Dealing Bottoms Two Hands

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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Having dispensed, at least for the time being with the majority of the useless deals, we shall waste no time exploring the meat of false dealing, and what I consider the most useful false deal in existence, the bottom deal. Along with the second deal, this is probably the most common, well-known, and well-used deal by far. When you understand the concept and its use, this is no surprise. Naturally, it involves dealing cards from the bottom of the deck, but how this is useful may not be immediately apparent to all, though my earlier mentions under the part of this volume on stacking should provide some indication. Essentially the issue is, the bottom of the deck is one of the most convenient locations to place cards, from here you can either palm or cop them off, as well as place them there via the same methods. Furthermore, on the bottom of the deck is very accessible during shuffles of all types, but perhaps most importantly, the bottom is rarely disturbed. It is this final point that renders the deal so well loved, since it essentially replaces stacking. One can easily cull a hand or two to the bottom of the deck, then, rather than stacking, deal those hands off at will and as convenient.

The bottom deal was the first deal I really attempted to learn, and I maintain that it is the easiest false deal to learn.. .at least initially. I've heard a lot of talk about how a bottom deal takes years to learn, as with any of these things, it isn't a matter of years, but a matter of time, practice and technique. If you practice for an hour per day, it will take you much longer than if you practice for five hours per day. If you practice simply throwing effort at a poor mechanic it will take you much longer than if you approach your study methodically, examining the weak points of the deal and working to correct them. Likewise, if you practice simply sitting at a table dealing you are not as likely to be effective as if you practice in front of a mirror or videotape yourself in order to identity how the deal looks from the perspective of an audience member. Finally, if you are practicing a very difficult or poor bottom deal it will take you considerably longer to master the move than if you practice an easy and well constructed handling. Ultimately, it is possible to gain a working bottom deal quite quickly and an effective bottom deal with perhaps a couple months of practice. I have no idea how long it took me as unlike learning the pass, I never kept track, I would suspect it was probably around a couple months of practice before I developed a tolerable bottom deal.

While one may acquire a tolerable bottom deal relatively quickly and even an effective bottom deal within a reasonably short period of time, mastering all the subtleties and nuances takes considerably longer. Two that plagued me during the intermediate period of my study were finger flare and sound, though they may not have presented a problem for as long had I been aware of concerns to a greater extent at an earlier point. The sad reality is that often those who feel they possess an excellent bottom deal don't and most seem never to correct the problems perhaps in part because they are unaware of the various tip offs. In light of the fact that many card experts possess poor bottom deals, I suppose the misguided view that the deal takes years to master is not altogether surprising, though it strikes me as odd that many of these individuals have not refined their techniques. To some extent I feel magic is to blame. Often magicians study the bottom deal for presentations and get away with heinous handling merely due to the ignorance of the audience, who, I can tell you from experience, are easily deceived. This results in overconfidence on the part of the performer and an over-estimation of his or her skills. Hopefully, the information I provide here will give you the insights necessary to avoid such pitfalls, and to those who are experienced, offer some finer points on refinement.

Finally, I must caution you as usual, that I have received no instruction in dealing bottoms; the techniques explored are my own in the sense that they are the result of practice, experimentation, and modification, both due to reflection and in some rare cases, performance videos. There is one exception to this case, I watched the Marlo videos "The Cardician" and "The Legend", in which Marlo teaches the cigar bottom deal. While, I had at this point examined numerous methods on my own, I did benefit from both his performance and his instruction, both offered ideas and inspiration on handling outlined herein. I also read "Drawing Room Deceptions" by Guy Hollingworth fairly recently. Though it came too late in most regards to alter my study, Mr. Hollingworth has a brilliant take on the push-off bottom deal that I will mention further later. I do owe a debt of gratitude both to those whose performances I witnessed, those who explored the topic with me by providing inspiration and to those who offered me criticism on my performance and handling. I cannot claim credit for the handlings derived in this section, nor do I lay claim to the methods, which certainly date back much further than myself, in those cases where my descriptions are inferior to the originals, whatever those may be, I humbly apologize. And now, having heard enough of my ranting, I'm certain, you wish to proceed.

Strike Bottoms

I'm not going to teach every possible bottom deal, for one, because I don't know them all and second, because I don't feel it's necessary. Rather, I will attempt to cover the main concepts and ideas I feel are relevant. Ultimately, each person has to find a deal that works well for them. Most of the time, when I'm bottom dealing, I use a strike bottom and it is partly for this reason that I am teaching the strike bottoms first. I consider the strike bottom deal considerably easier than the push-off bottom, particularly to perform well, but it is far from perfect in most cases. One of the main advantages in my opinion is the ability to shift easily from tops to bottoms as, at least the way I teach it, the strike bottom is virtually identical mechanically to the top. While the push-off bottom is naturally designed to appear identical to the top, the mechanics differ somewhat significantly.

Method 1 (Shifted Grip)

This is the first method I ever used to bottom deal, along with a few minor refinements; it is based off the handling of strike seconds method two, albeit originally I used a slightly different take. As usual, I invite you to review the original description of the grip and take outlined earlier, but given the importance of the bottom deal, I'll provide somewhat of a review. The deck sits in the left hand in a rough mechanics grip, but one that appears much like an Erdnase grip (if my description of the Erdnase grip is accurate). The pressure holding the deck in place occurs between the pinky and the base of the thumb, allowing free movement of all the fingers with the exception of the pinky. Now, I should caution you, that I will alter this grip slightly from the original second deal grip and if you intend to deal both seconds and bottoms from this grip you will have to reconcile the two. Thoughts on how to do so depend largely on what route you chose in solving the primary problem with bottom dealing from this grip.

To give you some idea of where this grip comes from, at first, while learning how to bottom deal I was baffled, I held the deck in mechanics grip and couldn't figure out how to get the bottom card out because the fingers were in the way and the bottom card was virtually resting on the hand. I began experimenting and discovered (partly due I must admit to watching the performance of someone else) that I could reach under the deck with my right middle finger, between my left middle finger and ring finger. It took some practice, but I discovered I could pull the card out using my middle finger by opening my fingers slightly. (At the time my study was not particularly methodical and I didn't realize I was holding the deck between my pinky and the base of my thumb, I figured I was using a mechanic's grip as I had before.) I practiced this action quite slowly for quite some time, learning to gradually speed the process up and then practicing dealing to various players in mock rounds of poker. Speed I discovered was crucial to a good bottom deal. (I should point out at this point that while neck tying is effective for a second deal, it really isn't for a bottom deal due to the distance between the cards, speed is generally the way to go. However, other illusions also help and I still suggest you don't allow anyone to see the top card of the deck as you're dealing. Many magicians seem to feel you should deal bottoms with only half the deck, as it makes the process easier and more deceptive, I will recommend you don't do this during practice. It is completely possible to deal using a full deck and it is better to become proficient in this manner since in a game you'll be required to use the full deck.)

When I practiced at high speeds, I began to notice something, because of the nature of the deal, the card would pull my left middle finger upwards on the deck slightly and that it wouldn't return to its original position. Essentially, the grip would shift ever so slightly from the initial mechanic's grip after the first bottom deal. I then decided that perhaps I should simply begin with this shifted grip (the name I've given it). So what you have now is a grip much like the Erdnase grip in appearance, but also resembling the mechanic's grip. Your pinky holds the deck secure, the ring finger is slightly loose, but not completely open (this controls the angle of the cards) with the middle finger running along the top ending around the upper right corner and the forefinger above and slightly behind it.

In order to perform the take, you use your thumb, forefinger, and ring finger (yes, I know I'm essentially ruling out a double deal but keep in mind that I don't use the deal often). Your thumb strikes the upper right corner of the deck using the familiar measurement examined during strike seconds, namely placing the joint at the right edge with the rest of the thumb running along the top edge. (Initially, I performed the deck closer to the center of the card, but have since changed in order to facilitate dealing seconds from the same grip.) Your middle finger descends under the deck between your left middle and ring fingers, while the forefinger remains "free". Now, the only difference between a top and a bottom is whether you perform the take with your ring middle finger, or your thumb. The visual mechanics are identical regardless. Since we've covered the top deal under strike seconds method two, I'll focus on the bottom deal, again, you my wish to refer to the earlier description. (See figure 519 and figure 520 as well as figure 521 and figure 522 for a view from the bottom.)

Figure 519.

Now, there are various points to consider. First of all, ensure when you perform the take that you do so on the level. If you perform a slightly downward take the bottoms will behave differently than the tops since they lack the resistance of the deck. Second, be careful when it comes to sound, due to the finger positions some people encounter problems where they drag the bottoms against the fingers differently than they drag the tops. This problem is solved partially by the level take, but there are some other relevant points I'll mention later. Third, it is often difficult to ensure the thumb position is the same on bottoms as it is on tops, practice getting them exactly the same and refer to the top thumb position, also ensure that the middle finger pinches the card in the same location when dealing tops as bottoms. In order to smooth any discrepancies, make the deals quick and table the cards almost immediately rather than pausing with a card between your fingers.

The other points mentioned earlier for the second deal may naturally be applied. One of these I will refer to in particular relate to the angle at which the cards are dealt from the deck. Sometimes you may find yourself skewering the angle of the bottom card so it is slightly different than that of the top card. Refer to the earlier advise under the second deal description regarding how to use your left ring finger to control the angle of the card. However, keep in mind that because the ring finger is bent at an angle, the angle of the card coming off the top of the deck will differ somewhat from those on the bottom. In order to correct this problem, you may wish to adjust your ring finger slightly and also apply somewhat firmer control to the bottom deal than the top. I find that the card skewers the most towards the end of the deal and if you allow the ring finger to control the angle only momentarily and then follow through on that angle with your right hand's dealing action you will encounter much greater success. (Actually, if you pull the cards against the pinky instead of the ring finger that tends to work even better.) Finally, in regard to this point, when you practice you will perhaps find it is helpful to perform the deal slowly and take both a top and bottom card at the same time to ensure they maintain the same alignment as each other. You'll find that if the alignment is the same this also helps with consistency in finger positioning on the card. (See figure 523 for standard top position, figure 524 for a skewered bottom positioning and figure 525 for two cards in alignment.)

Figure 525.

Now this is a fairly simple bottom deal and so I suspect the above description will suffice, but there remains one lingering concern to which I shall address a considerable amount of effort. Tops are easy from this grip, they make sense, and certainly, bottoms are accessible, unfortunately, when you perform a bottom, you still encounter the problem of fingers getting in the way. In other words, generally, in order to get that bottom card off the bottom, you need to open your middle finger and forefinger slightly, thereby providing a tip off. (See figure 526.)

Figure 526.

I've looked at a number of ways to deal with this problem and I'll suggest three of them here. The fourth, I'll address in variation one of this deal and you can choose to make use of it if you like. Now, the reality is, those two fingers of the left hand are in the way and they do actually serve a purpose, particularly when second dealing however, their necessity is questionable. As with many details on a technique, the presence of the middle finger in the upper right corner makes a clean second deal easier, but performing a clean second deal is possible without it, but we'll get to that shortly. The simplest solution to this problem and the most immediate, since the fingers are virtually guaranteed to open, is to adjust not the bottom deal, but the tops. In other words, if you open your fingers not only for the bottom deal, but for all deals, then there is no longer a tip off. In fact, if you raise your forefinger and middle finger slightly above the level of the top card you are able to easily force the fingers to open as they would for a bottom, thus coordinating timing accurately. (See figure 527 and figure 528.)

While this is functional, I don't believe it is the most elegant solution. Thus, I proceeded to the next alternative, namely, a slight, but not apparent readjustment of the fingers. In this case, you lower your middle finger slightly on the front of the deck, though no so much that it is below the lower edge of the deck, while raising your forefinger slightly so it is above the lower edge of the cards. There is one important detail in regard to the middle finger that you should observe. Coming off the hand, the first knuckle is just below the edge of the deck at the upper left corner, while the tip of the finger reaches perhaps halfway up the deck on the front. This means, that when a bottom card is dealt, rather than moving the forefinger or middle finger, it will slide between the two fingers. This is where the position of the knuckle of the middle finger relative to the tip becomes important. Since your performing the take slightly to the right, the upper left corner of the card will crest the edge of the deck first and will end up above the knuckle, allowing you to use your middle finger as a sort of ramp along which the card will pass. (See figure 529 for a view from the front.)

Figure 529.

This creates an interesting illusion of the card originating from higher than it actually did and minimizing the distance between the tops and bottoms while at the same time eliminating any finger movement. Unfortunately, in the process, you create an inconsistency, namely, the tops pass above the forefinger while the bottoms pass below it. Hopefully, you are dealing fast enough that this doesn't become apparently, however, viewed from above this is a less than desirable option. This brings us to the third option and while you are free to choose whichever you please (I personally most often employ the method I'll mention in variation one of this deal), I'd recommend this particular choice for the time being. This third option is to lower both fingers enough that they are at the level of the lower edge of the deck and thus allow free passage of cards you are bottom dealing overtop of them. (See figure 530.)

Figure 530.

Hopefully, those give you some ideas you could employ when working on the bottom deal that is ideal for you. I'll likely not cover many of these subtleties or concept again in the future bottom deals, but I'm confident you'll easily figure out how to adapt them for other circumstances.

Variation 1

This variation is based on the cigar bottom deal as presented by Ed Marlo on the Cardician video and refers to the handling taught previously in strike seconds method two variation one. (Note a correction to this later on in the book; Marlo was actually using a master's grip). The grip is a mechanic's grip, the forefinger is loose, and the pressure you exert is mostly between the pinky and the base of the thumb though the ring finger and middle finger arguably assist. I must admit, I had not for some odd reason, considered performing the take between the left middle finger and forefinger, prior to seeing Marlo perform.. .disgraceful I know and a terrible oversight on my part. Be that as it may, I played around with the concept and quickly discovered that it was quite effective.

To make myself very clear then, you perform the take in virtually the same manner as method one, except that you perform a forward take between the left forefinger and middle finger instead of between the middle finger and ring finger. I'd advise you look ahead to universal variation two at this point as I feel it increases the quality of deal for this particular grip and is the take Marlo uses in his demonstration. All other points relevant to the second deal described earlier and the original method of the bottom deal hold true including sound, finger position etc. (See figure 531.)

Figure 531.

With this particular deal, you have the advantage of only one finger in the way instead of two, but still the problems relevant to that finger. Naturally, you may approach the issue via one of the three methods described earlier, but there is another odd method I wish to suggest, and one that is extremely deceptive due to an optical illusion it creates.

Essentially, you will perform a strike first on the bottom of the deck in all cases and do so with such force and in such a manner that you actually lift the front of the deck slightly, leaving the lower edge at the front just slightly above the forefinger. (See figure 532 and figure 532a.)

Figure 532.

Figure 532.

At this point, if you're dealing a top or a second, the thumb strikes as usual in a sweeping downward motion as you release the deck with your middle finger. If you're dealing a bottom, the thumb also sweeps downward in an apparent striking action, but instead the middle finger takes the bottom card which is pinched between the middle finger and thumb as usual. It is critical that you strike the upper right corner of the deck regardless of whether you're performing a bottom or not as it creates a superb illusion, the only difference is whether the thumb performs a take or not. I find this mechanic works very well for seconds as well as bottoms and thus refer to it frequently. The premise is that as you lift the front of the deck the top card slides back slightly (no significant thumb movement) and as the deck falls back down the top card returns to its initial position (again, no significant thumb movement).

This is one of those techniques that is difficult to illustrate with a photograph and makes me wish I had decided on making a video instead of writing a book, be such is life, we make choices and we live with them. The process described, when executed properly and I hope the explanation is such that you can understand it, is by necessity quick and very deceptive. Essentially, due to the falling deck you need to perform the initial portion of the take quickly, but it is well worth it since the falling deck and the high point at which you perform the take creates the optical illusion when viewed from the front that the card came from the top of the deck and not the bottom. It is an idea I find quite appealing, though granted rather odd mechanically and use somewhat frequently. (Note, I reviewed the Cardician video and Marlo actually performs the take to the right instead of in a forward manner, though he does so between the forefinger and middle finger. The forward take then is my adaptation based on a lack of attention when watching the video previously, the method nevertheless works well and I will reference it in terms of the forward take in the future.)

Method 2

This method is based on the now very familiar grip found in push-off seconds method one variation two and strike seconds method one variation two. The deck is held between the forefinger in the upper right corner of the deck and the base of the thumb. You may refer to these earlier descriptions in order to obtain some understanding of how the deal is to proceed. This particular grip is quite difficult and unstable I find. I mentioned under strike seconds method one variation two that your last three fingers are somewhat open and this is by necessity since you will perform a mostly sideways take. However, I also mentioned that the gap is between you middle finger and ring finger. While this is both feasible and potentially effective, you could also lower your middle finger and perform the take closer to the upper corner of the deck below the forefinger.

Now, as you perform the take, your middle finger moves under the deck between the middle finger and ring finger, where it strikes the card and takes it out in a sideways action to the right. There is a certain grace required here in order to ensure you take only one card and the that card comes easily. You should watch when you perform the take of the bottom card that the upper left corner doesn't protrude past the edge of the deck as often occurs if the card becomes skewered. If the card twists, ensure it does so in a manner that avoids this pitfall. (See figure 533 for correct handling and figure 534 for an example of this potential tip-off).

Figure 533.

Figure 533.

Unfortunately, due to the inconvenient position of the fingers, trying to ensure consistency of finger placement during the take is difficult when performing bottoms and will require some practice, but is ultimately fairly important. Again, dealing the card to the table quickly will reduce the chances of detection, but is not a method on which you should rely. In order to help performing a smooth and clean take I find pulling the card slightly forward (away from you) as you pull sideways helps in freeing the card as well as ensuring the troublesome corner doesn't flash.

Fortunately, in this case there are no fingers in the way, unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of control and so I tend not to make use of this deal.

Variation 1

We now turn to the much more effective Erdnase grip, or at least my take on the grip if my description itself isn't entirely accurate. If you missed out or need to refresh yourself, earlier descriptions exist push-off seconds method one variation three and strike seconds method one variation three. The grip pressure is between the middle finger in the upper right corner and the base of the thumb in the lower left corner. The pinky and ring finger extend almost fully with a gap between each of them while the forefinger runs along the upper edge of the deck above the middle finger.

The take in this case is essentially identical to that in method two, a sideways grip, performed with the right middle finger by reaching between the left ring finger and middle finger. As in the previous deals, attention to finger position, sound etc. are important. In this case, you don't have to worry about the card jutting out along the upper edge because it's covered. (See figure 535.)

While not the simplest, the process is quite self-explanatory I think and given earlier pointers you should pick it up fairly quickly.

Method 3

This brings us to the not often used straddle grip as described in push-off seconds method two variation three and strike seconds method three. Again, my description of the grip is probably somewhat off from the original, as I have never studied a particular source on the subject, but this is the method as I've employed it. This is actually a really easy grip to perform fairly decent bottom deals from as it is secure, though I personally favor method one.

For those who skipped the previous section, a brief refresher, the deck is held in a sort of deep Charlier grip between the forefinger on the front end of the deck and the pinky on the back end of the deck with the middle and ring fingers extended on the sides. To perform the take you reach in under the deck with your right middle finger and perform a sideways take. The cards remain properly aligned necessitating a sideways take and sound seems not to be a problem in my experience. I find if you have a hard time performing the take of the bottom cards (the cards are getting caught) lift the deck slightly higher in the grip to relieve pressure on the edges of the lower cards. Also, to make the grip appear more natural bend your hand in slightly to the point where your thumb can extend almost to the right side of the deck. Personally, I find the grip a little awkward and as I mentioned, I feel it is unnatural, but it works fairly well for bottom dealing and has the potential to facilitate a second deal as well. (See figure 536.)

Universal Variation 1

This is a concept that you may apply to all strike deals, hence the term universal. It's a concept I remain somewhat undecided about, though I feel that in regards to economy of motion it ranks as superior to a regular strike deal provided you perform the pull back correctly. That is, using push-off cover for a strike bottom deal. For example, in the case of method one variation one, you would push the top card forward as though to deal it from the deck, but instead perform a take of the bottom card. The advantage of this is first that it is psychologically deceptive creating the impression that the top card was in fact dealt to the table. Second, in many cases it covers potential finger flare and assist in that regard, though in the case of the method one deals it arguably provides a hindrance in this regard. Third, it allows you to remove the card up to half way or so from the deck before it becomes visible and thus provides a smaller window of time in which the false deal is visible. The disadvantages are first, that you must perform the pull back effectively, which will generally mean adding some formerly nonexistent wrist and arm movement. Second, you must now deal push-off seconds in order to remain consistent and this is often much more difficult if not impossible (such as in either method one or method one variation one). (See figure 537, figure 538, and figure 539 for examples on how the variation works based on method one variation one.)

Figure 538.

I find this is often preferably if you want to slow your deal down and if you are either not performing seconds from this grip, or if you are performing the appropriate push-off seconds from this grip. Naturally, you'll need to experiment somewhat and determine which possibility works best for you.

Universal Variation 2

This idea is based on the Marlo cigar bottom deal. Basically, the way Marlo was performing his take was somewhat inconsistent, reaching further when he performed a bottom deal than when he performed his tops and consequently his wrist would turn when he performed the bottom deal. He noticed this while practicing dealing with a cigar in his hand because the cigar kept hitting the surface of the table. He then determined that if he performed the take with his ring finger rather than his middle finger no such inconsistency would be apparent. You can listen to Marlo tell the story himself on the "Cardician" DVD. The idea of this variation is then simply to use your ring finger instead of your middle finger to perform the take. This actually works quite well once you have it figured out and I use this handling often, but particularly for method one variation one, which effectively becomes Marlo's cigar bottom deal when performed with a ring finger take. The disadvantage of the ring finger take is of course that you effectively lose the use of the forefinger on other deals from the same grip and thus potentially restrict your dealing capabilities.

Again, you are free to play around with each grip, each deal and each variation to determine what works best for you.

Push-off Bottoms

The inquisition now progresses to a considerably more difficult and complicated bottom deal, the push-off. There are a number of concerns that arise inherently in regard to this deal, but also a number of advantages, most often, a clean take, the ability to perform Greeks deals, the potential to perform one handed deals and often better economy of motion. Unfortunately, the risk of knuckle flash becomes an almost insurmountable obstacle and one of the main forces keeping me from performing push-off bottoms regularly.

The general concept is, rather than going to the bottom cards with your right hand, you use your left hand fingers to push the card out along with the top card. While in the case of a strike bottom a push-off top is optional, I will say that in the case of a push-off bottom, a push-off top is mandatory. While I once practiced performing push-off bottoms fast enough that even without the push-off top it was deceptive, it isn't a practice I would recommend at all. Thus, while I may not always refer to it explicitly, in each case where I describe a push-off deal, it is assumed that I am pushing off the top card in the same manner (angle) as the bottom card.

Method 1

This is a variation of the first push-off bottom deal I learned to perform, it uses the same grip as strike bottoms method one, also found in push-off seconds method three and strike seconds method two. From now on I will merely refer to this grip as the shifted grip and you may refer to it accordingly. In this case, your forefinger and middle finger on your left hand sit at the base of the deck (just below the bottom edge on the front), rather than positions higher up as usual. (See figure 540.)

Figure 540.

Note that both fingers are somewhat curled and the tip of the middle finger is on the upper right hand corner of the bottom card around the position of the pip.

In order to perform a top deal, your thumb will push the top card forward and to the right, using the fixed positions of the pinky (which is applying pressure on the deck holding it in place). You push with the thumb from just above the halfway point on the card to the point where the thumb extends fully. (See figure 541 and figure 542.)

Figure 541.

At this point your right hand approaches from the front and right to perform the take in the upper left corner of the card with the thumb on top, middle finger underneath and forefinger on the front edge. (See figure 543.)

Figure 543.

This angle of the hand is important because it will help offer better cover later when you perform the bottom deal.

Now, in order to perform the bottom deal, after you have pushed the top card forward and while your are moving your hand in to perform the take, you will push the bottom card in the same manner as you did the top card with your left middle finger. I find it helps to push to the card right and then forward, as it seems to make it easier to push than if you just push forward. (See figure 544 for a view from the bottom.)

Figure 544.

Note that the left forefinger remains curled back as normal during this action, it does this in order to cover the knuckle flash that would otherwise be visible while pushing out the bottom card. Knuckle flash involves seeing the knuckle move as the card is pushed out when normally it would be stationary. Your right hand also helps to cover this from the front and right side. You may find it is difficult to push the card out or to do so singularly, if this is the case, try buckling the card prior to performing the push-off, this is valuable anyway because it gets you prepared for performing Greek deals. (See figure 545 from the bottom front.)

Figure 545.

Now, as your right hand is about to perform the take, you will pull back the top card with your thumb and take the bottom card instead. It is crucial that this action is both quick and smooth in order to make it deceptive. Practice dealing tops and then ensure dealing bottoms flow just like dealing tops. (See figure 546 and figure 547.)

Figure 547.

Unfortunately, due to the angle of the top card it is more difficult to pull back than many pull backs as it tends to catch in the crotch of your thumb. In order to avoid this, I recommend you perform the pull back in a pivot manner around the pinky and ring finger. This will probably take a fair amount of practice, but is worthwhile in order to obtain a good deal. You may also wish to consider pulling back your hand during this portion of the deal to cover the pullback with a larger motion.

Really, although this was the first push-off deal I learned I don't recommend it at all. It is awkward and doesn't lend itself well to second dealing from the same grip. Nevertheless, it will hopefully give you some ideas for push-off bottom dealing. As an alternative, you can use your forefinger to perform the push-off, but again, I don't recommend this as it makes the knuckle flash very obvious.

Method 2

By now you are probably intimately familiar with the grip taught in push-off seconds method one variation two, method two variation one, strike seconds method one variation two and strike bottoms method two, where the deck is held between the forefinger in the upper right corner and the base of the thumb in the lower left. This is a borderline master's grip really, with perhaps the deck slightly higher in the hand and you are of course free to lower it if that is more comfortable for you.

Now the key in this case revolves almost entirely around the last three fingers of your left hand. (For the sake of demonstrations I'm going to focus on the side push-off at this point and cover the angle push-off in a moment.) These last three fingers should be positioned in such a manner that the first joint from the tips of the fingers is along the bottom edge of the deck, while the tips extend upwards just above the top edge of the deck. You should have a gap between your middle finger and ring finger large enough to insert your right middle finger into it. Now, I found it is impossible to eliminate knuckle flash with this grip, but that's ok because we can minimize it and combine some misdirection in order to make this one of the most deceptive deals going and one I quite like.

The misdirection is a good place to start. Each time you deal a top card, because the fingertips are slightly above the edge of the deck, or at least using that as an excuse, you are going to open those fingers slightly in an outward/extending motion. (See figure 548.)

Figure 548.

Then you'll perform the take and bring the fingers back to their regular position. This action will mirror perfectly, the push off action you're going to perform later and thus eliminate suspicion of the action.

The get ready involves buckling the bottom card slightly with the aforementioned joint of your middle finger simply by shifting it downwards slightly. This loosens the card, but it also allows you to gain control of it, you need it positioned so that you can push it out from the deck by pushing your fingers out in an extending motion. That is to say, the edge of the card is caught just above the joints and so the joints apply a force on the card pushing it from the deck to the right. (See figure 549 for an exposed and exaggerated view.)

Figure 549.

Now that the buckling motion is completed (I have to admit you must practice the buckling motion watching to minimize visual movement in the joints of the fingers and ensuring you obtain a clean take quickly and easily) you are ready to perform the actual deal. This occurs as follows. Your thumb pushes the top card to the right and as it does the tips of your last three fingers naturally move down and out of the way. In this motion, they transfer their force slightly, lowering first at the first joint from the tip, then moving outwards from the second and it is in this outward motion that you push-out the bottom card. Now, the bottom card is only pushed out roughly half as far as the top card. (See figure 550 for a view from the bottom.)

Figure 550.

You must be careful not to push the bottom card out too far, you want it out just far enough that the edge of the card is covered from the front by the tip of your left forefinger. The cover offered by the left forefinger will also help later with the pull back of the top card. You also want to be careful that, when you're pushing out the bottom card you do so in a manner than none of the card protrudes beyond the front edge of the deck. It tends to do so if you apply too much pressure with your middle finger high on the card and not enough with the other fingers low on the card.

It is time to perform the take. Here, your middle finger reaches under the cards, between the left middle and ring fingers and takes the bottom card. Naturally, the right thumb feigns taking the top card. At about this point you should turn your wrist inward slightly and, just as the bottom card reaches the point where it is roughly in line with the top card, you'll pull the top card back with your left thumb. (See figure 551.)

Figure 551.

I cannot stress to you how beautiful this illusion is. I can perform this action extremely slowly and leave a very powerful impression that I did in fact real the top card from the deck. This is partially due to the fact that the left forefinger and angle of the hand cover the pull back beautifully, but also because the take is so graceful. Also, perhaps most curiously, the left middle finger, ring finger and pinky, act as a sort of ramp for the bottom card, eliminating much of the distance between the top card and bottom card (be sure you don't let them rub together) creating a much stronger illusion such as that of a second deal. Finally, I find it helps a lot to twist the wrist in slightly as you deal off the bottom card and perform the pull back as it creates a superb retention of vision.

Now, if you're performing an angled push-off instead of a side push-off there are only a few minor refinements that you need to make. The first is that, instead of merely extending your last three fingers, you'll also direct them downwards following the angle of the top card. You should also take care to note that your middle finger runs above the top edge of the bottom card preventing anyone from seeing it. Second, and more importantly is the issue of the top card pull back. There's a tendency of the upper right corner of the card to flash and so what you want to do is cover the upper right corner in the action of performing the take and then pull the card back before the thumb has moved out of it's position of cover. (See figure 552.)

Figure 552.

Naturally, you need to ensure you pull your thumb back before performing the regular take when dealing tops in order to maintain consistency here. Ultimately, I don't like the illusion created in the bottom deal as much when you perform an angle push-off, but it is up to you, I do find the performing seconds is sometimes easier in this regard.

Method 3

This brings us back to the grip described earlier as the Erdnase grip, but with a twist, that I believe brings us to a more accurate version of the original. The deck is still held between the middle finger at the upper right corner of the deck and base of the thumb at the lower left and the forefinger maintains it's position, but this time instead of extending your ring finger and pinky they are curled under the deck. It is from this point that we begin, naturally you adapt your seconds and tops accordingly. Honestly, I find it very difficult to perform the bottoms with a side push-off, they're simply too unstable and so I'm merely going to describe the angle push-off technique, which is very deceptive.

The basic deal has been covered numerous times, the thumb pivots the card over at an angle, and the right hand performs the take. Now, obviously as you've surmised, we're going to push the bottom card out using the fingers under the bottom of the deck. Now you'll notice that it is virtually impossible to perform any significant push-out with the ring finger without creating obvious knuckle flash as such, you're going to do something that is difficult, but very deceptive. If there is a need to buckle the bottom card, do so with the ring finger as it shouldn't cause too much disturbance. However, you'll perform the push-off itself with the pinky. You'll notice if you try this that the curled ring finger provides a perfect shield to cover the actions of the pinky.

So, we must examine the timing. The left ring finger buckles the bottom card as a get ready, separating it from the others. Your thumb pushes off the top card, and then your right hand moves in to perform the take. Only when your right hand is blocking the view, will you use your pinky to push-out the bottom card at an angle just like the top one. Then, your right thumb in an apparent take action will cover as you pull back the top card (the presence of the middle finger also helps) and in the same motion your right hand will take the bottom card and deal it to the appropriate player. (See figure 553, figure 554, figure 555 and figure 556.)

Figure 553.
Figure 554.
Figure 556.

There is one point I want to caution you on very strongly here, because I've seen a number of people make this simple mistake. When you take the bottom card from the deck, be sure you actually take it far enough out so it is completely free of the shadow of the deck. I've seen some clips on the internet where people will deal the card to themselves and they deal it off in such a manner that it couldn't possibly come from the top, it's dropping from the bottom. Simply because the dealer doesn't take it far enough away from the deck before dealing it down.

Aside from this, the finer points of dealing from this grip have been addressed in other descriptions and so I'm sure collectively they provide ample information on dealing correctly and deceptively.

Side Strike Concept

The side strike bottom deal is really a strike bottom deal, but I felt it was necessary to create the illusion of a side strike bottom deal for those who wanted to perform side strike dealing and consequently all false deals in this manner. The concept involves starting in the mechanic's grip common to the side strike deal, with special attention to using the forefinger to hold the deck in place. In the process of apparently performing the side strike, you'll strike lower than normal so the tip of your right middle finger passes below the edge of the deck. You'll lift the entire corner of the deck as though you're only lifting the top card and then in the strike motion of the thumb you'll push all the cards except the bottom one to the left, while taking the card out the side. Naturally, this will require moving the three last fingers of the left hand out of the way. The deal is less than ideal, but for a lay audience not paying too much attention it is functional.

Alternatively, you could perform a slight push-off of the bottom card to make the take easier and potentially make for a more convincing deal. On reflection if you can do so effectively that is probably the way to go.

Stud Bottoms

Stud bottoms are quite useful because stud poker is one of the most useful places for a bottom deal. Really, the deal has little to no application in the likes of Texas Hold'em where you can calculate from the beginning the positions of all the cards. On the other hand, in a game of stud poker players drop out and alter the order of the cards, making a bottom deal very practical. Naturally, this means a stud bottom is also advantageous. You could of course simply bottom deal the card and turn it over, but there's a certain elegance to performing a stud deal, it also makes the process somewhat more convincing. I'll give two methods and leave out the others as I consider many of the front turnovers to essentially be a forward take with turnover.

Strike Method 1

This is a deal off the back of the deck and I realize I really haven't covered any methods in this style, however, at the least this offers you another idea on how to perform stud deals and the concept is easily applied to dealing seconds. You hold the deck in the mechanic's grip in your left hand. For dealing tops, your right hand approaches palm down thumb going under the end of the deck, while your forefinger and middle finger strike at the back of the deck. The tips of these two fingers should extend to roughly the halfway point across the deck. (See figure 557.)

Figure 557.

In a very quick and smooth motion, the fingers now pull the card off the back of the deck towards you. As soon as the card is part way off the deck your thumb pinches it aiding in the action as you then flip the card over. (See figure 558 and figure 559.)

Figure 558.

This process is very natural and I'm sure you'll catch on quickly, but it's the basis of the bottom deal of the same appearance. I'm sure you have already surmised (or perhaps you have not in which case you may wish to take time now doing so) the basis of the bottom deal. Naturally, rather than performing the take with your forefinger and middle finger, you'll perform the take with your thumb. Now interestingly enough, the resistance on the bottom card, makes dealing stud bottoms in this manner more difficult than any other stud false deal from the same grip. Basically, the problem is getting the bottom card out. The reason for this is the tendency to pull upwards on the card prematurely. Thus, to make getting the bottom card out easier you'll start by buckling it. Next, as your thumb enters below the card to perform the take, you'll stick it in slightly further than is normal and draw the card out just slightly by pulling on it gently with the thumb (no hand movement at this point, just the movement of the thumb). You'll draw it towards the lower right corner of the deck. The goal, is to get a slight edge of the card out beyond the edge of the deck as it makes the take much easier. (See figure 560.)

Figure 560.

Now, your forefinger and middle finger perform the fake take of the top card as you pull and lever the bottom card out. You then pinch the card between the two first fingers and the thumb as you turn it over and deal it to the table. Speed is important here in enhancing the deception, it may also help you to tilt the deck slightly as you apparently perform the take and turn over so it is less obviously that you didn't take the top card of the deck. (See figure 561 and figure 562.)

Figure 561.

Figure 561.

Performed on the fly as a portion of a dealing sequence this method is very effective, assuming of course that you use it quickly and with grace.

Push-off Method 1

We now progress to a method based on the angled push-off from push-off bottoms method two and stud seconds push-off method one. You may wish to refer to these two descriptions as I'll not repeat their contents and once you understand them this deal makes perfect sense. Essentially, it involves performing an angled push-off of the top card along with the angled push-off of the bottom card described earlier, then moving your hand over in the covering action taught under the stud second deal. This time instead of taking the second card, you'll reach your thumb under the lower right corner of the bottom card and take it. (See figure 563.)

Figure 563.

Now, you need to be very careful in exactly how you perform this take action. Naturally, as in the case of the second deal the pullback of the top card is covered by the hand and occurs prior to the take. However, there is a tendency not to take the bottom card in the same manner as you would take the top card due to the distance involved, or to uncover the front of the deck as you perform the take. Thus, it is important that your hand remain stationary on the top of the deck as your thumb pulls the bottom card up to it and then the entire hand with the card clipped between the top of the forefinger and the thumb rotate, pivoting on the pinky, lying across the front of the deck. (See figure 564 and figure 565.)

Now generally, there is a tendency for the cards to make a different sound when performing this action than when you perform a top. I find the sound is subtler and in order to eliminate that problem performing it fairly rapidly and focusing on enhancing the sound created by the bottom card as you perform the take is helpful.

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

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.

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  • senja
    How to minimize finger flash of bottom deal?
    1 year ago

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