Weighing the Cards (Memorized Deck)

“Yo Doc, this is heavy…”

I’ve always found ‘weighing the cards’ to be among the most boring effects you can do with a deck of cards. 

When they’ve seen us make cards appear at freely chosen numbers, inside sealed envelopes, and after spelling THEIR names…do audiences REALLY care that we know how many cards are in a given packet?

I just never found it very impressive in its most basic form. 

Magician: “Cut the deck and place it in my hand.”

The spectator does as the magician asks.

Magician: “15 cards.”

Magician counts the cards to show it’s 15. 

…polite applause. 

If anything…it feels like more of a ‘puzzle’ than a miracle. 

That’s due in part to the way the cards are handled. Since most versions of this routine rely on a stacked deck, the cards can’t be shuffled by the audience. 

In fact, that’s probably one of the biggest things going ‘against’ this routine. 

My goal this week is to figure out two things:

  • How to perform ‘weighing the cards’ with a deck that the audience feels they shuffled
  • How to perform ‘weighing the cards’ with a deck that the audience really DID shuffle

(as you’ll see, I do this by going progressively ‘deeper’ each time, even when it feels we’ve reached the logical conclusion of where we can take this.)

Once we have those factors, we’re well on the way to making this routine something more powerful. Of course, the final piece of the puzzle is if YOU can make it compelling by the way you present it. 

That’s the one bit I can’t figure out for you, but with the methods I’m going to show you, you should be set for a pretty compelling presentation. 

This week, I’m going to attempt to get progressively ‘deeper’ into what I hope will be a more fooling version of this routine. 

You can read my first version below…

Back to Basics:

First, we need some common ground. 

How does this routine usually work?

As I mentioned, using a memorized deck makes this task VERY easy. 

Since each card can be thought of as its corresponding stack number, all we need to do is glimpse the bottom card of the cut-off portion and we’ll instantly know the card. 

For example, let’s say we’re in Mnemonica stack. 

Someone cuts the deck. We glimpse the bottom card and see the 3S. We know that 3S is 21, so they must have 21 cards in their packet. 

That’s really all there is to the basic method. 

But let’s go deeper…

How do we make it FEEL like they shuffled the deck?

Here’s the first idea I had:

Start in stack. Break the deck exactly in half (by feel, or just hold a break at KD) and hand one half to your spectator. 

Let them shuffle that half while you ‘do the same’.

In fact, you false shuffle. 

Then swap halves and tell them to ‘cut the deck’ while you do the same. 

Then swap back. It’s easy enough to undo their cut with a couple of estimation cuts and bring the stack back to starting order. 

Now you can reiterate that ‘you shuffled and cut the deck’ – which is somewhat true, but not the full picture. 

Now you’re going to make the whole thing feel even MORE shuffled by doing an in-faro shuffle. 

Use either the regular handling or my method as detailed in Module 4 of Skyscraper. 

Remember, the important part is that the in-faro will means that the initial top card is now the card second from the top, and the card on the bottom portion of the top half is now the bottom card. 

In fact, what this faro is going to do is place every card of your stack in a position DOUBLE the initial stack number. 

Don’t worry, that’s not as complicated as it sounds. 

It just means that the 4C (card 1) is now going to be second from top (aka card 2), the 2H (card 2) is now going to be the 4th card (card 4), all the way down to the KD (card 26) which will now be the 52nd card. 

Now, if you cut the deck, 50% of the time the card on the bottom of the bottom is one of your stack (26/52 = 50%). 

If this is the case, you just take that stack number and 2X it to know how many cards are in that packet. For example, if the card on the bottom was the 6D (6) we know there are 12 cards in the packet. 

What if the card on the bottom is not one from your stack?

In this case, all we need to do is glimpse the top card of the remainder of the deck, and subtract 1 from that result. 

(that’s because, if the bottom card of the cut-off packet isn’t one of your stack, the top card of the remainder MUST be since the deck alternates between stack/non stack.)

For example, if the top card of the remainder of the deck is the 5S, we take the stack number (16), 2X it (32) and subtract 1 (31.) That final number is the number of cards in the packet.

And that’s all there is to it!

Ok…one other thing. 

Remember to note how the spectator counts the cards. If they reverse the order as they count, you’ll need to reverse their reversal to bring your self back to initial order. 

(that’s a lot of reversals…makes me feel like a driving instructor).

To return to stack, just deal the cards into two piles – this will leave you with a half stack. 

So there we are: a simple way to make it FEEL like the cards were shuffled, but still retain the initial effect. 

NOTE: I realized after typing this out that Juan Tamariz also discusses this idea on page 199 of Mnemonica.

The Daily Magician.

P.S. If you haven’t learned Stack yet, go here: https://magicmastery.cc/tutorial/learn-the-mem-deck/

Want to go deeper? Our full Skyscraper course is OFF-SALE to the general public, but as a member, you can pick it up!

Here’s a link to the sales page: https://thedailymagician.com/skyscraper-ic