Blind Stud

Effect: A shuffled pack is handed to someone who, when the performer turns his back, cuts the deck, completes the cut and deals stud poker hands for himself and three others. The four players are asked not to look at their hole cards yet, but to tell the performer what promising poker combinations appear in their face-up cards. Specific cards are not named—just playable combinations like pairs, three of kind, etc. This information is less than would be had by any player in the game, but the performer keeps his back turned, to allay suspicions of marked cards.

After hearing the strength of the players* hands, the performer comments on the merits of each, its chances of winning, and the likelihood of it being improved by the unknown hole card. This, he explains, is the sort of reasoning a good gambler must depend on. However, he is a magician, not a gambler, and he depends on magic. He then proceeds to prove it by naming each player's unseen card, after which he specifies the winning hand on the table.

Method: This trick and tlie three that follow it are all based on Gray codes. Gray codes are special series in which all portions of a specified length are unique in sequence. Such series have been used by mathematicians for centuries. Recently Persi Diaconis discovered a magic trick published in 1584 that contains a simple Gray code. This appears in Jean Prévost*s Première Partie des Subtiles et Plaisantes Inventions, possibly the earliest extant Western book on conjuring.

Until the twentieth century, however, the principle was rarely used. It wasn't until the 1960s that a strong interest in these arrangements, particularly as applied to playing cards, flourished. This movement was marshalled by Karl Fulves, who borrowed the term Gray code from the field of mathematics and introduced it into magic's vocabulary (ref. "Other Voices II", Pallbearers Review, Vol. 3, No. 10, August 1968, p. 201). Mr. Fulves, Roy Walton, Phil Goldstein and others built on previous work by Charles Jordan,

Larsen and Wright, and Bob Hummer to come up with some fascinating methods; and most recently Leo Boudreau has done extensive work on the subject (see his books, Psimatrika, Spirited Pasteboards and Skullduggery). In the early 1970s, Mr. Elmsley too became intrigued with Gray codes, and what follows are the fruits of that interest.

To accomplish the effect under discussion, the deck must be stacked from top to bottom. The stack is this:

King of Clubs

Jack of Spades

Five of Clubs

Eight of Spades

Two of Hearts

Two of Clubs

Eight of Hearts

Nine ofDiamonds

Ten of Diamonds

Queen of Diamonds

Ace of Clubs

Jack ofDiamonds

Queen of Hearts

Ace of Spades

Jack of Clubs

Tne of Spades

Nine of Spades

Seven of Hearts

Two of Spades

Three ofDiamonds

Ten of Clubs

Three of Hearts

Three of Clubs

Nine of Hearts

Four of Hearts

Six of Clubs

Nine of Clubs

Seven of Spades

Six of Hearts

King ofDiamonds

Seven of Clubs

Four of Diamonds

King of Spades

Six of Spades

Three of Spades

Two of Diamonds

Four of Clubs

Eight of Clubs

Five ofDiamonds

Queen of Spades

Seven ofDiamonds

Five of Hearts

Ace ofDiamonds

Six ofDiamonds

Queen of Clubs

Ace of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Ten of Hearts

King of Hearts

Four of Spades

Eight ofDiamonds

Five of Spades

Give the pack a false shuffle and hand it to a spectator. Turn your back and have him give the cards one or two straight cuts before he deals four hands of stud poker. Beginning with the first hand and working around the table In the order the hands were dealt, ask each spectator not to mention the identities of his face-up cards, but to tell you what playable combinations he has. The only combinations that the stack permits are one pair, three of a kind and two pairs. When each person tells you what he holds, think of it as a single digit:

All Cards Different... 1

One Pair 2

Three of a Kind 3

Two Pair 4

By the time you have heard the contents of the fourth hand, you will have a four-digit number. This number identifies the face-down hole cards in each person's hand, as shown in the following table:

1112:

JS-

-2C-

-QD-

-AS

2121:

3S—5D-

-AD-

-JH

1113:

4C—

-7D—

-QC-

-KH

2122:

9H—7S—

-4D-

-2D

1121:

2C—

-QD-

-AS-

-7 H

2124:

6S—SC

-5H—

-AH

1122:

2S —

-3C-

-9C-

— 7C

2131:

AD— JH-

-8D-

—8S

1123:

7H-

-3H—

~6C-

-KD

2141 :

9D—JD—

10S—3 D

1124:

10C-

—4H-

-6H-

-KS

2212:

7C—3S-

-5D-

-AD

1131:

7D-

-QC-

-KH-

-JS

2221:

9C—7C-

—3S-

-5D

1132:

6D-

-10H-

-5S-

-KC

2231:

4D—2D-

-9S-

—6 D

1143:

2H—

10D-

-9H

—9S

231 1 :

2D—QS—6 D—

10H

1211:

QD-

-AS-

—7H-

-3 H

2321:

6C—KD-

—6S-

—8C

1212:

3D-

—7S-

— 4D

2341:

8H—AC-

— JC

-2 S

1213:

5D-

-AD-

-JH-

-8D

241 1:

6H—KS-

-4C-

-7D

1214:

8S—

-9D—

■JD—

10S

2431:

5 H—AH-

—4S-

—5C

1222:

3C —

- 9C-

— 7C-

— 3S

3111:

KH-JS-

-2C—

-9D

1223:

7S —

4D-

-2D-

-0S

3112:

9S—10C-

—4H-

-6H

1232:

3H-

-6C-

KD

— 6S

3113:

QS—6D—

-10H-

—5S

1234:

5C-

-8H-

-AC-

-JC

3121:

8D—8S-

-9D-

-JD

1241:

4H-

-6H-

- KS

— 4C

3123:

4S—5C-

-8H-

-AC

1243:

8C—

-5H-

-AH

— 4S

321 1 :

5S--KC-

-2H—

10D

1311:

QC-

—KH

—JS-

—2C

3212:

KD—OS-

-8C-

-5 H

1312:

JH-

-8D-

— 8S-

— 9D

3411:

AC—JC-

—2S-

—3C

1321:

10H

—5S-

—KC-

—2H

4111:

KS—4C-

-7D-

-QC

1412:

JD-

-I OS

—3D-

—9 H

41 12:

JC—2S-

—3C-

-9C

1431:

1 OD—QH-

-9S-

-IOC

4121 :

10S—3D

—9H-

—7S

2112:

AS-

-7H-

—3H-

— 6C

4311 :

QH—9S-

-10C-

—4H

2114:

KC-

-2H-

-10D-

-QH

4312:

AH—4S-

—5C-

-8 H

To determine the identities of the four hole cards, you must refer to this table. A cue sheet is therefore necessary. This can be written on both sides of a card about playing-card size. The card is carried in a convenient pocket, from which it is secretly obtained while your back is turned. Note that, for each quartet of hole cards listed in the table, one of the cards is italicized. On the actual cue sheet, these entries are written in red. That card indicates the winning hand of the group, giving you one further piece of impressive information to divulge.

On Mr. Elmsley's original cue sheet he also listed the values of each hand. This does increase the size of the list considerably, making it difficult to compress onto a single cue card. You can hide such an expanded list inside a book on winning poker strategy, which you openly refer to during the presentation. Given this book, the list can be broken into convenient shorter sections and distributed throughout the volume for quick reference.

One last thought: if you use a mnemonic system, such as Nikola's, the cue sheets could list the cards by their mnemonic names. This permits you to close the book, put it away and chatter briefly, without danger of forgetting the cards before you are ready to name them. In this case, you would not worry about giving the values of the hands.

1980

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