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School for Scoundrels at Magic Castle Sunday!

Bob Sheets at School for Scoundrels

Despite the recent Halloween fire, the Magic Castle is planning to be open by this weekend, and our School for Scoundrels class will begin on Sunday night, November 6th, as planned.

There is still room for you to join this exciting class, but you must register by Friday.

It is open to both members and non-members of the Magic Castle, and no prior experience, skills or knowledge is required.

This course teaches the basic sleight of hand, psychology, history and importance to magic of the three basic street swindles: Three-Card Monte, the Shell Game, and the various games of Fast and Loose.

We believe that the street hustler makes a better role-model for the modern close-up magician than the card cheat which has been the model since the turn of the century.

We believe that street hustlers have much to teach that is of huge benefit to magicians, especially those who work corporate walk around, trade-shows, or private parties where they need to gather a crowd, hold their attention, control their thinking, and get them to do what they want them to do.

School for Scoundrels at the Magic Castle in Hollywood will begin on Sunday, November 6, and continue on Nov 13, 20, 27, and also on Mondays, November 7, 14, 21, 28. School for Scoundrels is a course taught at the Magic Castle every November since 1996.

Pop Haydn and Chef Anton (two-time national trick-shot champion at pool), teach the class together, with guests such as Bob Sheets and Doc Eason.

The course attracts lawyers and law-enforcement personnel, as well as magicians, students of gambling and history, and many who just find the subject fascinating–you don’t need to be a member of the Magic Castle to sign up for this course, and no previous knowledge or skills are required.

The course is $160 for the eight hours–two hours a night, once a week, for four weeks.

You can switch nights from Monday to Sunday or vice-versa–each week the same lesson is taught on both Sun and Mon at 7:00 pm.

Contact Magic University, and talk to Mark or Nani Wilson at (800) 367-8749 to sign up for the course.

$160 for all four nights.

Magic Castle tomorrow night:

Pop Haydn in the WC Fields Bar

Pop Haydn in the WC Fields Bar


I will be in the W. C. Fields Bar at the Magic Castle on Friday and Saturday this week (Oct 14-15), with continuous shows from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am. It is one of my favorite rooms in the Magic Castle. Doc Eason and I are the only performers to have won an award for this room. I like it because it is rowdy and people can feel comfortable getting loud and boisterous.

I will be working on some new things, including my new Benson Bowl Routine. There is video of my prior performances in the W. C. Fields Bar HERE.

Please come down if you can. message me if you want to come but need a pass.

Magic Castle, W. C. Fields Bar, 7001 Franklin Ave, Hollywood, CA

Intricate Web of Distraction:

This is my original routine for the color-changing knives, a great classic effect of close-up magic. This is called “The Intricate Web of Distraction.” The routine is available on DVD from School for Scoundrels, and the knives designed for my routine are available from Joe Mogar as the Whit Haydn Color Changing Knives.

I have been digitizing a number of video tapes for my new website at Pop’s Website, and I have one more to go to complete the set.

There are half a dozen stage and parlor clips and a dozen close-up clips at my Video Gallery.

A warning from Berlin Police:

Shell Game with Matchboxes. Barcelona

This is an interesting warning for tourists in several languages and cartoons about the dangers of playing the shell game:

Shell Game Berlin Police


Fundraiser at Historic Lummis House

El Alisal is the home built by Charles Fletcher Lummis between 1896 and 1910 on the west bank of the Arroyo Seco in northeast Los Angeles. It takes its name from local sycamore trees, one of which is featured in the home’s interior courtyard. The house is built using stones from the arroyo bed, concrete, and wood. The design of the home is influenced by mission architecture and the dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. Though not directly influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, the house shares many of its design principles; it is furnished with hand-crafted wooden furniture, and features exposed wooden cross-beams and concrete floors.

Fundraiser for the Historical Society of Southern California

Join us Saturday, October 1st, from 6:00–9:00 pm for a special fundraiser celebrating money and magic in the West. This will be at the historic Lummis house in Los Angeles.

Buy in and participate in demonstrations of classic games like the shell game and three-card monte.

The dealers will be Magic Castle magicians Pop Haydn and Phil Van Tee. All proceeds go to HSSC. There will be a silent auction as well as music, food and beverages. Western outfits and period costumes welcomed. Hats, yes. Guns, no.

Members $60, Nonmembers $70.

Special price for reservations received and paid before Sept. 10: Members $50, Non-Members $60

For Non-Members, you can get tickets HERE.

Sophie Evans–The Girl at the Bar

Sophie Evans

Sophie Evans

Closed Monte: The Girl at the Bar

—a monte script by Whit Haydn and Sophie Evans

“Mark is in town on business, and is sitting in a quiet, expensive bar near his hotel. It is late, but he is intrigued by a beautiful, sexy lady who is sitting alone at the bar. Mark watches until he’s sure she isn’t waiting for someone. He approaches her, and the two begin to talk.

“The girl, Dianne, is both flirtatious and in high spirits. She is dressed well and acts like she has money.

“Mark buys her a drink. Dianne warms up to Mark, and he begins to think this night might be more interesting than anticipated.

“A second man, Jack, comes over to the bar to order a drink. Dianne engages him in conversation, and pretty soon Jack begins to compete with Mark for the lady’s attention. It turns out that Jack is an amateur magician, and he does a few simple card tricks, but they are not very impressive.

“Dianne is wild about them. “You’re really great! Do you do that thing with the three cards? Like they do on 42nd Street?”

“Jack launches into a lecture on the trickery involved in that swindle, and explains that no one can keep up with the cards when they are thrown by an expert card sharp such as himself.

“Dianne insists on a demonstration, and gets ticked off when she is wrong several times in a row. She is obviously very competitive, and doesn’t like to lose.

“Jack tries to quit as he begins to sense that the game frustrates her. She refuses to let him quit. “Look, I’ll bet you twenty. Don’t be such a chicken. It’s only money for Chris’ sake. Come on. Twenty on the ace this time.”

“She shames Jack into playing for money.

“Each time she plays, she misses.

“Dianne turns to Mark all in a twist, “Can you follow this? I can’t figure it out…”

“Mark says he can keep up with it pretty well. He was right every time so far, after all.

“Dianne bets another twenty, and when Mark suggest a card, she turns it and wins. She puts her palm on Mark’s chest, “You’re great!”

“Jack says, “Well look, I’m not going to play against the two of you.”

“As Jack orders a drink and is talking to the bartender, Dianne winks at Mark to get his attention, and then touches her lips with a finger. She then marks the back of the ace on it’s corner with a smudge of lipstick and gives Mark’s hand an excited squeeze.

“When Jack turns back, Dianne is insistent that he give her a chance to get the rest of her money back. Jack is now obviously unhappy with the way things are going.

“He refuses and starts to leave.

“Dianne holds him by the arm. “Oh, come on. I’ll bet you $500 that I can get it this time. I’ll put up $250 and my boyfriend here will put up $250.”

“Mark starts to protest. Dianne squeezes his knee and whispers into his ear, “Let’s you and me spend his money tonight! Come on, baby, help me show this sleaze up!”

“Mark still hesitates. Dianne whispers again, “Oh, you’ve got the money—I saw it when you bought the drinks. Don’t be an idiot. Nobody passes up a sure thing!”

“Mark gives in.

“Jack is now copping a real attitude. He puts down his stakes, and Mark and Diannematch. Jack throws the cards and turns to Dianne, “But you have to pick the card, not him. And no help.”

“Dianne stands right up to Jack. “The bets already up. We didn’t agree to that. We both put up money, its up to us to decide who chooses. Go ahead, Mark. You pick one.”

“Mark reaches for the card with the lipstick on the back. The card that he knew was the ace…

“It’s a loser.

“Jack looks up at Dianne and Mark. “You two tried to cheat me, didn’t you?”

“He picks up the money and turns away, as he walks off he says, “Shouldn’t try to kid a kidder…”

“Dianne turns to Mark. “I can’t believe it! I think I’m going to be sick. How could that have happened? Look, buy me another drink, I go to go to the ladies room.”

“Mark sits at the bar nursing two drinks for what seems like a very long time…”

— From School for Scoundrels Notes on Three-Card Monte by Whit Haydn

Photo is from a painting by Sophie Evans’ father, John Dupret.

“Ya’ wanna’ see Fitzhugh Lee — Soapy Smith’s famous eagle?”

Fitzhugh Eagle

My dear friend Jeff Smith sent me this wonderful photograph of the Eagle that was given to Soapy Smith and displayed in back of Jeff Smith’s Parlor. It was the origin of the Alaskan phrases “I’m goin’ to see the eagle” and “I’m goin’ to show him the eagle” the former meaning I am going to relieve myself, and the latter meaning “I’m going to mug this stupid Cheechawko.” Both referred to the space out back where men went to pee behind the saloon, and also to where Soapy’s men would supposedly mug folk with a poke. Probably not true, since Soapy wouldn’t allow much of any disrepute, including gambling in his “headquarters.”

Here is what Jeff says:

“The photograph was taken by Rev. John Sinclair on July 4, 1898 just before the parade.

“The float, a freight wagon, holds a large wire cage containing the live American bald eagle given to Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith.

Behind the wagon a man holding a large American flag will be followed by Soapy’s private army, the Skaguay Military Company, in which Soapy is Captain. The small boy dressed as “Uncle Sam” is the 9-y…ear-old son of Soapy’s business partner John Clancy. The wagon rests in front of Soapy’s saloon, Jeff Smith’s Parlor (far right). The white and grey horse between the Parlor and the wagon is Soapy’s. He will be riding the same as the fourth division marshal of the parade, but Soapy manages to force his way to the front of the parade, becoming the unofficial grand marshal.”

–Jeff Smith

You can find out much more about Soapy Smith, the “King of the Frontier Con Men” by the website of his great-grandson and biographer, Jeff Smith at

School for Scoundrels at the Magic Castle

Chef Anton teaches School for Scoundrels
School for Scoundrels will begin on Sundays November 6, 13, 20, 27, and on Mondays November 7, 14, 21, 28 at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

The course is $160 for the eight hours–two hours a night.

You can switch nights from Monday to Sunday or vice-versa–the same lesson is taught on Sun and Mon at 7:00 pm.

Contact Mark Wilson at (800) 367-8749 for reservations.

Pop Haydn’s Shell Game

My shell game routine in the Close-Up Gallery at the Magic Castle:

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