buckle—The only covert factor essential to the Bottom Deal is a method for moving the card from the bottom of the deck to a position where it has or can be taken from the bottom. The earliest "detailed" description of a Bottom Deal technique of which I am aware is that on pages 116—118 of Sharps and Flats. The Deal therein described is a "Rip" technique, but it is probable that even then, in 1894, there existed techniques that buckled the bottom card to facilitate extrication (extrication in this context means freeing, the first of the two-step process). Erdnase describes a Bottom Deal in which the third finger is responsible for the buckling of the bottom card and sliding it from under the balance of the deck (page 52). It is highly probable, nevertheless, particularly in light of the history discussed in the Mechanic's Grip section, that Bottom Deals utilizing the second finger as the buckle and extrication means were contemporaneously in use. This may not be a provable assertion through the early literature but, as the use of the second finger has been widely explored in recent years, the point is nearly moot aside from the historical interest of the question. More recently, I've become aware of a technique for using the fourth finger as the buckle and extrication means. This technique is the creation of Hippy Torrales. I think very highly of the Torrales approach and included it in my book, Pasteboard Perpensions (1990, page 23). To round out the discussion, it may be worth mention that experimentation with a first-finger buckle and extrication has occurred and has generally been deemed unworkable. It is too apparent that the bottom card is being dealt, as nothing screens the buckle action. I am aware of only one Bottom Deal (Mario calls it the "MSF One Hand Bottom or Modified Sharps and Flats Bottom Deal" in his Seconds, Centers, Bottoms, page 84) that utilizes the first finger as the extrication means but it is not a buckle technique. I don't wish to sound dismissive of this approach as I am aware of an unpublished Tom Gagnon technique (the Lateral Bottom Deal) that uses the first finger as the means for extraction with exceptional deceptiveness. Just for completeness, there is also a Carmen D'Amico One-Handed Bottom (Seconds, Centers, Bottoms, page 70) that uses the thumb as the extrication means. It too does not employ a buckle technique.
push-pull—Having run out of fingers on the Grip hand, we move to the use of the Take hand as the buckle and extrication means. Mario gave us the Push-Pull Bottom Deal as part of his Cigar Bottom Deal discourse in New Tops 1967 Trick Annual (page 39). In this technique the bottom card is buckled slightly by contact with the Take hand's second finger (that's the "Push"). It is then extricated and extracted by the Taking hand (that's the "Pull").
This completes my examination of the current state of Buckle methods. I recognize that there are fine points relating to which part of the finger is used to create the buckle and which direction the fingers move to accomplish the extrication. I do not dismiss the importance of these matters. Rather, I consider them important finesses and personal adjustments. They can be crucial to the workability and effectiveness of a deal but they do not significantly change the method.
PRE-LOOSEN—All that has been said about methods for buckling and extricating the bottom card thus far relates also to the use of the Buckle as a means of preparation for the extraction of the bottom card. This is not the only way these methods may be employed. One may also employ a buckle action with the anticipation that another means of extracting the bottom card, usually a "strike" method, will be used. Such application of the buckle action is functionally distinct from the methods discussed earlier. To distinguish the two, I've elected to term this second function a "Pre-Loosening." I recognize that most of the previously described buckling methods can be used to create this Pre-Loosening effect but they are not the only Pre-Loosening methods. Mario discussed the use of a finely unsquared Faro (something like an Impromptu Svengali Deck) as a method of accomplishing the same end. This idea, in the context of a center deal, first appeared in Mario's "Special to the Expert," which was inserted into copies of Seconds, Centers, Bottoms (1960) for those who purchased the book from Eddie. The same information was included in a similar manner in copies of Unexpected Card Book (1974, page 239). Its application to the Bottom Deal appeared in The Olram File, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1991, page 4. The most readily available source, however—apart from Randy Wakeman's video, Ed Mario: Seconds, Centers & Bottoms: The Video, 2000—is Card Finesse 7/(1992, page 176), where it is renamed the "Greased Bottom Deal." I have experimented successfully with the use of a full-deck squeeze as a Pre-Loosening action. Other, yet undiscovered, Pre-Loosening actions may be possible. In any case, Pre-Loosen-ing would be performed in preparation for a Strike- or Rip-style Deal. We will examine such deals next.
strike or Rip—-The Strike or Rip family of Bottom Deals appear to have gained currency in the 1930s. They remain popular to this day. For the sake of clarity, there is a distinction between a Strike and a Rip, though only experienced Bottom Dealers are likely to appreciate it. The distinction is most analogous to the difference between a Strike Second Deal and a Take Second Deal. In other words, it turns on contact area and contact duration. It helps to think of it this way. A Strike is hard, tightly focused and of short duration. A Rip requires a purchase before the pull and, thus, has a softer contact of longer duration. The distinction is meaningful because of the difference in look and feel the two approaches produce. There are no rigid rules about which must be used at any given time. Still, as a general guideline, Strike Deals work better for deals into one pile. Rip Deals are preferable when you're dealing a round. At the card table, one might choose a Strike Deal for head-to-head Gin Rummy. One might choose a Rip Deal when dealing winners to a partner in Draw Poker. That's the best explanation I can offer at the moment. That said, hereinafter I'll use the term "Strike" to include both Strike and Rip Deals, except where specificity is necessary.
Moving along, a Strike Deal can remove the card from the bottom in three principle directions: Front, Back or Side. Each will be discussed.
Front—The S.F. Bottom Deal, referred to earlier, was the first Rip-style Bottom Deal described in print. In the S.F. Deal the bottom card is withdrawn from the front of the deck. This is the path of least resistance as there are not, or need not be, any fingers to block the extraction. Still, the Front Take Bottom Deal is probably the least explored of approaches. There are at least three primary reasons for this apparent contradiction: Taking cards from the front is difficult to cover, for obvious reasons. The direction of the Take in a Front Bottom Deal is inconsistent with normal card-table practice. The Front Take is psychologically wrong, as it is precisely the way a lay person would suspect you could remove the bottom card. All that said, the first item I ever allowed to appear in the literature of magic was the WJ Front Bottom Deal (published in M-U-M, Vol. 62, No. 2, July 1972, page 21; and later in The Magical Record and Thoughts of Wesley James, page 10). That technique addressed each of the cited drawbacks with some measure of success and yielded an easy-to-execute Bottom Deal. The only other Front Bottom Deals of which I am aware are one-handed: Mario's MSF Deal and Tom Gagnon's Lateral Bottom Deal (as yet unpublished), both mentioned earlier.
Back—The next least obstructed path from beneath the deck is out the back. Here too, no fingers impede the exit. This is both a blessing and a curse. The lack of impediment makes removal of a card easy but the unavailability of a finger makes assuring the removal of only one card problematic. With few exceptions, developers of Back-Take Bottom Deals have addressed this problem by moving the bottom card out the back diagonally. (The exception is the Easy Bottom Deal, reported by Gerald Kosky in More Card Manipulations, No. 2, 1939, page 15. Kosky had been shown this sleight by a gambler.) This allows the fourth finger (and sometimes the third, when the diagonal is sharp enough) to guard against more than one card being taken. Mario's Havana Deal (in the manuscript by the same name, published by L. L. Ireland in 1948), Jennings' Gambler's Bottom Deal (Epilogue Special No. 3, Part One, n.d., page 258) and my Back-Right Bottom Deal (Pasteboard Perpensions, page 19) are all examples of this style of action. I am fond of this approach to the Bottom Deal and will, no doubt, continue to use and explore it in years to come.
Side—-The most obstructed path from under the deck is from the sides, and both sides have been utilized. The thumb side by D'Amico, Krenzel and A1 Gallo, the finger side by nearly everyone else who has developed a Bottom Deal. When cards are taken from the finger side of the deck, contact with the bottom card may be made by reaching between the first and second fingers or between the second and third fingers. Both have been investigated with a fair degree of thoroughness. The best deal that makes contact between the first and second fingers is the Artanis Bottom Deal (ms. circa 1946) but the description in Expert Card Technique (1940, page 20, is more widely available and more standard in its approach to this type of deal. The first description of such a Deal in print may be Tarbell's 1927 effort (in his original mail-order course, Lesson 35, page 19, which later appeared in Volume Two, of the Tarbell Course in Magic, 1942, page 185). Fred Braue, too, developed a Bottom Deal in which the right third finger was used to extract the bottom card through the space between the left first and second fingers (Fred Braue on False Deals, 1978, page 3). The exploration of contact between the second and third fingers was handled by Mario with the Cigar Bottom Deal (New Tops 1967 Trick Annual). Hippy Torrales also uses the space between the second and third fingers for his deal (PasteboardPerpensions, page 23). To my knowledge, the only unexplored contact space between the fingers is that between the third and fourth fingers. My preliminary efforts and analysis suggest that this gap has little to recommend it. Nevertheless, someone may prove me mistaken. That exhausts the Strike Bottom Deal possibilities. It also completes my examination of the Covert elements of the Bottom Deal. New developments in this area are rare, so I don't expect significant changes to occur. The next two topics are much more likely to reveal change, if not progress, over time.
The scope of the Action elements of Bottom Deal technique is quite wide. It includes everything and anything that makes a deal easier, smoother or more efficient. Everything, in fact, except techniques that create deceptiveness or illusion. These relate to Cover.
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