By Proxy World

Here is a mildly amusing way I used to get into Out of This World from a borrowed, shuffled deck. (Amusing for the performer, that is.) I guess it’s somewhat bold in that you’re having them set up the deck for you, but it makes complete sense contextually, so it doesn’t raise suspicion.

Here’s what it looks like…

Take the deck and shuffle it.

Cut the deck into two halves and place them in front of the spectator and say, “Can you shuffle?” And do the standard miming for “riffle shuffle” with your hands. It’s the same move as if you were giving a baby a shoulder rub. (You fucking creep.)


It really doesn’t matter how they shuffle. This is just to check out their abilities.

One of three things will happen.

  1. They will say, “yes,” and they’ll riffle-shuffle the two halves together. (It may take them a second to orient the halves in their hands because they’re not used to having the deck pre-cut for them.)

  2. They will say, “No. Uh, kinda. Well no. Not like the fancy kind.” In which case you say, “No problem. It doesn’t really matter.” And you shuffle the halves together.

  3. They will say, “yes,” and they’ll go to shuffle, but they’re so not used to having the deck separated for them that they will put it back together and then riffle off half of it and go into the shuffle. This isn’t a problem. Just something to note for now.

(I’m going to continue this write-up as if your spectator fell into groups 2 or 3 above. If they are in group 1 you can do something slightly different at the end, which I’ll get to in the notes after the description.)

Take the deck from them and spread through and pull a red card and a black card from the middle and set them side-by-side on the table.

Give the deck to the spectator face-up and tell them to deal the red cards onto the red card and the black cards onto the black card.

Kindly thank them in your mind for setting up the deck for OOTW.

When they’re done, look at your watch or a clock and say, “Okay, that took around 40 seconds. I think that’s a reasonable amount of time for that task. But I’m going to show you a way that will have you doing it in less than half the time.” (I don’t tell them I’m going to time them before they deal, because I don’t want them to try and do it quickly.)

Assemble the deck. Give it a red-black shuffle. (A legitimate overhand shuffle where you run the cards singly in the middle, maintaining the separation of the colors.)

“Now, I know you’re not a card expert, so it would be impossible for you to know exactly the order in which the cards are getting mixed, of course.”

After the shuffle, give the cards an in-the-hands false cut. Then cut a quarter of the deck to the table. “You don’t spend your day handling cards. You couldn’t say for sure if that’s 10 or 15 cards, right?”

Then cut 2/3rd of what remains (half the deck) to the right of the first packet, but with some space between. “Is that 20 cards? 25? 30? It would be hard to say.”

Take the cards left in your hand and drop them a few cards at a time into a pile between the two piles on the table. “Is that 2 cards? 3? 5? You mind—your conscious mind, at least—says there’s no way you could know. Because cards aren’t your area of expertise.”

Place the original packet you cut off, on top of the packet in the middle that you just put on the table, then shuffle that half into the other with a genuine riffle shuffle. Don’t push the halves flush. Spread them in their just-woven state.


“If I gave you 10 minutes to study this, you might be able to remember the exact pattern of how many cards of each half were woven with how many cards of the other half.”

Push the sides of the spread flush, and the square up the spread.

“But now it would be seemingly impossible to have kept track of all of it… the shuffling, the cutting, more shuffling. If I asked you if this top card was red or black, would you be comfortable stating that with certainty? How about the 10th card? How about any card. No…. of course not.”

At this point the deck is mostly still separated into reds and blacks, although there are likely a few cards mixed up in the middle. You’re going to clean this up in the process of removing some “leader” cards for the red and black packet. That may be all you need to do. Or you may have to cull or otherwise secretly move a couple more cards in the process of spreading the deck towards yourself to pull out the leader cards.

“You seemingly can’t know anything about the order of this deck. But for what’s about to happen, that somehow must not be true. Here… take the deck. We’re going to do what we did before. You’re going to deal the cards into red and black. But you’re going to do it in half the time. And… you’re not going to look at the faces of the cards.”

This comes across as a nice little twist in the routine. Up until this point, they didn’t really know what was coming. All you told them at the beginning was that they were going to separate the colors again but in half the time. With that in mind, there’s no reason for them to question the shuffles. They’re anticipating getting a mixed deck back from you, and your shuffling is in line with those expectations. Only now does it dawn on them that something different may occur. This is the moment that clarifies all the patter from before about, “You couldn’t know where any particular card is,” etc., because the only way to do what they’re about to do is if they somehow tracked the distribution of red and black cards during your shuffle.

“Go ahead. Trust me. Trust yourself. Deal the cards into two piles. Obviously not just back and forth, but two somewhat even piles. This will be the red pile this is the black one. Go quickly and don’t think about it.”

From there you finish with your preferred Out of this Word handling.


1. Although this was always very strong for me, I don’t really perform it anymore because I have other ways I prefer to do OOTW. If I was going to do it like this, I would want there to be some reasoning for why they could now achieve this feat. So there would be something that happens after the first deal. Something that would somehow affect their luck, intuition, perception or whatever.

2. Keeping that in mind, the face-down deal doesn’t have to immediately follow the face-up one. They could happen hours apart (or more). “Okay, you did that in about 40 seconds. Later tonight, when the Full Strawberry Moon rises, I’m going to show you something you won’t believe. The Strawberry Moon is said to affect intuition.” Or something like that. (The Full Strawberry Moon was a couple days ago, guys. You missed it. The good news is, any celestial event can have any meaning you want. All that shit is made up anyways.)

3. If, during the beginning phase of the trick, they’ve demonstrated they can shuffle the two halves together cleanly, you can have them do the final shuffle during the actual trick, if you want. I’m not sure how much it adds.

4. You may be tempted to use a Rosetta-style shuffle if they can’t riffle shuffle. Don’t bother, It won’t work. While the Rosetta shuffle mimics a riffle-shuffle in some respects, it doesn’t replicate a tight, well-done rifle shuffle. You’ll have too many cards to clean up.

5. Don’t rush the cutting portion (the part between the two shuffles). I used to try to set up for that final shuffle with some quick cuts without comment, but it’s hard to get your proportions right that way. You want to be cutting off very close to a quarter, followed by very close to half the deck. By acting like you’re making some salient point about how many cards you’re cutting, that allows you to give it the attention it needs without it feeling weird.

6. You may be concerned that at one point in the presentation they are staring at a deck that’s separated into red and black. Don’t be. It really doesn’t give them any clue on how the trick works. After they see the deck separated that way, they see a genuine shuffle, followed by a genuine cut, followed by a second genuine shuffle (that they may do themselves), followed by them dealing through the deck (which feels like another kind of “mix.") If they follow all of that and whatever OOTW handling you’re doing, then there was no way you were ever going to fool them with the trick in the first place.

7. I originally conceived of this as just a lazy way to get the spectator to do the work for setting up OOTW from a shuffled deck. But I think the face-up deal actually adds a nice element and makes complete sense presentationally. You’re establishing a standard for comparison which they are then going to exceed in an impossible fashion.