Deal

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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all conventional False Deals are Switches. Whether the top card is switched for the second card, the third card, the nineteenth card or the bottom card, is irrelevant. All such techniques switch the top card for some other card. Stated starkly this makes False Deals seem a relatively unimportant tool. After all, we have a wealth of other switching techniques. False Deals are important however because, unlike other switching methods, they appear no more than the action one must perform to move a card from a packet or the deck to somewhere else. All other switching techniques require another action be added to provide the opportunity for the switch. No such frame must be provided for False Deals, making these sleights as nearly perfect as any card move can be. Moreover, the switch is one of only three direct accomplishments of any card move. In spite of Fitzkee's larger list of ends that may be achieved by card sleights (The Card-Expert Entertains, 1948, page 30), all techniques can be shoehorned into the switch, control or steal category. Viewed from that perspective, False Deals are very powerful indeed. One may dismiss this view as "stretching" but it is a pragmatic view validated by the enormous collective effort that has been invested in developing techniques for executing them deceptively. Over many years, with the help of a great many talented thinkers, a broad range of techniques have been created. Their efforts are the subject of this section.

In the pages that follow, we will systematically examine the approaches that have been taken to conventional False Dealing techniques. We will also look at some less conventional techniques and even some theoretical approaches. To avoid this being a completely theoretical analysis, however, I've included several magical effects and routines that employ False Deal techniques. Some of these depend on False Deals almost exclusively; others use them much more sparingly. Each effect or routine demonstrates some useful function of False Dealing.

No exploration of this type would seem complete if it did not introduce some new techniques for False Dealing. So, although I've released a number of Bottom, Second and Center Deal techniques in my previous publications, I've included some important new techniques here. Some are refinements of known techniques, while others forge into unexplored areas. This is not, however, a primer on Deal technique. If you wish to learn how to deal Seconds, I recommend Bill Simon's Effective Card Magic (1952, page 71). Jean Hugard's recounting of Simon's tutorial on the Second Deal in that volume is one of the finest pedagogical efforts in all of magic's literature. If you wish to learn a Bottom Deal, I know of no finer effort than that of Stephen Hobbs in Gene Maze and the Art of Bottom Dealing (1994). The Center Deal has never, to my knowledge, been adequately addressed in print. Allan Ackerman's effort in describing his One-Handed Center, in Here's My Card (1978, page 101), is noteworthy for the caliber of the technique, but his description cannot be considered adequate for the beginner. My own revisiting of the Ackerman approach (The Magical Record and Thoughts of Wesley James, 1997, page 75) is no better. Perhaps it is just as well that one must have a background and working understanding of False Dealing techniques before undertaking to learn a Center Deal. They are among the most technically challenging sleights in card magic.

If you've stayed with me this far in my introduction, I'm persuaded you'll find what follows informative and enlightening. It is not, however, light reading, but then you'll deal with it.

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