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Topic: Elmsley count with pinch grip in *neither* hand? (to avoid injury)
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Nov 29, 2018 12:19AM)
Hi folks,

I'm working on the Elmsley Count -- Elmsley's original handling as described in Stephen Minch's book, in which the cards begin in left-hand pinch grip and move into right hand dealer's grip. . It's going pretty well, except that the pinch grip is bothering my left wrist (a spot on the tendon just below the base of my left thumb is hurting). Right now the pain is mild, but I know from experience that if I continue practicing the pain is going to intensify to the point where I can't practice. I have tentinitis in both of my wrists and forearms that flare up occasionally when I do I just the "right" motions. This is disappointing because I'm really excited about learning some packet tricks -- hopefully a bunch of them.

I'm pretty sure it's the pinch grip that's causing the problem, so I wondered if anyone knew of a handling that didn't involve the pinch grip at all. I've been playing around with just thumbing off cards from the left hand into the right hand -- which is the way I would count bills or cards if I weren't thinking about it, and so far it seems okay, though pretty sloppy and far from having an even meter -- but maybe that's a matter of practice.

Still, I'd be curious to know whether anyone knows of an established, proven, deceptive method that doesn't use the pinch grip in either hand -- maybe something like what I described in the previous paragraph, or maybe something with the biddle grip?

Thanks for any help people can offer.

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Nov 29, 2018 12:31AM)
P. S. After writing the above, I remembered that I'd seen something in the column Inside Ed's Head (hopefully interested people can find the relevant issue by searching for "Inside Ed's Head, March 2014, Elmsley and Eye Counts.") He got his ideas from Hartman's Card Craft (far too expensive for me to consider purchasing) and Jose de la Torre's Real Magic (which I think I actually own -- have to check on this). So a more specific version of the question that I originally asked would be, what do people think about the handling in Ed's column and the two books I referenced?

Still interested in other ideas might have.


Message: Posted by: Emory Kimbrough (Nov 29, 2018 03:55AM)
1.) Switch hands. Unlike some sleights, this one is fairly easy to do ambidextrously. I'm right-handed, and I naturally pinch with a motionless right hand and take with my left hand into either dealer's grip or pinch grip. As seen by the spectator, the cards move in the direction of reading text - left to right - which at least hypothetically might be a tiny advantage.

You said that you're prone to tendonitis in both arms, not just the left, but I'm hoping here that your right arm may be more tolerant of the pinching position than the left. I suspect the problem isn't the pinch itself, but rather that you have to give your forearm and wrist a rather extreme rotation to bring the pinched cards up to the needed horizontal position.

2.) Learn the outward-facing Elmsley count, where the cards are held in front of your chest facing outwards instead of in front of your waist facing up. The spectator looks forward towards your face to watch the count, instead of looking down on the cards... and down at your crotch. The count therefore plays to a larger group in this position, and you keep eye contact. You'll be seeing the backs of the cards as you count, which may feel a bit strange at first, but you'll soon get used to it.

You'll also soon get used to your thumb pulling back a single instead of pushing forward a d....e. Note also that the outward facing count is usually done pinch-to-pinch instead of pinch-to-dealers, but I think both ways are possible. PM me if you need a more detailed description of how to do the count facing forward.

With your arms up in front of your chest, you won't have to twist your forearms and wrists nearly as much to put the cards in the correct orientation.
Message: Posted by: Claudio (Nov 30, 2018 03:31AM)
Good ideas from Emory.

Lawrence O, a Cafť member has modified quite a few counts so that they can be performed using a Biddle Grip.

Theyíre actually easy to do and consistent. You might like them.

Hereís the post with info to see Lawrence demoing them.

Message: Posted by: Claudio (Nov 30, 2018 05:13AM)
Just a quick addition to my comment above. Lawrence teaches his break (Lawrence O's break), but you can do the counts with a regular thumb break at the inner end. Plus, if you read the whole thread, you'll find more suggestions.

Another thread rich with info and more of Lawrence's ideas can be found here: https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=351263&forum=37

As usual, pick, choose and adapt :)
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Nov 30, 2018 10:37AM)
Claudio, thanks as always for these good leads. Emory PM'd me with a detailed description of the chest-level count -- thanks again, Emory.

At this point I have a lot to "pick, choose, and adapt" from (nice phrase, by the way):

1. I found that I do in fact own Jose de la Torres's booklet Real Magic, which has a nice, natural way to deal from left to right, thumbing cards from LH dealer's grip into RH pinch grip (but the pinch is a pretty light one, so I think my wrist will withstand it).

2. Emory's ideas

3. The Lawrence O. threads you mentioned. I'd come across at least one of them before and felt intimidated. But from what you say it will be worth a second look.

4. Gary Ouellet's "Paradise Counts" in his book Close-Up Illusions. A while ago I came across your comment that those counts aren't as open-looking as you'd like. But if the other options don't work for me I'll want to try "Paradise." I *must* learn the EC! :) So I'll do whatever it takes to find a handling that I like and that doesn't aggravate my tendinitis.

And I actually like trying out different handlings anyway -- with enough experimentation I figure out what works best for me, and improve my card handling in the process. Of course, this makes for slow going, but that's me: I always prefer quality over quantity. With luck, all this varied practice will allow me to accelerate my learning one day.

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 7, 2018 07:08AM)
I'm working on the handling of Jose de la Torres. To this untutored magician it seems natural -- just thumbing the cards from left hand to right, the way I imagine right-handed laypeople would count cards -- and it doesn't bother my wrists. I'm learning it pretty quickly, although lots more practice will be needed. Too bad this handling is kind of obscure. Some currently famous person should put it in one of their books!
Message: Posted by: NicholasD (Dec 7, 2018 09:00AM)
Handle the cards with a light, gentle touch. Don't think in terms of gripping or pinching.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 7, 2018 10:42AM)
Thanks, Nicholas. That's good advice that many people have given me. I've been working in general on lightening my touch. Not finding it easy. There seems to be some sweet spot where you're holding tightly enough to keep control of the cards, but lightly enough to keep cards from binding and the presentation from looking cramped.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 7, 2018 10:44AM)
P. S. I have dry hands. Applying a drop or two of lotion helps a lot, for a while at least. Then I apply more. If I'm consistent about that I think it will help me achieve a lighter grip.
Message: Posted by: warren (Dec 8, 2018 08:20AM)
You could just purchase The Elmsley Count Project by Liam Montier that should show you everything you need to know plus some routines with it.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 8, 2018 08:59PM)
Hi Warren,

I have the complete set (forget what it's called) that Montier came up with. His teaching is really good. I'm one of those people who find the first move of the now-standard method for the EC confusing. It seems like you're going to count in one direction and then you end up counting in the other. That's one reason I like the Jose de la Torre handling. I haven't looked in enough detail at Ouellet's Paradise Counts yet, but I'm hoping that they, too avoid that U-turn. If so, then I can use the same grip for both EC and HC.

Message: Posted by: The_Mediocre_Gatsby (Dec 9, 2018 10:02AM)
Hi Bob. This post might help:

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 9, 2018 12:06PM)
Thanks, Gatsby. The video did a fantastic job of showing why that U-turn is confusing and unnatural. But I didn't understand the solution offered. The text said:

"Put the cards in your starting hand. Give a beat where the cards are held only by that hand. Do the count into the other hand."

I must be missing something. Isn't it sort of built into the usual method that three cards move while one is left behind?

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 9, 2018 12:08PM)
P. S. The count looked very clear, so whatever they'e doing is working. I just don't understand what they're doing.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 9, 2018 08:42PM)
The notion is that you start with cards in one hand, count them into the other, and so wind up with cards in the other hand.
The suggested strategy is to do what you usually do - but wait a moment before you start the process so there's some time for the audience to notice which hand is holding the packet. Then start the count.

It's a strange sleight which looks great from the performer's view.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 9, 2018 10:21PM)
Do you mean the spectator's view, Jon?

I'm looking at Gerry Griffin's explanation since it's handy. The following description won't be new to anybody, but I'm trying to compare what he does to the advice that I quoted above from the video that Gatsby recommended.

Griffin begins with the packet in LH dealing position. He's going to count from the right hand to left. On beat one, he pushes the top card out and to the left, using his left thumb, and thus breaks the top card free of the rest of the packet. His left hand remains motionless while his right hand moves to the left to grasp the bottom three cards in a right-hand pinch grip.

Once his right hand has reached the bottom three cards, the *right* hand becomes motionless, while the *left* hand takes away the top card. From then on, during beats two through four, the right hand remains still while the left hand does moves to pull off (and deposit!) further cards.

As far as I can tell, this is the way just about everybody teaches the sleight these days. What's disconcerting is that the cards are going to be counted from right to left, and yet they begin in the left hand. So there *could* be a moment of disorientation at the beginning, in which the viewer is confused about which direction the magician is counting in. As I watch Griffin, I don't feel disoriented. Maybe the key is in the way that the right hand moves at first but after that it's always the left hand that moves??

I'm having trouble seeing how the description in the "jerx" video solves the problem, because that video says, "put the cards in your starting hand." In contrast, Griffin, Daryl, and Giobbi start with the cards in the hand where they're all going to end up!

I'd appreciate any help people can offer. Out of the zillions of handlings, I want to end up with one that doesn't bother my wrists. My question about the U-turn may be moot, because Griffin holds the cards in a pretty narrow pinch grip (though I do take NicholasD's point about lightness of touch).


Message: Posted by: Claudio (Dec 10, 2018 06:34AM)
Hi Bob,

The issue about counting direction and which hand holds the cards at the start of the count has been debated on the Cafť for years. Youíll find quite a few threads on this topic.

In my opinion, and experience, itís a moot point. If you learn one of the prevalent handlings taught in the literature youíll be fine. More often than not the EC is not used to explicitly count the cards (1,2,3,4) but to display them while implicitly counting them. You seem to have an issue with the pinch grip (because of health reason). I had a look at my own grip and I use two extended fingers (1st and 2nd) and thereís hardly any tension there. So, in your case, it might be a technical issue.

However, though I donít have Jose de la Torreís booklet where he explains his handling, I understood your description and like it. I practised it and itís actually very natural once youíre familiar with it. But, and bear in mind Iím going with your description and I am filling the blanks, it might be tricky to be to do a two-card thumb push-out, so I donít think his handling is easy. Correct me if Iím wrong.

Iíll try to shoot a video once Iím back home.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 10, 2018 06:54AM)
Hi Claudio,

I'll PM you later today and give you a bit more detail on de la Torre's handling. In my preliminary attempts it seemed to go well, perhaps because of some details that I didn't share.

Interesting that you use two extended fingers -- that gives me hope that I can also learn the more prevalent handling. I'm having trouble visualizing how you can keep hold of the bottom three cards in that position, so I'd be interested in how you accomplish that.

Talk to you soon.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Dec 10, 2018 10:46AM)

I've PM'd you. Take your time -- I know you're out of town.

To anyone who's interested: I think that by describing Gerry Griffin's handling, I convinced myself that the U-turn in the usual handling needn't be a problem. In Griffin's demo, it's very clear in which direction the cards are going, and I think that's because of the details of which hand is moving and which hand is still during different parts of the count. If I'm wrong, I'm always happy to learn!
Message: Posted by: PaulPosition (Jan 3, 2019 10:54AM)
Well, in that Jerx video, the one big difference is he's not taking three (bottom) cards from the dealing hand and counting them back in, he's taking four card into the 'new' dealing hand and then counting four cards from it. A solution to a problem I didn't know exist, seeing as I always (mis?)read the instruction that way (from Mentzer's Counts Cuts & Subtleties, mostly).

Ie, the solution to the u-turn is to time-misdirect by doing a three-point turn.

That does nothing for your pain, though... :/
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Jan 3, 2019 01:06PM)
Interesting comments, Paul. I'm glad you pointed out that difference in the Jerx video, which slipped by me. I'll look at it again. "Three-point turn!" -- that's pretty funny. There's a lot to be said for misreading -- you're the third magician here (that I know of!!) who improved a handling by misreading.

As for pain, Claudio kindly put up some videos showing how he does the count. Instead of the pinch-grip, he has a nice relaxed grip with his thumb on top of the packet, and (some of?) his other fingers *extended* underneath. I think I can solve the problem by using what he showed me, possibly in combination with some of the other ideas and videos that people have mentioned.

A huge help -- thank you so much, everybody.

Message: Posted by: stickmondoo (Feb 1, 2019 02:48AM)
In his Penguin lecture Howard Hamburg teaches the Veeser concept. It does the same thing as an elmsley count but without the pinch grip.
Message: Posted by: mlippo (Feb 1, 2019 03:02AM)
[quote]On Dec 8, 2018, Bob G wrote:
Hi Warren,

I'm one of those people who find the first move of the now-standard method for the EC confusing. It seems like you're going to count in one direction and then you end up counting in the other. [...]
Bob [/quote]

I learnt the "now std handling" from Card College 2. Before that I used to use other handlings.
Well, when I read Giobbi's instructions and looked at the drawings, I was convinced that the images had been (by mistake) printed the other way round!
When I realized it was not so, it took me a week (not exaggerating) to get used to counting legitimately four cards from one hand to the other, using that description. Really: before even trying to perform the EC, I just did that, several times a day for a week. When I eventually got used to it, I started practising the actual false display...

Message: Posted by: mlippo (Feb 1, 2019 03:06AM)
[quote]On Dec 10, 2018, Claudio wrote:
Hi Bob,

More often than not the EC is not used to explicitly count the cards (1,2,3,4) but to display them while implicitly counting them. [...]

Exactly! Claudio is absolutely right on this. And it does make a difference from a psychological point of view, both yours and your spectators' ...
You're just showing that all the cards have blue backs, or that they are all blank on the face except for one joker and so on ...

At least that's what I think

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Feb 1, 2019 12:05PM)
Hi Mark,

Claudio is right about most things -- actually *everything* that he's said to me, at least -- so I'm sure you're right too. :) Since I haven't yet mastered the sleight, I can't judge for myself, but I'll keep this advice in mind (about display vs. count) when I start performing tricks with the EC.

I tried to practice the legitimate display the way you did, and got tangled up. Definitely worth trying again, though. The good news is that the book I mentioned (I *think* in this thread) by Ian Kendall, Basic Training, breaks sleights down in wonderfully excruciating detail -- even more than Giobbi does -- and Kendall covers the EC in his first chapter. I'm making lots of progress by following his instructions.

Also, I'm finding that I'm not hurting my wrists and forearms -- partly because of Claudio's video that showed his relaxed pinch-grip, and partly because I started taking seriously everyone's advice about holding the cards with a light touch.

Nice to hear that I'm not the only one who was confused about that seeming change in direction! I gradually have become comfortable with it -- it doesn't look like a change in direction if you're careful about when and in which direction you move your forearms. (Obviously you know that -- I'm just happy to have figured it out.) In the scheme of things, a week isn't long at all to figure out a new sleight. Very funny that you thought the pictures were reversed. This is an example of what a friend of mine says: "Virtue is its own punishment." If you hadn't been so good about looking that the pictures carefully, they wouldn't have confused you!


Message: Posted by: Bob G (Feb 1, 2019 12:13PM)

I just noticed your post about the Veeser concept. Thanks for the tip. I haven't tried the VC, but I've always wondered whether there were situations where VC would be better than EC or vice versa. In his "Counts..." book, Jerry Mentzer seems to imply, in the section on the VC, that there *are* such situations, but I can't imagine what they'd be. Perhaps you can enlighten me?

Two advantages I can see to the VC are that (1) it would be less likely than the EC to aggravate my tendinitis (although I *think* I have that solved, as I described to Mark), and (2) in tricks that used both the EC and the Hamman count, there wouldn't be a discrepancy between the way the packets are held in the two counts.

One last question: Does Howard Hamburg teach the VC in more detail than Mentzer does? If so, I might spring for the Hamburg lecture. If not, I might not -- all too easy to spend lots of money on magic!


Message: Posted by: Bob G (Feb 1, 2019 10:02PM)
Hi again, Stickmondoo,

I have a guess (and I'm sure lots of people know the answer to this) that there's an important difference between the Elmsley and Veeser counts: the final arrangement of the four cards is different. I was in a hurry, so I may have made a mistake, but here's what I found.

Say we start with a packet of four cards, all face-up, in the order A-2-3-4 from the face of the packet (i. e., the Ace is the card we can see when we hold the packet face-up).

By the end of the Elmsley count, we arrive at the order A-4-2-3.

With a quick reading, I wasn't able to follow Mentzer's description of the Veeser count. So I don't know what the final order is.

In his Countthesaurus, Racherbaumer gives a completely different use of the VC, using an eight-card packet. He also says that there are lots of variations, but doesn't elaborate.

So I'm guessing that the two counts aren't interchangeable. But I could easily be wrong. :)

Any ideas, folks?

Message: Posted by: IanKendall (Feb 18, 2019 04:50PM)

It's very pleasing to read that you are making progress using my instructions for the Ghost Count. I've only had time to scan this thread, but by now you probably have realised that there should be no tension at all in the holding hand; even if you only take that from my lesson it should help with your pain.

Feel free to get in touch if you need any other pointers. I'm rarely on here these days, so email is best.

Take care, Ian
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Feb 18, 2019 07:06PM)
Hi Ian,

I'm delighted to hear from you. I've bookmarked nearly every chapter in your book and am looking forward to working on the French Drop, Hamman Count, etc., once I've mastered the Elmsley Count. I also read your message on another thread, about your reasons for handling the EC the way you do as of about 15 years ago. I do have some questions, and will contact you by email.

Congratulations on a book that not only goes into sleights in the detail they require, with excellent accompanying photos, but which also helps students slowly build their way up to each sleight, so that they're not trying to learn everything about a given sleight at once.

Best wishes,

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Mar 7, 2019 12:56PM)
Just a follow-up for those interested: I'm making rapid progress in learning the handling that Ian describes in his book. He starts in LH dealer's grip and then counts the cards from right hand to back into left hand, but I've come to agree with the people who said that that isn't a problem. If done smoothly, with all the motion to the left and never to the right, it's quite clear, IMO, that the all cards are being counted or displayed, so spectators are convinced they've seen all the cards passing them like all the cars of a freight train.

And the great thing is, my tendinitis isn't flaring up. I think there's something misleading about the term "pinch grip" (though I don't have a better suggestion) -- the term implies that one is clutching the cards very tightly. But in fact, as I think Ian suggested above, only a very light touch is required.

Thanks for all the help, folks.

Message: Posted by: scottvraneshfallin (Apr 10, 2019 03:47PM)
[quote]On Mar 7, 2019, Bob G wrote:
And the great thing is, my tendinitis isn't flaring up. I think there's something misleading about the term "pinch grip" (though I don't have a better suggestion) -- the term implies that one is clutching the cards very tightly. But in fact, as I think Ian suggested above, only a very light touch is required.

I just came across your post and wanted to thank you for it. I, too, have been working on my Elmsley and Jordan Counts and I, too, was taking the term "pinch grip" a bit too literally. I eased up and things are moving along more easily now. Thanks and I'm glad your hands are feeling better!
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Apr 10, 2019 04:32PM)
Hi scottvraneshfallin,

It was really sweet of you to write. I'm glad the thread was helpful to you.

Best Regards,