The AdBlock Control

Here's something I've been playing around with. You might be able to help me refine it (or direct me to anything similar in the literature).

There is this effect I've been doing that may or may not appear in the upcoming book that requires a card control and then stealing that card out of the deck. And for the effect to be as strong as possible, this needs to be done with the least amount of handling on my part. What I had been using was a short card. This would be on top of the deck. The selected card would be placed on top of this and cut into the deck and the spectator could give the deck a quick overhand shuffle (which would be unlikely to separate the short card from the selection). I would take the deck, give it a quick cut (bringing the short card to the top and the selection to the bottom) then, in the process of reaching for the card case, I would let the selection drop into my lap. 

This worked well enough. Yes, it required me to handle the deck, but it was done in a very casual way. It was only in my hands for a few seconds after the spectator had shuffled it, and the trick was getting amazing reactions. 

But I've since stumbled onto an even sneakier control. One that allows me to flat-out say that I'm not going to touch the deck and I don't. Yes, this allows you to control a card and remove it from the deck without touching the deck yourself. Sounds crazy, yes? Am I leaving some details out? Somewhat. But the statement is still true. A spectator has a free choice of any card. It is lost in the deck and shuffled as much as they want. And, without you touching the deck, the card is controlled and removed from the deck. It just uses a normal deck (kind of).

It started with the Misdirection Pass by UF Grant. Basically this involves having a reversed card on the bottom of the deck. A selection is made and cut into the deck (so it ends up below the reversed card), and you overhand shuffle (taking a larger block in the middle that contains the selection and reversed card). You spread the deck between your hands saying, "You could have had any of these cards." Here you notice the reversed card and you suggest that it got turned over during the shuffle. In the process of correcting the reversed card the selection is cut to the top. 

While this is easy and somewhat clever, I don't think it offers any advantages over other types of controls that are, essentially, invisible.

Joe Mckay suggested using one of the double-sided advertising cards that comes in a deck instead of a reversed card. I think this is a better idea because if you spread through a deck and noticed an advertising card, you can remove it without much justification. So you don't need to say, "Oh, this must have gotten turned over when I was shuffling," or whatever.

While I liked the idea, there still weren't any advantages that were unique to this control that would make me use it.

But these ideas were the foundation for a technique that did have a unique quality (a card control where you don't touch the deck). I've only done it a few times (I just thought of it a week ago). I haven't done it enough to really find the potential flaws in it, so it may require some additional refining. But so far it's worked each time and I've fooled a couple knowledgeable magicians with it, so I think it's structurally a sound idea. 

This is done at a table.

The deck is given to the spectator and you state that you will not touch the deck again. They are asked to hold it under the table. You have them reach into the deck and remove any card. While you turn away you ask them to peek at the card. As soon as they have a good image of it locked in their mind, they are to put it on top of the deck and cut it into the middle of the deck. Then, almost as an afterthought, you say, "Actually, shuffle up the cards a bit so you don't have any idea where it is." You indicate that they should mix up the cards under the table. Because this all happens in their hands, it feels very fair.

But it's not. It's decidedly unfair. Because on the bottom of the deck you gave to the spectator was an advertising card, and the bottom side of that advertising card was treated with a roughing stick. So now their freely chosen card, which they shuffled into the deck is actually stuck to the underside of the advertising card. 

Now they bring out the deck and set it on the table. You have them spread it, as best they can, across the table. You hold your hands out as if you're trying to sense some information. "Only you know what card you picked. But even you don't know where it is. It could be any of these 52 cards." Here you notice the advertising card. You go to grab it, but stop yourself. "Could you slide that out? I don't want it to get in the way."

The ad card is slid off to the side and the selection along with it. You immediately get back into the presentation, hopefully leaving the ad card to be soon forgotten.

What do you do after? Well, that's up to you. I'll write-up the trick I use this with at some point in the future.

Potential Issues

As I said, this is a new technique for me and while it's worked the few times I've done it, there may still be some issues to get ironed out. Here are the potential issues as I see them.

1. Alignment - You want to make sure the ad card and the selection are not just stuck together, but aligned as close together as possible. Here is what I do. I have them place their selection on top and cut the deck. Then I say, "And square up the deck so we know your card isn't sticking out anywhere [wait a beat for them to do that]. Actually, go ahead and mix up the deck too, so you have no idea where the card is."

When they bring the deck up from under the table I turn away and tell them to place the deck on the table, square it up, and cover it with their hands. This seems like I'm being extra fair before I turn around, but again I'm just looking to make sure the alignment is right on. 

2. Thickness - You want your spectator looking down on the cards. Use the same judgment you would any other time you have a double on the table that's supposed to be a single.

3. Sticky Stuff - I've only done this with a roughing stick. I don't know if roughing spray or Science Friction or something would be any better. I considered double-stick tape, but I think there's too much of a chance of someone feeling that or of the cards being permanently misaligned. 

4. Erasing the Moment - My initial concern was that the moment where you ask them to slide out the advertising card would draw attention to itself. That hasn't been my experience, but I think it's something to be aware of. It may actually be better to slide it out yourself. That might be a more casual and "invisible" gesture. I'm not sure.

I've come to the conclusion that it probably doesn't generate much suspicion. And the reason I don't think it does is because removing an ad card is something most of us have done for real numerous times in the course of a trick, and no one ever yells, "Hey! What are you doing!?" In addition, I think there are too many other techniques involved that even if they do remember the ad card, there's no easy straight line solution between the removal of that card and the disappearance of a card they freely selected and freely shuffled back into the deck.

That being said, I don't remove the ad card and immediately say, "And your card is gone." In the trick I do, they case the deck and it's brought to another location. So there's some time misdirection. By the time they realize the card they thought they saw in the deck is no longer there, some time has passed and I think the ad card is forgotten.