Year 2013-2014 – Age 20-21
As I mentioned in Part Four, I had discontinued The Poker Test due to an inordinate amount of faulty gimmicks. During this time I had quit working at Daytona Magic to start taking classes at the local college and began working at a law firm. I had assumed that by not having to drive hours each day to and from work would open up a lot of my time to pursue creating and developing magic. Unfortunately school ended up consuming much of my time and I had to work more hours in order to pay for all of life’s necessities. When I was not working I was either in class, studying or doing homework. My life became very repetitive; every day consisted of work, eat, sleep, class and repeat. This was the only time in my life where I have been consistently unhappy. It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 when I attended MAGIC Live where things turned around for me.
MAGIC Live would be my first big convention I attended where I was not working in the dealer room. I could do what I wanted when I wanted with no need to worry about what hours I would have to be working. When I did work conventions I was always there a day early to set up stuff in the dealer room and so without thinking I just followed that habit and showed up to this convention early. What was weird is that within a few hours I was really bored. This was the first convention where I wasn’t expected to engage people in a conversation and nor did I have a reason to start a conversation either. I found it difficult to start conversations with the few people milling about. I quickly went on the hunt to find something to do and in no time spotted a girl with a MAGIC Live polo and a walkie-talkie. A couple of thoughts ran through my mind: she looked like she was involved in running the convention, she looked like she was on a mission, and I really wanted a walkie-talkie.
I decided to follow this official looking girl knowing I might find myself some work to do. I followed her into a room of other magicians stuffing notebooks that would be handed out at the convention. I put myself to work without even stopping to introduce myself. I started restocking the empty notebooks and gathering up all the finished ones. After working for a bit I began talking with the other workers as if I was supposed to have been there all along.
A little while later it was lunch time. I joined the group for lunch and got to know my new comrades. It was there that I met Katie (the official looking girl I had followed) and Andrew. They didn’t know why I was a part of the group, but they took me in anyways. I won’t bore you with the rest of my stories from that day, but it ended with me becoming pretty good friends with everyone in the group and joining their work crew. This gave me access to the entire convention before it even opened. I got to enter into the dealer room before it opened where I ran into my old boss, and like old times, he had a project for me. One of the things I truly enjoyed when working the conventions was fixing things that might have gotten messed up during shipping. He was struggling to fix a gumball prediction machine and he knew I could. I found it pretty funny that we didn’t exchange pleasantries, it was more like “Hey Erik, would you fix this for me?” The good ol’ days.
The main responsibility of this work crew was to help run the registration process which consisted of checking people in and getting them their name badges, notebooks, bags etc. It was an amazing job because it gave me face time with darn near every magician that was registered at the convention. I said hey to old friends and got to meet a ton of new people. An old friend I ran into was Derek. Derek and I met though Sebastian Midtvage at the IMX convention a little over a year ago. You may have been wondering where I am going with this story and how it relates to the production of The Poker Test … well it turned out that Derek was going to be the key to solving all of the problems I had written about in Part Four because this story is still about The Poker Test and not MAGIC Live.
One of the nights of the convention a large group of us went to a party at Chris Kenner’s house. It was a blast; my group hung out on the roof all night telling the worst jokes we could think of and drinking beer. Late into the night, I opened up about the failures of The Poker Test to the guys and how the gimmicks were failing. I literally had customers come and ask for replacements at the convention! I couldn’t get anyone to produce it properly and I was all out of ideas. Derek asked why I hadn’t switched how I was creating the gimmick. I had wasted all of my energy doing damage control and fixing individual gimmicks rather than trying to solve the root problem – which was to change how I was making the gimmick.
This change that Derek suggested not only created a more durable gimmick but made it more cost effective especially since the reliability of the new trick sky rocketed. Before I was dealing with quite a few faulty gimmicks but now less than one percent of the gimmicks have any issues. Not only that but with the alteration of the gimmick anyone was able to produce whatever 5 cards they wanted. It could be a 4 of a kind, a royal flush, a full house, or 5 randomly selected cards. It was perfect. It took my trick and made it unbelievably better.
I very quickly set up a meeting at the convention with Penguin Magic and told them the new idea. They also told me about a guy in Canada that they were confident could make my gimmick and make it perfectly. Jeremy Hanrahan was his name and Penguin was not kidding. This guy is the king of gimmicking playing cards. I quickly got to work on producing a new DVD and getting new gimmicks produced. Much to my surprise I was able to knock this out really fast. I knew the routine and I knew how to teach it very well, I had that DVD knocked out in no time. Jeremy had done the same with the gimmicks. The DVDs were packed and shipped to Penguin in record time for me.
On February 27, 2014, The Poker Test 2.0 became available on Penguin Magic. Within an hour or two of the announcement, it hit the #1 best seller spot where it remained for 9 days until it sold out. The Poker Test was back and it was better than ever. I finally had a good DVD, a great gimmick maker and an awesome packaging expert.
It has been a very humbling experience watching The Poker Test be accepted by the community. This must be what being a parent is like; working day and night raising a child and then watching them go off on their own and just hoping they don’t fail. Since its release it has been performed by professionals and amateurs all over the world. It has been performed on local news shows and even by a US Senator. It surpassed my wildest dreams and continues to do so to this very day. I guess that means I will make a great parent, right? This is the end for now, maybe there will be a Part 6 but that is a long ways off.