Three Shell Game
Compiled by Doug A .
Last Update: Dec 2022 added Marc DeSouza's
Shell-Act from DeSouza's Deception;
Oct 2021 TCC Presents Shells; Jack Chanin Hello Sucker! original booklet;
Fixed incorrect entry for Lewis Ganon's Routined Manipulation.
Advice: You can make your own shells from large "California" walnut shells. They can be cleaned out and filled with wood putty to improve their operation.
Avis, Jack: Vis A Vis: Hardcover, 1998, 155 pages, by Kaufman & Co. Includes Nu Way Shell Game.
Brahams, Anthony: Karl Norman: Forty Years at the
Forks (see also Karl Norman's Here's How,
below). Hardcover, 82 pages. Includes Three Shell Game.
Brown, Mel: Steve Bruecker & Mike Rogers
Present Their Three Shell Game Routine. 1985 Jeff Busby,
16 pages. Mel Brown states, "I'm going to describe what I think is
one of the best constructed routines for the Three Shell Game ever
developed. It was worked out by Southern California close up
worker Steve Bruecker with the help of his friend, top trade show
worker Mike Rogers. I think it is a routine with a very strong and
Carroll, Harrison: The Shell Game.
Harrison Productions, 1994, 25 pages. Routine is presented in
three columns. First column lists the method, the second column
provides the pater, and the third column presents any line
drawings as needed. This routine is based on the Karl Nelson
routine found in the Nick Trost "Expert Gambling Tricks" book.
While this presentation is a little more clear, you certainly
don't need both references.
Jack: Hello Sucker! The 3 Shell Game. 1934
softcover, 8 pages. Fundamental moves.
Chanin, Jack: Hello
Sucker! Encyclopedia of the Three Shell Game. 1948,
80 pages. Expansion of the original.
De Camps, Eric: Compositions of Conjuring; A Lecture on Natural Magic. 2001. Includes Three Shells & a Pea
DeSouza, Marc: DeSouza's DeCeptions (authored by
David Acer). 2001. Includes, "Shell-Act", which is an add-on for
Gary Ouellet's Supershells, utilizing a Pea-Can and Abbott's
Squash shot glass vanish as climaxes. Gary's routine is not
described in detail.
Ganson, Lewis: Routined
Manipulation Part One. 1950. Includes The Walnut
Shells and Pea.
Gibson, Walter: The Bunko Book. First published in 1946 and reprinted in 1976. 64 pages. Covers con games & bunko schemes including Three Shell Game
Johnson, Dusty: Diversions for the Shells and Peas
Game Booklet. Two entertaining and fully illustrated
routines for the classic Shell and Pea game. Includes Carnival
Shell and Pea Surprise, and Psych out Shells. Fully illustrated
routines with B&W photos, no embarassment for the spectator.
The first routine climaxes with the production of sponge balls
under the shells and the second routine climaxes with the shell
and pea under the glass challenge. Also includes a bibliography of
three shell game.
King, Bob: Bob King's Close Up Tutorial 5 The
Shell Game. Entertaining and baffling routine using
tongue-in-cheek patter. Includes Vernet shells and four green
Lancaster, Lou: Tricks of the Trade Commercial Closeup Magic. 124 pages. Includes Three Shell Game
Mentzer, Jerry: Close Up File. 195 pages. Includes 3 Shell game and more.
Miller, Hugh: The Secrets of Gambling
published by Harry Stanley. Includes cheating at cards, strippers,
holdouts, shiners and more. Crooked dice, Find the Lady (three
card monte), three shell game, endless belt, and more.
Norman, Karl: Here's How. 51pg. 1985
Collector's Workshop. See also the hardcover reprint edited by
Anthony Brahams, 40 Years at the Forks. Includes Karl Norman's
Three Shell Game Routine, using brass cups, but can use regular
shells as well
Osborne, Tom & Ralph Read
(editor): The Three
Shell Game. Softcover, 60 pages. Detailed booklet
on 3 shell game.
Ouelett, Gary: Super Shells. The
familiar shells and pea game. After the spectator cannot find the
pea, the spectator covers the pea with a shell, then puts a saucer
over the shell, and covers that with a bowl. An empty shell is
then covered with a clear glass, and still the pea jumps from one
shell to the other. Includes the Pinky Pinch steal, the Sidesteal
sequence, and the Pinky Acquitment. 44pages, 77 photos.
Picente, Sal: Street Monte. Comprehensive 3 Card Monte and 3 Shell Game, highly rated.
Regal, David: Compositions of Conjuring: A Lecture
on Natural Magic by Eric DeCamps. A wire-bound 8.5x11" 52
page book. Includes 8 routines including 3 Shells & a Pea.
Shute, Merlyn T: Cups Cups Cups.
Softcover, 45 pages; Morrisey Magic. Mostly on cups and balls, but
contains some info on 3 shell game.
Tarbell, Harlan: Complete Course in Magic Vol 7. Card in Wallet, Walsh's 3 card monte, Thimbles and pea, and more.
Tarr, Bill: Now You See It Now You Don't (Lessons in Sleight of Hand). Lots of line drawings. Cups & Balls, 3 Shell game, 3 card monte, cards, ropes, coins, balls, and more!
Thompson, J.G. Jr.: Top Secrets of Magic. Sponges, pins, shell game, paddles, cups & balls, and more.
Trost, Nick: Expert Gambling Tricks.
Softcover, 26 pages. The first part deals extensively with
variations on the game of Nim. Includes a section on the Endless
Chain (or Loopy Loop or Chain of Chance), and the Three Shell Game
as presented by Karl Norman.
Whittaker, Jason: The Hanxamean Approach to the 3 Shell Game by Jason Whittaker. This system breaks down the components of the three shell game to allow you to create your own original routine. Uses state of the art photography. Begins at the basics and moves on to innovative sleights. Takes you from a standard shell routine all the way through a full fledged audience tested routine. Includes Jason's pet finish. Can be done walk around, sit down, or all around and resets in moments.
Bertram, Ross: Legendary Magic Volume 2 DVD. Includes broken & restored cigarette, coins, cards while blindfolded, demos of the Three Card Monte, Thimble Rig, Three Shell Game (and more), tribute to Tenkai, and the Egyptian Cups & Balls. $35 L&L Publishing
Big A: Tweaked Out Shells and Pea Routine. Advertisement states, "My amazing secret technique makes the pea disappear and re-appear under another shell without pushing the shells." 30min DVD.
Cass, Phil: The Phil Cass Video. Contains Phil's Pea and Shell Game and Fisherman's Wharf routnes. 70 minutes. Shell game is a 20 minute act. Includes liquid hand to hand technique. $15 ThreeShellGame.com; School for Scoundrels Store
De Cova, Alexander: Close-Up Session Nr. 3 Video: This German language video contains: (excuse the poor German to English Translations) The Hindu Thread (torn & restored thread), Torn & Restore cigarette paper, Matrix Light; The Nutshell Play (3 shell game); My Finger Ring Routine (finger ring and rope, with a Ring Flight ending) 60 Minutes Stolina (Germany)Garcia, Frank: Stars of Magic DVD Volume 3 (also Stars of Magic Video #2). DVD includes two videos: Frank Garcia and Frank Garcia Magical Classics. Includes a Sponge Ball routine, Elevator Cups & Balls, Cups & Balls, the Three Shell Game, and much more. DVD $30 ThreeShellGame.com
Kohler, Bob: The Golden Shells, A Professional Routine for the Shell Game. Discusses the use of metal shells. Details the complete 5 phase routine. $30 ThreeShellGame.com; School for Scoundrels Store
Lancaster, Lou: Gambler's Secrets Exposed. IMS Volume 19. 3 Shell game, 3 card monte, dice stacking & switching, face up ace dealing, more. $19.95 International Magicians Society
Norman, Karl: Close-Up Table Magic DVD. Karl Norman shares Table Magic routines developed from over 25 years of experience with Eddie Flechter. Includes: The Coin Collection (copper, silver, brass & Okito coin box with plug box finale); Whole Hole gimmicked card effect; Coin in the Bottle; Invisible Sky Hook invisible knot; Karl's version of the Sympathetic Matchboxes; The Shrinking Giant growing and shrinking card; Card to the Case; Card on the Forehead; Karl's Ring Flight routine; Change of a Quarter torn & restored card; Bill in the Cigarette; Key Card Routines; Linking Pins (safety); Card on the Ceiling; Karl's Three Shell Game using three metal shells and a pea; It's The Nuts nut and a bolt routine; Torn And Restored Cigarette. 1 hour 50 minutes.$34.95 Meir Yedid Magic
Ouellet, Gary: The Very Best of Gary Ouellet, Volume 3. DVD. Includes the Spread Pass; Showcase 10 minute act; Paradise Counts (cards); Cabaret Force; Paradox Control; Angle Pivot Double Lift; The Crook (cards); Migration; All-Purpose Vanish (any object); Amazing Vanish (coin); There and Back Again Change; Inficel Change (silver coin to Chinese); Flash Deck; Super Shells (including Side Steal and Pinky Pinch); False Cu; and The Force. $35
Page, Patrick: Secret Seminars of Magic Volume 3: Three-Shell Game and Topit Techniques. Originally released as separate videos in the Trick A Tape Series in the U.K. Includes: Opening with Basic Routine, Pat Page's Basic Routine, Pea Under Glass, Ending, Basic Move, Stealing the Pea, Loading the Pea, Explanation of Routine, Recap of Basic Move, Three Shells - Three Peas, The Kick Steal, The Turn-Over, Move Triple, Spread Triple, Spread Steal, Between the Hands, Pearl Ending, Tips on Three-Shell Game. $20 ThreeShellGame.com; L&L Publishing
Piacente, Sal: Street Monte - Three Shell Game (DVD). Personal demonstration by Sal Piacente and the history of the game. Includes: Leaning the Basics, Sucker Move, Flash Move, Under the Finger, Two Shell Game, The Finishing Move, Under a Glass, and shell game with Bottlecaps.
Sheets, Bob: Absolutely Nuts! Complete routine with new outs, a new climax, and a revolutionary new move to show the pea to be gone whenever you wish. $30 ThreeShellGame.com; School for Scoundrels Store, Denny & Lee's
Sheets, Bob, Whit Haydn, and Chef Anton: An Introduction to the Shell Game, Shell Game Series Volume I. A full system for approaching the three shell game, for beginner to intermediate, with valuable lessons for experienced performers as well. One of a series of DVDs on the shell game. Over 75 minutes and over 80 pages of historical information and routines. $35 ThreeShellGame.com; School for Scoundrels Store
Strotmann, Thorsten: The Three Shell Game Set & Video
(Hütchenspiel). Thorsten Strotmann's rendition of the three shell
game explained in full on video, utilizing three brass shells and
a silver shell. Comes with 3 bronze and one silver nutshell,
special balls, black velvet sack, and 50 minute video (PAL only,
in German). EUR 76,50 Christian
Thomas, Garrett: In the Mind of Garrett Thomas Volume
3. DVD. Includes Ball in Bag, where a heavy steel
ball appears in a small black bag and vanishes again.
Various: Videonics #58 Four Stars Live: Ouellet's Super Shells, Silver Passage, Two Goblets, and more, Dai Vernon and the 5" linking rings, 3 card monte; Michael Ammar Vernon's Travellers, Yeast Card, Beanie Weanie, and more, Steve Freemen Slow Motion 4 Aces and more. (Performance only) $20
Various: Magic of Germany Greater Magic V47. Inlcudes: Jorg Weber: Three Shell Game, Bills Across; Christop Borer: Pendulum, Rune Stones; Wolff Baron Keyserlingh: Torn & Restored Deutsche Mark, 3 Card Monte; Stephan Kirschbaum: Finger Print, Nine Card Monte; Helge Thun: Explosive CTM, Instant Camera Card; Thomas Fraps: A Touch of Glass (perf), Uncle Scrooges Coin, Walter (Rocky) Wins Again (perf) Stevens Magic
Vernon, Dai: Secrets of Magic. Three shell game, sympathetic coins, cups & balls, and more. $40
Absolutely Magic: La Maggiore By Andrew
Pinard. Each shell cast from one to be completely identical. Each
shell measures 2" long by 1-5/8" wide by 7/8" high and weighs
about 1/2 oz. They are textured for sure grip. They include an
"inverted V" sculpted in the rear for improved steals. Cast of
resin, so can be personalized. La Maggiore also offers two other
sets, "Organics" (with a more natural interior), and "La Maggiore
Cristallina", which are slightly see-through!
La Maggiore Classic: $75
La Maggiore Organics $75
La Maggiore Cristallina $250
Classic Solid Shell Set: $100
Pseudo Shot Glass: $10
Website also has lots of great information on selecting a set of shells. ThreeShellGame.com
Bartlett, Tom. Deacon Dan: Black Walnut Shells. Hand carved by Tom Bartlett from a genuine American black walnut. Black walnuts are smaller around than English ones, but stand almost as tall. Very easy to grip and require much less movement to load or steal the pea. Each set takes almost four hours of labor to create (a pint of blood in the making of every set). Supplied with three Tom Bartlett foam peas: two working and one "straight". $150
Bartlett, Tom. Foam Peas. The pea has a new twist, the working pea and the non-working pea are almost indistinguishable from one another and are both soft and spongy but the non-working pea stays under the shell so it can be handed out with the shells and the secret will not be discovered. 3 peas: two working, one "straight". 3/8" diameter. White. $15.
Brass Three Shell Game. This version uses three Brass Shells that have small handles on top, along with a single latex pea. Magic Warehouse includes 58page book by Karl Norman (?I think). Magicsale has three versions. $30-$45 The Magic Warehouse, Magicsale
Cohen, Al: ALCO Thimble Rigging: Three brass thimbles and a rubber pea for the three shell game. With routine by Al Cohen. $45 School for Scoundrels Store
Crystal Clear Three Shell Game. Maker Unknown. Yes, with clear shells! With large sponge ball final load. $5 No Longer Available(?) Hank Lee's Magic Factory
Frost, Ron: Bell Hopping. Cups and Balls/Walnuts and shell type routine using thimble sized cups and bells. A small bell is shown and then "lost" amongst the cups, and larger bells are then discovered under the cups. $15.00 Tannen's
Frost, Ron: Thimboggler. Three shells shown stacked, along with a steel nut. The shell game begins! $4 Tannen's
Fox, Black: Three Shell Game. Shells made from hybrid plastic, designed to look like beetles or turtles. Comes with shells, peas, and carrying bag. Turtle Shells $30, Scarab Beetle Shells $36. Black Fox also makes/sells pea sets. Black Fox
Magic Makers, Inc. The Perfect 3 Shell Game. Shells made from "elastomeric resin" to provide a rubbery feel and solid grip. Molded from real walnuts, and includes "secret design features". Includes instructions and set of "tacky" peas.
Magic Makers, Inc. Gold Three Shell Game. Shells made from gold plated brass and look like a knock-off of the School for Scoundrels Golden Shells.
Magic Makers, Inc. Monster Shells. Large 8"x6"x3" "walnut" shells designed for stage and comedy use. They do not come with peas.
Martyn, Bruce: Chopped Walnuts. Made using real walnut shells for realistic look and handling. Insides are coated with epoxy finish for added strength. Includes three half walnut shells and two latex peas. One shell has been gimmicked like a chop cup, along with necessary pea. $35 ShowBizSerivces, School for Scoundrels Store
Mendoza, John: The Ultimate Three Shell Game. Clever variation utilizing magnetically gimmicked shells and a gimmicked mat! Thorough instructions.
Norman, Karl: Latex Peas $5 each, set of 5 $20. School for Scoundrels Store
Odette, David: Hand-Carved Sponge Rubber Peas.
Hand-carved from very compressible pea green fine sponge rubber
and work well on ony close up mat. Use with Shell Game or Thimble
Rig. $10/each or 5 for $40 The School
School for Scoundrels: Shells for the Three Shell Game. Crafted
by Whit Haydn. Design includes the Chanin Dip to enhance the ease
of the pea exit, and a rounding to aid in returning the pea. The
inside features a nearly perpendicular wall to prevent the shell
from rolling on the pea. Most sets come with a carrying bag and
peas, some sets include a shot glass.
Golden Shells: Cast of pewter and heavily plated in QVC quality gold plate or antique copper.
Antique Copper Shells: Cast of pewter and heavily plated in QVC quality antique copper.
Street Shells: cast in plastic resin in a natural walnut color.
Colorado Silver Shells: handcrafted by Jurgen J. Maerz of Platinum Guild International.
Colorado Aluminum Silver Shells: as above but in lighter weight aluminum.
Brass Shells: also by Jurgen J. Maerz.
School for Scoundrels: Magnetic Golden Shells, Magnetic Street Shells. Unique design allows pea to be picked up or released while under the shell with a tiny push forward or back. Allows the pea to appear or vanish at the magician's will. Complete with a suede carrying bag, a shot glass that fits correctly over a shell, and a set of our perfect peas. Golden Shells $200, Street Shells $95. School for Scoundrels Store
School for Scoundrels: Professional Jumbo Shells.
8"x6"x2.5". Uses a hard, 2" pea. Includes a DVD of Chef Anton and
Whit Haydn's routine and handling tips. Mechanical operation.
$495. Spare peas and gimmick set available.
Stehle, Micha: Buffalo Shells. Large resin shells
modeled from a real shell; 58mm Long, 44mm width, 26mm high. From
Swadling, Bob: CONoisseur's Three Shell Game. Polished aluminum shells, sponge pea, full routine with coins. $40
Swindle Shells. Maker
Unknown. Gimmicked shell (like a chop cup) and pea game. Real
walnut shells. $25
TCC Presents: Three Shells. Solid Brass with a
Walnut Shell look. Includes flannel carry bag and peas with full
Camirand Academy: Supershells Kit. As used in Gary Ouellet's SuperShells routine (see above). Comes with perfect pea, shot glass, bowls and pouch. Shells are prepared from real California walnuts, carefully cut, cleaned, and preserved to last a lifetime. $25
Strotmann, Thorsten: The Three Shell Game Sets. (see video listed above). Metal shell sets available in three colors: Bronze (EUR 35,50), Silver (EUR 40,50), or Gold (71,00). Christian Jedinat
Vernet: Three Shell Game. Balanced unbreakable plastic. $12 Vernet Magic (click for image: Vernet Shells)
Wayne, Doc: King Tut's Nuts. Genuine
Walnut shells (treated), rubber pea, pouch, cassette, and routine.
$38. US Toy Magic, Magicsmith
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