OPINION: The Double Lift

OPINION: The Double Lift
The double lift is a vital sleight in any magician’s toolbox, thousands of card tricks depend upon it and it is probably the first card move many of us learnt. It is very easy to describe and easy to do badly. I would wager all of us have been caught using it.

It is consequently one of the most studied card moves, with a new variation in every book, and we are completely paranoid about it. I don’t think putting it under the microscope has helped any of us, possibly it has made things worse.
There are several reasons why we will have been caught:

The double lift is so prolific it that the law of averages means someone will eventually call you out, even if done well. It is just one of those things. I was recently called out on it quite recently at a rather posh event, I was devastated, rocked to the core and my confidence plummeted. The lady spoke to me afterwards and as it turns out her son does a bit of magic, a had a huge sigh of relief. The construction of the trick can also be to blame, too repetitive and so on. No sleight can withstand repeat viewing.

The nature of the move itself is problematic. We say what we are going to do, we draw attention to what we are doing and then in full view do something which we hope looks very similar to what we have said we will do. It is almost always done in the open to display a card, everyone’s attention is on it. You are being burned at the point of execution.

Bad technique can also be to blame, no avoiding that one. This is where I don’t think the microscope has helped, with so many variations being taught we are constantly searching for the holy grail of double lifts. Consequently, we can get out of our comfort zone and try more difficult options to attain perfection, removing any breaks etc.

The double lift is a simple move, let’s keep it that way.
It must be sure-fire, you don’t want to go turning too many cards. Craig Petty was recently criticised for using the basic thumb count at the back of the deck for his get ready. He defended it pretty well, it works every time and he has been getting away with it for years. As it happens, I recall Harry Lorayne using the exact same technique, if it works then it’s good. Magician’s may mock but hold your head up high.

There are plenty of other easy methods out there too, as long as you can always turn two coalesced cards blindfolded you are halfway there.

Don’t draw your attention to the cards too soon. Sometimes if I have practiced a move a lot I want to see it for myself even during a performance and I will look as I’m doing the dirty to see if I should be pleased with myself. With the double lift, weak technique can be hidden by performance and presentation, which is why a bold get ready isn’t the end of the world. I engage my participants looking at their eyes until those cards are already on the turn. (You can look forward to post on eye contact another day)

You may need more than one technique depending upon the trick for the handling to look natural. Are you just flipping the cards over and back down again on the deck, placing the top card on the table or holding the double up for display. You should be aiming for naturalness both in appearance to the audience and in how you feel. Avoid changing your grip on the cards and so on, aim for economy of motion.

Choose a double lift you are comfortable with, don’t over think it. Relax.
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