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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Issues with cards clumping (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

cockyroach
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Hi, I'm still very new to magic. I've been working on card magic for about three months now, and I can't seem to make any headway on clumping. My in the hands riffle shuffle gets clumps of 2-3 cards consistently, even when I go slow. I'm still not comfortable even doing the table riffle card shuffle. It took me a week of 5+ hours a day of practice to get the in the hands riffle shuffle down (some days until my hands hurt). Since that first week, I haven't made any improvement on clumping. I also can't seem to do a consistent thumb fan, I get a ton of clumping either at he beginning or usually the end (less concerned as I know this takes months to get down). I feel like I have stalled on everything, though. It's getting to be demotivating.

I've tried going back to just practicing riffling with the cards in my hands, and it still seems to have no impact. Is this something that just takes a few months for your fingers to properly get, or can some people just never get the fine tuning necessary for some things? I've also have been trying some more natural double lifts, and while I understand they're not beginner moves, I have made no progress from the first time I attempted. I wonder if its just my sense of touch or motor skills may prevent me from being capable at this. I could not learn to drive a stick shift because I was unable to apply just a tiny bit of pressure to the gas like my uncle was demonstrating to me. I have it in my head that maybe this is similar.
Ado
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Almost no one gets a riffle shuffle with alternance of cards from left and right packet. There are ways to do it, but it's not the riffle shuffle you're doing. And you don't care. Blocks of two or three cards together is perfectly good enough for all practical purposes.

For the thumb fan, what you need is to try various ways to use your thumbs. Pull it, roll it, whatever it takes. you'll get there eventually (I know, I recently practised the fan with the other hand, and had the same problem. Now, I do hundreds offans every day; in the bus, in the elevator, in front of my computer... and the problem is gone).

The double lift is a very difficult move to do naturally. Anyone saying it is not, is either lying (to you and/or to himself) or ignorant. There are many ways to make it easier to perform (the so-called "get ready"'s), but it's also an art to get ready naturally. Just pick one or two double lifts, and practise them. I would *not* suggest the push off, nor the strike. Learn instead the pinky or thumb count, or spread two cards and get a break as you square back. Then, to show the card, well, either lift the card(s), show them, and place them back (WITH A REASON TO DO SO!), or learn a turn over, and practise, practise, practise.

I insist you work on it well now, or you may ruin some nice magic later because you haven't mastered the basics...

Good luck,

P!
cockyroach
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Thanks, I was not going for a perfect riffle shuffle, but I feel like mine looks too clumpy when done in front of a mirror. The clumps are extremely obvious to me, and it looks very poorly done. I do not experience the same issue with very worn decks (of which I have many, went through more cards in the last three months than the previous 32 years). I should try to take some pictures later to show if I can manage it.

I keep a deck on me at all times, and practice whenever I get a chance. I do a basic DL for when I practice my ambitious card, which is the only non-self working routine I am working on. I only mentioned the more natural DL to demonstrate how I feel I can't seem to make any progress. It's probably just mental, and since I don't have the opportunity to make the noticeable improvement I made with the in the hands riffle shuffle, I could just perceive I'm stalled.
RobertlewisIR
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Funny that you mention that you don't experience the same issue with worn decks. One thing I was going to suggest was that if you have decks that've been used a little too long, they tend to get sticky and the cards can sometimes clump together.

But do keep at it. You need to get out of your head right away that thought that your sense of touch or motor skills aren't up to the job. Everyone wonders that from time to time when learning some difficult move (and everyone finds different moves difficult). It can be done. It's just a matter of spending the weeks, months, years it takes to TRAIN your motor skills to adapt them to new demands.

There's really nothing you can't do. Remember a bit of magic history: Matthias Buchinger, the "little man of Nurmeberg," who was a noted expert at the cups and balls (and was also somewhat successful outside of magic, having fathered at least fourteen children and played half a dozen musical instruments) despite having been born with no arms and no legs and measuring only about twenty-eight inches in height. Practice and dedication will win the day.
~Bob



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Last night, I dreamed I ate the world's largest marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone.
cockyroach
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Hah, that's interesting it should be the opposite with worn decks. I know not to use those for my fans for that reason. I believe you are correct. I do have an internal monologue that's perpetually "I can't" or "that's for other people." I suppose I just need to work around it. I am not familiar with Matthias, but he sounds like quite the inspiration. Thanks.
RobertlewisIR
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It's a good thing to be critical of oneself to a point. That way you don't go on stage before you're ready. But the attitude to have is that it gets easier. I've been doing magic most of my life, and I've been a serious amateur, then semi-pro, then professional, for several years, and there are still moves I haven't got. But in my experience, it's a pretty common thing to make some good progress for a time, then stall for a while, and then eventually you make more progress and get it right. Stick to it.

And don't just practice, either. Practice mindfully. Just repeatedly trying without concentrating on it is just going to make habits of mistakes. Figure out what the mistakes are, and eradicate them in your practice. Practice slowly--so slowly that of course everyone could see what you're doing--until you get the moves right, then practice getting gradually faster (though also remember that magic isn't a race, and many beginning magicians think moves need to be done fast, when really they're better done at a slower but steadier pace).

Not many people are familiar with Matthias Buchinger. He was a performer (and by all accounts, quite the ladies' man, possessing only one true appendage) in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and was known to the royal courts of the time. These days, the only people who know his name are those of us who read relatively obscure books on the history of magic.
~Bob



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Last night, I dreamed I ate the world's largest marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone.
MRSharpe
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Since you are having better control with worn decks you may not be breaking a deck in enough. You may also be using to heavy a touch or trying to ben the cards too far before releasing them. If you can go to a casino try and watch an experienced dealer shuffle up a who full of decks and you'll see what I mean. You really only need to flex the cards slightly. Same thing on fanning. If you put too much pressure on the deck they will tend to clump together and not make a smooth fan. Learning to not apply too much pressure is something that just takes practice.
Custom Props Designer and Fabricator as well as Performer from Indiana, USA
Zephury
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I didn't read all of the replies as I'm in a rush, but here's my answer to you..

First off.. There's no single magician in the world who can do a PERFECT riffle shuffle, every single time. Clumps are MEANT to happen. If you could shuffle the cards that precisely, you wouldn't be exactly shuffling the cards. The chance of clumping and imperfection is what makes it a true shuffle. For something that is PRECISE you would want to do a Faro shuffle. There are some who can cut 26 and 26, and interweave them perfectly every time. I can do this 8 or 9 times out of 10. More so with a new deck.

Sometimes start off with the harder stuff is best, in my opinion. I've been doing magic for less than a year, and I'm already one of the top card guys in my area, sleight of hand wise. My presentation tends to lack, so make sure to focus on that as well.. That was one of my big mistakes at first.

If your cards are truly clumping in twos and threes, it wont be that noticeable to you.. I interweave 1 for 1 and 1 for 2 quite consistantly, and it really feels as if I'm doing a perfect riffle. It's not a bad thing to have clumping, just watch a movie and let that be one of the things you always practice. Just being able to do an in the hands riffle shuffle ALONE is impressive enough for most people. ANY time I'm watching a movie or a tv show, I'm practicing riffle shuffles, double lifts, springs, and other things that I think are a rare thing to ever get to (ACTUAL) "perfect" I think there can just about always be room for improvement.

If you know you'll be using that shuffle for the rest of your life, master it throughout your entire life time. If you love magic, card magic especially.. If you have the love for cards like I do, I think you'll be able to dedicate yourself.
Brad Burt
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I'll mention briefly that one thing that can affect how the cards 'handle' for you is whether you have moist or dry hands. If you have 'wet'hands the cards will tend to clump together because the are sticky, etc. This is a huge problem for fanning.

Assuming that that is not the problem and that you are not in an area where weather will add to the above affect...You need to try and always have a small bevel to the cards when you riffle. The bevel will allow a much smoother riffle as you are contacting the cards more in isolation from the ones above and below. If you look for this bevel how to attain it either in the hands or on the table will appear obvious.

Best,
Brad Burt
Zephury
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I forgot to mention how important it is to have a new FINISH on your cards. Flexibility, breaking in cards is definitely good.. It's good to practice with brand new cards because it builds up your strength but just in general, people commonly think that "new cards" are needed.. And they're not.. A new finish is. Moisture plays a BIG part just like the guy above me said. I spend about four hours breaking in each deck of cards that I use, which can become quite rediculous; Just remember, new cards aren't required, a new finish is. This is especially important with card fans.
davidpaul$
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When performing the shuffle, make sure your thumbs are at the EXTREME ends, corners of the cards as you provjde a firm cradle with the rest of your hands. ... Let the cards fall from your thumbs as you apply pressure... keep at it..it will come.
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
BCS
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For what it is worth... besides breaking in a deck; I also find that a warm deck (one that is to body temperature from being in a pocket) work best.

Good luck,
Bruce
challengedmichael
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I have struggled with in the hands shuffle and was just recently bragging to my buddies that I have gone from three clumps to six. Two things I found was that if I pulled my thumbs back slightly as the cards riffled it helped and also the more I pointed the cards away from me rather than keeping them parallel with the ground. Hang in there were all in this together.
Bogbadger
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Hi cockyroach, just wondered if you had an update to your post six months on? As someone who also has problems with some of the basic techniques and occasionally gets frustrated at my lack of progress it would be great to know what in particular (if anything) worked for you. Good old fashioned practice, practice and more practice seems to lead to my eureka moments, along with taking the time to read the standard recommended texts properly rather than skimming to what I think I want to learn. The occasional decent online video will also give me a break through when I realise that I've misread one small thing that makes all the difference. Would be good to hear from you.
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