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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Handing a stacked deck to a spectator (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of TheMetalMagician
Hello all, here's a newbie question. There are a lot of card tricks that require the deck to be prepared in some way. A certain card must be at the top, or the bottom, or the 13th card from the top et al, or the magician has memorized the entire deck. Similarly, there are some tricks (especially key card tricks) where the spectator is asked to cut the cards and complete the cut.

So for example, what do you do when you ask a spectator "take a few cards off the top of the deck" and they say, "Should I shuffle the deck first?"

Or when you say to the spectator, "Now cut the cards and complete the cut" and they say, "Why don't I shuffle them instead?"

The only thing I can ever think to do is pretend I have THEIR best interests in mind, like, "Nah, you don't have to do that!" or "Nah, I'll keep it simple for you!"

Feedback will be welcome.

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Loyal user
244 Posts

Profile of Signet
He way to get around this is for YOU to shuffle or cut the deck before handing it to the spec. This means you need to learn a false shuffle or two. The easiest one is the Charlie or "Haymow". Check out Darryl's videos on basic card handling. John Bannon has some good stuff on his Move Zero series. I'm not much of a card handler. But these work for me.
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Eternal Order
24096 Posts

Profile of Dynamike
Learn how to switch decks. Present other card tricks at first to the spectator where they shuffle the cards. Switch decks and present the deck using your stacked cards.

There is a book titled "The Art of Switching Decks."

There are other ways to switch a deck to. You can try "Cold Case" or "The Cooler."
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Houston, Tx, United States
90 Posts

Profile of Silversleights04
In my opinion, I'd say an even better investment than deck switching would be focusing on a good false cut or shuffle and some simple audience management. If they see you cutting or shuffling before even choosing a volunteer, they won't feel compelled to do it themselves. Choosing the right spectator is also important. Don't pick the person that would likely challenge you or enjoys trying to "figure out" the magic, they may try to deviate from instructions. Something as simple and generic as saying, "In a moment, I'm going to give you a deck of cards for an interesting little experiment. But before I do I need your full attention. Follow my every instruction to the letter and something amazing might just happen here...," This tells the spectator that the amazing thing is contingent on them following your instructions exactly. If they still choose to deviate, just be ready to switch gears into another back-up effect like a Do as I Door an Invisible Deck (the best possible card trick out if you're going to carry a second deck, IMO)
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Profile of Topper2
The problem with the false shuffle scenario is that you've still got to get the deck set up in the first place and if it isn't practical to do that during the course of a preceding trick then you're stuck with doing the 'set-up' trick as an opener or as an only trick.

Where an elaborate set-up is needed it really is more effective to use a normal deck for a few tricks, then switch in the prepared deck, do a false shuffle and go into the trick in question.

If you think of a trick like Stewart James's 'I can go further than that' (or whatever you call it!) that is a brilliant finishing item but far too obvious if used as an opener, so a deck switch is the best solution to give yourself a strong climax to your routine.

There are some set-ups that you can do openly during a routine, and if that's an option then you have no problem, for example there are effects that enable you to divide the pack into reds and blacks and once you've done that you can go straight into 'Out of this World'. If it's a simple set-up, say of getting four of a kind to the top, then I'd say practice your skills at culling and you'll be able to do that during the course of a routine. If it's just a case of leaving one card on top of the deck (say a selected card you've controlled to the top) then I'd just palm it off and give the cards to the spectator to shuffle before replacing the card, but of course you'd need to hone your palming skills.

So there are several way to achieve your end, depending what the end is, but deck switching is potentially very powerful so mugging up on that is no bad thing.
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The City of Angels
805 Posts

Profile of danaruns
Hi Metal Magician,

Maybe best for the newbie magician is to graduate from self-working and mathematical card tricks to tricks where the magician controls what happens, and then you're home free.

Otherwise, learning to choose volunteers wisely, and learning to control an audience gets you 99% of the way there. For the other 1%, perhaps a super drunk or unreasonably combative volunteer, you simply have to have outs available. But when you're a relative newbie performing for friends and family, they lack respect for your magic and are much more likely to cause problems so you have to be much more in control.

A golden rule: if you think your volunteer will try to mess up the trick, don't let them handle your props. The first thing I do when I think I've got a problem person on my hands, is I don't let them hold the deck. Sometimes I don't even let them hold a card. Rather than "pick a card," I'll fan the deck and tell them to simply touch a card. Then I handle the cards from there. If they're just bent on messing things up, I've gone so far as to have them pick a card, and then I tell them to take their seat and sit on the card and I'll get back to them later. And then I simply pick someone else to help with the trick and never get back to them. I just leave them sitting on the card that they think is going to be used later in the trick.

Likewise, for every trick you do for the rest of your life, have "outs" ready. What will you do if someone messes up the trick, either accidentally or on purpose? You can move smoothly to another trick. You can be "magician in trouble" and then rescue yourself with "What was your card?" and then you "find it" in an invisible deck you keep in your back pocket. You can palm the special card while the spectator messes with the rest of the deck. At one time I had a pendant of the Queen of Hearts I wore as a necklace, and I would force the QH on the volunteer, so that no matter what they did with that card, I always had it around my neck. There are a bunch of things you can do, and the audience won't know the difference. Just anticipate what the problems can be, and have "outs" ready for those situations.

Personally, I don't do many tricks with a stacked deck because it is so limiting. I will use crimps, breathers, corner shorts, and things like that, instead. If I need a card(s) somewhere I'll usually keep them on top or on the bottom so I can easily control them, and the big rule is that if I need to maintain an order I NEVER let the volunteer handle the deck.

So after all I've typed here, maybe that's your best answer. IF YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN AN ORDER, DON'T LET THE VOLUNTEER HANDLE THE DECK. Still, volunteers can mess things up in a variety of ways, so you should commit the rest of what I and others have offered to your preparation and skill set.

So for example, what do you do when you ask a spectator "take a few cards off the top of the deck" and they say, "Should I shuffle the deck first?"

If you simply set the deck on the table and tell them to take a few cards off the top, they won't be tempted to shuffle because they don't have the deck in their hands.

Or when you say to the spectator, "Now cut the cards and complete the cut" and they say, "Why don't I shuffle them instead?"

Again, put the deck on the table and don't let them pick the whole thing up. Just tell them, "Cut the cards about in the middle," or "deep enough that they get a good cut," or something like that. Giving specific directions like "in the middle" makes them think more about your instructions than messing you up. Telling them to make sure it's a "good cut" satisfies their desire to make it a contest. And AFTER they do that, THEN tell them to complete the cut. Very simple things like that can make a huge difference in your volunteer control.

Finally, learn to do tricks that you won't get messed up on if someone engages in mischief. For instance, there are many tricks where the magic "happens in the spectator's hands," but the magic is essentially done before the volunteer ever gets hold of the deck. Good card magicians don't take risks. If the spectator gets to shuffle or hold the cards, it's because they CAN'T mess it up no matter what they do. One of my favorite young card guys, Ben Earl, can use a deck stacked to the nines, but he does it all on the table and the volunteer never gets more than a single card to mess with.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
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The City of Angels
805 Posts

Profile of danaruns
Sorry. Ignore my long message above. It comes down to the title of this thread and a three word response.

Title: Handing a stacked deck to a spectator.
Answer: DON'T DO IT.

The end.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Harry Lorayne
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New York City
8371 Posts

Profile of Harry Lorayne
EASY - learn to do strictly IMPROMTPU card effects/routines - no set-ups of any kind necessary. I've written quite a few books containing/teaching hundreds of such effects/routines - with borrowed decks JUST FOR YOU. Start reading the good stuff, buddy.
Mr. Woolery
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Inner circle
Fairbanks, AK
1762 Posts

Profile of Mr. Woolery
There is a time and situation for impromptu material. It is a great way to recover from someone shuffling your stack, for example! Harry’s material is supposed to be very good.

However, the use of a stack allows for tricks that can’t be done with an actual random mix of cards. If you want to do this sort of material, do! But a good false shuffle and cut will be very helpful. A line I have used when asked whether my participant could shuffle the cards was “last time someone wanted to shuffle, he dropped the deck. I only want you to take one card, so a shuffle wouldn’t make it any more random. Just give it a cut if you want.” I don’t know if it will work for you.

One of the great things about card magic is there are so many tricks and so many methods. Stacks are one method.

Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22165 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
I was lucky enough to see Harry Lorayne in Chicago years ago. What a master with a deck of cards.

Learn how to CULL a deck while simply spreading the cards in your hands. False shuffles do not change the order of a preset deck. False cuts do not change the order of preset deck.

Learn these and while you are introducing yourself, false shuffle and false cut the deck several times using different methods.

Even with a preset deck, you should be able to simply spread the cards out on a close up mat, then pick them up and begin. If that is not fair enough for the person, chose another spectator and ignore the guy, he will be more trouble then it is worth.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
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Profile of TheMetalMagician

Great responses everyone, thank you!!!

I have a LOT of practicing to do, but I will take these words to heart.
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Profile of HofzinsersFan
For me it would be a choice of two things:
1.Dont hand it to them!
2.False shuffle and also manage the audience to be conditioned into accepting your shuffles as being enough. Make the shuffling innocuous and unimportant. Lead them away from that kind of thinking and keep moving the trick forward, is my way. Smile
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"You cannot BUY a TRICK.
TRICKS, somewhat like music, only exist while they are being PERFORMED.
An EFFECT cannot be BOUGHT either. An EFFECT is what the spectator perceives.
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Inner circle
Beverley, UK
1022 Posts

Profile of wulfiesmith
Get yourself a S.U.M. Deck (set up marked deck) ... by Roy Johnson.
The cards are a full deck setup, but also marked.

Which means the deck can be cut, and for example, be split into 4 piles.
But you know the top card and the bottom card of each pile ... and the card which follows.
Plus any chosen card, and the card above, or the card below.

Everything is there right in front of you.
Yet the spectator sees nothing.

Or deal the cards, announcing the cards before you deal, and the cards which follow.
The climax to any ambitious card routine.
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