Scarne's Aces

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 07:31 AM

It is sort of like - more about what we don't know about Scarne's aces. Because what I know about Scarne's aces is what Scarne himself wrote about it in his published works. And from hearsay of magicians that told me they met him, magicians that told me they sessioned with him, and magicians that say they saw Scarne do Scarne's aces but may have seen something else like another ace cutting effect.

The story is a great one and that is that at about 19 years old Scarne was performing a show and was "seen" to perform this ace cutting effect in a formal show by a "Racket boss." Then he was booked to perform his show for the "Racket boss" and some of his friends.

He fooled them over and over again.

Later on in the week he was booked back just to perform this one ace cutting routine. And he fooled them again.

That is my spin about the story of Scarne's aces as it was written up in the book by John Scarne "The Odds against me".

How he did it is anyones guess in my opinion. Because I have never seen Scarne on film do this effect. Or remember him doing this ace cutting effect on one of the old television chat shows. And as of this date I have never seen a video record of Scarne doing this ace cutting trick that it is said that only he could do.

Judging by the printed word and knowing and using a cull called the Stevens cull for more than just a few weeks. It is my opinion that Scarne would lay down a brief and then let the spectator cut to a card. Then use the brief to cut to an ace. When the spectator would cut the deck to cut to a high card - the deck would be out of Scarne's control and anything could happen.

It is also an interesting thing to think about just who was Scarne's audience in the book called the "Racket bosses." This was not just an audience I would imagine that this group who were in the story - up on card work of card sharps of the day. And they were trying to figure out the trick - watching closely - trying to spot it.

I find this the most interesting thing in the story is that these people the "racket bosses" were up on card work. Yet Scarne still fooled them yet I have not been able to find any video of this effect.

I have heard a lot of talk about a crimp and If Scarne used a crimp then it seems to me that the spectator might cut to an ace with the crimp by accident. Just as they have a slim chance of cutting to an ace in the deck anyway - just by luck.

My thoughts on this is that in trying to work out this trick through the story and from what people told me is that Scarne was a guy that did magic that was a sure thing. Leipzig was like that and it is written about him that his magic was sure fire - never missed.

Here is what I think might work - using the jog shuffle cull or a riffle shuffle cull after the spectator shuffled the deck. Or worked with an unopened deck. Shuffle cull an ace nine cards from the top, let the spectator cut the deck - replace it - then use the Marlo ten card nail gage to cut to the ace.

That would work.

Just a few thoughts about Scarne's Aces.

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 08:35 AM



Postby Guest » 04/11/07 08:47 AM

Well, from Scarne's own account, he developed the "move" for Scarne's Aces while experimenting on trying to cut a specific number of cards. It is referenced on page 42 of my edition of "The Odds Against Me."

I have to admit, though, that I have my doubts about Scarne's overall claims when he tells the stories of Scarne's Aces in performance. As an indication of his bravado, you only have to go a bit further on page 42 and he tells the story of his invention of his favorite card trick - the signed card in wallet. If he's willing to claim boldly a trick that was documented a century before his book, how much more did he embellish the details of unverifiable performances?

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 08:47 AM

Interesting idea .

But in trying to keep within the story that Scarne told about "his performing situation" when allegedly doing his "Scarne aces" for the "Racket Bosses" that were up on card work and in the story checked the deck and aces for crimps - I wonder if he used a crimp?

Also in Scarnes situation they the racket bosses gave him the decks to use.

I started this thread to speculate and explore what would be a plausible method under the performing conditions that Scarne "allegedly worked under when he - did this effect in front of the "Racket Bosses."

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 09:28 AM

Has anybody ever experimented with Martin Nash's Infinity work? I have seen a friend do some really nice ace cutting using this method.

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 10:18 AM

I do use Martin Nashs Infinity. It is an excellent "invisible" crimp: You can use/apply it with a borrowed deck. Works well for me.

Link to DVD

Postby Guest » 04/11/07 11:47 AM

Thank you very much for that added information Eric Rose. I also agree with you in what you said in your post.

I would like to add that in trying to come up with a plausible way of doing this effect - without crimps - or other things that require prepping - I tend to think that perhaps it could be done by a sure fire way of measurement.

That is a measurement of cards perhaps like the Marlo ten card gage.

I don't know how Scarne did it - or if he did it.

But it has been fun to play around with.

Postby Guest » 04/19/07 03:33 PM

Bob Iron's "Gambler's Aces" in Roger's Thesaurus, pg. 104, is a related effect. It can be used to come close to Scarne's Aces.

Postby Guest » 04/19/07 03:55 PM

Scarne was an arch-exaggerator and self-promoter. I think the one thing that is likely to be true is that Scarne's description bears no relation or clue to the method but rather is a complete fantasy description of the effect. We all know (or should know) that lay people perceive some effects using simple methods as complete miracles. That's because they have no real comprehension of any methods and human recall is imperfect.

I would suggest that Scarne's method would have been pretty simple. The best clue to that assumption is Mike Skinner's relating of having his fantasy of the great John Scarne (the same fantasy that you all clearly share) deflated when he first met him in company with Dai Vernon at the Castle. The passage conveys Skinner's disappointment pretty subtly - he was always pretty diplomatic by all accounts - but I think it's there.

I discovered magic in 1958, after reading John Scarne's autobiography "The Amazing World of John Scarne." In this book he described how he could cut to the four aces in a shuffled deck of cards. Johnny said that he would spot the aces during a riffle shuffle and count how many cards fell on each Ace and later cut to that number.

This description fascinated me and I thought to myself, "I would love to see that performed some day!" Years passed and I moved to Hollywood and the Magic Castle. This was in the summer of 1967. John Scarne arrived at the Castle one night, around 1972. I had the pleasure of joining Dai Vernon and Johhny for dinner that evening.

After dinner, out came a pack of cards. Dai asked Johnny if he would cut to the Aces for me. Johhny was obliging, but he performed an entirely different routine from what I described above. When he was finished, we talked awhile. Then the Professor said, "Mike, knock out the aces for Johnny!"
What the perpetual obsession with this (irrelevant) method amongst magicians shows is the power of the imagination. The story is captivating - Scarne knew that, that's why he wrote it as a self-promotional piece. Bill Malone recognised it as a very compelling hook on which to hang a presentation. I think if you spoke to Malone (assuming he was willing to get into the technicalities of his act) he would be more interested in the whole Scarne myth as theatre, rather than caring about the method. Like the center deal, there are dozens of ways to fake this sort of effect that don't actually involve the onerous task of doing the real work.

As I said above, laymen perceive the effect, not the method. The best magicians have a capacity to put themselves in the shoes of a lay audience - and Bill Malone is a truly great magician.


Postby Guest » 04/19/07 04:24 PM

Funny you should bring up Bill Malone. I talked with Bill on the phone last year about magic and "The Scarne's aces he did on TV". What he said is between myself and Bill but I do want to say that I performed magic with Bill Malone at Houdini's pub for more than a year.

I consider him to be one of the most skilled and entertaining magicians that is working today.

But getting back to Scarne's aces. No one really knows do they? The "story" most magicians tell is that the ace routine that he wrote about in the book "The odds against me." It is different than the one he did for magicians and the public.

The thing is that I do not judge a situation without knowing the facts. Hearsay is not fact so in that what I believe doesnt really matter because I have no idea if Scarne could do this trick under the conditions that he talked about in his book. So for me to buy into the hearsay and promotion of John Scarne is a moot and unrealistic point.

And we have other magicians that never saw Scarne do the trick speculating and telling stories.

And then we have magicians that say Vernon wrote somewhere that he used a crimp.

And allegedly Fuves saying in a obscure pamphlet that he did some kind of a cull like the Stevens cull in a session with John Scarne.

But to me it is all hearsay.

Thanks for more hearsay but as of yet no one really knows do they?

Postby Guest » 04/19/07 07:52 PM

Reading Scarne's words reminds me of George Burns's great line, "Almost everything I say is true. The rest is Show Business."

Postby Guest » 04/20/07 01:19 AM

Hi Joe,

You make some great points. I am also aware of Skinners account with John Scarne and I too think Scarne's tale of fooling the gangsters is a self promotional phantasy. However, there is evidence that he did perform an ace cutting effect that met some of the conditions he set out in the story. I beleive there is some old TV footage of him doing just this. Also, Scarne had developed his take on the Stevens control and according to Fulves to whom Scarne showed the sleight in the early 70's, his execution was fast, efficient and highly deceptive. There is also strong evidence of Scarne using a method for cutting to high card in the game 'banker or broker' for which he gained the nickname 'flukey Johnny'. But, when all is said and done I personally believe that even if Scarne had a Stevens type method of cutting to the aces he probably never met, let alone 'entertained' Arnold Rothstein and his associates. I think Glenn said it best with his quote 'Why let the truth get in the way of a good story'.


Paul H

Postby Guest » 04/20/07 07:34 AM

Paul Said...

"he did perform an ace cutting effect that met some of the conditions he set out in the story. I believe there is some old TV footage of him doing just this."

(Glenn Bishop)
I would very much like to see this footage if it exists. But until I do it is hearsay. The only footage I have seen of Scarne doing anything like an ace cutting effect was on line. And on a DVD but the ace cutting effect was the same and more like "the magician vs. the gambler" than the Scarne aces.

I have also seen a video tape of John Scarne at Jimmy Cards Molinari's house about two years ago. In this video he placed four aces in the deck at different parts with the deck was spread up on the table - did the jog shuffle and then dealt out five hands and the dealer got the four aces.

Paul said..............

Also, Scarne had developed his take on the Stevens control and according to Fulves to whom Scarne showed the sleight in the early 70's,

(Glenn Bishop)
I suppose it is because I am from Missouri but how does this being written up in an obscure manuscript make it a fact?

When the strike (hit) second deal was published there was a lot of rush by a lot of magicians to get it into print. Part of that story is in the "Phantom of the card table" published by the Gamblers book club written by Eddie McGuire.

There were a lot of magicians telling stories and publishing and tying their names to the move - the strike second.

All of them are great stories.

Marlo published a bottom deal through Magic Inc. That was advertied as a bottom deal used by a Havana gambler and it was published under the name of the Havana bottom.

Now we have the Stevens cull and Vernon wrote that he learned it from a gambler card cheat Old Dad Stevens. This story and the center deal story are very great stories. Classic of a magician meeting a great card sharp. The dream card sharp that people would have written a story about.

I have never met a magician or anyone that has met old Dad Stevens except Vernon.

Fuves allegedly wrote in an obscure manuscript that he learned something like the Stevens cull or control from a session with John Scarne and allegedly wrote that he used it to cut the aces.

In the book Revelations Vernon (page 214) wrote that the cull of the Mysterious kid could be used in a fancy cutting by putting the four aces on the top and cutting to the aces one at a time. This is with a set up deck if you place the four aces on the top and do the cull as a cut. In the effect of Scarnes aces the deck was shuffled by the racket bosses and they gave Scarne the deck.

This is different than the challenge that is in Scarne's aces. It is the challenge part that is the most interesting part of the effect. Letting the spectator cut first.

One more thought I would like to bring up is that Scarne was a professional magician and I agree that a lot of what he wrote was his own publicity. A lot of the problem that he had was the "hobby" magicians - a lot of them did not like that he made good money and was such a good self promoter.

Please take the above is hearsay to a continuing great story that is part of "show business". As David Alexander so greatly said it above.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 04/20/07 09:40 AM

Glenn Bishop wrote:
I have never met a magician or anyone that has met old Dad Stevens except Vernon.

An interesting observation and, perhaps, the crux of the matter. Is there any contemporary writing by a non-magician that mentions Dad Stevens? Are there any newspaper articles that give an account of his arrest for gambling? In short, is there any proof of his existence outside of Vernon's account like Census records, death records....anything?

Postby Guest » 04/20/07 03:41 PM

Thanks David Alexander. I asked in another thread if there was any magician other than Vernon that met Dad Stevens and no one responded with an answer.

I think that it is interesting when you bring all the known information together and take a look at it.

We have Vernon's writing on meeting Dad Stevens and publishing this cull. As of yet Vernon is the only magician that I have met that has met Dad Stevens as far as I know.

Then we have Fuves alleged writing of a session with Scarne and doing something like the Stevens cull to cut the aces - allegedly Scarne's aces.

And we have what John Scarne wrote in his books including the book "The odds against me."

Plus there are the Marlo Manuscripts on Riffle Shuffle Systems - books that I have never read.

My question is - was this Stevens cull, control, or bock transfer shuffle a move that got around like the second deal. And like the second deal a lot of magicians wrote story about it and added ideas - each in there own way?

In my opinion Scarne was not the only magician that could tell a good story for attention or promotion.

Just a little bit of theory and hearsay to add to this interesting thread.

Onward and upward!

Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/20/07 03:51 PM

I think David Ben has uncovered quite a bit about Dad Stevens. No one but Vernon, in our field, ever met Stevens that I'm aware of (or wrote about it, or lived long enough to be asked about it). So, a number of folks have posited that Stevens might have been an invention of Vernon's. (After all, no one else has ever seen that letter of Hofzinser's that the Professor claimed to have contained the "Hofzinser Ace" plot.)
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Postby Guest » 04/20/07 06:25 PM

Thank you for posting the information Richard Kaufman. Has David Ben published this information about Old Dad Stevens?

I just spent the evening working out a method of doing Scarne's aces under the performing conditions that were in the book - "The odds against me."

It is based off of the theory that my dad had on how Scarne worked - when he watched him perform shows. We had a lot of conversations about John Scarne - what he did and how he did it. As well as the promotion and methods of most of the magicians that my dad saw in his lifetime.

I don't know if what I am doing is the way that Scarne did the effect but I got it down 99% and I want to play around with it more.

My need is for the magician to come into the performance place and dump a stack of decks on the table. These decks could be purchased just before the show at a local drug store. The decks are not tricked up in any way.

A deck is chosen by the spectator - opened and shuffled by the spectator after they get rid of the jokers and extra advertising cards.

Then the trick may be performed as Scarne wrote about in his book the odds against me. No trick deck, no crimps.

I still have no idea how Scarne did it or if he did it. But then again - I dont think anyone really knows how or if John Scarne did this effect under the conditions he wrote about in his books.

Onward and upward!

Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/20/07 07:28 PM

I don't think David has published what he's learned about Dad Stevens yet.
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Postby Guest » 04/21/07 05:49 AM

It would be interesting if the information of Old Dad Stevens came from just Vernon or if there is more information out there that we have not yet seen on Old Dad Stevens.

Here is some more hearsay and opinion. If anyone was interested it reading that is. That is that I think that if I could work out a routine of Scarne's aces using the theory, idea's and what I know about cards - why couldn't Scarne?

This has changed my opinion a little bit because the routine I worked out could be done under the performing conditions that Scarne wrote about in his book "The odds against me."

But besides the routine being worked out (and I have no idea if the routine that I worked out is the way Scarne did it) it has given me a theory as to why Scarne did not do it for magicians in an impromptu performance - as magicians sit around and do card magic for each other when they session.

It also in theory makes me feel that Fuves might have also been writing the truth about Scarne using a cull control in the manuscript Paul H. Wrote about - But I have never seen or read.

It makes me think - yes he "could" have done it under "The Performing Situation".

Now that I know it is "possible" to do the trick it changes my opinion a bit.

But still - I don't think that anyone knows.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 04/23/07 08:22 AM

I wish there was a person alive today that was up on Scarne's methods enough so I could compare notes on the way I have worked out Scarne's aces. If what I am doing is what Scarne did then in my opinion Scarne was a genius and it would bring a little bit more creditability to Scarne's work.

Also here are a few more thoughts that I do not have the answer to at this moment.

If the Fuves story is true (in the manuscript mentioned by Paul H.) then in my opinion Scarne was up on the shuffles of briefs and block transfers - ahead of others in the field.

Then there is this piece of the puzzle as of yet unanswered and that is - was there an Old Dad Stevens? As of yet Dai Vernon is the only magician that I have met and said that he was for real.

Just a few more thoughts and observations and hearsay about an interesting story.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 05/06/07 09:32 AM

I love it!! 1st thing is Im not %100 sure of the manuscript that Paul H. is speaking of but if its the one im thinking of it was published around 74', in it fulves states "this is how I think Scarne did it". Those are not the exact words as Im not home right now but you get the jus.SO if Fulves met with Scarne in the earlt 70's its possible the tech is close. It could fit in to the description explained above. Im not familiar with the stevens cull. So if someone could point me in the right direction that would be great. Also for the record all of the ace cutting routines in the riffle shuffle triology deals with a different technique that wouldnt fit into the conditions stated above, But there are other techniques close to the one fulves states. Id have to look back but I want to say that scarne was mentioned in them, but I cant recall at this point. I also dont have the scarne book mentioned above. So if possible could you explain the exact details. Im facinated with this stuff as its my useless talent #1.

Glen or anyone else that wants to talk about this in more detail. You can email me at


Postby Guest » 05/07/07 01:07 AM

Hi Chris,

My source is not a pamphlet but a thorough 204 page manuscript entitled, Riffle Shuffle Controls Part Two Blocking Off. This covers Card Effects, Cut Controls, Cull/Stock Shuffles, Gambling Routines and a thorough teaching of Fulves Blocking Off technique. The first chpater in the introduction is entitled 'Scarne's Secret'. Fulves goes on to quote from the account of the ace cutting that fooled Rothstein and his associates given in the Scarne on Cards introduction described by William Caldwell. Fulves describes working out his own blocking off technque described in 'single card control' from the riffle shuffle technique manuscript. I quote from Fulves here.

'When Scarne saw this (Fulves) method performed, he said that my method was close but not quite. He then demonstrated the control. If you saw Scarne perform this method of card control, you know what perfect handling looks like. In a 1974 session Scarne described his method in detail. The complete text can be found in Riffle Shuffle Methods(1987).'

It is also described in detail in the Blocking off Part II (1996) in the chapter Cull/Stock Shuffles under John Scarne's method p129-130. Having absorbed much of the info from Fulves, I still find the method described by Andrew Wimhurst in his excellent 'Down Under Deals' manuscript to be the best, most modern handling of the Stevens Cull. Hope this helps.


Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 01:48 AM


Postby Guest » 05/07/07 06:59 AM

Bill Malone's routine is a nice routine.

But in reading the book "the odds against me" the cutting to the high card with the spectators was done as a challenge in my opinion.

Also, the way I used to play cutting to the high card as a game. Was, they cut the deck and show the card at the face - that is the face bottom card of the pile - of the half they cut off.

Then it can be replaced (put back on the deck). But, often the challenger will cut off a pile off the remaining cards on the table and the highest card at the face - or the bottom of each pile was the winner.

Like drawing the short straw or long straw to decide some kind of an outcome of events.

Cutting and turning over the face down top card is a magicians trick. Much like what happens in the effect Marlo's Miracle aces.

So in my opinion Scarne's idea was closer to the way that card players cut to the high card. For me that is what makes the idea and the effect so interesting.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 08:47 AM

The manuscript I was referring to was Riffle shuffle technique, preliminary notes on part 2 dated may 1 1973. On page 50 Fulves describes a line from a Scarne book matching the above lines. Thats the one I was referring too.. But they sound to be the same. Do you want to sell any of your Fulves books??? :D


Postby Guest » 05/07/07 09:20 AM

Hi Chris,

I was incredibly lucky to get hold of the Fulves manuscript. Its the only Fulves mansucript I own and so I guess I will have to sadly turn down your generous offer :eek:

Hi Glenn,

I completely agree with you about the difference in cutting the aces. Sal Piacente used this angle in his patter for cutting the ace to the face when demonstrating the Piacente/Forte ace cutting routine from Volume One of his Magic Lecture Notes DVD. The Stevens Cull does allow for a card to be cut to the face of the deck and is consistent with card table etiquette. Cutting an ace to the face from a truly shuffled deck and then after only one riffle shuffle has become one of the main fascinations with this type of effect.


Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 10:30 AM

Paul H. Said...

"The Stevens Cull does allow for a card to be cut to the face of the deck and is consistent with card table etiquette. Cutting an ace to the face from a truly shuffled deck and then after only one riffle shuffle has become one of the main fascinations with this type of effect."

(Glenn Bishop)

Thanks for this interesting info Paul.

The problem that I have had in experimenting with the idea of this effect is that the challenge lets the spectator cut first.

Then the magician makes his cut and beats the challenger or if the challenger just happens to cut to an ace (it can happen) the magician will tie the challenger.

Using the Stevens cull (If that is the cull I do in the first place) putting the deck in the spectators hands - wouldn't that have a chance to upset whatever stack, brief that a magician might lay in to cut to his ace?

I am not sure of the technique or method that you are talking about and how it would fit into the exact description that was written by John Scarne. And the alleged performing conditions that he supposed performed the effect under.

I do not own or have read - Marlo's work on bock transfers - Fuves work on the subject or Andrew Wimhurst's work on this. My only written resource on the Stevens cull or block transfer shuffle work has been the book Revelations. But as I said in another thread I am not sure if I do it the same way as it is written in the book. As I have played with it and experimented with it for quite a long time now.

I am just trying to find answers to a mystery of long ago.

Thanks for the info Paul.

Onward and upward.

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 10:47 AM

Hi Glenn,

I have developed a method based on the Stevens cull that allows the spectator to cut first and the magician to cut to an ace second. It generally takes about two riffle shuffles but its a great effect if you like this type of thing. Let me know if you would like the handling.

Best Wishes,

Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 12:32 PM

Hi Paul.

Not knowing the method or the technique at this time please let me ask a few questions.

Is the deck on the table and both players cut one at a time?

Is the deck squared on the table?

Does the magician shuffle the cards after the spectator cuts his high card and then cuts to his ace?

As I remember what Scarne wrote he let the spectator shuffle the deck. The he shuffled the deck and set the cards on the table.

Then the spectator cut.

Then Scarne cut and got the high card - the ace.

Yes I would like to read what you are doing - thanks! I would also like to get a look at the Fuves manuscript one of these days too.

Glenn Bishop

Postby Guest » 05/07/07 02:09 PM

Hi Glenn,

I'll PM you and yes, the spectator shuffles, the magi gives one or two tabled riffles. The spectator cuts and then the magi cuts an ace.


Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/08/07 05:28 AM

Thanks very much Paul.

I look forward to reading it. Perhaps you solved the mystery of Scarne's aces.

Glenn Bishop

Postby Guest » 05/10/07 03:26 PM

Hi Glenn,

I'm having trouble contacting you. Could you send me a contact via the Cafe PM system.


Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/13/07 01:02 PM

Hi Paul,

I do not go on the cafe at all any more. Also I would rather you send it in a few months. Because in July I will be producing a DVD on bock transfer shuffles.

It will include my work with Dai Vernon's Triumph shuffle and how I use it as a cull and other things.

I will also be putting on it my slant (theory) of Scarne's aces too. I don't think I will be releasing it to the Magic community - not sure yet because I want to copyright my work.

But I am very interested if my shuffle work is anything like the work Fuves has done or Marlo, having never read or seen their work on block transfer shuffles.

Please remind me to send you a copy sometime in August. That should be enough time for me to finish my performing season - and then put some time in on this project.

Take care Paul.

Glenn Bishop

Postby Guest » 05/14/07 02:18 PM

Thanks Glenn. Will do.

Best Wishes,

Paul H

Postby Guest » 05/19/07 01:02 PM

<<Scarne was an arch-exaggerator and self-promoter. I think the one thing that is likely to be true is that Scarne's description bears no relation or clue to the method but rather is a complete fantasy description of the effect.>>

Hear, hear! One needs to be a little bit leery of taking what Mr. Scarne says at face value.

On the subject of Scarne's ego-
From "Scarne's Guide to Modern Poker" comes his classic quote:

" I am proud (not vain, I hope)to repeat what many experts on gambling and top-flight card magicians have been saying for the past forty years: 'John Scarne is the greatest card manipulator who ever lived and knows more about cheating at cards than any other living person.'"

Postby Guest » 05/23/07 03:38 PM

As for the self promoting John Scarne. I don't think that self promoting is a bad thing. And magicians need to promote and advertise in order to be successful.

Even with the self promoting - Scarne did some great things. He was on the Jack Parr tonight show several times. And was the technical consultant to the movie the sting.

And from what I have seen of him on video he was in my opinion great.

The problem with the telling of stories and the self promoting is that over years and years of doing it often the stories can conflict.

One of the things that I have noticed growing up in show business. Is that people change with age as they grow older. So the stories that they tell can also change with age and as they grow older often people don't remember them and tell them in the same way.

Just a few more thoughts.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 06/02/07 06:44 AM

Here is an opinion and hearsay that other magicians might not agree with. I think the unsung hero of block shuffle work and perhaps the Stevens cull might be John Scarne.

I am not trying to say that John Scarne was telling the truth that he used Scarne's aces to fool the Racket bosses. And I don't know if it is true that he invented Scarne's aces when he was around 18 years old. I myself came up with my own shell game steal - the way I steal out the pea from under the shell and load it again when I was a lot younger than 18 years old. So he could have - I don't know and I do not think that anyone in magic really knows if Scarne did this.

But in the Fulves manuscript there is a (Thanks to Paul H. For this information) cull that was like the Stevens cull that Fulves allegedly said that Scarne showed it to him in the 70's.

I am interested in getting the Fulves Manuscript I believe it is called Riffle Shuffle Methods (1987).

But the point of this post is - John Scarne was allegedly using some kind of cull like the Stevens cull and if the story in the book "The Odds against me is only partly true. Then he could have been doing it very early in his performing career. And may have been doing it "before" others published and worked on the other block transfer methods.

Then on the other side we have the block transfer work of Marlo. And Vernon using the Stevens cull and Stevens control. As of yet, I have not met a magician besides Vernon that has met Old Dad Stevens. Or anything that proves the man existed except the great story that Vernon told - as of yet.

Then there is the thing about John Scarne and that he did not seem to publish the methods that he used as a performer. Like a lot of the old school performers of his day. He did not publish the magic and ideas he made a living off of.

Often in magic it is the performers of magic - when they come up with something good and they use it. Other magicians are often out to get it. And often it can get published without giving them the credit.

Lots of questions - few answers - and hearsay information. That is what a lot of the history of magic is made up of.

At least that is my opinion.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 06/02/07 10:19 AM

i couldnt see scarne letting vernon give the credit to someone else if the move was his. and wasnt it vernon who showed scarne the cull?

Postby Guest » 06/02/07 02:43 PM

Hi Brian,

The whole 'Rothstrein story' presumes that Scarne knew of the cull in his teens presumably before he was tutored by Vernon. If Karl Fulves is to be believed, Scarne was adept at the cull and remained so at least up to the mid 70's. But none of this proves one way of the other the authenticity of Scarne's adventure which is highly dubious to say the least.


Paul H

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