Card Conditioning

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby Guest » 02/06/04 05:20 AM

As relative newcomer (2 years, 3 months and 8 days:), I've found that not all cards are equal, and, like puppies, they need to be trained need to be flexible so that their natural stiffness/tension doesn't work against what you want to accomplish.

...I think that Bicycle Rider backs and Tallyho Circle backs are about the same in stiffness, and they truly need to be worked in before they are flexible. I find that if I do repeated (50-100X)tabled riffle shuffles, and bridge them back, as well as Faros with bridges - in both face-up and face down directions - they soften up quite a bit, yet still retain some slickness.... I'll also do repeated Springing, face-up and -down (this is a flourish where the deck is buckled into the curve of the hand, held by thumb, 2nd and 3rd fingers -then release the fingers gently, and catch with opposite hand - or pick up from all over the floor-), as well as Springing the long side.

...I've heard that some folks pull each card between the table and a ruler edge to remove a bit of the stiffness - I don't know anyone who actually does it, and it seems a bit extreme - but I've never tried it....

.... In watching the Brother John Hamman DVDs (thank you Mr. Kaufman:), I noticed that he uses Hoyles, and when I tried them, I found that they were almost too soft - but, for me, they certainly make 1st finger- and pinky-buckles much much easier. When I try that with Bikes, I find that the stiffness sometimes works against me (I haven't built up those muscles yet).

....I also noticed the way he holds his cards: very very gently , almost balanced between the tip of the 2nd finger and the crease at the base of the thumb - the thumb, on top, near the center of the leading edge, the 1st finger winding up below the thumb making a pinch. I am learning to hold them this way, and I find that some of the moves have become easier because there is less tension in my muscles, and the move becomes more natural, guiless, and (hopefully) less visible:)

... I hope this helps some of the newer card workers.... None of this comes easy - it requires hours and hours of work and guidance -- but dang, it sure is worth it when you perform a Triumph, an Ambitious card, a good Elmsley count, and the spectator says "...I know how you did that", and you think " Oh no - YOU REALLY DON'T :) "

Always Keep a Deck Nearby - Rich

Postby Brian Rasmussen » 02/06/04 10:50 AM

For me I used to have issues with cards slipping or being a bit difficult to work with out of the box. But after watching a Martin Nash video where he shows how most people destroy a good deck with a few riffle shuffles I started to ease up on my handling. Now my skills have improved to where I do use a lighter touch and the slippery or stiffness issues have gone away for me. I think it is more a matter of practice and gaining more skill. I almost always prefer a fresh Bicycle deck with little bend for fine card work, especially perfect faro shuffles. In fact I use a new deck for a period of time and then I tend to toss it aside for effects that destroy cards like Card Warp, Torn and Restored, etc. and I open a new pack for my other work. For card manipulation work, which I don't do much of, I have seen on the McBride videos a method he uses to 'break in' the cards. This I can understand as some manipulative work is probably aided by cards that are softer and broken in.
Brian Rasmussen
Posts: 69
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Greenwood, IN

Postby Bob Farmer » 02/06/04 01:23 PM

I break in all my decks by repeated riffle shuffles in the hands, both face-up and face down. I also throw in lots of faros (and they don't have to be perfect).

Do this for about 20 minutes, then faro half the deck face-up into half the deck face down and put the deck back in its case. Leave overnight and then repeat the process the next day.

If using gaffed cards (e.g., three-card monte gaffs), put them in a new deck and do the same thing with the gaffs in the deck.

This process seems to smooth out the cards and their edges.
Bob Farmer
Posts: 1760
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Short card above selection.

Postby Guest » 02/07/04 02:24 PM

A little related, I'm attempting to condition my cards in a way which renders them sticky enough to do a smooth Haunted Deck cut (tilting/vibrating the hand with a bridged deck) and be uniform enough to do a convincing double lift and a few other sleights. Can anyone offer any advice on how to get to this stage from a brand new pack?


Postby Guest » 03/16/04 10:37 AM

See "Breaking in the Cards" in Wesley James Enchantments...Magic for Cards and Hands.

Brian B

Postby Guest » 03/17/04 07:42 AM

A little off the subject but I've been using Bicycle cards for years. Often some cards get destroyed or missing and these cards can be replaced by those from another Bicycle deck however, it's best to ensure that the serial numbers on the ace of spades match. It seems when they don't match that the cards have been cut just slightly differently (longer or shorter) which can often make a double lift less than a sure thing. Now when I buy cards I try to get several of them from the same batch.

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