin had ever performed it.
One factor was for certain: After a profession performing 1000’s of dwell reveals and numerous tv appearances, Martin Nash’s enjoying days – actual or imagined – had been lengthy prior to now however his performing life continued till his demise in 2009.
Shortly after Martin handed, magician Bob Farmer discovered – whereas researching one other venture – that Martin had helped the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch card cheats who had been working the lumber camps in British Columbia.
In his later years, Martin suffered a number of illnesses together with arthritis however every time he stepped into the highlight, he appeared rejuvenated and remodeled and will carry out skilled strikes effortlessly for a dwell viewers regardless of being in ache.
At a conference in Sacramento, I snuck into the again of a showroom the place I knew Martin can be closing the present and was stunned to seek out the Charming Cheat in the back of the theatre, watching the opposite acts.
He was clearly nervous about performing as he rubbed “Golden Contact” lotion into his arms to fight power dry pores and skin and as I watched him put together, I grew involved that he wasn’t in any form to execute skilled sleight of hand below scorching theatre lights for a room stuffed with cynical magicians.
I needn’t have feared.
When launched, Martin remodeled earlier than my eyes as he walked from the again of the room to the stage, smiling brighter than the sunshine that adopted him, eyes glistening and thoughts as sharp as a switchblade.
The present was implausible and as all the time, ended with a protracted standing ovation as Martin soaked each ounce of affection from his viewers.
There’s an infinite quantity we will study from old-school card males like Martin Nash, and the sensible guys know when to cease and hear.
I used to be fortunate to be very pleasant with Martin and he would typically share secrets and techniques discovered over a lifetime of examine.
As he joined me on that wet night time on the Fortress, I used to be delighted to have him all to myself, however our privateness was quick lived when a few younger members – correctly recognizing a chance to spend time with Martin Nash – joined us.
As we chatted, I continued to shuffle the deck within the hope Martin would take it and present us one thing however as a substitute, he requested me to shuffle and deal a hand of 5 card stud to each participant.
Sadly for Martin, I knew what was coming as I had seen him pull this trick earlier than.
It was a couple of years earlier at some lodge, at some conference late at night time when Martin requested somebody to deal a spherical of stud earlier than asking them to call the unseen gap playing cards.
When his sufferer admitted he had no concept what these playing cards had been, Martin slammed his fist on the desk and shouted, “Then what are you doing within the sport?” earlier than breaking the tense second with that well-known smile of his.
I knew I used to be Martin’s subsequent sufferer however sadly for him, he couldn’t have chosen a worse time.
I did as I used to be requested, pitching a face down card adopted by a face up card to every of the folks across the desk.
Martin requested me to call the playing cards and I instantly did so, calling all 5 gap playing cards, catching the previous grasp fully unexpectedly!
He seemed me useless within the eye and knew I had the leap on him – and he beloved it.
He spent the subsequent two hours sharing concepts generously however when the others had been gone, he needed to know the way I knew these playing cards.
Because it turned out, the transfer I had been training earlier than he sat down was a strategy to peek playing cards as they’re being dealt; Martin actually couldn’t have chosen a worse time to “get me” together with his favourite problem and I’m glad he took it properly.
This wasn’t the one time I managed to idiot Martin Nash however the second time I wasn’t even within the room.
Whereas making the movie Shade the place I used to be second unit director and skilled marketing consultant, I had developed a strategy to change a 5 Card Poker hand visibly whereas the playing cards had been face up.
You may see the impact for those who watch the opening titles of the film, which I directed.
The tactic I invented allowed the performer to instantly hand the playing cards out for examination – a brand new growth – and I shared it with a couple of mates on the Magic Fortress.
Phrase of this impact reached Martin Nash who ran into card skilled Jason England sitting at “The Vernon Desk” considering a horrible 5 Card Poker hand.
Martin joined him and after a couple of pleasantries, requested Jason if he’d seen my new impact.
Jason immediately remodeled the 5 playing cards in his hand to a Royal Flush earlier than passing the playing cards to Martin.
I had taught Jason the sleight earlier that week and he was training simply as Martin arrived and requested about it!
Martin Nash was greater than only a nice card technician, a performer, or an skilled in his discipline. Martin was a real gentleman lower from basic material.
Whether or not or not he was ever a cheat is moot, however he was charming to the top.
Lead picture: Shutterstock