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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello,

I've made some progress practicing the Elmsley Count for "Twisting the Aces", but OCCASIONALLY when I attempt to push off the first card, it sticks to the second card.

I can't figure out how to prevent this situation, so I can perform this technique 100 out of 100 times instead of 95 out of a hundred times.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Thanks!

-Buffalo
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luigimar

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Buffalo, 

Are your hands clean? Are the cards clean? Sometimes what you describe happens when the cards are dirty, they get stuck together. When your hands are dirty, that dirt rubs off and goes to the cards when you handle them. Sometimes what I do before doing the count, I slightly move the top card to check it is not sticking to the second card. If it is not, then I square the cards and go ahead with the count. 

I hold the 4 cards with a firm grip. Then I use the thumb of the other hand to peel off the first card while holding the other three. With that firm grip, those 3 cards tend not to move, just the top one moves. Then I continue with the rest of the count... 

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Senor Fabuloso

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It might work to powder, your cards?

Don't bother buying fanning powder, talcum powder works fine enough.

Hope that helps?

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #4 
Luigimar offers some excellent advice. Sticky fingers, cards, or both are often problematic for card magicians. Finger position and pressure are also important considerations. Do you own Volume 2 of Card College? If so, carefully read through Giobbi's explanation with cards in hand. I think you will find the experience helpful. He also goes over check points and potential problems.

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Tom G

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Reply with quote  #5 
Cards could be sticky and time for a new deck.  I've tried a few different things and this deck is a little sticky, no issue with the Elmsley.  Maybe try lighter pressure.  Like Vernon said (somewhat) cards weigh very little, don't handle them like they're heavy.
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DJ

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Reply with quote  #6 
Aside from the get ready that luigimar mentions, don't forget to use your index finger as a stop too, allowing only one card off.
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krolik

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Reply with quote  #7 
Perhaps you're already doing this, but make sure you're swiping the cards diagonally (around 45°) as opposed to something approximating a right angle. That way you're using more surface area and it's easier to pull away from the card beneath and avoid trouble.

It also looks more natural. On occasion I've seen people do the count and they adopt a sideways grip that a person wouldn't use in other situations. It calls attention to itself in an unwelcome way.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #8 
I believe the grip that Buffalo is using is the "dealing grip" and not the "at the fingertips count".  When beginning in dealers grip, mechanics grip or other, it should be fairly easy to ensure that only one card comes off at first.  Use your left first fingertip as a "gauge" or "stop" and slide it towards yourself as your left thumb peels the top card away from yourself.  With just a bit of practice you can achieve the 100 percent you are aiming for.
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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #9 
You don't pull off the first card, you squeeze it off by pulling with your thumb and pushing with your index finger under the packet.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #10 
Bob, I think we're saying the same thing.  If you wish to call it a squeeze, I can go along with that.  The point is, at least the way I learned it, is the left thumb and the left forefinger move in opposite directions and it is that action that makes sticking cards a non-issue.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #11 
This discussion reminds as to why it is always best to have a mentor to go to that knows the moves.  Everyone is going to describe the same action in a different way and then everyone is going to interpret in their own way and finally they will execute it in their own unique way.

Amazing that anything gets accomplished!
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
This discussion reminds as to why it is always best to have a mentor to go to that knows the moves.  Everyone is going to describe the same action in a different way and then everyone is going to interpret in their own way and finally they will execute it in their own unique way.

Amazing that anything gets accomplished!


A good point, but reality requires that many of us learn moves and methods on our own. The internet has, at least, made it possible to find some good resources to help... but you gotta know where to look!

Buffalo, one other thing occurred to me after reading Ray's post. Mike Powers has a password protected area on his site where he breaks down many of the basic moves. If you write to him, and ask nicely, he may just let you pop inside! 

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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson


A good point, but reality requires that many of us learn moves and methods on our own. The internet has, at least, made it possible to find some good resources to help... but you gotta know where to look!

Av


On the button. I've never had a mentor. I spent the first 100 years of my "Magic Life" in isolation. Well, almost. I was able borrow books from the library and even managed to save enough coppers to buy a few. Whether a mentor would have helped I can't say, who's to know and it's too late now.


Buffalo says he's having trouble pushing off the first card. I have always peeled the top card, then pushed off a double. As others have noted.
I suppose there is always a bit of squeezing involved in peeling, but I've never thought about it until now.

Second sentence contains a slight amount of exaggeration for effect, in case anyone hadn't noticed.


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chris w

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee


Second sentence contains a slight amount of exaggeration for effect, in case anyone hadn't noticed.



Thank you for the clarification. I thought you were at least 107.
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
I believe the grip that Buffalo is using is the "dealing grip" and not the "at the fingertips count".  When beginning in dealers grip, mechanics grip or other, it should be fairly easy to ensure that only one card comes off at first.  Use your left first fingertip as a "gauge" or "stop" and slide it towards yourself as your left thumb peels the top card away from yourself.  With just a bit of practice you can achieve the 100 percent you are aiming for.
I first learned EC on Richard Kaufman's 'Basic Card Technique' DVD - oh, maybe ten years ago, and I only experimented with fingertips for the receiving hand a few years ago. Ray, do you use the DG for any particular effects that require the EC? I only have a handful of effects using it and I now find the fingertips easier - it just feels a little more natural for me. I may be giving into laziness and not stretching myself enough to cover other effects. Is it worth developing both approaches? So far my audiences are kind but not critical (critical in the good sense). Mentoring magicians are few and far between where I'm living. That's another reason I'm really appreciating this forum.
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JohnnyNewYork

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hello Buffalo - as usual, there is some great advice given already (Luigimar's "get ready" and AV's reference to the individual "knackiness" of many sleights are spot on), but for such an important move, sometimes you can use a "personalized" fix to make the move do-able for you (as I've learned from reading many of Harry Lorayne's books!).  You've probably already tried everything under the Sun, but assuming the right context, perhaps it will help to start with the the packet face-down (concealed card 2nd from the top), held in a relaxed LH Mechanic's Grip.  Use the RH to assist turning the packet face-up (with RH fingers starting on top of the face-down packet and thumb underneath a la Nash's "Knock-off" double technique).  As the packet is turned over it becomes easy and natural to incorporate Luigimar's suggestion and get a head-start pushing the face-card of the packet diagonally toward the upper-left corner slightly (again, using the LH thumb with the HELP of the RH thumb and fingers).  Pause while holding the face-up packet in this position in the LH while gesturing naturally with the RH as you patter, and then return the RH to the packet and begin the Elmsley, making sure the RH stays stationary and the LH pulls cards diagonally toward the upper-left, always keeping both hands fairly close together and in frame.  By the way, the LH index finger, resting on the outer end of the packet, also helps to make sure ONLY a single card is moved during the initial action of the Elmsley.  This is obviously a very important sleight in card magic - unfortunately it offers a fairly easy "tell" to other card guys, but the "tell" can be minimized by simply finding moments to "LEGITIMATELY" execute a count using the IDENTICAL Elmsley moves (conditioning your audience and eliminating some of the "heat" when performing the real Elmsley).

Anyway, good luck to you and I hope my post makes sense and helps a little - johnny
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cowne
I first learned EC on Richard Kaufman's 'Basic Card Technique' DVD - oh, maybe ten years ago, and I only experimented with fingertips for the receiving hand a few years ago. Ray, do you use the DG for any particular effects that require the EC? I only have a handful of effects using it and I now find the fingertips easier - it just feels a little more natural for me. I may be giving into laziness and not stretching myself enough to cover other effects. Is it worth developing both approaches? So far my audiences are kind but not critical (critical in the good sense). Mentoring magicians are few and far between where I'm living. That's another reason I'm really appreciating this forum.


John, I only do the Elmsley from DG.  I learned it in the so-called fingertip grip but one day I I purchsed The Book of John by John Mendoza and he taught the method from DG.

The fingertip grip is fine, but it always looked "contrived" to me.  I would never count that way normally.  If I pick up a stack of business cards for example and count them, I just naturally do it like the Elmsley from DG.  It just feels "right" to me.  YMMV.

One thing I will say is that some folks have a hard time keeping the cards in proper alignment when doing the count at the fingertips.  To me it just doesn't look good when that happens.  I think the DG helps with this.  Again, YMMV.

But in any event, I will say again, rhythm is the key!  There must be no break in the tempo.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyNewYork
Hello Buffalo - as usual, there is some great advice given already (Luigimar's "get ready" and AV's reference to the individual "knackiness" of many sleights are spot on), but for such an important move, sometimes you can use a "personalized" fix to make the move do-able for you (as I've learned from reading many of Harry Lorayne's books!).  You've probably already tried everything under the Sun, but assuming the right context, perhaps it will help to start with the the packet face-down (concealed card 2nd from the top), held in a relaxed LH Mechanic's Grip.  Use the RH to assist turning the packet face-up (with RH fingers starting on top of the face-down packet and thumb underneath a la Nash's "Knock-off" double technique).  As the packet is turned over it becomes easy and natural to incorporate Luigimar's suggestion and get a head-start pushing the face-card of the packet diagonally toward the upper-left corner slightly (again, using the LH thumb with the HELP of the RH thumb and fingers).  Pause while holding the face-up packet in this position in the LH while gesturing naturally with the RH as you patter, and then return the RH to the packet and begin the Elmsley, making sure the RH stays stationary and the LH pulls cards diagonally toward the upper-left, always keeping both hands fairly close together and in frame.  By the way, the LH index finger, resting on the outer end of the packet, also helps to make sure ONLY a single card is moved during the initial action of the Elmsley.  This is obviously a very important sleight in card magic - unfortunately it offers a fairly easy "tell" to other card guys, but the "tell" can be minimized by simply finding moments to "LEGITIMATELY" execute a count using the IDENTICAL Elmsley moves (conditioning your audience and eliminating some of the "heat" when performing the real Elmsley).

Anyway, good luck to you and I hope my post makes sense and helps a little - johnny


Good details Johnny!  Excellent point about doing legitimate counts in the same manner.  How many times have we seen somebody count the cards one way when they aren't doing a move and then switch to a completely different grip when executing the move?

To me we should always be striving for what Vernon called naturalness.  I equate that to trying to eliminate anything that smacks of "he/she just did something" from my work.

A convoluted move done smoothly is till a convoluted move.  It invites suspicion.  How does that relate to the Elmsley?  Any time it doesn't appear that you are simply displaying the cards.
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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
I believe the grip that Buffalo is using is the "dealing grip" and not the "at the fingertips count".  When beginning in dealers grip, mechanics grip or other, it should be fairly easy to ensure that only one card comes off at first.  Use your left first fingertip as a "gauge" or "stop" and slide it towards yourself as your left thumb peels the top card away from yourself.  With just a bit of practice you can achieve the 100 percent you are aiming for.



Ray,

I'm using the grip in this video where I learned the technique....




(Is that "at the fingertips count"?)

Thanks,

Buffalo
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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Farmer
You don't pull off the first card, you squeeze it off by pulling with your thumb and pushing with your index finger under the packet.



I think I discovered this on my own, but I wasn't sure if it was the best approach.   It's like I'm pulling off the top card with my right thumb while slightly lifting the top edge with my right index finger AND pulling back the second card with my left thumb to keep it from traveling with the top card.

Is that what you mean?

Thanks,

Buffalo
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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson


Buffalo, one other thing occurred to me after reading Ray's post. Mike Powers has a password protected area on his site where he breaks down many of the basic moves. If you write to him, and ask nicely, he may just let you pop inside! 

Av



Will do.

Thanks for the suggestion!

-Buffalo
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffalo McKinley



Ray,

I'm using the grip in this video where I learned the technique....




(Is that "at the fingertips count"?)

Thanks,

Buffalo


The count he demonstrates is the count from dealing grip.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #23 
Not a terrible tutorial but fairly basic.  Success comes from minding the details.
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jim ferguson

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ

But in any event, I will say again, rhythm is the key!  There must be no break in the tempo.



That depends. There are two ways to use the move - as a count, or as a display. If used as a count, (like in Twisted Sisters - "here I have FOUR blue cards" etc) there should be an even tempo, as you said.
But if used as a display, like in Twisting the Aces, there should be a slight pause when the face-up card shows up.

On another note, I have never liked the technique where the cards start and end in the left hand - the cards in left hand "dealing grip", the left thumb angles the top card, and the right hand grasps the bottom three as the left hand moves to the left with the top card.

That is not how anyone would count or look through the cards (as a display). The cards should all start in one hand, and end up in the other at the end.
If you must do the angle thing with the left thumb, it would look better if the top card was angled SLIGHTLY, and ALL cards were grasped by the right hand momentarily (while you gesture or something), THEN the count was started. In this way ALL the cards essentially start from the right hand, and are taken by the left, just as it should be.



Jim


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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #25 
I think it's meant to be basic, and on that level it's fine. But what I don't like is the pinkie pull down. It's too easy to miss, particularly for anyone just starting with the Elmsley Count.

Even more basic, which is what I've done for ever, is a buckle using the forefinger. On each occasion three cards are buckled and turned over. It's completely covered by the approaching right hand. Or in my case the left hand.

I can't recall if that's what Lewis Ganson advocated in "More Inner Secrets Of Card Magic". I'll check.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #26 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jim ferguson



That depends. There are two ways to use the move - as a count, or as a display. If used as a count, (like in Twisted Sisters - "here I have FOUR blue cards" etc) there should be an even tempo, as you said.
But if used as a display, like in Twisting the Aces, there should be a slight pause when the face-up card shows up.

On another note, I have never liked the technique where the cards start and end in the left hand - the cards in left hand "dealing grip", the left thumb angles the top card, and the right hand grasps the bottom three as the left hand moves to the left with the top card.

That is not how anyone would count or look through the cards (as a display). The cards should all start in one hand, and end up in the other at the end.
If you must do the angle thing with the left thumb, it would look better if the top card was angled SLIGHTLY, and ALL cards were grasped by the right hand momentarily (while you gesture or something), THEN the count was started. In this way ALL the cards essentially start from the right hand, and are taken by the left, just as it should be.



Jim




Jim, I see your point on rhythm.  I have no issue with the way you describe pausing on the reversed card.  The point of rhythm in the process is just to make certain that there is no fumbling on the "take" of the two cards.

Regarding where the count "starts", I would have to think about that some, but in general I don't totally agree with the way you stated it.  Say I pick up 4 cards with my right hand.  I then put them into the left hand to square them into a nice packet.  I then approach the right hand and begin the count.  At the end of the count the 4 cards remain in my left hand.  To me there is nothing wrong or illogical with that.  Do you see what I'm saying?
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jim ferguson

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ

Regarding where the count "starts", I would have to think about that some, but in general I don't totally agree with the way you stated it.  Say I pick up 4 cards with my right hand.  I then put them into the left hand to square them into a nice packet.  I then approach the right hand and begin the count.  At the end of the count the 4 cards remain in my left hand.  To me there is nothing wrong or illogical with that.  Do you see what I'm saying?



Hi Ray.

Here's a question regarding the scenario you describe above - do you think the way you are counting the cards is influenced by you being a magician ?

Surely if you have say five cards in your left hand, and are simply wanting to count them, you would peel them off singly one after the other with the right thumb into the right hand ? (So starting in one hand and ending in the other).

Try giving your spouse, friends or whatever a pile of cards and ask them to count them. The only time I've ever seen the cards starting and ending in the same hand is when a magician does it, usually in an Elmsley Count - with anyone else, the cards start in one hand, and end in the other at the conclusion of the count.



Jim

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jim ferguson



Hi Ray.

Here's a question regarding the scenario you describe above - do you think the way you are counting the cards is influenced by you being a magician ?

Surely if you have say five cards in your left hand, and are simply wanting to count them, you would peel them off singly one after the other with the right thumb into the right hand ? (So starting in one hand and ending in the other).

Try giving your spouse, friends or whatever a pile of cards and ask them to count them. The only time I've ever seen the cards starting and ending in the same hand is when a magician does it, usually in an Elmsley Count - with anyone else, the cards start in one hand, and end in the other at the conclusion of the count.



Jim



If the cards begin in MY hand and then I hand them to somebody that isn't the same as what I described.  You'd have to put the cards onto the table and then have them pick them up.  I'll bet they do similarly to what I described.  If you asked them to count them with no direction they might just spread them with their fingers and count them on the table.  Not much to be learned there.

As far as being influenced by my being a magician, of course.  I don't see a problem with that.  So long as it appears natural IN MY HANDS, that is all that matters.  

I've never seen my friends shuffle cards on the table.  They all pick them up and either overhand shuffle or they do a riffle in the hands and bridge.  They use the table, yes, but they never, ever leave them lying on the table alone, they are still controlled by the hands.

I never do that when performing.  The fact  that my actions don't match theirs really doesn't matter, does it?
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jim ferguson

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


If the cards begin in MY hand and then I hand them to somebody that isn't the same as what I described.  You'd have to put the cards onto the table and then have them pick them up.  I'll bet they do similarly to what I described.  If you asked them to count them with no direction they might just spread them with their fingers and count them on the table.  Not much to be learned there.

As far as being influenced by my being a magician, of course.  I don't see a problem with that.  So long as it appears natural IN MY HANDS, that is all that matters.  

I've never seen my friends shuffle cards on the table.  They all pick them up and either overhand shuffle or they do a riffle in the hands and bridge.  They use the table, yes, but they never, ever leave them lying on the table alone, they are still controlled by the hands.

I never do that when performing.  The fact  that my actions don't match theirs really doesn't matter, does it?




I agree most would probably just count them to the table, or spread through them. I was talking about if they were to count them in the hands. I don't think it matters whether you hand them the cards, or they are picked up from the table - the count would still start in one hand, and end in the other.

The business of having the cards in the left hand, and essentially taking away the bottom three leaving the top card behind, seems to be unique to magicians using the Elmsley Count. And it is only done that way for two reasons - to facilitate an easy removal of the top card singly, and because the cards are usually in the left hand to begin with (economy of motion). Both these reasons can easily be overcome.

I totally agree with your view about magicians not having to do things and handle objects like Joe Public. I've seen many arguments about how our shuffles shouldn't be so neat and we should even drop a few cards to appear more like a "normal" person. I disagree with this - a painter wouldn't handle a brush like it's his first time, and I would say that most spectators expect a bit of professionalism and grace when we are handling our props.
There are exceptions of course.

Here is a little exercise to try, which may better illustrate my point about the cards moving from one hand to the other in a count.

The Elmsley Count, when used as an actual count, is simply to demonstrate the amount of cards present - "here are four blue cards" for example. Now, if we weren't doing a trick or a "move", and really just counting the cards, then a similar action would be used regardless of the amount - if it was twenty cards we'd still use a similar action to count them.
So say you have a deck, but don't think it's complete - you want to check how many are actually there. Would you really start with the deck in left hand, angle the top card with the left thumb and pull out all but the top card, then peel the rest on top ?

I'd argue that anyone that's not doing a trick, would start with all the cards in one hand (say the left) and quickly peel them (count them) with the right thumb into the right hand. The cards are counted from one hand into the other.


Jim


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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #30 
I'm with Ray on this one … if I can really count 4 cards, then do an Elmsley with them and a Jordan, and all 3 look and sound the same, then I'm happy.

I'm not going to stress where the cards start any more than worry about the fact that I've never seen anybody but a magician do a Hamman count... but it's possible I've led a sheltered life … shrug

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #31 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
I'm not going to stress where the cards start any more than worry about the fact that I've never seen anybody but a magician do a Hamman count... but it's possible I've led a sheltered life … shrug


[rofl]
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #32 
I think that the most natural way to do the EC is to count from L to R for a right handed person. That's what you'd do if you were peeling the cards one by one. Why would you put them into your right hand and the peel them back to the LH? 

I don't think laypeople care if you put the cards into your right hand and peel them back to your left hand. But it is inconsistent IMO and could possibly be seen as discrepant. 

Mike
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jim ferguson

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Reply with quote  #33 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
I'm with Ray on this one … if I can really count 4 cards, then do an Elmsley with them and a Jordan, and all 3 look and sound the same, then I'm happy



That's fair enough. The problem there though, is while they all may look identical, if one count is "off" then they're all going to be "off" (I'm not saying YOURS are off, I haven't seen them. I'm speaking generally).

I still maintain that to start and end in the same hand when counting cards, is wrong. It is done that way for the reasons I stated above, and nothing more.

If the cards are counted into the left hand, then all the cards should start, however briefly, in the right.

Some of you may count cards like that now, and it may feel natural to you, because you've been doing magic for so long. But is that really how you counted a packet of cards before learning sleight of hand, or the Elmsley Count ?


Jim



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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #34 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
I'm with Ray on this one … if I can really count 4 cards, then do an Elmsley with them and a Jordan, and all 3 look and sound the same, then I'm happy.

I'm not going to stress where the cards start any more than worry about the fact that I've never seen anybody but a magician do a Hamman count... but it's possible I've led a sheltered life … shrug


I made a demo video for a member here. I did an Elmsley followed immediately by a Jordan. That is the way I learned smoothness, doing them over and over since they each leave you ready for the other.

The challenging part is actually the Jordan where you must peel the first two singly. I don't struggle with it anymore but it is a fine balance of pressures. Firm enough to maintain control but a light touch to separate and peel the cards off and not allow the remaining cards to spread.

I urge anyone learning the EC to also practice this way. If you never use the Jordan I suppose you can skip it.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #35 
I was going to link a video that I found on the web but thought better of it. It showed a trick then attempted to teach the EC. The guy butchered the move multiple times trying to explain it. In the end I didn't want to promote his site where tons of free stuff resides.

Google Elmsley Count to find dozens of free explanations. You might even find a good one.
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