Thursday, August 31, 2006


A spectator selects five cards from the pack and is asked to imagine that it forms a perfect poker hand. Well, perfect except for one card. One card won’t help him win. Which card would he like to discard?

Without looking at any of them he discards one of the cards, say the two of hearts. He turns the remaining four face-up and discovers that he has the ten, jack, queen and king of clubs. Somehow he managed to get rid of the one that didn’t fit.

But can he find the card he needs to make a royal flush? He selects another card from the deck. Incredibly, it is the missing ace of clubs. What a guy!

This is a solution to a poker problem that Fulves wrote about in Pallbearers Review. Check Francis Haxton’s Gambler’s Last Chance (Vol 2, No 10) for a similar effect.

There are many ways to approach the effect but this has the benefit of being almost self-working. The disadvantage is that it uses a double-back card.

Have the double-backer on top of the deck and below it, in no particular order, the royal flush in clubs. These five cards should be face up.

Begin by giving the deck a false shuffle bringing the set-up back to the top. Then slowly dribble the cards from the right hand to the left as you ask a spectator to call stop.

He does and you halt the dribble and drop the right hand cards face-up onto the left hand packet as you say, “We’ll cut the pack where you said stop.” This is a handling of the Christ Force.

Spread the face up cards into the right hand. “You could have stopped anywhere.” And divide the pack so that all the face down cards are in the left. Deal the top five cards face down onto the table. “But you stopped here. Let’s take the next five cards.”

Replace the right hand cards face-down under the left hand packet.

“I want you to imagine that you have just been dealt a poker hand. Not only that but it is a very good poker hand except for one card. One card spoils the hand. Which do you think it is?”

Since the cards are all face-down, he can only guess. Get as much fun as you can out of him picking one of the five cards. Then pick it up and place it face-down on top of the deck. Immediately execute a triple lift and push the face-up card that shows off the deck.

By the way, you can get a break ready for the triple as the spectator is choosing one of the tabled cards.

Whatever card shows, refer to it in some meaningful way. You might find he appears to have discarded a low value card. On the other hand it might be an ace. Make the most of it, then replace it face-down under the deck.

Because of the triple lift a club card now lies face-up under the double backer.

“You’ve got rid of one card. Time to choose another.”

Repeat the Christ Force, this time pushing a single card onto the table. For the moment keep it separate from the other four tabled cards.

Time for the finale. Turn over the first four chosen cards and reveal them to be almost a royal flush. Then turn over the remaining chosen card to show that it completes the hand perfectly.

That’s it. It is actually quite an economical handling. The real skill lies in making the effect clear to the spectators. They choose a poker hand, discard the odd card and find its replacement. Try experimenting with different presentations to find the approach that works best for you.

From the point of view of method it’s quite cheeky in that as soon as they have discarded one of the original five cards you force it right back on them!