Getting Rid Of The Aces

By Dominic Twose - Tuesday, March 19, 2019


One of the classics of magic has become known as the McDonald Aces, although the method dates back to Hofzinser (see “A Power of Faith,”). Perhaps the best description is in Vernon’s More Inner Secrets of Card Magic. Frank Garcia popularized it with his version in the New Stars of Magic series, which introduced to many the idea of using different vanishes of the Aces at the end – although Ken Krenzel was first in print with this idea (M-U-M, Vol. 51 No. 3, Aug. 1962, p. 108, “Those Extra Touches”).

As is so often the case, the trick’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It uses gimmicked cards – double facers. This allows for some astonishingly visual vanishes – I remember performing it for my hero, the highly intelligent polymath Jonathan Miller, who literally rubbed his eyes at the vanishes. But the downside of double-faced cards is that you need to add them into the deck, and then remove them (although to be honest, the trick is so strong you could easily use it as a closer).

There are many ways of switching the cards in. But removing them at the end is problematic. I’m assuming you know the trick (if you don’t, stop reading this, and read the Vernon book). You’ll know that at the end the double-faced cards are interspersed with regular cards, making it hard to get rid of them.

It was that thoughtful magician Terry Guyatt who pointed me to the solution. In Vernon’s Further Inner Secrets of Card Magic there is Vernon’s handling of the Four Blue Backed Aces. It is an ingenious impromptu approach to a plot developed by Lynn Searles which used gimmicked cards. Ganson’s description is, as usual, clear. But at the end he allows himself a rare flash of frustration. In the days before we could easily edit our text on a laptop, Ganson sent Vernon his write up – and Vernon changed the handling of the ending. Rather than rewrite the effect, Ganson added it as a note at the end. ‘When correcting the manuscript Dai Vernon added…’. The note is a brilliant one, not just applicable to the Four Blue Backed Aces, but also to all variants of McDonald’s Aces.

When showing the Aces have vanished from each group, rather than deal the cards into a pile, deal them in a row of four, from left to right. Deal subsequent cards onto them. The three double-faced cards will then be together in the second pile. After showing the Aces have gathered in one pile, collect the remaining packets, with the double-faced cards at the bottom. It is then a relatively easy matter to palm those cards off (and if you don’t know how to do that, I’m happy to provide personal guidance at the minimal cost of £1000), leaving you free to continue your routine.


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