Scarne's aces

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Christian » 10/02/04 10:41 AM

I saw one day performing on a Tv program Bill Malone the trick Scarne's aces.I do this trick using other method,but anyone know the method used by Bill Malone?.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/02/04 02:06 PM


I don't know Bill's method, although I have heard an unconfirmed rumor that one of the spectators was a stooge. However, since I see you're interested in Scarne, one of Karl Fulves's books on Riffle Shuffle technique has what he claims is Scarne's method. I can't remember the title, but if you do a search here on the forum you should find it.
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Postby DChung » 10/02/04 02:45 PM

"Riffle shuffle methods" is the book you're talking about. Great little ms.
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Postby Philippe Billot » 10/02/04 03:06 PM

Exactly in Riffle Shuffle Technique, Preliminary Notes, Part 2. (1973)
Page 50, Karl Fulves write :
"We now move into the area of straight riffle-shuffle controls.

Single Card Control.

"A.R. stripped the wrapper off a new deck of cards and handed then to Fats Caldwell, who gave then the gambler's feather-fingered, low-wristed shuffle. George McManus cut the pack, and stepped back. "Yours, Scarne," said Rothstein very quietly. John Scarne riffled the deck once. "Yours, Rothstein," said he.
A.R. cut the ten of hearts.
Scarne squared the deck, cut, and showed his bottom card. It was the Ace of Spades."

The above appeared in Scarne on Card. I do not know Scarne's technique but the following allows you to cut to any card you spot during the shuffle." End of quotation

If you want some methods to do that, read (for instance) Riffle Shuffle Systems by Edward Marlo (1959)
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Postby Bob Coyne » 10/02/04 04:26 PM

I don't know Malone's effect, but Riffle Shuffle Methods (by Fulves) describes Scarne's technique (as "John Scarne's Shuffle Control") for finding and controlling desired cards to the bottom of the deck as part of a riffle shuffle. Fulves says:

John Scarne partially explained the method he used to accomplish the above demonstration: see Scarne on Cards and The Odds against Me for the relevant information. But he kept one method in reserve, never explaining it in print. Scarne revealed this method in a session that took place on June 3, 1974. This superb shuffle control is described here for the first time.
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Postby Christian » 10/03/04 02:04 AM

I have a copy of the Scarne's shuffle control of the Karl Fulves notes,but I don't think Bill Malone used this method because the Scarne's method is difficult.I think the spectator was Bill's friend...and he prepapred the aces,may be the snap crimp or slick aces but I'm not sure.
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Postby pduffie » 10/03/04 02:58 AM

Twala said:

I have a copy of the Scarne's shuffle control of the Karl Fulves notes,but I don't think Bill Malone used this method because the Scarne's method is difficult.
Bill Malone is one of the very best sleight of hand card magicians in the world. While I doubt he uses what Fulves published (allegedly Scarne's), he certainly wouldn't find that difficult at all.

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Postby Christian » 10/03/04 06:00 AM

I don't have any doubt about how fast and good Bill Malone is in magic, but in that trick It doesn't look he is using the Scarne's method, but hey I'm not sure at all...
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Postby mago » 10/03/04 08:46 AM

A question for all magis,

What if All the decks that Malone had spread on the table where "prepared"?

This would mean that Anyone could choose a deck and give it to Bill for performance.

I have used this effect in the above manner years ago and it worked.

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Postby Christian » 10/03/04 08:58 AM

Exactly Tom.To be honest with you that's what I think.All the decks are prepared.Maybe he uses the snap crimp in the aces,slick aces,etc.
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Postby Chris Bruce » 10/30/04 07:21 PM

My two cents on this -

There was only one prepared deck, the one that was used. Doesn't seem odd that out of all the decks to be picked (there were many brands there) he recieved red bikes? - the ones we use most commonly. Plus it would be so easy to do it this way in that setting.

Great effect and performer.

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Postby Max Rodriguez » 12/01/04 01:00 PM

The Bill malone Way of doing scarnes aces is the BEST way I have ever seen to cut aces.Wether It was sleight of hand or a prepared deck it was awesome.
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 12/02/04 01:37 AM

How's this for an effect ... you take a deck and thoroughly shuffle the cards. You ask someone to name a card. We'll say they name the seven of hearts. You give the cards a single cut and say, "If I cut to your card you might think that I just got lucky - and you could be right. It would be odds of 1 in 52. That's pretty steep, so to give myself a better chance, I will cut the deck into four piles", which you do.

You look down at the four piles and say, "Let's see if I got lucky". You turn over one of the four cards and it's the seven of hearts!

You say "It's good I didn't choose one of these three", gesturing to the remaining piles. "I would have only been close". You turn over the remaining three cards and they are the other three sevens - clubs, diamonds, and spades.

Not bad, huh?

It's done with an ordinary deck of cards. In fact the cards may be borrowed. If someone were to come up to you and hand you a deck of cards you could do this effect! Any card can be named and should you be asked to "do it again!" you are able to immediately repeat the effect using a different selection.

I just realized, all of that sounds like a dealer add. I will admit there is a wee bit of deception in the above description, but only a smidgen.

Any guesses as to the method?
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Postby Guest » 12/02/04 08:57 AM

Re: The Jeffer's Challenge

Any guesses as to the method?
Not a FASDIU method... but...

If the deck is "thouroughly shuffled" via the faro... then I have a guess:

See "Mental Topper" from 'the New Tops'(Or MINT #1... or Cardfixes.)

Postby Paul Hayward » 12/04/04 01:06 PM

Hi Thwala,

I seem to remember a magician posting on the MagicCafe forum who asked Bill Malone outright how he had achieved this ace cutting routine. His reply was something like, 'If I tell you, you will only be disappointed'. Now, to me this does not sound like spectacular and difficult sleight of hand. It smacks more of a pre-prepared deck and a method for forcing the deck.

With regard to Scarnes account of cutting to the aces, I am not familiar with the Scarne shuffle. However, even if he employed something like the difficult Stevens riffle cull control, (possibly a similar method to the Scarne shuffle) it is difficult to believe he could have pulled this off, time after time, in front of seasoned card mechanics like 'Fats Couldwell and experienced crooked gamblers/gangsters like Rothstein and all at the tender age of 18 years in the nonchalant way described in his biography and in Scarne on Cards. I am not sure he ever did this ace cutting routine independently in front of anyone else in fact. The conclusion I have drawn is that Scarne used this story more for myth building and self promotion. But who will ever really know and this of course is the beauty of the tale.


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Postby Guest » 12/04/04 01:34 PM

I seem to remember the John Scarne appeared on US TV demonstrating his ace cutting routine. Perhaps the location and study of this exhibition footage would aid those who yearn to know his method?

Personally, just seeing John Scarne and Bill Malone demonstrate their skills is enough for me.

Postby Guest » 12/04/04 08:52 PM

I actually had the presence of mind to tape that show( the one with Malone).

It was called "Secrets of Magic" and was hosted by the late Robert Urich.

My sense is the guy who shuffles the cards at the outset is where a big portion of the trick's success exists--as his in-the-hands-shuffling is way outside the norm, and very slick.

Either way, it was one of the coolest televised performances by Bill Malone--more drama and suspense, and less madcap.

Postby Max Rodriguez » 12/20/04 12:29 PM

I thinking the guy that shuffled was a stooge.Still it was amazing ,I could tell he was controling thw aces with real shuffles and false cuts but still how do you think he so CLEANLY cut to the aces,maybe by crimp.He didnt even fumble he immediatly just cut the deck.What a great routine
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Postby AMCabral » 12/21/04 07:33 AM

"Stooge" means little-to-nothing in this case because if you watch enough of the Ouelette/Pudney/Jaffe specials from Vegas (and the defunct Caesar's Magical Empire), you'll see the same people crop up over and over again in the audiences. Many times in the same outfits. Example: in Lance Burton's first full-length special, the woman on his left (your right) when he does his "card trick" is the SAME woman on the SAME side in the SAME dress for Rene Lavand's performance on World's Greatest Magic II.
Face it: the whole AUDIENCE is stooges. The same way that ugly people never seem to get front row tickets to any of David Copperfield's shows.

Then again, what are the odds of finding a "regular spectator" who can shuffle that well? What is he, a dealer or something? In VEGAS, of all places... do they even have playing cards in Vegas? How about hookers?

I will say that, if he has a method for controlling four aces on a spectator shuffle from new deck order, Bill Malone, for all his skill, shot himself in the foot by using it on one of these specials, because every doofus in the world is suddenly noticing that none of the spectators are really "normal".

Or maybe he did himself a favor.

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Postby AMCabral » 12/21/04 07:47 AM

And how is it I've seen ten gazillion threads all over the place asking this question and no one's ever bothered to wonder how Steve Forte got the named four-of-a-kind so quickly on the same show?

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Postby Guest » 02/07/05 02:47 PM

I don't know if anyone else has made mention of this on The Genii Forum, but the Secrets of Magic special that had Malone's ace cutting (as well as Kalin and Jinger performing the Wakeling Sawing, Omar Pasha's black art act, the original Robert-Houdin Light and Heavy Chest, Steve Forte doing what Steve Forte does, a presentation of the Blue Room Illusion, and a Lance Burton illusion) is available for about ten bucks at .

Just do a search on "lance burton secrets of magic," and the DVD will show up. (That's the name of the DVD: "Lance Burton's Secrets of Magic." Two of Lance Burton's other TV specials are also on the DVD.

What a deal!

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