Before reading this analysis, you can familiarize yourself with the trick by watching the performance video and reading the instructions here.
Selecting the Card
Many readers asked how to ensure that spectators select a card from the top three-quarters of the deck. Here are some suggestions:
In the video, you’ll notice that I spread the cards on the table. Since the stacked cards are on the bottom, it’s easy to keep the spread tighter on the bottom than on the top. As a result, spectators instinctively know that the cards in the top of the spread will be easier to get to than those on the bottom. Many of you also noticed how I gestured with my hands, somewhat guarding the bottom with my left hand while encouraging with my right.
For this, a casual, easy-going attitude will work to your advantage. You don’t want to convey that it’s important to select a card from a specific portion of the deck - something that’s admittedly easier for pros to do than beginners.
Perhaps the best thing to put your mind at ease is to know that even if a spectator chooses a card from the bottom of the deck - something you don’t want him to do - simply do another card trick where you find the card. Spectators don’t know what you’re going to do so you’re free to change the trick midway, if necessary. If the spectator insists on choosing the very bottom card, you already know its identity and can pretend to “mindread” and turn the situation into an entire different trick.
Something that helps with the selection process is to give the deck a false cut - a cut or mix that doesn’t change the order of the deck - before the spread and selection of the card. Executed properly, spectators will feel that the deck is already mixed and will normally let down their guard. Looking back, this is something that I neglected to do in the performance, but often do with other card tricks.
Another important aspect is to ask the volunteer to clearly show the selected card to everyone but you. If you don’t do this, you’ll find that some spectators will keep the identity of the card to themselves and later forget the card of interest. In these types of card tricks where a card is selected, always make sure that a number of spectators know the identity of the card.
Cutting the Deck
Before the cutting, there’s the “recap.” It’s important to emphasize what has just occurred. The card was freely selected and returned to the deck and I had not touched the deck. Everything was “fair.” In some tricks, the recap can be used to slyly alter what occurred so when spectators retrace their steps to work through the trick, it’s difficult to remember exactly what transpired. And your comments may actually influence what they recall.
Something that is not shown well in the performance video is the fact that as spectators cut the deck, they see different cards. This is important as it shows spectators that the deck isn’t filled with duplicates of a single card - a possible solution to the trick. In my performance, the spectators cut the deck twice before landing on the cards that indicate the position of the selected card. In total, the spectators viewed three cards that were different from the selected card, which reinforces the trick’s impact.
Since it’s important that spectators see different cards, you may want to continue the cutting process should a spectator land on the suit of interest on the first cut.
I may overdo it a bit, but I always try to mime the actions that I’m telling the spectator to perform to make sure that he or she clearly understands. In a situation such as this where the spectators are handling the cards and the deck is out of your control, specific and clear instructions are a must.
After the spectator counts to the designated card, I ask her to stop. At this point, I ask her to name the card before turning it over. This is important as the turnover of the card is the climax of the trick and the naming leads to its ultimate impact. If the spectator turned the card over first and then I asked if that was the card, it would be less climactic.
In practice, it’s not unusual for spectators to forget a card, or even, at times, misname it. By asking the name of the card before the revelation, it makes the group agree on the selected card. And when the card is turned over, it’s with maximum impact.
Since this segment was taped, I didn’t show the clean-up. Because there are cards in order in the deck, it’s important to either put the cards away, or give the deck a quick shuffle before turning them over and showing all of the different cards.
If you decide to do the shuffling approach, I suggest that you simply gather the cards and shuffle the deck, and then, as if you’ve forgotten, you can then say something like “Oh, let me show that you it’s a completely normal deck.”
Looking at this critically, I have to admit that this presentation wasn’t as tightly scripted as I would have liked. In fact, the only aspect that was planned was the opening statement and the rest was mostly adlibbed - something that I often do in my restaurants with regular patrons. Also, it would be nice if I remained better aware of my posture and such.
The trick is not one that I perform in my regular sets. In fact, this is probably the only time that I have ever performed it for an audience (I rarely tape my regular material for video segments).
I can’t say I’m proud of this performance on video, but if it helps magicians with learning and presenting the trick, I’m fine with releasing, showing and critiquing it.