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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workers » » Overhand Shuffle - Need some help troubleshooting (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

KConklin
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Upstate NY
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Hi all,

I've been working on perfecting the overhand shuffle for about a year now. I'm guessing that over maybe 3 or 4 months of that time I have averaged 2-3 hours per day on it, but few days have gone by where I haven't spent at least 15 or 20 minutes on it. My main sources for technique have been Roberto Giobbi's CC1 (and CC videos), RRTCM, & R. Paul Wilson's RRTCM videos.

I would say that for the most part, and on particularly good days, I have mastered it. I can get to the speed that I want, maintain a fairly casual demeanor, & my shuffle controls are on par with my basic shuffle. I also have no problem running single cards.

The problem is, some days I am launching cards all over the place. And even on good days this occasionally happens. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough to impact my confidence when performing.

I've tried to analyze what's happening as much as I can. It always seems to happen when I am raising my right hand (I shuffle right-handed) while pulling a packet down with my left thumb. When it happens, a single card will flip over my left hand and fly forward and to my left. I think what is happening is that the card on top of the pack in my right hand protrudes maybe a quarter inch to the left of the rest, and my left thumb catches it in such a way as to pivot it beneath the rest of the pack, which causes it to flip and go flying.

I can generally avoid this when shuffling very slowly, but though it has definitely improved over the months, I can't seem to figure out how to fix it once and for all. It seems to happen the least when I keep my right wrist rigid, which helps me to maintain a more consistent angle when bringing down the cards, but this feels very tight and I think it looks too forced when I do this. But the more relaxed my right wrist is, the more this seems to happen.

I would very much appreciate any thoughts on how to fix this. If there is anyone willing to take a look if I post a video, or even over a quick skype or zoom, I would truly be grateful!
Tortuga
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First, I am more than willing to look at a video if you want to post it here or PM me. Keep in mind everyone has occasion to "miss" on an overhand shuffle. I have seen several pros accidentally flip a card or drop one. Funny thing is it actually helps to sell the fact you are actually shuffling. Think about it. There is one pro who shuffles in such a calculated, systematic method that it just doesn't look real. Won't name him as that isn't the point.

Attitude is so important. You are mixing the cards, nothing more, nothing less. So make sure it appears that way. Too fast brings on suspicion as much as too slow or studied.

It sounds like you pull the cards. Keep in mind that is only one way to do the shuffle. Another way is to "toss" packets from the top of the right hand portion. I say toss and maybe it is more of a controlled release. The point is the thumb of the LH doesn't have a job to do.

That's why I always say there are "peelers" and "tossers". If you are British, you don't want to be a tosser! But I think you get my point.

I don't know how you hold the LH, the receiving hand, but I tend to use a straddle grip of sorts, the left pinky bent almost all the way to prevent cards from wandering off on the end. The forefinger runs along the opposide keeping things in check there.
It's never crowded on the extra mile....
KConklin
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Thanks for the reply Tortuga. I agree with your point about the occasional miss, and not wanting to look too perfect. My issue is that depending on the day it could be zero or a few misses, or nearly continuous misses. Kind of like when I used to play a lot of golf. I used to have days where it seemed like my muscle memory had amnesia, lol. I would just like to become consistent enough to build my confidence, even if I still miss occasionally.

You are correct that I pull the cards. The funny thing is, many years ago I was a tosser (not in the British sense Smile) but I always struggled more than I think I should have with it, and when I decided to revisit card magic last year and become more serious about it I switched to being a peeler because it feels more controlled and better suited for card controls and false shuffles. Maybe I'm experiencing conflicting muscle memory when this happens?

Anyway, I will take a video and PM it to you. I really appreciate your help.
KConklin
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Also should mention here that my LH receiving technique is pretty much exactly as you described yours to be.
Nikodemus
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I grew up playing various card games (unlike some magicians who seem to have zero experience of playing cards prior to learning magic). I was a "tosser" which is a technique that is ok for a genuine overhand shuffle - but IMO does not lend itself to false shuffles. Therefore I switched to pulling the cards off. This is much more controllable, and how the OH (genuine) shuffle is always described in magic books I have read.

Anyway...
Based on your description, I have tried to replicate the problem. This is my attempt at a diagnosis -
As you pull each packet off the RH block with your L thumb, that block is going to gently slide down the top of the RH block. Then they clear each other, and the new packet drops onto those already in your L hand. Then you repeat the process.
BUT as the packet slides off each time, there is a natural tendency for the cards to kind of drag each other where they are in contact. If you are subconsciously pressing the packets together as they slide apart, then you will create this "flipping" effect as they clear each other.
So, in a nutshell, it sounds like you are applying pressure when you don't need to be, by trying to bring the RH packet forward for another pull before you have properly finished the current one.
The reason you can do it slowly is probably because you also subconsciously do it more gently (and allow enough time for the packets to clear each other).
Try doing it slowly and pressing with your thumb to deliberately reproduce the flip, rather than avoiding it. Doing it deliberately wrong should reveal exactly where the problem lies.

You also seem to want to do it fast, which is another source of problems. Learn to do it smoothly first, then speed will come naturally with fluency.
Nikodemus
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Another thought -
To pull off packets of cards, your left thumb should gently touch the top edge of the cards. NOT the back of the top card. That is how you "run" single cards. If you try to pull off several cards by pressing against the back of the top card, inevitably you will need to press too hard. I have no idea if you are doing this, but without seeing you shuffle, it seems like a possible source of pressure.
landmark
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All good ideas. For me, if there's something that I am nailing more than half the time and I've practiced it a lot, but I still have some misses, then I start wondering if it has to do with the condition of my hands. Too dry or too oily can mess things up a lot. You might want to play around with O'Keeffe's or some of the other products out there and see if it makes a difference for you.
KConklin
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Thanks Nikodemus and landmark. Great insights.

I think you may have nailed it Nik, I am going to try focusing harder on this. I am pulling off packets from the top edge of the cards as I should; however, I am probably applying too much thumb pressure during the entire action, i.e. as the packet is falling into my left hand I think I'm still applying thumb pressure. So what I now think could be happening is that when the top card in the RH packet has been dragged (essentially jogged, but not intentionally) to the left of the rest of the pack, as the top of the pulled packet gets to the bottom of the RH packet my thumb pressure sometimes causes the flip. I'm going to try to consciously release the pressure once I've started the action and let the packet fall on its own, and see how that works out.

As for what you've mentioned landmark, I think hand dryness could sometimes also be causing me issues. When I first started I could barely do anything without using O'Keefe's. I've found that as I've practiced a lot and become more proficient at things this seems to be less of an issue, so I try not to use anything as it tends to shorten the life of my cards, but there are times when I think that moisturizing would definitely help. But I've experimented a little with moisturizing before practicing the shuffle and I don't think it has too much of an impact here.
Nikodemus
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The word "pull" may have connotations of using force. The overhand shuffle is in fact a very gentle action, It doesn't require "pressure", except in the most minimal sense. Think of it instead as just sliding clumps of cards off the front of the deck. Another tip - the pulling/sliding hand [left] should be more or less stationary. It is the other [right] hand that moves up and down. The cards do not "fall" off the front of the deck - they are retained (gently!) by the left thumb, as the right hand lifts the remainder of the block away.

There are lots of tutorials online. Eg this one -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0J_487VquE
Tortuga
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Attitude is so important to effective magic. And the attitude I think you need to adopt is one of casualness. Any time you seem to be thinking about the shuffle or counting, then to me the illusion is lost. I am speaking of course about false overhand shuffles, but whether it is a real or blind shuffle, you need to be comfortable enough to make it look casual.

I pointed out to KConklin that some top performers occasionally mess up during their overhand shuffles, dropping cards, etc. So do many laypeople, it happens. And it actually reinforces that you really are mixing the cards. I won't go as far as to say you SHOULD make errors, far from it. But if they happen, so what? Just make sure you don't lose control over the important cards.

I attended a Midwest Magic Jubilee where Simon Lovell performed. He chose me to be the volunteer for his version of 'Card in Mouth'. He controlled my card with a simple jog shuffle and cards were going all over, a couple hit the floor. He had everyone laughing and truly, it seemed to most everyone that there was no way he could know where my card was. But as sloppy as it seemed, he knew exactly what he was doing. His attitude allows for that sloppiness and he takes advantage of it.
It's never crowded on the extra mile....
KConklin
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Thanks again everyone for your input! As I've been working on this over the weekend, all of your advice has been great. Tortuga's advice has caused me to reevaluate my shuffling situation and I think I've been focused on the wrong thing. If I really look back at the flying card problem, although I do have some bad days where it just seems like I lose sync between hands, it probably isn't actually that big of an issue compared to the overall amount of time I spend shuffling without losing cards. I think tension and attitude are probably what I really need to be focusing on, so I've slowed down a bit and I'm focusing on being relaxed and casual.

As I expected, I did start losing more cards at first. But again, based on everything said here plus some in depth observations, I realized that by bringing the right-hand pack just a bit deeper into the left hand and letting the leading edge of the cards touch my left palm *before* using the left thumb to peel off a packet, plus consciously lightening up on all pressure and tension, I am losing fewer and fewer cards. I think if I practice a bit with my current adjustments I'll be in a good place with it. I think I was beginning to peel from the right hand just a little too early before.
landmark
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Quote:
I attended a Midwest Magic Jubilee where Simon Lovell performed. He chose me to be the volunteer for his version of 'Card in Mouth'. He controlled my card with a simple jog shuffle and cards were going all over, a couple hit the floor.


IIRC, in that routine and some others, those cards drop *every* time...
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