When I first decided to specialize in mentalism, I, like the majority of aspiring performers, bought every mental effect I could afford. I had a number of Bank Night or Just Chance routines that depended on special racks, burning envelopes and other such devices. I knew early on that such an effect would make a great opener, but I didn't like all the fuss these methods utilized.
The lowly thumb tip is often dismissed by serious-minded mentalists, but I have always considered it one of the best gimmicks ever invented. If it is invisible, who would know what you are using in the first place? The famous $100 bill switch can be done right under the nose of your spectator without a thing being seen. Since that routine uses the very bill I wanted to use, it just made perfect sense to me to use that subterfuge.
I have to admit the idea of naming envelope number 2 as the one that always contains the money was not how I began using the routine. At first, it was just a straight Bank Night effect. One of the routines I had read about suggested putting a small bill, perhaps a dollar, in all the other envelopes so that everyone would be a winner. That idea seemed a bit hokey to me, but gave me the idea of the lottery tickets. Since I was playing a game, it made perfect sense to use them as a consolation prize. My first thought was to put one in each of the envelopes. Then I got the brainstorm about leading the players towards one envelope and having the tickets in that one. Little by little, the routining fell into place until it worked itself out into what you now see on Mind Mysteries.
Over the years, there was a bit of a controversy as to who actually came up with the lottery ticket idea. Others had claimed they invented it. An older video showing me performing this routine at a 13 Invitational meeting cleared that up.
I should also mention I initially started out using smaller size Number 3 coin envelopes. These are 2.50 by 4.25 inches in size. I decided to use the larger Number 6 envelopes, size 3.375 by 6 inches for the sake of greater visibility and ease of working when inserting the thumb into it. Not only does the large size look better from the audience's point of view, but it is easier to spot them in the audience once you have given them out. That helps you remember who you gave each one to!
Finally, many of the little jokes used in the routine came from the spectators themselves! One of the benefits of performing the same routine for years is that you get such feedback. Someone will say something like, "Maybe he's using reverse psychology!" and it gets a great laugh, so that becomes a permanent part of the show. Likewise, all the little subtleties to keep the routine flowing and from going off-track are learned from these years of experience.
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