Breaks, Cuts and Shuffles

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with David Copperfield and Richard Wiseman on a book that describes some of the items in Copperfield’s magic collection in Las Vegas. If you’ve ever visited the collection, you’ll know how astonishing it is and will have seen firsthand the passion David Copperfield has for the history of the craft. If you haven’t yet visited, then perhaps this book will give you an insight into one of the world’s most remarkable collections of magic.

Homer Liwag took the photographs that illustrate the book and they are outstanding. Homer did a wonderful job of conjuring up the atmosphere of a mysterious magical museum. The book is called David Copperfield’s History of Magic, it is published in October, and you can pre-order it here.


This is another move that I never really used or perfected. It was inspired by John Mendoza’s Throwing the Switch (1982). The intention was to take a card and in apparently throwing it back onto the deck have it land second from the top. This puts it in position for a follow up Double Turnover. Imagine this done in the manner of a Top Change. You can see the original move below. But the reason I mention it is that it led to a relatively easy to do card stab which is described further on.


Lennart Green is one of the magicians I showed the move to. He uses it to throw a card into the deck at a named number from the top. He demonstrated that in his DVD set Masterfile (2011). Anyone with a knack for riffling counting might want to give it a try.

You can use the move to make a card land next to a chosen card simply by holding a break above the selection as it lies in the centre of the deck. You lever the top half of the deck up in the same way as you would a single card. In Robin Hood Sandwich the card lands between any two desired cards or selections.

If you enjoy effects of this type do check out David Williamson’s Stabbed from the Back in Williamson’s Wonders (1989. It’s a beautiful trick.


If you’re not already bored of this effect, you might be interested in this. It’s a more conventional sandwich approach in which the two Queens locate a selection. It’s a good handling for stand up performance. I’m including it because I’ve used it as an opportunity to test out the new camera I have. Filming on a phone for this newsletter was not ideal. Once I’ve mastered the Sony ZV-1, we should have some clearer video. Eagle-eyed viewers might spot the newly-opened box in the background.


I was intrigued when I saw this in Glenn Gravatt’s 50 More Modern Card Tricks (1979). The trick seemed familiar and yet I didn’t recall Vernon’s name being attached to it. I asked several people whether it struck a chord. Max Maven came back with the entire history. The trick belongs to Herb Zarrow and was originally described in Genii magazine (May, 1961) as Emerald Isle Aces with Dai Vernon’s name leading the credits. From there it made its way into Dai Vernon’s Ultimate Card Secrets of Card Magic (1967), which might well be where Gravatt got it. This despite the fact that Harry Lorayne gave the correct credit to Zarrow when it appeared in Close Up Card Magic (1962) as Revolving Aces.

It’s a good trick. Gravatt suggests you openly remove the aces from the deck and tell the spectators that you are about to conduct an experiment. You then take the deck behind your back and undercover of apparently pushing the aces into the deck you set the deck up for the routine. In the following video I’m demonstrating it as a fairly straightforward spectator finds the aces plot. The handling is a little more open than previous descriptions. The actions flow well, and you get a lot out of doing very little.

During the selection process, try to get the spectators to stop at points that enable you to divide the deck into quarters. It’s not difficult to control the speed of the dribble so this happens naturally.


At the end of Revolving Aces, you are left with one card face up in the deck. I thought of a way to utilise this. However, this was a rather belated thought since Zarrow had also thought about it and described it in Zarrow: A Lifetime in Magic (2008) as Revolving Royal Flush. Thanks to Shiv Duggal for the reference.

My handling is slightly different, and you’ll find it below:

The set-up of the cards, from the top is: Face Down KS, JS, Indifferent Card, followed by Face Up 10S, QS, AS. If you understand the process, you shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out the rest.

Bob Ostin had a quick and effective trick called Twisting Twins. It was published in The New Phoenix (May, 1963, issue 380). Bob said that the basis of it was a force shown to him by Hubert Lambert. I suspect that Lambert showed Bob the Henry Christ Force as part of the trick he called Emerald Isle Aces.


Talking of Herb Zarrow, his Zarrow Shuffle is the foundation for Gus Southall’s Triumph Aces. This was first described in Karl Fulves’ Epilogue - Riffle Shuffle Technique Part One (1975) but it was Bob Ostin’s friend, Joe Dignam, who showed it to me and it became a favourite trick of mine.

Triumph Aces is an excellent trick and if you use the Zarrow Shuffle, then you probably know it so I’ll just describe any major points of difference in the following routines. Mostly it’s the presentation rather than the mechanics that has been changed. They are based on the idea that when you perform this version of Triumph, the deck order can be retained. I recall Tamariz mentioning this in one of his books. Here is an example of the kind of additional effect that can be achieved.


If the deck is stacked, you can deduce the identity of a selected card by noting the card that shows on top of the face-up packet as you perform the Zarrow Shuffle. In the following handling, you first name the selection, then make it turn face up as you right the rest of the shuffled deck, you also show you have placed the selection in a specific position and then you arrange the entire deck in numerical order. That’s a lot of effects for one false shuffle.

The False Running Cut used in the routine, which I find very useful, is described in Cardopolis Newsletter 3.


John Archer has many talents: magician, musician, comedian, scriptwriter. And now he’s added another string to his bow, so to speak. John has been colourising vintage photos of famous magicians. He’s shown me samples of the photographs he has been working on and they are excellent. Colourising the photographs is a wonderful way to bring history to life. 

I hope John finds a way to make these photographs widely available. They are extraordinary. Meanwhile, as a preview, here is John Archer’s new rendition of Walter Scott, the Phantom of the Card Table, giving his legendary dealing demonstration to the elite magicians of 1930. Thank you, John. See you all in the next newsletter.


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