Someone removes eight cards from a shuffled deck and thinks of one. While this is done, the performer stands at a distance with his back to the person. Despite these precautions, he manages to name the card thought of, without asking a single question!


Of course, there is a bit more to the story, quite a bit more. The mathematical principle on which this unusual experiment is based has been explored by such fine thinkers as Alex Elmsley and Bob Neale. However, the particular mathematical construction we will exploit is specifically Phil Goldstein's. The trick depends on an arrangement of just eight cards, which may be changed from show to show. The underlying principle is a binary sorting process, which is done without the spectator's knowledge, but with his unwitting help.

When Phil performs "Out of Sorts" in a close-up setting, he arranges the necessary setup under the noses of the audience, after the conclusion of another card experiment, while he "toys" with the cards. He then gives the deck a false shuffle, retaining the eight arranged cards on top, then forces them with either the cross-cut or riffle force. I prefer to stack the setup before the show and make the top card of the stack a ridged card, so that the deck can be shuffled by spectators, in the manner explained in "Alpha" and "Nap on the Ridge".

When the spectator counts the eight cards onto the table, he is instructed to deal the cards face up into a pile, and to think of one of them. Next he is told to deal these eight faceup cards alternately into two smaller piles of four each, just as one would if dealing two hands for a game of cards. The spectator now picks up the pile containing his chosen card, holding these cards face up, and places the other pile face up onto those in his hand.

This simple if somewhat odd process is repeated twice, but is given a reasonable sounding explanation: The purpose of the repeated dealing is to give you several opportunities to tune in on his thoughts as you follow his actions telepathically.

Done without motivation, the three sorts might easily seem labored or suspiciously artificial, but through your patter they can be given a perfectly believable logic. Emphasize that the spectator must burn the image of the chosen card into his memory and concentrate on its location each time he deals it and assembles the cards. Stress that he must send you mental impressions of the cards, and strengthen those impressions through repetition. It should go without saying that you never use the term sorting in your instructions.

Now the packet is turned face down and the cards are dealt onto the table one at a time. Believe it or not, the third card dealt is the one thought of by the spectator! What is unbelievable and likewise fantastic is that you can name the selection, even though you have stood well away from the cards and spectator, with your back turned, throughout the entire process.

How? The eight cards that the spectator deals off the deck are stacked according to Joe Berg's system for his Ultra-mental Deck. That is, the cards are paired as follows: hearts with spades, and diamonds with clubs. In addition, the numerical values of each card pair always equal thirteen.

Through this simple method you are able to determine one card of a pair by learning the other one, all without complicated calculations. Here is an example of four such pairs:

Next the cards in each pair are alternated with the cards of the next pair. That is, the first and third cards of the stack constitute one pair; the second and fourth cards make another; the fifth and seventh cards form the third pair; and the sixth and eighth cards are the fourth. (Important: When choosing eight cards for this setup, make sure they provide a good mixture of colors and suits.) Arranging the four card-pairs given above into this pattern we get...

* *9

2» w


J * * »

¥w¥ m m:.

W £

2 A





♦ i




So, if on the spectator's third deal of the cards the Queen of Hearts is the first card dealt, you know that the mentally selected card is the Ace of Spades! Why? As we have already discovered, the third deal always delivers the selection to the third position. The third card is also the mate to the first. The first card is the Queen of Hearts, and its mate is the Ace of Spades (hearts are paired with spades, and 13 -12 = 1). Therefore the Ace of Spades is the thought-of card.

Another example: If the first card dealt is the Six of Clubs, you would name its mate, the Seven of Diamonds. Diamonds are always paired with clubs. Each pair of cards has values adding to thirteen. 13 - 6 = 7, so the mate (and thought-of card) is the Seven of Diamonds.

But how do you learn the first card of the pair, so that you can call out the name of the card the spectator thought of? You employ Annemann's glance-back psychology: As the spectator separates the eight cards for the third time, you ask him to stop after he deals each card while you try to determine if it is his or not. He deals the first card face up onto the table and pauses. You concentrate for a moment, then say, "That isn't the one you have burnt into your thoughts." Pause for an instant, then turn your head nonchalantly in the direction of the spectator and ask, "Am I right?" At the same time, glimpse the card on the table and immediately turn away again. This action seems natural and without importance. Therefore, it is "psychologically invisible" to the audience.

Once you know the card lying on the table, you know the identity of the mental selection; and you know its position in the packet: third. Indeed, as far as your audience is concerned, you know all.

Out of Sorts: Variation One

My two variations on Phil Goldstein's "Out of Sorts" make it possible to present the effect using two spectators, each making a mental selection.


You will need a marked deck. (I suppose it goes without saying that I use my "Working Performer's Marked Deck"15.) You will also have to prepare two eight-card sets, arranged as explained above, and commit the second set of cards to memory.

Place the memorized second setup on top of the deck, and lay the other setup onto this. The top card of the upper setup is ridged and clearly marked; that is, it bears a special second mark besides the value and suit mark that all the cards have.

^Manufactured and sold exclusively by my Wonder Workshop in Berlin. Martin Breese in London, England, also supplies the special materials to mark your own deck.


Begin by inviting two spectators on stage and ask them to help you mix the cards. Cut off the top third of the pack and have the spectators each take half of the balance. The three of you then shuffle the cards and reassemble the pack as previously explained. This places the unaltered setups near the bottom of the pack. Have the deck cut by one or both spectators until the ridged card arrives on top. Then step away from the two spectators.

Have the first spectator deal eight cards from the top of the deck into a face-down pile on the table. He then passes the deck to the other spectator who likewise counts eight cards from the top of the deck.

Now instruct each spectator to pick up his pile, fan the cards and think of one. Then lead them through three sorts of the packets, as described in the Goldstein handling, and conclude by having the packets laid face down on the table.

After this has been done, ask the first spectator to pick up his face-down packet, look at the top card and concentrate on it. Act as if you have tuned in on his thoughts and name the ridged card. If you have named the card correctly (which happens quite often), simply act as if everything has gone according to plan. If your guess isn't correct, tell him that he was concentrating on more than one card at a time and ask him if the card you named is in the packet he is holding. Naturally, it is and he will affirm the fact. Then politely ask him to tell you the name of the top card of his packet. This is admittedly bold, but I assure you it is subtle enough to escape suspicion in this context. As soon as you know the top card, you know the first spectator's thought-of card as well.

You also know that this card is third from the top of the packet. Have him turn the cards over one at a time and lay them face up on the table. At the third card, you stop him, convincingly feigning the receipt of a strong mental impression. You then name the first spectator's card in the most dramatic and entertaining way possible.

Stride over to the table, take the first spectator's card from his hand and display it to the audience. During this dramatic flourish, you also take the opportunity to read the marking on the top card of the second spectator's packet, which is lying face-down on the table. This card in turn imparts to you the identity of the second mental selection. But to name the card immediately would be a great error! Instead, walk away from the table, distancing yourself once more from your two assistants.

Ask the second spectator to pick up her packet, shuffle it and fan it, so that she can see the face of every card. She is then to concentrate on her card. Because you have memorized the entire packet, it is easy for you to announce the name of each card she holds! As you do this, have her remove each card named from the fan and show it to the audience. Naturally, you save the chosen card for last, building its revelation to the highest dramatic point you can reach.

Out of Sorts: Variation Uw

In this method, which I have frequently used with great success, you also use a marked deck. In addition you require a second deck with a contrasting back. Prearrange two eight-card sequences on top of the first deck, the second sequence being one you have memorized. Stack the identical eight cards from the second (memorized) sequence on top of the second deck. Place this deck on your table.

You now present the trick as described in Variation One, but with one important difference: When you have successfully identified the first spectator's card, and have secretly read the mark on top of the second spectator's packet, you swiftly calculate the identity of her selection, then pick up the second deck, remove the matching card from the stack on top and place it face down on the table.

Continue as described in Variation One, calling off the names of the seven unchosen cards in the second spectator's packet. This leaves her holding her mental selection. Have her place this last remaining card face down on the table, next to the face-down card you put aside from the second deck. Then ask the spectator to pick up both of these cards and show them to the audience. An impeccable match!

If you prefer not to use playing cards for mental work, I recommend that you make up a deck of picture cards on blank-faced card stock. You will find the best deck for this purpose in Glenn Gravatt's Treasure Trove of Tricks on pages 209-211. The Gravatt deck consists of fifty cards bearing as many symbols, but these symbols are designed as twenty-five pairs that are logically associated and easy to remember. For example, one card shows a bow. It is paired with a card showing an arrow. Another card with a number four on it is paired with a card showing four rails. Therefore, if you know the symbol on one card, you immediately know the symbol on the second card of the pair. I have made up this Gravatt deck with symbols in four colors. The colors can be paired in the same manner as card suits: red with blue and yellow with green. Jontay ridgework can be subtly put into the top card by running a stylus over a portion of the outline of the symbol.

Naturally, you could also stack the entire deck using Gravatt's paired-designs principle, but you would then have to shuffle the full deck yourself to retain its order.

Before leaving the subject of ridged cards and symbol decks, I'd like to mention one more idea. If you wish to use duplicate ridged force cards in a symbol deck, you can better conceal their presence if the symbols are drawn in different colors. Then, if each duplicate symbol is done in a different color as well, they are much less noticeable when they lie near one another in the pack.

Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion

To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment