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Profile of philwalker_wba
I prefer to do card magic with natural decks, not gimmicked I mean. I can do most of the handling but find that my small hands make some handling almost impossible for me.

Is there any way to get over this or is my inexperience the problem?

It currently limits the routines I can do and as I am trying to master the basics before learning any new routines it's very frustrating.
If at First you dont succeed try a little magic.

Regards phil
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Profile of MrHonesty
I can only repeat what I have seen before but you may try bridge size decks. They are a bit smaller. The only problem with that is then working with borrowed decks when you are used to smaller cards. That shouldn't be a problem though if you never borrow cards Smile

Steven Steele
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Profile of Steven Steele
Max Malini was noted for his miracles in spite of his small hands. I don't have small hands; so I have no experience, but the people that do magic and are well respected, that have smaller hands, seem to agree that they have been able to overcome the perceived disadvantage.

When I was young I started with bridge sized cards since they are 0.25" narrower than the standard U.S. Playing Cards and my hands were smaller then. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, a card manipulator advised me to dump the bridge and work exclusively with standard cards. His rational was, that I could always work with the smaller cards if I was used to the larger ones, but I couldn't go in the opposite direction if handed a deck.

I adjusted and everything worked out fine.
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UK Newcastle
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Profile of knave
Hi Phil

I think it's just inexperience, we've all been there at some point and I can honestly say, that it will come with practice. My hands are on the small side and I truly believed this was an insurmountable obstacle and I would never become technically proficient with cards. Not true, it's a question of sticking at it. I still wouldn't compare myself to a lot of the card guys who post at the Café, but I still amaze myself at what I can do with a deck of cards!

I don't know at what stage you're at, so my next point is addressed to a complete beginner.

One of the things I did, was to learn technique and easy effects in tandem. For example, whilst working your way through
"The Royal Road To Card Magic" by Hugard and Braue also go through the "Self Working Card Magic" books by Karl Fulves. You can use the basic technique from the first (controlling cards, etc.) and apply it to effects from the latter. So, you can borrow a deck have it shuffled, cut it and shuffle it yourself etc. then go straight into, say, Gemini Twins, (a great effect from M.S.W.C.M.) This enables you to, not only work on your control in a live situation, but also to work on your presentation as the effect's technically easy and yet very strong. Learning good presentation is just as important as learning good technique.

Stick at it!

Tolga Ozuygur
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Istanbul / Turkey
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Profile of Tolga Ozuygur
In Turkey, the standard deck is the Bridge size. So if you have small hands and use the standard deck means here, use the Bridge size. But I do not think that you are limited by the size of your hands. I have seen many people showing miracles with considerably small hands. I can recommend Giobbi's Card College series. They are great.
Smile Smile Smile
Uli Weigel
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Berlin, Germany
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Profile of Uli Weigel
There are very few techniques in card magic where hand size may be an issue, but in 99.9% of them, hand size doesn't matter.

Admittedly, there are many things in card magic, that don't come easy or just seem impossible to do. I remember well my first attempts on the one handed top palm. After many hours without success, I was convinced, that my hand was simply too small for the move. But then, someday I got it.

Just keep practicing and have fun.

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America’s North Coast, Ohio
3176 Posts

Profile of BroDavid
I have seen some pretty amazing card and coin work from a guy who has the shortest stubbiest fingers you can imagine.

He palms, and cuts, and one hand shuffles with ease.

My hands are big enough to palm a basketball, and I can't do a lot of the moves he does.

According to him, it is just practice, and adapting the move to his abilities.

I say use the biggest standard sized cards you can find, and practice, practice, practice.

I certainly agree with Uli, hand size isn't that much of an issue. Practice time and determination really make the difference.

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Jim Morton
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Profile of Jim Morton
Small hands are more of a perceived problem than a real one. Some astounding practitioners of sleight of hand magic have very small hands. Jay Sankey, David Roth, and Bill Malone to name a few. I have small hands and when I started I thought I could never master many sleights because of my hand size. While it is true that there are a few moves that require larger hands, I have found that, with practice, there are very few things that I cannot do.

I do not recommend using bridge size cards unless you are either a child, or your hands are freakishly small (meaning that people stare at your hands in horror when they meet you). With smaller hands, bridge-size cards will naturally be easier to learn with, but they will also put you at a disadvantage. Practice with poker-size cards and you will be able to perform any sleight with either type of cards.

Jim Morton
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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Profile of Thoughtreader
Jim is correct about learning with the poker-sized cards. I have both small hands and rheumatoid arthritis which does hamper me at times and in performance, I now use bridge-size cards to ensure I have no problems when working with cards. However, I learn everything with poker-sized cards (always have for the specific reason Jim cites).

Learning card and coin sleights, especially the knuckle-busting ones can be a true lesson in dealing with frustration. However, sometimes our minds can be the biggest problems for us as opposed to the actual work. Many times we hear how difficult or elusive some moves are such as the second/bottom deal, the knock-out double lift, a real invisible pass, BUT they all can be mastered. If you are already willing to admit defeat before you even try them (in your mind, you know how difficult the move is, so, if you can't get it you are willing to walk away from it) then you will try, see how difficult it is, and leave it.

There is a reason that not everyone does these moves. Mostly because they do not have the discipline that it takes to both learn the move and then fine tune it to perfection. Sometimes these moves can take years of trial and error not to mention hundreds of hours of practice to get just right, and that IS what seperates the real card/coin flingers from the rest of the boys. (And believe me, it IS worth it when you are one of the minority that can do those miracles as opposed to anyone walking into a magic shop, plunking down a few bucks and they too can do exactly what you are doing).

Persevere and learn the moves. Practice for an hour at a time, with the TV going, a video going, while you are on a bus, waiting for someone, etc... keep something visual if you can, both to keep your mind from becoming bored with the constant repetition (but you will have to focus on your practice at times so don't be practiciing when your full attention is required) but also it aids in your learning how to multi-task when developing this particular skill too.

After you have practiced the difficult move for a long time, (after at least 20 hours of practice) many people develop a learning plateau. That means that you just can't seem to advance the move any further. It doesn't seem to matter what you change or how much more you work it, it just doesn't get any better from that point. What you need to do is forget about it. Throw it on the shelf for a month. Give yourself a break from this for a good while. What can happen is that you reach a certain point, perhaps pick up a bad habit or two along the way and this all can stagnate your learning process. After a months time or so, go back to it and you will be genuinley surprised at how easy you will both get back into the swing of it as well as how much quicker and further you will then develop.

Trust me on this. I learnt this way myself and lecture on this, teaching that these knuckle-busting moves really are not so elusive after all with the majority of people doing them by the time my workshop is done.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Canada's Leading Mentalist
AB StageCraft
John Clarkson
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Santa Barbara, CA
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Profile of John Clarkson
It's not the size of the hand that matters, it's how you use it.

Max Malini was mentioned in an earlier post. I read once that when he palmed a card, it stuck half-way out of his hand. When asked if such small hands caused a problem with his magic, his reply was, "The specatator should not be looking at your hand." I think that about says it. Don't worry.

John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)

"There is nothing more important to a magician than keeping secrets. Probably because so many of them are Gay."
—Peggy, from King of the Hill (Sleight of Hank)
Paul Menzel
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Boise, Idaho
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Profile of Paul Menzel
I'd have to disagree (partially and politely) with a couple of the guys here. I found that learning certain moves using a Bridge deck made it easier for me. After training my fingers to work in the way I needed, I was able to apply the techniques to Poker size decks with only minor position changes. One-hand cuts, in particular, worked for me this way. However, IF one can learn starting with the larger cards, that is preferable. Whatever it takes...
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Profile of DavidKenney
"It's not the size of the hand that matters, it's how you use it."

Preach on JD - Phil, I work on another site and I hear this all of the time, I myself feel I have "small hands" - but it's just something we all need to work past.

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Profile of philwalker_wba
Thanks guys, Guess I just got to keep practicing. I do have a pack of cards every where, in my living room, bedroom, toilet, brief case and in my office draw. I've lost count of the time they yell 'for god sake stop mucking around with those cards' as I practice every lunch time or when I am trying to think through a problem, sort of therapy.

Your advice is welcome and greatfully received.
If at First you dont succeed try a little magic.

Regards phil
Rod Lages
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Brasilia, Brazil
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Profile of Rod Lages
Can someone list names of great magicians that have small hands? I have small hands too and I find a little bit difficult to cover the pass sometimes.

Best Regards,
Rod Lages
"Confusion isn't Magic" - Dai Vernon
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Profile of ixnay66
Max Malini of course, David Roth and Jay Sankey are a few that come to mind. David Roth used to do hand work for Jack In The Box or Carl's Jr (or someplace like that) for TV commercials. His small hands made the hamburger look bigger.
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Southern California
499 Posts

Profile of BenSchwartz
I agree with Dave at the top. You just gotta practice. I have incredibly small hands but I do card manipulation on stage, sooo... It's just practice.
"The experience of astonishment is the experience of a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child's state of mind." ---- Paul Harris
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Collinsville, Mississippi
303 Posts

Profile of stevehw
On 2002-09-26 15:27, Rod Lages wrote:
Can someone list names of great magicians that have small hands? I have small hands too and I find a little bit difficult to cover the pass sometimes.

Best Regards,
Rod Lages

I remember hearing Ken Krenzel mention that Howie Swartzman has small hands but does a beautiful pass.

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Profile of Dynamike
It's not the size you are, it's how good you are. Smile
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Lehi, UT, USA
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Profile of what
I also have small hands. I like to practice some simple flourishes as I learn new card routines. I thought that I could never do a particular one-handed cut (the three way one handed cut from Mark Wilson's Complete Course of Magic). I found that I could do it inconsistently at best with a bridge sized deck of cards. I decided that my hands needed some "flexibility" work. Every night for a month, I practiced the cut with each hand using a deck of Poker sized cards. Now I can execute it with Poker or Bridge sized cards with two hands at the same time. The size of my hands wasn't the problem, it was the conditioning of my hands. I'm sure that this could apply to many card sleights.
Magic is fun!!!
Geoff Weber
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Profile of Geoff Weber
While hand size varies, I think that once you are least a teenager and older, however dainty your hands may be, they are big enough to handle normal cards. When I was at McBride's lecture, there was this boy --I think he was 15 years old-- he used bridge cards because he said his hands were too small. Jeff said, "Hold your hand up," then Jeff put his hand to the boy's hand to do a comparison and they were exactly the same size. Sometimes these perceived disadvantages are simply mental obstacles to be overcome.
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