Double Count Handling For More

This false count is used to show more cards as less. The counting method is the same except that the cards are held face down in your left hand.

Method: Thirteen cards are to be counted as ten. Get a left pinky break under the top four cards. Enter the break with your left thumb to grasp the top card(s) as one. (Photo23)

Turn the card(s) over and place them underneath the left-hand packet as in the standard ducking action. Do this quickly to blur the thickness of the card(s). Once they are flush, the rest of the count can he continued in an ordinary fashion until a face-up card comes into view. This will be original card flashed at the beginning of the count and will appear on the count of ten.

An alternative procedure is to use a Half Pass. Hold the cards face up with a three-card break on the bottom cards. Reverse them by performing a Half Pass. Then the count is started and continued until a face-down card appears at the count of ten.

Photo 23

Marlo applied the hide-out concept in "It's Over Here, Of Course" from Hierophant #2 (1969), pp. 63-65, a routine that uses a display-and-duck procedure as per the Double Count. Another neat use of the hide-out principle was used in "Invisible Thought Transference" from The New Tops (February -1974). Paul Harris used another form in a splendid effect called "Las Vegas Leaper," only the reversed card is there at the outset. The dealing-and-ducking procedure, however, is the same. These techniques are Minus Counts. That is, more cards are counted as less while one or more cards seem to disappear. Another use of the Unlimited Count was used in a marketed trick called "The Missing Hour" (1983).


This technique was initially explained in The Aronson Approach (1990) and was applied to a clever clock trick titled "Time Out," pp. 63-69.

Unlike the original Double Count, Aronson's technique permits you to exploit both sides of the double-face gaff to count less cards as more (by 1) without the necessity of the gaff being at the face of the packet at the outset of the counting-and-displaying procedure. In other words, the gaff can be at other positions. This lends flexibility.

There is no doubt many applications of this variant technique. Students should consult The Aronson Approach for specifics. For the purpose of this description, assume you are holding a packet of twelve cards. In reality, you are holding eleven cards and one of them is a double-face card. Begin with the gaff third from the face. Suppose that the gaff is composed of the 2S and 3H. The 3H-side should be uppermost.

Method: This explanation presupposes that the gaff, which now lies third from the face, coincides with a spectator's mentally chosen number (3). Explain that you are going to show the spectator the faces of twelve cards and he should note and remember that card that falls at his mentally chosen number. In this case, he would remember the third card shown, the Three of Hearts.

Hold the packet face up in your left hand. Thumb over the top card and take it Stud-fashion by gripping its outer right corner, right thumb below, first and second fingers above. Turn the taken card to a vertical position to show its face again, saying "one." Meanwhile, your left hand turns inward to reveal the back of the packet.

Your right hand continues to turn its card face down and end-over-end until it finally places it face down under the left-hand packet. However, the "ducked" card is not placed flush with the packet but is outjogged for half its length.

Lower both hands to the starting position on a horizontal plane. Repeat the above action as you show and "duck" the next card on the count of "two." This card goes below and flush with the other outjogged card.

A nice feature of this counting-and-display procedure is that the "counted" cards are apparently kept separate from the cards not yet counted. This visual separation is important.

The next or third card is the gaff. When you take and "duck" it, as long as you adhere to the preceding handling, the other side of the gaff (2S) will not be seen. When your right hand places it under the other two outjogged cards, do not release your grip on the card's inner right corner. Once the card is flush, as your hands lower the cards back to a horizontal plane, your right hand simultaneously slides its card backward until it's flush with the lower section of the outjogged portions. When the card has been secretly transferred, release your right-hand grip and move your right thumb to the outer right corner of the lower section to take the next (fourth) card.

Continue counting the cards sequentially; however, do not tilt the cards to a vertical position. Simply count, display, and duck each card face down and underneath the outjogged section. Each card goes flush with the other outjogged cards.

The gaff will be the last or twelfth card counted and shown. However, before you reach the count of "ten," you must perform an "upset move." That is, as you turn and duck the ninth card, place it a bit askew. Then pretend to notice this bit of clumsiness and to ostensibly correct this condition, strip out all of the outjogged cards. Move them forward, adjust and square the cards, and then replace them under the others in an outjogged position. The gaff is now on the bottom.

After you count and "duck" the eleventh card, the remaining card appears to be a Three of Hearts. Handle this card in the same manner as you handled the initial two cards. Your right hand takes the Two of Spades and turns it to a vertical position to display its face again to the spectator. With still in this upright position, place it under the left-hand packet and square up.

Lower the packet. You are now supposedly holding twelve face-down cards and the spectator has seen twelve faces. The gaff is now on the bottom with the 3H-side of the gaff uppermost. That is, if you flipped the packet face up and dealt the cards face up to the table, the spectator would see eleven cards. The Three of Hearts is missing or has apparently disappeared.


Gary Plants liked Aronson's idea of generalizing the Unlimited concept to allow the double-face card to start somewhere in the center of the packet. Gary came up with a variant count using a Biddle steal instead of Aronson's Upset Subtlety. He showed it to Dave Solomon and Dave showed it to Simon Aronson.

Set-up: Suppose that the packet has 11 cards: 10 regular cards plus the double-face gaff (King of Hearts-Eight of Spades). Assume that the force-side of the King of Hearts is fifth from the face of face-up packet.

Method: Your right hand holds packet face up in a Biddle Grip.

Your palm up left-hand peels off the first face card with your left thumb, most of the way off, then immediately and in a continuing action at the "end" of the peeling, the left edge of right-hand packet flips this card book-wise face down. The card falls into your left palm, and it's okay that its back will be seen. However, the back of this card will flash only briefly because at once your left hand lifts up, raising the back of your left fingers toward audience, as your left thumb pushes on back of its card. This moves the card more out toward the your left fingertips, where its face is then shown to audience. It is only at this point of the "show" that you count aloud "one."

Next lower your left hand back down and into palm-up position as the card slides back a bit toward your thumb crotch and rests face down in your left palm. (This step is the basic action used on all cards, except for the double-face gaff.)

Using the above basic action, peel off the second face-up card, flipping it face down onto the face- down card previously shown. Use the same left-thumb action to slide this card up to your left fingers (it slides across the back of the first card) and display this card's face to the audience on count of "two."

Then pull it back toward your left thumb, where it slides onto the first card. Both cards shown are now face down as you build a pile of shown face-down cards in your left hand.

Repeat the previous actions with the third and fourth cards.

When you reach the King of Hearts, perform the same peeling and flipping action; however, make sure the your left hand starts to raise to vertical position a bit earlier so that the back of the King of Hearts cannot be seen.

Display the face of the King of Hearts as you displayed the previous cards (with the back of your left hand toward the audience) on the count of "5." (You will be staring at the 8S-side of the gaff.)

Your left thumb pulls the King of Hearts back, but this time your left pinky retains a slight break between it and the previously taken cards in your left hand. Next your right hand moves its packet over the left-hand cards in preparation for the next peel as your left hand lowers so that the 8S-side is never seen.

Continue to peel off the next face-up card, performing the standard Biddle Steal of the double-face gaff to the bottom of the right-hand packet as the face card is peeled onto the left-hand cards. Now continue with the basic action for the rest of the cards.

Needless to say, the final or twelfth card will be the Eight of Spades. Handle it as you did the King of Hearts so that the reverse side is never seen and display it for the count of "12." As you pull it flush onto the left-hand cards, turn your left hand palm down and drop the packet face up to the table.

This write-up was expanded from Simon Aronson's cryptic handwritten notes of August 1991. We thank Simon and Gary for generously sharing this information.


This version is not as clean as Osborn's original method, but it plays well when you are handed a borrowed deck and no gaffed card is available. The procedure is clean because a spectator may select any six cards and you don't need to know their identities. Your presentation also leads the audience to assume that you are going to name the card previously placed in the deck. Instead it's removed from a card case.

Method: Take the cards from the case and ask someone to shuffle them. Place the case to your right with its flap-side down. Be sure to close the case and position it so that your right hand can easily pick it up by the ends.

Ask the spectator to remove any six cards and emphasize the freedom of choice. Give him a sheet of paper and a pencil so that he can jot down the names of the chosen cards. While the spectator is listing them, pick up the rest of the deck. Secretly palm the top card with your right hand, which also holds onto the deck.

After the six cards have been listed on the paper, have the paper folded so that none of the identities can be seen. Have the six cards shuffled, emphasized that nobody can know their order. Then have the six-card packet tabled face down.

Place the deck in front of the assisting spectator and ask him to cut it into two portions. As he follows instructions, scoop up the six-card packet with your right hand and secretly add the palmed card on top, saying, "I'm going to place one of these six cards back into the deck."

Cleanly remove the top card of the seven-card packet and place this indifferent card face down onto one of the cut portions. Continue; "...and I want you to lose it by completing the cut." Let the spectator places the other portion onto the one with the indifferent card on top. At this stage, the audience thinks that you are left with a five-card packet. In reality, you still have the original six selections.

Pick up the packet and place it face up in your left hand. Continue; "Please consult your list and cross out the names of these remaining cards." Name the initial face-up card, take it into your right hand and then table it face down. Repeat this process until you have shown, named, and dealt four cards. The last card in your hand is really a "double," which you handle as a single card. Take it as one, retaining alignment, and deal it face down onto the others with your right hand.

The top card of the tabled packet will be the "missing" card or the one not crossed out on the spectator's list. Say, "I don't know which card was replaced in the deck because I cannot see the names on your list. Will you please remove that card from the deck."

Continue: "When you find the card concentrate on it and I will name it." As the spectator looks through the deck, pick up the six-card packet and hold it face up in your left hand. Push the top card a fraction to the right so that your left pinky can get a break under it.

Simultaneously pick up the card case by its ends with your right hand and then move it directly over the left-hand packet. Your right fingers press on the ends of the case to pick up the top card of the packet. The break makes this secret pickup easy and trouble-free.

Keep your right hand stationary as your left hand moves forward with the remaining five cards and spreads them face up on the table. Then place the card case near the edge of the table with your right hand, making the placement such that a subsequent pick-up will be convenient. This pick up will be done with your right thumb (top) and fingers (below). All this can be done smoothly and casually and is completed before the spectator checks all the remaining cards in the deck. Once the spectator realizes that the specific card is not in the deck, say, "If the card is not among his friends ... he must have gone home .. . and where is a card's home? In the card case, of course!"

Photo 24

Pick up the case with your right hand as already suggested, an easy matter because of its placement near the edge of the table. Then transfer it to your left hand, which grips its sides. Keep the tab opening away from the audience's view. (Photo 24)

To ostensibly remove the card from inside the case, pull open the flap with your right fingers and reach in with your right thumb. (Photo 25)

Your right fingers move underneath the case and against the card. Quickly extract the card by pulling up and out. The illusion of a card coming out of the case is perfect. (Photo 26)

The card comes out face down. Have the spectator name it and then slowly reveal and toss it onto the table.

Photo 25
Photo 26

At the stage where the five cards are being called out, when you reach the Iast card(s), deliberately slide your left thumb across the face of the uppermost card as though expecting more cards to be there. Marlo used this finesse for many years when handling the last two cards as one in a dealing or counting procedure Some workers may want to use he Buckle Count, but remember to use the last card to scoop up the tabled cards. This leaves the desired card on top of the packet.

The same kind of secret pick-up with a card case is used in Marlo's "Repeat Signed Card To Case" published in Hierophant #3 (1970), pp. 106-112. Students should study the superior handling and misdirection used in this method.

This illusory handling of ostensibly taking a card from inside the case was first published in Marlo's Amazing, Isn't It? (1941). Another version appeared in Deck Deception (1942), pp. 1920. Chicago bar magicians (such as Matt Schulien) used this technique all the time in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. For advanced ideas along these lines check out Marlo's Magazine -Volume 4 (1981), pp. 14-66 for the brilliant chapter titled, "The Card To Case."

Continue reading here: Red And Blue Routine

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