‘AGT’ champ Shin Lim en route to Ve­gas


LET’S say, for the sake of hy­poth­e­sis, you are play­ing poker in a Las Ve­gas casino and card-trick master Shin Lim takes a seat at your game.

Time to walk away, right? Maybe run?

“No, don’t worry about me,” Lim says, chuck­ling. “I play Texas Hold ‘em, but I never cheat. I don’t even know how. I have a whole dif­fer­ent set of skills.”

Lim has played in the poker rooms at Wynn Las Ve­gas and the Rio, but be­fore he be­came fa­mous. “No­body rec­og­nized me,” he says. “I have no idea how it would be now.”

In­stead, Lim is cash­ing in as a ma­gi­cian. The reign­ing cham­pion of “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent” and a fa­vorite to cap­ture the series’ on­go­ing “Cham­pi­ons” com­pe­ti­tion is head­lin­ing The Mi­rage this sum­mer. He’s tak­ing dates at the Terry Fa­tor Theatre on May 31-June 2 and July 26-28.

Tick­ets will go on sale Wed­nes­day and start at

$39.99 and can be pur­chased at any MGM Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional box of­fice, on­line at mgm­re­sorts.com/mi­rage or tick­et­mas­ter.com, or by call­ing 800-963-9634 or 702792-7777. Chil­dren un­der 5 are not per­mit­ted, and older kids must be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult.

Lim says these dates could evolve to monthly head­lin­ing ap­pear­ances, “100 per­cent, that’s what I’d like.” Most re­cently, the ma­gi­cian out of Bos­ton per­formed in Las Ve­gas in Novem­ber at Paris Theater, join­ing fel­low “AGT” Sea­son 13 fi­nal­ists co­me­di­ans Vicki Bar­bo­lak and Sa­muel J. Com­roe, trapeze artists Duo Tran­scend, and the rock­ing teen vo­cal­ist Court­ney Had­win. He says his next ap­pear­ance on “AGT: Cham­pi­ons” is com­ing up in four or five weeks.

Lim is joined on the all-star series, which runs through Feb. 18, by such Las Ve­gas per­form­ers as Piff the Magic Dragon of Flamingo’s Bugsy’s Cabaret, Tape Face of House of Tape at Har­rah’s, and Billy and Emily Eng­land of“ab­sinthe” at Cae­sars Palace.

The 27-year-old Lim men­tioned dur­ing his time in Ve­gas with his “AGT” co-head­lin­ers that he was in talks with a prom­i­nent Strip re­sort. He’s found one, but is not per­form­ing in a theater that has never hosted a ma­gi­cian res­i­dency. Fa­tor is a fa­mous ven­tril­o­quist of course, and the theater is host to the star-laden “Aces of Com­edy” stand-up series.

But Lim as­serts he will need to tai­lor his act for a venue that wasn’t built for sleightof-hand magic.

“It’s not ideal for close-up magic; the stage is raised a lit­tle too high for my lik­ing, but I’ll make it work,” Lim says. “I’ll make it work. I might have to re-sit­u­ate the cam­eras. I can change my magic to fit the room.” Paris Theater, too, is big, and Lim daz­zled the crowd with adept use of video pan­els be­hind and at the sides of the stage.

Just prior to the “AGT” per­for­mances at Paris, Lim men­tioned he was in talks to head­line a prom­i­nent Ve­gas venue. Play­ing the city has been a dream of his since he was forced to give up play­ing clas­si­cal pi­ano as a kid, suf­fer­ing from carpal tun­nel syn­drome. His path to magic was ef­fec­tively charted dur­ing his ti­tle run on “AGT.”

Inspired by such revered ma­gi­cians as David Cop­per­field and Lance Bur­ton, Lim rose to promi­nence as a guest on Penn & Teller’s hit series “Fool Us.” The first of his two ap­pear­ances on the CW show has re­ceived a lit­tle more than 55 mil­lion views on Youtube. His card artistry twice “fooled” the long-run­ning Ve­gas head­lin­ers, with Penn Jil­lette say­ing, “The idea of do­ing card tricks — which are silly at their very core — re­ally se­ri­ously and re­ally, re­ally im­por­tantly is won­der­ful.”

Lim is that. He sent my head spin­ning with a closeup card trick dur­ing our chat at Paris Theater (dur­ing which he ap­peared to move the im­age of the queen of spades from a play­ing card to his own chest).

Lim will find many fa­mil­iar faces in the Ve­gas magic com­mu­nity. Cur­rently, 16 magic or men­tal­ist shows are per­form­ing res­i­den­cies in the city.

“I think it’s be­cause peo­ple want a fam­ily show, and mine is a fam­ily show,” Lim says. “Ma­gi­cians have the vibe of win­ning big, of be­ing able to beat the sys­tem, beat the house.” On or off the stage, this is a guy who knows how to play his cards in Ve­gas.

John Katsilometes’ col­umn runs daily in the A sec­tion. His Pod­kats pod­cast can be found at re­viewjour­nal.com/ pod­casts. Con­tact him at jkat­[email protected]­viewjour­nal. com. Fol­low @john­nykats on Twit­ter, @John­nykats1 on In­sta­gram. As of 9 p.m. Sun­day:

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Trae Pat­ton NBC

Shin­lim per­forms in “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent.” The show’s reign­ing cham­pion, ma­gi­cian Limwill bring his act to Ve­gas this sum­mer.

Circa Las Ve­gas

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