Fan Shuffle Strategies

The fan shuffle has long been popular with magicians, because it is reasonably easy to learn, yet looks thorough and impressively skillful. In addition, it disturbs the arrangement of the deck only minimally, for the only change in order is that the bottom half is moved intact to the middle of the top half. Over the years Mr, Elmsley has employed this shuffle in several clever ways. First we will discuss the use of the fan shuffle for controlling a card. It is a quick, efficient and elusive method for bringing a selection to the top of the pack.

A key card is employed. Secretly glimpse the bottom card of the deck, either before a selection is made or while it is being noted. Swing cut approximately one third of the pack into the left hand, then another third onto this. Pause to have the selection returned. Then drop the remaining third of the deck (the bottom portion) squarely onto the card, burying it conveniently under the key. Casually dribble or spread the cards to make it clear that no break is being held. Then perform a fan shuffle as follows:

Step the top half of the pack forward for at least one half inch. Then rotate the deck ninety degrees clockwise and tip its back toward the audience. Alter your grip on the cards, grasping the lower right corner of the top half between the right thumb and fingers, and the lower left corner of the bottom half between the left thumb and fingers. Each hand is poised for a one-handed fan (Figure 53).

Split the halves apart and simultaneously form two one-hand fans, spreading the cards nearest you upward so that the indices of the right hand's fan are visible. Quickly locate your key in this fan. Since it was placed one third down from the top of the pack, it should lie approximately ten cards from the face of the fan.



Brush the two fans lightly over one another several times, in a showy manner that is something like a stropping action; then run the top edge of the left hand's fan down the face of the right hand's fan, and smoothly insert the upper right corner of the left-hand fan into the right hand's cards, slipping it between the key card and the selection (Figure 54). Continue to slip the left hand's cards into the right's, and drop the hands to the table until the lower edges of both fans rest against it. Now ease the pressure of the thumbs, letting the cards fall square against the table top. From the front an illusion is created of the two fans intricately meshing, when in fact the left hand's fan is simply inserted as a block into the right hand's fan. As the fans fall closed against the table, maintain contact with the left thumb on the face of its fan. This causes the lower cards of the right-hand fan to form a rightward step, as shown in Figure 55. The top card of this stepped block is the selection.

With the right hand, firmly grasp the right end of the deck and place the cards face-down into left-hand dealing position, turning the free end inward. Preserve the step as you do this. If you now bring the right hand over the pack to square it, the right thumb can contact the injogged step (Figure 56). Lift upward as you push forward on




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the step, forming a break for the left fourth finger. Immediately after squaring the pack, perform a brisk running cut, removing all the cards above the break in three packets, and dropping each to the table, one atop the other. Complete the series of cuts by dropping the remaining left-hand packet onto the rest. The selection is now on top of the deck.

This control sequence is fast, showy and impossible to follow.

The fan shuffle is also useful for finding and controlling a known or desired card when its location in the pack is unknown or can only be estimated. In such a case, again take the top portion of the pack into the right hand—removing a bit more than half the cards—and fan both packets. As you perform the initial stropping actions of the shuffle, spot the desired card in the right-hand fan; then insert the left hand's cards behind the card and complete the shuffle, forming a break below the step and cutting the card to the top of the pack.

Should you not see the card you seek in the right hand's fan, insert the left hand's cards into the right's, somewhere near the rear of the fan, and square the fans into each other. Then perform a second fan shuffle, taking the top portion—again a bit over half—into the right hand. This portion contains all the cards not seen in the previous shuffle, and the desired card should be found there. Of course, for this technique to be dependable, the cards must be in good condition and fan well, so that all cards in the right-hand fan can be seen. Treating the cards with fanning powder can be a valuable precaution when depending on this method of location.

The above technique can also be used to perform a false shuffle that conserves the full order of the pack. Again take the top portion of the pack into the right hand, removing something more than half the cards. Now perform the fan shuffle, inserting the left hand's fan somewhere near the rear of the right hand fan; i.e., near the original top of the pack. As you do this, secretly note the card in the right hand's fan before which the left hand's cards are introduced.

Close the fans into each other, forming a step below the left hand's block, as previously explained. Transform this step into a break and cut all the cards above the break into the right hand, in preparation for another fan shuffle. Do a second shuffle, inserting the left hand's cards directly before the card noted in the previous shufile. This time, as you complete the shuffle, no step or break is necessary. The pack is again in its original order.

If flourishes fit your style of performance, these techniques will prove a valuable addition to your repertoire. Mr. Elmsley has also devised ingenious one- and two-selection fan shuffle controls, which rely on faro shuffle principles. See "The Fan and Weave Controls" in Volume II of this work.

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