GeniiCon 2017: Pit Hartling explains how to hide method in plain sight

October 5, 2017

FISM winner Pit Hartling opened Genii Convention 2017 with a lecture about how to conceal the method of a card trick right out in the open. He explains this with a trick he calls ‘Sherlock’, which is an an interpretation of Charles Jordan’s card-trick-by-mail.

The original trick began with Jordan noting the order of a deck of cards, mailing it to a friend, having them pick the card, place it back in the deck, shuffle three times, and mail it back. Jordan then figured out which card his friend had chosen, then mailed back the chosen card.

Hartling was fascinated by this trick, and wanted to perform it on stage. Of course, the way Jordan did it would take way too long to play out in front of an audience, so Hartling figured out a way to do this trick in person by crafting a presentation around the method of picking the right card.

Hartling has his audience member pick a card off stage, place it back in the deck, and shuffle it three times. He then mentions a quote said by Sherlock Holmes: “Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” By framing this trick around the idea of logical deduction, Hartling can then proceed to work through the deck, showing the audience the cards he’s removing, until he’s found the right one.

Hartling then performed a card trick using a list of ‘poker formulas”, which tells him exactly how he needs to deal his deck of cards to get a desired outcome. It takes an otherwise simple trick and makes it unique, memorable, and quite funny.

On top of that, Hartling’s patter was hilarious and engaging, using his quick wit to keep the audience laughing, even when one of his tricks didn’t go quite the way he’d wanted. 

By making the method a part of the presentation, you can come up with inventive ways of performing tricks that would otherwise be too obvious—or impossible. Hartling closes the lecture by saying: “If you have a good method for something, but the trick is a bit weird…maybe the solution can be to turn the ‘bug’ into a ‘feature’. If you can’t hide it, paint it red.” 

Keep checking back over the weekend for more reports from the heart of GeniiCon 2017.