Simon Lovell – Control Or No Control?

Simon Lovell
By Simon Lovell
with additional ideas from Ned the Lemming

At a magic lecture recently somebody asked my favorite way to control a card to the top of the deck. This started quite a long answer that carried on at a local tavern afterwards. I guess they were kinda surprised at my answer. I’m pretty sure they expected a chat about the Pass (something I do use) or riffle shuffle techniques (which I can also use). But that wasn’t it!

You see, I think that if a magician puts the card back into the center of the deck then very neatly triple cuts the cards before doing a very tidy riffle shuffle (with perhaps just a tiny ‘clonk’ as a final single card hits the top of the deck) then, although they may not know where the chosen card is, the spectators assume that, by using their skilled hands, the magician may well do so! This is fine, of course, if you are doing an effect where your skill has to be evident (such as in a gambling routine perhaps) BUT, if you want them to truly believe that the card is lost I don’t think it’s the way to go.

I work very sloppily with the cards as if I really don’t care where they are or what they are doing. I’ll shove the card into the middle and get it to the top using a number of options. I may, if feeling frisky enough, use my Slo-Mo pass. I may throw (and I stress the word throw) packets of cards all over the bar letting them go everywhere. Since I had a break on the chosen card it’s pretty easy to see where the chosen one is. In the process of gathering up the cards it is real easy to manipulate it, using fingers and thumbs, to the tops of the deck (a Malini technique, I believe). I don’t square up the deck but just grab it as a loose pile and start overhand shuffling (keeping the top card in place with pressure from the left finger tips) asking, “Do you shuffle like this or the posh riffly way?” During the shuffle I’ll let one or two, sometimes more, cards fall to the floor and say, “Look if you don’t want to play with us you can stay down there on the floor!” Then I’ll lean forwards to the spectators and stage whisper, “It’s OK, I only got to page three of the instruction book!”

At this point, to their perception, the card HAS to be lost. If they don’t then you just haven’t been casual enough!

I’ll also often split the deck, with the top half being larger, and ask them to show off their riffle shuffling skills. Because of the large split, when they shuffle 99 times out of a 100 they’ll leave it on top for you! If they don’t it’s bound to be in the top 2 or 3 and it’s not that tough to see just where if you watch them shuffle. After their shuffle I’ll say, “Wow, I wouldn’t want to play cards with you!”

The whole point is that the card is lost. When the magic happens you can be just as surprised as they are, something I love to do. I’m not really the magician, just a catalyst for magic to happen!

BTW Ned likes this too. He says it’s fun to watch while eating an Alfalfa sandwich!

All the best to all, Simon and Ned