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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Shuffled not Stirred » » Osterlind Breakthrough Card System and stacked decks?? (13 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jezza
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I have studied Osterlind's stacked deck in the 'Osterlind Breakthrough Card System' and what I wonder is that surely the average laymen wouldn't have a clue it was a stacked deck if you just used the simple 8 kings order and chased for the suits.
It's simple to remember and I just think as good as Osterlind's stack is, the laymen surely wouldn't have a clue especially with a few false shuffles.
ddyment
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Jezza wrote:
Quote:
... surely the average laymen wouldnt have a clue it was a stacked deck if you just used the simple 8 kings chased order...

There is some truth in this; a sufficiently talented performer could probably get away with using a pack in new deck order. But why treat the problem as "how little effort could I put in and still get away with it?". Doesn't it honour the art more by doing everything you can to make the methodology as undetectable as possible?

Trust me... a red-black colour alternation, coupled with a strict rotational sequence of suits, is not as "invisible" as some would like to believe (some laymen are not "average"). One can eliminate this from the traditional Eight Kings / CHaSeD without going to the Osterlind method. But the latter does take things a step further. For really good methodology, use a memorized deck, which is even more unfathomable.

Practitioners should strive to make their work the best it can be, not the most trivial.

... Doug
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Stephen Long
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Some very good points, Doug.
Another thing I might add is this: surely even an "average layman" would think that there was something fishy going on if the cards perfectly alternated red/black after you've been 'shuffling' the cards.

Also, a couple of the most powerful stacked deck effects I perform require my participant to look through the face up deck and think of one that they see. I certainly wouldn't want to be using an eight kings or Si Stebbins stack in a trick like this.

Eight kings and Si Stebbins are fine for some effects. It all depends on what you want to perform.
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MagicbyCarlo
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The strength of Osterlind's System is that you can hand it to a spectator and it isn't apparent.

His Challenge Mind reading effect, in fact, does exactly that. I have done this literally hundreds of times and NEVER has anyone other than magicians inferred a system or stack. Even magicians unfamiliar with the system infer a memorized deck rather than a system or stack. It just much less transparent than Si Stebbins or Eight Kings.

I use Osterlind's ruse of showing no stack by removing the strategically placed jokers from the deck, as I spread through the face up deck searching for them. Add a couple of false shuffles and you have a miracle!

I cannot tell you how strong this is, You just have to try it and watch the jaws hit the floor. This would become the ONE effect I would keep if I were forced to throw away all effects except for one.
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ddyment
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MagicbyCarlo wrote:
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The strength of Osterlind's System is that you can hand it to a spectator and it isn't apparent...


Sure, but this is a strength of any decent stack; it's not unique to Osterlind's. Many cyclic stacks as originally published need some updating to correct the red-black alternation problem, but there are simple solutions for this, and they yield stacks that are very difficult to spot.

I have nothing against Osterlind's stack; in my essay on full-deck stacks I acknowledge that it's likely the best cyclic stack available.

But cyclic stacks aren't the only ones. My point is that if you are building your skills as a top-notch performer, why not learn a memorized deck, which enables a much wider range of compelling effects? And then you don't need a cyclic stack.

... Doug
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jezza
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Fair points. I will take the time to master Osterlind's breakthrough system.

Thanks.

jezza
Koheleth
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I quite enjoy Osterlind, I have a knack for math, but the more you use the sequence the more familiar you become with it. the system is complicated at first but that is where its strengths are; reverse engineering it without knowing the method is practically impossible. I have had smarter audiences pick up on the CHaSeD order, which is also flawed if they replace their chosen card next to a card of the same suit. The only limitation of the Osterlind, much like that of marked decks, is the "too perfect" principle. Simply naming the chosen card as he describes in the paper will not get great results. Hiding behind false steps that are not needed for the tricks provides misdirection of the mechanism. If you can memorize a deck as Doug suggests then you are bulletproof, but this is more even difficult then it sounds and can use valuable mental energy that should be focused on your patter and reading your audience, in my humble opinion. - K.
ddyment
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Wow, we've come a ways since 2004! For the record, I no longer consider the Osterlind BCS to be the best cyclic stack. Better approaches, in my view, have emerged since this was originally written. I have updated my aforementioned essay accordingly.

I do still believe that a memorized stack is an even better solution, but also recognize that its results-to-effort ratio is not appropriate for everyone. And of course one could certainly memorize one's favourite cyclic stack, but in my view (as long as you're going to the trouble to memorize a stack), it's better to memorize a sequence that's designed to accomplish more than just identify the following card.
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mtgoldstein
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So memorize the BCS! Or better yet the Quickerstack!!! Smile
Nicolino
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The Quickerstack is a very good in-between alternative in almost every sense: being tetradistic it can be shown relatively freely but not totally. Being algorithmic one can backtrack a card as long as it's not memorized or in case of a mental blackout.

However, even QuickerStack is only an (admittedly comfortable) substitute for the full monte, namely a "true" mem deck that fits exactly your requirements.
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pnielan
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I've memorized Tamariz's stack. (But I have every one of Aronson's books)

As Doug hints at, if was doing it over, I'd design my own stack based on the built-in benefits I want. I wouldn't care if it was easy to memorize; that's a very small part of the time invested on the speed required for mastery and effortless use.

The trouble is that you really have to work with a memorized deck for quite awhile in order to design a stack well.

But I'm not going to do it over. Given that I've really mastered a stack, I don't want any possible confusion or slowdown that might result for mastering a 2nd stack. I don't think it's worth the tradeoff.
Chano
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I do think the BCS' pattern is harder to determine by lay people than Si Stebbins or 8 Kings. I think the confidence that there's no way they can figure it out, let's me perform better with it. I've handed several to the audience (some of them, my family) to keep, and never heard anything back. I'm sure there are other stacks, but this one works for me so I've never felt a need to learn a different one. I agree that a memorized deck in totally random order would be best, but like I said, I haven't felt the need to do it. I might try that someday using Harry Lorayne's method. For people who have memorized decks, do you do anything to the order, or do you just shuffle them a bit and memorize whatever order they're in?
Louigi Verona
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Ddyment, I am reading your essay on the decks. You write:

Quote:
At the other extreme is a stack like the Breakthrough Card System, in which it is quite difficult (for most people; mathematicians are not so easily deceived) to determine that the cards are ordered.


I am now learning to use BCS, which I also find a thing of unparalleled beauty. I must say whether you are a mathematician or not, I cannot agree that BSC looks stacked. Unless you wink at the said mathematician, he will never suspect that it is a stacked deck.

In fact, one can argue that a deck truly shuffled still might have some mathematic principle to the sequence that hasn't been discovered.

So, I would say that BCS looks truly shuffled and without any pattern at all. You can show it freely to the public and let them examine it in any detail. Reverse-engineering it is close to impossible. It is at first difficult to use it even when you know the algorithm and tried it several times!
ddyment
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Louigi Verona commented:
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Ddyment, I am reading your essay on the decks. You write:

Quote:
At the other extreme is a stack like the Breakthrough Card System, in which it is quite difficult (for most people; mathematicians are not so easily deceived) to determine that the cards are ordered.

I am now learning to use BCS, which I also find a thing of unparalleled beauty. I must say whether you are a mathematician or not, I cannot agree that BSC looks stacked...

I agree. I never claimed that the BCS "looks stacked", merely that a mathematician (specifically, one versed in probability and statistics) would not have much trouble determining that it is highly unlikely to be a random sequence.


Quote:
... So, I would say that BCS looks truly shuffled and without any pattern at all. You can show it freely to the public ...

Again, agreed. In fact, as I clearly note in the essay, "It's wise to recall that superstar mentalist Chan Canasta built his stellar career on the Eight Kings stack, and world-class magicians Stewart James and Gene Anderson chose the Si Stebbins above all others!"


Quote:
... and let them examine it in any detail.

This is where we disagree, at least to some extent. I maintain that a good mathematician, if allowed to examine the stack in detail, will discover that it is not a random sequence. The extent to which you let this bother you is a personal one. My typical audiences were filled with computer scientists and mathematicians, so it bothered me. Others' mileage may differ.

But of course I would never hand out a deck for such careful examination. For any practical purpose (i.e., you're not trying to deceive a bunch of scientists under truly test conditions), almost any stack, properly handled, will suffice.

The point I attempted to make is that the law of diminishing returns applies as much here as elsewhere. There is a practical limit to the extent to which one should go to make a stack "appear random", given that you will never succeed in making it appear so to everyone. At some stage, the necessary difficulty in learning, remembering, and using the stack reaches a point where it is unnecessary. And I did note that, "... unless it's necessary to exploit the particular ordering of Stebbins/Kings-like systems, there is no good reason for modern entertainers not to employ more deceptive approaches."

I'll add that Eugene Burger (who, I hasten to add, is a theologian, not a mathematician) was once given a deck arranged in the stack that I use, and told that it was a stack. After almost ten minutes of examination, he was unable to discover any pattern to the arrangement. This makes it more than satisfactory for my own needs, particularly as the stack is much more easily acquired and used than the BCS (and I am certain that Eugene would not somehow have been even more fooled by the latter). Neither stack would withstand the careful scrutiny of the trained mathematician, but it is unnecessary for them to do so. The issue is one of finding an optimal tool, one that strikes an ideal balance among all its attributes, and not one that sacrifices one quality (in this example, ease of use) in the pursuit of another (attempt to fool mathematicians).
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pnerd
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I have a question about the BCS. Does the BCS allow one to determine the position of a card from the name of the card (and vice versa)? Or does it only allow one to determine the next card in the stack?
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sevenup
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I havn't looked at the BCS system in quite a while but I'm pretty sure it just gives you the next or previous card. That's why I went to a full memorized stack. It is much easier for me to recall any card or number than doing calculations of any kind. I don't even see numbers on the speedometer while driving anymore, just card values instantly.
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Nikodemus
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Quote:
On Dec 27, 2021, pnerd wrote:
I have a question about the BCS. Does the BCS allow one to determine the position of a card from the name of the card (and vice versa)? Or does it only allow one to determine the next card in the stack?
.


BCS was originally designed to allow you to calculate next/previous card - i.e. it is a "cyclic" stack.
Richard Osterlind subsequently published some work based on the idea of memorising the BCS - which he called MBCS. I have no idea how easy/difficult his memorisation system is.
JanForster
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Although I write about it since 25 years or so… I mention it again: A system for memorizing cards or orders is not useful at all… unless it is something you use temporary in order to learn… (see Simon Aronson) and you never learn an order, only a second secret identity for each card. This identity is a stack number which you can use however you need - and this is NOT only to put cards in the order from 1 to 52. Your goal MUST be seeing within a friction of a second a card as number and a number as a card, out of any context. If you do not achieve this, your “efforts” are worthless.

Unfortunately too many find out too late. The idea having a system behind the memorization as a safety net is therefore the worst of all ideas as you will , if you want or not, always fall back on your system. That makes it literally impossible to achieve effects which are more complex and the real meat. Using a truly memorized deck only for knowing preceding or following cards is complete nonsense. Each none memorized stack allows for the same feature. Knowing next cards using a memorized deck is a nice side effect, but not the heart of it. As much as I adore Juan Tamariz, nobody has written ever so well about it like Simon Aronson. In my opinion everyone who wants to memorize a stack must read and UNDERSTAND Simon’s thought before starting his “project” (“A Stack to Remember” and “Memories are made of this”). Jan
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ddyment
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JanForster claimed:
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The idea having a system behind the memorization as a safety net is therefore the worst of all ideas as you will , if you want or not, always fall back on your system.

I have to disagree here with my friend Jan (although I suspect that our opinions are not as far apart as are suggested by his claim).

The goal, we both agree, is to permanently associate each specific card identity with a stack number. To the best of my knowledge, there are only four ways to go about the initial learning of these associations: rote memory, classical mnemonics, rule-based systems, and algorithmic systems. Few people use rote memory (it works well for a minority, but the vast majority use one of the other approaches). So most memorized deck workers used "a system behind the memorization". And although some may continue to use this system as the basis behind their effects (and there are even good reasons to do so in some cases), most allow the system to "fall away" once they have gained facility in the immediate association of card identities and stack numbers.

So I dispute Jan's claim that "you will , if you want or not, always fall back on your system". I think that is not the experience of most memdeck workers (including Aronson and Tamariz themselves).
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Nikodemus
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I think we need to be precise about what it means to "learn an order" - this innocent phrase is somewhat ambiguous, so a potential source of confusion.

We all know the order of the letters of the alphabet - we can recite it from A-Z. But very few people know (without hesitation or calculation or silently reciting) the position of letter T or Q or J.
And likewise very few of us can name the letter at the 12th, 20th or 17th position. So we only know the "order" of the letters in the sense that Simon Aronson said was NOT how a memorised stack should work.

We also know the order of the months of the year. We can recite them from January to December. BUT in this case we also know the position number of each month. March = 3, 10 = October, etc.
The reason for this is that we constantly reference that correlation when we read & write dates. This is the "alternative identity" as mentioned by Aronson. But the notion of "order" is also inherent in this arrangement. The months have an order, and their order is indicated by their sequence numbers.

Aronson was not saying you should not learn the order of a stack; he said you must not learn it MERELY as a recited sequence. (Nor as a formula to get the "next" card after a given card)


I agree with Jan that "systems" such as Stebbins & BCS are irrelevant to men-decks (and I suppose could be counter-productive).
But there are also systems for calculating (or remembering) a card/sequence-number correlation (EG Bart Harding, & the classical mnemonics mentioned by Doug).
These are proven to be effective. Without them, all we have left is rote learning!
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