Methods for Peeking at the Bottom Card
Below you will find a valuable collection of secret methods a card magician can use to peek at the deck’s bottom card.
1. Tilting the Deck
In offering the pack to be shuffled, hold it with the thumb below and the fingers above, slanting the outer end downwards so that a glimpse can be obtained of the outer index.
This method first appeared in print in Hoffman’s “Modern Magic” which was published in 1876, but since card indices had not then been introduced, the pack had to be slanted at an angle of 45 degrees to allow the full face to be visible. It is interesting to note that the method appears in a recent booklet on cards as a new discovery. Fig. 1.
2. The Rear Bend
Hold the pack face down in the left hand. Square it with the right hand, fingers at the outer end and the thumb at the rear. Separate the inner end of the bottom card from the rest with the tip of the right thumb and push the cards above it forward about half an inch. Continue the squaring movement and pick up the protruding end of the bottom card, bending it up against the rear end of the pack. The index figure will come into sight and the top of the spot will show sufficiently to identify clubs from spades and diamonds from hearts.
Variation: Push the rear end of the bottom card to the left with the left little finger and hand the index corner up against the side of the deck with the tip of the right thumb.
3. Buckling the Card
This method is similar in effect to No. 2, but the manipulation differs. Separate the outer end of the bottom card slightly with the tip of the left forefinger, keeping the right thumb pressed against the rear end of the deck. Push the deck forward in the action of squaring the sides, causing the bottom card to buckle and so bringing the lower index into view. The action is instantaneous and completely covered.
4. Turn Over Flourish on Arm
A bold method of sighting the bottom card prior to forcing it, is to execute the Turn Over Flourish on the arm. Note the bottom card, no one else will, then square the deck, under-cut half, that is pull out the lower half and put it on top, slipping the little finger between the two packets.
5. Pull Back the Sleeve
Take the pack from the spectator after he has shuffled it, with the right thumb underneath, fingers on top. Look him straight in the face as you ask if he is satisfied that the cards have been thoroughly mixed. Then as you extend your right arm and pull the sleeve back a little with the left hand tilt the pack and sight the index of the bottom card. Bring it to the middle by under-cutting as in No. 6.
6. Under Cover of a Card Fan
Having manipulated a chosen card to the bottom of the pack, take off a dozen or so cards from the top and fan them in the right hand asking the spectator if he sees his card amongst them. Holding both hands shoulder high turn the left hand to bring the bottom card facing you and point to the fanned cards with the left forefinger, running it over the backs of the cards from left to right. You can thus note the bottom card without arousing the least suspicion.
This clever move is from T. Tucker’s booklet, “What Next?”
7. Bend the Deck Inwards
Hold the pack upright in the right hand, thumb at the lower end, fingers at the top, the bottom card facing the audience. Squeeze the cards slightly causing them to bend inwards as in springing the cards from hand to hand. This action will bring the lower index into sight. The actual bend need be very slight and should be made while moving the hand a little from side to side as if to show the card to everyone. Fig. 3.
8. Reading the Cards with the Fingers
The sleight is generally used in reading all the cards of a shuffled deck but the constant repetition of the moves makes it liable to detection. The best way to use it for this purpose is to glimpse the bottom card, when the pack has been returned after being shuffled, by one of the methods already described. Then hold the pack upright as in a, and with the left fingers pretend to read the card by feeling it. While doing this hold the card for a moment in the left fingers, bend the rest of the cards behind it and quickly note the index of the next one. The bend is then covered completely by the bottom card which remains perfectly straight. As many cards as desired can be read with perfect ease, each time removing the card read and glimpsing the one behind the new bottom card.
Some tricks will require you to peek at the top or middle card:
From Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard (1934)
Tips & Resources:
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