Basic Overhand Stacking

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Obviously, since my study of cards began, as I mentioned, with attempts at overhand deck stacking, so to will my examination of stacking.

The general weakness (one which I will address later), of overhand stacking, is the in ability to determine which cards are at one's disposal. Though to some (both in the field of gambling, but most particularly magicians who rarely perform what I would consider to be real gambling simulations), it is not a concern, it always seemed to me ridiculous that most stacking techniques involve for example, starting with four aces on the top of the deck and controlling them to every fourth card in the deck. Now sure, that's a nice process, a nice technique etc. The problem is, honestly, how often do you end up with four aces on the top of the deck? From the very first, I therefore confronted the notion of stacking with the idea in mind that the deck must be random to begin with. Of course, in the process, this nullifies most techniques that I am aware of, as they do not broach the subject on similar terms. To be fair however, let us consider that discard stacking (which we will examine later) might allow one, on a rare occasion to begin with those four aces. What about the double duke I mentioned earlier? Is it realistic to expect that even over the course of an evening and many games that you might be able to control eight or even six desired cards to the top in the process of discard stacking? I highly doubt it. Functionality then dictates that it be possible to work from a random deck. However, once a certain randomness of the deck has been abolished, resorting to these earlier "nice" techniques and processes is fully realistic. Such processes are then the first we will consider and in some regards the easiest.

For those of you who may have skipped over portions of the earlier section, it is advisable that you return and consult those that are appropriate as I will refer to numerous of those earlier techniques now without describing how they are performed. For those who followed from the beginning, your stamina is commendable and you should now (hopefully) be rewarded for your fortitude.

Basic Ordering

My ideas began with what I will term, basic ordering over a series of shuffles. To my surprise, I have not seen any reference to these processes since then. I began then, with two cards on the top of the deck, as I would advise you to do now. For the sake of demonstration, I will use the aces. I noticed that if you have two aces on the top of the deck and wish to position them as every third card, you can begin by peeling four cards from the top of the deck simultaneously. You may now shuffle the rest of the deck on top of those four cards. This leaves with, from the bottom up, two indifferent cards, followed by the two aces, followed by forty-eight indifferent cards. The first and simplest option that exists then is to shuffle off the deck until you reach close to the end at which point you will shuffle off one card at a time for the rest of the deck, thus reversing the order. You will then have, from the top down, two indifferent cards, the two aces and forty-eight more indifferent cards. Now, if you were to peel off three cards simultaneously, then peel off the remaining ace alone and shuffle the remainder of the deck on top. Again, you may proceed by shuffling off most of the cards until you reach close to the end when you will reverse the order. This will now leave you with one ace, two indifferent cards, the second ace and forty-eight more indifferent cards. Now, if you peel off three cards simultaneously, then another three cards simultaneously followed by the remainder of the deck and repeat the previous reversing process on the last six cards, you will be left with two indifferent cards, an ace, another two indifferent cards, another ace and the remaining forty-six cards of the deck. The process is obviously quite long and bothersome, but this was the first of my thoughts and it does serve to stack the two aces down every third card.

Next, I considered that one might as well take advantage of the reversing shuffle to cut the number of shuffles required in half. This is why I called attention to the number of indifferent cards remaining at any given point (though I will discuss other methods later). (I would like to quickly note, as I will cover in detail in another book, counting is a greatly under used process and though it may require a measure of acumen most find themselves poorly versed in (a surprising and perhaps tragic fact), it is nevertheless very deceptive.) We start then again, with two aces on the top of the deck, with the intention of rendering them every third card. The first shuffle is the same, peeling off four cards together followed by the remainder of the deck in no particular order. On the second shuffle however, you will count the number of cards you are peeling from the deck, until you arrive at the forty-fourth card leaving only two indifferent cards, the two aces and two more indifferent cards in the hand. You will now peel off three cards simultaneously, followed by the three remaining three cards one at a time. This will leave you again, with the aces stacked as every third card, but in only two shuffles instead of six and a much more elegant process.

For those of you concerned about counting the forty-six cards down, or rather, are concerned that if you are counting the shuffle won't seem natural and convincing, there is an alternative. After peeling off the first four cards together, peel off an additional two, then jog a card and shuffle off the rest of the deck. When you square up the deck, get a break below the jogged card, leaving only six cards below the break. You may now shuffle off very naturally to the break and perform the procedure of peeling three cards together then the remaining three one at a time to complete the process leaving you at the same point as before.

Having reached this point, I began asking myself about stacking the cards for more than three players. Four players was of course relatively easy, you simply needed to begin by peeling off five cards instead of four, then counting down forty-four cards instead of forty-six, peeling off four cards instead of three and then the last four cards one at a time. But peeling off more than five cards at a time becomes a difficult thing to regulate while maintaining a fluid shuffle. The idea of using additional shuffles then came to mind. Say you wanted to make the aces every sixth card. Begin by peeling off four cards together, then an additional three, then create your jog or count whatever method you choose and shuffle off the rest of the deck. You will now either shuffle off to the break or shuffle down the appropriate forty-five cards. Now, peel off four cards collectively and then the last three collectively on top of those. This leaves you with the top card as an ace, followed by five indifferent cards, the other ace, and another forty-five indifferent cards. Shuffle off the top four collectively, then two cards, then four, then two, then create your jog and you can shuffle the rest of the deck on top. Now either shuffle to the jog or shuffle down forty cards, then peel off three collectively, then another two, then three collectively and then three more collectively, then another three collectively, then add the last two. Again, this leaves you with an ace as every sixth card. Of course, you could perform numerous variations of this method shifting the aces to any given position within the stack, altering for more players, fewer players etc. There are simply too many permutations for me to provide them all for you, thus I am merely introducing the methodology for you.

The next question was of course adding more aces, for example, say I wanted three of a kind. You can repeat the same process but will simply required more work. Say then that you begin with three aces on the top and wish to stack them to every fourth card. (Keep in mind that this is merely one particular method various combinations of which card to peel off may be used.) Start by peeling off five cards, and then two more, then create your jog and shuffle off the rest of the deck. Shuffle down either forty-five cards or to the break, then peel off four cards collectively followed by the remaining three collectively. Next, peel off four cards collectively, followed by one, followed by an additional four collectively, ending with an additional three. You should now mark the point and shuffle off the rest of the deck or note that you are twelve cards down in the deck. Shuffle down forty cards or shuffle to the break, now peel off four cards collectively followed by the remaining eight cards one at a time reversing their order and leaving you with an ace as every fourth card. Of course the same principle can be applied using four of a kind, but beyond four cards it becomes very limited and requires increasingly large numbers of shuffles, especially when large numbers of players are involved. The beauty of this method, is that it is sleightless, though it is certainly very controlled. Really, there is no process that one can catch so long as it is performed smoothly, you are simply shuffling the cards in exactly the same manner as you would normally, the same cannot be said for the upcoming method.

Using an undercut (The Milk Build)

Now, when I went to add that fourth ace I noticed this, I said to myself, peeling off more than four cards is getting tough, anymore than five is virtually unmanageable, what if I was to put one of the cards on the bottom though and peeled it off at the appropriate point. Therefore, it was then that I discovered the idea of an undercut. I worked with this for a short time and thought to myself, you know, using the undercut for one card is fine, but why not use it for all the cards, reducing the number of shuffles to two for any number of players. I learned quite recently that some apparently call this process chop shuffling, for those of you who are interested in cataloguing your techniques. Instead of starting with the aces on the top, you will start with them on the bottom. If, by chance the aces are on the top rather than the bottom when you begin you can simply shuffle them off one at a time, shuffle the rest of the deck on top leaving them at the bottom, and begin with this process. Say you wanted to place an ace as every fifth card. You will shuffle off four cards in any combination, then perform an undercut on the fifth card. Now shuffle off an additional three cards and perform an undercut on the fourth, then repeat the process once more for the last two aces. This leaves you with an ace as every fourth card. You may now shuffle down about halfway through the deck and then begin shuffling off only one card at a time for the remainder of the deck reversing the order and leaving you with the appropriate position for the cards. (You may wish to mark the location at which the you must reverse the order of cards with a jog during the first shuffle.) Naturally, as before, this process can be repeated in various forms to allow the aces to hold any desired position with any desired number of players.

Two areas of concern arise here with regard to tip offs to the process aside of course from the technical aspects which were covered in the section of this book on shuffling. The first concern is that the undercut card may be visible or noticeable when only one card is peeled from the top. You may then, when possible, alter the peeling off process to include several cards at the time when you perform the undercut (the aforementioned procedure assumed only one). For example, in the previous procedure, you may begin by peeling off two cards collectively, then two more collectively, then two more collectively while at the same time performing an undercut, then two more collectively, then two more while performing an undercut and so on to better disguise the process. The second tip off occurs when you reverse the deck and peel off only one card at a time for nearly half the deck (with a large enough stack it could be close to the full deck). In order to avoid this, you could alter the initial stacking process and reverse the cars differently in a manner similar to the one that follows. Peel off two cards and perform an undercut first, then peel off another two cards, followed by another two cards with an undercut, then another two cards and repeat the process twice more for the other two aces, then mark the point of completion and shuffle off the remainder of the deck. Now when you shuffle down either twenty cards or to the break, you will peel off packets of five cards for those last twenty cards in order to reverse those packets leaving them correctly positioned with an ace as every fifth card. Alternatively and perhaps favorably more complex combinations in terms of the order you peel off the cards may be possible allowing you to vary the packet size you are peeling off for those last twenty cards. However, I am sure that using this same method you could determine these combinations quite easily yourself according to what suits you best.

A Double Duke

Now, a double duke may naturally be stacked using this method if you are in the admirable position of having the cards interwoven appropriately at the bottom of the deck. Say, for example, that you have three kings and three aces interwoven on the bottom of the deck (note that the card you wish to give to the second of the two players whose hands you will set up must be second from the bottom) and wish to control them to the second and fourth players. You must start with the cards on the bottom of the deck in the following order: king, ace, king, ace, king, ace. Begin by peeling off one card, then another while performing an undercut, then another while performing an under, then another while performing an undercut until all the six cards have been undercut into their respective positions. You may now reverse the order and deal three kings to the second player and three aces to the third player. As I mentioned earlier, you may vary this technique depending on how you intend to reverse the cards on the second shuffle in order to potential render the method more deceptive.

If, by some chance you are not able to interweave the cards and end up with say aces followed by kings on the top of the deck, simply run off the top three cards as though starting a shuffle and then throw the rest of the deck on top to begin again. Once you begin again, you will peel off the top card (a king) then another while performing an undercut, then another with an undercut and finally the indifferent top card with an undercut in order to interweave the aces and kings in the correct order. Naturally, if you wanted to have say aces first instead of kings you could alternate the process accordingly. Or if you began with kings on top of aces you could again alter the process accordingly. Another alternative for those who wish to interweave the cards but do not wish to run off the three cards and then immediately throw the deck on top, would be the peel off the top three cards, perform a packet pick-up, peel off the next three, followed by the rest of the deck and toss the packet of the first three cards on top restoring the original top stock. From this point, you could proceed as described earlier. Finally, it would be relatively simply to use the basic ordering method to order the cards in alternating ace king or king ace order over a series of real shuffles.

Some weaknesses with this method exist, namely the fact that it does not allow you to set up the hand of two players who are next to one another, however, that will be examined, addressed and solved in the next section. For now, that is basic overhand deck stacking.

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