Paul Cummins – Multiples

Paul Cummins

This is installment 4 of this series of columns and I hope there are some of you out there who have been enjoying them and are playing with some of the routines. Multiple selection routines have been around for awhile and are a wonderful closer for a table-hopping or walkaround performance. Ed Marlo, Eddie Fechter, Darwin Ortiz, Martin Nash, and Steve Bedwell, to name a few, have published versions. Doc Eason’s is legendary and will hopefully be included on his soon to be released three video set. I turned Bob Bengel on to it years ago when we were college buddies in Gainesville, FL and he has used it in professional performances since then. My point is that some of the great names in close up card magic have seen the performance value in this type of routine – and you should too!

As you’ll read below, my only exposure to the concept when I started to develop my routine was from Magic Inc.’s little book titled, Early Marlo. I started small and honed the routine in the table-hopping trenches at the Magic Moment restaurant in Florida. The routine has given me a deep confidence in my ability to jazz my performance and to handle the myriad of circumstances that may come up in the execution of any routine, much less this one. A point I’ve been making in my lectures recently is that one shouldn’t be scared away from the routine as written below because of all the side steals I do. Initially I simply had 10 or so cards removed from the deck and, after admonishing everyone to remember only their own card, I’d have them replaced in the deck in groups of two or three and using jog shuffles to control them. Simple. Once I became confident with the side steal (or, actually, Marlo’s Deliberate Steal), I began using as the control for the reasons cited in the article below. But don’t let the routine scare you – start small like I did and work your way up to 10 or 12 selections. Believe me, once you’ve got it humming, you’ll have trouble finding something to follow it with!

As usual, the below description is a cut-and-past from my lecture notes. The notes contain 31 items other than the one described below, 25 of them card routines and 6 of them coin routines. The notes are still available to GeMiNi subscribers for $20.00 (a 20% discount), and I still pay the Priority Mail postage. I may be reached here on GeMiNi, through email [email protected] or via snail mail at:

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

I also encourage discussion on the board itself regarding this or any of the columns I’ve submitted, although there has been disappointingly little of it so far (perhaps a reflection on the material, I hope not!). Anyway, read on and I hope you enjoy!


The Multiple Location effect has become a sort of signature effect for me. I’ve been performing it for just over 20 years, and it is one of my most requested routines. I started developing my routine after reading Ed Marlo’s “10 Card Routine” in the Marlo’s Discoveries section of Early Marlo, (p. 53) in the early seventies, but the significant developments came in the late seventies and early eighties while working tables nightly at The Magic Moment Restaurant in Florida.

When working table to table, the routine was rarely the same – the tables, of course, could have anywhere from two to fifteen or more diners! I always did the Multiple Location with tables of four or more, and no table had too many people. This regiment of performances taught me much about jazz magic; outs, precautions, and challenges; dealing with folks who’d been encouraged with liquor; and maintaining a performance flexibility. It was during this time that I was also able to establish, for myself, the selection and control process, the initial discoveries, the flexible middle, and the closing aspects of the routine.

The Selection and Control Process

Although there are many ways to administrate the selection and control of the spectator’s cards, I have used Marlo’s Deliberate Side Steal (see The Side Steal, Marlo, p. 5) for many years. Starting on my left, I hold a shuffled deck in use from above in my right hand. Dribbling cards into my left hand, I ask the spectator to my extreme left to say stop. When she does, I lift my right hand palm toward the spectator to display the card on which they have stopped me. Upon reassembling the deck, I turn to the next spectator as I side steal the first spectator’s card to the top and continue this procedure, moving to my right, until everyone has chosen a card.

I almost always say to the first spectator, “… now, you have to remember your card the longest, so say it over and to yourself in your head…” After the second spectator selects a card I normally say, “…this makes it twice as hard…” as if I’m stopping after two selections. Eventually, the audience will realize that everyone’s getting a card, and my statement that it makes it `twice as hard’ leads them to say to themselves “…phew, it’s gonna be 12 times as hard!”

To provide some misdirection for the side steals, and in an effort to make this part of the routine more fun instead of banefully tedious, I use some marginally funny patter lines between spectators and I always ask each spectator his or her name before dribbling the cards for them to say stop. It is extremely effective for you to remember everyone’s name during this effect. Of course, do not ask someone their name if you have already been introduced during your previous effects. As I’ve said, I always work left to right. You may work right to left, too; the important thing is to do it the same every time – when you have 12 or so cards to produce, you don’t want to have to remember whether you went right to left or left to right when you had them chosen!

Once everyone has selected a card, all the selections will be on top of the deck; the last selected card on top, and the first selected card the farthest from the top in your stock. Ribbon spread the deck face down (or perform a face down pressure fan if no working surface is available) and indicate the top section of the deck, “…12 times harder for me, 12 times easier for you to catch me at it! All I know about your cards is that no one looked at one near the top…” Indicate the bottom section of the deck, “…or near the bottom. That leaves me a group of 30 or 40 cards in the middle here (indicate the middle of the deck) from which to find your cards…” Square the deck and hold it face down in your left hand. Turn to your right and make chopping motions with your right hand as you move your right arm slowly from the right to the left saying, “…I’ll ask each one of you the name of your card and, as you tell me what they are, I’ll see how quickly I can get into the deck, find your card, and place it out on the table…” This gesturing of your right hand and arm is important. It is a silent signal that you will be going right to left and that you will be going in order. It helps each spectator understand when they will be responsible for announcing their card – so now they don’t have to worry about getting the pop quiz question: “…and what was YOUR card…?” They understand the procedure and will relax a little.

I have never found it to be necessary to false shuffle the deck at this point. The sheer volume of cards that have been chosen, and the apparent non-manipulation of the deck, by virtue of the side steals, is perplexing enough to your spectators. Remember that since you dribble the cards for each selection, you are implying with each new selection that you have not controlled the previous selections. This is a strengthening notion to the spectators sometime after the effect is over – “How could he possibly have found them all?” In fact, to shuffle would provide your audience with the notion that the manipulation of the deck was necessary for you to remember where the cards were, or to track them.

The Initial Discoveries

You are now ready to begin the discoveries – the fun part! I always use the same discoveries for the first three cards because they set the tone for the whole discovery phase. Turn to the spectator on your extreme right who’s card is on top of the deck, “…and what was yours…?” Immediately after the card is named perform a Benzais Slip Cut (see The Best of Benzais, Benzais, p. 39), spinning the selection face down across the working surface as you say, “…the Four of Diamonds, a fairly simple one to find…” Pause a moment to let them decide if you’re kidding or not, and then flip the first selection face up. It will amaze your audience that this was so simple for you! The second discovery then throws a bit of a curve at them.

After the first selection is turned face up, the reaction you get will provide misdirection for you to palm the top card into your right hand. Ask the second spectator from the right to name his card. After he does, turn your right side toward the company and slip your right hand into your right trouser pocket saying, “…I don’t know how you could’ve taken the Seven of Clubs; I keep that one in here…!” Display the card for all to see. This discovery builds on the first because the two of them are so different: on the first you did what you said you would by cutting to the card (but so quickly!); the second card coming from your pocket interrupts their expectation and is even more impossible.

Turn to the third spectator, and as you extend your left hand forward to point at him or her, execute a top change, and say, “…did you have…” Now reverse the position of your hands, extending the top changed card to the spectator as you finish the sentence: ” the Seven of Clubs too…?” You’ll get a negative response to which you reply, “…then what was yours…?” When the third spectator names his card you say, “…no problem…” and turn over the card in your right hand. This change is very strong as the spectators are still reeling a little from the first two discoveries. Drop the third selection face up onto the first and immediately palm the top card of the deck into your right hand and plunge that hand into your right trouser pocket again, “…remember, I said I keep the Seven of Clubs in here…!” Display the third selection and drop it face up onto the other two.

I always use this sequence to start the discoveries. In the rare case where there is absolutely no working surface to use for a moment for the Benzais Slip Cut (table, bar stool, floor if it’ll play), then I’ll substitute Marlo’s “Sunrise” discovery (see Early Marlo, Marlo, p. 55) or go straight to the card in pocket.

The Flexible Middle

You’ve produced three of, say, 12 cards that have been chosen. You know what your last discovery or two will be, so you have about seven or eight to go. This is where the flexible performing style comes into play for me. Some would rather have a set sequence of discoveries for the middle section of the routine, but my preference is to play it by ear. What has happened over the years is that I’ve coupled some discoveries with others, creating what I call doublets or triplets. For example, I’ll reverse the next selection in the middle of the deck by pulling it from the top with my right fingers, around the right side of the deck, and face up to the bottom. This, followed by a riffle pass, will center that selection face up in the middle of the deck just above the remainder of your stock of selections. Then I use the following patter as I turn the deck face up and down, “…watch. If I turn the whole deck over (do so), then all the cards are face up. If I turn the whole deck over again except for your card, then all the cards will be face down except yours; what was it…?” When the spectator replies, spread through the deck in your hands until you come to his face up selection. With the deck spread, place your right fingertips against the face of the card below the face up selection and your left thumb onto the face of the face up selection. Separate your hands taking the face up selection onto the left-hand cards and moving the card which was below it (the next selected card) to the left end of the right hand’s spread cards. Use the spread to flip the face up selection onto the left hand cards, but execute Senor Torino’s “One Card Drop Supreme” switch (see Kardyro’s Kard Konjuring, Torino, p. 8), tabling the next selection. Place the right hand cards below the left and ask the next spectator, “…and what was yours…?” Rub the tabled card back and forth and then flip it face up – it is the next selection! Produce the top card from your pocket or flip the deck face up and execute a color change to rediscover it, and then go on to your next discovery. That’s an example of a doublet – I use those two discoveries together all the time, but I might use them anywhere among the middle section of discoveries. The Initial Discoveries is an example of a triplet. You’ll create your own doublets and triplets as your routine develops.

You must decide what discoveries to use for yourself: those that fit your performing style and technical ability. The discoveries, though, must be quick and varied for maximum impact. They must allow you to keep track of your top stock of selections, too! Spinning a card out of the deck into the air, pulling a card from your fly (with the right crowd), various false cuts and color changes, double cutting a selection to the bottom and having the spectator cut the deck after which you deal cards until they stop you and you bottom deal their card to the table, card from the card box; there are tons of alternatives. Start doing the effect with four or five spectators and start adding more selections as you perform the routine successive times. You’ll be surprised how quickly you develop the discoveries you’ll use forever.

During the Flexible Middle you have to be just that – flexible. Long ago I got in the habit of peeking each selection just prior to asking the spectator to name their card. Some folks will purposely name a card other than that they selected. Others will truly forget which card they chose. Some will name the card belonging to the person next to them, and some will name a card you have already produced – even though you know that they couldn’t have chosen it. Always go with the flow; the spectator is never told that they are wrong. If a spectator names a card that isn’t the one they chose, I simply flip the deck face up and as I spread to the card they named and cull it under the spread, I say, “…I don’t think there’s a Ten of Hearts in this deck…” and pull it from my pocket or from the card box. When that happens you have to remember to slip cut the card that was chosen into the middle of the deck before proceeding to the next spectator.

When the spectator forgets their card, I gently suggest their own card to them because I’ve peeked it, “…was it a black card? A seven…?” More often than not your spectator will say, “…That’s right! It was the Seven of Spades!” and you produce it with one of your discoveries.

Also, take advantage when opportunity knocks. Recently I peeked a spectator’s selection and it was the Ten of Diamonds. They named the Ten of Hearts. I flipped the deck face up and began looking through it saying, “…I don’t think there’s a Ten of Hearts in this deck…” I found and culled the Ten of Hearts to the top and noticed that both black tens were on the bottom! I flipped the deck face down, top palmed the two red tens in my right hand and produced them from my pocket, “…here, here’s BOTH red tens…” Then I quickly double cut one black ten to the top and threw the deck into my right hand, holding back the top and bottom black tens in my left hand, “…and just for fun, here’s both BLACK tens…!” It stunned them – they thought that at this point in the routine I always produced a four of a kind. Go with the flow, take advantage when you can. Gain confidence.

The Closers

When you get to the last card or two you should have a preplanned closing sequence. I use two closing sequences, one for impromptu performances and one for formal performances. For impromptu performances I ALWAYS use Derek Dingle’s Open Sesame move (see The Complete Works of Derek Dingle, Kaufman, p. 73). With the last selection on top of the deck, perform a spring flourish to put a concave crimp into the deck. Then lift up about half the deck with your right thumb and give them a loud riffle, putting a convex crimp into this half. When you riffle, keep a break below these cards with your left pinky. Perform a riffle pass and take the deck into your right hand by its ends in such a way that the bottom card faces your right palm. If you squeeze the ends of the deck together, the deck will follow the crimps and a big elliptical opening will appear along the side of the deck. Reach into the opening with your right forefinger and drag the card below that fingertip out of the side of the deck for about a half inch. Place your right second finger onto the back of this card and move your right forefinger to its face. Extend both fingers, extracting the selection from the middle of the deck, and display the final selection. Drop the selection to the table with the other cards and ribbon spread the deck face up. This discovery is brilliant. It is easy to execute, unfathomable to your spectators and, combined with the finality of the face up ribbon spread, is a natural applause cue!

The closer I use for a more formal performance is not as simple to describe. In fact, I set up this closer during the Selection and Control process. Have a LePaul wallet in the inner left breast pocket of your coat. When the first spectator announces `stop’ as you dribble the cards from hand to hand, show the card on the bottom half of the right hand cards and then remove a Sharpie pen and have him sign his name on the card’s face. Side steal the card to the top after reassembling the deck and continue with the selection and control process. When all the spectators have a card that they’re remembering (and assuming there were 12 selections), start spreading the face down deck into your right hand.

Sight count down to the eleventh card (one less than the number of selections) as you say, “…I know that no one chose a card near the top…” Get a break below the eleventh card and turn the deck face up, maintaining the break. Spread over the facing 5 or 6 cards, “…and no one chose one near the bottom…” Square the spread cards and side steal the card above the break into a right hand full palm, `…so I have thirty or forty cards to work with…” load the card into the wallet as you remove same, “…This is a little more complicated than most tricks, and I have some instructions in here in case I need them; would you hold this for me sir…?” Hand the wallet to the spectator who chose and signed the first card. Now proceed with your discoveries.

When it comes time to produce the last selection, go into this patter: “…I’ll find your card in a second, but first let me tell you about this wallet. There are pickpockets that are so good that they can get into a gentleman’s coat, into the pocket, into that flap in the wallet, and take the money but leave the wallet! So if you feel a little something and tap your chest to check for your wallet, well, you can still feel it there and you think you’re okay – until you go to pay for something. That’s why I had a zipper put into this wallet…” Open the wallet and display the zipper. Open up the zipper, remove the envelope and let the spectator remove his signed selection from the envelope.

This patter is not only interesting to the audience, but by describing how impossible it is to get money out of the wallet, you are also implicitly describing how impossible it is to get a card into the wallet!

I hope you will experiment with a multiple selection routine and that the processes and tips I’ve described here will be helpful to its development. It is a wonderful routine and you can start small, as I said, with four or five selections, and then work your way up. Good luck!