Pick a Card Poker
By Luke Jermay - Friday, August 7, 2020
There is no denying that audiences respond very well to gambling themes in performance. There is also no denying that most spectators do not themselves, gamble all that much. Consequently often audiences are not aware of the specific rules that govern more esoteric games. Often they will not even be that familiar with even the basic rules of simple games. This can make many gambling themed effects impossible for them to appreciate and enjoy. It is shame, since the archetypal notions that come with the card cheat are strong and offers a great narrative backdrop for the performer. With this in mind, over the years I have developed a number of routines that allow the performer to capitalise on the romance and glamour that is associated with the ideas of the card cheat, without the need for the audience to know anything about any specific game or failing that the need to know anything that isn’t easy and quick for the performer to explain to them. Some of the results of this are available commercially. Effects like Game and Hit are but two examples. Here is another:
A borrowed deck is shuffled. The performer talks about, "Card cheats who spend years perfecting a specific skill; the ability to spot a card they want; and shuffle it so it falls perfectly into their hand during the game. It is a skill that can take years to master, and right now I will show you the behind the scenes of perfecting that skill. For the next few moments imagine you are seeing a training montage in a movie… I might even run up some steps accompanied by music from the 80s if the opportunity presents itself…”
Holding the deck face down in his hands, he spreads the cards one by one asking a spectator to call stop. He stops when called for and displays the card at this position, asking the spectator to remember the card. This is repeated with four more speculators. The performer gives the deck a very fair looking overhand shuffle. He then places the deck onto the table. He explains: "I am going to test my skills against the clock."
He has a spectator with a sweeping second hand make themselves known. The performer explains that he will "Count down from three to one and then say go," at this point the spectator is to time the performer. The performer explains his goal is to take no longer than fifteen seconds. He then turns his attention to those who selected cards asking them: "All of you; in your loudest, clearest public speaking voice; when I reach one in my countdown; shout the name of the card you saw in the deck..."
Without saying a word the performer dons a blindfold. He pauses and says: "This just makes it a little more interesting..." He counts down. The spectators shout their chosen cards and the performer gives the deck one riffle shuffle and a cut, he then gives the deck one final riffle shuffle and cut.
The performer shouts "stop" removes the blindfold and discovers he has taken nineteen seconds. He did not reach his goal but he continues: "Arg... I knew it. Two cards stuck together because of the heat which lost me a few seconds ... But we have come this far so let's check my work..." The performer removes the blindfold and deals five hands of five cards around the table. He picks up his five cards and have been shuffled into his own hand and has each of the spectators who selected cards, one at a time, announce their card aloud. He turns each card in his hand over one by one to reveal he has successfully spotted and shuffled all five cards into his hand.
Spread the deck face down in your hands. Instantly cull four cards beneath the spread and have a spectator call stop. Show the card that the spectator stopped you at, and then cull the selection beneath spread. Cull four more cards with it as you continue to spread and move to next person. Repeat this process with each of the selections. When this is finished, close the spread and hold a break above the block of culled cards. Shuffle off everything above break bringing the block to top. This allows a very fair looking shuffle.
Place the deck on the table and suiting the actions to the right time in the presentation outlined above execute the most convincing sequence of false shuffling and cutting you can, so you end without any cards changing order. To finish, deal five hands of five cards with the fifth card going to yourself. Finally, reveal all chosen cards are in your hand.
This is an easy but dramatic demonstration that is very impressive. There's a nice economy of motion with the method for the audience all deception is over before they even think it might have begun. Plus, this routine requires no knowledge of any specific game for the audience to appreciate it.
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