In Workers 5, Mike Close describes a diabolical method for performing the venerable Invisible Deck routine with a non-gaffed deck of cards. Within his typically terrific description of the routine he references Alan Ackerman’s “Impromptu Ultra Mental” from Here’s My Card. He also mentions that Mr. Ackerman’s cites, in Las Vegas Kardma, an unpublished routine of Bruce Cervon’s as an inspirational source. Finally, Mr. Close mentions an ungaffed method for Ultra Mental that Steve Beam showed him at a convention that they had worked together.
After absorbing the Close and Ackerman routines I decided, for reasons that are personal to my style of magic and the limits of my abilities, that I was not able to perform either of them. At this point in my development as a cardician I do not use a memorized deck, and therefore the Close routine is out of the question for me.
I believe Mr. Ackerman’s routine “Impromptu Ultra Mental”, to be historically significant in that it inspired Mr. Close, and myself, to explore further possible methods. Mr. Ackerman’s routine is very well constructed and employs a wonderful shortest-distance-between-two-points method that appeals to me. However, in the Ackerman routine the magician must search for the named card while under a considerable, in fact significant, amount of heat – an aspect of the routine that was also noted by Close, and one that does not fit my performing style. Having seen Mr. Ackerman in action, I have no doubt that he can cruise through this portion of the routine without raising suspicion – I don’t have the courage to withstand that heat!
The Beam routine that Mr. Close alluded to in Workers 5 was actually a routine developed by Scott Robinson. Mr. Robinson’s routine is also terrific but also requires that the named card be covertly found under heat as the deck is spread.
So, inspired by these gentleman’s routines, and in an effort to find a method suitable to my style of performing, “Beating the Heat” was formed and performed. Here are what I believe to be the trade offs between the above mentioned efforts and the one you are about to read. If you are a memorized deck person, Mr. Close’s method provides, I believe, the strongest effect, and you may easily maintain the order of the memorized deck. Mr. Ackerman’s routine may be performed at any point in an impromptu performance; virtually no set up or pre-arrangement is necessary, a definite plus.
In the routine to follow no memorized deck is necessary. There is an arrangement to the deck but it may be set under fire with logical presentational motivation. There are few sleights involved and there is virtually no heat on any of them by virtue of the construction of the routine and a purposefully timed patter line. The routine reintroduces an extremely subtle glimpse that has flown by many an experience card man and virtually all laypersons. The deck arrangement may be easily reset for subsequent performances (i.e., in table hopping situations) or the deck may be used for other routines, as it is free of gaffs. Two decks are used, a significant departure from the Close an Ackerman routines, but the presence of the second deck is logical and does not invite suspicion. Finally, although the routine to follow has been inspired by the Close and Ackerman routines, the resulting effect is somewhat different as no thought of card is used and no invisible deck patter is employed. It should be noted that Mr. Ackerman has also used the odd/even deck set up and the use of two decks in “A Closer Approach” and “Double Ultra Mental”, respectively. However, both of these routines also require the named card to be located under heat, and one requires a deck in Si Stebbins order.
The performer states that s/he had a premonition earlier and introduces a cased deck of cards in which, s/he says, there is a prediction. A spectator takes a second deck, borrowed if possible, and gives it a thorough shuffle and cut. The spectator spreads out this shuffled deck and arbitrarily slides a card out of the spread – a card whose identity is clearly unknown to anyone.
The spread deck is squared and turned face up. The unknown selection is slowly and openly slid face down and square into this face up deck and that whole unit is tabled. The previously introduced cased deck is removed and spread until a face down card is reached. The performer names the card he had reversed in this deck and then displays the reversed card, confirming his statement. The spectator removes his selection from the tabled deck and it matches the performer’s prediction card.
At the time of this writing I have been performing this routine for about a year. I have performed it for many more magicians than laypersons as I usually revert to my standard workers when performing for the public. This is not a hit and run routine though, and I believe one must wait for the right moment to perform it for laypersons – for instance, when asked to return to an interested group for additional magic.
There are two approaches to the routine. In the approach I use most often, I pre-stack the deck, case it, and place it in the outer breast pocket of my coat. The other approach is from a shuffled deck in use and I’ll explain how I get into the routine “on the fly” at the end of this article.
So, here’s the stack: run through a face up deck and cull all of the even numbered cards; the 2’s, 4’s, 6’s, 8’s, 10’s, and Queens. I always leave both jokers in my deck (so I have them to remove if I need to cull cards for a subsequent effect), so I gave them a function in this routine. As the even numbered cards are culled, upjog the jokers. Remove the jokers and place the even numbered packet of cards back to back with the odd numbered packet. Spread the back to back deck and place one joker face up into the facing group of cards, say they are the even numbered ones, so that it is the fourth card from the back to back juncture. Flip the deck over and similarly place the other joker fourth from the back to back juncture in the odd numbered packet.
Place the deck into its box such that the even numbered packet faces outward on the half moon side of the box. If you were to turn the box over, so the half moon was down, the deck would come out of the box with the odd numbered half facing outward. Place this cased deck into your pocket.
When performing for other magicians I will ask one of them to shuffle their own deck. When performing for the laity, I’ll ask one of them to thoroughly shuffle the deck I have been using. As they shuffle, I remove the cased deck and place it off to my left stating that I recently had a premonition and that there is a prediction in this deck.
The placement of the prediction deck is important. It must be placed to your left with the long side of the deck towards you. The half moon side of the box must by visible (facing skyward) and the short end of the box with the opening must be facing toward your right. This specific placement will eliminate any fumbling when you eventually have to remove the cards from the box with the even numbered or odd numbered packet facing outward.
After the spectator has shuffled I always make the following statement: “…please cut the deck too, I don’t want you to think I may have seen the bottom card…” After their cut I ask them to spread the deck on the table and I say, “…this will have no impact unless you are absolutely convinced that no one knows the location of any card in that deck. If you’re not sure, then shuffle again…” This line has proven to be very important, and literally true. The audience must have absolutely no doubt that that the deck is truly shuffled and that no one could possibly know the location of any card within it.
Have the spectator slide any card out of the spread, leaving it on the table. Pick up the remainder of the deck, square it, turn it face up, and hold it in left-hand dealing position. You will now discover the identity of the selected card with a terrific, well covered glimpse. Your actions here must be slow and deliberate – you do not want your audience to suspect that you are doing anything except what is outwardly apparent to them.
Pick up the selected card with your right fingers by its outer short edge. Riffle off about half of the deck with your left thumbtip and insert the selection face down into the gap you’ve formed in the deck. Slide the face down card to the right, squaring its long sides with the face up deck and leaving it outjogged. Again, perform these actions slowly and deliberately making it clear than neither you nor anyone else could have seen the face of the card.
Bring your right hand over the deck and apparently push the face down card square into the face up deck. By exerting slightly more pressure on the outer left corner of the face down card it will angle out of the deck at the inner right long side, covered by your right hand. The outer right corner of the face down card, by virtue of the angle jog, will also jog slightly at the right side of the outer end of the deck. You should feel this jog with your right pinky. Use your pinky to move this slight jog to the right, squaring the card with the short ends of the deck while rightjogging it about a half inch from the right long side of the deck.
Immediately look up at your audience and say, “…I already know two things about your card..!” This statement will surprise your audience a bit – what could you possibly know? Continue, “…I know it is not the Two of Clubs…” Here you lift the deck from above with your right hand and as you name the face card of the deck you tip outer short end of the deck down so that the deck is almost perpendicular to the floor. This action ostensibly makes the face card more visible to your audience. I also tap the face card with my left forefinger to punctuate the patter line. It is at this moment that you glimpse the jogged selection. Just peek down at the deck, which is backs toward you, and take a look at the jogged selection.
Immediately return the deck to a position parallel to the floor. Place your left hand under your right and pull the deck into your left hand, squaring the jogged card with your left fingers as the deck is grasped saying, “…and I know it is the only face down card in this deck…” Table the deck near the spectator who slid the selection from the other deck earlier.
I independently came up with this glimpse, which I think is so well motivated that it is very difficult to detect. In the course of research for my lecture notes, in which this glimpse is included, I discovered that the mechanics of the glimpse had been published previously in Ed Marlo’s wonderful book, Marlo in Spades. The glimpse is included in a routine called “Jerry Kogan’s Indicator” on page 42. Ironically, Mr. Kogan was a demonstrator at the local magic shop here in Jacksonville, FL! Since I had used the glimpse on Jerry a number of times I went down to the shop and talked to him about it. We both had a laugh and Jerry noted that he never used a motivating patter line to accomplish the actual glimpse, he just turned up the deck and looked at the card. My experience has shown that a simple patter line that motivates the turning of the face of the deck toward the audience makes the glimpse a fooler. Credit for the glimpse though, goes to my friend Jerry Kogan.
Since you know the identity of the selection, you must now remove the deck from its box such that the proper half-deck (odd or even) is facing outward. Assume first that the selection is an even numbered card. Pick up the cased deck with your left hand from above by the long sides and use your right hand to open the flap. Remove the deck with your right hand, return the empty box to its previously tabled position, and place the deck into left hand dealing position.
If the selected card is an odd numbered card do this: pick up the cased deck from above with your left hand by its long sides. Be sure that your left forefinger is against the short end of the box at the half moon side. Now move your left hand toward your right and pull up on the right short side of the box with your left forefinger. The box will pivot between your left second finger and thumb. I also straighten my left second and third fingers against the box to help the forefinger pivot the box. During this pivot action, your right hand should be poised, palm down, to receive the box. The closed, short end of the box should land directly into your right fingers, which grasp the box between the thumb and fingers at the long sides. Use your left fingers to flip the box flap over the left short end of the box and hold the flap against the box with your right forefinger. Pull the deck out of the box about halfway and then position your left hand under the deck and take it directly into your left hand.
I’ve given quite a bit of attention to how the deck is removed from the box because I think it is extremely important, particularly when working for magicians, that there is absolutely no fumbling at this point. Anything less than smoothly removing the deck from the box here would, I believe, represent a potential tell to the method. Additionally, you should not be looking at the box as you pick it up and open it – only look at the box as you remove the deck.
Assume for this description that the glimpsed selection is the Ten of Clubs and that you have removed the deck such that the even numbered packet is facing outward as described above. Spread through the face up cards and cull the Ten of Clubs below the spread using the Marlo/Hofzinser Spread Cull. Importantly, since the identity of the selected card is unknown to the audience, there is virtually no heat on this cull. This represents a significant difference from Mr. Ackerman’s method as the spreading is done slowly and openly under the full attention, and within sight, of the whole audience. When you get to the Joker, you know that there are only three more face up cards before you get to the face down half-deck. The Joker serves the function of warning you to spread single cards a bit more carefully so that you do not inadvertently spread past the first face down card.
The simple, descriptive patter during the above actions of removing the deck from the box and spreading through the cards is as follows: “…there’s one face down card in here…and there it is…” The last face up card should be slightly injogged as it is spread over to your right hand. In fact, I lift the entire spread of face up cards with my left hand and tap the face down card as I finish the patter line. Now square the deck, the culled card coalescing at the bottom. Also, use the injogged card to establish a break between the back to back packets with your left pinky. The target card is now face up at the bottom of the deck and you have a pinky break between the back to back packets.
At this point you are well ahead of your audience. To their mind there is an unknown face down card in a face up tabled deck in front of them and there appears to be a single face down card in the prediction deck. They are unaware that you know the identity of the selection, much less that you have controlled it!
There is one more sleight to accomplish; you must reverse the cards below the pinky break. The Half Pass is a very deceptive sleight, but there is significant heat on the prediction deck at this point because everyone wants to know what that face down card is! A simple patter line takes all the heat off the Half Pass: “…of course I know the card I predicted, it’s the Ten of Clubs…” This line takes all the heat off the deck, and therefore off the sleight – you have sated the curiosity of your audience by answering the foremost question in their mind. And, it makes sense to announce the card before you show it, the fact that the reversed card is the Ten of Clubs becomes a mere confirmation of your statement.
So, just after you have squared the deck, look up and use the patter line to announce the identity of the prediction card. Simultaneously execute the Half Pass and immediately (though not hurriedly) pressure fan the deck face up. This pressure fan is your excuse for having squared the deck; otherwise why not show the face down card from the earlier spread deck? Pull the lone face down card halfway out of the fan and turn the fan over displaying the Ten of Clubs, confirming your earlier announcement that it is the prediction card.
All that remains is to have the spectator spread out the tabled deck and flip up lone face down card selected card. Of course, they match, and your premonition has proven to be impossibly accurate.
You may now proceed to other effects with the deck you hold, or you may easily reset it for a repeat performance with another audience. To reset, close the pressure fan. Grip the outjogged, face down card with your right fingers and lift up on it slightly allowing your left pinky to establish a break. Revolve the jogged card face up onto the face of the deck and immediately half pass the cards below the break. Case the deck appropriate to the set up, with the even numbered packet against the half moon, and return the deck to your pocket.
A few notes to complete this description. When I perform the routine on the fly, without having preset the deck, I start by saying the following: “…you know, I had a premonition the other day…give me a second here to make a prediction…and why don’t you shuffle that deck” Indicate that the spectator should shuffle the other deck.
Take your deck just below the level of the table and spread through it culling the even numbered cards and outjogging the jokers. Half pass the even cards. Remove the jokers and place them onto the table. While your hand is above table level, grab the box and take it below the table. Case the deck below table level, then bring it up and table it to your left as described earlier saying, “…okay, I’ve made a prediction in that deck and I’m committed to it…”
Proceed with the routine as described with one difference: spread slowly as you approach the center of the deck – you don’t have the jokers to remind you that the face down half is imminent! I do not prefer this scenario, but I do use it. It takes me about 20-25 seconds to set the deck below table level and this is dead time. I cover the dead time about halfway through my below-table actions by glancing up at the spectator who is shuffling and making a comment or two appropriate to how s/he is executing the shuffles.
Finally, there are two situations that may arise for which you should be prepared. The first is when the glimpsed card is at the face of the deck (or very near the face, making the spread cull move awkward) when you remove the deck from the box. What I do in this instance is spread a small group of cards into my right hand, five or so, and then separate my hands a bit saying, “…the card in that deck might match any of these…” During the patter, I spread a small group of cards onto those in my right hand and then square the deck, loading the initially spread group into the center of the face up packet. Now I re-spread and cull the appropriate card. Depending on the circumstances I sometimes just slip cut the face card into the middle of the face up cards too. Don’t get uptight if this happens to you – remember that your audience has no idea what the selected card is (that you’ve glimpsed) so there is, again, no heat.
A second situation is that the last face up card is the glimpsed card. This is not as bad as it feels the first time or two that it happens! First, you are prepared for it because as you spread closer and closer to the middle of the deck you will not have seen the glimpsed card yet. If I don’t see the glimpsed card when I have spread through half of the face up cards I start preparing myself for the fact that the last face up card may be my target card to cull. Knowing this, being prepared for it, makes the cull much easier. Also, everyone is looking for the face down card, which inherently misdirects from the cull of the target card no matter where it is in the spread.
Recorded 3/13/99; updated 5/2/99
Credits, References, and Remarks
* I want to specifically mention that the concept of setting the halves of the pack, culling the target or glimpsed card, and the use of the Half Pass all come from the Ackerman version of the routine from Here’s My Card. I have added the even/odd stack to get me to the correct half deck without suspicion (this idea stemming from Ackerman’s “A Closer Approach” version, and also used by Messrs. Robinson and Close), the second deck to take all the heat off the spread cull, the early disclosure of the name of the prediction card to take the heat off the half pass, and the necessary addition of my version of Mr. Kogan’s glimpse to ascertain the identity of the selected card from the second deck.
* In Las Vegas Kardma, Mr. Ackerman mentions that Bruce Cervon had no less than 28 versions of this effect 30 years ago in 1969! I am not privy to these methods, but Mr. Cervon has told me that one of his methods, worked out on April 2nd of 1969, is similar to “Beating the Heat”.
* Mr. Close’s routine “The Invisible Deck” may be found in his book, Workers 5, on page 138.
* Mr. Ackerman’s routine “Impromptu Ultra Mental” may be found in his book, Here’s My Card, on page 47. See also “A Closer Approach” and “Double Ultra Mental” on pages 49 and 50, respectively.
* Mr. Ackerman’s reference to Mr. Cervon’s effect may be found in the Ackerman book, Las Vegas Kardma, on the last page of the “Author’s Notes” section at the beginning of the book.
* Mr. Robinson’s routine “Riding the Wave” may be found in Steve Beam’s Trapdoor magazine, Issue #47, on page 842.
* Mr. Kogan’s glimpse may be found within a routine called “Jerry Kogan’s Indicator” in Ed Marlo’s book, Marlo in Spades, on page 42.
* A terrific explanation of an insertion jog may be found in J.K. Hartman’s book, Card Craft, on page 131 or in his manuscript, Means and Ends on page 13.
* The Marlo/Hofzinser spread cull is described in Ed Marlo’s, M.I.N.T., on page 232; and in Robert Giobbi’s Card College, Volume 1, on page 187.
* Henry Christ’s wonderful version of the Half Pass, appropriately titled The Christ Twist, may be found throughout the literature but is well described on page 99 of The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings, by Mike Maxwell. Page 1 of 1