Method and Handling

Make sure that you're working with a full deck of fifty-two cards with no jokers. Hand the deck to a spectator for shuffling. Stress that he can shuffle as much as he wants. (Later, you're going to want the audience to remember that the cards were thoroughly mixed.)

After the shuffle, take the deck back. You're going to spread through it and remove three red cards and three black cards. I always use eights and nines. These cards are so similar in appearance that they encourage the audience to focus on the colors and ignore the identities. This is important because in the course of the effect the identity of one of the black cards will change.

In the process of removing the six cards, you must secretly sort the deck into reds and blacks. You do this by means of an underspread cull as follows. Spread through the deck and quickly shift two black eights and/or

nines to the top. Then casually shift cards as needed to ensure at least two black cards (other than eights or nines) on the face of the deck. (This is necessary to provide enough cover for culling the first red card.) Now start spreading the cards from the left hand into the right hand. Cull the first red card you come to under the spread. This is done by clamping your left thumb on the face of the card above it and pushing with your left fingers on the back of the card until it disappears from view and strikes your right palm. The right hand now pulls its cards to the right until you feel the left edge of the culled card come free of the spread. This card now becomes the guide card for the rest of the cull. You'll slide every black card above the guide card and cull every red card under it.

The action of culling subsequent red cards is different from the action of culling the guide card. First, youll find it's no longer necessary to clamp your thumb on the card above the one you want to cull. Simply push the card to be culled far over with your left thumb. Then lift the right-hand cards so that the guide card goes above the one

1. \ ^------/ ^ \ ^^ / you want to cull. Move the right-hand cards to the left until they cover the card to be culled. As soon as the card disappears from view, the right fingers contact the back of the card and pull it to the right until it clears the spread, (See the exposed view in illustration J.) Continue this process, each black going above the guide card, each red being culled under it.

Each time you come to one of the eights and nines you intend to use for the effect, you must split the spread at that point and toss the card face up on the table. The reds go to the left and the blacks to the right. You should have five cards on the table when you reach the two black eights and/or nines that you had initially shifted to the back of the deck. Leave one of these at the back of the deck. Remove the other one and toss it with the two black cards already on the table. The deck will now run, from face to back: twenty-two black cards, twenty-three red cards, one black card (either an eight or a nine).

There will be six cards lace up on the table. The three black cards will be all the black eights and nines except the one left at the back of the deck. The three red cards will be all the red eights and nines except one. I always leave out the nine of diamonds. (The point of always skipping the same red card is that it makes removing the six cards automatic. This leaves your mind free to concentrate on the cull.)

This culling process probably sounds daunting. Undeniably, if you don't have complete mastery of the under-spread cull, you'll have to put in some practice time to be able to separate the reds from the blacks smoothly, quickly, and deceptively.

However, with practice it becomes, not only fast and deceptive, but also almost automatic. This means you can—and definitely should—keep up a running line of patter throughout the process. (Of course, your patter should be completely memorized so it also doesn't demand undue concentration.) The audience should be more concerned with listening to what you're saying than watching what you're doing. Furthermore, there is no reason for them to watch the spreading action carefully. The important cards, apparently, are the ones you're removing, not the ones you're passing by.

It's important that, throughout the cull, you keep the cards tilted downward so that the faces are toward the audience. This move looks great from above but terrible from underneath. Therefore, you can easily fool yourself into thinking that youre doing it deceptively if you keep the cards tilted up coward you. It will look deceptive to you but to no one else. Keep the cards tilted down and you'll have one of the all-time great utility moves. (Tilting the cards down will feel unnatural at first, so keep practicing until it feels natural.)

Once you've finished spreading through the deck, you perform a simple overhand shuffle. Run twelve cards and throw the rest of the deck on top. Turn the deck face up and take it in dealing position. Obtain a break under the face card. (This will be the fourth black eight or nine.) Keep your wrist turned downward as much as possible to keep this face card out of view. There is no harm if someone should catch a glimpse of it, but you don't want anyone to particularly notice it.

The First Separation

If the three red cards you're using are the eight and nine of hearts and the eight of diamonds, casually rearrange them so that the diamond is on the face. Scoop these three cards onto the face of the deck. Pick up the three black cards with your right hand and hold them in a fan. At the same time, thumb over the two face cards of the deck so that all three red cards are visible. (Continue to maintain your break.) Thus, the six cards are displayed as in illustration 2.

As you explain that you'll use exacdy three black cards, flip each of the three black cards into a facedown pile on your right. Explain that you'll also use exacdy three red cards. As you do so, take the red card on the face of the deck into your right hand and flip it face down onto the table to your left. Do the same thing with the second red. Apparently do the same with the third red card. In reality, you take both of the cards above the break. (I execute a Vernon two-card push off as I take the double.)

To flip the double face down onto the other two cards, place the left edge of the double against the right edge of the tabled cards. Place your left second and third fingertips against the left edge of the tabled cards. (See illustration 3.) Then flip the double face down as if performing a double turnover. Immediately place your right third fingertip against the right edge of the cards. The double will thus be trapped between fingertips on both sides as it lands, ensuring alignment. Place the rest of the deck aside.

Pick up the red cards in your left hand from above and turn your hand over to turn the packet face up. Spread over two cards, keeping the last two together as one. Flip the "three" cards face down into left-hand dealing position.

Flip over the tabled packet on the right and spread the cards to again display the black cards. Pick them up with your palm-down right hand, and then turn the hand over to turn the packet face down.

You will now alternate the reds and the blacks by dealing them into a facedown pile in the center of the table. Deal alternately, starting with the right hand. Eventually you'll be left with a double in your left hand. Take the double from above in your right hand and drop it on top of the packet. Perform this alternating action slowly and openly so there can be no suspicion or doubt about what you've done.

Perform a magical gesture, and then pick up the packet from above in your left hand. Turn your hand over to turn the packet face up. Spread them lace up on the table to your right.

You will now display the three red cards (hiding the black card second from the top) by means of Ken Krenzel's pressure hideout. Your right hand grasps the cards from above with the forefinger at the outer right corner and the thumb at the inner right corner. You now, in effect» perform a pressure fan with the packet, the cards being dragged along the length of your left forefinger. Stop when three cards are showing. Illustration 4 shows this action in progress. The top card of the fan is a double. This double should be in perfect alignment due to the control offered by your right forefinger and thumb at the corners.

Reverse count the "three" cards into your right hand, clipping the outer right corner of each one in turn in your thumb crotch. (Just treat the double as if it were a single card.) Then flip the cards face down into left-hand dealing grip. Take the black cards in your right hand from above then turn the hand over to turn the packet face down.

The Second Separation

You're now going to repeat the previous alternation sequence except that this time you will show the face oi (almost) every card as you deal it onto the table. Turn your right hand palm down, at the same time pushing the top card over as far as possible with your thumb. This will display both the face card of the packet and the top card. Turn the hand palm up again and deal rhe top card onto the table face down. Turn your left hand palm up to display the face card, but do not push over the top card as you did before. Turn the hand palm up again and

over the top three cards, which will all be black, and toss

deal the top card onto the one already on the table.

Repeat the right-hand action: Turn your hand palm down, at the same time pushing the top card over; turn the hand palm up and deal the top card onto the tabled pile. Repeat this action with the left hand. (This time you do push over the top card as you turn the hand palm down.) Show the face of the card remaining in your right hand, then drop it iace down on the pile. Finally, your right hand takes the double card in your left hand from above, turns palm up to display its face, then drops it iace down on the tabled pile.

You have thus displayed the face of every card except the first one dealt from the left hand. This sort of thing worries some magicians. They fear the audience will wonder why that one card wasn't shown. You might rather turn the question around and ask why you would need to show any faces. The handling is such that the audience should already be positive that the right-hand cards are black and the leit hand's cards are red. Showing the cards as they're dealt is a bonus. Failing to show one is a harmless oversight.

Showing and dealing the cards should be done slowly and cleanly but also casually and in rhythm. (Your patter as you deal can reinforce that rhythm.) The one time you don't Hash the top card, you still turn over your hand to show the face card. (This is similar in principle to Mario's Olram subtlety.) Thus the audience still gets a consistent rhythm of seeing black, red, black, red, black, red. All of this ensures that they will hardly notice, let alone question, that you iorgot to show one card. (Note, you don't hide anything; you just forget to show one.)

You may have realized that this flashing of faces during the alternation process could be incorporated into the first phase since the first and second phases are technically identical. There is a good reason for not doing so. This is the sort of effect that demands repetition. But the second phase should be stronger than the first to create a sense of progression. The added condition of showing the faces of the cards during the dealing provides that progression, (See pp. 177-82 of Strong Magic for more of my thoughts on this subject.)

Perform your magical gesture. Pick up the packet and flip it face up into left-hand dealing position. Spread over the three face cards, all black, and table them to the right. Perform a Krenzel pressure hideout to show the remaining cards as three reds.

You will now count the cards into the right hand but in a slightly different way from the previous phase. Clip the outer right corner of the double in the right thumb crotch and snap it into the right hand. Count the next card onto it but outjogged about an inch. Place these cards onto the one in your left hand so that it's injogged about an inch. This will leave you holding an elongated spread as in illustration 5. Square the cards, taking a fourth - linger break under the face card as you do so.

Place your right fingertips onto the face card of the tabled spread of black cards to steady them as your left hand scoops them up onto the cards it already holds. Immediately take all the cards above the break into your right hand in Biddle grip. The face card of the left-hand packet will, of course, change. Due to the way you

arranged the red cards at the outset, however, this will involve either the eight oi hearts changing to the nine oi hearts or vice versa. The similarity oi the cards camouflages the change.

Immediately spread the left-hand cards face down on the table. The fact that there are three cards will indirectly prove that no transfer of cards could have occurred in the moment the packets touched. (I always place my left fingertips on the tabled spread and pull it towards me. This sells the fact that there really are three cards in the spread, no more and no less.)

Take the black packet into left-hand dealing grip. Push off the face card and take it in your right hand. Push off the next card and take it below the first one, spread over to the left. Finally, insert the double remaining in your left hand between the two in your right hand, outjogged for about lialf its length. (This is similar to Ken KrenzeTs "chopsticks" concept.) Three black cards will show, indirectly proving that the three tabled cards must be red. The tabled cards are indisputably the right number. The cards in the hand are indisputably the right color. Thus each packet proves the validity of the other.

The Reverse Oil and Water

Flip the right-hand cards face down into left-hand dealing grip. Your right hand now gathers up the tabled cards and takes them from above in Biddle grip. Hold the packets well apart. Then very cleanly and dramatically drop the right-hand packet onto the left-hand packet. (The point is to de-emphasize the moment the packets touched earlier, which was important to the method but irrelevant to the effect, and emphasize the touching of the packets now, which is irrelevant to the method but important to the effect.)

Perform your magic gesture. Slowly and dramatically deal the cards into an overlapping row face up on the table to reveal that the colors now alternate. When you've dealt five cards you will be left with two cards in your left hand which the audience believes to be one. Flip this double face up into your left hand, much as you woidd perform a double turnover onto the deck. Then pick up the double from above with your right hand and drop it on the end of the tabled spread. I use Ascanio's "burning double* concept. Lower your hand to the table until the fingertips touch the surface, then open the hand, allowing the double to drop.

The idea is that the fingertips should recoil from the tabletop as if it were burning hot. (I agree with Ascanio that the usual approach of placing the nail of the forefinger on the double as you table it is a tell. Have you ever done this when you were really placing a single card on the table?)

The Full-Deck Separation

After the effect has registered, gather up the spread and place the packet face down in front of you near the table edge. Pick up the deck and turn it face up. You will now perform a faro shuffle. Since the pack consists of an odd number of cards, this will be a straddle faro. Cut as close to half as you can, but the smaller of the two packets (one card lighter) should be the one in your right hand, the one you cut off the face. Faro these cards into the larger packet so that the new top and bottom cards come from the larger packet. Push the packets together up to the point where the index number of the face card of the right packet is hidden, (This should be somewhat less than half an inch.)

Now position the cards ior a cascade flourish as shown in illustration 6.

You're now going to perform Joshua Jay's faro ribbonspread hideout. In performing the cascade you must exert all the pressure at the outer right corner with the base of the right forefinger and the inner left corner at the base of the left fourth finger. (This is indicated by the arrows in illustration 7.) This will result in the packets meshing with a very pronounced side-jog as shown in illustration 8.

Pivot the cards ninety degrees counterclockwise into your left hand. The right hand should remain above the cards in Biddle grip to obscure the jogged condition. (This is shown in illustration 9.) The left fingers squeeze the packet together until the jog is reduced to slighdy less than an inch. Your right hand now slides the top card over until it aligns with the right-jogged half.

Throughout this sequence your patter should be to remind the audience that the deck was thoroughly shuffled at the outset hy a spectator. For good measure, you'll give the deck one last shuffle.

Your right hand now grips the deck, the forefinger at the outer left corner of the top card and the thumb at the inner left corner of the top card. The left hand shifts to the position shown in illustration 10 to obscure the jogged condition of the deck. Ribbonspread the deck from left to right.

Thanks to Joshua Jay's concept, the deck will appear to be separated into reds and blacks. (See illustration II.) In reality the colors alternate but, thanks to the sidejog, every other card in the deck is hidden in the spread.

The Full-Deck Reverse Oil and Water

This full-deck separation is very strong for a lay audience and is quite enough to provide the routine


with a spectacular ending. But you have something even more powerful in store for them.

Gather up the spread. The best way to do this to avoid flashing any of the hidden cards is to position your right hand at the right end of the spread and gather the spread irom left to right with the other hand. As you scoop up the spread, note the identity of the uppermost card of the red half (the one at the point where the reds meet the blacks). Remember this card, as it will be a key card later.

Flip the deck face down into your left hand and squeeze the cards together to eliminate the jog. Place the deck face down in the middle of the table-

Pick up the small packet and take it into facedown dealing grip in the left hand. Obtain a fourth-finger break above the bottom card by means of either a pull-down move or a buckle. Take the packet in Biddle grip in the right hand, the thumb taking over the break. Use the right fingertips to pull the deck toward you. As you do so, allow the card below the break to secretly drop onto the deck. (This is a Bernard Bilis idea.) Finish the pulling action by tilting the hand up, back toward the audience, so that the packet and deck touch for only a moment.

Perform a one-hand fan with the packet (which now consists of the right number of cards). Use the fan to tap the deck as you explain that the act of tapping the deck with the alternated cards causes something amazing to happen. Flip the packet face up, retaking it in Biddle grip. Pick up the deck into left-hand dealing position. Spread the face-up packet in the space vacated by the deck.

You will now deal the deck in an overlapping row face up above this spread to reveal that the entire deck now alternates red and black.

For dramatic purposes, I suggest starting to deal slowly and gradually speeding up as you go. As you deal, watch for the key card that you memorized when you gathered up the spread deck earlier. As soon as you see it stop dealing. (The key card is twenty-fourth from the top, so you don't have to start watching for it until you figure you're nearing that point. In fact, if you forget your key card you can just silendy count and stop when you've dealt twenty-four cards.)

Turn the remainder of the deck face up and ribbonspread it above the spread of dealt cards to reveal that all the cards alternate in color.

layout shown in illustration 12. Since

This will leave you with the final

the audience saw just a moment before that the deck was segregated by color, this instantaneous alternation gives you a stunning ending.


You may be wondering why I rec ommend revealing the alternation of the deck by dealing half the cards, then ribbonspreading the rest. Why not either deal them all out or ribbon-spread the entire deck?

The first reason is to hide a discrepancy. In fact, if you ve worked through the effect with the cards while reading the description you may have fooled yourself.

Look at the last card dealt in the overlapping row. It's red. Look at the top card of the ribbonspread. It's also red. The reality is that the deck does not end up in a perfect red/black alternation. There are two red cards together in the middle of the deck. If the colors alternated perfectly, the deck would show as either all red or all black during the ribbonspread hideout. The only way to show half red and half black is to have two cards of the same color in the center. By shifting from dealing to spreading at exacdy that point you hide this. (And I guarantee that if you handle the climax exactly as I've described nobody will spot the discrepancy.)

There is also another technical consideration. The Joshua Jay spread does not look exacdy like a genuine spread of a full deck because only half as many cards are showing. This is no problem as long as the audience doesn't have a basis for comparison. If you were to either ribbonspread or deal the whole deck at the end, you would be providing them with such a basis for comparison. By handling the climax as I suggest the final picture can't be compared to the spread in the previous phase,

Technical considerations aside, I think that the deal-and-spread approach is the best way to handle the climax purely from a dramatic standpoint. If you ribbonspread the entire deck, the climax is over too fast; the audience doesn't have a chance to absorb it. Dealing out the cards is very dramatic and allows the climax to build, but dealing all the cards would drag things out too long. Dealing half the cards, starting slowly and gradually accelerating, brings the climax to a crescendo with the ribbonspreading of the remaining half providing the cymbal crash at the end.

After the applause has ended, take the face card of the middle spread (your key card) and use it to scoop up the spread. Gather up the other two spreads and drop them on top. The entire deck will now properly alternate, in case anyone should want to check.

(I usually use this effect as a closer and give the deck away as a souvenir at this point. Therefore, I want to make sure the alternation is correct in case the spectator should check the cards after she gets home.)

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