There are many ways to locate and identify a chosen card without a gimmick or gaff. A marked deck for those routines would be overkill at best. At worst, a marked deck can get in the way.
However, for an out-of-the-hands “fairest of them all” routine, a marked deck is quite efficient. Especially if you need to know the value of ten face down cards from a shuffled deck. I recently watched a world-famous magician use a marked deck on a national talk show, and I was surprised—even knowing the secret—how clean the magic was.
A marked deck is not a crutch for beginners; it is a tool for professionals.
Some marked decks use complicated coding systems in an attempt to hide the marks by incorporating them into the back design—an unnecessary hindrance in the course of a magic demonstration.
In contrast, The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. The marks are covert, but easy to read from a distance. There is no code to memorize or cryptic marks to decipher. Read the backs as easily as the faces. It is an ideal deck for gambling exposés and poker deals.
Gambling demonstrations are timeless and captivating. Tailored to any audience. Using a marked deck, you can start with a specific routine and end it there, or flow into a whole separate act impromptu—each hand different. Since you know the value and suit of the cards before the audience does, you are able to generate patter to fit each outcome.
A marked deck in the right hands is a closeup Commando Act all on its own. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
The “Me or You” Poker Deal
Have a member of the audience join you at the card table. Ask them to shuffle the cards, cut the deck, and hand you the cards. Spread through the deck and have the spectator point to a card. Outjog it and ask, “Me or you?” They can choose the card for themselves, or they can give the card to you. Lay the card on the table in front of the person of their choice.
Repeat this ten times, until you each have five cards—a hand of poker—reading the backs of the cards as you go.
In this routine, winning is not the name of the game. But if you see that you have won, then play up the fact that even though your opponent had a huge advantage, as an expert at the card table, you were able to play the hand you were dealt with stunning results, or if your hand isn’t wonderful, a minor victory as a display of your prudence.
Then again, if you have lost, while the cards are still face down, ask the spectator if they would like to trade cards to better their hand.
Should they wish to keep their cards as is, or once the trading is done and your hand is still the loser, ask the spectator to look at their cards without any change in facial expression. Based on minute tells, inform the audience you think your opponent has a good hand. Turn your bad luck into a “poker face” demonstration.
With a marked deck, you always know when to fold ‘em!
Secret Deals, Quad Cuts, and Discards
The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. Since there isn’t a code to decipher, you know the value of the cards quickly in the course of a deal or spread.
After the spectator shuffles the deck, spy the bottom card. Begin your deal, five cards to each person, and if you see a card you want on the spectator’s turn, deal a second or a bottom so that you get the desired card (remember, even a two is a good card if you already have one). An easy-to-read deck means you can make fast decisions.
TIP: Nervous about special deals? As you deal the spectator’s last card, say, “Go ahead and look at your cards,” then special deal to your pile while the audience is preoccupied. And if you are spotted in a secret deal, make it part of the show.
Another technique. After the shuffle, cut the cards into four separate packs—the illusion of a more complete cut—and then gather the piles in an order suitable to stack the first card. To spy the second card of that pack, fumble and let the top card slide to the side enough to see the mark.
Once a hand is over, gather the discards in order to setup the next round.
Black Jack is a Breeze
Twenty-One is a fun way to involve more than one audience member without confusing the group. The rules of Black Jack are simple and can be explained in a few minutes.
Gather up the cards from a previous demonstration or spread through the deck. Cull four cards of “ten value” to the top and an ace to the bottom (this example is easiest, but the best setup is an Ace third down from the top and a ten-value on the bottom).
False shuffle and deal to three spectators and to yourself. Deal the second round off the top to your opponents and a bottom to your hand. This is a good way to open with a win or a tie, so that you can continue with a demonstration of betting strategy if you do not get good cards on fair deals.
The ideas above are a Pandora’s Box. Once you perform a brief demo, you will see immediately how to segue into another routine invented on the fly. Excellent in social settings, a bar environment, or part of your regular show.
Familiarize yourself with gambling terms and concepts, so that you can talk about the subject in a believable way—educate and entertain. With a marked deck, you can demonstrate skills you do not genuinely have while enhancing the skills you do possess.