Half Packed

Effect: As the performer riffles his thumb down the side of the deck, someone is asked to call stop. The pack is cut at that point and one half is presented to the spectator. He is asked to choose any card he wishes from his packet, note it, then thrust it into the center of the performer's half. Both performer and spectator cut their cards, mixing them, before the halves are shuffled into each other.

The performer explains that, while it was previously known that the chosen card was in his half of the pack, after the shuffle it is impossible to know whether the card lies in the upper portion or in the lower. He cuts the pack once more and places the lower half in his pocket.

"Your card may or may not be in this half. What was your card?" On hearing the name of the card, the performer sandwiches the half deck between his two hands and suddenly it vanishes entirely. A moment later, a single card reappears between the hands: the selection. The rest of the pack is later found in the performer's pocket.

Method: This trick depends on the cunning use of Paul LePaul's bluff pass. There is no preparation. The trick can be performed with a shuffled pack or a borrowed one. Begin by holding the deck facedown in left-hand dealing grip, and ask the person farthest to your left to call stop as you riffle your thumb down the outer left corner of the cards. Note that, since the bluff pass will be employed shortly, your audience must be managed so that no one is positioned at your extreme left, from which this maneuver is vulnerable to exposure. If this cannot be arranged, you must face the leftmost individual and work to him, thus turning the bad side inward, protecting it from the audience's view.

Tilt the left side of the pack upward, displaying the thumb's action as you riffle through the cards, and time the riffling so that you are stopped somewhere near center. With the left thumb, pull open the pack at the point indicated, forming a generous gap there. Then bring the hands together to separate the two portions: move the left hand somewhat toward the approaching right hand, simultaneously tilting the outer end of the deck downward to bring the top of the pack fully into sight while tipping the far edge just beyond the audience's view. At the same time, bring the right hand palm-down over the deck. With the right fingers together at the front end, and the right thumb at the left inner corner, grip the packet above the left thumb's break, the fingers concealing the front edge entirely. Then lower the left hand, carrying the bottom portion of the pack away from the upper. The act of cutting the cards at the point the spectator stipulates is honest; but the actions are carefully contrived to duplicate those necessary for the LePaul bluff pass (ref. Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 3, pp. 181-183). Indeed, by establishing the actions of this cutting procedure as described, Mr. Elinsley has often fooled magicians with this trick, though they were familiar with the bluff pass.

Present the right hand's packet to the spectator who called stop, and ask that he shuffle it, while you do the same with the cards remaining to you. When the shuffling has been completed, the spectator is instructed to remove any card he wishes from his portion, note it and insert it into your packet. Do not let him push the selection entirely flush. This task you reserve for yourself, so that you can secretly secure a fourth-finger break above the card. Ask the spectator to give his packet several cuts, further mixing the cards. You do likewise with your packet, actually double cutting the selection to the top. Then retrieve the spectator's packet.

"I shall shuffle our two packets together.. .and cut the pack in two again, so that we don't know which half contains your card." Do exactly that, riffle shuffling the two portions together, while retaining the selection on top. Then, as you seemingly divide the pack in half, actually perform the LePaul bluff pass. That is, as you hold the deck in left-hand dealing grip, run your left thumb down the outer left corner as you did previously, stop near center and apparently separate the pack at this point. However, as the right hand comes over the deck to lift away the top portion, the left hand tilts the front of the pack downward a bit, and the left thumb gently relaxes its pressure, allowing the gap it holds to close secretly. The right hand aids in concealing this subtle motion, and without hesitation it grasps just the top card of the pack (the selection) by its ends. While it isn't strictly necessary, Mr. Elmsley recommends that you secure a left fourth-finger break under the top card before beginning the bluff pass, to assure that the right hand can grasp just the top card without hesitation or fumbling.

All four right fingers, aligned across the front edge of the card, hide its singleness. The left forefinger performs a similar service of concealment by stretching across the front of the pack, as does the thumb, reposed along the left edge (Figure 114, situation exposed from the left}. You also should lower the right side of the pack somewhat, to aid the left fingers in covering the thickness there. The right hand screens the right side of its card from view, leaving only the left edge to worry about; and if there is no one on your left, or if you have turned to face the spectator there, this angle cannot be observed.

Resist a guilty impulse to drop the right hand, with its one card masquerading as half a pack, to your side; nor should you raise the left hand over the right to obscure it. Such actions only draw attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. Keep the right hand stationary and positioned naturally in front of you, angled as taught, and all will go well.

"This half pack goes into my pocket." Move your left hand, with the deck, directly to your left coat or trousers pocket and neatly deposit it there. Bring the hand empty from the pocket and run the left fingers back and forth along the left edge of the right hand's card in a squaring action. This further suggests that you hold half the pack—but don't draw attention to this action. Rather, look up at the spectator as you apparently square the packet, and say, "Your card may or may not be in this half. What was your card?"

Hearing the name of the card spoken triggers a quick succession of visual surprises. Moving smoothly from the left hand's squaring action, turn this hand palm-up under the right hand's card, as if about to take it (as a packet} into dealing grip. Simultaneously curl the tips of the right second, third and fourth fingers inward, contacting the face of the card, and catch it in master palm (Figure 115). ■ ■ - - ^

Without hesitation, revolve the left hand palm-down and to the left of the right hand, the left fingers curled in as if holding a packet of cards. In the same action, raise the left hand a bit, focusing all attention on it, while the right third fingertip pushes the hidden card inward and into rear palm (see Volume I, pp. 124-126, for a full discussion of this palm).

"If I take this half pack and squeeze it, it vanishes." Work the left fingers in the venerable magical gesture of crumpling an object into nothingness; then dramatically reveal the vanish of the half pack. While displaying the left hand palm-up, casually brush the tip of the right second finger over the left palm several times, casually emphasizing the apparent emptiness of the hands.

After the final brushing action, the right hand moves inward, over the left hand again, while the right thumb moves forward to touch the tip of the right forefinger. This causes the near end of the palmed card to move away from the right palm and wrist. As this occurs, simultaneously turn the left hand palm-down under the right hand while loosely closing the fingers. You will find that this combination of actions allows you to introduce the near end of the card smoothly and secretly into the fork of the left thumb (Figure 116),

Continue to turn the left hand palm-down, folding the fingers around the card as the right hand releases it from palm grip. However, keep the right hand poised above the left, covering the projecting end of the card at the near side of the left fist. As this is done, say, "One card returns... and rises from behind my hand."

Now touch the tips of the right fingers softly to the back of the left hand and rub it in small circles. At the same time, under the cover provided by this action, place the tip of the left thumb against the projecting end of the card and push it slowly through

the fist, forcing the card into view (Figure 117), Done smoothly and with grace, this production looks extremely magical,

"And that Is your card." Grip the card by Its outer end between your right thumb and forefinger, draw It from the left fist and display it.

"The rest of the pack is all together in my pocket." With your obviously empty left hand, reach into your pocket and bring out the full pack.

The effect created by this sequence is quite amazing, and quite a bit stronger than it might appear on the page. Over the years it has remained a favorite in Mr. Elmsley's estimation, which should be recommendation enough to give it a trial.

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