Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move

By Jamy Ian Swiss
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4.8 | 13 reviews
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Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move

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Book or download by Jamy Ian Swiss (Book $24.95 or download for $18.71)

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Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move - magic
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A comprehensive exploration of one of the most important and valuable moves in card magic unlike anything the magic community has ever seen.

In 1941, Dai Vernon changed the course of card magic forever with the launch of Select Secrets. While this pamphlet offered 12 different effects and sleights, there was one particular move that magicians would eventually dedicate their entire lives to studying. We are referring to Topping the Deck, and Jamy Ian Swiss is among the lifelong students of this iconic move who not only believe it is the best way to palm a single card from the top of the deck, but also the most perfectly-designed and choreographed move in magic.

Dr. Jacob Daley once famously noted that “every good trick has a discrepancy.” To paraphrase, there is no single core sleight of hand move in card magic—from the classic pass to the side steal or even double lift—that offers the perfect solution to the problem it’s designed to solve. That is, of course, except for Topping the Deck.

As Vernon once succinctly summarized in a letter to Sam Horowitz: “It approaches perfection as nearly as any move I know.”

Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move by Jamy Ian Swiss is a one-of-a-kind book dedicated to exploring Topping the Deck in the comprehensive level of detail it deserves. It features a lifetime’s worth of knowledge that can help magicians of all skill levels.

If you already use Topping the Deck, this book will help you uncover opportunities to improve your technique and make it the most powerful tool in your arsenal. If you’ve never studied the move, or palming in general, there is no better place to start.

Jamy learned from the greatest exponents of Topping the Deck; not only Vernon himself, but from his first line of expert protégés and exemplars of this particular technique, including Howard Schwarzman, Bob White, Harry Riser, and Johnny Thompson. In turn, he has been teaching this technique to private students, amateurs and professionals alike, for more than 35 years.

While Vernon’s original publication of the move was spread across just a few thin paragraphs, The Perfect Move covers every tiny nuance you could ever need. This includes the inspiration and origins of the move, the mechanics, and even finesses from Vernon’s aforementioned students. Jamy also offers a crystal-clear approach to identifying and overcoming common pitfalls. Simply plut, it’s everything you need to perfect The Perfect Move.

Unlike Vernon’s explanation, which had just one scant illustration, there’s also a plethora of photographs accompanying the detailed text. Everything is perfectly laid out across the 60 pages of this gorgeous softcover book.

Topping the Deck is one of the most important and powerful moves a card magican can learn. There’s no better way to master it than with The Perfect Move by Jamy Ian Swiss. This is a must-read for any serious student of card magic.

“In Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move, Jamy reveals his passion for magic and a tremendous respect for the art and its history. Many have tried to explain this iconic move. However, in this unique publication, Jamy provides the perfect explanation for ‘The Perfect Move.’” Asi Wind

Jamy’s Topping The Deck: The Perfect Move is without doubt the single finest resource to understand, learn and refine Vernon’s seminal sleight.

The attention to detail offered to the reader will save the beginner countless hours of frustration and offer the seasoned expert new refinements to their existing execution. Beyond even that, Jamy’s insight and guidance will offer the lover of magic a new level of appreciation for the iconic sleight.

I suspect that this beautifully produced manuscript also serves a secret agenda! It offers a rock solid argument that the printed word, accompanied by lavish and intelligently curated photography, is still the very best medium for learning and mastering fine sleight of hand techniques.

The Perfect Move is a wonderful and important contribution to the community that I believe will become a benchmark in future sleight of hand instruction.” Luke Jermay

“I loved Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move! So well written – this is the Real Work on Dai Vernon’s invaluable and iconic sleight.” Bill Malone

“Topping the Deck is a move that should be learned, and the perfect person to learn it from is Jamy Ian Swiss.” David Regal

"Sure, I had used moves like this before—but always relying on misdirection and polite audiences. But after working with Jamy, I was able to get this move to a place where I knew it was entering the realm of invisibility visually and psychologically. I am nowhere close to the level of Swiss/Carney/Mead/Kopf etc. but I use the move every single time I'm with an audience." David Gerard

“In this beautifully produced manuscript, Jamy leaves practically nothing to the imagination. By that, I mean he has provided all the technique and clues you will need to do this move properly, written in precise, poetic detail. But as Jamy suggests, after the fundamentals are mastered, the rest is up to the student’s imagination. He gently coaches us to continue to explore and discover, to seek out discrepancies and address them; to approach our study of sleight of hand, not just from a mechanic’s view, but from that of an interpretive artist. In this lovely tome, you will learn one of the most useful and impactful moves in magic ... with the help of an excellent teacher.” John Carney

Softcover | 8" x 8"

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Customer reviews for Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move



I have recently taken a deep dive into the art of palming, ala topping the deck; I have had this book on wishlist for a while and I am glad I finally got it. First of all, the history and research is evident that the work was put in to put this out. I always like projects or works that focus on solely one topic, because it makes you see the plethora of information that can attribute to it. The photos are fantastic, and aid well to the instruction. Fantastic little book for a big topic.



A magic book, compared to a novel, is expected to do so much more than entertain. We look to a magic book to make some sort of change in the way we view or do magic. A new perspective, effect, handling, or idea that will advance us in our study so that we can more fully grasp magic in our performances. Jamy Ian Swiss' instruction on "Topping the Deck" is so thorough, fascinating, and complete that as the reader you can't help but consider other sleights you do in a new light. In the most direct view, the book is an (the?) exceptional source to learn or perfect what is a necessary move for many routines and plots in card magic. Therefore it's must read material for anyone who performs or wishes to perform sleight of hand with cards.

I'd thought before this book that if there is one part of magic that might be best learned on video instead of books it is sleights, because of their fully physical nature. This book has made me completely reconsider that, because the book allows you to sit in a specific moment of instruction for as long or little as you wish without needing to fast forward or rewind. You can study an image, all beautifully and simply composed by the way, and your own hands in a mirror at your own pace. Beyond the sleight itself, the approach taken to teaching the sleight opened up a new way of considering all of the sleights I use in performance. We learn early in magic that the sleight must match the real thing. But often when watching ourselves and others we see that doesn't actually happen. Why is it something so fundamental is so frequently lost on even professional magicians? The careful study of what the real is, as Jamy proposes in the book, is a major key in unlocking consistently top shelf sleight of hand. The author does something I've never seen done before in a magic book before even getting to the sleight itself, that if applied outside Topping the Deck, can elevate your existing sleights and techniques you do and you'll learn in the future.

The book is a pathway to become more excited, more engaged, and therefore have more fun with your magic. Like all of the author's works, Jamy Ian Swiss has a definable voice as a writer. Unlike many writers in the world of magic, who if a reader was presented with a random page and asked to name the author blindly would be left to simply guess as the styles are so interchangeable (or even non-existent), Jamy is immediately recognizable. Often candid, punctuated by moments of gentleness and humor, with a clear and overflowing passion for magic that rubs off on the reader along the way. Feed your passion for magic and sleight of hand through this book .

*There is one footnote in the book that I thought was alone worth the price because it has already entered my working repertoire.

VI Monthly


The book is very good in explaining the technique. You will have to read it a few times to get the small details, but it's really work it.

VI Monthly


I benefitted immensely from this book. Have been a student and performer for over 40 years but have until recently not had the mastery I desired of technical card techniques. This little book, along with text and video by Michael Close and Giobbi, gave me what I needed to get there on this key sleight. Doors have opened for my magic and I’m thrilled.



So look I reviewed Jamey's 2 other books, Shattering Illusions and Preserving Mystery and I am not a fan. But this book is brilliant and a gift to the magic fraternity. The attention to detail is immaculate and a labour of love. I have learned so much more than just the sleight itself. Thanks Jamey. This is a gem! Highly recommend this.



An excellent, detailed description of the perfect move. Be ready to dedicate yourself, and to fix problems along the way. You will very much be rewarded. Topping the deck deserves this level of detail, and now it's finally here. Props to Jamy and Vanishing Inc for this wonderful booklet.

VI Monthly


Jamy Ian Swiss has been a controversial figure in magic. I have choosen to look past his sometimes “prickly” personality to his amazing writing and teaching ability. Thirty five years ago I took a private lesson from Jamy while he was in Florida on a lecture tour. In that hour I learned “topping the deck. It is some of the best spent money in my magic life. The move, when properly executed, is invisible. Learning to palm early in my career helped me a great deal. I learned that with proper technique and proper misdirection the palm is nothing to be afraid of and is the key to many great routines.

As a result of the lesson, I can attest to the knowledge and teaching ability of Mr. Swiss. He spends a little time (couple of pages) speaking of this palm in the Thompson book. But what we have here is an in depth thesis on what has been called “the perfect move.”

As expected, the book is wonderful. The photos are crystal clear and nicely framed. The written description is what we have come to expect from Mr. Swiss: clean, clear, and concise. The book is not as good as a private lesson (of course), but it is very, very close and considerably less expensive. The student who reads this carefully, studies(not the same thing), and practices consistently will find him or herself with a tool that will never be “left in my case” or “I didn’t bring that today.” A tool that will allow you to do miracles with a borrowed deck.

Highly Recommended



As a working professional, I sought out Jamy for private instruction on this move. And now, the next best thing is here - this amazing book that covers all the details (and more!) that I got in my lessons. Incredible work from a master.



This is a great read, a tremendous and valuable study. Well worth the price.

I’ve been working on this palm for a while, and this deep dive illustrated approach to learning is adding a lot here.

You can tell that Jamy’s been teaching this for a long time. It’s practical and easier to have a guide that takes you through step by step, and details the thinking, the process and the typical difficulties or mistakes in mastery.

For those who appreciate our history and where important breakthroughs in our thinking comes from, a true spirit of Vernon is present in these pages. This is expounded on not just in learning a most significant sleight, but in pointing out some practical meanings of “naturalness”. The question of “what’s the real thing ?” is so central.
Studying these aspects of this book, it’s easier to see its applications throughout all magic performances.

I also appreciate that Vanishing Inc continues to publish valuable and sometimes different kinds of books. In this case with Jamy’s approach to training and contextual overview of one move, or with John Lovick‘s recent exceptional analysis of a great Penn and Teller piece. I appreciate Josh and Andi making these kinds of studies available to the community.

There’s vibrant thinking and learning other than by video !



I worked for months with Jamy one on one to learn “Topping the Deck”. Now you can learn everything Jamy knows about this slight (which is extensive and sometimes brain numbing!) for $25! It could be priced much much higher. If you ever wanted to learn how to palm a card the right way do yourself and our art a favor and get this!!



I happen to enjoy work like this, a book that concentrates in incredible dense detail on a single trick, or, as in this case, a sleight. Topping the Deck may or may not be the best palm available, as this book sets out to prove, but when you are finished reading you will be more than qualified, with some practice, to judge this for yourself.



Mr Swiss clearly has a high opinion of himself. Ego drips from the page, though perhaps less than if you've ever been (un)lucky enough to sit through one of his lectures. However, the idea behind this book is excellent: a single move, in all the detail you require. And he does provide all the detail you require, with photographs taking the learner through each small step of the Topping the Deck process (the stubby anatomical dimensions of the author's hands may be ideal for concealing palmed cards but they're not necessarily the best for modelling the finer subtleties of finger placement). For a better idea of the move in flow, with some nice modern touches, I'd recommend Ben Earl's palming masterclass or The Family membership.



While verbose and redundant at times, I enjoyed the historical and technical details and believe that applying the technique would help anyone who wants to do this version of the top palm. However, I’m unsure why it’s marketed as “unlike anything the magic community has ever seen.” If you’re interested in historical origins and a detailed description of Topping the Deck, it’s worth picking up, but keep in mind that the title says it all - it’s a book about topping the deck. It’s not about top palms in general. The chapter about the One-Hand Top Palm does not describe techniques to do a OHTP, but rather states why it’s inferior to Topping the Deck. Also note that A Perfect Visual Deception is not a chapter about misdirection or a visual technique. It is a transition to the beginning of the technical description of the title sleight - more or less Jamy proving his (well deserved) credibility. The last chapter mostly rehashes points that were made elsewhere in the book, and I think the book overall could have been half the length while still hitting all the historical and technical points. Overall happy with it, but my expectations were higher after reading the description before buying.


Community questions about Topping the Deck: The Perfect Move

Have a question about this product? It's possible others do too. Ask here and other Vanishing Inc. Magic customers will be able to respond with assistance! Alternatively, email us and we can help too.

  • Juan asks: Does the book cover any replacements?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: This book doesn’t cover any replacement moves
  • Sam asks: Wouldn't this be easier to learn from a video rather than a book? A whole book on one technique seems a little excessive and time demanding and frankly harder than watching a video. Either way u all are the best! Magic Doctr

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: We believe books are the best way to study moves like this in detail.
  • Jason asks: In the trailer it shows Jamy doing what appears to be video instructions. Am I correct in saying that was only for the trailer and all you receive with this order is the book?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: You do not include video instruction. However, you can purchase his Masterclass as a companion to the book.
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