The Origins of Wonder
False dovetail shuffles done in the hands and away from the table may be categorized by how the cards are interlaced and whether a Waterfall flourish is used to square the packets.
The prototype for this type of false shuffle, although primitive in comparison, is the Fan Shuffle described in 1786 by Henri Decremps in Testament de Jérôme Sharp.
In The Expert at the Card Table, 1902, p. 161, the Second Method for false shuffling that Erdnase describes shallowly interlaces the two packets as they are riffled together, and the packets are then secretly unwoven before being slid one half onto the other in the squaring action. Erdnase also mentions that it is possible to do the shuffle deceptively while bluffing the interlacing of the corners. Erdnase's Third Method, p. 163, is the same shuffle with the halves held at the ends rather than at the sides. These two shuffles are performed in the hands, as Erdnase notes that they are “excellent […] for conjuring, as these performers never riffle on the table.”
A later version of this type of shuffle, likely inspired by the Second and Third Methods in Erdnase, is taught by Hugard and Braue in Expert Card Technique, p. 76, as “Off the Table False Riffle Shuffle”. Only the outer corners of the packets are interlaced, and then the packets are secretly disengaged from one another and, in the action of squaring the halves together, the bottom half is slid beneath the spread upper half.
In Ireland’s New Card and Coin Manipulation 1935, p. 5, Laurie Ireland describes a “Perfect False Riffle Shuffle” done off the table, which relies on the dynamic of a tabled Strip-Out Riffle Shuffle.
Groundwork was laid for a full-deck false off-the-table shuffle with Waterfall flourish when Victor Farelli published a simple method in Farelli’s Card Magic, Vol. 1, 1933, p. 47. The interlaced cards are given a Waterfall flourish that leaves the halves jogged at the ends. A strip-out cut is then performed to undo the shuffle weave.
Max Katz contributed his Interlace False Shuffle in the Air to Hugard’s Magic Monthly, Vol. 5 No. 2, Jul. 1947, p. 333. Katz interlaced the cards with a faro shuffle, but a dovetail shuffle is an obvious and easy substitution. Katz’s false shuffle differed from those described by Ireland and Farelli in that the cards are jogged forward and backward at the sides, rather than at the ends.
In 1949, Paul LePaul published his False Waterfall Shuffle in The Card Magic of LePaul, p. 103. LePaul’s shuffle differed from Katz’s in that, in doing the Waterfall flourish, the halves of the deck are angled, rather than jogged inward and outward, in preparation for a strip-out.
Henry Hay published another handling of such a false dovetail shuffle in his Amateur Magician’s Handbook, 1950, p. 60. The major difference in the Katz and Hay shuffles lies in their approaches to stripping the interlaced, jogged, packets apart. Neither LePaul nor Hay mention Katz as a starting point.
Nearly half a century later, Eric Anderson published another finesse on the in-the-hands strip-out shuffle. His “Shufflesque” false shuffle (see Harkey and Anderson’s Ah-Ha!, 1997, p. 37) does not misalign the halves of the deck before interlacing of the cards, as Katz and Hay did. Instead, the forward and backward jogging of the interlaced halves is achieved as the cards are sprung together with a Waterfall flourish.
A bold way to false shuffle the deck was inspired by a sight gag by Charlie Chaplin in his film The Immigrant, 1917, where he riffles both halves on the table well apart without any cards touching, let alone interlacing. According to Bobby Bernard, Dai Vernon was inspired to use this gag shuffle as an actual false shuffle. Bernard remembers Vernon demonstrating this on his first lecture in the U.K., which would place it on May 1, 1955. See his write-up with further handling ideas in The Coin and Card Magic of Bobby Bernard, 1982, p. 84, “Just a Thought on the 'Charlie Chaplin Shuffle'”.
A related type of false dovetail shuffle is one where both halves are apparently interlaced, but in reality, one half is quickly riffled off, followed by the other half a fraction of a second later. The timing gives an optical illusion of both halves being shuffled into each other, while in reality no interweaving is done. Benjamin Earl’s off-the-table Simulation Shuffle in Gambit, No. 1, Jan. 2009, p. 10, relies on this illusion.
In the case of Bill Malone’s “The Malone Shuffle”, published in MAGIC, Vol. 11 No. 6, Feb. 2002, p. 66, one half is released as a block into the center of the other half as its cards are riffled off the thumb.
Another significant development in false dovetail shuffles was made by Ron Wohl (Ravelli) in the 1960s. Wohl’s shuffle starts out on the same line of thinking used by Vernon in his adaptation of the Chaplin shuffle, mentioned above, although there is no evidence that Wohl was cognizant of this work. While Wohl never published his false shuffle, over the years he demonstrated it to a number of magicians (John Thompson, Bill Malone, etc.) who have attested to his early establishment of this type of false dovetail shuffle. Wohl’s shuffle involves a false interlacing of the packets—one packet being riffled off onto the other—followed by a simulated Waterfall flourish in which the cards are sprung off one thumb while squaring the halves (reminiscent of Jerry Andrus’s Spring Shuffle in Andrus Deals You In, 1956, p. 90; and its false-shuffle variant, “Satan’s Shuffle” in Andrus Card Control, 1976, p. 58.). Bill Malone teaches Wohl’s shuffle and additional finesses by others on his Here I Go Again, Vol. 2 DVD, L&L Publishing, 2007.
In the late 1900s and early 2000s, others began building on Wohl’s concept (some knowingly, others independently). Among the most notable are:
Karl Hein’s Heinstein Shuffle, published in the April 2001 issue of Genii, Vol. 64 No. 4, p. 50. Hein here adopted a Zarrow Shuffle dynamic, rather than a simulated interlacing of the cards. In April 2014, Hein published a related false dovetail shuffle, the Heinous Shuffle, in MAGIC, Vol. 23 No. 8, p. 64.
Lennart Green’s Real Green Shuffle on his Green Magic, Vol. 4, DVD, A-1 MagicalMedia, 2003, uses a pretended interlacing followed by a Waterfall in the style of Andrus’s Satan’s Shuffle.
Inspired by Andrus’s and Green’s shuffles, Benjamin Earl devised his Grey Shuffle, see Past Midnight, Alkazam Magic, disc 2, 2007, in which the halves are interlaced but stripped out again before the false cascade.
Derek DelGaudio’s “Truffle Shuffle” is similar in kind; described in Genii, Vol. 71 No. 10, Oct. 2008, p. 20. DelGaudio’s handling allows the false Waterfall Flourish to commence before the unweave is completed.