Poker is a game that nearly every adult is familiar with. Movies like The Sting and The Cincinnati Kid as well as scores of television shows, have shown poker being played in enough detail that most people (even non-players) profess some knowledge of the game.
What makes the following routine so much fun to perform is that it never comes out the same way twice! You, as well as your audience, will be in the dark up to the very end.
This routine will also leave a lasting impression on an audience.
WHAT THE AUDIENCE SEES: The magician hands the deck out to be shuffled by three spectators. The deck is assembled by the spectators, and the magician thoroughly shuffles the cards again. When he is done, there is no doubt left in anyone's mind that the cards are mixed.
The magician then announces that despite the fair mix of the cards, he will deal himself a winning poker hand. Four poker hands are dealt face-up on the table. The magician makes good on his claim, his hand so far superior to any of the others that it is immediately obvious that he has somehow cheated.
SET-UP: It is necessary to have the following 13 cards, in any order, on top of the deck: four Aces, four Kings, four Queens, and any deuce. To give you an immediate idea of how this trick works, take these 13 cards, give them a thorough mix, and then upjog any seven cards. Among those seven cards there should be an extremely strong poker hand, usually a full house or, better yet, a four of a kind.
This is the kind of hand you are going to be dealing to yourself in a moment. (Note: the easiest way to get this stack to the top is to first perform a routine utilizing the Kings and Aces, leave them on top, then do another trick. All that is necessary is cull out Queens and a single deuce to the top, and you're ready).
TO PERFORM: I have found the presentation extremely important so the audience is clear on what is happening. Say, "I'm often asked if if s possible for someone to cheat at poker if another person shuffles the deck." Start an overhand shuffle, running thirteen cards singly off the top and catching a left pinky break above them, then shuffling off in clumps.
Look a spectator in the eye as you shuffle and say, "For some reason, people get nervous when I shuffle. Do you play cards?"
"Whatever the answer, cut about twenty cards from the top and hand them to him. Then cut all the cards above your left pinky break, and hand them to another spectator. Finally hand your thirteen card stack to a spectator on your left Gesture with your open palms, making sure everyone can see that your hands are empty, and say, "Please give the cards a good mix."
While the cards are being shuffled, keep an eye on the spectator on your left who is handling the thirteen card stack. If for some reason the spectator happens to turn the cards faceup, or turn any of the cards over, say, "Please don't let me see any of the cards. Thank you."
When the spectators are satisfied that the cards are well mixed, ask them to assemble the deck, having the spectator on your left place their stack on top. Take the deck, and hold it at your fingertips, saying, "At no time will I make a suspicious move with the cards. All three of you gave the cards a good mix. Now I'm going to mix all the packets together, insuring that the cards are in random sequence."
At this point, give the deck two in-faro shuffles, using the "Vegas shuffle" patter described in NO EXPLANATION. (Note: an in-faro shuffle puts the top card of the deck second from the top). Be sure that after each in-faro shuffle, you do the waterfall flourish, allowing the spectators to see the cards being shuffled.
(Note: in the act of doing the second in-fiaro shuffle, you will cut to one of the cards in your stack, which lies in the 26th position from the top. This card will end up on bottom of the deck after the completion of the second shuffle. Remember the value of this card, as it will be important later on.)
The cards in your thirteen stack will now lie four cards apart throughout the deck, with one card on bottom known to you. You will now deal four face-up hands of poker, with the first three hands going to the people who shuffled the cards for you. Make sure that the dealing is done slowly and deliberately, and that you call out each player's hand as it builds. The cards coming to your hand will be much more powerful than the other cards dealt, which should provide a fair amount of amusement to everyone watching. If you discover that the card on bottom (say a Queen) will give you an unbeatable hand, then all that is necessary is to do a bottom deal on the last card dealt to yourself to complete your hand.
More often than not, you will deal yourself a winning hand on the deal, and the trick is over.
However, if you deal yourself a mediocre hand, say two Aces, one King, one Queen, and the deuce, then proceed as follows.
Point at the first hand dealt, calling out what the spectator has (say a pair of Eights). Discard the other three, and deal three face-up off the top, completing the first spectator's
hand. If the hand has gotten better, make everyone aware of this. In the process, tilt the deck with your left hand, and get a peek of the top card of the deck. My favorite method is in Arthur Buckley's Card Control, and involves forming a bubble in the upper right corner of the deck with the left thumb pressing the top card into the fleshy pad of the left forefinger. By tilting the deck side-ways, you will be able to glimpse the top index of the card (see illustration #1).
If the top card will help build your hand, good, for you are going to keep it there by doing a second deal in a moment. If the top card doesn't help you, don't worry.
Go to the second spectator's hand, point out what's good in it, and discard the rest. Deal the appropriate number of cards to the spectator. If you are keeping the top card for yourself, necktie the deck and do seconds as you deal. If you are not keeping the top card, deal normally, making sure you mentally keep track of where the next card in your stack is.
Say you know that the 3rd card from the top is one in your stack, and you are now up to the third spectator's hand. Get a pinky break beneath the third card as you point out whaf s good in the third hand, and discard the rest. Turn the deck sideways in your left hand, pushing in with your left pinky. The bottom index of the card 3rd from the top will stick up, allowing you to glimpse it If this card helps your stack, good. It is a simple matter to keep this card as you deal the third spectator their cards.
Now finish your hand, discarding unwanted cards, and dealing the cards from top which you've kept for yourself, as well as the card on the bottom, if it will help you. With practice, you will end up with an unbeatable hand every time.
If you screw up (as I've done), and end up with an average hand, say two Aces and two Kings, rest assured that one of the remaining cards in your stack will complete your hand nicely. Since you know where these cards lie, it is a simple matter to casually shuffle one to the top and glimpse it. If it helps your hand, pick up the unwanted card in your hand, do a Hofinszer top change, and finish the trick.
FINAL NOTES: Needless to say, the discarding, dealing and peeking is going to take practice, but you have a great deal of built-in misdirection in that you are talking and pointing at the spectator's cards. Do the routine a dozen or so times for yourself, and you will begin to see the -various situations you can get yourself into, and how to get out of them without giving yourself ulcers.
This routine was inspired by an unpublished trick of Mike Skinner's. If this routine is to your liking, I would suggest you look up Darwin Ortiz's "Grand Slam" in his book Darwin Ortiz at The Card Table.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.