Someone once said to me, “I don’t use gimmicks when I table-hop because they don’t reset.”
Just because it’s a gimmick does not mean it can’t reset! I know lots of cool stuff with a shell and 3 or 4 coins. So I don’t think it’s the seasoned pro staying away from gimmicks — they know how and when to use them. (The old masters used to say, “The only one who can get away with the judicious use of a gaff is someone who does not need one.”
I think the only time you might “trick” the audience into thinking your performance is real is with mental ism. For cards, coins, and stuff, they know that it’s sleight of hand. The non-seasoned pro often sticks to resetting and ungaffed stuff because it’s easier to “sell” as sleight of hand. Gaff/sleight-combo stuff takes more skill to “sell” as sleight of hand. Plus, you have to know when to do it!
Guys just starting out have a hard time in their heads with a gaff. As Ed Marlo said, “Magicians are afraid to be bold.” The newer guy just starting out often has no faith in his ability to “sell” a gaff, or even handle an audience. But, no matter what the dealers say, self-working tricks do not work themselves. You have to work them. That same skill can be applied to a gimmick.
But getting back to the topic, yes, in table-hopping or walk-around, you do want stuff that for the most part resets. If you have a killer trick that you really want to do, put 2 or 3 setups in your pocket and some backups in your case. Then don’t do it at every table. Save it for a big table, or the table of the owner’s friends, or the people on who you want to make a big impression. You don’t have to do the trick all the time. You just have to ask yourself is it worth the price to do this trick at this particular table. Or, can I do it just a cleanly (i.e. make it looks as much like real magic) with out the gaff or reset problem? The key word here is “cleanly.” If you can, then go for it! Otherwise, use the gaff.
There are ways to reset stuff on the run. For hopping half, for instance, you can have 2 small pockets in your pocket and just put the gaffs together as your putting it away. And save the killer stuff that does not reset for the big table or a formal set show so that you something special to offer people who want to hire you for a paying gig.
Take it from a seasoned pro (45 years and counting): Take the time to learn to “sell” a gimmick with your body language. It pays off in the long run. Does it take more time to do it this way? Yes. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. If you are just starting out you may need an extra boost of confidence, but as you go along in magic, and if you’ve done your homework and worked the routine a thousand times for people, you will gain that confidence.
Okay, so that’s my two cents.
Best David Neighbors