Professional magicians need an arsenal of weapons to create the mysteries that dazzle their audiences. Many of these techniques and tools are well documented and are in use today. But the last of the “Great Secrets” is seldom seen or used in performance. This secret is the Gravity Holdout.

There are many different types of Holdouts. Gamblers were the first to use the term “holdout.” To them, it meant any type of device that could secretly be used to keep a card or cards out of play until needed. The most famous gambling holdout device was invented and used by a man from San Francisco named Kepplinger. Mr. Kepplinger wiped out the other gamblers and whipped them into such frenzy that they literally ripped his clothes off trying to discover his secret. They found his device strapped to his arm, and then they gave him a choice: Make everybody involved a holdout or die!

For decades, magicians have tried to alter and use gambling style holdouts… unsuccessfully. Kepplinger Holdouts are great for performing a sit-down card act, but that’s the extent of their usefulness. They do one thing very well: stealing or delivering cards. That’s it.
In the early 1900s Professor Jack Miller started using his version of the Gravity Holdout. His work is well documented in Tannen’s release of Ed Mishell’s book Holdout Miracles. This book covers Professor Miller’s design and routines. It also has an extremely interesting photograph of over 13 other Gravity Holdout designs that were in use then. Each suffered from the same problems that made them extremely difficult to use.

When Bob Fitch was nineteen, he lived in New York City. He was lucky enough to witness Jack Miller perform his Holdout Miracles in person and take a Holdout lesson from Jack. Soon after this eye-opening experience, Bob returned to the West Coast. Being isolated from other magicians, Bob continued to work on his magic, especially the Holdout.

Many years later, Bob returned to New York City. He was now a successful award-winning Broadway actor with 26 major Broadway shows, over 200 national television commercials and countless other appearances. He was also blowing everybody away with his Holdout work. He was fooling everybody so badly that they didn’t have a clue what he was doing.

At the second New York Magic Symposium, I had the pleasure of seeing Bob’s mastery of both the Holdout and the Topit-- although I didn’t know it then. I watched him do about fifteen routines. Here’s the tough part, I saw each routine three times, and I still couldn’t put together what he was doing.

One routine in particular really bothered me. Bob performed Coins Across with four coins. I followed the beginning, but the ending fried me. He clearly had only four coins. I saw Bob drop the coins one at a time into his right hand. He even shook them so that I could hear that they were still there. With absolutely no moves, Bob slowly opened his right hand and the coins were GONE! Very slowly, he opened his left hand and all four coins were there. Not only was I blown away, you should have heard the crowd!

I had seen many of the world’s top close-up magicians, but Bob’s magic just seemed to happen…no moves, no method, just magic. What was going on? I spent considerable time that year thinking about his magic, especially that damn coin trick.

The following winter, I was hanging out at Barry’s Magic Shop in Wheaton, MD (a suburb of Washington, DC), and Barry Taylor showed me the Jack Miller book. He knew that I was crazy and I’d probably relish working on the Holdout because it was nearly impossible to do. He told me how hard it was and that I’d probably give up on it…everybody else had. So, I bought the book. It cost me a whopping $4.50, and it turned out to be some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

For several months I tinkered with the Miller design. It took me several months to realize its limitations. I then started creating my own system. I came up with some practical solutions that made using the device much easier. Somewhere in the middle of making some thirty-two models, I started thinking about Bob’s Coins Across routine. Within a couple of days, I had a routine that emulated Bob’s effect, but I didn’t know if I had created something new or if I was treading on Bob’s work. The only way to find out was to track him down. Off I went to the third New York Magic Symposium to find him.

I found Bob. I told him the story and asked if he’d like to see what I had developed. He agreed to watch. After I had performed the routine, I asked him what he thought. He said that he had a pretty good idea that it was a Holdout, but that I had “partially” fooled him. I told him that I had used a Holdout…then I asked him the big question. I asked him if his solution used a Holdout. He thought about it for what seemed like an eternity, and then he said that he did use the Holdout. So we agreed to share our Holdouts. We both pulled up our sleeves. When I looked at his device, I had no idea how his Holdout worked. He didn’t understand mine either. We had both solved the problem in totally different ways.

That’s all that happened…that’s all we shared. We both went home wondering. I had fallen in love with the Holdout, however, and continued to work on my designs. At that time, my Holdout would only do one trick, but it did it very well. Because I wanted to explore using the device several times at key points in my show, I developed several practical, real-world solutions.

When I next saw Bob about two years later, I showed him all of my progress. In fact, I had made him a complete kit of my Holdout. It was the best thing I ever did. Bob opened up to me and not only showed me his Holdout design, but also started to teach me the real secrets of his work. I had vastly improved the basic mechanical design of the Holdout but I had no clue about the work that makes Bob the master of the device.

Bob is one of the great dancers. His work on Broadway is legendary. He has applied his knowledge of body motions and choreography to magic and the Holdout. He has solved and simplified all necessary body motions, which makes his Holdout work both natural and easy. He has developed a simple system of rules and choreography that will work for anybody. Believe me when I tell you that I’m not a dancer. With his help, I adapted his body motions and choreography to fit me. It was easy. He has also developed many original Holdout routines and uses.

So, we formed both an amazing friendship and partnership in 1985. The years that followed have seen our Holdout mature. We have solved virtually every problem associated with using the Gravity Holdout professionally. In 1992 we decided that we should share our Holdout with the magic community, but we couldn’t find anyone who could manufacture our designs.

That has changed. We now have on our team three persons who are the elite of the manufacturers in magic. When it comes to precision and perfection, they can’t be beat. When I released Ultimate 3 Fly in June 2000, the only man who could manufacture the gimmick to my satisfaction was Todd Lassen. Todd wasn’t very well known then, but his work stands on its own because he produces the finest coin gaffs in the world. He is now known internationally as the only man to manufacture custom gaffed coins. When we once again got serious about releasing our system, the first person I retained was Todd. Todd is a master of the lathe. We spent one week, both day and night, in his shop churning out prototypes. We had a blast. Todd came up with some very creative solutions that are in our final design.

Next I started working with Thomas Wayne. Thomas is one of the top pool cue makers in the world and a fine magician. He is a professional killer, a world traveler, a double agent and a singer of sentimental ballads. He’s a soft-shoe dancer, an aviator, a soldier of fortune and last of the big time spenders. He is also an expert at computerized lathes (CNC) and one of the more brilliant problem solvers I’ve ever known. Like Todd, Thomas brings incredible skill, creativity and a deep pool of knowledge to the table. Refusing to be satisfied until every aspect of the Holdout had been ripped apart we attacked every aspect of the Holdout, and redesigned it until we reached perfection. [prior sentence re-arranged to eliminate dangling participle] After a full nine months of development, the prototypes were finished.

Joe Porper rounds out the team. Joe is a maker of the highest quality magic. His legendary cups have been chosen by many pros as the set to use. Recently, a set of his cups sold on e-bay for over $1800.00. Joe is also one of the elite manufacturers in the billiard industry. His company designs and manufactures a complete line of billiard products. Because he is the industry leader in case manufacturing. Joe will supply the case for our Holdout System, and for the optional accessories that go with it. .

Whew…only fifty years of thinking research, plus trial and error and our prototypes are finally finished.

So here’s where the Fitch-Kohler Professional Holdout System is today. Through many hours of diligent work by our team, we are proud to announce that our system is finally available to the magic fraternity!

Our goal is to provide you with the ultimate system of tools to elevate your magic to heights only previously imagined. We believe our system will provide you with everything necessary for you to master our Holdout.


It is our intention to guarantee the secret of our Holdout remains one of the best-kept secrets in magic. Many aspects of this release will contribute to our success in keeping it from becoming the next thumbtip.

First, the manufacturing processes are state of the art. We use five axis CNC lathes and milling machines to make the majority of the parts. The materials used are selected specifically for each part. Our materials list includes space age plastics, including one of the hardest and most durable plastics on earth. We also used brass, stainless steel, and steel. Each material is chosen as the best solution no matter the cost.

The manufacturing process guarantees total precision for each part. Tolerances are equal to those that NASA uses for the shuttle. I’m not kidding! The point is no one will be knocking-off our Holdout in his basement. It will last several lifetimes. It would be extremely difficult to wear out or even break any of the parts.

The training DVDs are copyrighted and will not be available separately. They will be available only as a part of the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System. They are also not for rent or to be part of any lending library. Each DVD set will have a numbered watermark that will be part of any duplication of the disc. This will allow us to track any unauthorized duplication and use it as evidence, should this become necessary.

The last part of our protection is the way The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System is being released. IT WILL NOT BE SOLD! PLEASE READ ON. IT’S BETTER THAN YOU THINK.

Our legal team has proven to us that there is a way to better ensure that these secrets remain unknown to the lay public and to guarantee that all users receive full opportunity to benefit from their investment.

The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System will be leased without term and pursuant to a confidentiality agreement.

You may think we’re crazy but pay close attention. Leasing the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System and requiring acquirers to sign a notarized confidentiality and license agreement provides superior international protection and protection from exposure on broadcast television. It’s similar to when you “purchase” software. By signing the confidentiality and license agreement, you agree to the terms of the agreement with Bob Kohler Productions.

Here are answers to some questions about the agreement.

• The agreement is designed to protect all of our work as well as your investment in The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System.

• Yes, you can sell (“assign”) your license to another magician (but magicians only) pursuant to certain conditions and with our approval. You can charge whatever the market will bear, but you MUST get the new magician licensee to sign an assignment and release agreement (available from us) and send us a notarized copy before releasing The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System to him/her. It’s important for you to know that the original licensee (you) is still bound by the confidentiality agreement.

• The Fitch-Kohler Professional Holdout System is a valuable commodity that you have paid for. Even though it’s a lease you own, it has value just like a common stock. You can even put it in your will or trust.

• The license is similar to what you would acquire if you went to a computer store and bought a software program like Microsoft Office. You would have paid for a license to use its software product on one computer. It’s the same for The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System. You have paid for the rights to use the enclosed training materials and hardware. It is not to be shared. Although we hope to not have to enforce our license agreement, we are ready to do so if violations occur.

• The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System will be available only direct from this web store. All purchasers must clear our requirements. We reserve the right to refuse licensing any individual at our discretion.

• Our legal team is comprised of highly skilled lawyers who are also magicians that use The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System. They are bulldogs when it comes to infringement and lawsuits, but really nice guys the rest of the time.

• There is no fixed term to the lease of The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System. Buyers of the lease may keep The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System until they decide otherwise as long as they have upheld their part of the agreement.

So what do you actually get with The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System?

• The training DVDs.

• The Fitch Kohler Holdout System

• 8 core attachments

• 2 user specific attachments

• Leather Carrying Case

The following is a full description of each component in as much detail as possible, without revealing the secrets.

To effectively use The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System, it is important to learn from the very beginning the correct way to do what is required. Bad habits are much harder to break than it is to integrate the correct methods from the very beginning.

Our training DVDs will let you learn every aspect of The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System properly from the start.

We have the luxury of producing the training DVDs in the studios at Bob Kohler Magic, so we directly control each and every aspect of the production. The DVDs are shot on high-end digital cameras, edited on non-linear digital workstations by Bob Kohler, and replicated to DVDs in-house.

Because we own the studio, we don’t have to cut corners. We shoot each scene until it’s perfect. Clear, concise menus allow the student instant access of each chapter. Each chapter progressively takes the student through the course in a logical way that’s easy to understand and implement. If we had these DVDs, they would have saved us twenty years!

• History of the Holdout

• Introduction to Holdout concepts

• Explanation of Holdout types

• Detailed analysis of general holdout problems

• Detailed analysis of our solutions

• The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System

• Explanation of each component in the system

• Explanation of each parts use and construction

• The Strap

• The Connection System

• The Lock

• The Weight

• The Attachments

• First Time Set-up

• System Adjustment

• Methods to “Get” the Holdout

• Methods to “Get Rid Of” the Holdout

• Choreography and Body Language

• Footwork

• Lock Usage

• Attachments vs. Miller ends

• Common mistakes & Bad Habits

• 23 Routines that cover each Attachments use in performance

Over the years we have constantly analyzed each aspect of the Gravity Holdout and have continued refining our solutions. Our system contains what we feel are the definitive solutions for every component. We started with the strap. In the interest of comfort, we chose cotton so that your skin can breathe and perspiration can’t build up. Our strap is placed under the shirt, and has an ingenious connection system that allows the performer to connect and disconnect the Holdout right in front of the audience.
If you’ve ever tried using an old-fashioned Gravity Holdout, you know that one of the most frustrating problems is fine-tuning the length adjustment. Success demands proper use, and proper use demands that your adjustment is precise. Only the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System has our precision adjuster.

Every time you want to use the Holdout in a different jacket or shirt, you have to readjust the overall length. Maybe you’ve lost or gained a couple of pounds. No problem. Our adjuster, invented by Thomas Wayne, is ingenious. There are no moving parts, and it instantly allows you to get your adjustment just right. It’s easy to use. If you want your Holdout to be exactly one inch longer, you just move the adjuster exactly one inch. It’s diabolical.

The Holdout is one of Magic’s most powerful weapons, but you really don’t want to overuse it during your show. So what do you do with the Holdout when you are performing routines that don’t use the Holdout?

Many people have tried without success to invent a “lock” that would allow you keep the Holdout up at the top of your sleeve in an inactive state. The idea is was to keep it “out of play” until needed, then activate it right when you are ready for it. Tommy Wonder was the only man who ever had a working solution. His solution is brilliant; check it out in his “Books of Wonder” (plus you need to read Tommy’s books so that you don’t miss any of his cutting edge essays and routines). His lock has no moving parts and works very well indeed. It was a very big secret for a long time. But it’s not perfect; we found it difficult to know when it was locked or unlocked during performance.

Our lock solves this critical issue. It is activated or deactivated during performance with normal body motions. One of the major problems with any lock is this: does the performer know with certainty that the Holdout is either locked or unlocked. Our lock provides this security with mind easing certainty. Thomas Wayne has built a lock that meets all of our requirements.

Using only one moving part that is spring loaded, our lock guarantees that there is never any doubt in the performer’s mind if the Holdout is in locked or unlocked position. This is HUGE. There is a definite “pressure difference” required to lock or unlock our lock. Here’s the best part. We’ve built a safety into the lock. It accomplishes two very important needs. If the Holdout is locked and the safety is “ON”, nothing can unlock the Holdout and make it active. You can wear it all day with total certainty, and yet by pressing one button you can instantly unlock the Holdout.

Here’s a different scenario. During performance, there may be moments when your act is timed to the second and you have to ensure that the Holdout cannot accidentally lock. Again, no problem. Just hit the safety and there’s no way the Holdout can lock during your performance.

Our lock is truly the “Holy Grail.” If one feature of the Gravity Holdout has kept it from becoming a tool used by professionals, it’s the fact that until now there has never been a foolproof solution to keep the Holdout under the performer’s complete control. Thanks to this lock, those days are over.

For years I’ve heard magicians complain that the Gravity Holdout is nothing more than a string and a fishing weight. They can stop complaining because we didn’t stop thinking. Compared to the old lead fishing weights used by Jack Miller (and others), ours is a rocket. It’s made of high-quality materials, polished to a fine finish. Its total weight is adjustable. Different materials used in shirts and coats require more or less weight. Silk Italian suits work best with 2 ounces of weight, wool business suits work better with 3 ounces. With our system, you can change from 2 to 3 ounces in less than one minute.

The weight is also machined as an integral part of the lock. One can’t work without the other.

There’s a lot more to our weight, but to tell you the truth, there is just no way to describe all of its features without tipping its total design. Trust me on this one; there is nothing else we can improve. It will provide you with total functionality, total comfort and total deceptiveness.

It is important for you to understand that the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System is just that…a system. The ten attachments that come with our system provide you with what I call core flexibility. These attachments are all multi-use. Each can work with more than one effect or object. I know this is a little vague; let me elaborate.

Jack Miller’s design allowed the user to switch “ends”. The reason that they were called “ends” is that they were attached by placing them into the jaws of a clothespin. That’s fine as far as it goes, but here’s the problem. Each end was different in many ways. If your Holdout was adjusted properly and you added a new “end”, you were out of adjustment. This meant you now had to readjust or risk looking like someone having a seizure.

Our Attachments are designed to integrate into our system without throwing other aspects out of adjustment. This instant adjustment is built into the system. It’s a very elegant solution that will ensure your precise adjustment even when you switch from an attachment that vanishes a silk to another attachment that handles balls or eggs.

There is absolutely no limit to what attachments can be made to do. Our system comes with the ten basic attachments we consider the core attachments the ones most magicians will use. Each of these ten attachments is multi-purpose, so each can handle a range of objects.

Our system doesn’t stop with the basic attachments. We have also designed and used many other SPECIALTY attachments. When we decided to release our system, one of the toughest problems was to decide on how many attachments to release. We now have thirteen more that we regularly use. But in many cases, these attachments are VERY specific. Some do only one thing, but they do it better than any other method.

So our dilemma was this: if we released our system with all twenty-four attachments, the price would have been almost tripled. Due to their complex nature, many of the specialty attachments are very difficult to manufacture. We can make them, but they are expensive.

So we decided to release the ten most versatile attachments, along with the DVDs and all of the necessary hardware, so that our system could reach the most magicians possible. This way, you get the most useable system at the most affordable price. For those who want the more exotic attachments, they will be available as an option. This ensures that each customer gets exactly what he/she needs, and nothing he doesn’t.

So that’s why we’ve made a distinction between the core attachments and the specialty attachments. As you can see, this is such a large project that if you had to wait for us to manufacture and shoot the instructional DVDs for the specific ends before releasing our system, it would be 2007!

Here is one last thought for you: our project is open-ended. There are many specialty ends we may not have thought of but you may. For those who dream, we will happily make or design custom ends for your specific needs. Who knows, one day we may release an attachment that was once only your dream. We do know that many of magic top creators will be using our system, and we are very excited to see what the magic community creates.

Of course, our specialty attachments will only be available to individuals who have leased our system. They won’t work without it.

We expect to have two specialty attachments available at the same time as our initial release. More will follow. More information about the specialty attachments will be made available to those who have our system.

The Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System is a precision tool. It has many parts that are difficult to manufacture. Thomas Wayne is our manufacturer. He is a master machinist that we feel is the only individual whom we trust can manufacture our system to our stringent specifications and requirements.

For many logistical reasons, we are going to manufacture our system in blocks of fifty units. Our initial release is late December 2002. We expect it’s likely that we will not be able to keep up with the demand for our system. Keep in mind that Mr. Wayne’s main business is crafting high-end pool cues. If we had to pay his normal shop rate, none of us could afford our system.

Lease price for the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System is $1795.95

My experience with Ultimate 3 Fly taught me many lessons concerning hand-made products such as waiting lists, frustration, shipping problems etc.,

So here’s the deal!

• Bob Kohler Magic will start taking Reservations for the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System at 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time on October 15th, 2002. Expected ship date is late December 2002.

• Reservations will only be taken by email sent to

Do not call! Do not send letters! Do not fax! Don’t skywrite!

• My e-mail program records exactly when each e-mail is received. E-mails received before 7:00 PM on October 15th, 2002 will be disqualified. Multiple e-mails will move your request to the back of the line. Please send only one request for a reservation.

• Requests will be placed on our list in the order received. The first fifty units will be leased to the first fifty individuals. These individuals will receive e-mail notification as soon as possible. After notification, they will have 72 hours to place their firm order with full credit card payment on-line only at These persons also have ten days to send me a notarized and signed copy of the confidentiality and license agreement downloadable from the web site. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT PLACE THIS FIRM ORDER OR FAILS TO RETURN A SIGNED AND NOTARIZED CONFIDENTIALITY AND LICENSE AGREEMENT WITHIN THE TIME LIMIT WILL BE PLACED AT THE END OF THE WAITING LIST. NO EXCEPTIONS!

• Do not under any circumstances place an order on unless you have received an e-mail from me that verifies your reservation. Your credit card will be charged! Non-verified orders will not be sent! Refunds to your credit card for non-verified orders will be charged a handling fee of 5%.

Your verification letter from me will have a copy of your letter to me included so that you will know it is valid and from Bob Kohler Magic!

• If we get more than 50 requests for reservations, you will be advised via e-mail of your request position. Because we are manufacturing our Holdout System in blocks of fifty units, your order will be in the first block, second block, third block etc..

• If there is a waiting period, persons next in line will be notified and each will have ten days to place their firm credit card order at my web site at, and to send me an executed, notarized confidentiality agreement. Failure to place a firm order will result in losing your place in line.

• If your position in line moves up the list, you will be notified by e-mail of our expected shipping date to you so that you can plan on the arrival of your Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System.

Well, there you have it. Now you know everything you need to know about the Fitch Kohler Professional Holdout System. We hope that we are giving magic a fresh start toward keeping our secrets a secret.

Max Maven gave an incredible speech at Magic Magazine’s convention “Magic Live”. In the speech he said “Magicians have taken something incredibly powerful and made it mundane.” It’s time for us to make a stand and turn magic back into what it once was.

The legal safeguards that we have chosen to employ give us the power to keep our secrets from being exposed on television. We will fight to keep our secrets out of the hands of dealers who will sell anything to anybody.

In Las Vegas it’s virtually impossible to use invisible thread to levitate an object because the secret is sold and pitched to thousands of non-magicians every day. Fred Kaps would turn over in his grave if he knew that one of magic’s best close-up effects was in the hands of guys who sell motor homes for a living. We would very much like to see professional secrets controlled so that they can remain professional trade secrets for years.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Bob Kohler
Bob Fitch