Reference Guide

to the

Three Shell Game 

Street Shells

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.

The following is a partial list of books, videos, and products for the magic effect "The Three Shell Game". Most of these references should be available today, although it is possible that some might only be found in "used" magic book stores. This is far from a thorough coverage.

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 different finish."

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.

Chanin, 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 rubber peas.

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.comSchool 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

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.comSchool 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; 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.comSchool 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.comSchool 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 Jedinat

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


(Notables include products from Absolutely Magic (La Maggiore) and School for Scoundrels (Chef Anton & Whit Haydn). The Vernet shells are much better than the cheap shells from SS Adams & the like; the Magic Makers' "Perfect 3 Shell Game" look similar (I've never seen them in person) and are at a similar price point. Note that ALL PRICES LISTED are ESTIMATES, just to give you an idea of the range. Visit your local dealer for accurate pricing information.)

Absolutely MagicLa 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.

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, IncGold 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 ShowBizSerivcesSchool 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 for Scoundrels

School for Scoundrels: Perfect Peas. Based on the hard rubber pea used in the 1860's. "These hard peas are superior to the foam, latex, and latex-covered foam peas favored by magicians during the last 50 years since they never wear out or lose their friction, and they can be used on any performing surface including glass, wood, or marble." Set comes with 5 working peas and 2 hard plastic peas $15 Also available are gimmicked peas for the "chop-cup" type shell sets. 2/$15 or 4/$25. School for Scoundrels Store

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 Solid Magic.

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 instructions. $45.

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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