Transition to Active Aces

In a note in The Aronson Approach (p.35) I briefly mentioned that the location of all four Aces among the top 22 cards in the Aronson stack lends itself to an Ace assembly. Even if the top 20 cards or so get mixed, the rest of the deck would still remain in complete stack order, and, as we know, there are a lot of strong memorized deck effects that can still be done with a "half" deck.


That note was appended to one of my favorite Ace routines, something I called "Active Aces" (The Aronson Approach, p. 29). Briefly, it combines the Stanley Collins Ace Vanish (to make each of the Aces disappear) with the Henry Christ Fabulous Ace routine (to reproduce the Aces one at a time, each in a different way). There’s a lot of magic happening, from start to finish.

In "Active Aces" there is a minor set-up required, which involves getting two cards whose values total 11 into the fifth and seventh positions from the top. You also need to reverse a 7 on the face of the deck. Conveniently, I’ve discovered an easy and efficient way to get into this situation and perform "Active Aces" directly from the Aronson stack. If you try this transition, you’ll see how simple it is, and you may be tempted to take another look at "Active Aces."


1) With the deck in Aronson stack order held face down, casually double undercut the top card (the JS) to the bottom.

2) Turn the deck face up in your left hand. You’re going to spread the cards between your hands, ostensibly to remove the Aces. Spread the cards into your right hand, making no attempt to hide the faces. You can spread fairly rapidly until you reach the middle of the deck. As soon as you see the 7H, continue spreading just enough so that you can obtain a left fourth finger break beneath the 7H, and then place your left thumb on the left edge of the face of the 7H, holding it onto the left-hand cards. With your right hand, flip over all the cards above the 7H (i.e., the ones that have already been spread) bookwise, face-down onto the left-hand face up portion (the JS thus falls facing the 7H). Immediately the right hand now changes its grip, and in a continuing motion comes over from above and lifts up all the cards above the break and puts them in a face-down pile on the table. Apparently all that’s happened is that you’ve spread through half the deck, haven’t found any Aces yet, and have placed this half aside; in fact, the 7H is now secretly face up, on the bottom of the tabled pile. (This method of reversing the 7 is, I believe, Vernon’s, and was originally described in my "Meditation on the Christ Aces," Sessions (1982), p. 113).

3) Continue spreading through the rest of the face up deck, where you’ll of course find the Aces. Upjog each one as you come to them, and then strip them out and toss them face up in a row on the table. Turn the balance of the deck face-down and drop it onto the tabled pile, thus assembling the deck.

4) Arrange the Aces from left to right in S-C-H-D order, and you’re set to perform "Active Aces." (The 3H and the 8D are now at positions 5 and 7 from the top respectively, exactly where they’ll be needed for the 11-count total). I won’t repeat the description of "Active Aces" because it’s exactly the same as in the text.


(1) At the end of the routine, you’ll find that the deck is divided in two approximate "halves," one consisting of stack numbers 1-25 (which will be all together, but out of order) and the other consisting of stack numbers 26-52, all in order. You could thus follow with any "divided deck" location, or with any memorized deck routine that uses only a half deck stack.

(2) It would, of course, be ideal if you could start an Ace assembly or similar routine from Aronson stack order and at the end the deck would still be in full stack order. I’ve worked on this problem off and on, but since the Ace effect ought to be a strong one in its own right, thus far I’ve found the trade-off of maintaining complete stack order too high a price. (Consider this a challenge, if you want).



Copyright Simon Aronson 2014