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B E N J

AM I N
E AR L

role.pla.yer
/rohl-pley-er/ (noun)

1. Someone who assumes the attitudes, actions,


appearance or discourse of another being, in order
to understand or experience a differing perspective,
interaction, behaviour or lifestyle.
2. An impossible piece of card magic; created, written
and produced by Benjamin Earl.
B E N J
AM I N
E AR L
Special thanks to Andi Gladwin, Mike Vance and Kathryn Earl—
your help improved this publication significantly.

All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may


be recorded, reproduced, transmitted, translated, distributed or
communicated in any form without the prior written permission of
the copyright holder.

Authorized holders of this ebook are granted permission to perform


this material, in non-streaming, non-broadcast, non-recorded, non-
ticketed environments only. Any other use of this material is not
permitted without the prior written permission of the copyright
holder.

No permission is granted to publish, teach or communicate derivative


handlings of this material in any form without the prior written
permission of the copyright holder.

Illegal or unauthorized holders of this material are not granted any


performing rights or permissions of any kind.

B E N J
AM I N
E AR L

Roleplayer, Copyright ©2018 Benjamin Earl & Vanishing Inc. Magic.


Photography, layout, writing and design by Benjamin Earl.
Edited by Andi Gladwin, proofreading by Mike Vance.

First edition ebook, November 2018.


Available from www.benjaminearl.com.
CONTENTS

Preface............................................ vii

Roleplayer
(With Aces)............................................ 1

Roleplayer
(With a Named Four-of-a-Kind )........... 9

Control............................................ 15
Natural Culling................................ 16
Holding-Out...................................... 20
Stock Shuffles................................ 25
Attitude & Context.......................... 28

Endnotes........................................ 31

iv
Dedicated to all those who inspired this and will never read it.
The magician shows a spectator what it might
feel like to be a cardsharp—where both luck and
skill play their part...

A spectator freely names any card. They shuffle


the deck multiple times and attempt to cut to their
card by luck—they are unsuccessful...

The performer now asks them to remove some


random cards; placing one into a pocket,
hiding one under their hand, freely cutting the
deck to another and dealing a random onto the
table—symbolising an imaginary card-cheating
scenario...

However, when the spectator checks the cards


they removed... not only have they found their
freely named card, they have also found its three
mates!

This all happens without the magician touching


the deck.
PREFACE
I have been performing and evolving ‘Roleplayer’ for more years than I care
to remember. It has been tried and tested in the real world for real people—
from impromptu situations to private theatre shows. It feels deeply personal,
reflects my attitude towards design and puts the magic directly in the hands of
a spectator. I care about the routine so deeply that I have left no stone unturned
when explaining its inner workings.

In a nutshell, ‘Roleplayer’ is simply a four-of-a-kind discovery/production/


location. However, instead of the magician/performer finding four-of-a-kind,
how could this be done by the spectator and in such a way that the experience
felt much bigger and more powerful than a normal card trick? I wanted a piece of
card magic that didn’t feel like anything a spectator would normally experience,
something not only magical, but which allowed them to engage with card magic
in an unexpected way. I was also specifically attempting to create an experience
for them that I wish I could have—but never will.

If you study this publication carefully, you will have a powerful routine at your
fingertips—which can be performed with any deck, is almost entirely self-
working and the climax is so surprising that it hits a spectator like a ton of
bricks. However, it is not designed to be performed while table-hopping at a
restaurant or when drumming up trade at a trade show. It should be reserved for
those moments when you want to do something special.

While digesting this material, it is important not to become burdened with your
knowledge of the method—it is vital that you perceive it through the eyes and
mind of a layman (don’t think about what you are actually doing; concentrate
on what an audience is thinking). I say this because magicians have a tendancy
to overvalue difficult technical approaches (regardless of whether or not
they are objectively any good), and undervalue approaches which are simple
(regardless of what that simplicity is achieving). The technical elements within
this publication are relatively simple to perform, but when they are combined
with psychology and presentation they are larger than the sum of their parts.

Regarding the presentation, ‘Roleplayer’ may seem very script/language


heavy—but that is only how it looks in print—in reality, the effect is direct,
clean and uncomplicated.

vii
Firstly, I will describe how to perform ‘Roleplayer’ with a prearranged stock of
Aces—as this method is more streamlined, direct and requires less management.
This way you can get to grips with the psychology and theatrical structure of the
routine—which is more important—before attempting to perform ‘Roleplayer’
with a named four-of-a-kind. Do not underestimate the ‘Ace version’ and
assume that the ‘named four-of-a-kind version’ is better—it is not. I feel that
both methods have their practical and deceptive merits. I use both versions
regularly, but if I had to choose only one method to perform from now on, it
would probably be this first ‘Ace version’; because it is easier to set-up and
still contains all the power and magic that I am looking for. However, when the
occasion is right, the ‘named four-of-a-kind version’ is an absolute killer.

After breaking-down the routine, I will describe the different ways I approach
locating/controlling the cards required for the effect. Once you are familiar with
these approaches you will be fully armed for performance. It is important to
bear in mind that these methodological ‘nuts and bolts’ will always be heavily
informed by the environmental/situational context that you find yourself
performing in. That said, there are still common approaches that I find myself
using regularly—I have tried to detail those as best as I can.

For me, the most interesting aspect of ‘Roleplayer’, is the level to which
something so deceptive and engaging, can be assembled from the absolute
simplest of building blocks—something I try to remember when developing
any routine. I am truly proud of ‘Roleplayer’ and I am very excited to offer this
publication to the community.

Now grab a deck of cards... Let’s go.

Ben
December 2018

viii
SIM-
PLE IS
NOT
EASY.
“Dirty pony, I can’t wait to hose you down.”

― Lady Gaga

ix
ROLEPLAYER
(With Aces)

EFFECT
The magician offers to demonstrate what it might feel like to be a cardsharp.
A spectator shuffles and cuts the deck multiple times before removing some
random cards; placing one into a pocket, hiding one under their hand, freely
cutting the deck to another and dealing a random one onto the table. When they
check the cards they are all four Aces! The magician never touched the deck.

METHOD
Begin with the four Aces on top of the deck. Give the deck a controlled top
stock shuffle—without looking at your hands—which simply adds one card
onto the Aces. Now hand the spectator the deck and say,

“I want to show you something I call Roleplayer… It’s about experiencing


something that you never would in the real world… Or at least it’s very unlikely.
It’s about experiencing what it might be like to be a cardsharp… An expert at
card cheating. As a quick trial run, let’s see if you can find a random card... I’ll
give you five chances… No pressure. You’ll do everything… I won’t touch the
cards. Which card do you want? It doesn’t matter… This is just a quick test.”

Here, you add cognitive stress to the spectator by allowing them to know they
have something to do and there is ‘no pressure’. However, the spectator will
feel pressure; they won’t want to make a mistake or mess something up so they
will concentrate on exactly what you are telling them while looking for the card
they’ve named. This small amount of cognitive stress will directly affect their
ability to correctly recall the events about to follow. It is also a crucial moment
as it explicitly establishes the idea that you will not touch the cards, heavily
contributing to them forgetting you handled the deck at all.

This process is also designed to increase the chances of an Ace being named;
firstly because Aces are very common choices, secondly because the slight
cognitive stress you’ve created means they spend a smaller amount of time
making a decision about their choice of card and feel that the process is more
important than their selection. Finally, they have been primed with the concept
of a card game or a cardsharp—which is commonly associated with the Aces. If
they do not name an Ace it doesn’t matter, but if they do, you will have a miracle
on your hands. Ask them what card they are thinking of, and then continue.

1
You will now get the spectator to execute a shuffle and cut sequence called the
‘Spectator Shuffle Holdout’1 which keeps the stock intact while creating the
impression that they have thoroughly mixed the entire deck. Whichever card
they have named, continue by saying, “Ok. Cut off about one quarter of the
deck and put it face up on the table… Let’s see if you can cut straight to your
card… Almost! Shuffle the rest.”

At this point the spectator has simply cut a portion of cards off the deck, turned
it face up onto the table and then shuffled the remaining cards. This has kept
your stock completely intact. Comment on the card they have cut to and repeat
the above procedure four more times; each time cutting a portion off the deck
and dropping it face up onto the previously tabled cards, followed by shuffling
the remaining cards (Photo 1). While they do this, comment on the cards they’ve
cut to, and look for any pattern or near misses that you can expand upon.

Comment on their shuffling style, and say that this is exactly how a good
cardsharp would shuffle—a cardsharp wouldn’t want to show-off or be too
flashy. This entire sequence is deeply deceptive; the spectator will never
remember the first packet wasn’t shuffled, they just remember shuffling and
cutting the entire deck multiple times while looking for ‘their’ card. At the end
of the ‘Spectator Shuffle Holdout’ comment on how well they did. If they didn’t
cut to their card say,

“Oh well… It was unlikely you’d find it… Chance is a hard thing to overcome…
However, cardsharps like to remove chance completely… Let me show you.”
However, if they do manage to cut to the card they named say, “Wow!… Chance
is always a hard thing to overcome… But you have beginner’s luck! I’m always
amazed when that happens! Well done. Anyway… Cardsharps like to remove
chance completely… Let me show you.”

If they were looking for an Ace you have an absolute miracle waiting in the
wings; if they didn’t think of an Ace simply acknowledge the outcome of their
shuffles and cuts and continue without ever mentioning the named card again.
Ask them to pick up the deck and hold it face down—as if they were about to
deal. As soon as they are holding the deck face down you will use another casual
psychological throw-off. Say, “Before we start, you saw the bottom card, so just
take it out and bury it somewhere in the middle of the deck… And do the same
with the top card… Just in case.”
1. First printed in Gambit Issue Two, 2010, p. 15, in an effect called ‘Even The Burn Card’. This can also be
found in Less Is More, 2017, p. 56.

2
This is a psychological throw-off I started doing in 2005.2 It not only fools/
disarms laymen, but it does the same to magicians. Continue by saying, “Now I
want you to feel what a cardsharp might feel like by using some techniques that
will feel very strange. Take the top card, and without looking at it, place it in a
pocket or sit on it.”

Now, slightly tongue-in-cheek, say, “A cardsharp would only do this with good
misdirection, so we’ll all look the other way… Perhaps a waitress has just
dropped a glass… Are you done? You might already feel a bit guilty.”

This is a very fun thing for the spectator to do. They will enjoy this apparent
dishonest act. Ask them to imagine how it might feel in a real game. Would they
be scared that someone might see them? Now ask them to deal a card face down
in front of themselves. Once they have done this say, “I also want you to hide
a card in your hand—cardsharps call this palming. The best way for you to do
this is to deal a card to your right and then place your hand on it… However,
once again let’s imagine there was a distraction… Like a power cut… Or an
earthquake.”

Once the spectator does this, they will have a card in their pocket, one under
their right hand and one in front of them. You are now going to have them
perform a Cross-Cut Force3 completely by themselves. This will be awkward
given the position they are in, so ask them to temporarily remove their hand
from the ‘hidden/palmed’ card as you ask them to cut half of the cards from their
left hand and place them onto the table, and then place the other half on top “at
a weird angle”. This phrasing is very clear to them, and will subtly force them
to execute the move perfectly. Now say to them, “Place your hand back on your
stolen card—we’ll pretend we didn’t see it.”

The spectator places their right hand back onto the ‘palmed’ card (Photo 2);
from this position you are about to absolutely fry them. However, the specific
psychological management involved in the delivery is absolutely crucial, so pay
close attention to the script and construction of the following events:

2. I’ve traced its roots back to The Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, Booke XIII, Chapter XXVII, ‘How to
deliver out foure aces, and to convert them into foure knaves’, pp. 188 – 189. However, this technique was a
methodical necessity disguised as a casual action, but it’s definitely similar. I believe Bruce Elliott may have
been one of the first people to use this concept of losing the top and bottom cards (purely as a ‘psychological
throw-off’); ‘Trio’, Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, 1936/37, p. 20. However, this technique appears several
other times in the book under different names—meaning it was a well-known technique in 1936.
3. Max Holden – The Magic Monthly, Vol 2, No 10, July 1925, p. 199.

3
1

2
4
“To anyone watching, everything looks normal. You’ve shuffled and cut the
deck multiple times and dealt yourself a card, but nobody else can see that
you secretly have a card under your hand… And one in a pocket. This is how
a cardsharp overcomes chance… They steal extra cards that nobody knows
exist… It’s like being dealt more cards than everyone else.”

This is true. Everything does look normal; a single face down card is visible in
front of the spectator and the deck has been visibly cut (which is now sitting off
to their left). Now say, “If the other players have seen you shuffle the cards and
deal normally… Everything looks fair. However, just imagine for a second this
was a real situation; imagine how hard it would be to be natural and relaxed!
This is what it might feel like.”

Ask the spectator to imagine how they would feel if they were genuinely doing
this in a real game. I talk to them about natural body language and how they
should try to relax; I ask them about the tension, nerves or adrenaline they
might feel. I often use this moment to point out how the tension in their body is
making them look suspicious, so I suggest a couple of ways for them to subtly
look more relaxed by making their hand or arm look more natural. They will
often laugh or make a joke or two at this point. There is nothing complicated
for them to follow but it’s an interesting idea for them to think about. Do not
rush this. I take at least a minute or more to hammer this moment home. This
interaction between yourself and the spectator is the heart of ‘Roleplayer’.

At this point, the effect appears to be about playing the role of a cardsharp,
about imagining how they would feel if this was a real situation—the cards
themselves are just convenient tools. The cards seem to be incidental, mere
demonstration aids to make a point. This is precisely the perception I want to
create—the values of the cards are not relevant. The whole procedure is about
unconsciously convincing them that everything is completely random by making
them concentrate on feelings. However, you are now going to consciously
convince them that the cards are random—which will be congruent with their
unconscious assumption. Begin by pointing to the face-down card in front of
them, and saying, “Do you know what card you have dealt yourself?”

Answering your question, the spectator will say, “No.” They happily answer
because they know that they don’t know. Why? Well, because the deck is mixed
and they didn’t look—the card is therefore ‘random’. I also ask the question
with a casual attitude that presupposes there is no way they can possibly know—
which also allows them to feel comfortable with their answer.

5
In this moment the spectator convinces themselves that the card is completely
random. Once they have convinced themselves of this reality, they will
unconsciously apply this logic to every single card in the deck, including the
card under their hand and the one in their pocket (even though their attention is
not being directed towards these cards at this point, it is unconsciously assumed
as a matter of simple logic).

Think about this for a moment: You have psychologically/logically created


‘genuine randomness’—throughout the entire deck—by forcing them to believe
in the randomness of a single card! This is very devious—do not underestimate
the psychological power of this very simple moment. Once they have answered
say, “Of course, how could you possibly know? You shuffled the deck many
times, dealt fairly and I didn’t see you cheat. Plus you are only pretending, you
are not a real cardsharp... You are just imagining what it might feel like.”

The entire effect at this point seems to be about them experiencing or having
insight into the world of a cardsharp. The cards themselves seem to be irrelevant
as no traditional selection was made; you don’t seem to care about anything
other than them sneaking some random cards out of a shuffled deck in order for
them to feel a bit devious and play a role. The psychology of the procedure is
very important, but if done correctly they are about to get a huge surprise.

Simply ask them to turn over the card they dealt themselves by saying, “Let’s
have a look what card you’ve dealt to yourself… An Ace! Well… Ok that would
be useful in many games.”

The spectator will now turn the card over with their free hand to reveal an Ace.
The chance of the Ace appearing if the deck was genuinely shuffled is 1/13
so don’t give the game away yet; don’t allow the spectator to sense this was
intended. Just have a relaxed attitude and feign surprise. Now you pause, and
your tone changes slightly and you say, “But… If you were a real cardsharp,
you might have controlled another useful card… In case you needed it later...
please lift up the top half of the deck... Wow! You’ve cut to another Ace.”

Mime the action of ‘lifting’, as you ask the spectator to lift up the top half of
the deck; you remove the top card of the bottom half and turn it face up onto the
bottom half and ask them to replace the top half (the Ace is face up and sticking
out of the middle of the deck).

6
The spectator will be hugely surprised and will start to realize that something
else is going on. This Ace also is a visual reminder that they cut in a ‘random
place’, allowing them to feel that the other cards came from random places.
Also if you look closely at the way the revelation of the Cross-Cut Force has
been handled here, it is very likely that they will remember cleanly cutting the
deck at this moment. You are not reminding them that they cut the deck earlier,
you are simply saying, “...lift up the top half... wow! You’ve cut to another Ace.”
They will of course lift up the top portion, but it has been designed in such a way
that over time they will remember cutting directly to an Ace at this moment.

To continue, now say, “If you were a real cardsharp, you wouldn’t have just
stolen a random card… You would have stolen an important one.” Gesture
toward the hand which contains the ‘palmed’ card. They lift their hand and turn
over the card to reveal the third Ace.

At this moment the true scope of the effect will start to dawn on the spectator.
Take your time with the final revelation, and slowly say, “If you were a real
cardsharp… And you appear to be… The final proof would be hiding in your
pocket.” They remove the card from their pocket to reveal the final Ace!

Because the spectator is removing the card themselves—and essentially handling


the climax of the effect—it is important that you carefully manage this moment
both theatrically and practically (by building up the tension and making sure
that anyone else present can see the card once it is removed).

I cannot stress how unexpected and deceptive this entire revelation sequence
is when handled correctly. There is a huge amount of psychological direction/
manipulation occurring, but from the spectator’s perspective it’s just a clean,
simple and fair procedure—which out of nowhere becomes something amazing.
They have no clue where the Aces have come from and will not suspect any
manipulation or prearrangement of the cards—I will expand upon this point in
the Endnotes.

The effect at this point appears to be over (and for everyone reading this
publication it essentially is). However, for me, this is where I deliver a
theatrical twist which not only transforms ‘Roleplayer’ into something beyond
a card trick, but it creates even more psychological misdirection away from its
methodology.

7
I lean in and say, “You know… I told you that this was about ‘playing a role’,
about empathising and getting close to experiencing something that you
otherwise wouldn’t. But in reality it wasn’t just you who was playing a role… I
was, too.

“I can’t have the experience that you just had. I would love to be able to
genuinely shuffle a deck and then magically find the Aces with no idea how I’ve
done it… I’d love to know what that feels like, but I never will… Ever. I always
know how I do what I do.

“I created this piece specifically to watch someone else have the type of
experience that I wish I could have… By doing that I can imagine for a brief
moment what it must feel like... While you were pretending to be a cardsharp…
I was pretending to be you! You did it brilliantly… So thank you.”

This isn’t just a theatrical indulgence, it is the truth. I say it with conviction,
and every time I say it I mean it—they feel the honesty of this moment. They
have the feeling that they have just had an experience of something bigger than
a trick. I don’t expect anyone else to deliver the above monologue, however, I
couldn’t publish ‘Roleplayer’ and not include it—for me, it is the heart of the
routine and one of the main reasons I created the effect.

8
ROLEPLAYER
(With a Named Four-of-a-Kind)

EFFECT
A spectator freely names any card, they shuffle the deck multiple times and
attempt to cut to the card they named—they are unsuccessful. Instead, they
remove some random cards; placing one into a pocket, hiding one under their
hand, freely cutting the deck to one and dealing a random one in the middle of
the table. When the spectator checks the cards, they have not only found the
card they freely named, they have also found its three mates! This all happens
without the magician touching the deck!

1) FULL DECK SETUP


Begin by arranging the entire deck (Photo 3), so that each four-of-a-kind is
together (Aces followed by Twos followed by Threes, etc.). The suits are
arranged in Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds order (Photo 4). Now introduce
the cards and perform a simple false shuffle as you say,

“I want to show you something I call Roleplayer… It’s about experiencing


something that you never would in the real world… Or at least it’s very unlikely.
It’s about experiencing what it might be like to be a cardsharp… An expert at
card cheating. As a quick trial run, let’s see if you can find a random card... I’ll
give you five chances… No pressure. You’ll do everything… I won’t touch the
cards. Which card do you want? It doesn’t matter… This is just a quick test.”

Let’s imagine the spectator names the Jack of Spades; you can spread to the
Jacks in a split-second (from a face-up spread) and get a break below them as
you say, “I won’t ask you to memorise anything...” Once you have a break, close
up the deck and perform a Double Undercut or Turnover Pass—to get the Aces
to the top—as you continue to say, “...I just want you to shuffle and cut the cards
multiple times to see if you can find the Jack of Spades… I know it’s unlikely…
But I want you to try.”

While delivering the above instruction, you will also perform a special shuffle—
which will reorganise the Jacks so that the named Jack is on top and the others
remain below it. Because you know the order of the Jacks (Clubs, Hearts,
Spades, Diamonds), you know that the Jack of Spades is third from the top.

9
3

4
10
To bring the Jack of Spades to the top4 simply run three single cards into the left
hand. Now the left fingers lever this packet to the left as another packet of cards
from the right hand is dropped beneath it—the Jack of Clubs should be visible
for a split second (Photo 5). Now apparently continue to drop packets to the
front and rear but in reality fake dropping cards at the front (Photo 6) and only
drop packets at the rear until the cards in the right hand are exhausted. When
faking the dropping of cards at the front, make sure that the left thumb moves
across the packet (in the way it would if you were really dropping cards), in
order to increase the deceptiveness of the illusion (Photo 6).

You will need to run-off a different number of cards, depending on which Jack
they name; run four cards for the Jack of Diamonds, two cards for the Jack of
Hearts and you don’t need to do anything for the Jack of Clubs—play with this
sequence a couple of times and you will discover how simple it is. This fake
‘front-and-back style shuffle’ is based on my handling of the Optical Shuffle5—
which I call the ‘Real Optical Shuffle’.6

Now perform a couple of in-the-hands Riffle Shuffles, making sure that with
one of those shuffles you place one indifferent card on top of the Jacks. This
not only looks incredibly fair but has almost destroyed the detection of your
setup (they will further destroy the setup for you when they perform ‘The
Spectator Shuffle Holdout’). Now hand the deck to the spectator and continue
as previously described—the named Jack will be the card they remove from
their pocket at the end of the effect.

You don’t need to use Riffle Shuffles to add the extra card; the Overhand Shuffle
sequence can also add the extra card on top in the same shuffle sequence. I just
like the combination of Overhand Shuffle and Riffle Shuffle—so I choose to
add the extra card in the Riffle Shuffle.

For those of you interested in adding a further layer of deviousness to this


handling, use the ‘The Proxy Control’ (p. 27), with the full deck setup. Even
after they have shuffled, cut and named a card, it is extremely likely that the
cards you are looking for are still together as a group.

4. I do this because I want the named Jack to be in their pocket. However, you can skip this entire shuffle
sequence and simply remember where each Jack goes—revealing the named Jack last. The routine can also
work well if the ‘dealt/visible’ card is their named selection; you reveal this first and then show that they found
all the other Jacks. It’s up to you, but I prefer the structure that I’ve explained.
5. The Modern Conjurer, C. Lang Neil, 1902.
6. Less Is More, Benjamin Earl, 2017, pp. 41–46.

11
5

6
12
2) NO SETUP
This version of ‘Roleplayer’ is methodologically the most bold, however it is
relatively simple to do once you become comfortable with the various ruses of
culling, holding-out and performing various stock controls. Begin by saying the
same script—again let’s imagine the spectator names the Jack of Spades. Then
spread through the cards and cull all the Jacks to the top as you say,

“Of course you could find your card by searching for it… or counting all the cards
above it and then dealing to that number… But as soon as the deck is shuffled or
cut… even just a small amount… you are back to relying on chance.”

With this method it is very important that you are comfortable culling four cards
under the nose of your spectator. Make sure you have read and practiced Natural
Culling, Holding-Out, Stock Shuffles and Attitude & Context (pp. 16–29),
before attempting this approach. It may seem very bold—and it is—but with
the right technique, not only will you be able to do this invisibly, the spectator
will not remember you touching the deck.

To continue, after culling the Jacks, you need to know the position of the named
Jack of Spades, so either remember its position within the other Jacks as you
cull it, or casually spread the cards toward yourself once you have finished
culling and spot its position. Now perform the same ‘repositioning Optical
Shuffle’ as previously described. Once again perform a couple of simple stock
control shuffles—which keep the Jacks on top and add a single indifferent card
above them.

All of your manipulation with the deck at this stage should seem casual, almost
unconscious. Remember, once they perform ‘The Spectator Shuffle Holdout’
none of your handling will seem relevant, so you can relax. Now hand the
spectator the deck and proceed as before.

13
PRAC-
TICE
MAKES
PROG-
RESS.
“Control! Control! You must learn control!”

― Yoda

14
CONTROL
‘Roleplayer’ requires that you secretly prearrange/locate/control four-of-a-kind.
For ease of explanation within the following sections, our target four-of-a-kind
will be Aces.

When using an ordinary deck of cards, there are two main ways to secretly
gather four-of-a-kind: prearrangement and culling. Once you have gathered
them, you must also consider using deceptive stock controls or the possibility
of palming/holding-out—all of these elements subtly overlap with each other
and can be combined in various ways depending on your goals and performing
context.

There are two main ways in which control is applied within ‘Roleplayer’. Firstly,
direct control of the cards before the effect begins—this is where culling, stock
controls and holding-out can all play their part. Secondly, indirect control of the
cards by influencing the actions of the spectator—this is where precise instruction
and psychology occur during the effect. Regardless of which path you choose,
the key is not just to make the location/control visually deceptive, but to do
this while making your interaction with the deck as innocent as possible. The
ultimate form of control is to apparently not have any (while in fact, complete
control is being exercised and maintained)—meaning that control of the cards
should never even be suspected.

Your ability to choose exactly which method of control best suits the moment—
rather than always using the same approach—will impact the deceptiveness of
your magic to a considerable degree. Therefore, by familiarising yourself with
all the following techniques, you can become much more flexible.

15
NATURAL CULLING
The ultimate goal for culling should not be to make your technique look invisible,
but to create the impression you never touched the deck. Think about this for a
moment: Don’t think about what you are actually doing, think about what you
want an audience to remember—or forget. If you want a spectator to forget
that you handled the deck, don’t give them a reason to remember it. Memory
is just attention in the past, so don’t draw too much attention to yourself while
performing your moves. Therefore, if we want to reduce attention on our culling,
if we want a spectator to forget, then having natural technique is important.

Of course we need a natural reason to look down and spread through the deck,
but we also need physical techniques which are casual, flexible and can adapt to
almost any conversation in a natural way. The techniques and structure you are
about to read can fit into any conversation you are having while allowing you to
interact and respond to a spectator in a natural way. This ultimately helps diffuse
attention on your actions without disrupting your ability to cull effortlessly.

I use a standard ‘spread cull action’—based on the work of J. N. Hofzinser7 and


Ed Marlo8—plus a heavy dose of psychology and choreography. Each card is
culled in conversation and with a slightly different rhythm/beat—which I think
of as: hand gesture, look down, card gesture & look up. Once I have explained
these techniques, I will explain a very important and deceptive subtlty I call the
finger tap. Let’s begin by looking for the Aces:

HAND GESTURE
I begin by spreading the cards. When I reach the first Ace my left fingertips
rest on its back and my left thumb rests on the card immediately above it. Now
several things happen simultaneously: my left fingertips push the Ace to the
right as my left thumb pulls the card above it to the left (at this point the Ace
is ‘half-culled’). The right hand now partially closes the spread—maintaining
control of the Ace—as I look at the spectator and gesture (Photo 7). Now the
right hand comes back and re-opens the spread, and in the process, the Ace is
‘fully culled’ under the spread. This technique creates a break in tempo as you
cull the first Ace.

7. Card Conjuring by Ottokar Fischer (English translation by S. H. Sharpe), 1910, pp. 25–26. A great
description of The Spread Cull can be found in Card College Vol. 1, Giobbi, 1992, pp. 187–189.
8. The Prayer Cull, Ever So Sleightly, Edward Marlo, 1975, p. 106.

16
7

8
17
LOOK DOWN
This second Ace is culled without a break in rhythm or tempo; it is culled with
no discernible change in your spreading movement as you look down. The Ace
already beneath the deck acts as a slide which goes above the second Ace; at
the same time my right second finger contacts the back of the second Ace and
pulls to the right, pulling it under the previously culled Ace. There is no break in
rhythm here—you just carry on spreading until you find the next Ace.

CARD GESTURE
This technique is similar to the first cull, however, at the moment I cull the
card, I separate my hands, look at the spectator and use the right-hand spread
of cards to gesture (Photo 8). When the right hand returns to the deck, the cards
are placed into exactly the same position—before they were separated—and the
spreading action is continued as I look for the final Ace.

LOOK UP
The last Ace is culled in the same way as the second cull (no break in rhythm/
tempo, etc.). However, I look up at the spectator at the very moment the card is
culled—with no closing or separation of the spread.

You don’t have to stick rigidly to the structure I have outlined. You can allow
the ‘natural actions’ to become even more natural in the moment by improvising
the order of the hand gesture, look down, card gesture and look up (I normally
use the hand gesture to begin and then swap the order of the other three actions);
it entirely depends on what I am saying and what feels right in the moment.
However, do not use these ‘natural actions’ if they are not required! If you
are not in conversation with someone or the moment doesn’t require you to
be present, then using them will seem very odd. Familiarise yourself with this
approach, give yourself permission to improvise the actions and relax. Then
truly natural culling can begin to emerge automatically.

THE FINGER SCRAPE SUBTLTY


This subtlty adds a tremendous amount of visual naturalness to spread culling
(both close-up and from a distance). Repeatedly lift and scrape your right second
finger along the underside of the culled group of cards—from the edge toward
the palm—with the same rhythm and speed that you are spreading. The second
finger is lifted off the cards (Photo 9), then it contacts the card and scrapes
backwards (Photo 10). This action adds a subtle ‘bounce’ to the right hand while
camouflaging any finger movement that occurs during a real cull. It simply looks
like the right fingers are helping to gather the cards as they are spread.

18
9

10
19
HOLDING-OUT
With a culled or prearranged stock, you may want to palm and hold-out while
the deck is being shuffled—make sure you keep your body language and speech
relaxed while you do this.

PALMING FROM THE TOP9


Palm the four Aces into the right hand and hand out the deck to be shuffled.
While the deck is being shuffled make a point of drawing attention to their
shuffling style and setting up the premise of the effect. On taking the deck back,
replace the Aces on the top, as you begin to turn the deck face up, then spread
the cards—making sure you don’t expose the Aces—as you say, “A cardsharp
may have to memorise random sequences of cards in seconds in order to exploit
a potential advantage. Imagine having to do that...” Lower the cards, square
them up, and casually shuffle—adding one to the top—as you hand the deck
back to them, saying, “You don’t have to do that, I just want you to think of
one… Any one. In fact you don’t have to see one at all… You can just think of
one if you like. It doesn’t matter.”

PALMING FROM THE BOTTOM10


Get a break above the Aces and palm the Aces into the left hand using any bottom
palm technique you wish. Hand the deck to the spectator and have them shuffle,
once again drawing attention to their shuffle and setting up the premise for the
effect. Retrieve the deck, adding the Aces back to the bottom, but make sure
you keep a break above them. I now spread off several bunches of cards from
the top, flashing the faces of the cards to the spectator as I say, “A cardsharp
may have to memorise random sequences of cards in seconds in order to exploit
a potential advantage. Imagine having to do that...” Square up the cards in the
left hand and cut the Aces straight to the top and begin a shuffle—adding one
card onto the Aces—as you say, “You don’t have to do that, I just want you to
think of one… Any one. In fact you don’t have to see one at all… You can just
think of one if you like. It doesn’t matter.”

If you are sitting—instead of keeping the palmed cards in your hand while you
wait to retrieve the deck—you may want to temporarily hide them somewhere
else such as the lap or behind the knee.
9. I always use the Top Palm, First Method, The Expert at the Card Table, S. W. Erdnase, 1902, pp. 83–85.
However, I perform this move from a ‘little finger break’.
10. The best sources for learning the Bottom Palm can be found in The Expert At The Card Table by S. W.
Erdnase, Expert Card Technique by Hugard & Braue and Card College by Roberto Giobbi.

20
USING THE KNEE AS A HOLDOUT
If you are sitting, you will often be able to palm and then secure the Aces behind
your knee without the slightest problem (Photo 11). The cards can be safely held
here without them falling (Photo 12). From this position you can allow your
hands to be seen empty (while the spectator shuffles), before re-palming them
and adding them onto the deck at your leisure.

PALM-TO-PALM TRANSFER
When palming with the left or right hand, a palm-to-palm transfer11 is always
an option (if you need to palm and replace with different hands). The key is to
pause with your hands clasped together—at rest—before the transfer begins
(Photo 13). Now perform the transfer and once the action has finished, pause
again—the hands should mirror the initial position (Photo 14). This pausing
makes the palm-to-palm transfer look and feel much more natural.

USING THE BOX AS A HOLDOUT


This method requires no culling, palming or stock-control shuffling—yet
everything appears to be absolutely fair. Begin by secretly placing the four Aces
and an indifferent card face up in the box (Photo 15).12 Now have the deck
shuffled thoroughly, cleanly take the deck back and place it face up into the
box, on top of the secret stock of cards (Photo 16). Close the flap and hand the
spectator the box as you say to them, “Before we begin, I want you to know that
you are holding a fully shuffled deck… No sleight of hand is possible right now,
and you are about to do everything…” Now you ask them to remove the cards
from the case, to think of a card and then you proceed through ‘Roleplayer’.
This method is extremely deceptive and presents a set of conditions which seem
so fair, that it would impossible for anyone to suspect any form of manipulation
or control. If I have an opportunity to set this up, then I will.

With all these approaches, attitude is everything. Don’t worry too much about
perfect technique; technique must be satisfactory, but the difference between
competence and mastery is often attitude and psychology. While holding-out
don’t be afraid to bring your hands together or drop your hand into your lap.
Simply draw attention to their actions, by commenting on what they are doing.
11. ‘The Change-Over Palm – A. With A Small Packet Of Cards’, Card Manipulations Issue 4, Jean Hugard,
1935, pp. 84–86. See Also ‘Hand-to-Hand Card Transfer’, Expert Card Technique, Third Edition, Hugard &
Braue, 1950. pp. 455-457, and ‘Palm-to-palm Transfer’ (Hofzinser variant), By Forces Unseen, Ernest Earick,
1993, pp. 76-78. However, the true history on this move is a little cloudy, as the techniques were apparently
known long before they appeared in print (according to Hugard).
12. Because you have removed five cards, the deck may feel thin/light to a spectator—it is very unlikely that
they will notice this, but they might. To combat this, simply make sure the Jokers are also present in the deck;
effectively reducing the difference to three.

21
11

12
22
13

14
23
15

16
24
STOCK SHUFFLES
It is essential to handle a culled or prearranged stock in a deceptive/innocent
manner so that its presence is not suspected. For each of the following stock
shuffles place the Aces together on top:

A SIMPLE STOCK SHUFFLE


Executing a couple of stock shuffles and cuts while talking to the spectator
(which don’t disturb your hidden stock) is often all you need. The spectator
will be convinced of the randomness of the cards from your attitude alone (not
the exact visual deceptiveness of the shuffles). I like to do an Overhand Lift
Shuffle13—in which the first ‘shuffled off’ packet is picked up behind the rest
of the cards and shuffled back to the top (Photo 17). I perform this as my hands
extend towards the spectator—the stolen packet is thrown on top at the last
possible moment (when the deck is virtually in their hands). If this is timed
correctly, the spectator will often remember that they shuffled the deck at this
point. The same idea can be applied to a Riffle Shuffle—with the cards finishing
their cascade at the very moment the spectator takes hold of the deck.

ANY CARD GAME CONTROL—SMALL STOCK HANDLING


I first published this stock control in my book Less is More.14 It is a simple
example of common card game procedure—and a very sneaky stock control.

Casually place the Aces into the middle of the deck and hold a break above
them (by using a cut or jog shuffle). Now push off three or four clumps of cards
and lay them face up at various spots on the table, stopping when you have a
small portion of cards remaining above the break. “A cardsharp may have to
memorise random sequences of cards in seconds in order to exploit a potential
advantage. Imagine having to do that...” Now drop all of the cards above the
break, face down onto the table to your right, followed by another face down
clump (which is big enough to contain the stock) on top of it as you say, “…
There will be piles of cards in play, some that have been folded… And some
remaining in the dealer’s hand, ready to be played…” As you say this, casually
shuffle the cards remaining in your hand (Photo 18), and flip a couple of cards
face up onto the tabled hands and in the process ‘fold’ a card from one of the
‘hands’ onto the discard pile—improvise this process.
13. I was first aware of this technique when practicing the ‘First Method’, The Expert At The Card Table, S.
W. Erdnase, 1902, pp.101–102 (although the ‘lift’ technique is used momentarily within a complete blind).
See Merlin’s Master Manipulations, Jack Merlin, 1928, p. 5 for a small stock handling. Descriptions can also
be found in Greater Magic, The Royal Road To Card Magic and Card College Vol. 2.
14. Less Is More, Benjamin Earl, 2017, ‘The Any Card Game Control’, pp. 39–40.

25
17

18
26
The situation is now that your stock is in the discard pile below an indifferent
card. Because of the way you have casually handled this layout it’s virtually
impossible for anyone to have even the faintest suspicion that anything has been
controlled. Some cards are face up, some face down, some have been shuffled
and the relative positions are all different. It just looks like a mess that you are
merely using to demonstrate a common situation in a card game. Now simply
collect the piles together—making sure the stock ends up on top.

THE PROXY CONTROL


A spectator genuinely shuffles the entire deck, and yet your stock is preserved.
This control is devious and undoubtedly one of my favourite stock controls.

The Aces start on top of the deck. Begin by executing a genuine Overhand
Shuffle; one which simply places the stock—still together as a group—
somewhere close to the bottom of the deck. This is done by simply allowing
the first ‘shuffled-off’ block to contain at least 5–10 cards. Continue shuffling
the rest of the deck—onto the initial top portion—as you extend your hands
and deck toward the spectator, asking them to shuffle. It is extremely likely that
the spectator will also perform an Overhand Shuffle—which is more likely to
preserve the stock—than a Riffle Shuffle (because it was the shuffle you were
doing).

As soon as they start shuffling, I say something like, “Have you ever played
Poker before?” This question forces them to generate a response and it limits
their ability pay attention to their actions and shuffle effectively. While they are
formulating a response and attempting to shuffle, I take my attention off them for
a couple of seconds to adjust my chair or place the box away (it can be anything
you like, just make sure you break eye contact for a couple of seconds). This
apparent lack of attention—while they shuffle—deeply compounds the feeling
of fairness and therefore the randomness of the deck.

Almost as an afterthought I suddenly say, “And please give them a cut.” This
forces them to stop shuffling. The cutting of the deck seems to add even more
fairness to the procedure, but as we know, this will not disturb the relative
positions of the stock. Even though the spectator has genuinely shuffled and
cut the deck, they have barely mixed the cards at all. Therefore, the likelihood
of the stock still being intact is almost 100%. Now retrieve the deck, and while
casually asking them to think of any card, casually spread through the deck and
cut the stock back to the top. If the stock has separated it will only be very minor
and will be very easy to rectify.

27
ATTITUDE & CONTEXT
It is important to remember that regardless of which method you are using
to gain control over the Aces, your attitude while doing so will be largely
responsible for your manipulation becoming imperceptible in the moment—
and completely hidden from memory over time. The ultimate form of control
is not perfect technical execution of a cull or a palm, but the ability to make
an audience forget you ever touched the cards—to control what they do or do
not remember. Therefore your interaction with the deck while executing these
control techniques should not only be physically relaxed, but performed with
an air of casualness which suggests that ‘nothing has started yet’—decreasing
attention on your actions.

Attention can be attracted by manipulating the conspicuity of objects and actions


(contrast, intensity, size, novelty, repetition, movement and time)—a spectator
will also pay more attention to what you pay attention to. To reduce/suppress
attention we simply do the reverse—a spectator’s attention will also drop greatly
at the end of any perceived action(s). Attention can also be directed through
the manipulation of expectations (pattern recognition, causality, repetition and
belief)—meaning that a spectator will pay much more attention to the things
which they expect will happen.

What a spectator pays attention to, significantly affects what they remember,
and memory is not a perfect recording of events; it is a rough/approximate
construction of what the brain15 assumes is relevant. Therefore, if something
seems to be irrelevant—or has been given little attention—the brain will spend
little effort attempting to record/store this information (in either short16 or
long-term memory17 stores). The bottom line is this, the less attention paid to
something, the less likely it will be stored and therefore the less likely it can
be recalled.18 There is a point at which recall is impossible—as if the event in
question never happened.

15. I am using the term ‘brain’ as a collective expression for person, consciousness, mind, limbic system and
the processes of attention, perception, information input, storage, encoding, recall, etc.
16. Short-term memory (STM) is the second stage of the multi-store memory model proposed by Atkinson-
Shiffrin (1968). The duration of STM seems to be between 15 and 30 seconds, and the capacity about 7 items.
See also Miller (1956), Peterson, L. R., & Peterson, M. J. (1959).
17. Long-term memory (LTM) is the final stage of the multi-store memory model proposed by Atkinson-
Shiffrin (1968), providing the lasting retention of information and skills.
18. For a slightly more detailed model of memory, look at the Working Memory model as proposed by
Baddeley and Hitch (1974). For additional information/research on memory recall, check out the amazing
work of American cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus.

28
Instead of being preoccupied with the exact nature of finger movements for
culling, palming, etc., perhaps it is a more valuable use of your time to consider
how you are manipulating attention—how can you create an attitude/context
which allows you to control the attention and memory of observers? Without
becoming bogged-down in technical, scientific research on psychology, simply
remember this: memory is just attention in the past. By reducing/increasing
attention in the present moment, you inevitably reduce/increase attention in the
past—affecting what is remembered and what is forgotten (increase attention
on what you want remembered, decrease attention on what you want to be
forgotten).

However, this is easier said than done. Most magicians feel nervous that they
will be caught culling, palming, etc., and this nervousness is what increases
attention on their actions and betrays their motives—this is the exact opposite of
what is desirable. To help with this issue, firstly, you must become comfortable
with the physical techniques themselves—so practice the physical/dexterous
movements as much as possible (increasing your confidence and ability to relax).
Secondly, you must have confidence that your techniques will be forgotten if
your attitude is casual enough—simply understanding/believing this fact is often
enough to encourage your first steps toward a more deceptive attitude. Finally,
implementing this attitude in performance will slowly build your experience
and confidence over time.

A simple technique to help create a relaxed attitude/context when wanting to


cull/palm, is to ask a simple question like, “Have you ever played Poker or
any other card game before?” This simple question places the attention on the
spectator and forces them to think and answer (making it difficult for them
to pay attention to anything else). By focussing attention on them, it not only
reduces the attention on you, but it also opens up the possibility for casual by-
play or banter—which is highly desirable. It is likely that they will eventually
answer with something like, “Well does playing snap with my Granny count?”
This is great; it is a mildly humorous response and allows you to answer with
many more responses such as “Well, did you cheat?” or “It depends… How
much money did you win?” It doesn’t really matter how the interaction plays
out, all that matters is that this interaction is real/present/authentic. As a result
you will have created the perfect psychological cover for your actions.

By focusing on a relaxed attitude/context and thinking specifically about how


you are reducing attention on your actions, your secret moves can become
hidden from memory—essentially becoming invisible.

29
BE-
NEATH
THE
SUR-
FACE.
“I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe
and what I believe—I believe what I believe is right.”

― George W. Bush

30
ENDNOTES
‘Roleplayer’ is a killer routine, marrying psychology and design into a theatrical,
baffling experience. The spectator is the one who apparently finds the cards and
it requires minimal sleight of hand or dexterity on the part of the performer. It’s
about managing the spectator’s psychological experience through a combination
of framing, misdirection and expectation management. You are not showing
them a trick, they are creating an experience for themselves.

I have played with many ‘four-of-a-kind, coincidence-discovery’ style effects19


over the years. It is a very popular effect and has been explored by many
performers such as: Larry Jennings,20 John Murray,21 Frank Garcia,22 Ramon
Rioboo23 and Yves Doumergues.24 I have also previously published my own
handlings.25 Almost all versions of this plot require counting or spelling—they
are very process heavy before the payoff and the entire effect is one of numerical/
procedural coincidence. They are always impressive, but rarely do they feel like
‘magic’.

‘Roleplayer’ has a very different design; every action and moment has a logical
theatrical and psychological reason for existing—the usual ‘card trick process’
is disguised—and therefore the results feel genuinely magical. The spectator
is convincing themselves of the fairness of the procedure and therefore
misdirecting themselves away from the method. The climax of the effect is
completely unexpected and seems to come from nowhere; this short circuits
their ability to reconstruct what has happened, and they simply react—all of this
is occuring while the spectator experiences something playful and fun.

19. ‘The Seventh Son’ – Expert Card Technique, Hugard and Braue, 1940, pp. 389–390. A slight variation
of this effect was published as ‘The Sevens’ in The Royal Road To Card Magic, Hugard and Braue, 1949,
pp. 123–125. I believe this effect was the direct inspiration for the Jennings ‘Prefiguration’ routine; the
preceding paragraphs to the trick in The Royal Road To Card Magic may have also inspired Jennings to cre-
ate his disguised ‘open set-up’ (which is the most interesting aspect of ‘Prefiguration’). In Scarne on Card
Tricks, 1950, pp. 296–298, John Scarne published ‘The Four Deuces’; this effect is more of a ‘Do-as-I-Do’
plot, but it shows the continued popularity/trend of ‘four-of-a-kind coincidence’ style effects at this time.
20. ‘Prefiguration’ – Genii, February, 1965. Later published in The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings, 1986.
21. ‘Four-Way Coincidence’ – Jerry Mentzer, Card Cavalcade 3, 1975, pp. 101–103.
22. ‘Spectacular Prediction Coincidence’ – The Close-Up Magic of Frank Garcia, 1982, p. 73.
23. ‘Cuatro coincidencias’ – La Magia Pensada, 2002 or also published as ‘One In The Side Pocket’ – Steve
Beam, Semi-Automatic Card Tricks V, 2004, pp. 205–206.
24. ‘Ten For Ten’, Magic Magazine, Joshua Jay – Talk About Tricks column, September issue, 2009.
25. ‘Even The Burn Card’, Gambit Issue Two, 2010. ‘Four-Card Impossible’, F for Fiction, 2015, pp. 1–6.

31
The effect that the spectator truly experiences is that they had some random
cards, which became Aces or became their named cards. They know they
shuffled the deck and took out some random cards and so the appearance of
these cards is an unexpected mystery to them on all levels. If they believe the
deck was shuffled, then four cards from anywhere doesn’t increase or decrease
the likelihood of them being four-of-a-kind (whether they are taken out from
separate areas or all together). With careful consideration to how you are
presenting and leading them through this effect, the spectator will not be able to
reconstruct the fact that all four cards were together; they simply won’t think in
this way. They are thinking about how the ‘random’ cards transformed. This is
a huge psychological difference and shows the difference between how layman
and magicians think.

Do not underestimate how deceptive ‘The Spectator Shuffle Holdout’ is. As soon
as they perform this procedure it no longer matters that you held/manipulated
the deck in the beginning—they dismiss any initial interaction you had with the
deck from the present and therefore from the past (from memory).

If the spectator doesn’t have a pocket ask them to sit on the first card; it depends
on the state of dress (or undress) of your spectator. Make sure you ask the
spectator how they feel with the stolen cards if they were in a real game; try
to extend this moment as long as possible as it creates added time misdirection
and forces them to think about something else other than the cards. Don’t
overlook how powerful this interaction can be for both the spectator’s theatrical
experience and methodological misdirection.

There is a very good psychological reason why I have the spectator freely name
a card, instead of some other force/selection procedure—obviously it cuts down
on any procedural/technical clutter—but it is largely to increase the sense of
genuine fairness and randomness. The more the spectator’s thoughts and actions
are genuinely free, the more this has a compounding affect on their perception
that everything they did was free, fair and impossible to control. The ‘searching’
for the named card also subtly directs attention away from the incomplete shuffle
procedure while creating the expectation (like all card effects) that you are going
to find ‘their’ card—this means they never suspect the climax of the effect.

With the ‘Ace Method’, if the spectator names an Ace, you have just struck gold
(and this happens remarkably often), in which case the effect appears to be that
they could have found a four-of-a-kind of any value they had named, without
you touching the deck.

32
If you have arranged the Aces in the order Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds,
it is possible to alter the revelation of the Aces so that their exact/named Ace
is revealed last—or first if they named the Ace of Hearts. The Club is in their
pocket, the Heart is on the table, the Spade is under their hand and the Diamond
is between the ‘Cross-Cut’ halves—knowing this makes it relatively easy to
alter the revelation sequence if desired.

If they don’t name an Ace, then it doesn’t matter as the effect is still ‘impossible’.
However, ‘Roleplayer’ is intentionally constructed to increase the likelihood
of an Ace being named. With this method, if the initial card named/thought
of wasn’t an Ace, a spectator or audience will rarely mention it, however, be
prepared to locate and cull this card if needed and palm it from the deck, and
apparently remove it from a pocket. Personally I do not want to do this and
detract from the effect I’ve spent time crafting—but of course the option is
there. If this is right to do, you will be able to sense it in the moment.

The exact wording of the script is not important, but the psychological goals
that the script is trying to achieve are. Therefore, if changing the script to suit
yourself, make sure you have understood the reason for each technique, so that
you can create your own particular phrasing. The structure builds theatrically;
you’ll notice that the spectator basically reveals everything themselves—you
only turn the Cross-Cut Force card over because their other hand is occupied—
but apart from that, they do everything! They have freely named a card, shuffled
themselves, dealt and cut themselves and revealed the cards themselves!

The structure of the revelation sequence is very important: Firstly, the turning of
the ‘isolated/dealt’ card is designed to create a sense of initial randomness and
interest but without giving the climax of the effect away. Secondly, the ‘cut to’
card creates a visual reminder of the fact that cards came from random places
while also keeping their other hand occupied—this is also the first moment that
the climax of the effect starts to dawn on them. Thirdly, the card under their
hand is very powerful as they know it cannot be switched and it confirms what
they expect to see—as the pattern of the climax is now confirmed for them.
Finally, the card in their pocket also could not have been switched; it increases
the spatial dynamics of the revelation and with both hands now free it is very
easy to remove and show. The final card places the conclusion of the climax
solely with them. This is not only theatrically powerful but because of the extra
psychological pressure/responsibility of this moment—and the extra time it
takes to remove and reveal the card—further decreases the likelihood that they
will remember the events correctly.

33
While performing ‘Roleplayer’ I never mention magic, because I don’t want
there to be an expectation of something impossible happening. I want to ground
the routine in realism for as long as possible; that is why I contextualise the
effect with card cheating (which is gritty and rational). This ‘context’ provides
an amazing surprise when the Aces or named four-of-a-kind appear from
nowhere—which as a result feels extremely magical.

There are of course many variations possible with this routine, including
the use of another deck, predictions, selections (for example a spectator can
find four previous selections) and mindreading effects, etc. However, I have
played with many variations and possibilities over the years and I believe the
methods described in this publication to be the best of all of them. The fact that
no selections are made and no extraneous clutter is used means that this is an
incredibly efficient effect which feels very magical.

One of the more interesting additions I have used within the ‘Ace Method’, is to
extend the stock by four or five cards; therefore, after performing ‘Roleplayer’
the spectator has not only shuffled the cards and located the Aces but also
controlled the rest of your stock (which is waiting under the face-up Ace in
the middle of the deck ready for the next effect)! This is a very powerful and
practical idea; you are essentially performing an invisible holdout for an effect
you are yet to perform!

I have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort working on this


publication—making sure that you can perform ‘Roleplayer’ correctly and
make it powerful.

It is now yours to play with. Go and perform it for real people... Have fun.

34
WHAT
IS
MAG-
IC?
“I don’t do magic Morty, I do science. One takes brains, the other
takes dark eyeliner.”

― Rick Sanchez
B E N J
AM I N
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B E N J
AM I N
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