It’s a Kind of Magic…

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in magic tricks and sleight of hand, mostly thanks to my Grandfather. Pop would often amuse me with simple magic tricks, like making coins disappear and then pulling them out of my ear. I never really bothered learning much, myself though. So, when I saw a magic shop while walking through a mall in Canada, I was intrigued, and checked it out.

I browsed a bewildering array of magic tricks, and found myself looking at instructions for various card tricks. I found one called the “Lie Detector”, and decided to fork out the $5 or so it costed. When I went to pay, the shop keeper asked if I wanted a demonstration, so I said yes. Well, my mind was blown, this was such a cool trick!

It turns out this mind blowing trick works through a neat little thing called the “Si Stebbins Stack”.  This is a way of arranging the cards in a standard deck of cards such that each card is 3 higher than the one above it in the deck. The suit also changes in a predictable order: from Clubs, to Hearts, to Spades, to Diamonds and back to Clubs again. This order is known as “CHaSeD”, as an easy way to remember the order. There’s a bunch of card tricks that use the Si Stebbins stack, so it’s handy to know how to set it up.

Setting up the Si Stebbins Stack:

If you’re using a brand new deck of cards, congratulations, you can ignore step 1, and go straight to step 2, otherwise, read on.

  1. Group the cards by suit.
  2. Put each suit in order from ace to king (The king should be showing when the packet is face up).
  3. Put the packets in this order: Clubs, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds.
  4. Take the ace from the bottom of the clubs packet, and put it on top.
  5. Take the ace, 2, 3 and 4 from the bottom of the hearts packet and put them on top.
  6. Take the ace through 7 from the bottom of the spades, and put them on top.
  7. Take the jack, king and queen from the top of the diamonds packet and put them on the bottom.
  8. Now, take the top card of each packet in turn (following CHaSeD order), until you have a complete deck.

Congratulations, you have successfully set up a Si Stebbins Stack. For a simple trick, you can easily predict the top card of the deck just by sneaking a glimpse of the bottom card. Add three to the value, and work out the next suit and you know the top card.  So, if the bottom card is the 4 of hearts, the top card is the 7 of spades. Bottom card is the jack of diamonds? Top card is the ace of clubs. Now, go forth and amaze people with your amazing prediction skills!

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