I am a sucker of magic, mentalist tricks, and illusions. Here is a video of Harry Milas doing some of his stuff on an Australian TV show.
You can read more about Milas here.
So good is Milas at his job that he now specialises in a unique line of work: he’s enlisted by casinos around the world, from Las Vegas to the Middle East, to catch people cheating. It is this work that inspired his latest show, The Unfair Advantage, in which he goes against convention and shows his audience how to cheat in any way they want – while also demonstrating all the ways they will be caught.
Milas calls the show “a pretty frank warning”, though many people still think they’ll be able to get away with it.
Milas is known as a “mechanical expert”, or someone who knows all the ways to get an unfair advantage in cards. When he offers to demonstrate dealing seconds for me, I try desperately not to look too excited – until he casually shuffles his deck in a spectacular way, which provokes an odd, happy noise out of me. Kindly, he doesn’t make fun of it. “Magic is a very optimistic art form,” he’ll tell me later. “It brings out the inner child. It’s a gentle reminder that you’re never going to know everything.”
He shows me the ace of spades on top of the deck then starts dealing, discreetly keeping the ace on top with his thumb as he fluidly deals out the cards underneath it. “This is probably the most prevalent card cheating move,” he explains. “It should look like nothing at all.” And it does.
“Truth is, it’s incredibly common for people to try to cheat,” he says. “Most of my work in casinos is confirming suspicions. And most of the time, it’s the dealer. Sometimes, it is someone who is winning really well and consistently – it doesn’t matter how fair your play is, the casinos are going to be interested in you.”
A lot of the work involves studying video footage to see if he can spot a mechanic, watching the movement of their thumbs, the bevel of the deck in their hand. “Most people are really fucking bad at these moves and it’s very obvious,” he says. “You can only start even thinking about trying to cheat once there is no question about being able to deliver 100% of the time. If it’s any less than that, you are going to be caught.”
“I think it’s a genuine disservice to reveal how magic tricks are done,” he adds. “I realise that that might sound hypocritical, but I personally see a distinction between revealing gambling techniques and magic secrets: one is something created for ulterior personal gain, and the other is used to elicit something really special and wonderful.”
I try to figure out how people like Milas do it but it is hopeless. I am one of those people who like to look behind the curtain see how things are done but when I learn about how magic is done, it does leave me with a let-down feeling.
I enjoy being fooled by these people and knowing the basis of the trick does remove some of the enjoyment.