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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Part One: A Review of Richard Turners DVD ‘The Science of Shuffling and Stacking’. Long ... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Paul H
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Part One: A Review of Richard Turners DVD ‘The Science of Shuffling and Stacking’. LONG……

I realise this DVD has been reviewed before on the Café but I felt a more in depth analysis of Richard Turners work in this area was seriously needed. Let me be clear at the outset, this collection of false table cuts, shuffles and stacking methods is extensive and represents a great deal of thought and hard labour executed by an extraordinary talent. Richard Turners delivery is smooth, controlled and deceptive. More importantly for this project, it represents a powerful learning experience for those willing to spend the time researching the moves, some of which are Richards finest. Prior to each section, the moves are demonstrated live in front of an audience as part of a gambling or card control routine containing some stunning card work. As part of the learning process, Richard performs the shuffles with a mirror positioned in front of his chest. This allows the viewer to see the work from the front of the deck AND from behind exposing all those pesky breaks etc. Confusing? Disorientating? A little at first I guess but the device is a lifesaver once you have acclimatised to the novel approach. In the end, I found it indispensable. One further point, many of the false shuffles and cuts are somewhat intricate and show a measure of skill with cards. In my opinion this is right up the gambling themed magicians street. However, it may not suit the novice. Also this DVD is not geared up for real cheating purposes and this is made clear by Richard Turner in the introduction.

On to the guts of the ‘The Science of Shuffling and Stacking.’ I am going to follow the menu structure as far as possible and comment on a number of the moves and sequences of moves. First up:


Richard offers us no less than 15 different types of false cutting. Most of these cuts leave the deck in its original order. There is the ‘Up the River Cut’ which is an elaboration and extension of the Gamblers Triple Cut. The first variation ‘Alternating Up the River Cut’ is again based on the Gamblers Triple Cut but with the cuts alternating left then right. The second variation is the ‘Flying Up the River Cut‘ that includes an ‘off the table’ cut thrown into the mix which is fun to learn. Personally, I like the original for its simplicity and the sense of getting close to the look of a strip shuffle. It is also the simplest of the three cuts to pull off which is always helpful to the pressured performer.

The next small group of cuts is something I really like and I suspect Richard does too as this particular cutting procedure crops up in other parts of the DVD. It is called ‘Bottom Strip Cutting.’ Again this is easy to learn. It looks very deceptive and convincing when performed at a moderate speed. I first came across this in Daryl’s encyclopaedia DVD set where it is almost glossed over. Interestingly, Sal Piacente uses this method near the end of his DVD cheating expose in an elaborate sequence of cuts and shuffles but does not expose it. Also, Damian Neiman has an excellent but skilful version on his DVD set ’Fast Company’ and Allen Ackermann has the basics on his Card Control DVD series. However, what is great about Richards take on this method is once again the simplicity and economy of execution. The strips are moderate in pace, not overdone and practical for the average card man. He offers the original cutting sequence and then gives us a second variation that improves on the first. I very much enjoyed practicing these.

Next up are the Middle Strip Cuts. Now we are getting into it. The basic move is apparently taken from the legendary card expert ‘Rod the Hop’ with a small ‘Turner’ touch added for good measure. This is labelled ‘The Rod Strip Cut.’ Yes, the cuts are becoming more complicated and elaborate. The trouble is, they do look good which means I’ve ended up adding the Rod/Turner sequence to my grossly over burdened repertoire. The cutting sequence looks like the cards are being cut from packets beginning in the center. It includes a left handed cutting action along with cuts taken predominantly with the right hand.
The Turner twist on the original version is called the alternating middle strip cut. Here the cutting sequence starts from the right and then changes direction half way with cuts made from the left. This makes for a nice change in cutting style. There is yet a third method called Middle Strip Full Cut. I thought this false cut lacked a little elegance in comparison to the other middle strip cuts but it may be just me. However, the move introduces a very important device for achieving a brief that allows for one of the cleanest ways of cutting the deck after a stripping action. It’s a device used in other places on the DVD for enabling a similar clean cut. In fact it would enable the magician to let go of the cards and return to execute the final cut from an apparently perfectly squared deck.

The next cut is a Turner exclusive entitled Top Strip Full Restoration. It involves a three way cutting action alternating between left and right hands. It looks deceptive and is not as difficult to learn as it looks. Again this is another cut that offers a change in style from the aforementioned strip cuts. Now we come to the Scrape cut. I’ve never been a fan of the scrape cut. I didn’t much care for it on Steve Forte’s GPS video set and even though Richard Turners execution is fast and efficient, the cut itself still looked odd to me. You may feel differently however. The ‘Bottom Top Strip Cut’ marks a return to the earlier method of bottom stripping. Based closely on this method, the sequence resembles a short series of cuts rather than a stripping action and again it looks very good. As you may have noticed, there is such an abundance of moves on offer here, choice will probably end up determined by taste, style and type of effect as much as anything.

Sluff-Off!! No, not a rude rebuke but a method of getting rid of unwanted cards on top of the deck. Two methods are demonstrated. The first marks a change in deck management. No longer is the deck kept in full order. The primary aim is to preserve a top stock. Called the ‘Sluff-Off Strip Cut’ it is an effective way of lifting off unwanted cards under the guise of a short stripping action and a cut into riffle shuffle. This method looks very clean and is perfectly usable. At this point I had a brainwave and thought I could make things easier by introducing a bottom stripping action. Well guess what, the second method does exactly that. What is it called? ‘The Sluff-Off Bottom Strip!’ Doh!! Again the cutting action is smooth, deceptive and, as an added bonus it keeps the deck in its original order.

Finally, (I know it’s a long road AND we are only one quarter of the way into the DVD) the last two cutting sequences offer a bit of variation. In fact what is being taught here is a way of closing an RRSR sequence. The moves start from the SR ending of the sequence and the aim is to preserve the top stock. The ‘Top Stock Dealer Cut’ involves a simple stripping action followed by a Zarrow shuffle and the aforementioned method of setting a brief before the cut. Its an effective sequence to end RRSR with and I highly recommend it. The second variation seems to me to be a shortened version and it has its merits but I think I prefer the original. For those not familiar with the Zarrow Shuffle, this is taught along with special Turner touches on the Zarrow Shuffles section of the DVD.

STRIP OUTS (actually push-through strip outs)

This is a full deck shuffle control and the section title initially filled me with foreboding. Personally I have found the method I am familiar with, the Charlie Miller strip out version described in ECT both risky and needing a great deal of practice to pull off deceptively and with confidence. Therefore, I was greatly relieved to find that these strip outs were the push through variety and initially are much less demanding. Eleven methods are on offer including one handed strip outs. I kid you not, eleven methods!!! I don’t really want to go into too much detail on the first three shuffles as there is a wonderful Turner wrinkle that improves the deceptiveness of the strip out. Needless to say there are three variations each equally effective in its own right. The fourth involves the usual push through and strip out but adds some nice cutting actions to cloud and obscure the strip out action. I like it.

Then we come onto one of the most deceptive types of push through-strip out actions that I have come across. I first encountered the riffle bridging sequence in Richard Turners seminal DVD set ‘The Cheat’ although I believe this method uses a strip out or pull out (referred to later) and not a push through. The shuffle involves a riffle followed by a waterfall bridging action with the push through and cuts completing the shuffle in a way that puts all suspicion to sleep. What is more, this is taught with a specific touch that makes the bridging action doable. If you don’t know the special technical tip for controlling the bridge then you can’t learn the shuffle by simply watching Richard Turner perform it. You have to buy the DVD. I think this is simply one of the best things in the set which is already bursting with ideas and methods. What is more, four types of strip out bridging methods are described including ‘the side bridge’ ‘the open V bridge’ ‘the closed V bridge’ and ‘the face down bridge’. And just are we were all begging for mercy, an ‘In the Hands bridge strip out’ is also taught and demonstrated. This section ends on what I would describe as the impossible, ‘The Turner One Hand Strip Out’ and the ‘England One Hand Strip Out’. Guys, if you can master these shuffles then I take my hat off to you. For me, life is just too short.


This section really does detail the strip out technique but NOT the Charlie Miller type. Five methods are on offer here. The first three address closed and open versions of the basic method which is not difficult to learn. Again there are some great little touches that help the illusion although personally, I much prefer the push through riffle shuffles. However, these strip outs are perfectly serviceable and will make a good standby for varying the false riffle shuffle. Both a closed and open bridged shuffle are also taught. As with the push through they look great.


For those unfamiliar with the RRSR abbreviation, it stands for riffle, riffle, strip, riffle. It is essentially a casino style shuffling procedure that usually ends with a cut. However, the whole false shuffle sequence actually retains full deck order. You can’t trust anyone these days!! There are three types. The first uses two push through bridging action riffle shuffles mentioned previously, the RR part of the procedure followed by two box cuts, the strip, a bridge riffle and a clean cut to end. What can I say. It all looks very authentic to my eye. The second dispenses with the bridge and simply uses the push through for the RRSR ending with a clean cut. This looks really good as well, is easier to learn and as Richard mentions on the DVD, its great for magic demo’s. The third RRSR is my least favourite and uses the Zarrow shuffle. Although its ingenious I found this a more complicated RRSR combination that involves a demanding use of breaks to manage the deck. However, it does look very deceptive and I keep feeling tempted to learn it.


I am particularly pleased to be able to review this part of the DVD. Let me explain. I am huge fan of Darwin Ortiz and realise that the pinnacle of riffle stacking is the free drop method. I have longed to perform ‘Fast Shuffle’ from Darwin Ortiz At the Card Table and worked hard but to little avail. The most dazzling display of free drop stacking for Texas Hold’em I have ever witnessed was demonstrated by Mr Z on Youtube some while ago. Unforgettable stuff. However, for lesser mortals like myself, the dream of stacking to order in a continuous uninterrupted riffling motion while studying quantum mechanics and balancing plates on my little toe have proved too much. I have been aware of an alternative to free drop, the so called stacking from the break, but felt this was inferior. Besides I had no access to a good deceptive way of performing this ‘poor mans riffle stack’. Until now that is.

Again as usual with exhaustive/exhausting thoroughness eleven stacking methods are offered. There are a number of simple’ish free drop type methods and formula riffle stacks on offer for two, three and four target cards. There is a great 10 card Texas Hold’em riffle stack and another 10 card overhand stack. The method described here is also tipped and strongly recommended by Steve Forte in his Poker Protection book. Its strength lies in the brief short shuffle sequences that imitate the short staccato shuffles commonly seen at poker games. This is in stark contrast to some of the agonisingly long overhand formula shuffles. However, I am not keen on its application to a long 10 handed poker stack . To my mind, the overhand stacking staccato rhythm becomes too repetitious and acquires an exaggerated unnatural and ungainly appearance. As a method of overhand stacking cards for less players it is definitely well worth a look.

Now we come to a real highlight. Item 7 in this section has been a true revelation for me. Its title is ’Thumb Count Stacking’ and uses a natural yet straight forward method for preparing the cards for a riffle stack. This method literally allows the stacking of three to ten hands of poker for draw or Texas Hold’em. Mixing this technique with some of the previous stacking ideas I can confidently riffle stack for up to seven players and determine who gets the winning hand. There is still hard work ahead making the get ready faster and the breaks smaller etc. However, this has revitalised my enthusiasm for riffle stacking. As the saying goes, this section alone is worth the price of the whole DVD.

‘Game Shuffling’ is an adaptation of the thumb count stack combining different methods in the stacking process. There is an eight handed riffle stack that reverts to a simple free drop formula style of stacking, a table faro technique for a four handed game including a very clean cut after the shuffle and finally a section on synchronised stacking. This is where you and your partner each wave selected cards perfectly mirroring the others actions whilst smiling with a fixed cheesy grin. Seriously though, this idea for stacking borrows from the notion of the perfect riffle shuffle. The perfect riffle shuffle is where each packet is held separately for the riffle and the cards are released off the thumbs perfectly interlacing. There is no touching or butting of the packets and therefore no pressure involved as with the tabled faro. To date I have never seen anyone do this reliably. However, there is an after effect of riffle shuffling that allows some use of the method and Richard Turner employs this principle to stack three cards for a two handed game. At professional speed……good luck with this one. With that I must now conclude the first part of my review of Richard Turners ‘The Science of Shuffling and Stacking’. Part Two will follow shortly.


Paul H
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Profile of artwo
O no... now I have to buy it Smile It sounds too good.

Fan-bloody-tastic review there. Thank you very much.
Paul H
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Inner circle
UK South Coast
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Profile of Paul H
Your welcome Artwo. One of the possible criticisms of a rewiew of this kind is the charge of being over enthusiastic and not critically objective. The trouble is, Richards work is of a high standard and its blinking difficult to find fault with it.


Paul H
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Profile of immr1drfl
My friend who frquently comes with me to the magic castle thinks that Richard is the best close up magician he has seen. I think he is great too.
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Profile of Miraclemakers
Nice and complete review Paul......
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Profile of Kimura
Fantastic review, Paul. Looking forward to Part Two.

Am I reading Richard Turners website correctly? The Traditional Cut deal offers 8 DVDs and a dozen Bee decks for only $140? Sounds almost too good to be true!
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Part One: A Review of Richard Turners DVD ‘The Science of Shuffling and Stacking’. Long ... (0 Likes)
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