Sleight of Hand With Cards
Basic sleight of hand with cards written and illustrated by Michael Pascoe. Learn these moves and you can learn any basi...
Sleight of Hand with Cards In this volume, we are not going to assume that everyone knows every move in magic. We want to encourage pure novices to be able to do any of the tricks in this book. To do that, knowledge of all moves is not necessary. All moves that will be used for every trick will be explained. If you are an expert and are already familiar with a sleight, then you can skip the explanation. Card sleights can be fun. Sure it’s a lot of work, but the gratification of doing something that looks like pure magic makes it worth it. In this first section we will be doing sleights that are easy and can be done right of way. Then later on we will teach some more difficult sleights that is challenging, but important to do some real good card tricks. No matter what level of sleight of hand you are learning, practice is important to make it natural because at first the handling will not be normal. Once you get use to it, then you will make it look natural. There are some basic things that you need to know when learning sleight of hand. These are the essentials to card magic. First you need to know how to hold the deck of cards to be used in sleight of hand. In the left hand the deck is almost always held in what is known as the mechanics grip. See figure 1. In the right hand it almost always held as in figure 2.
The reason for holding the cards in this manner is that it’s easier to do the following sleights.
The Little Finger Break These first two sleights that we are going to teach you are very important to card magic. The moves are easy, but needs to be practiced to make it habit. The little finger is used to hold breaks in the deck for sleights like the double lift and the pass. First you must hold the deck in the mechanics grip as in figure 1. Let’s say you have a card chosen and you want to keep the card in control. One basic way to cut the deck in half with the right hand. Take the chosen card and put it in your left hand on top of the packet. Stick a centimeter of your left pinky finger of your left hand over the right edge of the packet. Put the top half of the rest of the deck on the lower that is held in your left hand. With the pinky, hold the break with the flesh of the pad of your left pinky (hence the name, Pinky Break). See figure 3. It may seem easy, but practice holding the deck in this manner. The reason is that in card magic you will be using it a lot. Now that you are holding the deck like this, it’s time to some checking to make it looks norFig. 3 mal from the angle of the audience. From the front, you must not see any kind of break or any tell tale sign that the pinky is doing anything. From the back, you will see the break.
Pinky Pull Down This is one way of getting into a pinky break. Another way is the Pinky Pull Down. Hold the deck in the left hand in the mechanics grip. With the left thumb push the top card to the right as in figure 4. When you pull it back, put your left pinky in the break. This is done in one hand and usually cannot be detected.
The thumb break is done in the right hand only. Its purpose is to hold the break when the deck is taken from the left hand so the left hand can be used for something else. Hold the deck in the pinky break position in the left hand. The right hand approaches the deck palm facing down. Change the grip from the left hand to the right hand. Make sure the fleshy pad of the thumb holds the break open as in figure 5. Make sure that the deck is squared from all angles expect of course your view from the rear.
The Double Lift
Once you’ve learned how to hold a break, it’s time to know what to do with it. One of the most useful sleight utilizing the break is the double lift. What you do is lift two cards as one, but to the audience all you are doing is taking just one card. You will use the double and sometimes the triple lift all of the time in card magic. Just be careful with the triple lift because it is more difficult to show the cards as one. In the double lift, you want to make it look like one flat card as much as possible. There is many ways of doing the double lift, but we are going to start off with the basic way first, then get into more complex versions.
The Get Ready Most methods use what’s known as the get ready. The ideal way to do this is to just lift the two cards and turn it over. However, without a get ready move of some sort, doing this can get clumsy. Fortunately, if you prepare your routines, it won’t look awkward. 1st method: Spread two cards (or if you are going to do a triple lift, spread three). Put the left pinky under the second card. Close the spread and hold the pinky break as in figure 3. 2nd method: This method uses the pinky pulled down. Take off the top card and display it. You can use the motivation that you are showing the face of the card or just using it to point with it. While you are doing this, pinky pulled down the next card and get a pinky break. Then put the card back on top. 3rd method: Sometimes it’s not always possible to spread the cards to get ready. The second card may be secretly face up or it might be a different color or so on. So you must change the get ready to accommodate those situations. The deck is in the left hand in the mechanics grip. The right hand covers the deck as in figure 6. With the right thumb in the rear, riffle two cards. It is possible to just lift the two cards from this position, but we suggest not to take the chance. The best way is to riffle them one card at a time until you get to the number of cards you
want as in figure 7. After you have riffled down the two cards, get your pinky in the break and hold it as shown in figure 3. A pause is in order for misdirection purposes.
Fig. 7 Fig. 6
Bill Tarr;s Thumb Count is similar, but he doesn’t hesitate to do the lift. Instead of thumb counting from the back, Tarr does it from the left inner corner of the deck. The motivation is that the right hand approaches the deck for the reason of turning the card over. It is natural when peeling off anything light like a playing card, some hesitation occurs. The right thumb comes in contact with the inner left corner of deck. Notice in figure 8 that the upper part of the first joint of the right thumb rests on the corner as the top card is being raised slightly. The bottom part of the thumb tip does not touch the deck as of yet. It pivots down towards the corner of the deck and comes in contact with the second card as shown in figure 9. Lift up the thumb higher so the second card rises up with it. Pinch the two cards together forming one card. Lift both cards up as one. There should be very little hesitation in this. Just a slight one. Then continue on to the lift explained later on in this section
3rd method: This method uses the pinky pulled down. Take off the top card and display it. You can use the motivation that you are showing the face of the card or just using it to point with it. While you are doing this, pinky pulled down the next card and get a pinky break. Then put the card back on top. 4th method: In their book, Expert Card Technique, Braue and Hugard describe a get ready method for their lift. We will explain the get ready here then the lift under that section. Once again hold the deck in the mechanics grip. Make sure that the left thumb lies flat against the left side of the deck. Don’t hold the deck quite as deep as you normally do. Make sure the middle finger is situated in the middle of the pack. With the middle finger, press down on the right side of the deck to your left so it spreads out. See figure 11. The base of the thumb acts like a stop to it as the cards from the inner left corner pushes against it.
The right hand approaches the deck from above. The fingers are placed at the outer end. The thumb at the rear. Lightly square up the deck. As you do, with the right thumb and second finger, press slightly in at the ends of the top cards and bend it upwards causing an arch as in figure 12.
Fig. 12 From the tip of the left middle finger let cards to escape one at a time so they buckle upwards. Then hold the break under the second card. Of course if you want a triple lift, then let three cards go. Place the ball of the left thumb on top of the outer half of the deck. Lift up the right thumb at the inner end. Use the middle finger as a hinge. It will cause the cards to lever up. Insert the pads of your left pinky into the break that is on the right side of the deck. Square up the pack with the right thumb and middle finger. 5th method: This is from The Second Now You See It, Now You Don’t by Bill Tarr. This book is one of Michael’s favorite. Not only does Mr. Tarr explain the sleight of hand very well, but the illustrations by Barry Ross was very influential to him illustrating magic. Hold the deck in the left hand in the mechanics grip. From there, you need to adjust your grip. The left forefinger goes under the deck as in figure 13. The thumb is on the outside at the edge of the cards and counts one card. See figure 14. The right hand covers the deck. As it does, under cover of this, the left thumb counts a second card. In figure 15 the right hand is omitted for clarity.
Fig. 16 The right thumb and forefinger enters the break and clips the card as one. The right wrist turns over and reveals the face of the card as figure 16. Then it is set back on the top of the deck.
The Lift Grip the two cards with your right thumb very similar to the thumb break. With the two middle fingers and thumb, lift the pair as one. See figure 17. Turn them over face up as figure 18. With the free index finger, bow the cards slightly away making a tunnel as in figure 19.
By bending the card in this manner keeps the two cards together. If you kept it like figure 18, there might be a chance that the card might have a crimp in it and buckle revealing the two cards. After the card is shown, return the card(s) to the top of the deck. That is the basic way of doing. Even though from time to time you might do it this way, there are more advance ways of doing the lift. One way is to grip the lower right corner of the two cards between your right forefinger and thumb. Then lift it up to display it making sure that the cards don’t slip away and revealing the two cards. Bill Tarr’s Corner Double Lift is similar to the riffle, but done at the corner Fig. 20 of the deck. The get ready is minimal in the sense that it is done at the same time so that’s why it’s explained here. In this move you don’t actually riffle the deck as in figure 20. The right thumb comes in contact with the lower left corner of the deck. It lifts up a single corner and stops as in figure 21. Then the thumb moves in slightly resting against the corner of the next card. In figure 22 you can see the thumb rock inwards towards the deck. Notice how the thumb resting against it. Then it lifts straight up taken the second card with it. (See figure 23.)
Figure 24 shows the two cards after it’s been lifted by the thumb. Pinch the cards between either the middle finger and thumb or the index as in figure 25. Then turn the card over from left to right as shown in figure 26. Notice here the cards are pinched between the index finger. Whatever you find is easier for you is expectable.
Fig. 25 The best way of displaying the double card is to turn it over face up on top of the deck. There are several ways of doing this. One method mentioned in Card College Volume 1 is called the Double Turnover. The right hand grips the deck as in figure 27 with the thumb in the back and the middle finger in front. Make sure to grip the two cards with these fingers. Move the cards to the right slightly to get ready to turn them over. Take note in figure 27 the positions of the fingers. The left thumb should give the illusion that it is pushing the card over but in reality you are moving to the right. Move the card even more to the right and stop when the left side is at the right part of the deck. Move the left thumb under the two cards and pivot it up. The cards must act like it’s connected to the middle finger and thumb. See figure 28. When the cards are face up, then square it to the deck making sure you keep a pinky break on it. Repeat this to bring it back face down.
Fig. 28 In Card College Volume 4 it has a double lift by Cliff Green. As the move is explained in Card College, it is part of a larger trick, but we will only show it up to the point of the double lift. Hold the deck in the left hand in the mechanics grip and get a pinky break above the second card. The right approaches it as in figure 29.
In figure 30 the fingers of the right hand goes to the left top part of the deck. The right forefinger is placed at the left corner.
Stroke the right thumb at the back of this left hand corner as if you were trying to peal the top card off. Move the hand forward without a card as if you missed. See figure 31. Then moved the thumb forward a few times as if you are trying to get the top card.
Your left pinky pushes the lower right corner over to the left injoggin it a bit causing a step as in figure 32. At the same time with the right forefinger and thumb pinch the upper left corner of the card giving the illusion that you sliding the top card off. Pull this double card forward. (See figure 33).
Lightly press your right middle finger against the outer end of this double card to prevent it from slipping. When the cards move all the way up the deck, hinge it over towards you and place it on top getting a pinky break. This time don’t hesitate. Slide the thumb forward and repeat the move to the turn the card back over face up. Dai Vernon describes his double lift in his Ambitious Card routine in Stars of Magic. After you get a pinky break on the two cards then you can do the move or you can do Vernon’s get ready move. Make sure that the deck is slightly convex by putting a slight crimp into it. Hold the deck as in figure 34 making sure that the deck is held between the left fingertips and thumb.