Magic Trick: The Prearranged Pack

Difficult as most card tricks are there are certain others that may almost be said to do themselves, and yet are by no means to be despised.

There is little, if any, sleight of hand called into play, the essentials being a clear head, a good memory, a prearranged pack of cards, and some practice. The cards are not mechanical affairs, but an ordinary pack, discarding the "joker," arranged in a certain order. The better to remember this order, resort is had to a sentence made up of words having almost the same sound as the numbers they represent. The preparation of this sentence may be left to the ingenuity of the performer, or the following may be used.

4 Four

9 benign

king kings

ace won

10 a tender

6 sick

jack knave

53 fifty-three

8 hated

queen queens

2 to

7 save.

Fig. 33 The above diagram shows the arrangement of the prepared pack.

This is not very brilliant verse, nor is it clearer than some of Lewis Carroll's lines, and yet it answers its purpose admirably.

So much for the numbers, or spot values, of the cards. As it would not do to have all of one suit together, they also are arranged, say, as follows: spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds, and the more easily to remember this sequence, we bear in mind that the four consonants of the words "SHow CoDe," here printed in capitals, represent the order of the suits.

To prepare the pack, we begin by laying the four of spades, face upward, on the table. On top of this place the nine of hearts, next the king of clubs, and then the ace of diamonds. We proceed in this way with the rest of the pack, always following the values as suggested by the formula and the suits as laid down in the "SHow CoDe." The accompanying diagram may help the inexperienced in arranging the pack. When the cards are all laid out it will be found that every fourth card is of the same suit, every second card the other suit of the same color, and every thirteenth card is of the same spot value and of the next suit in the order of suits.

When these instructions on the arrangement of the pack are thoroughly mastered, it is surprising what an expert performer at cards the merest tyro may become.

This pack may be cut (not shuffled) as often as desired without disturbing its order in the least, and when cut four or five times in quick succession it will appear as if the cards are thoroughly mixed. To still further mislead the audience, the performer may resort to the false shuffle.

Now for the wonders that may be worked with this pack.

The performer requests some man or boy to empty the breast-pocket of his coat. Then placing the pack behind his own back, he asks the one who is assisting to draw one card and, without looking at it, to put it into the empty pocket. As soon as this is done the performer inserts the little finger of his left hand at the place in the pack from which the card was taken, and, without disarranging the order of the cards in any way, cuts the pack at that place, putting the upper part under the lower, in fact, making the pass. Bringing the pack in front of him, and getting sight of the bottom card, he recalls the memorized formula and will know almost immediately which card was drawn, for it must be the one that comes just after the bottom card of the pack. For example: should the nine of diamonds be drawn, and the pack be cut as directed, the bottom card will be the four of clubs. "Clubs," the performer says to himself "are followed by diamonds and four by nine." Turning to the one who has the card in his pocket, the performer says: "There are two colors in a pack, red and black. Which do you choose?" Should the answer be red, the performer says: "Red, be it." If, on the contrary, the answer be black, the performer simply says: "You take the black? Very well; then I shall use the red." This system of forcing, by always interpreting the answer to suit the purpose of the performer, is followed throughout the trick, and is rarely detected by the unsuspecting audience, as a long experience proves. The next question of the performer is: "There are two red cards, diamonds and hearts. Which do you choose?" A slight emphasis on diamonds will generally cause that suit to be mentioned, but should the answer be hearts, then the performer, following his forcing method, says: "You choose hearts? Very well; then I have diamonds." Continuing, the next question is: "Let us divide the thirteen cards of that suit into two, say, the ace, king, queen, jack, ten, nine, and eight in one part, and the deuce, trey, four, five, six, and seven in another. Now which do you choose?" And no matter which is mentioned, the first pack is used for the trick. Again and again the pack is divided until at last but two remain, and of the two the nine is chosen by the performer, who says: "There is now only one card remaining, the nine of diamonds. Take it from your pocket, please." Which is done.

Another mystifying trick is that of calling for the cards that some one has selected at random.

Having gone through the pretense of shuffling the cards, the performer offers the pack, without letting it leave his hands, to one of the audience with the request that it be cut. This done, he takes the upper portion in his right hand, and holding the lower part in his left he extends it to the one who made the cut with the remark, "As it would be impossible for me to know what these cards are, will you be good enough to take as many as you wish, without letting me see them?

"I would suggest," he continues, "with a view to saving time, that you select only seven or eight, but that is not material. Take as many as you please." As soon as the cards are drawn, which must be in a lump from the top, not from different parts of the pack, the left hand pack is placed on the other and the performer gets sight of the bottom card. "Now, sir," he says, "how many cards have you?" and as he knows the card that follows the bottom card, he begins to ask for them in their routine until all are handed to him. It is not even necessary for him to ask how many cards are drawn, for by slightly raising the inner corner of the top card with the left thumb and getting a glimpse of its index he knows the number almost immediately. There is little danger that this will be noted by the audience, for their attention will be fixed on the one who has drawn the cards.

When, by continued practice, the performer has become proficient in the handling of this prearranged pack, he may give further evidence of his skill by telling the name of the card that will be found at any number in the pack; and for this the bottom card is the key, and to begin the first thing is to find the suit. This is learned by dividing the number called for by four. If there be no remainder the suit is the same as that of the card at the bottom of the pack. If the remainder be one, it is the next suit in the arranged order; if the remainder be two, it is the second suit in the order, or the other suit of the color of the bottom card, and if the remainder be three it is the third suit in the order. When the suit is known, which takes a moment only to learn, the performer mentally divides the number called for by thirteen, which is the number of cards in each suit. That is easily done when one reflects that thirteen goes into twenty-six, thirty-nine, and fifty-two (the number of cards in a pack) without a remainder. In dividing the number called for by thirteen, should there be no remainder the spot value of the card is the same as the bottom card, though this rarely happens. When there is a remainder, count over mentally in the prearranged order (four, nine, king, etc.), beginning with the top card of the pack, and when as many cards are counted as equal the number of the remainder, the last card will have the same spot value as the card that is called for. To illustrate this, let us suppose that the bottom card of the pack is the seven of hearts, and the thirtieth card is called for. Dividing thirty by four we find a remainder of two, by which we know that the card is a diamond. Dividing thirty by thirteen, the remainder is four. In the order of the formula, after the bottom card, which is a seven, comes the four, the nine, the king, and, finally, the ace, so it follows that the thirtieth card from the top is an ace, and consequently the asked for card is the ace of diamonds. To prove this, try it with a prearranged pack.

It is always a great mistake to repeat a trick that has impressed an audience; of course, the professional is not called on to do this, but the amateur will frequently find himself urged to "do it again." As to refuse might seem ungracious, the young magician ought, whenever possible, to have another similar trick to present that is effected by entirely different means.

With the trick just described it frequently happens that the performer has no sooner told that the thirtieth card (in this case) is the ace of diamonds than some one will call out another number. "It is as easy to tell one number as another," says the performer, "and it would be merely a repetition of what I have just done. Let me show you the same trick in a different form. If some one will call the name of a card I will tell him what number it will be found in the pack. Now, who speaks? You, sir? The deuce of clubs? Certainly; that is the twenty-fifth card, as we shall see." He counts off the cards, laying them face down on the table, and when he reaches the twenty-fifth card, he turns it face upward, and, sure enough, it is the wished for card.

To gain this knowledge the performer, to begin, must know the location number of the first card which corresponds in the number of spots to that of the card called for. Glancing at the bottom card, he counts mentally, beginning with the top card of the pack, until he reaches the card he is in search of. The number that this card holds in the pack, which must be less than thirteen, he divides by four. Should it be of the suit called for he need go no further, but simply announces that number as the one at which the card called for is located. But should the proper suit be the next in order, he adds thirteen to reach the proper number; if the suit be the second in order, he adds twenty-six, and if third in order he adds thirty-nine.

On the first reading this may not be perfectly clear, but to make it so, let the reader take an arranged pack, and suppose the deuce of clubs, already quoted, to be the card named, and the seven of hearts to be at the bottom of the pack. Begin to count with the top card, which will be the four of clubs; then the nine of diamonds, the kings of spades, the ace of hearts, the ten of clubs, the six of diamonds, the jack of spades, five of hearts, three of clubs, eight of diamonds, queen of spades, two of hearts—which is the twelfth card, but as the required suit, clubs, is next in order to hearts, thirteen must be added, and counting off the cards the twenty-fifth will prove to be the desired card.

Just here, let us say, that when doing a trick, whether of cards or anything else, the performer should never look at his hands, unless he wishes to direct attention to them. How then may we "glance at the bottom card of the pack," as directed in doing the foregoing trick? In this way: holding the pack across the palm of the left hand so that it may be raised just a trifle by pressing the thumb against the edges of the cards, the performer raises his hand almost on a level with his eyes, and extends his arm naturally and carelessly toward his audience, making, at the same time, some trifling remark, as, for instance, "Pretty tricks, these card-tricks, aren't they?" At this moment he sees the bottom card. Other methods will suggest themselves as one grows more proficient.

One more trick that may be done with the prepared pack, which is very easy: that is, professing to deal oneself all the trumps in a whist hand. It is simplicity itself. Have the pack cut for trumps in the usual way, and then deal out four hands on a table, the faces of the cards down. Let the fourth hand be the dealer's. When all the cards are dealt, turn up the dealer's hand, and it must, necessarily, be all trumps, since every fourth card is of the same suit. But do not, on any account, show the other hands, as they might reveal the whole secret of the trick.

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