Penny Wise

Effect: The performer runs through a shuffled deck and indicates to an elected confidant a random card that he feels will be a good prospect for a prediction. The spectator is asked to write the name of this card down, without revealing it to the group.

The performer gives the pack a further shuffle and has another person take a group of cards from the center of the pack. The removed packet is counted while the performer turns away. However many cards the packet contains, that number is used to arrive at a random card in the deck. Cards are fairly counted from the top of the deck and the card at the random number is noted by the spectator. When this person announces the card he thought of, the first spectator shows the others the card she wrote down at the beginning. It is the identical one.

Method: A full pack of fifty-two is shuffled, by one of the audience if you like. You then ask a spectator to collaborate with you in making a prediction. Give her a slip of paper and a pen. Then run through the pack, with the faces visible only to you and her. As you spread the cards, secretly count until you arrive at the fourteenth from the face. Stop on this and indicate It to the spectator. "This card looks promising. Will you remember it for me? Perhaps you had better write it down, but don't let the rest see."

While she does this, square the deck and give it one out-faro shuffle. This transports the card to a position twenty-sixth from the top. Place the pack face-down on your left hand and approach a second person. "I want you to choose a number at random by cutting a packet of cards from the middle of the deck." With your right hand, cut off slightly more than half the cards from the top of the pack. This portion must contain the predicted card. Hold out the lower portion and let the spectator take as many as he likes. When he has cut off his packet you, with an air of utter fairness, drop the right hand's cards back onto the left's.

"I now want you to count how many cards you have taken; I won't look." Turn away while he counts and, as you are waiting, give the balance of the deck another out-faro. Do this casually, as if merely filling time.

"I shall show you the car ds one by one. I want you to remember the card at your number." Show cards singly, taking them from the top of the deck as you count them aloud. Stop when you are sure the spectator has noted a card. "Have you got one? Good. I think everyone understands that if you had taken more cards, you would have thought of a later one; and if you had taken fewer, you would have thought of one earlier. The choice of card was determined completely by your actions."

Having sufficiently emphasized the fairness of the procedure, ask the spectator to tell everyone the card he mentally selected. Then turn to the first person. "You wrote the name of a card before we started. What was your prediction?" Through the aegis of Penelope's principle you are assured that the card noted and that predicted will be one in the same.

August 1988

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