Pockets Full Of Miracles

Effect: Someone selects a card from the pack and notes it. The performer also peeks at this card and shows it to someone nearby. The card is then placed face-down on the table.

The person who selected the card is now asked to name it. The performer and second spectator show surprise on hearing his response, for each of them saw entirely different cards. When the card on the table is turned up to verify which of the three is correct, it is found to be none of their cards. The performer then produces the three cards previously seen, each from a different pocket. If desired, the deck may be checked, as none of the three cards is there.

Method: This astonishing and highly entertaining trick is a variant of The General Card, a classic plot with several centuries of history behind it. Mr. Elmsley has given this plot a solid and satisfying resolution by combining it with another classic, Cards to Pocket.

While the trick can be done with any cards, Mr. Elmsley performs it with the four aces. The aces are more easily remembered by people, and when they are produced at the finish, they provide a fuller sense of design and closure.

The preparation is minimal. Before performing the trick you must secretly load the ace of clubs into the outer left breast-pocket of your jacket. Then cull the ace of diamonds to the top of the pack, the ace of spades to the face, and the ace of hearts just above it.

As you introduce the trick, you can if you wish casually shuffle the deck, retaining the aces at the top and bottom. Finish by giving the cards an in-the-hands slip cut that sends the ace of diamonds to the center. As you complete the cut, catch a left fourth-flnger break above this ace.

Now ask someone in front of you to call stop as you riffle your left thumb down the side of the pack. Stop when he commands and execute the riffle force. Here Mr. Elmsley employs an original handling of this force that, over the years, has drawn praise from select magicians who have been shown it. The idea is simple. Instead of lifting away the packet above the left fourth finger's break, hold your right hand palm-up about six inches to the right of the pack. Then, with the left hand, toss the packet above the fourth finger's break off the deck and into the right hand. In this action, you simultaneously release the left thumb's break, letting it close. The throwing of the packet looks quite nonchalant and innocent. Mr. Elmsley observes that, ironically, an honest toss of the top packet, using only the thumb's break, is far more difficult to do, but since only a magician would ever tiy such a thing, no one thinks of questioning the fraudulent action. (Though it was devised by Mr. Elmsley in the 1950s, this riffle force handling has remained surprisingly little known, despite its having been alluded to once or twice in print [e.g., Kabbala, Vol. II, No. 6, Feb. 1973, p. 47], This relative obscurity accounts in part for the independent invention of the tossing idea by J.K. Hartman in 1973 [ref. Means and Ends, pp. 4-5], mid possibly by others as well.)

Set the top portion of the pack onto the table; then thumb the top card of the left hand's packet (the ace of diamonds) to the right for half its width and stare at it, drawing everyone's attention to it. Addressing the spectator who called stop, explain, "This is the card you have chosen—but I'm not going to let you see it yet. Instead, will you remember his card for him?" Here you make eye contact with someone on your left. Do not remove the card from the packet. Rather, raise your left hand, turning the face of the sidejogged card toward this person, so that he can remember it. Several persons near him also can be allowed to see the card, but it is not displayed to the audience as a whole.

"Have you got it?" When the spectator says he lias, lower the packet to a face-down position, resting the left thumb naturally on the sidejogged ace of diamonds, poised to pull it square with the pack.

"You won't forget it?" While you ask this and look directly at the spectator, misdirecting from your hands, you execute a variety of bottom deal, but you alter the dealing action to one of placing the card into your right hand: The left hand moves a short distance to the waiting right hand, delivering the card to it. In this action, the right hand extracts the bottom card of the packet as the left thumb simultaneously retracts the top card. Throughout this switch of cards the right hand remains stationary; the left hand moves to it, then away, making a short gesture toward the spectator you are addressing. Since you are holding only half the pack, the switch action is made easier.

Several further details concerning the switch need to be mentioned: Mr. Elmsley, when doing a bottom deal, holds the cards with the left forefinger at the outer right corner of the packet. The tip of the left second finger lightly buckles the bottom car d, breaking it loose, then pushes it slightly to the right. At the same time, the packet is brought to the right hand, the right fingers passing under the left's, and the right thumb over the left thumb. The right forefinger contacts the face of the bottom card near the outer right corner, moving into the gap between the left first and second fingers; and the right fourth finger contacts the face of this card along the inner end (Figure 137, deck made transparent). While the extraction of the bottom card is done mainly by the right forefinger, the fourth finger aids in the action, (The mechanics here somewhat resemble those of Edward Mario's new bottom stud deal, from his Seconds, Centers, Bottoms, pp. 21-22, Readers unfamiliar with bottom dealing techniques are urged to consult that work for details.)

Mr, Elmsley finds the card is easier to extract in this manner, and the difference in sound between top and bottom deals is reduced. More importantly, this right-hand taking grip leads perfectly to the next action:

As a seeming afterthought, say, "Do you mind if I look at the card myself?" Openly take a peek at the face of the right hand's card by tipping its inner end upward. The fourth finger, already at this end, aids this action nicely and makes the mechanics of the switch all the more deceptive. Perform your peek in an overtly private fashion, holding the card in close to your chest.

After glancing at the card, place it on top of the left hand's packet, sidejogged exactly as it was moments before. "That's two witnesses. I think one more.. .will you help?" Look at a spectator on your right, then back at the card on the packet. Place the sidejogged card again into the right hand, simulating the actions used for the bottom-deal switch; this time, though, the right hand legitimately takes the top card. In other words, you initially misdirect attention from the cards and hands when you make the switch, then later focus attention on them when the action is honest.

Let the spectator on your right see the face of the cai d (the ace of spades), but do not expose it to the rest of the audience. Place the card face-down on the left hand's packet, again jogged an inch to the right, and let the left hand assume a relaxed position near waist height.

"That's three witnesses." Gesture with your empty right hand toward the spectator who just saw the card, as you say, "You won't forget the card?" Then turn your gaze to the person on your left. "And you won't forget the card?" Allow a brief moment to pass while your gaze and words draw everyone's attention to this spectator. Then, only at the instant when all attention settles on him, do you gesture toward him with your left hand, using this action to cover another bottom-deal switch. This time the right hand moves to the packet and seems to grasp the top card as the left hand moves away with the rest of the cards. In reality the left thumb draws the top card, the ace of spades, square and the right fingers exact the bottom card, the ace of hearts. The top card appears to remain stationary in space as the right hand takes it and the left hand moves away with the packet. Again the sleight has been done while attention is away from the hands and cards.

Returning your attention to the first spectator, who stands in front of you and has yet to see his selection, you say, "Now all three of us know the card you have chosen. So there can be no mistake about it, I'll set it here on the table." As you say this, set the card in your right hand face-down on the table.

Turning to the spectator on your left, say, "Now, so that this gentleman, who hasn't seen his card, isn't left in the dark, will you tell him what it is."

"The ace of diamonds," answers the spectator.

Register a look of strong surprise, and exchange glances with the spectator on your right. "Are you sure? The card J saw was the ace of clubs." Here you name the card that is in your breast pocket. At this announcement, the person on your right should look doubly perplexed. "What card did you see?" you ask her.

"The ace of spades," she replies.

"It's a lucky thing that I didn't put the card back into the deck yet. I won't touch it. Will you please settle this by turning your card over." Address this to the spectator in front. When he does this he finds the ace of hearts. During this strong misdirection, palm the ace of spades from the top of the left hand's packet.

"That explains matters, for you see, I have the ace of spades in my right pocket here." Reach with your right hand into your right-

side jacket pocket and bring the palmed ace of spades forth, clipped between your first and second fingertips.

Just as the right hand is coming from its pocket, slip your left hand into the left-side jacket pocket, while still holding the packet, and perform the Vernon flourish count inside the pocket. That is, thumb the top card of the packet to the right and nip it between the first fingertip, beneath, and second fingertip, above. Then straighten these two fingers, carrying the ace of diamonds away from the packet while turning it face-up. (The action is exposed outside the pocket in Figures 138 and 139.)

"And I have the ace of diamonds in my left pocket here." Just as the right hand deposits the ace of spades face-up on the table, beside the ace of hearts, bring the left hand from its pocket, displaying the ace of diamonds at your fingertips. This card-to-pocket idea is the invention of Jack McMillen (see Hugard and Braue's Expert Card Technique, pp. 313-315). Used on its own, it might seem an audacious ruse, though practice has proven it entirely deceptive. Woven, as it is here, among a series of productions, its secret is even more secure.

"And the ace of clubs is here in my breast pocket." As the left hand lays the ace of diamonds face-up beside the ace of hearts, move your obviously empty right hand to your left breast pocket, cleanly remove the ace of clubs and conclude.

A curious artifact of this powerful effect is that the audience is often left with the impression that you have produced all four aces from your pockets, though the fourth ace never leaves the tabic. When this occurs, fight any urge you might suffer to correct the misconception.

In the nineteenth century, the most common method for performing The General Card employed the top or bottom changes. These sleights can be substituted for the bottom deals in the above handling. Mr. Elinsley uses bottom deals, as they better suit his style of movement when working under close-up conditions. Other switches than those mentioned above also can be employed. The details of handling are flexible; it is the entertaining structure that is most to be admired in this fine effect.

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