Slydini's "Ridiculous Red/Black" by Bill Wisch
Original Publication Date: June 1998
I call this "ridiculous" because it literally mystifies EVERYONE that sees it. That's ridiculous! It doesn't matter how advanced...how knowledgeable...how ANYTHING! It is probably the ONE effect I can bank on to literally FRY a crowd of magicians (or laypeople) every single time...I know because out of the last ten years of lectures (about 100) I've performed this (after the lecture because I never exposed it) and EVERYONE "freaks out"! And...it's ridiculously easy to do!
You openly separate the red and black cards. You turn the cards face down and table shuffle the red cards into the black cards.
You square up the deck, turn it face up and spread it out. The red cards are together and the blacks are together. None of the cards have been mixed!!! And...you can repeat it any number of times!
None before the effect begins. I usually just go through a deck and openly cull the reds and blacks, separating them into two face up stacks. Then I assemble the deck and do a table spread, face up, to show the fact that all the reds are separate from the blacks. There's no rush and you're not doing anything sneaky so take your time.
I'll mention some patter ideas later but right now just follow the handling.
Assemble the deck and turn it over, face down, on the table. The reds or blacks are on top...it doesn't matter which. But all the reds are together and all the blacks are together.
The hands carefully square up the deck and the right hand appears to cut the top half of the deck to the right and table it.
What actually happens is that the right hand cuts the "center half" to the right. Let me explain...if you consider the top quarter of the deck added to the bottom quarter of the deck as a half deck, then the "center half" would be all the cards below the top quarter and above the bottom quarter...in other words, cards #14 down to and including card #39 of the deck.
The left thumb holds back the top and bottom quarters while the center half goes to the right...that's it! (Note: if a few cards of either color stay with the other half there's absolutely no harm done. It will get straightened out automatically when you shuffle the halves together).
Now when you shuffle the two halves together you're actually shuffling the reds into the reds and the blacks into the blacks. YOU ACTUALLY DO SHUFFLE THE CARDS but you just keep them in the same color sequence!
There are several subtleties added to complete the illusion. First of all, when you shuffle the two halves together you must "eyeball" the colors as they're being shuffled. This is easy if you peer into the shuffle as if to make sure they're being shuffled evenly (this was Slydini's strategy). Just make sure that you stop letting cards go from the thumb when the color changes of that half, to allow for the rest of the similar color cards to drop from the other half until the color changes also.
Now carefully and slowly square up the cards into a deck. Turn the cards over and ribbon spread. The cards are separated red and black instead of being hopelessly mixed!
There have been a number of red/black shuffles using the same center-half method down through the years, but none I've seen compare with Slydini's handling using his slow, methodical presentation. If the cards are shuffled in the hands it doesn't seem to be as powerful and there is a certain amount of "extra motion" to get the center half over to the opposite hand.
There are three major things that make this the true miracle it is.
1. All the dirty work takes place during the initial cut at which time no attention is usually placed on the deck. If someone is "burning" your hands at the time you're ready to strip-cut the center half, just look up and ask them a question, like, "Do you play cards?" or, "Have you been watching me closely?". Just at the instant the spectator looks at your eyes you strip out the cards and it's done. The rest is showbiz.
2. The spectators are looking intently for any kind of move or action while you're shuffling or squaring the halves together...nothing happens.
When the cards are ribbon-spread face up at the end, no one notices that the cards REALLY ARE SHUFFLED despite being separated color-wise and they assume if the colors are separate the cards must be in the same order. No one has EVER called me on this. Is that cool!
A nice strategy Slydini used while doing this was to pretend he was going to do a "push-through, strip-out" move which most educated magicians or gamblers know can be done. Just at the moment he would normally cover the deck and do the "strip-out" move, he just simply and openly pushed the cards together without any cover at all with a defiant and sheepish look on his face! Talk about leaving them with their mouths hanging open!
When you turn over the deck and show the colors separate?! You have to see the reaction to believe it.
I have had a number of TOP magicians tell me after I've done this that they never saw a better false shuffle in their lives. Needless to say I never argued with them (or showed them how it was done no matter how much they begged...and, believe me, they DID beg). Is that fun!
I usually patter about having one thing I do that fools all the dealers in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. You don't have to say very much, in fact, a little goes a long way in this effect. After they witness what you've done several times, they tend to agree that you are unbelievable when it comes to handling a deck of cards.
Another way I use this shuffle is before Out Of This World, by Paul Curry. Think about it. I separate the colors. Openly shuffle the two halves together and then begin the effect. They SEE the cards shuffled!
Naturally, I don't expose the fact that the colors stay separate, and I certainly can't perform the regular red/black miracle with the same audience, but it's mega powerful doing it as a shuffle for OOTW. What a scam! Where else can you get such credit for something you can't do. That's one of the major benefits of performing magic. The audience tends to credit you with all sorts of skill you really couldn't ever do. Fun, fun, fun!