Method and Handling

This routine consists of two effects that are connected thematically. They're also connected methodologically in that you set up for the second effect under the guise of performing the first. The second effect consists of two phases, comprising in total a three-phase routine»

Phase One

Hand out the deck for shuffling. Stress that the spectator should shuffle thoroughly. (You want the audience to remember later that you were working with a randomly mixed deck.) While the spectator is shuffling, patter along these lines: There are countless ways a £rofessi<wd can gain an edge in a poker game, but they can be divided into two categories, psychological and manipulative. 1*11 give you an example of each.*1

Take back the deck when the spectator has finished shuffling. Have another spectator peek at a card. You must now glimpse the spectator's card. (See Maximum Risk for information on this subject.) As soon as youVe glimpsed the card, hand the deck to this spectator for shuffling. Once more stress that he should shuffle the cards thoroughly.

I've suggested having the deck shuffled by two different people, one before the selection and another after the selection. This is only because it helps dramatize the fact that the cards have been thoroughly mixed. There is no problem, however, with having the same person shuffle both times if you're working for only one spectator or if there is only one person in the audience who knows how to shuffle cards.

Retrieve the deck. Explain that you're going to take several guesses as to what the selected card might be. You will now spread through the face-up deck and toss about a dozen random cards on the table. Just make sure that one of those cards is the selection you glimpsed. As you spread through the deck, however, you must also cull the thirteen cards of your setup to the top by means of the underspread cull. (The underspread cull is taught in Ultimate Oil & Water.)

Earlier 1 listed the setup in order. Here, of course, you don't have to concern yourself with the order. You just have to make sure you don't miss any of the necessary cards. I find it helpful to think of the cards in logical groups. You need to cull the queen through eight of spades, all four aces, all the kings except the king of hearts, and, in place of the king of hearts, the queen of hearts.

My approach is to spread until I see one of the setup cards. I then cull the card and toss the next card on the table. Each time I cull a card I toss the next card on the table. If I encounter two setup cards together, I cull them both then toss the next two cards on the table. There is nothing sacred about this pattern. If, at some points it's convenient to deviate from it, I do so.

This approach offers a couple of advantages. It ensures that the number of cards you remove is about the same as the number of cards in the setup. (You 11 see later why this is useful.) I also find that the actions work well rhythmically and that the action of tossing a card on the table helps misdirect from the culling action immediately before. (This is just an extra safeguard. If you've mastered the underspread cull, the steal of each card should be invisible.)

With practice, this whole procedure should become almost automatic. The only thing that requires attention i6 remembering to remove the selected card when you come to it, since this is the only part that changes in each performance. Ii, after youve finished the cull, you realize that you did miss the selection, it's oi no great consequence. Just say that you're going to remove a couple of more cards to be safe. Spread through the deck and remove two or three cards, one of which is the selection.

Once you have spread through the entire deck, spread through again quickly as if trying to decide on one more possibility. During this spread you do three things. First, you spread-count the setup cards on top of the deck. If you count anything other than thirteen cards, you know you've made a mistake. Take this opportunity to correct it. (Cull any card that you missed or get rid of any card that you culled accidentally.) Second, toss the card that is directly in front of the thirteen culled cards on the table with the others. Third, as you close the spread after having done so, injog the face card of the thirteen culled setup cards.

Flip the deck face down into left-hand dealing grip. Square up the cards, taking a left fourth-finger break under the injog. Push the tabled cards toward the spectator. Tell him to shuffle them and then fan them out in front oi him like a bridge or gin rummy hand so that you cannot see the faces. As you say this, take the deck in your right hand in Biddle grip, your right thumb taking over the break. Table the deck and lift off all die cards above the break. Shuffle these cards and fan them in front of you. It should appear that you simply grabbed a group of cards in order to illustrate your comments.

Once the spectator has fanned his cards in front of him, instruct him to sort them out by suit the way he might with a bridge or gin rummy hand. As you say this, casually sort your cards. It should appear that you're just randomly moving cards around to illustrate. In fact, you arrange your thirteen cards in setup order.

Tell the spectator that, once he has sorted the cards out, he should fan them in front of himself again. Do this with your own cards as if to illustrate. This will give you a chance to check your setup to make sure you didn't make any mistakes. Casually drop the cards on the deck. The impression you want to convey is that the cards, having served their purpose as a visual aid, are of no further importance. (This ingenious idea for boldly setting up a small group of cards right under the audience's noses was shown to me by Juan Tamariz.)

Explain that you're going to try to identify the spectator's card by reading "tells" the way an expert poker ;|fj player does to determine if an opponent is bluffing. Advise him to try to maintain a poker lace. You will now lead the spectator to discard all the cards in his hand until he holds only his selected card. Since you know what the card is. this is an easy matter. You just have to make it look like you're doing it based on the spectator's subconscious reactions.

Let's assume that the spectator's selection is the eight of diamonds. Repeat the words red and black a couple of times while watching the spectator's reaction. Pretend to finally come to a decision and instruct him to remove all the black cards from his hand and drop them face up on the table. Repeat the process with the words hearts and diamonds, eventually instructing the spectator to discard the hearts. Do the same thing with spot cards vs. picture cards, odd vs. even, high vs. low, or whatever else it takes to arrive at the point where the spectator is holding only one card, his selection. (See Liars Poher for more detailed presentational ideas for dramatizing this type of revelation.)

The real purpose of this first phase is to allow you to set up the cards you need for the second and third phases. Nevertheless, you'll find that this phase is itself extremely effective with audiences. They don't know what to believe. Your claims sound impossible, yet there seems no other explanation. That's the source of this phase's strength.

Phase Two

Gather up the spectator's cards and bury them in the deck anywhere below your thirteen-card setup. I simply faro the cards into the center of the deck. This further sells the notion that the cards are in random order.

Explain that, having shown how an expert can gain an edge in a game through psychology, you'll now demonstrate how he can gain an edge through sleight of hand. As you talk, give the deck a casual overhand shuffle as follows. Undercut about half the deck. Injog the first card and shuffle off. Take the deck in left-hand dealing grip and square up the cards. As you do so, take a left fourth-finger break under the injogged card. Explain that, instead of relying on psychology to determine the strength of your opponent's hand, you might

Scams ö Fantastes WITH Cards take a more direct approach and use sleight oi hand to deal yourself the stronger hand. Point out that there are nine possible ranks of hands at poker and name them for the audience. (These are the hands listed under Mental Preparation.) Explain that you're going to ask a spectator to choose any one of those nine ranks and, whichever he chooses, you'll attempt to locate the best hand of that rank that you can. Stress that, since you're not going to actually play poker, it doesn't matter whether he chooses a high hand, a low hand, or something in between. The important thing is that he can choose any hand and youll attempt to locate it. Name the nine ranks of hand again and ask a spectator to choose one.

Your phrasing here is important. You don't want the spectator to say, "Give me a full house, nines over threes." Yet you don't want to explicidy instruct him not to specify the exact cards because you want the audience to think that you could produce a full house, nines over threes if you wanted to. By repeating the nine possible ranks of hands a couple of times, you make clear what you want from the spectator. By saying that you'll produce the highest hand of that rank you provide an implicit reason for not having him specify which cards compose the hand.

When the spectator names a hand, you must recall the key number you memorized for that hand. You'll have to transfer this number of cards from below your break to above the break. For example, let's assume the spectator requests a flush. This means you must move your break seven cards lower.

I'll describe two ways oi doing this. The first is the way I do it. The second is an easier approach. What I do is simply to pinky count the necessary number. This is done just like a standard pinky count except that you count from the break rather than from the top oi the deck. (You can find detailed instruction on the pinky count on pp.11-4 of Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table or on the At the Card Table video.)

The pinky count approach is ideal because there is no visible handling. However, here is an alternative method for non-pinky counters that is also highly deceptive. Spread the deck between your hands while commenting about the impossibility of knowing where the necessary cards might be. When you reach your break, spread seven cards past it—you can count them by sight—and press the tip of your right second finger against the face of the seventh card as you continue spreading» When you square up, take a new left fourth-finger break at this point.

This spreading action can be made to look very casual. Look at the audience as you start to spread. Glance down at the cards as you reach your break. As soon as you've finished sight-counting, look up again as you continue spreading to the bottom oi the deck. Naturally, you're pattering all the while.

Either way, once you've obtained your new break, casually cut all the cards above it to the table. Then drop the remaining cards on top, At this point, the hand the spectator requested is on top of the deck.

You're now going to cut the deck into five packets, executing a slip cut each time. The technique 1 recommend for the slip cut is as follows. With the deck lying lengthwise on the table, grip the deck with one hand at each end. The second and third fingers are at the outer corners and the thumbs at the inner corners. Your right forefinger should be straight, the tip pressing on the top card. This position is shown in illustration 1.

Your left thumb lifts up all but about ten cards at the inner left corner. Your right hand now carries the cards below the break forward and to the right. At the same time, however, your right forefinger drags off the top card so that it lands flush on the lower portion as it clears the top of the deck. This action is shown in illustration 2. As soon as the right-hand cards have cleared the upper portion, your left lingers release the upper portion and your forefinger presses down on it, pinning it to the table. (You're trying to create the illusion that the left-hand cards were the original lower portion of the deck.) Your right hand continues forward with its cards, depositing them about a foot forward and to the right of the deck.

Repeat this cut, placing the new packet next to the first, closer to you. Repeat the process twice more. This will leave you with a row of five small packets. Turn over the top card of each packet to reveal that you've cut to the poker hand the spectator requested* (See the Performance Tifts for some important advice on handling this revelation.)

Pick up the packet farthest irom you, the one you cut off first, and take it in dealing grip. Deal the face-up card onto the table. Pick up the next packet and drop it on the cards you're already holding. Deal its face-up card onto the one already on the table. Repeat this process with the remaining three packets. Pick up the faceup cards and drop them face down on the deck.

At this point, part of your setup is on the bottom of the deck. These are the cards that you had shifted from below your fourth-finger break to above it (in our example, seven cards). YouVe now apparently going to bury the tabled poker hand in the middle of the deck. In fact, you perform a reverse double undercut to restore your stack. Thumb count to obtain a break over the seven (or however many) setup cards that are now on the bottom. Pick up the poker hand and drop it face down on top of the deck. Then double cut the cards below the break to the top.

Phase Three

This kind of effect demands repetition. In the back of the audience's mind is the question, "Would it have worked if the guy had named a different poker hand?" At the same time, to succeed dramatically, the repeat must somehow take things further. This final phase meets those requirements.

Point out that it's not enough to be able to locate whatever poker hand you want. In order to win the money, you have to be able to deliver that hand to yourself in a game. This, you point out, is known as stacking the hand, and that's what you're now going to demonstrate.

Your thirteen-card setup is on top of the deck exactly as at the start of the second phase. As you patter, give the deck a jog shuffle retaining the setup. This will both reinforce the notion that the deck as a whole is mixed and convey that the poker hand you produced a moment ago is now lost.

You now repeat your earlier overhand shuffle to centralize the setup. Undercut about half the deck. Injog the first card and shuffle off. Take the deck in left-hand dealing grip and square up the cards. As you do so, take a left fourth-finger break under the injogged card.

Turn to another spectator and have him name any rank of poker hand just as before. As soon as he does, you know how many cards you have to shift from below the break to above. You do this exactly as in phase two, by either pinky counting or spreading the cards between your hands.

Once you've established your new break, grip the deck from above with your right hand. Your left fourth finger now enters the break and angle-jogs the card above it very slightly to the right. Follow through by running your left thumb along the left side of the deck in a squaring action.

Your left hand now pinches the deck at the left side and tables it in position for a riffle shuffle. The jog should be at the inner left side. Your left thumb lifts up on the jogged card so that your right hand can cut all the cards under it to the right in preparation for a riffle shuffle. The poker hand the spectator requested is now on top ol the right half. The rest of your setup is below this poker hand and/or on the bottom of the left half.

You're now going to riffle stack the requested poker hand to fall to yourself in a five-handed game. To keep the shuffling brief I suggest a three-shuffle sequence. You'll stack one card on the first shuffle, two on the second, and two on the third.

On the first shuffle, hold back at least five cards on the right and four on the left. Drop all except four from the right, all four from the left, and the remaining four from the right. For each of the two remaining shuffles you cut the top half to the right. On the second shuffle, hold back a block on the right and eight on the left. Drop all except three from the right, four from the left, one from the right, the remaining four from the left, and the remaining two from the right. On the third shuffle, hold back a block on the right and eight on the left. Drop all except one from the right, four from the left, the remaining one from the right, and the remaining four from the left. (With practice, this sequence can be done without looking at the cards. But there is no great harm if you do look as long as you can still do the shuffles without hesitating.)

I recommend that you make the third shuffle a false shuffle in order to avoid cutting into your stack (which at this point runs quite deep). Depending on your preference, it can be a strip-out shuffle with a block transfer, a push-through shuffle with a block transfer, or a Zarrow shuffle. (See p.76 of Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table for an explanation of how to combine the Zarrow shuffle with riffle stacking.)

While running up your five-card hand, you must keep the rest of your thirteen-card setup intact. These cards will be on the bottom of the deck and/or direcdy under the hand your stacking. Therefore, you must make sure that the bottom few cards remain on the bottom, falling first during each shuffle. You must also ensure that you do not cut into the cards directly under the ones you're running up during the first two shuf fles. (You won't have to worry about this on the last shuffle since you're doing a false shuffle.) This is all easily done as long as you're conscious of the need to do it. I realize that if you're not adept at riffle stacking, the above won't make much sense to you. But, if that's the case, this effect is not really for you.

Once you've stacked the cards, you need only deal out a five-handed game. Conclude by revealing that you've received the hand the spectator requested. (The advice in the Performance Tifts section on how to reveal the hand most effectively applies here also.)

The Kicker

The remainder of your setup is now on the top and/or bottom of the undealt portion of the deck. You're now going to exploit that fact.

Generally speaking, the strongest way to end a poker routine is to deal yourself four aces or a royal flush. That's exactly what you're going to do now. Ill explain what happens in general terms, then explain a couple of exceptions in procedure.

Allow the revelation of your poker hand to sink in. Then say that you're going to press your luck and try to improve the hand on the draw. Pick up your cards. Turn them face down and mix them a bit so the audience doesn't know which card is which. Fan the cards toward yourself and keep whatever cards you hold that are part of a spade royal flush. Discard the remaining one, two, or three cards. Draw that many cards from the deck, and then show that you're holding a royal flush.

If your original hand is a full house, instead of drawing to a royal flush, discard a king and draw one card to give yourself four aces.

If your original hand is a straight, flush, or straight flush you must perform an additional step. When you finish dealing, before putting the deck down, give it a casual overhand shuffle as you patter. Finish this shuffle by running the last few cards singly to the top. (Remember that during your riffle shuffles you were careful to retain the stack cards that were on the bottom.) After revealing your hand, talk about pressing your luck and proceed as before to draw to a royal flush. The shuffle won1t attract any heat because, when you do it, the audience doesn't know you're later going to draw cards. By the time you bring up the subject of drawing cards no one will remember the shuffle.

If you're thoroughly familiar with your setup, you don't have to memorize these variant handlings, (although memorizing them is hardly a major burden). The logic of the situation will dictate how to proceed.

If your original hand is a pat one, drawing to it will be an unusual thing to do. You can turn this into a strength. For a poker player to see you break up a full house only to end up with four of a kind is pretty amazing. In such situations I'll say, 'No sane person would draw to a hand like this—unless he were cheating. Fortunately lam. So Im going to draw two [or however many] cards and see what happens

Using a deck that they shuffled, perhaps even one that they provided, the audience has seen you psyche out an opponent, cut to any hand called lor, deal yourself any hand called for, and draw to a royal flush. What more evidence could anyone need that you'd he a very dangerous person to face at the card table?

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