Tracking and Crediting

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Jon Racherbaumer
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Joined: January 22nd, 2008, 12:00 pm
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Tracking and Crediting

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » June 22nd, 2002, 11:33 am

The recent fladdoodle about crediting this and that regarding Card Warp always makes me mindful of how difficult it is to sort out the facts. We can parse our comments and "personalize" the contentiousness of the questions and issues that are raised. And we "remember only what we remember" (as my grandfather used to say), and "time dissipates the hard angularity of the facts." So what else is new?

And, believe me, I've been in the hot-and-heavy middle of many flare-ups and knock-down-drag-out controversies in my time. I've been cursed, bloodied, reviled, and spat upon...taking licks and kicks with the kisses and judos...and it's been a helluva, UNSENTIMENTAL EDUCATION.

However...(and this is a BIG "however")
...when it comes down to the nitty-gritty (which it always does), I respect, DEEPLY respect, most of my colleagues--particularly the ones who take the time and trouble to writes articles and books for posterity...

...and I've crossed swords with lots of magicians: Larry Jennings, Harry Lorayne, Jamy Ian Swiss, Harvey Rosenthal, Richard Kaufman, Darwin Ortiz, Herb Zarrow, Jeff Busby, Karl Fulves, Jerry Sadowitz, Dave Solomon, Randy Wakeman, T. A Waters, and even (believe it or not) Ed name a few...

But I also RESPECT most of these "players" and "contributors" for their full-tilt participation, for their talents, and because of their contributions to magic. And I've learned from ALL OF THEM. They are important, perhaps indispensible figures in a battle-scarred landscape.

I've also learned that the business of sorting out facts from fancy, of digging for credits, and of figuring out how ideas may have evolved is a nasty, dirty, complicated, convoluted, and thankless task...This also has been the abiding rationale behind such publications as SWIPE and THE PROVENANCE BULLETIN. I wanted to detail the background of certain ideas and tricks, minus speculation, personal attacks, and so on...

If you are with me so far, here is an example:


Rusduck in Cardiste #3 (June-1957), pp. 15-16, mentions in a single paragraph that you can generate a Si Stebbins stack from a New Deck order "with two perfect riffle shuffles.

Ed Marlo later credits Rusduck in Hierophant #2 (Winter-1969), pp. 61-62, and then specifically elaborates on this idea by explaining how to arrange the four 13-card runs of Clubs, Hearts, Spades, and Diamonds prior to performing two Out Faro Shuffles. More important, he points out that you can also shift from Si Stebbins to Stay Stack. All of this was could be done after opening a New Deck and making necessary. If not justified, maneuvers with the deck in hand as the Jokers and advertising cards were removed and the deck is shuffled some more. Marlos original notes are dated September-1969.

Darwin Ortiz in Darwin Ortiz At The Card Table (1988) published "The Si Stebbins Secret," pp. 137-139. He also credits Rusduck, Cardiste #3 and Hierophant #2. His justification for re-publishing this idea was ostensibly to establish his "elaboration-finesse" of Marlo's handling. It is also a fix insofar as Darwin claims that Marlo's handling was a bit too contrived, possibly suspicious, and without motivation.

What follows are the Marlo and Ortiz methods.


Marlo pointed out that if you remove the two Jokers and the advertising card, you have three logical and excused opportunities to make key displacements without arousing too much suspicion. In other words, you do not "lose the ruse" by simply removing "discards. The whole idea is to avoid making gratuitous moves or calculating shifts and card transfers."

The first move Marlo made as he ostensibly looked through the deck for the Jokers and advertising card was to shift the entire Spade run as a block and insert it between the Club and Heart runs. He then run 26 cards in an Overhand Shuffle and suggested to make the other adjustments, using culls or shifts. In other words, two aspects were implicit: This setting up was done casually and during a lull in the action. It was not meant to be done with anyone burning the deck. The specifics of the culls and shifts were left to individuals to figure out, which is exactly what Ortiz did. The primary thing that Marlo wanted to establish was that the preliminary set-up is not that troublesome or difficult.

Because there is now some variance in the arrangements of new decks, Marlos handling is not applicable or must be modified. (Ortiz points out that the new-deck order of Hoyle cards is just the reverse of decks manufactured by the United States Playing Card Company. I just opened a fresh deck of Bicycle Rider-Back cards and the order from the face is: Joker Extra Joker Ace to King of Spades Ace of King of Diamonds King to Ace of Clubs King to Ace of Hearts two advertising cards. In Ortizs account, the order of the cards in new-deck order is the same as just cited.


Ortiz upjogs the Joker at the face and starts spreading cards between his hands. He then separates the spread between the 10S and JS. Next he spreads the left-hand cards onto the right-hand cards so that the JS-QS-KS is loaded onto the face of the deck.

As he closed the spread, the rest of the left-hand cards went underneath the right-hand cards.

Next he removed and tossed the Joker onto the table.

The deck is turned face down and the to discards are removed and placed aside.

The deck is put into Overhand Shuffle position and four runs are executed. Run 7 cards and throw. Run 6 cards and throw. Run 4 and throw. Run 9 and throw. (Ortiz provides a sports mnemonic: Seventy-Sixers and Forty-Niners.)

Finally he performs two In Faro Shuffles to generate the Si Stebbins. At the end, the bottom card at the face should be the Ace of Diamonds and the top card of the deck should be the Four of Clubs.

This is a quick, efficient, and specific handling. There is only one covert cull, followed by six shuffles.

This is an excellent fix and is worthy of publication and promulgation. Ortiz also deserves credit for the specific handling.


Despite the fact that Ortiz credits Rusduck and Marlo and despite the fact that Ortiz invites students to compare the methods, most readers seldom do this. (This of course is no fault of Ortiz; he has responsibly done his part.) Unfortunately, in the hazy process of thought contagion when good ideas and methods are transferred from one mind to another and from one scrivener to another, details are inevitably forgotten. Cardmen tend to credit the last reference they have read or remembered. Over time, ideas that are embedded in a single book, are associated with that book and the author of that book gets credit for everything. Sometimes this is a strategy of the author. Other times its strictly unintentional. This sort of thing, unfortunately, happens a thousand-fold over the years. This is how the game is played and replayed.


in the final analysis, Rusduck, Marlo, and Ortiz each deserve credit for generating a Si Stebbins set-up from a New Deck.

Marlo gets a nod for the logical corollary of shifting from Si Stebbins to Stay-Stack by simply Overhand Shuffling and reversing the order of 26 cards.

The chain-of-influence and the course of thought-contagion are often mysterious and difficult to sort out, but nonetheless, if it were not for the players, finessers, and fixers, the rest of us would be that much less informed and enriched.


See how it goes?
But I won't be surprised if this wordy outburst results in another "petty dust up."

This is why I always say "Onward!"

Looking back is risky. This why Satchel Paige said, "Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you!"



Re: Tracking and Crediting

Postby Guest » June 22nd, 2002, 1:20 pm

Your 'wordy outburst' reminds me of a recent article / thread (which can currently be found on the Magictalk web site... look for the post "Should We Publish") by Wesley James. The whole thread is worth 'researching' but for those without the time, energy (care) to check it out, here's a quote that I think sums it up:


"As the late Ed Marlo might have suggested, we publish for ourselves but we are judged by the world. Anything one puts into the marketplace of ideas, whatever the compensation, is viewed on its merit. That is probably as it should be."

End Quote>

Indeed; merit.
(The problem, as I see it, is: we each have a unique set of values.) Which brings me to a sidenote:

Those with issues concerning the "merits" of published efforts should take care when making accusations (especially in public forums.)
A good example can be found above... Racherbaumer demonstrates great care in his WELL documented Stebbins evaluation.

for that,
you have my RESPECT
(and my thanks)

let's hope that is contagious,
Doug Conn

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