There are at least three recurrent problems to be faced in efforts to create deceptive Second Deals. These are the timing and motion of opening the brief in a Strike or Take Second; the difference in the action of the returning thumb after dealing a Top, when compared to a Second; and the noise due to friction that occurs when the second card is dealt but not when the top card is dealt. I am persuaded that the Take Second approach holds the answer to the first problem. My most recent efforts (see the Option Second Deal, page 254) are as close to a perfect answer as I know to this problem in a Strike type Deal.
The second problem, thumb action disparity, has, to my knowledge, never been properly addressed in print. The advice I've heard, from those "experts" who have spoken on the issue, is "Make the Top look like the Second." In other words, slide the thumb back after each card is dealt, since you have to slide it back after the second card is dealt. I disagree. To my way of thinking, this becomes a tell, even when you're not False Dealing. It is better to learn to use the thumb to pull the top card back only as far as necessary for the gripping fingers to contact the edge. The left fingers can then take over pulling the top card square, leaving the thumb free to lift and return to its position on top of the deck in preparation for the next deal. This is much closer to what the thumb does after a normal deal.
It requires some work to break the old habit of sliding the thumb, if that's how you learned, but it's worth it for the improved appearance.
The third problem, noise, is, in my experience, an over emphasized drawback for magicians. It is rarely quiet enough, or the audience close enough, for a viewer to hear the noise discrepancy. That's not to say it does not exist. In the few instances where the problem could become pertinent, one need only talk while dealing to mask it. I hope that noise is the biggest problem I ever face in a Second Deal.
When the problems cited above are coupled with the goal of creating a visual illusion, they combine to become a formidable task indeed. Nevertheless, the creation of a visual illusion that the top card is being taken when the second card is actually dealt is key and must be addressed. As in the Bottom Deal, both positive and negative illusions are possible. Creating the visual and psychological conviction that the top card must have been taken because no other card could have been, is still defined as a negative illusion. This differs markedly, as it does in the Bottom Deal, from the more pure, affirmative optical illusion that the top card is being taken, which constitutes a positive illusion. In the case of the Second Deal, a positive illusion is assuredly attainable. Properly executed—no mean feat—the New Theory Deal and other One-Card Push-Offs (Barnhart's, Dingle's and mine) can all create a positive illusion. The Top-Card Chase Second Deal (sometimes attributed to Dr. Elliott but often associated with Persi Diaconis and described by Frank Garcia as the All-Angle Second Deal in Super Subtle Card Miracles, 1973, page 91) is believed by some to create a positive illusion. The defining element of the Chase Deal is that the top card moves after the second card, in the direction of the egress of the second card, as the second card is being taken off the deck. The object behind this practice is to create an improved visual illusion. I have never seen this alleged illusion myself. I think the "Chase" action creates a good psychological, though negative, illusion, but that's all.
In sum, the Second Deal is easier to gain basic proficiency with than the Bottom Deal. This can mislead one to conclude that the Second Deal is easy to master. The things that make Second Dealing difficult are the fine points. It can take years to analyze, learn and coordinate all the actions and covers required to turn a working Second Deal into a smooth, reliable, natural and deceptive one. Learning to have an objective eye may be the most difficult skill of all when it comes to Second Deals. In spite of the heretofore limited applications to which the Second Deal has been harnessed, I am glad I have spent the time I have working on them. Applications will come another day. A few are included here for your edification and to prove the point.
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