If you open your performances with a new deck of cards (as many seasoned professionals seem to do) you may want to try this routine. It is relatively quick, looks impossible, and has a startling climax.
WHAT THE AUDIENCE SEES: A spectator freely selects a card from a shuffled deck. The card is replaced. The spectator is then allowed to cut off as many cards from the deck as she wishes. These cards are dealt into three face-down piles. The spectator is given the card box, and told that whatever pile she drops the box on, her selection will be on top!
The trick then goes awry, for the top card of the packet is not her selection. However, the card is the same value as her card, as are the cards on top of the other two piles! For a finale, the card box is opened, and the spectator removes her selection from within.
SET-UP: None, except you will need a brand new deck of cards (see FINAL NOTES).
TO PERFORM: Open a new deck and remove the Jokers and advertising cards. Place the card box, moon side up and pointing to your left, directly in front of you and a few inches from the table edge (see illustration #1).
Patter about breaking in the cards and shuffle as follows. Using an overhand shuffle, run 13 cards singly, then throw rest of deck on top. Repeat, running 13 cards singly, again throwing deck on top.
The order of the deck from face to rear will now be Ace-King, Ace-King, Ace-King, Ace-King.
Give the deck two perfect out faroes. (Note: an out-faro leaves the top card on top). Splitting the deck for each faro is easy because each time you will be cutting to an Ace.
The order from the face to rear is now four Aces, four Deuces, four Threes, etc., up until the four Kings on top (the idea of deriving this setup from a sealed deck is Darwin Ortiz's, who uses it to excellent advantage in his gambling demonstrations).
To the audience the deck will appear thoroughly shuffled Spread the cards between your hands, silently counting groups of four from the top as you spread. Ask a spectator to select a card. Watch carefully as she takes a card: you must note where the three cards which match her selection lie in the spread, and get an immediate left; pinky break above these cards. With practice, you will discover this is not difficult.
Cut the deck at your break, have the spectator replace their card (say Jack of Hearts), and get a pinky break below the selection as you assemble the deck. Perform a Riffle Pass, bringing her selection to the bottom, and its three mates to the top (a double-undercut may be substituted here).
Ask your spectator if she feels up to finding her card. Begin to deal from the top of the deck into a pile on the table. Deal at a fairly quick pace, and after 15+ cards, glance up and tell your spectator to stop you whenever she wants. When she does, push the dealt pile towards her. Hold the remainder of the deck in your left hand, point to it and say, "Please pick up your cards, and deal the cards like this, into three piles, one at a time."
As if to demonstrate, deal three piles on the table, two cards in each pile. Quickly scoop up your cards and let the spectator start to deal her cards.
While she is dealing her piles, your right hand takes the cards from your left, and holding them in a Biddle Grip, performs the first part of the Ovette Master move (see illustration #2), breaking off the bottom card (the JH) from the deck.
While this happens, your left hand (which should be shielded by your right arm) slides back, picks up the card box, and working with the right hand, feeds the selection into the moon-side of the card box. This is Paul Gertner's handling of an Ed Mario idea. It is not difficult, has plenty of cover, and should be done only with a minor glimpse at your hands. Everyone's attention (including your own) should be on the spectator's dealing (see illustration #3).
Once the selection is loaded in the card box, separate the hands, putting the deck away to your right. Turn the card box over (moon side down) and place it forward to your left.
By now the spectator should be finished, and have three fairly equal piles in front of her. Tell her you believe the top card of one pile contains her selection. With your left hand pick up the card box in Biddle Grip. The moon-side of the box should be facing down, and also towards you. If you were to tilt the card box towards you, the selected card might fall out, which is why your left thumb stays over the opening. Have the spectator hold the box exactly the same way with either hand, her thumb keeping her selection inside the box.
Tell her the card box is a delicate instrument, not unlike a divining rod, and that it will find her card. Have her hold the card box perfectly flat, and slowly pass it a few inches above the three piles on the table. Tell her that when she gets the urge, to gently drop the card box on one of the piles.
Whatever pile she drops the box on, act delighted. Say, "I think that's it!"
While you lift the box a few inches off the pile, have her remove the card from beneath. Have her turn the card face-up. and ask if it is her selection. She will say no, and you must take the card and place it face-up on the pile. Act disappointed and say, "That's the first time I've missed this year. Look, let's try it again."
Have her repeat the procedure with the two remaining piles. This time, instead of acting disappointed when the card on the pile is turned over and revealed not to be the selection, smile and say, "I think I see a pattern here." (at this point, the two face-up cards on the piles should match. If not, you've screwed up).
Hand the spectator the card box, and ask her to place it on one of the piles. This is a joke, since there's only one pile left. She does so, and the card is revealed. Although it is not the selection, the sight of three matching cards sitting on the piles is dramatic, and produces a strong reaction.
Point to the three face-up cards and say, "Jack of Clubs, Jack of Spades, Jack of Diamonds. Let me guess, your card was" Hesitate, and do not name the card. Someone in your audience will say, "Jack of Hearts."
To which you reply, "Impossible! I left the Jack of Hearts in the box at the beginning of the show."
Using your left hand only, open the card box as follows. Hold the box so the open end points straight up, the moon side facing you. This effectively hides the card stuck between the flap and the wall of the box. Now squeeze the long sides of the box. This will force the top to pop open slightly, allowing your left forefinger to enter and shove the flap out. Once the flap is pushed all the way out, have the spectator remove her selected card.
FINAL NOTES: This routine is extremely entertaining, and except for the loading of the card into the box, requires a minimum amount of work.
An excellent variation is to have the selected card signed, and later palmed off the bottom, loaded into a Le Paul or Fred Kaps wallet, and handed to the spectator in lieu of the card box.
If you do not normally work with a new deck, it is a simple matter to set the deck as follows. First perform any routine which requires two sets of four identical cards (say the four Aces and the four Kings), and when the routine is over, perform another trick which will leave these cards undisturbed. It is now a simple matter to overhand shuffle your Aces and Kings into the deck, maintain a break above them, and Classic Force one of the cards on a spectator. You can then proceed with the routine.
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