After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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The forefinger will now pull down on roughly half the deck creating a break, soon to be a cut. (See figure 148.)

Figure 148.

This lower portion of the deck will now be transferred between the fore finger and thumb till it is next to the upper portion, which is balanced carefully during this transition with the three last fingers in their respective positions and a slight amount of aide from the forefinger. (See figure 149 and figure 150.)

Figure 149.

Figure 149.

By pivoting your thumb slightly at this point you can cause the lower inner corners to make contact with one another and provide some additional stability for the next movement. (See figure 151.)

Figure 151.

You will now move the pinky from the end of the deck to the side, next to the ring finger and then transfer the middle finger up to the other end of the deck. (See figure 152.)

Figure 152.

At this point, I wish to offer you some special advice based on the difficulties I had when I was first learning this flourish. You are now going to interlace the packets together and while those who have practiced the process extensively may be able to do so quickly and easily, it is probably the most difficult portion of the shuffle for the majority of people. (An additional note, you will find this shuffle to be virtually impossible with those cheap paper decks, thus I recommend you use a conventional Bicycle, Bee, Caravan, Tally-ho etc. deck at least while learning this process and experiment with other decks later as some will simply not interlace properly.) Thus, in order to assist in this process I would advise you to apply pressure between the packets using your thumb to increase the previous pivot, but at the same time, to glide the packet upwards, sliding it along the length of the deck until the point where the cards interlace. I believe you will find that like wheels falling into tracks, this gliding process will greatly assist you if you are having difficulties. (See figure 153 and figure 154.)

Once the packets are interlaced, you can either simply push them together, or do the far more preferable flourish of having them spring together in bridge fashion. To accomplish this the forefinger will curl inwards providing stability and upward force, while the other fingers curl inwards causing the cards to bend against the hand around the base of the fingers. (See figure 155.)

Figure 155.

Now, to let the cards spring together you will remove the forefinger and ease up on the pressure you are offering with the other fingers. This may take some practice, but I at least feel it is well worth it due to the impressive and appealing display.

Charlier Shuffle

What I will now describe is a method of shuffling the cards which I am nearly certain is not original, however, having learned it on my own through natural experimentation and failing any other name, I have decided to bestow on it the title of its father, the Charlier Cut, for it is in essence a multiple Charlier cut. I will warn you immediately, I perform this shuffle only with a bridge-sized deck as my hands are not large enough to successfully accomplish the feat with a poker-sized deck. However, for those of you better equipped in this regard feel free to use whatever deck works for you. I will warn you immediately that this process does not form the appealing display that a traditional weave shuffle offers, however, I hate to leave ideas in the dark and so for those of you who would venture into the realm of useless practice and study for the sake of itself here is the description of the Charlier shuffle.

As in the regular Charlier shuffle, or the beginning of the one-handed weave shuffle, you will begin with the deck in the formerly described Charlier grip. On this occasion however, the forefinger and pinky will relinquish their control and allow you to grip the deck between the thumb and middle and ring fingers. The thumb will then release the lower half of the deck allowing it to fall into the cradle of the hand ala the traditional Charlier cut. (See figure 156.)

Figure 156.

Again, following the methodology familiar to the traditional Charlier cut, the forefinger and pinky will push the packet upwards until it makes contact with the flesh of the thumb. (See figure 157.)

Figure 157.

It is at this tenure that our modus operandi varies from the traditional course; since rather than allowing the upper packet to drop, the thumb will allow only a small portion of the packet to drop by releasing pressure on it, this will leave you with a rough pyramid shape. (See figure 158.)

Figure 158.

You will now allow cards from the lower packet to fall into place on top of the existing ones, then alternate back to the upper packet, then lower, then upper and so on, gradually weaving all the cards together. I cannot explain, either in writing or visually how exactly to accomplish this except to say that the thumb will pivot back and forth as you will find once you begin experimentation. It may initially require some practice and you may not feel it is worthwhile, after all, in the minds of most this is not a shuffle, though in reality it most certainly is, but it may be appealing to a few of you.

I would point out as well that you can use this procedure to maintain top and/or bottom stock if you so desire, or even, with some greater difficulty modify the process to create a blind shuffle. There are then numerous ways in which you may vary the procedure in order to render it functionally effective.


Before I begin this section I wish to point out that the faro shuffle is sufficiently complicated that Marlo devoted an entire book to the subject and Allan Ackerman devoted an entire DVD to the subject when each took only the same amount material to describe false dealing in general. As such, you should be forewarned that I will inevitably leave many aspects, tips and subtleties out of this description. In all honesty, I have personally found little use for faro shuffles and though two uses will be discussed in this particular work, I include it here more out of completeness than anything else. For those of you who are particularly interested in the subject I would refer you to some of the other numerous sources available on either applications or technique.

Like most of what I will outline in this work, I have never been taught to faro, I merely learned of the concept and then taught myself as such my method and description may vary somewhat from a conventional approach, thus if my readers are offended that I do not offer a more practical method I apologize.

What then is a faro shuffle? It is a shuffle in which every first card comes from the one packet and every second card comes from the other packet thus creating a perfect interlace free of any packets. A perfect faro, is where this is done between the entire deck, which requires the ability to cut exactly 26 cards down when initially dividing the deck. This is not actually as difficult as it may sound, in fact you should be able to get relatively close on your first attempt and with some practice it should be possible almost every time. On the bright side of things, a perfect faro is often not required and in those cases where it is you will generally be working with a new deck and thus be able to use key cards in order to verify the accuracy of the cut, which I will describe later. I understand, that Allan Ackerman offers some tips on cutting to 26 in his DVD and I would suspect that Marlo does as well, but for those of us who have not been exposed to the work of such legends on this subject simple estimation will have to suffice. On the bright side of things, you can compare the packet sizes to one another and adjust accordingly. Also, it helps to try and cut the packets exactly in half rather than trying to cut to 26 so that advice may help you.

Regrettably, since I have no real suggestions to offer you on the subject of dividing the deck aside from do so evenly, exactly 26 cards down and practice doing so, I will move onto the actual process, which is, I must admit very difficult to describe as it is really a matter of feeling. When I first tried to perform a faro it didn't work well at all, essentially I tried to push the packets together or twist or jiggle etc. What I have found is the best method to start off, goes as follows. Start by squaring the packets (if the packets are not square when you begin you are likely going to encounter problems). Take each of them firmly, you will observe my preferred grip in the photographs, but this is by no means the required grip. Take the corner nearest you of the one packet and move it flush against the edge of the other packet so that this corner is the only point of contact. (I would highly recommend as I did with the one handed weave shuffle that you use a deck of generally accepted cards such as Bicycle or Bee, I personally find that Bees tend to faro the best. I would also recommend that you practice the process, at least initially with a brand new deck as old cards make the process extremely difficult at times.) (See figure 159.)

Figure 159.

Now run that corner along the edge of the cards gently, but while apply a small quantity of pressure, this should allow the cards to begin their interlace. Take care that they interlace in such a manner that the first card in the one packet follows directly after the first card in the other packet. (See figure 160.)

Figure 160.

Once you have this interlace started pivot the packet with just the corner touching so that the full end is making contact with the end of the other packet, or, rather, it is parallel with the other packet as the two packets do not need to be square. The reason for this is quite simple. Often you will find you get a nearly perfect interlace but one or two cards will have bunched together and thus been missed requiring a reweave. This used to be a frequent problem for me, however, I have discovered that by using the full end of the packet, rather than merely one corner I have significantly reduced the problem. (See figure 161.)

Figure 161.

What follows I would probably best describe as a gentle rolling of force. You will maintain the force you used to interlace the packets initially but now you will gently roll that force from the top of the packet to the bottom of the packet causing all the cards to interlace. If this description does not work well for you consider a slow rocking motion rocking the one packet backwards (possibly accompanied by a very slight (to the point of imperceptibility) twisting motion), while holding the other packet in place. This "motion" if it can be thus described is so subtle that I cannot possibly demonstrate it to you with photographs, which is why, as I mentioned before, you must really get a feel for the process. This action should leave you with the following. (See figure 162.)

Figure 162.

Figure 162.

I cannot stress to you highly enough that the packets must be square to begin with, if you have imperfections with slight breaks in the cards you will end up with cases where the weave is imperfect. (See figure 163 for a view of a packet that is not perfectly square and figure 164 for a view of an imperfect weave.)

In the event that you end up with a small clump of cards interrupting your weave as in figure 164, all is not lost. You can unweave the cards up to the point of the flaw, then I recommend you apply pressure to the packet in question holding it tightly squared while you pivot the other packet slightly in order to focus the weave and reweave past that point, at which time you may release the pressure. Now, a word of caution here, I am suggesting firmness. The reality is that being loose is the key, as you will find that looseness allows the packets to interlace quite nicely and can solve 90% of the problems most people encounter when learning to faro. Mind you, loose is also a somewhat relative and subjective term and in this case applies mostly to the force you exert on the sides of the packet while holding them.

I apologize if that description is insufficient for you, though at the same time for those new to the process I would caution you not to give up easily, the faro is a difficult technique, I once heard a group of magicians discussing it and they felt it required a year of practice to master. I personally feel this is a gross exaggeration, at least it was for me, but it does demonstrate the need for concerted effort, this is not a technique you will likely master in a single day of practice.

Two final points before we move on. First, is the subject of key cards. Often the purpose of a faro is to perform a "reset", which we will discuss later, but in any case this will require performing a series of perfect faros. In this case there is a rapid method of determining if the cut location is accurate, namely by verifying which card you have cut to. The order of those eight cards is as follows: KC, AD, 7C, 4D, 9S, 5S, 3S, 2S.

Second, is the distinction between an "in-faro" and an "out-faro". This is simply a question of which card becomes the top card in the deck. If you use an in-faro, the top card of the bottom packet becomes the new top card, or the first card in the weave, in the case of an out-faro the top card of the top of the deck remains the first card in the weave and the top card of the deck. Thus, in the case of a perfect faro, the bottom card also remains the bottom card. A simple way to remember this (though it is in my view of little importance) is that in an out-faro the outside cards are retained, while in the case of an in-faro, the top and bottom cards go into the deck.

Unfortunately, faro shuffles tend for most to require different handling than a conventional shuffle, thus if you intend to use a lot of faro shuffles you may wish to adjust your conventional weave shuffling to more closely resemble the faro process and away from a riffle shuffle. Alternatively, it is possible to perform a tabled faro, which resembles to some degree, a riffle shuffle. Or, for the truly insane, it is possible to perform a perfect faro weave shuffle, something I myself lack the motivation to master at this time.

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