The key lies in the last three fingers of the hand, which will conceal the protruding end of the cards. In order to ensure these ends remain in existence as the fingers pull toward you and the thumbs press away from you draw the fingers outward slightly separating the packets the desired amount. It is a difficult process to describe but I believe that once you attempt it yourself you will quickly gain an understanding of the method. Now, you want to leave the majority of the deck (the center) exposed to the audience with your fingers resting at the front corners of the deck obstructing any view of the protruding cards. (See figure 171.)
Now, as an added convincer, you may perform a mock square up by running your thumbs along the back and your pinkies along the sides feigning the application of squaring pressure. All things considered, if you perform these actions properly the display should be quite convincing.
This brings us to the subject of a strip out, what can I say? It is a fairly simple procedure. Your thumbs will move to their respective corners of the deck and apply slight pressure while the ring fingers will provide slight pressure in the opposite direction so that you grasp the protruding ends of the cards. (Take careful note at this point for while I state firmly I mean that the fingers should be able to retain hold of the cards, in reality the secret is lightness of grip and grasping with excessive force will make the process next to impossible.) You now have one of two choices. The first is to pull outwards separating the packets in the rough appearance of a cut. (See figure 172.)
The second is to pull the covered packet (that is to say, the one with its top card buried), the former top of the deck, outward, and forward, possibly with a slight twisting motion. (See figure 173.)
The advantage of the later is that by twisting the cards slightly you will decrease the surface area of contact as well as offer yourself a small amount of leverage which makes the strip out easier. My recommendation to you would be that if you are "cutting the deck" to perform another shuffle, use the former method free of the forward motion and twisting, if you are "cutting the deck" simply to simulate a cut and to complete the shuffle, use the later method. This is quite simply because these motions seem, at least to me based on my handling, to be more natural according to the given actions.
There is also a note here for you to consider concerning consistency. Personally, when I perform a real shuffle I tend to cut the deck from the middle rather than the ends and as a result, if I was to perform a false shuffle of this manner my cutting from the ends for the purpose of another shuffle would serve as a tip off. The biggest key to most of these controls and false techniques relies not on what is done, but in what is done during the act of trickery as compared with the regular procedure. As such, when it is impossible or at least overly inconvenient to create a method that accurately simulates the real procedure one should modify his real procedure in order to match the counterfeit. In this case, it is impossible to strip out the cards from the middle of the deck, as such an adjustment should be made to the legitimate cut so that it occurs from the ends of the deck and resembles the strip-out cut.
This process forms the essence of the basic strip-out shuffle, however, numerous refinements exist in order to make it more convincing, offer added flexibility, or mimic various other legitimate shuffling procedures, thus I will now continue by exploring them.
Dai Vernon's Triumph Shuffle (One card shuffle)
Although this shuffle serves the specific purpose of facilitating the triumph effect in magic, it nevertheless offers an interesting ruse to be employed in the field of false shuffling. It also bears the distinct advantage (at least over the basic strip-out shuffle) of working well in the hands.
The premise is this, the cards are taken into the hands and shuffled together then pushed part way together before the grip is shifted so that the cards are held between the right thumb and the right middle and ring fingers with the forefinger pressed on the top card (this is extremely important). Initially, I use my pinky underneath the cards for support. (See figure 174.)
A quick point I failed to mention, the shuffling process is not overly specific except for one point. When you are riffling off the cards as you near the end let all the cards in the right packet go except for one, the riffle off the remaining cards in the left packet then finally let the last card go in the right packet so that it is on top. There needs not be any major separation the key is only that a single card from the right hand packet is left on top, the reasoning for which will shortly be understood.
With the new grip, you will now continue to push the cards down slightly acting as though it is somewhat more difficult than it truly is. I shift my grip at this point so that the pinky is no longer under the cards providing support, but rather wrapped around the side of the deck with the middle and ring fingers. (See figure 175.)
For those who prefer it is possible to skip the earlier pinky position and begin in this grip, I simply feel that the pinky helps to make the packets somewhat more square. Note, you must move the pinky in order to first, effectively facilitate this next move and second in order to cover the protruding cards better later. The key now is the force you apply with the right forefinger on the face of the cards. You will take your left hand and in a downwards motion strike the protruding top packet apparently overcoming the resistance and driving the packets together.. .but that is not what will occur. Due to the grip and the force you are applying on the face card, as you strike the momentum will force that face card to slide suddenly upwards to cover the protruding cards and giving a powerful illusion that you have squared the packets squared together. Figure 176 shows a transition view as the card is moving upwards and demonstrates the left hand position for the strike. (See figure 176.)
The position you are now in involves a protruding packet covered by the face card visible to the audience and protruding cards at the bottom covered by the back of the hand (needless to say angles are important for this illusion to function correctly). (See figure 177.)
You are now in a position to perform a strip-out and as before how exactly you will do so, should depend in large part on your next action. Unfortunately, due to the nature of an in the hands shuffle a straight strip-out for the purpose of a shuffle does not seem natural, here then are a few ideas. Perform a basic cut and simply cut the deck before moving on to anything else unless you plan on proceeding into a tabled shuffle. If a tabled shuffle is your intent then I would recommend maintaining the right hand position on the deck while bringing the left hand over the deck and grasping the deck between the three last fingers of the hand and the thumb. You should hold the three last fingers naturally starting at the corner and moving towards the middle. The thumb will initially be around the middle of the deck but will drop back just as the strip-out is about to be performed. (See figure 178.)
You will then briskly perform the strip out in the air just prior to laying the packets down on the table. It is a strip out you will accomplish by squeezing the protruding ends between the pinkies and thumbs while leaving the middle and ring fingers loosely around the center of the deck giving the impression that they aided in the process and further enhancing the illusion that it was a cut and not a strip out that you performed.
If your intent is to continue with another in the hands shuffle or merely wish to complete the shuffle I would recommend maintaining the ending grip with the right hand and dropping the left hand into a sort of modified Hindu shuffling grip grasping the protruding end between middle finger and thumb. (See figure 179.)
Now drop the right thumb back so that it is grasping the other protruding end along with the right pinky and perform the strip-out by pulling backwards and at an angle towards the body. This should be a very natural cut feel and look relatively normal. (See figure 180.)
Now the final point which can be applied to numerous other strip outs as well as this one and perhaps including the basic strip-out shuffle is the idea of not simply cutting the deck, but rather enhancing the concept through an elaborate false cut or shuffle simulation. For example, I personally enjoy using the previous referenced circulation shuffle to simulate following the riffle shuffle up with a Hindu shuffle. To me, doing more than simply cutting the deck after the shuffle allows the action to blend much more naturally and only enhance rather than threaten the artifice. Some other ideas for you that may or may not work depending on the shuffle, the setting etc. but some that I occasionally use are not strip out the cards in stages rather than all at once. I will start from the bottom and work up performing a series of strip-outs and then at times cutting the rest of the deck up to the top. Basically, the concept is merely to circulate the cards recycling the order rather than actually mix them, but to create the illusion of mixing while stripping out. "Up the ladder" is a very popular concept in this regard and is certainly worth the investigation of those who are interested in the concept.
Now another concern or "tip off" I wish to address and one I believe is worthy of note is the sound caused by a strip-out. (It occurs to me at this point that including this information here may mean it is missed by those who consider themselves either versed or uninterested in the triumph shuffle, a pity I think. However, being stubborn as I am I will leave it here in the hopes that rather than curse me, some may stumble upon it accidentally at a later time and consider it to be a hidden gem of wisdom. Wishful thinking I suspect, but one should have dreams.) Reality has ordained that there is going to be sound caused by the strip-out process, it is simply the nature of this particular beast, though it is noteworthy that little or no sound accompanies some of the better strip-outs that will be addressed at a later time. She has also dictated that the handling of a cut for most people involves little to no sound by comparison. Consistency then is in jeopardy and being the heroic chap that I am, I offer you a solution. Again, as I mentioned in relation to the basic strip-out that it is impossible to alter the reality of the forged technique sufficiently, thus, the solution must be to alter the real technique such that it matches the counterfeit. My recommendation to you then is when cutting the deck in the manner consistent with a strip-out that you apply some upward pressure on the bottom packet causing it to "scrape" against the upper packet and cause a small amount of sound. Though this does not perfectly mimic the acoustic properties of a strip-out it does diminish the difference until a time when I can arrive at a better alternative.
We return then to a beauty and concern of the triumph shuffle. Obviously, we used a cover card to greatly enhance the illusion and embellish the subterfuge in so far as the squaring of the packets was concerned and this idea has many notable uses that will be explored later on. Unfortunately, it means that the shuffle is not entirely blind, in point of fact, one card moves. It is in fact for this very reason that Lennart Green refers to it as the "one card shuffle". To address this he recommends dropping the top card of the deck by accident, returning it to the middle of the deck, holding a break, cutting to the point and shuffling the card in question to the top so that it is returned to its position on the top of the deck. This method does work beautifully, particularly in keeping with Mr. Green's somewhat unique and brilliant style. My concern with this method arises from the idea of performing multiple shuffles in a row. It would be quite ridiculous to see the performer conveniently dropping the top card of the deck and placing it in the middle over and over between each shuffle, though granted it could be quite comical for a bored audience or perhaps attentive audience. It is not however, a method that fits well with my own performance style, thus I have devised, or rather used, two additional methods that I will suggest to you here. The first, is simply to use a slip cut when you cut the deck into two parts as it can easily be performed numerous times over without arousing suspicion since of course it is not overt and should go unnoticed. My problem with this method (which I use at times with the Zarrow shuffle which we will also cover later) is that it does not harmonize with an in the hands shuffle. Thus, I would offer to you this alternative. Use any random card in the deck without care when performing the first shuffle, however, when you cut the deck to complete the shuffle, hold a break and then cut to the break for the next shuffle. By doing so you can shuffle the card that was relocated in the first shuffle back to its original location by using it once again as the cover card only this time, in reverse.
Those are, I know, neither rocket science, nor profound insights into the meaning of life itself, but rather simple suggestions you would likely have conceived by your own devices however, I felt I should mention them anyway with the hope that they may hasten the learning of at least one of my readers and spawn some measure of creativity.
Having shrewdly covered both the notion of an in the hands false shuffle and using a card to cover in a single description I shall now progress in other directions with the hope that broad exposure will spur your creativity in a number of directions and future insights.
Since I mentioned in the previous section the idea of doing more than a simple strip-out and replacing the process of a simulated cut with a simulated series of cuts or a shuffle. What is, I believe a Marlo idea, at least that is where I learned it makes this concept easy to demonstrate and use. While I am being frank with you I should mention that I never use this shuffle, nor would I recommend using it, Marlo himself points out that it doesn't look very good unless it is performed quite quickly and that great speed makes it passable.. .I do not go for passable. Though I inevitably fail in my pursuit of it, my aim is perfection.
Though it simulates a standard on the table riffle shuffle (I suppose it could arguably be carried out in the hands), the key to the spade shuffle lies in the very rapid and controlled riffle, with an emphasis on rapid. You will cut the deck as usual, however instead of riffling the cards together as usual you will rapidly (again heavy emphasis on rapidly) riffle half of the one packet off, then half of the other, then the remainder of the original packet and finally the remainder of the second packet. (I recommend you riffle using the dovetail style though other styles are certainly possible). This will leave you with a deck divided into four portions consisting of roughly one quarter of the deck each. (See figure 181.)
Now without pausing you will quickly push the packets together to conceal the division of the deck, but as in a basic strip-out shuffle, you will not square the packets entirely. If you have performed the shuffle quickly and consistently with your regular shuffling procedure you should have arrived at this point without having the audience notice your artifice. You will now notice that it is quite a simple matter to perform the strip-out in a series of portions and cuts due to the convenient division of the deck. There are then a number of cuts you could perform. The first is of course a simple strip-out, this I would not recommend and needs no real explanation (note that the advantage of a strip-out using this shuffle is that the process is extremely easy with minimal surface area creating minimal resistance to the process). For the sake of the coming examples I am going to assume you cut the deck so that the bottom went to the left hand while the top went to the right hand and that you started by riffling off the right hand packet so that if the four packets were labeled A, B, C & D from the bottom up according to their original order they would be left in the order C, A, D, B following the shuffle. I hope that description is not overly complex for you, but I feel such designations will assist in describing the coming cuts. A simple but deceptive option would then be to begin by cutting A to the top, jogging it in the same direction as C & D, then cutting B to the top but maintaining a break under A and finally cutting C & D to the top collectively by using the break and thus restoring the original order. I would recommend the previously described shuffling process leaving you in this position simply because the bottom stock and top stock are quite clearly not maintained adding to the illusion. This cut combination should vaguely resemble a Hindu shuffle and thus appear to be an additional quick shuffle as opposed to a mere cut. The cuts should take the form of forward sweeping cuts. (See figure 182.)
You can maintain the described break quite easily by inserting the flesh of the right hand thumb in the void created by the strip-out of packet B. This cut combination has the advantage of being quick and simple while still possessing a sufficient level of deception for an unsuspecting audience, as with the entire shuffle you should perform it quite quickly and fluidly, without pause.
Alternatively, you could strip-out both packets A & B simultaneously, maintaining a break between the two and, mimicking a Hindu shuffle, drop packet B, then packet A, but jog them both leaving them separate from one another and packets C & D, which should be neatly squared together on the table. You will now cut packets C& D to the top but again jogged. Immediately cut packet A to the top followed by packet B, hold a break and cut packets C & D collectively to the top again completing the shuffle. This process may seem to you to be overly complicated and indeed in could be so, there are two sides to that thought, namely, it will become fairly easy and simple with practice and complicated procedure is more difficult to follow and thus can add to the deception, depending on the circumstances.
A quick note, if you are going to execute the shuffle in the hands (it could potentially function better there due to the cover offered by the hands than on a table) I would recommend by using the same shuffling sequence as above followed by the hand cover seen in the Triumph shuffle and a circulation move to complete the process.
One final point of interest that I will return to later when we examine other shuffles involves the idea of altering the original cut to suit the shuffle. In this case, to cut the middle out of the deck and maintain the break where the two packets in the remainder of the deck fall together. You will then shuffle one half of this formerly middle packet to its original location during the basic spade shuffle and thereby reduce the number of packets needing to be cut from its location to one. To apply the previously used lettering system, you will cut packets B & C from the middle though you should create the appearance that it is cut from the bottom (more on this deception momentarily). Due to the fact that the half of the deck containing packets A & D will appear to the audience as the top of the deck it is desirable to shuffle the cards so that they end as A, B, D, C, obviously this means that only packet D must be relocated. You will do this by cutting the deck either in the same manner as you did initially or in more open form as a series of cuts, or in more of a Hindu fashion apparently mixing the cards further, it is the later that I would recommend. An idea for misdirection might be to strip-out that remaining packet as the first portion of a Hindu shuffle as though you are about to Hindu shuffle the whole deck, then apparently reconsider and move on perhaps to another shuffle or a cut or with the next aspect of presentation.
In the case of the initial cut, I find it easiest to obtain a break below roughly one quarter of the cards with the right hand. You will cut the middle portion of the cards (roughly half) forwards away from yourself while moving the top packet (held separate by the thumb break) backwards slightly. (See figure 183 and figure 184.)
The reason for cutting forwards rather than to the side is in order to execute the following deception intended to create the illusion that the bottom rather than the center of the deck has been cut out. As the right hand pulls forward on the middle packet the left hand will move its packet slightly backward and push down on the front, causing it to overshadow the packet below. (See figure 185 for a view from the front.)
This is neither a great insight or a perfect ruse, it does however aide the act and thereby smooth over the cut from the center that will occur later on. You may be able to discover numerous other applications of this technique, say for example as a bottom retention cut similar to a slip cut. I don't believe the idea is new, but it may be useful to you in this context. In any case I do not expect that you will employ this particular shuffle as a regular practice considering the existence of numerous other perfectly good and much more reliable shuffles.
Before I continue however, it occurs to me that I should probably describe the means by which you cover the pushing together of the packets and exposing the spade shuffle ruse. Personally I perform a dovetail shuffle and would advise the same, thus I will explain the method in the context of a dovetail shuffle, though a peeking shuffle variant could be quite effective and an in the hands variant can also be made quite functional.
To begin with the forefingers should apply downward pressure on a point just below the upper corners of the deck and thereby render the controlled division of the deck invisible for the time being. (See figure 186.)
You will now begin pushing the packets together and keep the three last fingers of the hand along the front edge as you do so in order to obstruct any view of the packets. Then, as you reach the point where you have meshed the packets sufficiently you will slide your finger back to the corners of the deck leaving the apparently interlaced part showing and the pinkies will push the packets the rest of the way. (See figure 187 and figure 188.)
We will return more to this idea later in examining other shuffles. The Square Shuffle (Count's Square Up Cover)
This was one of the first false shuffling ideas I had and not one I like to use but again it touches on a different sort of idea, namely apparently squaring the deck while concealing the protruding portion of the deck. The idea came to me as an inspiration due to a Lennart Green shuffle called "The Slug Shuffle". Though fairly effective, the slug shuffle was a sort of slop shuffle which fits Mr. Green's style beautifully, but not my own. This is then in some regards a method that is somewhat more refined in terms of appearance but based off similar ideas though it combines others as well.
You will begin with a standard dovetail shuffle allowing a card from the left hand packet to drop last, and then push the packets partway together. (See figure 189.)
At this point, you are apparently going to pick up the packets and slam them down vertically on the table in order to square them up. The most important thing now, is the hand position as the hands are going to offer cover. Your right hand should grip the lower part of the deck as it would a sword, while the left hand will take a hold of the other end of the cards with the forefinger on the end and gripping the cards between the thumb and three remaining fingers. (See figure 190.)
In the action of swinging the hands downward to strike the right hand end of the cards on the table the right hand is going to pivot turning the cards inward slightly so that it is the corner and not the flat of the cards that strikes thus causing the cards to rotate even further. This will be assisted by the right hand all in a fairly fluid motion. Here is an exposed look at the process. (See figure 191, figure 192, and figure 193.)
Naturally, the hands are going to cover the action of what is really occurring. People tend not to notice for the brief few seconds that the top portion of the cards is not complete, but I will offer you a covered view of what it looks like. (See figure 194.)
You can now strip the cards out, generally I do so in the form of a twisting motion as I tilt my hands down towards the table. (See figure 195.)
Honestly, strip-outs from this position are difficult and so I will not cover them in any particular detail, I tend not to use this shuffle anymore, but hopefully, the ideas will be of some use to you. The problem in my view is that you tend not to push the packets together by slamming them on the table, thus you must modify your regular behavior in order to fit. This, added to the fact that much better shuffles exist leave me in a position where I cannot recommend this particular method to you; though I feel the principle, also demonstrated in the slug shuffle is valuable and worth considering.
The Book Shuffle (Count's False Angle Shuffle)
I shall now conspire to introduce two ideas simultaneously, namely, the formal introduction of in the hands false shuffles and the use of a bridge as a convincer combined with a false shuffle. This was probably my first approach to an in the hands false shuffle using a bridge and is inspired by Lennart Green's False Angle riffle shuffle. Though Mr. Green shuffle, which is one of his best I must say varies considerably, does not employ a bridge and is not truly performed in the hands, any who are familiar with it will understand the resemblance to the book shuffle. I discovered later that Guy Hollingworth has a much better shuffle, which accomplishes much the same thing in a more convincing manner; you may refer to it in his book, which I would highly recommend "Drawing Room Deceptions". I mentioned at the end of the previous description that the strip-out on that particular shuffle was difficult and the handling fairly unusual, this shuffle then attempts to address both of those problems.. .for the most part as the strip-out makes considerably more sense and the handling is quite typical. The quandary that confronted me most candidly was how to use a bridge and cascade the cards together while keeping them apart. To address the problem I turned to an idea Lennart Green uses but never takes advantage of in this regard that I am aware of, namely riffling the cards together in a staggered manner. Photographs will best explain this point and thus I will allow the pictures to do the talking on this occasion. I should point out in advance that this is intended to be an in the hands shuffle that consequently the bottom half of the deck will be riffled from the left hand and that it is necessary to ensure that the last card falls from the left hand packet. (See figure 196.)
You will notice that performing the shuffled in a staggered manner so as to leave only the corners touching as per figure 196 is obvious to an alert audience as such, I adjusted to performing a standard in the hands riffle shuffle and only adjusting to the position show immediately prior to forming the bridge. (As I mentioned, Guy Hollingworth has a technique that accomplishes something similar but in a more deceptive fashion that I would recommend you use as a substitute to this technique if you feel it fails on this point.) Thus, as I have alluded to with sufficient "foreshadowing" to alert a stampeding herd, you will now form a bridge, this is the same as the technique I described previously except that the pressure of the thumbs must be on the corners of overlap. The result should be that you are now left with two roughly square and inter woven packets staggered by roughly half a card. (See figure 197.)
These packets should be held at an angle that directs the front of the packet at the eyes of the audience to hopefully conceal the staggered nature of the packets. The right hand will now shift position coming across the cards to take the forward-staggered packet in a rough Biddle grip. (See figure 198.)
The left hand will then twist around the cards shifting from the edge to the side, while the cards are turned, and apparently square them together. (See figure 199.)
You may now either leave the cards staggered as I used to do or apply pressure with your left hand pinky to square the back corners together and angle jog the semi-concealed packet, which is what I do with my current handling. (See figure 200.)
You are now in position to perform the strip-out, I use one of two methods. Initially, I simulated an undercut by stripping the cards out the back under the cover of the right hand, however, I found this to be awkward as the left hand must move too far under the cards held in Biddle grip to be natural. Thus, I altered to simulating a swing cut as follows. The right hand will shift position just slightly allowing the last three fingers to grip the concealed angle jogged cards while the right finger engages the front of the visible cards and applies for swinging them out to the left as it would in a real swing cut. The left hand is of course waiting and as soon as the cards are separated sufficiently can offer assistance in the process by wrapping around the right edge of the packet and pulling them out quickly. It goes without saying that the action should be smooth, natural and relatively quick as it must mimic a real swing cut, which would of course be smooth and casual. I feel this cut presents a move favorable alternative to the undercut and brings the shuffle to an admirable conclusion. (See figure 201, figure 202, and figure 203.)
The shuffle may also be functional with a few variations on a table, though such would not be my preferred use and the cut would likely have to be modified or the shuffle would have to encompass an in the hands portion. For those are interested, you should certainly consult the esteemed Mr. Green's False Angle shuffle, which is available as I recall on his DVD "Shuffling Green". It would also be expedient to consult Mr. Hollingworth's shuffle, I feel that the use of his cascade method, which I will not describe out of respect for him melds well with some of the techniques I have described here.
The Archaic Shuffle (Count's Tabled Bridge Control)
The previous section outlined the concern of controlling cards as they are cascaded together; this is an added problem in a table setting, which is more exposed. My attempts to defy this quandary and my successes came I would say surprisingly early. The idea is as far as I know unique, however I must confess that my familiarity with the material available is limited at best and the principle is so simple that I am forced to assume it has been discovered by another, probably before my own discovery. It is however quite useful and I find I employ it to great success very often, in fact when properly executed it forms, along with the Zarrow shuffle, the primary basis for my false shuffling on a table.
Archaic is the word I applied to the title because I liked the sound and feeling it conjured within me, but also because the technique does make the cascade a little more archaic so to speak, certainly less free, which makes sense considering it is in fact controlled. The idea is to control the cascade so that the cards remain slightly jogged. You will begin as usual with a standard on the table riffle shuffle (again, I use mostly dovetail shuffles and thus my tabled false shuffles tend to begin with a dovetail shuffle), I like to make the top card one from the right hand packet, but doing so is not necessary so long as you offer the correct cover when the time comes, angles are also a useful consideration. The shuffle then continues to proceed as usual until the point when you have formed the bridge, now, just prior to letting the cards cascade together your right thumb and ring finger will apply pressure on the sides of the base of the right hand packet. You now continue with the cascade while maintaining that pressure and you will notice that the pressure keeps the cards jogged ever so slightly (how much depends partially on where you are applying the pressure (lower and less of the cards is better) and how you let them cascade). It may be more difficult than usual to get the cards to cascade, this is normal and the adjustment can occur in both how closely the hands are together and how much pressure is exerted, ideally you do of course want to make the cascade as fluid and natural as possible while not making it too sudden. Another concern that may arise is that is that the cards may have a tendency to cascade out to the side and strike the right thumb, practicing a more controlled cascade with a better squared bridge should eliminate this concern. Naturally, you want to minimize the length of card that protrudes, practice will help you to minimize this as well as the aforementioned moving the "pinch" of the cards on the part of the right hand as low as possible so it encompasses less of the length of card and allows them to flow farther together.
Additionally, you will want to perform a sort of quick square up essentially as per a basic strip-out shuffle as the cascade merely served as a convincer that the cards have in fact been uncontrolled and pushed together, with that exception it remains essentially a basic strip-out shuffle. I like to let the top card fall forward slightly so that it moves from the edge to closer to the middle which helps to greatly increase the illusion that the cards are fully squared. I find that that ideal length for the protruding ends allows the top card to extend from the right border to the left but reveal a small portion beyond the border if you move it to the extreme edge of either side. (See figure 204.)
In order to ensure the cards cascade this tightly together, which they tend not to do, you should begin with the packets very square prior to forming the bridge (this may seem obvious but I assure you they often are not). You will then want to pinch the end of the right packet as per the previous description, but do so just at the very end no deeper on the cards than the border (again, the tendency is to apply the pressure further into the card which is less desirable). When you perform the strip-out, the cover card can simply be slide back to its particular packet covered by the larger motion of the strip-out.
Finally, you do of course want to remain wary of angles and use your fingers (the last three in particular) to conceal that the ends of the cards remain protruding. The point of particular vulnerability is just as the cascade is ending and the protruding ends may flash before your hands fall back to offer sufficient cover. It is in this regard that the cover card and the false square up adds a considerable measure to the deception, however an additional shift in handling that I personally employ is greatly recommended. This shift occurs at the point when you form a bridge. Conventional handling, as previously described involves using the left middle finger and thumb to lift the interlaced portion of the cards while the forefinger applies pressure to the top. Unfortunately, this creates a weak spot at the end of the left hand packet as you lack the two-finger cover on the right side to conceal the protruding cards. The solution to this then is to lift the interlaced portion of the cards with the left forefinger and thumb rather than the middle finger and thumb. The pressure on the top of the bridge is then applied by the right forefinger, which normally sits useless. The advantage then is that the left middle finger can be placed at the corner of the packet just right of the ring finger and offer cover to the vulnerable area. (See figure 205.)
In regards to the strip-out, you may follow the conventional procedure outlined under the basic strip-out shuffle and the Triumph shuffle. Personally, I tend to use the archaic shuffle as part of a combination of shuffles and thus perform a basic strip-out readying me for the next such shuffle, but these combinations will be addressed further later on.
I am quite proud of the archaic shuffle, she is one of my favorites, and though far from the ideal I am courting, she remains an elegant deception when performed correctly. Furthermore, I feel the combination of techniques offers her a certain level of refinement not found in many of the conventional methods with which I am familiar.
Vise Grip Shuffle (In the hands bridge control)
After playing around with the archaic shuffle I wondered whether perhaps the principle would work in the hands as well, as it happens, it does, but with several drawbacks that keep me from using it. The obvious challenge in applying the pressure control of the archaic shuffle to an in the hands bridge is how to apply the pressure, since obviously the handling for a tabled bridge differs from that of an in the hands bridge. In order to solve this problem I altered the handling for the bridge by resting the cards on the middle and ring fingers between the forefinger and pinky prior to the shuffle. (See figure 206.)
You can then move the forefinger around to the back of the cards applying pressure and allowing the cards to be riffled together. (See figure 207.)
Now as you form the bridge, you will wrap the forefinger around the side of the deck and apply upward pressure on the cards while the thumbs apply the downward pressure to the center of the cards and the hands move together slightly. (See figure 208.)
The key point here is that the pinky is on one side of the cards while the forefinger is on the other. In this manner, you can then squeeze together with the forefinger and pinky applying pressure similar to that in the archaic shuffle and restricting the cards from cascading together entirely. The result should be a slightly divided deck after the cascade. (Once again, you will find that it is more difficult for the cards to cascade due to the control and as in the archaic shuffle, some measure of experimentation and shifting of posture may be required to ease this difficulty.) (See figure 209 for a half exposed view.)
It was at this point that I encountered what was to me, an unexpected problem. I now had the cards jogged, but what could I do with them, I logically wanted to take them in Biddle grip, but doing so would involve pushing the cards together and the rotation would likely expose the jogged nature of the cards. It is for this reason, as well as the fact that the bridge grip differs from normal, in combination with the existence of better methods, that I do not use this particular shuffle in my regular repertoire.
The solution I would recommend goes as follows. Take the cards in Biddle grip and apply squaring pressure to them. However, use your thumb to apply squaring pressure to the lower left corner thus angle jogging the entire half of the deck. This method has the advantage of further convincing the audience that the cards are in fact square, though it will require some practice to angle jog the cards in such a manner that you have concealed them beneath the right hand. (See figure 210 for a view from the bottom.)
This leaves you in a nearly perfect position to execute the swing cut style strip-out mentioned under the book shuffle. I shall provide a few more details as to the manner in which you should perform this strip-out. The right hand pinky will move to the corner of the angle jogged packet and apply force pushing the angle jogged cards out; this is a good point to apply that pressure due to the leverage available. Simultaneously, the forefinger will more slightly to the left applying swinging force on the upper left corner of visible packet. (See figure 211 for a bottom view.)
At virtually the same time as this occurs the left hand will reach out apparently to receive the top packet of the deck (what are actually the visible cards to be stripped out), but at the same time the left forefinger will move between the right pinky and ring finger and will hook onto the upper right corner of the left jogged cards. (See figure 212.)
Once you get the packets to come apart slightly and as soon as it is convenient, the right hand middle and ring fingers will slide over the left forefinger changing the cover and allowing the left hand to complete the cut. Ideally, you should use the fingers as effectively as possible to cover the reality of the strip-out by restricting any audience view of the front of the deck. (See figure 213.)
This more detailed description of the swing cut style strip-out can of course be applied to the less complete description given under the book shuffle.
The idea of performing a push through shuffle seems quite popular from what I can ascertain and I suppose it is logical since a push-through is more convincing than a basic strip out due to the fact that the packets are clearly pushed all the way together. A push through is a tabled riffle shuffle identical to a basic strip-out shuffle except that when you are pushing the packets together you will angle them slightly allowing you to push the packets right through one another while remaining separate. What I will demonstrate with photos is an exaggerated version of this process for the sake of demonstration; it will be desirable for you to be subtler in your actions.
As before, you will riffle the cards together then begin pushing the packets together, but at some point, you will shift them slightly so they resemble a tight "X" formation. (See figure 214.)
Now, my personal method here involves pushing the cards together in this manner until the corner of the one reaches the end of the other. (See figure 215.)
You will then shift your fingers so the middle and ring fingers form a square around the upper corners. You will leave your forefingers at the front and your pinkies at the sides next to the ring fingers all to provide cover. The thumbs will meet at the point where the two packets meet at an angle. (See figure 216.)
The thumbs will now move outwards applying pressure while the ring finger and middle finger pull inwards and outwards on their respective corners squaring the deck but simultaneously drawing the packets apart. Executed properly this will leave you with each packet out jogged on the opposite side as it began in quite a convincing display of pushing the packets together. Ideally, in order to conceal this deception you will minimize the "width" of the "X" and the size of the jog. From this point you may simply proceed with any of the strip-outs outlined under the basic riffle shuffle with an apparent series of cuts resembling a shuffle being most preferable. Again, I would refer you to the "up the ladder principle" as a source of study.
I should do you the justice of mentioning that this is not a strip-out in the typical sense of a push-through shuffle and mention that it is often easier to perform a strip-out and slightly more deceptive when squaring the cards to angle jog one of the packets rather than leaving it protruding at the ends. This is generally the method employed and taught in regards to a push-through shuffle and is convincing because with practice you can use the fleshy part of your hands just below the palms and down from the pinkies to square the deck, creating the illusion that there was in fact no control. (See figure 216a for an exaggerated view of the angle jogged cards.)
Some individuals often employ this method of jogging not only with push-through shuffles, but with basic strip-out shuffles as well. I believe you'll find that performing a strip-out from this position is easier due to the leverage involved, decreased resistance on the cards and an easier grip. The strip-out uses the same grip as before, but oriented to suit the angle jogged cards. My only concern here lies in the perception of depth when the deck is viewed from the front, an issue that has always concerned me and, as best as I can tell, is only improved by jogging to an increasingly small degree, a prospect that I am not particularly thrilled with.
Another small refinement I feel aids in rendering the strip-out more convincing, is to hold back a block of cards rather than a single card at the end. A packet of ten or so seems to work well and adds to the illusion that the cards you are stripping out are coming from the bottom of the deck as per a regular cut rather than the appearance of a strip-out. This notion may of course suit your handling for earlier shuffles as well as the push-through shuffle.
You will notice I have made reference a couple of times to Lennart Green, who is by all standards a brilliant card magician. He also employs quite a unique "purposeful sloppiness" in his style that allows him to perform a variety of deceptions one might not normally be able to get away with. For example, his Rosetta false shuffle, which is very convincing to audiences, but of course, totally blind. In addition to this, I gave reference to the slug shuffle and there are numerous others all available on his DVD sets but mostly on volume one, "Classic Green Part 1" and volume four, "Shuffling Green". Later, I will explain my idea I have called "Gamut Shuffling" which is essentially my own use of slop shuffling, but the point is that it may be wise, depending on the circumstances in which you must perform and your own style to consider the uses of deliberate sloppiness.
Count's Cover (In the Hands Square Shuffle) (The invisible strip-out)
I mentioned at the beginning of this section on blind shuffling that I felt a strip-out was a tip-off to the invalidity of a shuffle. Though we will address numerous solutions to this dilemma later I wanted to touch on one that to my knowledge has not been explored, which seems to me to be quite peculiar as the notion seems at best to be brilliant in light of this flaw. The idea to which I am referring is that of an invisible strip-out, in other words, the cards are stripped out completing the shuffle without anyone knowing it has been done. Not only does this create the impression of a more realistic shuffle, since the vast majority of people do not cut the deck following a shuffle, they simply shuffle, as the idea of completing a real shuffle with a real cut seems to originate more in gambling and even there is not always practiced amongst casual amateurs. The idea occurred to me in regards to the concept of a pass. A pass is of course merely a cut, but the term tends to apply only to cuts that we make invisible, thus, if one could cut the deck invisibly, why not perform the strip-out invisibly as well? Though the idea seems obvious, execution presents somewhat more of a problem, one that I would hope others would expand upon themselves. It is perhaps this difficulty, which forms the basis as to why I am not familiar with it being used, for logically the idea must have occurred to someone prior to myself. The concept is however relatively new to me and thus I have not had sufficient time to develop as many variations as I might like, as such, the ideas I will present to you here will come largely in the theoretical scope rather than the concrete scope. Continuing with this notion, the shuffle I will refer to here is not meant so much as a shuffle to which you can refer, but rather a context from which the concept of the invisible strip-out may be demonstrated, performed and refined.
Before I proceed, I would paint for you a picture of a cardician at work in the company of alert professionals. He is handed the deck and proceeds to perform what should be a strip-out false shuffle. Naturally, the professional observers are watching closely for the moment at which he will reveal himself by means of a strip-out, but to their surprise, it never comes, he simply begins dealing cards. In this context I hope you will see the positive light in which this context might be applied. The cards are apparently shuffled, that is it, no strip-out, no cut; they are simply shuffled and yet retain their original order. Later we will address various other attempts to address this concern and various creative solutions to the problem, but for now, since the simplest way to perform a false riffle shuffle is often a strip-out, we examine, the invisible strip-out.
This shuffle is an in the hands variant of the previously described "Square shuffle", it begins with an in the hands version of the peeking shuffle leaving the cards assembled at a right angle to one another. (See figure 217.)
Generally I recommend holding back the top card from the left packet as your final card, though the type of strip-out may alter this and I will trust that you can determine the change accordingly depending on whether the packet to be stripped out will be replaced on the top or bottom of the deck. Now, in a sort of slop shuffle sense you will apparently attempt to perform and fail at a bridge and cascade combination. This is quite natural and you will find attempting to perform a cascade with the cards at a right angle simply does not work. This sloppy process should allow you ample cover to do one of two things depending again on whether the strip-out to follow will involve a replacement to the top or bottom of the deck. If it will involve a replacement to the top of the deck, then the covering card should be from the left hand packet (which should be the lower half of the deck). In this case you will simply push the cards together (or apparently do so), grabbing the left packet with the right hand in Biddle grip and squaring the right hand packet at a right angle to the cards in Biddle grip at the back of that packet, forming the familiar shape from the square shuffle. (See figure 218 for a view from below.)
I am not going into a great amount of detail in regards to this technique, as it is not the shuffle so much as the strip-out concept that I wish to investigate. For those who are interested a brief period of experimentation in front of a mirror should provide you with an acceptable technique. Surprisingly, in this position, the jogged cards are invisible from the front due to the position of the right hand. (See figure 219.)
Now, if the packet to be stripped out will be replaced to the bottom of the deck then the top card in the shuffle should come from the right hand packet and the squaring should occur by means of pushing the left hand packet through the right hand packet at a right angle and into the position described. Again, I will not go into detail on this method as it is the strip-out and not this particular shuffle I wish to address.
From this point it is possible to perform an array of strip-outs, perhaps the best being an undercut simulation, a series of invisible strip-outs are however also possible, I will examine two and give thoughts on an additional two. The first, mirrors in a sense a pivot pass idea of mine that will be described in another book, for now the point is that it will take advantage of the cover of the right hand and a tenkai palm.
To begin with, the left hand will descend under the visible cards apparently providing natural support and ready to take the deck into mechanics grip, which it will in fact do momentarily. The left hand fingers will take a hold of the jogged cards and pivot them so that they are jogged at roughly a forty-five degree angle rather than the former right angle. It is important that in the act of doing so they swing the left end of the cards forward rather than the right end of the cards backward as doing the later will expose the cards to a view from the front. (See figure 220 for the incorrect position and figure 221 for the correct position, both seen from the bottom.)
While this is occurring you should turn your body slightly to the left as the front view will no longer be safe in a moment. This raises the point of angles, which one should realize from performing passes, are a concern of any such maneuver. You will now descend slightly and almost imperceptibly to allow the outer flesh of your right hand to press against the side of the jogged cards in preparation for a tenkai steal. (See figure 222.)
The right thumb now slides right on the back end of the cards allowing you to grab the jogged packet securely between the thumb around the joint and the flesh of the hand. You will now take the visible cards into the mechanics grip in a natural manner with the left hand there by stripping the jogged packet into tenkai palm. I need not be say that the angles for this should be identical to those of conventional tenkai palming. (See figure 223.)
You may now replace the palmed packet on the top of the deck as per any effective tenkai replacement technique. One consideration may be to do so under the cover of an all round square up, though personally I tend to favor the direct approach of transferring from tenkai palm to lateral palm for a more natural replacement. You could also consider making the replacement to the bottom of the deck via a similar technique in which case the visible cards could provide working cover.
My final point would be a personal peeve, namely that while a technique may be invisible in so far as the cards are not visible, it may be all too obvious due to an unnatural motion, thus I would caution you against a direct tenkai replacement which I feel is less than natural.
The second method I will suggest for an invisible strip-out takes the form of a mock square up as per the combination pass. (I have heard numerous titles applied to the combination pass including the "dip pass" and instruction on this particular pass is available from several sources. Marlo refers to it as the combination pass and thus that is the title I will use. It is taught in either his "Cardician" or "Legend" DVD, I'm not sure which, Ellusionist also teaches the pass in their "Ninja" video. I might write further on the subject of this pass at a later date as I feel a number of critical points are missing from the descriptions with which I am familiar.) For those of you who are not familiar with the combination pass, I will begin the description from the point where the cards are held in Biddle grip with the one packet (in this case the bottom packet) jogged at a right angle. The left hand must be in a rough mechanics grip around the visible cards with the fingers underneath the jogged cards ready to provide some measure of control. The final key lies in the fact that the left thumb is running along the left side of the cards concealing any view of the jogged nature of the cards. You will now twist your wrists rotating the entire assembly ninety degrees. (See figure 224.)
Ideally, either in the motion of twisting the wrists or prior to doing so you will have shifted the jog from being at a right angle to being in the form of a staggered jog parallel to the visible cards. However, this is somewhat difficult to accomplish and serves more to demonstrate the fact that the technique may be used effectively from alternate jog positions as well. I will assume you were unable to do this and operate from the point of a right angle jog. You are going to perform a mock square up here running your finger slightly across the edges of the cards apparently squaring, then rotate back the way you came, tilting the deck slightly forward and lowering your hands. (See figure 225, figure 226, figure 227 and figure 228.)
In the process of this rotation and "dip" your left hand fingers will pivot the cards outward and move them forward to the point where the upper right corner becomes accessible to the left forefinger. You will then grab the cards in a sort of Charlier grip with the four fingers of the left hand, which will then complete the strip-out under the cover of the right hand and take the packet into mechanics grip under the cover of the tilted deck in Biddle grip. Finally, you will place that packet into the left hand on top of the existing packet completing the shuffle. The previous series of photographs demonstrated a concealed look at the process the next series will demonstrate an exposed look. (See figure 229, figure 230, figure 231, figure 232, figure 233 and figure 234.)
A final particular note is for you to keep your right thumb hugging the back of the top packet as in figure 235, as there may be a tendency to leave a revealing gap as in figure 236. (See figure 235 and figure 236.)
This is a somewhat rough description of the technique, for which I apologize, it is at times such as these that I find myself fretting about descriptions and lamenting not having composed a video rather than authored a manuscript, but hopefully with some time in front of a mirror and some measure of creativity you will do well.
I promised to mention two other possibilities; I will in fact mention three. One could for example as an alternative but equally invisible, in fact potentially more so technique, strip-out the cards in the cover of the right hand at a table and perform a repl
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