Marlo on Erdnase
Expert at the card table, as Persi Diaconis wrote, embodies 'the first refined technical description of card sleights' Precursors pale in comparison. it may be, as Diaconis also suggests, ' the best book ever written on sleight of hand.' But if this proves to be rhapsodic hyperbole, what is less debatable is the fact that this wide-reaching, perdurable book has influenced other books of this type subsequently published. Consider, for example, the number of spin-offs and annotations, including the lackluster ones by Professor Hoffman. Also, consider Shaps and Flats (written prior to Erdnase) (1894), Cheating at Bridge (1933), Marked Cards and Loaded Dice (1952), and the seminal, Expert card technique (1940). Also, consider the germane material published by Dai Vernon and Ed Marlo. In fact, it may be fair to say that most technical card books written after Erdnase was published consist if elaborate footnotes, modifications, and additions to Expert a the Card Table. In this regard, the material by Vernon, Daley, Miller, Marlo, Hugard, Braue, and others are likewise nothing more than detailed, illuminating annotations.
Marlo carefully studied Erdnase and everything related to it. He also reread Expert Card Technique many times, believing as an early reviewer did, that it 'has everything cardmen need to know about cards.' The same reviewer thought that it dwarfed Erdnase. (Early ads boasted that Expert Card Technique explained 341 sleights and tricks, was enhanced by 318 posed illustrations and covered 470 pages (far exceeding the 218 pages of the 1944 edition). Notice that its advertising 'hook' alludes to Gambling rather than magic. ('the shake-down sleights employed by gamblers.')
Back in the 70s, I suggested to Marlo that he collate his published and unpublished material related to Erdnase in a single volume. He said that such a volume would be too large. Besides, much of what he recorded in his Revolutionary Card Series, Plus his private manuscripts, was already available. Therefore, the idea was scrapped.
Now, due to the sustained interest in everything related to Erdnase, plus the fact that Geno Munari is putting together a supplemental package for Erdnase students, this book is a preliminary effort to show how an annotation of Erdnase by Marlo might look like. As it stands, it is a partial, supplemental work. if you are discovering Expert at the Card Table for the first time, these annotations will serve to direct you to other complementary material, namely Marlo's Revolutionary Card Technique, Riffle Shuffle Systems, and other private and public manuscripts. Students should also study Dai Vernon's Revelations and Darwin Ortiz's Annotated Expert at the Card Table. The latter book is particularly illuminating -- 270 pages of useful material and references, each embellishing that is explained in Expert at the Card Table and shedding light on everything stemming from it.