Placing a Key at Twentysixth Position

There are a number of excellent tricks (with faro shuffles and without) that make use of a known card twenty-sixth from the top of the pack. (See, for example, "Buried Treasure I" in Volume I [pp. 340-342], and in this volume, "Tuppence" [pp. 219-221], "A Woven and Cut Case" [p. 325], "Autopilot" [pp. 326-328], and "The Custodial Card" [pp. 333-334).) A problem, however, arises in such tricks. How do you secretly learn the identity of the twenty-sixth card?

woven pack, the final overhand-shuffle corrections of the end cards are unnecessary.

The same correction technique can be applied to a pack with an odd number of cards. Take, for example, a deck of fifty-three.

Straddle-weave Cor- ^ rection—lower portion contains twenty-five cards, upper portion contains twenty-eight: You have cut one card too deep. Straddle-weave the lower portion into the upper, placing two cards from the upper portion under the lower portion, and two cards above it (Figure 213). Square the v y packets, milk off the top card with the bottom card, and throw the balance of the deck beneath this pair.

Straddle-weave Cor-

Hugard and Braue gave one practical answer to this problem. In Expert Card Technique (pp. 397-398) they suggested that the card be noted or placed into position as another trick was performed, one with a procedure that accommodated this ulterior motive.

The most common solution to this problem, as practiced by faro shufflers, is the faro check, a procedure originally suggested by Mr. Elmsley in the November 1956 issue of Pentagram (Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 12). That is, the deck is split at center and the corners interlaced to assure that the cut is accurate. During the weave, the bottom card of the top half is clearly visible to the performer, who memorizes it. Seeing that the cut is correct, he then pretends that he has changed his mind and he abandons the shuffle. He strips the halves apart and replaces the top half on the bottom half. The card twenty-sixth from the top is now known. Sometimes a false overhand shuffle is done; one that retains the known card in position. This shuffle helps to allay any suspicions the faro check might have aroused.

For those with uncommon confidence in the accuracy of their faro cut, the weave-check can be eliminated and the card at twenty-sixth position glimpsed as the deck is held on edge and split narrowly at center, as if beginning a cut for a faro shuffle. Most practitioners, however, will view this sort of bravado as foolhardy.

In the mid-1950s Mr. Elmsley employed yet another method for positioning a known card at twenty-sixth position from the top, one that used the faro shuffle in a subtler manner. While this idea has, over the years, occurred to others, it is far less known and practiced than its merit warrants. The idea is simply to note a card in an easily identified position in the deck, then to shuffle it to the twenty-sixth place. Here are two practical approaches:

1) While the deck is fanned or spread face-up, secretly note the card seventh from the top. This can be done quickly. Then gather the pack and give it an out-faro, followed by an in-faro. The card noted is now twenty-sixth from the top. (If, instead, you do an in-faro, then an out-faro, the card is delivered to twenty-seventh from the top, which is useful for such tricks as "Shadowed" [Volume I, pp. 337-339).)

2) Glimpse the bottom card of the pack and casually overhand shuffle thirteen cards below it. To avoid an overly long run of single cards, first run six from the top and throw the balance onto them; then run seven more cards and throw the balance on top. Next do one out-faro. The glimpsed card is now twenty-sixth from the top. (To deliver the bottom card to twenty-seventh from the top, run twelve cards below it and do one in-faro.)

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