Take the deck into your left hand (assuming you're right-handed), with the left near corner pressing into the crease between the thenar (base of the thumb) and the palm proper. The first finger should be curled around the outer end of the deck. The other three fingers rest along the right side. The tip of the first finger should rest about three-eighths of an inch from the right corner and protrude above the top edge of the deck, to serve as a registration point. The left thumb rests diagonally across the top of the deck, pointing toward the first fingertip. It should rest lightly. Remember this thumb position; it is "home."

The second, third and fourth fingers at the right side of the deck act as a gauge to assure that only the top two cards are available. As with any deal, you must learn to automatically compensate to maintain this condition as the cards are depleted. It is critical that only the top two cards can slide over the right edge of the deck. To help further ensure this, a bevel, created by the thenar, aids your control (Figure 186). The tips of the three fingers at the side also help maintain the bevel so that the edges of no two cards, from top to bottom, precisely align side to side.

The position just described is fundamentally Mechanic's Grip. It will, perforce, vary from person to person, owing to variations in hand size and proportion. In spite of these differences, the three features of the grip that should be preserved are:

(a) Some distance between the first fingertip and the front right corner of the deck.

(b) The thumb pointing toward the first fingertip rather than the corner of the deck.

(c) The pad of the first fingertip extending slightly over the top edge of the deck.

The reasons these factors are important will become clearer as the explanation proceeds. For the time being, it should suffice to state that Point a provides space for the Take hand's thumb when it lands on the deck. Point b is motivated by the same requirement. Finally, Point c is required because the top card slides back across the top of the deck with greater than typical force. If the first finger didn't extend over the top edge, the returning top card would likely go past square. The first finger, therefore, acts as a stop.


With light pressure on the top card, move your left thumb in a clockwise swivel from its base at the wrist. This action pushes the top card over the right edge of the deck. (Figure 187 shows the card being pushed over in mid-process. Figure 188 shows the deck at the completion of the process.) When the thumb returns it will do so along the same path. There is nothing novel about this path but the top card does move a bit farther off the deck then is typical of Second Deals.


The Take action, whether the top or the second card is desired, begins in the same way. The right thumb lands on both the top and second cards such that the line formed by the front edge of the top card transects the right thumbnail, corner to corner, when viewed from direcdy above. From this position the thumb has about equal purchase on both the top and second cards, giving you the option of taking either (Figure 189). The time that elapses between the push of the top card and the arrival of the right thumb is irrelevant. You are not trying to hide the opening.

By increasing the pressure on the card you want, which involves the slightest rolling of the right thumb, from the wrist, either forward or back, you can drag the target card to the right and slightly forward. The three left-hand fingers along the right side of the deck permit only one card to clear the right edge. They also maintain the bevel.

As soon as the right front corner of the target card clears the right side of the deck, the left thumb starts its swivel back to the left. This is earlier than typical of Second Deals. As a result, the returning card, if there is one, will pass under the right thumb with friction. This requires that greater than normal force be applied to the return action of the left thumb. It's a bit difficult to generate this force at first but with practice it will happen. Regardless of which card you took, your thumb moves back to its home position. When it reaches home it rises about a quarter of an inch and immediately returns to the top of the deck. At the same time, the right second finger moves up to press the right front corner of the target card more firmly to the right thumb. The right hand also continues moving to the right. This action should be crisp but not jerky. Eventually, the card will be completely clear of the deck, at which point it can be dealt as need dictates; usually a sail.

PRACTICE NOTE: This entire deal action can be very smooth and rapid.

Nevertheless, it's a good idea to begin practicing the technique very slowly.

Gradually, work up to a greater speed than you will ever require. As you vary your dealing tempo, you will find a rate at which the illusion is strongest. It is difficult to express this speed in normal terms. On a metronome it's about

a hundred-twenty beats per minute. That's about a hundred-twenty cards per minute. This is about the speed that one might normally deal a game like Gin. Once you've found the right tempo, practice at that rate primarily, but practice dealing faster and slower as well. You will find the Option Second Deal a fine tool, worthy of your effort. It is best suited to card-table style dealing and lends itself quite well to a Punch Deal. It is too good a deal to expose in a gambling exposé, by turning the top card face up; but, because it can be dealt very rapidly, it makes an impressive demonstration deal. I have used it in that way for more than twenty-five years.


Because the top card is openly pushed over, we sacrifice the possibility of a negative illusion. Clearly, both cards are available. This increases the importance of creating a positive illusion. The early return action of the thumb contributes to this positive illusion. It takes advantage of an optical principle Vernon implicitly recognized in his New Theory Second Deal. This is essentially the same principle used in the standard Linking Ring display move. Specifically, that the eye cannot easily determine the source or direction of countermotions, only the existence of the movement. I call this the Countervailing Motion Principle.

It is something of a side issue, but, in light of what we do and the oft-heard "The hand is quicker than the eye," it is useful to understand the mechanism by which we "see." Researchers maintain that the eye detects motion in stages, through multiple passes at evaluating the visual data. The method the brain uses largely explains the limits of our resolving ability, as we shall see in a moment. The brain sees less than twenty-four images per second. We know this because movie film runs at twenty-four frames per second and to our eyes the motion appears continuous. We can think of each image we see as a frame of information. The eye, in fact, does not see these images as discrete frames, but the brain does process them as though they were.

Any single "frame" is only sufficient to inform us of the positions of the objects within that frame. To detect movement, we must compare two frames separated in time. We do this by comparing two images and determining whether there is a difference between them. Any change represents motion of some sort, though it doesn't tell us the type of motion or even which object within the frame is moving. Thus, the second stage in our evaluation endeavors to extract this additional data. We first determine the object that is moving. This is fairly straightforward, albeit prone to error. We detect which portion of the area in view has changed between the two frames. We then focus on that area to determine what object in that area is different. The play of light and wind and any number of other factors can lead us to erroneous conclusions, but we learn to compensate mentally for these extraneous factors. The next thing we need to judge is the speed of the motion. A fast moving object may represent a threat, so we determine speed as rapidly as we can. Determining speed requires comparing three images. Most of the information in each of the three frames will not change, but that part that does is evaluated to determine the nature of the change. When the change is size related, the moving object is judged to be approaching or retreating. This information can be critical because it may inform us of impending danger. When the change is location within the frame, without a change in size, we judge that the motion is lateral and, therefore, not so immediately threatening. Only after the threat potential of motion is determined can our attention turn to making finer distinctions. Such distinctions are non-critical, so our vision has not adapted for such purposes. When only one object in our field of view is moving, direction and speed are fairly easy to judge. When multiple objects within the frame are moving, it is nearly impossible to make determinations about the details of the motion and we often reach erroneous conclusions. There are so many examples of this in daily life we tend to disregard them. The bolo, the stroboscopic effect, the knee-through-knee illusion of the Charleston and the spiral on the hypno-disk are all examples of this type of misjudgment of motion. In magic, we talk about phenomena such as the larger motion hiding the smaller one. We use the previously mentioned display move to create the illusion that a Linking Ring or a circle of rope is being passed through the hand. In broad terms, this is the Countervailing Motion Principle. There are a number of variations of this principle but they are all predicated on the inability of the eye to correctly resolve the interaction between two moving objects. Since this principle exists, it is useful to identify it when it is at work and to exploit it when we can.

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