The Cull Switch

By Luke Jermay - Saturday, February 13, 2021

It has been observed that elegance is found not by adding more, but by removing. This rule of design can often be observed within pleasing construction within card magic. Very often I am impressed and pleased when I read a construction that brings with it efficiency by streamlining and removing sleights, additional steps or in some way removing what was previously needed to achieve the effect.

In this spirit, the simple idea I will share here allows the performer to have a deck shuffled and then for a participant to name any value, immediately the deck is spread, face down, and the participant selects four cards. When these selections turned face up, in a very fair manner, they are shown to be a four of a kind of the named value. In the video below the technique is demonstrated with four aces, from a shuffled deck. Please remember when viewing the video that the techniques and methods I am sharing here are many years old and are not in regular use in my work, consequently they are far from refined. I am certain everyone reading this blog handles cards in a significantly more refined manner that I do. You can see my unrefined handling here to get a sense of what this technique looks like in its raw form:

This technique is especially pleasing since it can be used to achieve not only a startling and direct effect, but also it allows you to remove many of the steps we would normally see in such a routine. With this technique there is no need to first locate the named four of a kind and then force to switch it in. Rather these two things, the secret location, control and introduction, happen all at once during the open action of spreading the deck for the selections to be made. In addition the technique also then perfectly positions you to invisibly control the four of a kind, offering the potential of repeating the demonstration in a different manner, if you wish.

At the core this technique allows you to locate, force/switch and then control any number of desired cards, all within one action. It has varied and wide applications but here we will focus on the effect described as a manner to share it.

To perform this effect you will need to use a marked deck and be comfortable reading the marks during a face down spread, with speed to locate the cards that make up the named four of a kind. If you have not used this type of method before it might sound challenging. In truth, it's not anywhere near as challenging as it first sounds. Also, please remember this effect is merely an example of what the technique is capable of achieving, and while it is a direct and pleasing effect, it should not be viewed in isolation. If you wish to simply have the spectator select a desired and known four of a kind, such as the Aces, you can dispense with the marked deck and instead mark those four cards so they can be identified easily. This is especially good when you wish to force multiple cards.

Have the deck shuffled by a spectator and then invite them to name aloud any value. Remember the value that has been named and spread the deck face down between your hands. Spreading the deck from the left hand into the right hand. Have the spectator select the first three cards as you spread. While this is happening you will cull the four cards of the named value. Contrive to ensure you have located all four of these, before the spectator selects the final/fourth card. This is largely down to timing and your own spectator management but should not pose a huge challenge for anyone.

If this concerns you, a pleasing manner to achieve this is to use multiple spectators to make one selection each, allowing you to move from one spectator to the next while spreading the deck and then pausing with a spread before each. This gives you a greater level of control over the spread and allows you to control when the selections are made. You simply do not move to the final spectator until you have located and culled beneath the spread the named four of a kind. However, it is not much effort to utilise some basic timing and audience management to achieve the same result with a single spectator.

With each selection you will outjog it. To do this you will break the spread at the selection and move the right hand upward, bringing with it the selection entirety of the spread above it, then outjog the selection by pinning it with the left thumb as you lower and realign the remainder of the spread with the lower broken spread. This action is important as it will normalise this action for the deception that will come with the final/fourth selection.

Once all four of the values have been culled beneath the spread have the final card selected. Now load all of the culled cards beneath the final selection, but not so they are square. Rather the secretly culled packet is aligned in such a fashion that it ends side-jogged beneath the card itself. Now repeat the action of outjogging the selection, in the same fashion as you did earlier. However, this time, the packet of culled cards will also be pinned in position and come along with the selection itself. Thanks to the handling of the outjogging and spreading this packet will remain hidden by the spread by the final selection itself.

You now square the spread. At this point you have secretly introduced the desired cards to the bottom of the group of cards that have been chosen. Now very fairly grip everything that is out jogged by the right corners and strip them all free from the spread. Turn the entire packet over and place them on to the top of the deck. Spread the top three cards to reveal the named four of a kind, being careful not to expose the four face up cards that are hidden beneath the final ace.

Here, hidden beneath the final selection are the four cards that were actually chosen, face up. This means you are positioned to square the four of a kind back on the deck and turn all eight cards face down, as if they were the four named cards and switch them out for the randomly chosen cards.

You might like to then place the top four cards into different parts of the deck and apparently replace the named four of a kind into different parts of the deck and perform another version of the spectator finding the named four of a kind.

Reader comments:


Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:09 PM - Reply to this comment

What a wonderfully efficient and natural looking move—both parts are important. The idea that you can have four cards chosen from a shuffled deck, show they are aces, and immediately switch them out is really strong. As long as you have a marked deck, which I do.


Thursday, 18 February 2021 20:46 PM - Reply to this comment

Another great idea, thanks for generously sharing it.

It occurred to me if the 1st card you culled was a double backer before culling the 4 of a kind, when you flip them on top of the deck, you could push off all 4 selections without revealing the other face up cards beneath. To be clear, you'd need to make sure the double backer is close to the top above the 4 of a kind.


Friday, 19 February 2021 08:31 AM - Reply to this comment

Hi Peter, Absolutely. Another alternative is to remove the out-jogged cards as normal and then turn the deck face up. Now turn the packet over revealing the four of a kind and place everything onto the FU deck.

Leave a comment

Log in or sign up to post a comment about The Cull Switch.

Back to blog homepage

Similar posts on the blog:

First Parlor Magic Show In Two Years.

First Parlor Magic Show In Two Years.

Damian Jennings - Thursday, September 9, 2021

Category: Articles

Read more

Roberto Giobbi's Notebooks

Roberto Giobbi's Notebooks

Roberto Mansilla - Friday, September 3, 2021

Category: Articles

Read more

Jim Steinmeyer's Notebooks

Jim Steinmeyer's Notebooks

Roberto Mansilla - Sunday, July 11, 2021

Category: Articles

Read more