The Pass

The pass is perhaps the most amazing sleight in all of card magic. It allows a magician to take a card that has been freely inserted into a deck and move it to any position in the deck that the magician desires, either face up or face down.

The basic pass can be broken down in to a few simple steps:

  1. Hold the cards in the left hand in "mechanics" (or "really, really tight") grip.
  2. Ask the spectator to insert the chosen card into the deck and push it all the way in.
  3. Watch carefully as the spectator inserts the card and count how many cards are below the spectator's card.
  4. With the left pinky, count up through the deck until the position of the spectator's card is found and insert a fingernail below this position.
  5. With the right hand, cover the top of the deck as if preparing to cut off a bunch of cards.
  6. With the right pointer finger, count down through the deck until the position of the spectator's card is found and insert a fingernail above this position.
  7. With the right ring finger, count down through the deck and insert a fingernail above the spectator's card.
  8. With the left middle finger, count up through the deck and insert a fingernail below the spectator's card. You're now ready to execute a basic pass.
  9. The left pinky and middle finger push the portion of the deck below the spectator's card into the soft flesh at the base of the left thumb and, using that point as a fulcrum, pivot the lower stack of cards down.
  10. The right pointer and ring fingers push the portion of the deck above the spectator's card into the base of the left pointer finger and, using that point as an axel, rotate the top half of the deck until it is half way over the back of the left hand.
  11. Simultaneously, the left pointer finger and right middle fingers sandwich the selected card. If the magician desires the selected card to be turned over, now is the time to do it by switching the fingers' positions.
  12. The left pointer and right middle fingers move the selected card out of the way and perpendicular to the deck.
  13. If the card is to be moved higher in the deck, the top portion of the deck is moved above the lower portion and the requisite number of cards released to fall upon the lower portion.
  14. If the card is to be moved higher in the deck, the previous procedure is followed with the hands inverted.
  15. The selected card is placed back between the two halves of the deck and all fingers release to let the deck reform in the left palm.
  16. The selected card is now at the desired position in the deck and, if the move was performed with speed and dexterity, spectators will not even know anything happened.

(A left-handed magician, simply performs these instructions backwards.)

Although these instructions sound arduous, they are not difficult to follow if you have a deck in your hands. Aside from a little dexterity, the only skill needed is the ability to count -- and it's assumed that if you're old enough to learn card slights you can do that. By practicing for an hour or so a day, most magicians are able to perform the basic pass with adequate skill in only three or four years.

Once the basic pass is learned, many variations can be mastered for use in specific situations, including the crossover, arabesque, spread eagle, flying camel, half lutz, and quadruple salchow passes.

Note: This slight was named for the fact that when most people see the instructions and are given the opportunity to learn it they say, "I'll pass."End of story

The information on this site is intended for use only by those with a sincere desire to learn nothing about magic and is for entertainment purposes only (in other words, don't try this stuff, particularly the dangerous parts). The Magicians Assistance Collective (MAC) frowns upon the use of magic in the formation of religions or to attract a cult following.

Magic is not real. Reality is not magic.

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