Year 2012 – Age 19-20
Production of the gimmicks was moving along slowly. I knew I needed a thousand, but even making a hundred took a lot of time. Luckily I have a great group of friends who helped by packaging the product and keeping me company so I didn’t get too bored in my garage. I followed a strict routine; I set up my two box fans in the garage, I’d grab a jug of water, take as many decks outside as I could, and then get to gaffing! The two fans were used to keep the air circulating so I could withstand the Florida heat; one would be blowing air in and the other would blow air out. When my friends came I could make up to 20 gimmicks. One of them would pack all the gimmicks into a sandwich bag and freeze them while the other would take them after they had frozen and thaw the gimmick and package it into their proper envelopes. I would freeze the cards because they would warp from the humidity and the freezing of the cards reverted them back to their unwarped state. You have to remember to let them thaw entirely before you take them out of the bag, or condensation will warp the cards worse than the humidity.
I know what everyone is thinking, THIS IS BORING ERIK, GET TO THE ILLEGAL STUFF.
One day prior to gimmick making my buddy brought over his new lock pick set and said he wanted to practice on my locks. Awesome idea! As we went outside for him to practice on my lock, we realized that the neighbors were evicted yesterday so obviously they would not be coming back, as a result he decides to practice on that lock. I can’t remember why we thought that was a better idea, it was the same type of lock after all. Anyways, he starts picking away at it as I head to the garage to get the process started. About 25 gimmicks in, he comes rushing in the garage telling me he got it!
Naturally, we went into the evicted house. I am not sure if the picking of the lock was technically illegal, but the entering part definitely was, but we didn’t stop there. Since it was still being shown by realtors, the electric and water worked just fine, all the lights worked, and there was a refrigerator. You can probably see where this is going. After the first walk through we had the brilliant idea to move all the gaffing gear over to the kitchen in order to have a new, clean place to work. It was a very clean environment with a totally empty garage. It was a dream come true! Remember those box fans that I had? We decided to set one up in the upstairs bedroom in the window to vent out air and turned it into a cigar lounge for when we were done working. We brought over a couple chairs and some speakers and we had a perfect work place.
We used the upstairs closet to store the fans and gaffing tools, but we took the speakers and cards home every night and I’d leave the upstairs window open just a crack. To get back in I’d climb up the roof, slide the window open and then let my friends in and we’d work away into the night. We did this routine for an entire week! It wasn’t until one night we were sitting in the cigar lounge that someone brought up the fact that this was for sure breaking and entering and we actually would get arrested that we stopped. To this day I have no idea why that never crossed my mind from the beginning. I was so focused on getting this trick made that all logic and reason went out the window! I had an end goal and nothing was going to get in my way.
By this time we had made 500 units of The Poker Test up and Penguin Magic wanted to get their hands on them as soon as possible. I hired my lock-picking friend out completely to finish making the gimmicks so I could make up a DVD and get that produced. Then I ran into a new problem … I literally hate being in front of the camera! I just get awkward and nothing felt natural. This was going to take some time getting used to. I don’t know how I did it, but during the course of a week I was able to shoot and edit the entire DVD. A DVD that was only 45 minutes long in the end. It took me a week. It should’ve taken an afternoon or two. This is where a new dilemma arose, I now had to pay to have 1000 DVDs printed, assembled with their cases, and packaged with a gimmick. More money that I did not anticipate spending.
That packaging process took about a week, which put my gaff making team to shame as it took us about a month or three to do. They shipped them straight to Penguin Magic and like rapid fire they were on sale. Penguin moves fast, really fast. But the problems were far from over for me.