I worked on this technique, off and on, for nearly two years. During that time, it went through numerous changes and a lot of tweaking. I did not, however, see fit to commit it to paper. I now feel confident enough in the absolute deceptive-ness of the technique to record it. It is quickly becoming my Control of choice in a wide range of situations. It is not angle-proof but the angles are not difficult when you follow the proper choreography. I believe I've considered every salient detail in the way I'm now performing the technique. For that reason, learning it precisely as described will likely spare you considerable reinvention and abandoned effort. Please learn it as written before altering or adapting it.
Before continuing further, I want to mention that the work of a number of other fine cardmen has fueled my efforts. The basic Side Steal approach is modified from an unpublished technique that was popular with Mike Skinner in the early 1970s. The extraction grip is a minor adaptation of Mario's Bold Steal position. One of the Add-Backs was suggested by my brainstorm-buddy, Carl Albright; another is built on his concept. We are all in large measure the sum of our influences but, as far as I am aware, the remaining elements of this technique are my own.
OPENING POSITION: We'll assume a selection has been withdrawn from the deck and is about to be returned. Other circumstances can lend themselves to the use of the technique, but this is my favorite at the moment.
Spread off a portion of the deck and break the spread at some point. The spread portion should be held in your right hand. The balance of the deck is in a light Dealing Grip, loosely squared in the left hand.
Have the spectator return the selection to the top of the left-hand cards. Make no particular effort to square the selection with the other cards of the packet. Spread it off and raise your hand to give the assembled multitude a last look. (It is a good idea to offer this last flash anytime you're having a card returned in this way. It helps to justify not allowing the spectator to put the card back where he wants.) After this last display, the card need not be squared completely. It can be left slightly jogged (less than two white border widths) to the right. Alternately, you can square it, establishing a fourth-finger break below it.
With your body oriented somewhat to the left and your feet planted, twist your body slightly to the right as your left hand carries its cards to the right-hand spread. Let the two groups of cards meet lightly. As soon as they do, push up gently with the left second and third fingertips from beneath on the right side of the selection.
Push the spread closed far enough to permit the right hand to release its hold on the cards and, staying close, move to Overhand Grip. The right hand regrips the deck to achieve control of the upper group, all the cards above the selection. Push this entire group to the left as the left second and third fingers straighten while applying upward pressure to the right. This carries the selection to the right. Immediately move the pad of the right thumb to the near left corner of the selection, and the middle phalange of the right fourth finger to the far right corner. If either of these two corners is obstructed by other cards, pressure from the fourth finger or thumb—whichever has contact—will allow you to push the opposite corner clear.
Once you have hold of the card in this modified Bold Steal Grip (deeper than the position Mario describes in that the grip is with the middle rather than the outer phalange), you can move the selection to the right until it extends for half its width from the balance of the unsquared deck (Figure 263, shown from beneath).
NOTE: Sometimes you wont require it, but you should move the left thumb across the deck and apply light downward pressure. This will help to ensure that only the selection moves to the right. In the most extreme cases, when the cards are particularly slippery or sticky, you may have to twist the selection slightly to free it from the other cards. Finally, if the deck becomes too unsquared or the upper portion moves too far to the right, you may have to move the entire upper section to the left. You can do so by tightening the grip of the right fingers and moving the left thumb along the left side of the deck. This will enable you to semi-square the deck without losing control of the selection.
Your right side must be turned at least slightly away from the audience when the next actions occur; otherwise the front right corner of the card will likely flash. Extend your right fourth finger, allowing the corner of the jogged selection to enter between the third and fourth fingers at the middle joint of the fourth finger. Close the fingers and squeeze firmly. You should be able to move the card forward with just this grip. It may, however, take a little work to develop the strength to do this, particularly if you have a "window" in that part of your hand.
NOTE: The extent of your body turns, here to the right, later to the left, is dictated by the viewing positions of your spectators. On either side, the right second finger should point past the eye farthest to that side. This will assure that nothing flashes.
As you move the selection forward, loosening the right hand's grip everywhere except on the corners of the selection, the left front corner will break through the front edge of the deck. As it does so, the right second fingertip applies pressure against the left side of the corner. As you press with the second fingertip, the card will slide into the fork of the third and fourth fingers (Figure 264). You'll reach a point where you'll know you have control of the selection at the two Low Lateral Palm Grip points, the base of the third and fourth fingers and the second fingertip. As soon as that occurs, start to turn your body to the left. This may sound like an arcane point, but the turn should be accomplished via a weight shift rather than twisting your ^--- —__ 264
body. The reason is that the right hand travels no farther than a hand's length past the body's center line, while the left hand moves out to the left of the body. If you simply twisted at the waist, this would look and feel awkward. The body positioning mentioned earlier was aimed at facilitating this turn. Relax as you do it.
NOTE: The preceding actions must be performed quickly but not hurriedly. This means that all overt actions must be executed at a normal, relaxed tempo, while all secret actions are performed with due deliberate haste. Perhaps more significant, no more attention should be given to what you're doing than is logically due. This is easier said than done. You must learn the extraction technique in your fingers so your mind need not regard it. Such relative insouciance comes only with considerable repetition.
The card is now out of the deck. We're almost done. The card is currently held at as many as three points: the second fingertip, the third and fourth finger clip, and, perhaps, the right thumb. You want to be able to release the thumb at this point, if you haven't already. Squeeze inward lightly with the second fingertip and move the thumb a bit to the left. This will clamp the card between the web of flesh at the base of the third and fourth fingers and the second fingertip. When this grip is secure, the thumb can release its hold. This is the riskiest moment in the procedure. If your grip is not secure, the card can fall. Experience is key. With experience you'll become confident of when you have a secure grip.
The right thumb, having released the card, moves up above it. The right hand closes somewhat, into a relaxed curl. You must now remain mindful of your audience's vantage point. Aim the innermost (proximal) knuckle of the second finger at the average eye level of your audience and keep the concealed card parallel to the floor. These aids will prevent you from flashing.
The next sequence is designed to take the heat off the right hand, though it shouldn't be under much scrutiny. Extend your left hand forward a foot or so and straighten all your fingers. The deck should sit, as though on a table, still in a semi-squared condition. Look at the deck. If you've done everything properly, no one should have the slightest clue that the selection is not in it.
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