Riffle Shuffle Control

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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Karl Fulves' Riffle Shuffle Control (RSC) is a general purpose method of getting either one or two chosen cards to a known position in the pack. It evolved slowly out of more special purpose moves and was first explained in Epilogue (November, 1972), and later in Riffle Shuffle Control (Karl Fulves, 1979). For some reason, it's never become as widely known as it deserves.

In our joint Linking Ring Parade (July, 2000), we described RSC, together with a variety of tricks using it. Jon Racherbaumer provided more history of the move, along with a tabled method that is also quite useful, though we don't use it in any of the tricks in this book.

a) First let's describe RSC. Cut off approximately half the deck. Let's assume you cut off twenty-two cards. Riffle Shuffle the two packets of the deck together, but don't push them together more than an inch or two. Hold the interlaced packets in the left hand with the twenty-two card packet on the inside, in normal dealing position, though the other packet protrudes outward (Fig.1).

b) Riffle down the side of the deck with your left thumb. Stop anywhere. Grasp the intermeshed packet above the thumb break with the right fingers going into the break, the thumb on the back of the cards. Swing the right hand up and to the right until the packet is facing a spectator (Figs.2 and 3). Have the spectator note the upper face card: let's say it's the Four of Spades.

c) Replace the right hand cards on top of the left hand cards without twisting them back again. Just lay them down in the natural way. As you do so, get a break between the two packets at the inner end.

d) Strip out the entire outer packet with the right hand (Fig.4) and drop it on top of the deck. Then cut at the break and drop the bottom cards on top. That's all there is to it.

Now if you don't already know this move, you may be shocked to find that if you count down twenty-two cards, you'll find your Four of Spades.

Do it again. We'll pretend that this time you cut off thirty cards. Go through the moves until you're ready to have the card noted. But this time have spectators remember both the upper and lower cards of the intermeshed packets. Now go through the rest of RSC. The top card noted will end up thirtieth in the deck and the bottom card will be on the bottom of the deck.

This move thus provides a near self-working way to control a card to any desired position in the deck.

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