Steve Mayhew's Angels May Shuffle But The Devil Still Deals by Jack Carpenter

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii February, 1999)

Who is Steve Mayhew? Some would say he is the creator of the Mayhew Poker Deal and be done with it, since this one trick has taken cardicians by storm since its initial appearance in 1993. (More on this later.) Hailing from Seattle, Mr. Mayhew, albeit not yet widely known, has published some considerably noteworthy material, primarily in the limited but excellent journal Labyrinth , written and published by Stephen Hobbs. With this new manuscript, Mr. Mayhew takes a few more tentative steps toward the limelight—and I, for one, am very glad about that indeed.

In this brief manuscript Mr. Mayhew, via excellent descriptions by Jack Carpenter (author of his own The Expert's Portfolio , reviewed in the Genii , August 1997) offers an idea he dubs the "Angels May Shuffle" principle. In this, the spectator is permitted to give the deck (after having been split into two packets by the mage) one complete riffle shuffle, whereupon the performer can deal (with or without further shuffles as the case may be) winning poker hands, apparently by extraordinary feats of culling and control. When one first reads the principle (which in fairness to the creator I will not explain here), it is so simple as to seem uncannily familiar. Certainly it is related to many ideas that have come before—the handling offered for the Double Duke is fundamentally very similar to the method I have myself used for many years, an approach that is eminently logical and yet may not have been previously described in print. But precedents notwithstanding, Mr. Mayhew does seem to have hit upon a new addition, combination, or what-have-you here, and the results are delightful. After a brief explication of the principle and how to get into position for it, four routines are cogently described. In the first, the aforementioned "Ultimate Double Duke," the spectator riffle shuffles the deck, whereupon the cardician shuffles several more times. He then announces that he has controlled a Spade Flush to a known position, and asks to which partner the Flush should be dealt. He now deals four hands, with the Flush going to the selected hand— whereupon he turns over his own hand to reveal it as the actual winning hand. This routine does require some significant technical skills, specifically riffle stacking and bottom dealing, but don't despair, there are less demanding items to come.

In "The Ultimate Gardner-Marlo," the intermediate card handler, with little more than a tabled false shuffle in his technical arsenal, allows the spectator to riffle shuffle. The performer shuffles several more times, whereupon he reveals that he has managed to cull a Flush to the bottom of the deck. He then deals out six hands, dealing an open Bottom to one hand each time, demo-style. Following this demonstration, the hands are reassembled and the deck is reshuffled and cut. This time, five hands are dealt out at "game speed." At the conclusion, the cardmeister names his own pat hand, and then turns it over for the climax. You have culled and dealt two pat hands from a deck shuffled by the spectator.

The "Ten Card Finale" is a conclusion to any routine for the classic "Ten Card Poker Deal." At the finish, the ten cards in play are returned to the deck. The spectator riffle shuffles once. The magician (perhaps) cuts the deck, whereupon the spectator deals ten cards off the top. The magician recounts them as ten, handing them back to the spectator. The spectator deals his ten cards out into two hands—he pulls a Flush, but the magician still wins with the better pat hand. There is no switch!

Finally, in a routine best played for comedy and simply entitled "Blackjack," the performer allows the spectator to shuffle. Four hands of Blackjack are dealt, three of which the spectator plays. The magician boasts mercilessly about his superior skills. The spectator's first hand totals 20. The second hand is a 20. The third hand—also a 20! The magician isn't worried, and obnoxiously claims invulnerability at the card table. In fact, he says that he won't even look at his hand, instead he'll let the spectator look at the hand, as well as decide whether or not to "hit" the magician with another card. When the magician turns away and the spectator looks, the hand turns out to be a perfect Blackjack—an Ace and a Ten. Discovering his mistake, the magician apologizes for his bluster, but offers to stand by his deal: he'll still take a hit if that's what the spectator says to do—which of course, he will. "Okay," the magician says, "but that means my Blackjack is now just a count of 11, Ace counting now as only one. Go ahead and hit me— with a ten, of course." And that is exactly what the spectator does—thus making the magician the victor with a 21 count.

Curious? You should be! But that's not all. Mr. Mayhew is at present including with the manuscript a one-page re-worked presentation of the "Ultimate Gardner-Marlo," in which you make the spectator into the card shark. In fact, the spectator shuffles and does all the dealing under your direction, and at the conclusion has managed to deal himself a pat hand, twice. Not bad for beginners! Finally, Mr. Mayhew also includes a two-page description of his notorious Poker Deal—briefly mentioned above—a true performance item that is not only extremely visual (rather unusual in gambling material), but also does not require an audience to understand anything about gambling in order to appreciate. This routine is simply too good to describe here (although a version has appeared on an Alan Ackerman video), but suffice to say that shortly after it first appeared in Labyrinth , I used it to close an all-gambling segment I performed on a Japanese television special. Who is Steve Mayhew? Find out now, or be fooled soon.

1/2'' x 11'' wire bound; 25 pages; 1999; Steven Mayhew