It is philosophically handy to say that finding Truth is merely discovering the Obvious. Often times in finding a solution to a magical effect, the obvious becomes somewhat elusive because what is manifestly apparent seldom seems very subtle or clever. The obvious solution is also (in most cases) the shortest distance between the concept of the effect and its accomplishment, hence the most direct and least devious route.
Marlo's original solution, conceived at Colon, Michigan in 1949, has—shall we say?— genius of obviousness? It is one of the cleanest methods extant, yet cardmen balk since its rudiment is a psychological force. For many complicated reasons, psychological and estimation techniques are shunned as being too unreliable and impractical. This argument has been disproved by performers skilled in these knacks—performers who admit these techniques, particularly the psychological ones, require delicacy of perception. They require those discriminating sensitivities which interpret human nature and behavior with almost clairvoyant comprehension. Call it the cold reader's reflex or the super-salesman's canny instinct. It is also a technique whose qualities are too complex to describe in a single essay; whose actions, entangled in the fastidious complications of timing, cannot be anatomized. Like Lewis Ganson's descriptions of Slydini's work, they embody none of the excitement or tangibility of the reality of Slydini's live performances. Ultimately and reluctantly we must accept such theories and techniques on faith, hoping that with subsequent, practiced, and diligent experience we will find proofs of our conjectures.
Marlo is one of America's experts who has pioneered the use of psychological artifice as a special technique in card work, especially to force the outcome of a spectator's behavior. There is, for example, a description with an "out" in Let's See The Deck of a psychological force. There is another that Marlo kept to himself for years in Estimation. Dai Vernon reputedly had one or two versions of this technique and our literature is filled with imitations and applications.
In all of these versions, the initial position of the force-card is not as important as the timing of your patter utterances. The force-card can be anywhere, depending on the kind of effect being performed, but patter delivery is crucial. Depending on the pace of the spectator's dealing action, as soon as the performer finishes saying, "Anytime you feel like dealing a card face down," the spectator will deal four more cards and then deal the next one face down or aside. This is the general rule and there are umpteen contingencies. For example, the performer must know the spectator's conscious and unconscious ways of handling cards—how he shuffles, cuts, deals, selects, and how he reasons about things, These considerations will alter the general rule.
A cardinal element to remember is that a psychological force can be effective only if the spectator is unsuspecting. The action of the force must seem unimportant. The action should seem incidental but necessary.
In the original Open Prediction, Marlo initially positioned the force-card tenth from the top. This proved to be too close to the top. It did not permit enough cards to be dealt proportionate to a 52-card deck. From a psychological standpoint, the spectator should see that several cards (more than nine) are not the one "openly predicted." It is also good for the spectator to see a mixture of different cards. Therefore, Marlo eventually positioned the force-card fifteenth from the top, thus permitting 30% of the deck to be dealt face up.
Marlo has two primary ways to induce the spectator to say "stop." (1) The standard patter-delivery approach. (2) The Bold Command-Gesture approach. Both these techniques are briefly "Latest Spectator's Open Prediction" (with Millard Lichter) and "The Unwritten Prediction." With the Force Card positioned fifteenth, you make your open prediction and instruct the spectator to deal the cards face up and look for, say, the 10D. As the spectator deals, you observe the pace of the dealing, while simultaneously keeping in mind the contingencies previously noted, reviewed, and remembered. As the spectator gets to the tenth card, say, "Of course, anytime you feel like it, deal a card face down!" This patter line usually takes three seconds to utter. Most spectators will hesitate slightly, but will continue to deal, dealing one card at each tick of the second-hand. The tendency is then to deal one more card, stop, and deal the next one face down. Experience will ultimately dictate how to handle this. You may discover that the spectator will deal five or six more cards after the patter line. Sooner or later, as Chan Canasta's work attests, you will develop the knack for doing this.
The Bold Method is simply to command the spectator to deal a card face down. The timing is similar to the original technique. Wait until the spectator reaches the tenth card, deliver the same patter line, adding in a firm tone of voice: "Go ahead, deal a card face down!" Boldly gesture toward the fifteenth card. Your inflection is firm but delicate. It should be a nonchalant, declarative injunction. Your gesture should also be forthright but offhandedly executed like a shrug. Once the spectator heeds your command and begins to deal the fifteenth card, add: "... any card at all!" This tag-line suggests that the spectator has a free choice, hinting that you are not really paying attention to the spectator's actions.
This bold technique is an excellent bit of insurance, especially when you suspect that the spectator is not going to surrender to the psychological approach. In the end, very few spectators remember that they were commanded to deal a specific card face down.
A final note: If you think that psychological techniques are unreliable and the challenges of contingency are too much, consider this: Marlo was once bluntly asked, "What happens when the psychological force fails? What's your out?" He quickly replied, without a trace of braggadocio: "I don't really know. It has never failed and I've never had to resort to an out!" This, admittedly, smacks of hyperbole—the kind of extravagant remark we permit legends to profess. Yet Marlo seemed honest and we saw him repeatedly accomplish the so-called unreliable and impractical technique. We saw him force knowledgeable cardmen, duping them completely. Part of this is due to his vast experience, plus the delicacy of perception mentioned earlier. If you doubt the practicality of this technique, your doubting will impose limitations on your growth as an aspiring expert. On the other hand, if you try and practice these techniques, you will find them practical and workable.
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