Paul Cummins – Counting On It

Paul Cummins

The following routine originally appeared in The New York Magic Symposium Collection 3, by Stephen Minch, in 1984. At that time it was one of my staples at the bar in Gainesville, FL where I worked nightly at Farah’s on the Avenue Cafe. The place had about a 60 foot bar, a dining room, and a patio cafe out front. I handled all the bar business with food, drink, and magic, and also all the bar service for the wait persons two dining areas. The magic I did had to be fast, impressive, and fun – no time for cups and balls or McDonald’s Aces here! In fact, the longest routines I ever did, in terms of the length of time it took to do them, where the Multiple Selection Routine (see the 11/97 column) and the card on the ceiling. When I left the place you almost couldn’t see the ceiling tiles through all the signed cards up there – what a great repeat-business routine that was!

“Counting On It” sounds complicated. It really isn’t. Go through each of the numbers from 11 to 19 a few times and you’ll see that the worst calculation you might have to make is adding or subtracting a couple of cards. This routine has spurned rather a few variations, noted at the end of the article, which is cut and pasted from my lecture notes. Jim Swain and Bill Malone perform unpublished personal versions that serve them very well, which I take as high praise indeed! I hope you enjoy it and give it a try….

This effect is the brainchild of Bill Herz, who showed it to me in March of 1984. The method described here is 100% original, and I have used it since then with terrific success. Apparently others have been enamored of the effect too, but created their own methods! Versions in print of which I am aware are listed at the end of the article.

Have a card selected from a shuffled deck in use and control it to the bottom of the deck. I use a straight Prayer Cull (see M.I.N.T. Volume 1, Marlo, p. 232).

Hold the deck for an overhand shuffle and pull off the top and bottom cards counting to yourself “two.” Run 6 more cards, mentally counting to eight, and pause, asking your spectator to, “…think of a number between 10 and 20…” Continue running cards and injog on the mental count of 13. Outjog on the count of 17 and shuffle off. Square the deck without disturbing either jog, then push the out jogged card into the deck using any technique for obtaining a break above it (see J.K. Hartman’s Friction Jog, Means and Ends, Hartman, p.13 for a simple but excellent technique). Your situation should be as follows: you have a pinky break above the bottom 17 cards, the 13th card from the bottom is injogged, and the bottom card is the selection. To add a little time misdirection at this point, I usually ask the spectator if she likes the number she’s chosen or if she’d like to change numbers.

When the spectator has decided upon a number, ask her to name it. The idea here is to get a break above that number of cards very quickly. For the numbers 12, 13, 14, 17, and 18 the break is obtained almost instantly. For 11, 15, 16, and 19 the deck must be quickly spread and closed. I’ll describe what to do for each number in a moment, but for now assume the spectator says, “..thirteen..” Drop the pinky break, push down on the jogged card, and obtain a new break there. Say, “…all right, I’ll cut exactly 13 cards from the deck…” Regardless of the number chosen, perform the following cut: pick up the deck from above with your right hand, your right thumbtip maintaining the break. Swing cut the top third of the deck into your left hand; place the cards below the break onto the left hand cards but outjogged for half their length; place the remaining right hand cards on top of all but even with the lowermost third. Immediately place your right second finger against the left long side of the outjogged group and begin to pivot that group clockwise around your left second finger. When the outjogged packet is about to clear the deck, nip it between your right first and second fingers and pull it out. Table the left hand cards to your left and take the right hand packet into left hand dealing position.

Count the cards to the table slowly, letting the suspense build, but hold onto the last card. At this point people almost forget they have chosen a card because they are so impressed that you have cut exactly the amount of cards they designated just a heartbeat after they announced it, so say, “…and what was your card?…” When they name it, drop the card you hold face up onto the tabled pile and say, “…how did you know it was 13th?..”

My experience has been that 12, 13, and 17 are chosen more often than the other possible numbers, and I’ve arranged the procedure to capitalize on that. Fairly frequently, the spectator will say “seven,” to which I simply reply, “…I’m sorry, a number between 10 and 20…” The spectator will almost always say “oh!, okay – seventeen,” which works out perfectly, as you’ll see. The simple method for each number follows:

If any of the following numbers are chosen, then DROP YOUR BREAK.

11. Pull up on the injog; quickly spread the deck and say, “any reason you chose eleven?” and obtain a new break one card below the existing break. Go into the cut.

12. Pull up on the injog and go into the cut.

13. Push down on the injog and go into the cut.

14. Push the card above the jogged card slightly to the right with your pinky, then get a break above it. Go into the cut.

15. Push down on the injog and spread quickly while asking, “any reason you chose 15?” and get a new break two cards above the existing break. Go into the cut.

If any of the following numbers are chosen, then SQUARE THE JOGGED CARD.

16. Spread quickly and get a new break one card below the existing break while asking, “any reason you chose 16?” Go into the cut.

17. Go into the cut.

18. Push the card above the break slightly to the right with your pinky; then get a break above it. Go into the cut.

19. Spread quickly asking, “any reason, etc…” and get a new break two cards above the existing break. Go into the cut.

Although this may seem complicated, it is actually very simple once you realize what you are doing from a logical standpoint. For numbers ten and twenty, you may use the old line, “…I said between 10 and 20..” but I prefer to spread quickly and obtain a break above the appropriate cards. Avoid thumb counting at all costs; it looks exactly like what it is – and you are not supposed to have to count. I’ve tried using crimps too, but they are not as expedient as the jog and breaks. Finally, you will rarely miss, but if you do it will be by one card. I have missed, and these are two outs I’ve used successfully: assume the spectator says 13 and you count 13 cards to the table but still hold one! Don’t pause or skip a beat, just ask for the name of the card, drop it face up onto the pile and say, “…How’d you know it was thirteen down?” Or, if the number is 13 and you get to your last card on the count of 12, again, don’t pause or skip a beat, just take it into your right hand counting “12” then turn it face up with a flair and toss it onto the pile, triumphantly counting “13!”

Other versions of this effect in print that you may find of interest are:

Count Me In (Gary Plants)
Precursor, Miesel, October, 1989

How Did You Know (Randy Wakeman)
Randy Wakeman Presents, Wakeman, p. 29

Sybil, The Trick (Chris Kenner)
Out of Control, Kenner, p. 157

Re-Count Demanded (Randy Wakeman)
Apocalypse, Lorayne, March 1993, p. 2193

Kick-Counting On It (Jon Racherbaumer)
MO, Racherbaumer, June 1993, p. 21

Count on the Variation (Roger Klause)
Apocalypse, Lorayne, February 1996, p. 2609

As usual, my lecture notes are available to GeMiNi members at $20.00 ($5.00 off the regular price), and I pay Priority Mail or Global Priority Mail postage anywhere in the world. There are over 70 pages describing 32 items, 26 of which use cards and 6 that are coin routines. As usual, I welcome any comments on the above routine or any others that have been posted to GeMiNi.

Paul W. Cummins 3703 Foxcroft Road Jacksonville, FL 32257 USA