Magic Words: A Dictionary
Upmanship Tricks: Secrets of One-Upping Magicians
The Pencil Witch
Seance Parlor Feng Shui
The Care and Feeding of a Spirit Board
Divination By Punctuation
Heirs to the Queen of Hearts: Tracing Magical Genealogy
How to Believe in Your Elf
The Skeleton Key of Solomon
The One Minute Mystic
The Egyptian Secrets in Your Name
The Original Cloudbuster (iOS App)
Oracle of the Two-Fold Gods
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Of Feeding & Caring For Sheet Ghosts
ESP Symbols: An Entire Language For Psychic Spies?
Of Drinking in Remembrance of the Dead
Nostradamus Predicted Your Next Diet
How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook
Magic Archetypes
Astragalomancy: A Loaded Guide
The JINX Companion
Machinarium Verbosus
A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound
The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine
Trump L'Oeil: Tarot of Portmeirion
The Magician's Hidden Library: Select a book to read online or get one for your shelf
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Upmanship Tricks book cover


Upmanship Tricks: Secrets of One-Upping Magicians

The Forbidden Gambits and Counters

A scathing commentary on the world’s most ruthless subculture, or a diabolical guide to eviscerating one’s saboteurs?

Illustration from Upmanship Tricks Key Examples of the Spirit of Upmanship in the Field
The Martinka Back Room Gambit


Imagine yourself at a private collection or museum of magic paraphernalia. While standing before a glass case containing, for example, an ornate deck of antique playing cards, employ the basic gambit of Exhibitionship (as outlined in Stephen Potter’s One-Upmanship, 1952). Plonkingly say, “To me personally, cards are meant to be handled, to be played with.” Or, “Oh, but it’s not the same, not behind glass.” Or, from a different angle, “Looking at this priceless collection, all I can think of is the honest-to- goodness excitement of opening a brand new pack of blue-backed Bicycle cards. What can beat that feeling?” Or, of a larger prop, “Terrible if one has been overcome by the miracle of this in its glory on the stage—terrible to see it here, inert, entombed.”

When in doubt, criticize the lack of information “for ordinary magicians [or magic aficionados] like me.”

To suggest that you can perceive magic beyond the confines of the museum, pause before some object that has nothing to do with the exhibition, such as a light switch, and say, “Now this, to me, is real magic. Ask a dozen electrical engineers what electricity is, exactly, and not one will be able to tell you. Without this bit of hocus pocus, we’d all be standing here in the dark.”

The ultimate upmanship in a museum, as Potter notes, is to be in love with the person you are with, and for that person to be in love with you (or at least convincingly appear so). Let the other people give their attention to mere things; your attention can barely be pulled away from the bliss of intense passion, thereby transforming people and objects into mere background distraction.


About the Author


Craig Conley is a magic enthusiast and scholar.  Recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation,” his intensive and eccentric research has led him to compile a true masterwork entitled Magic Words: A Dictionary.  He has also authored One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, among other strange and unusual lexicons, and is a regular columnist for Pentacle magazine.  Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time.  He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan.  His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size.

Featured Works:
  • Magic Words: A Dictionary
  • Magic Archetypes: The Art Behind the Science of Conjuring
  • The Skeleton Key of Solomon
  • The Collected Oldest Trick(s) in the Book(s)
  • Esoteric Articles
  • Trump L’Oeil: Tarot of Portmeirion

    Published Works
    Published Works by Craig Conley


  • Online Resources


  • Jeff McBride’s YourMagic.com
  • Eugene Burger’s MagicBeard.com
  • Rebuilding a Mystery
  • Abecedarian blog
  • Magic Words blog
  • The Mystic's Book of Days

    A free daily symbolic outlook
    for magical people


    You open The Mystic’s Book of Days at page 588,981.  How does each symbol speak to you?  Watch for patterns and note the flow.  For further insights, generate and print your own personal symbolic calendar for the month...