Magic Trick: The False Shuffle

This the conjuror will find a very useful adjunct to the pass. There is nothing very difficult about it, but it is necessary to be somewhat bold in executing it. The two methods of shuffling in ordinary use are the perpendicular and the horizontal. The perpendicular is the most business-like, and I have no doubt that it is used by most of my male readers who are card-players. Ladies, I am aware, mostly patronise the horizontal shuffle, in which the cards are passed from right to left, or vice versâ, alternately over and under. To illustrate the perpendicular method, suppose the card to be at the bottom of the pack, just passed there, and it is desired to keep it in that position. By applying pressure with the fingers and thumb, the top and bottom cards will be retained in the left hand when the right hand draws away the rest of the pack, which is then shuffled over the two. The operation can be repeated hundreds of times without fear of a mistake. With the card at the top, the action is more complicated, though not difficult. The pressure with thumb and fingers must be made as before. This will bring the chosen card from the top to second from the bottom. Commence the shuffle a second time, and the card will be the bottom one of those held in the right hand, the one recently beneath it having been drawn off by the fingers of the left hand. It now remains to continue shuffling vigorously until the chosen card alone remains in the right hand, which then leaves it on the top of the pack in its original position. For this shuffle, which I prefer to any other, I have to thank myself. It is utterly impossible for the eye of anyone, be he the most practised conjuror, to follow the positions of the one card, even supposing that an opportunity for minute investigation were allowed, which it scarcely would be during a performance. When exhibiting before a select company of extra sharp people who have vague notions of false shuffles and passes, it is sometimes advisable to bring the chosen card to the top, with one card or more above it. You can then say, "Now, it is utterly impossible for me to know where the card is. You see it is neither at the bottom nor next to the bottom" (throw bottom card off), "nor is it at the top" (throw as many cards off the top as are above the chosen card). More than this the spectators can hardly expect you to do. In the horizontal shuffle, with the card at the top, draw the card off between the first and second fingers, and put all cards which are shuffled above it between the first finger and thumb. This will form two packs, divided by the first finger. The final movement in the shuffle is the replacing the lower half on the upper; but I prefer bringing this about by means of the pass. With the card at the bottom, one has merely to shuffle the cards in the ordinary way, just taking care that the bottom card is shuffled last by itself to the top, where it may be left; or it may equally easily be shuffled to the bottom again by simply retaining it in the hand last. This is the simplest shuffle of all, but it will not deceive enlightened people. I find it an excellent method to combine two methods of shuffling. Great rapidity of action should be studied; everything, however, being practised very slowly at first, until the proper method is secured. The false shuffle is very useful in covering the pass. The pass should be made, and the shuffle at once proceeded with, without allowing a fraction of a second to elapse.

Leaving the beginner to overcome at his leisure the various difficulties connected with the mastery of single-handed passes, I will describe some tricks performed by the aid of the pass, assisted by the false shuffle alone, commencing with the most simple. Lest the reader should say, "Oh! but no person in his senses would be deceived by that simple thing," I will observe that he should endeavour to suit his audience to his skill. The learner should commence by allowing a card to be selected from the pack, which he then cuts near the centre, and requests the person who selected the card to place it upon the lower portion. He then replaces the upper portion, taking care to allow the little finger to intervene between the two, so as to be ready for the pass, which must be made on the first opportunity, and the pack handed to a spectator to hold. Now say that you will cause the card chosen to rise from the centre of the pack, where it is supposed to be, to the top, and then let the holder of the pack show that such has actually been done. By inserting the finger beneath the card before making the pass, it will be brought to the bottom of the pack, whither you can afterwards command it to go. In these instances the effect will be spoilt if any shuffling takes place; but, in most of the following, false shuffling should be resorted to, attention being called to the fact that the cards are well mingled, and that you, therefore, cannot possibly know the position of the chosen card in the pack.

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