Method and Handling

Phase One

Hand the marking pen to a spectator. Explain that you're going to demonstrate a method of cheating at cards that allows you to deal yourself any card you wish in a game. Tell the spectator holding the pen that you would like her to touch the back of a card as you spread through the deck. Stress, however, that she should touch a card somewhere near the middle of the deck. Spread through the deck, quickly at first, but slowing down after you've gone past about a third of the deck.

When the spectator touches a card, break the spread above it. Use the upper portion to flip her card face up onto the lower half. The two lowest cards of the right-hand spread should be jutting out toward the left slightly. If they're not, casually adjust them with your left fingers at this point.

Hold the left-hand cards out toward the spectator as you ask her to initial the face of the card. Indicate that she should do so near the outer end of the card (the end nearest her.) When she has done so, and the ink has had a moment to dry, use the right-hand spread to flip the initialed card face down. As you do so, clamp your left thumb onto the lowermost two cards of the right-hand spread. Square the deck, taking a fourth-finger break above these two cards. In other words, the selected card should be the third card down from your break. (Clamping your thumb on the two cards just facilitates taking the break at the right point.)

You 11 now perform a pass at the break. I use my own variant of the Herrmann pass, which IVe dubbed the Ortiz shift. The

move happens as you comment, "Your card is not near the bottom or the top^As you deliver this line, you casually point to the bottom card, then to the top. During this action you perform the shift.

Hold the deck in your left hand with all four fingers on one side and the thumb running along the length of the other side. Now bring your right hand over the deck. The thumb should be at the inner left corner and all four fingers should be at the front. The front of the top card should lie along the crease of the middle joint of the fingers so the fingertips extend down well past the deck. As soon as your right hand is in position, your left hand pulls down on the right side of the lower half and starts to pivot over this half until its left side just barely clears the right edge of the upper packet. The outer left corner of the lower half should touch the outer right corner of the upper half. (See illustration i.) When you reach this position, the tip of the right second finger should touch the middle knuckle of the left forefinger. (See illustration 2.) This will ensure that you're covered from the front.

Do not allow the left edge of the lower packet to extend up beyond the upper half as is usually done with shifts of this type. This would make the move vulnerable from the left since the lower half would be visible under the arch of the right hand.

Begin to revolve the left hand palm down. As you do, the right second, third, and fourth fingers extend. This causes the upper packet to pivot downward, driven by the right second finger, until its right edge meets the left edge of the lower packet.

Palm Down Drawing

Continue revolving the left hand palm down until the deck is face up. As you do so, squeeze the two packets together. As soon as the deck is face up, let go with the right hand and point to the bottom card with your left forefinger as in illustration 3. This gesture accompanies the comment that the card is not near the bottom. (If you do the move correctly and start from the correct position, your forefinger will end up in the pointing gesture almost automatically,)

Turn your left hand palm up and point to the top of the deck as you comment that the card is not near the top. As soon as your hand is palm up, extend the thumb away from the deck as in illustration 4. This gives everything an open and uncontrolled look.

Keep in mind that the covered two-handed position shown in illustratum 2 is held for only an instant. You almost immediately let go with the right hand and point to the bottom of the deck. Therefore, although you start from a covered position, the overall look of the move is very open. This shift is, as I mentioned, only a variation of the Herrmann shift, I think you'll find, however, that it offers better angles than the usual approaches. (You can, of course, perform any other shift at this point in the routine.)

NSuppose I luanted to deal myself that card in a gameV you ask. Give the deck a slight flick of the wrist, and then perform a triple turnover to show that you could deal yourself the card off the top of the deck.

Phase Two

Turn the triple face down. Insert the top card into the middle of the deck ("bach where it started"). Give the deck a flick of the wrist. Perform a double turnover to show the card back on top.

Phase Three

Turn the double face down using a Vernon two-card push-off. When the card is in the fully extended position, however, push up with the middle finger and down with the thumb. This produces a longitudinal crimp in the double about a third of the way in from the side.

After the double is face down, pick up the two cards in the right hand from above, middle finger at the outer end and thumb at the inner end as show in illustration 5. The crimp allows an instant pickup. Your fingers must,

however, pick up at the point where the crimp is strongest. This should be about a third of the way from the left side. It may vary, however, depending on the length of your fingers and the exact way you put in the crimp. A little practice will allow you to determine the proper point. Turn your right hand palm up to give the audience a flash of the face of the selected card. Then drop the dou- -ble back on top.

Something to keep in mind when executing this technique is that the degree of bend needed depends on the condition of the deck. Older cards tend not to hold bend work as well. If working with a new deck, a small bend is enough. If you re using an older deck, put the work in stronger.

The above technique was shown to me many years ago by Derek Dingle. You may feel that you can achieve the same thing by simply taking a break as you turn the double lace down. Personally, I don't think the result would be as casual and disarming.

As soon as the double lands on the deck, your right fingers push the top card forward for about a third of its length. Pull the top half of the deck out from under the jogged card, Hindu-shuffle style, and drop it back on top. This leaves the supposed selected card jutting out of the middle of the deck.

Place your right fingertips on the top card. With your left forefinger pull the jogged card square with the deck. The instant the card squares with the deck, your right hand pulls back the top card and turns it face up end-over-end, leaving it outjogged on top of the deck for about half its length.

This is basically a standard Ambitious Card handling whose creator is lost in the mists of time. My only contribution is the idea of turning the top card over the instant the middle card is squared. Although a small point, you'll find that this makes the sequence very starding for a lay audience. It never fails to gee an audible reaction for me.

Phase Four

Grip the outjogged card at the left side and revolve it to the right so that it pivots 180 degrees. (This is simply to bring the initials back to the outer end.) Insert the face-up card into the front of the deck about halfway down, leaving it outjogged. Bring your right hand over the deck and push the card square. However, you actually push the card in at an angle so that it protrudes at the inner right corner of the deck. (This is hidden by your right hand.) Take a fourth-finger break above the protruding corner and square the deck.

You will now perform the Ortiz shift to visibly bring the face-up card to the top of the deck. It should appear that you give the deck the same flick of the wrist as in the previous phases albeit in a slightly exaggerated form. This will be your cover for the shift.

Perform rhe shift as explained before with one difference. As soon as the deck is face up, drop your right hand to your side. Pause for just an instant, then turn your left hand palm up to show the face-up selection on top.

I feel this handling is superior to the usual way of doing this type of visual Ambitious Card phase using some variant of the classic pass. That approach requires that you grip the deck with both hands at the moment the card appears on top. In every other phase you hold the deck with just one hand. But when you bring the card to the top visually, you have to clutch the deck with both hands.

By contrast, if you perform my handling correctly, you can create the illusion of a one-handed action. The reality, of course, is that you're doing a two-handed shift. However, the nature of the move allows you to

exploit a peculiarity of visual magic. In visual magic, the audience feels that the magic happens when the visual result is revealed to them. In this case, the face-up card appears to arrive on top when they first see it on top. Although the move is two-handed, by the time you reveal the face-up card, your right hand is well away from the deck. Psychologically, the audience feels that the card jumped to the top at that moment. This creates the impression of a one-handed action. If you experiment with this sequence in front of a mirror, you'll see what I mean. (I've dubbed this concept the delayed visual effect It has applications far beyond this one example.)

Phase Five

Obtain a fourth-finger break above the bottom two cards by means of either a buckle or a thumb count. Take the deck in your right hand in Biddle grip, the thumb taking over the break. Swing cut about half the deck into your left hand. Use the right-hand cards to flip the selected card face down. Follow through by outjogging the card and turning your left hand palm up. In the process, you execute the James/Ellis loading move. (This move is taught in Cannibal Holocaust) Youll be left pointing at the initials on the selected card, two cards having been secretly loaded behind it.

Turn your left hand palm down and, as you do so, use your left forefinger to square the outjogged card with the packet. As soon as the packet is face down, thumb the top card over to the right. (If you time it correctly, you'll get a strong visual retention illusion of this being the selected card.)

Insert this card into the outer left corner of the right-hand half about halfway down. Leave it angle-jogged. Place the left half on top of the right hall and take the deck into left-hand dealing position. (The jogged card should not interfere with this.)

Take the deck in the right hand from above. Here I use a bit of thematic misdirection suggested by Juan Tamariz in The Magic Way. With your left thumb, push the angle-jogged card partway into the deck. Then push it further in until only about a quarter inch is protruding. Finally, carefully push the card further until slightly less than the white border is protruding. Hesitate for a moment, then turn to a spectator and ask her to press her forefinger against the side of the deck to push the card the rest of the way.

The point of this by-play is that it gets the audience thinking that you may be trying to keep track of the position, of the card. As long as they're questioning the fairness of the insertion they wont he thinking about whether the inserted card is really the selection. (This is Ascanio's concept of thematic misdirection: Give the audience something to think about so they can't think about what you don't want them to think about.) When you finally eliminate all suspicion by having a spectator push the card in, the audience loses all hope of figuring out how you're doing what you're doing.

Turn the top card face up, using the same actions you use for a double turnover. As you do, point out that, of course, the selection cannot be on top of the deck yet. Turn the card face down and obtain a break under the second card. (I do this by simply pushing over the second card slighdy as I thumb over the top card to turn it face down.)

Give the deck a flick of the wrist and immediately perform a double turnover to show that the card is now

on top. You'll find from your audiences* reactions that this simple and bold use of the double lift principle provides one of the highlights of the routine. When the spectator pushes the card square into the deck, the audience can't fathom how you could control it to the top. They're actually relieved when you show that it's not on top. No sooner do they breathe a sigh of reKef than you show that it now is on top.

Phase Six

Casually give the deck a 180-degree turn to bring the initials to the inner end.

Remember that all oi the above has been performed under the guise of demonstrating a method of cheating at cards. Continuing on this theme, you say, "People scrmitimfis ash me -whether I can control the card to second or third from the top so that I can deal it to one of the other players. So this last time III do just that. Ill control the set) en to second from the top in such a way that youTl hnow the moment it arrives"

As you start to deliver these lines, take the double card, and insert it face down in the middle of the deck. 1 do it as follows. Obtain a fourth-finger break under the two lace-up cards. Slide your right thumbtip into this break from right to left, lifting the back end of the double. Grip the double between the right first finger along the left edge and your fourth finger along the right edge. Your middle fingers are on the face and your thumb on the back. Pivot the double forward. Open a break in the middle of the deck with your left thumb and insert the double. Leave it outjogged about an inch. Your left thumb should extend along the side of the outjogged portion.

If you insert the double as you begin the above patter, the card will be sticking out of the deck for a bit of time. That's what you want. As I observed in Strong Magic, the longer a card is face down, the more the audience starts to question its identity. Despite the fairness with which you buried the selected card, by the end of your patter people will start to wonder ii it's the card that it's supposed to be. You're going to exploit this suspicion during the next move.

Turn your left hand palm up and point to the initials. (Thanks to the earlier turning of the deck, the initials will be visible.) Turn your hand palm down and immediately perform a push-in change. (This move is taught in No Way Out.) Follow through by angle-jogging the card to the left for about half its length.

Your purpose here is to cover the move with tension-relaxation misdirection. Suspicion generates tension.

Eliminating suspicion causes relaxation. You create suspicion by leaving the card face down. You then dissipate suspicion by showing the face of the card under the guise of pointing to the initials. The spectator thinks, "Gee, I'm an awfully suspicious person. He wasn't trying to deceive me." It's at that moment that you deceive him with the push-in change. (You should not acknowledge any suspicion on the audience's part. You show the card only to call attention to the initials. This little drama should take place entirely in the spectator's mind with you apparently oblivious to it.)

As soon as you've jogged the card to the left, your left

forefinger pushes in on the cards directly below the jogged one. This causes the dozen or so cards directly under the jogged one to stick out the 6. back of the deck. Pull out these cards Hindu-shuffle style and drop them on top. (See illustration 6 where the deck has been brought to the fingertips and the right hand has been removed to more clearly reveal the action of the left forefinger). This brings the selected card to the top. As you do this, comment that you'll bury the card deeper.

Reach into your right pocket and remove the Monhey in the Middle cards. Grip them straddled between the forefinger on one side, the fourth finger at the other, the second and third fingertips at the outer end, and the thumb at the inner end. (See illustratum 7.) This will ensure that the packet comes out perfectly squared. Fan out the "two" cards as if doing a one-hand fan and turn over ) 7. your hand to show both sides.

While doing this, obtain a left fourth-finger break under the top card of the deck. I use a pinky count for this, but the old standby of just pushing the top card over is adequate here since everyone will be looking at the two cards in the other hand. (Just don't necktie the deck to hide the push-off or youH flash the face of the jogged card.)

Place the right-hand cards face up on top of the deck. Pick up all the cards above the break in Biddle grip. Pull them off to right as your left thumb retains the face card on top of the deck. Immediately drop the right-hand cards onto the deck. You should perform these actions under the guise of displaying the faces of the two cards. (Actually, you've loaded one of the face-up cards under the selection.)

Perform a hit double lift action to lift off the top card and hand it to a spectator on your right to examine. This will reveal another face-up Montay card on top of the deck, thus confirming that the earlier peel-off action was just what it appeared to be. Hand this second card to a spectator on your left for inspection. (The cards can, of course, be inspected freely as long as they're kept apart.)

While these two spectators are checking out their cards, very cleanly push the jogged card into the deck, calling the rest of the audience's attention to the fairness of the process.

This sequence also incorporates thematic misdirection. Although the "selected card" is jutting out of the deck face down for some time, the audience never questions its identity because they're never given a chance to think about it. First, their attention is completely taken up with the two cards you pull out of your pocket. Then you focus on how fairly you bury the card in the deck, keeping people from thinking about whether it's the right card. Furthermore, the earlier process of first arousing, then quelling the audience's suspicions about the out-jogged card will makes them less likely to become suspicious again a moment later.

Have the spectator on your left drop his card face up on the deck. Take the other card from the spectator on your right. Very slowly and dramatically drop this card face up onto the deck. As soon as it is square with the deck, give the deck a flick of the wrist. Then slowly push over the top couple of cards to show that there is now a facedown card sandwiched between the two face-up cards. Take the three-card sandwich into your right band. Lift your hand up to show that the sandwiched card is the initialed selection.

To reset, simply pull the selected card out of the sandwich onto the deck. Take the Monkey cards into faceup Biddle grip in your right hand. Peel off the face card and transfer it to the back. Pocket the cards as before and you're ready to repeat the trick for your next audience.

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