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All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 11/10/02 11:15 PM

I just found this great forum and I just wanted to say hello to all. I'm just starting out my long time dream to "try" to master cards and card magic. I hope that I can ask for your help.

First of all, my biggest complex is having a small hand. It seems that all the carditions I have seen on online clips and videos have such big hands. I have small hands and stubby fingers and a regular deck of poker cards always get stuck. I can never get a good fanning either because my palm isn't wide enough for the cards to spread out. I wish I can show you guys what I'm talking about but I don't or can't seem to post a picture.

Anyway, other than my hand complex, I'd like to know your prefered card deck choice to do card magic. Bicycle seems to be the favorite but are there other brands out there that you prefer?
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Postby Guest » 11/11/02 01:23 PM

Originally posted by Philip Kim:
First of all, my biggest complex is having a small hand. It seems that all the carditions I have seen on online clips and videos have such big hands. I have small hands and stubby fingers and a regular deck of poker cards always get stuck.
Anyway, other than my hand complex, I'd like to know your prefered card deck choice to do card magic. Bicycle seems to be the favorite but are there other brands out there that you prefer?
Hey Philip,

From what I understand pretty much anyone can eventually get used to the size of your standard poker deck, though it's obviously easier for some than others. You may want to check out a bridge sized deck though, they're slightly narrower and generally a smaller card. As for what cards, personally I use bicycles just because they're so widely recognized, and widely available.

-Timothy
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/02 02:37 PM

Forget about the size of your hands. Dai Vernon had a slightly smaller than average size hand. My hand is the same size as his. Howie Schwarzman and Steve Freeman have damn tiny hands and they pass and palm with the best of them.
Certain sleights will be difficult, but you can do most sleights without any problem.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 11/11/02 02:55 PM

Perhaps it would be useful to direct Philip to those sleights which are least likely to be frustrating for people with smaller hands.

I have pretty large hands, so maybe I'm not the best source, but off the top of my head the following sleights are not dependant on hand size:

Top Change
Spread Cull
Zarrow Shuffle
Dan Garrett's Underhanded Overhand Shuffle
Double lift/turnover
Gambler's Cop
Tilt/Depth Illusion
Classic Force

That should cover you for about five years.

Note that Jerry Andrus uses bridge-size cards exclusively. I've never heard anyone -- not a spectator, an amateur magician, or a pro -- ever comment on it.
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Postby Guest » 11/11/02 04:02 PM

Philip,

I'm in the same boat you're in. My hands are VERY small compared to a "normal" guy, and especially so compared with some of the mitts that magicians seem to have. However, as Richard and Timothy have pointed out, it's not that big of a deal. What is more important is to put the practice time in. Start slowly, dont over stress your hands, get the technique correct, and you will find that you can do just about anything with a pack of cards. Even moves that seem to demand large hands - like a one-handed shuffle - can be done with sufficient practice.

Id also like to add that the awkwardness you are experiencing is something that every magician has gone through. Our methods of spreading cards, fanning them, even holding a deck, are going to feel odd even impossible at first. This is normal and isnt a product of hand size. It is simply that your fingers and mind need the time and conditioning to get used to the motions.

Keep working at it. It can and will come as long as you give it the time it deserves.

Zech Johnson
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/02 06:20 PM

Hey Pete, lots of us spent an extraordinary amount of time in our youths discussing why Andrus uses those baby cards.
Really.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 11/11/02 07:01 PM

Richard,
Jerry once told me that it's because the silver dollars look better when appearing between bridge sized cards.

I'm sure the Panoramic Shift is a bit easier with the narrower cards too... but I've never gotten the nack so I can't speak from experiance.

Jerry has huge hands but it's the slowness of his movements that's makes things deceptive. Everything seems so fair that you can't imagine that a move has occured.
:)
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Postby Guest » 11/11/02 07:27 PM

Thank you all for you reply and kind encouragements. Yes, I am in a state of tremendous frustration. I can't seem to hold on to my cards when I'm trying some sleights or passes. I always seem to be dropping them and my hands are tense trying to hold the cards together in my hands. And my jaw also gets tense. I know that I should relax (I'm a pianist and a teacher and I should know better about relaxing) but it takes some getting used to, I guess.

Am I too old to start practicing card magic? I'm 31 by the way. Are my hands too stiff already?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/11/02 09:22 PM

Philip, you're NEVER to old to learn sleight of hand.
The most important thing is NOT to hold the deck too tightly. Hold the cards LOOSELY.
Don't worry about dropping them, or having them go ppppppffffftttt and fly all over the place. We've all been there. Practice over your bed so you don't have to bend down so far to pick them up!
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Postby Michel Huot » 11/12/02 06:50 AM

Philip, my hands are probably smaller than yours. The fact that your you're all stiff and cramped has nothing to do with the size of your hands. In fact, it has to do with the fact that you do some unfamiliar movement with them. Some muscles are not used to work in certain manner. It's a bit like playing let say footbal after 5 years of inactivity, your legs will hurt so bad, not because you have small legs but because the muscles are not used to that physical activity.
The first months i practiced the pass I had cramps all the time. The Muscle pass (CORNELIUS)is the best example, try it and your hands will hurt (big or small). So don't get discourage... practice.

Michel
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 11/12/02 12:50 PM

Originally posted by Philip Kim:
Am I too old to start practicing card magic? I'm 31 by the way. Are my hands too stiff already?
Nope, you're not too old by any stretch of the imagination, especially if you are a musician.

I (also a musician--guitar and bass, primarily) began serious study of sleight-of-hand at age 43. I now perform sleight-of-hand for money, unselfconsciously. But it took a long time.

Pete McCabe's ideas about choosing the best sleights is right on the money. Jamy Ian Swiss says the same thing in his writings and teaching sessions.

Learn sleights as you need them for routines. But don't be in a hurry. I've been working on a strike second deal for about two and a half years, and I'm only now about ready to undertake Dunbury Delusion (from Expert Card Technique).

It helps if you have a routine to connect a sleight to. It gives it meaning and purpose. Then at some point you'll have to perform it for people.

Some years ago Jon Racherbaumer had an interesting piece in Magic about letting go of performing for the mirror, and being willing to go out there and get caught. I think a point comes in the learning of every sleight where you have to be willing to do the scary thing and try the sleight (as part of a routine) in front of somebody. You might get caught, but when you start NOT getting caught, you'll appreciate the deceptiveness of the sleight.
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