On the Svengali Deck


By and large, magic forums are a constant source of annoyance and depression to me, paired with an uneasy feeling of waste, both of precious time and positive energy.

On the other hand, there is something new to learn or discover almost every other day, which makes browsing through various forums rather rewarding. For example, like many other majishuns, I had never heard of the fact, until recently, that the French call the Svengali deck “un jeu radio” because of the long and short waves on which radio transmission operates. And what became the “Stripper Deck” much later, started out as the biseauté deck, even in English (see Prof. Hoffmann‘s Modern Magic, for example). Not earth-shattering, but quite fascinating to learn, isn’t it?

Which reminded me of an alternative, unsuspecting Svengali Force I came up with many years ago. I guess it’s likely that others have had the same idea before me, but I haven’t seen it in print yet. Here it is:

1. Divide the Svengali deck into two packets by separating the force cards from the regular cards. Put the regular cards on top of the force bank, all face up.

2. In performance, casually spread through the different cards face up. Then turn the deck face down, cut it at the break and riffle shuffle (or, even better, faro) the two halves together, but without squaring them.

3. Instead, spread them into a huge, even double fan and have a spectator take any card. Naturally, he’ll pick one from the outer bank. It will be one of the force cards.

4. Square the deck and have the selected card replaced anywhere. With the two halves now neatly mixed into each other, you are all set to move into your Svengali routine.*

*If you don’t have one yet, make sure to check out the work of master Svengali pitchman Mark Lewis and his oldie-but-golden booklet, The Long and the Short of it.

Have fun exploring this idea!

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