At this point we leave behind moves that have noticeable external realities and start looking into moves that are much more secretive. If it’s not clear what I mean by that, here’s the idea. Basically, every sleight we do has an internal reality — we move a card, we switch a card, we steal a card, etc. This is stuff we don’t want the audience to see. A lot of moves also have external realities — we shuffle cards, we cut cards, we spread the cards, etc. The audience sees us do something, but because it looks normal enough (assuming we practice and do it well), we get away with the secret move in the internal reality because it’s covered by that external reality.
However, there are also moves that have no external reality, or else they have an external reality so innocent that it seems as if nothing happened. Both hands momentarily touch the deck, we square up the cards, we pass the deck from one hand to the other, we take the card off the bottom of the deck, etc. Hiding a sleight behind this situation is much more difficult, because the cover is minor, or perhaps non-existent.
Here is where misdirection and cover takes on a much bigger role. This is why I decided to move the Glide to chapter 5, after the full-deck false shuffles and cuts, because now we have to be much more careful about what the audience sees. Normally it’s considered a beginner’s move, but if we can learn to misdirect properly at this point, the benefits will show themselves further down the line when we start covering palms, passes, switches, etc.
More on that as we progress deeper into the course. For now…
5.1 The Glide
Learn it from Royal Road to Card Magic, Chapter 4. Get the mechanics down so you understand what’s going on. Once you’re there, move immediately onto the next section.
5.2 A New Glide
This is from Expert Card Technique, Part 3, and in many cases (if not most cases) this is a better way to do the move. Here’s the idea. You’re holding the cards in the left hand in a dealing grip. You want to show the bottom card, and then take that card off the deck. You’ve got two options. Option A is pivoting the cards in the left hand so that they’re now face-up, twisting the wrist to show that card to the audience, and then turning the hand wrist down again and sliding that card off the bottom. Option B is lifting the cards with the right hand so that you can flash the bottom card towards the audience, and then bringing the cards back to the original orientation and taking the bottom card with the left hand. If you try both of these, I think you’ll agree that the second option has a much easier and more natural feel to it. All other things being equal, camouflaging a move behind a natural action is better than camouflaging a move behind an unnatural action.
Now, it is possible that in the course of doing a trick, the cards might end up in a position where doing the first glide is better than doing the second. However, I think it’s important that you’re aware of both methods.
One additional thing. Consider that the important part of the move is that the bottom card is shifted to allow access to the next card. You’re not required to actually shift that card using the hand holding the deck. It’s possible for the other hand coming to apparently take that card to nudge it over before grabbing it. This can look really nice.
5.3 The Lost Card, 2nd Method
Also from Expert Card Technique, Part 3. This is for that nightmare scenario where you’ve either lost a card, or else somebody has decided that they must shuffle the deck after their card is returned. It basically allows you a way to have a successful effect after that situation. Now, if you think about it, it’s kind of a weird way to finish a trick. Normally, if they’re picking a card, they’re expecting you to find that card. In this case, they’ve picked a card, you’ve shown a card, and then when you get to their card, you show that your card is next, as if they found each other. This might not necessarily be the easiest thing to sell to an audience, so you’ll need to know exactly what it is that you’re trying to convince them.
5.4 “Design For Laughter”
From Royal Road, Chapter 4. This is considered one of the real gems of the book, and if you do it well the audience’s response should give you an indication why. Magician-in-trouble tricks have the potential to play really well for the audience. This is a tweaked version of Victor Farelli’s “The Partagas Sell”, although it became very popular (with method alterations) as Charlie Miller’s “Dunbury Delusion”.
One thing that I would suggest. The presentation in the book basically involves admonishing the audience for having missed their card three times. I’m not a big fan of that — it can play, but it requires a deft touch, especially because you’re going to be in a situation where the audience may react by saying “That’s my card!” when you show it to them the first time. Also, the trick as written involves having their card appear on the final card, and the basic theatrics of this sort of thing might make it seem that this is where their selection was supposed to end. Remember, we don’t want any reaction when they see their card.
As such, I’d recommend placing the deck down, having them cut one-third of the deck to one side, and then half of the remaining to the other side. At this point, their selection is going to end up in the middle. Also, instead of saying “You’re going to cut to your card.”, you can do what’s often done in this class of effect, which is to say that if they concentrated properly while cutting the deck, the first card will show the colour of their card, the second will show the suit, and the third will show the position. Show the bottom of the first packet, and if you get it right, cool. If you get it wrong, well, it’ll add to the flavour of the magician-in-trouble trick later on anyway, so you’re fine. Show the second card, and it will match the suit (because it’s actually their card!), and then do the move and discard the indifferent. Show the third card to get the position, discard that card, and then reassemble the packets so that their selection is at the bottom, and then conclude as described in Royal Road.
5.5 “Like Seeks Like”
This is Walter Gibson’s trick in the Jinx, issue 91 (askalexander.org). It’s the earliest version of the classic “Oil and Water” plot that I could find. If you don’t know the trick in question, you’ve got a small packet with some red cards and black cards, they’re mixed, and after a magic gesture, the reds separate from the blacks. Now, if there’s a key strength to the “Oil and Water” trick, it’s that magic seems to happen to all six cards, but you don’t have to actually perform sleights on all six. In fact, in this version of the trick, you only need to do sleights on two of them, and only one card can’t be shown at the face.
Now, magicians in the 20th century threw a ton of effort at coming up with methods for this trick, some of which I think are better than this one. That said, it’s included here because it’s impromptu and easy from the standpoint of method, and if you like it you can hunt down more versions.
5.6 “Solo Flight Aces”
From Expert Card Technique, Part 4. Ok, this was not an easy inclusion. I’ve put it here because I wanted you to see how the glide can be used to make a card vanish from a small packet, but there’s so much more to the entire trick from the standpoint of method that it’s not recommended for you to learn the whole thing at this time. Later on you’ll be covering the double-lift, and when you get there, that will open up some options to you to make this particular trick look good, and maybe you can revisit this then.
The glide’s a weird move. There aren’t exactly a ton of tricks out there that employ it, and every now and then the topic comes up on magic forums asking whether it’s even worth using. It’s almost certainly seen as a beginner’s move, and a lot of magicians starting out are usually desperate to not be seen as beginners. It’s hard to argue there aren’t better switches out there, but then somebody comes along and says that Juan Tamariz uses it in a trick, therefore it must be “a good move”. I don’t really have a dog in that fight. Personally, I think the glide’s worth learning just for “A Design For Laughter”, as well as to have it in the back of your mind in case you run into the scenario described in “The Lost Card”. The other tricks are admittedly here to show you the potential for the move — if they don’t strike your fancy, I don’t blame you, but I wanted to make sure that at least you had them available in case you wanted to get more out of the sleight.
If the glide has one other merit, it’s that it’s an easy move that will allow you to start practicing some of the stuff that comes part-and-parcel with card sleights that’s not necessarily related to what you do with your fingers. Imagine a simple card trick where you bring the card second from the bottom using techniques taught in JACK #1. You now tell the audience that you’ve successfully found their card, and that it’s at the bottom of the deck. You show them that card and name it, and when your eyes go up to meet theirs as you say something cheeky like “Isn’t magic wonderful?”, that’s when you execute the move and withdraw their actual selection. When they say it’s not their card, you look at it again, miscalling it as the previous card you were both looking at (ie: “It’s not the five of spades?”). At that point you can place the card on their palm, ask them to wave their hand over the card, and then get them to say what their selection really was, before they turn over the card and see the change.
Now, even this isn’t necessarily the best way to go about this sort of trick (we’ll look at some other methods in upcoming chapters), however there are a couple of valuable principles that you can practice that will benefit the rest of you magic.
First, you have the misdirection involved in getting their eyes off the deck at the moment of the move. John Ramsay made the point that if you want the audience to look at something, look at it yourself, and if you want the audience to look at you, look at them. Staring at the card at the face just long enough to harness their attention should allow you to then get their eyes off the deck when you turn the deck face-down and then look in their eyes, using that moment to withdraw the other card as you say “Isn’t magic wonderful?” Now, this is a rather blunt use of misdirection, arguably too blunt, but whatever, we’re just starting out here, and it helps to at least experience it in action.
Second, you have the audience management required to get them to hold onto their card without prematurely looking at it. If there is one advantage to “A Design For Laughter” here it’s the effect can just sort of move past the moment of the sleight, but later on in your magic education, when you want the magic to actually happen in their hands, you’re going to have to deal with the scary moment of audience interaction, and at the very least, you can start practicing it here with a relatively easy sleight.
Anyhow, enough of that. Coming up next, the force.