Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Three Jacks Deal

The Three Jacks Deal, in which three Jacks are placed on top and repeatedly dealt into one player's hand in a two-handed game despite a fair alternate deal, was contributed by Walter Gibson to The Magic World, Vol. 7 No. 4, August 1923, p. 57. Calling it “The Ever Present Jacks”, Gibson stated, “This trick is a specialty of Rufus Steele, and appeared in his book of card tricks.” This is a bit of a mystery, since the first book known by Rufus Steele didn't appear until five years later: Card Tricks You Will Do, 1928, in which the trick appears on p. 20, as “Jack - Jack - Jack”. Gibson's words fall just short of claiming the trick as Steele's invention, and Steele does not claim to have originated it.

When Gibson recycled some of his “Practical Card Tricks” columns in a booklet titled Twenty New Practical Card Tricks in 1926, the trick was renamed “Mysterious Jacks” (p. 27) and the attribution to Steele was dropped.

In The New Magician’s Manual, 1936, p. 56, Walter Gibson published “The Poker Deal”, which is an elaborated multi-phase routine based on the Three Jacks Deal principle, accompanied with a story presentation. Harry Lorayne made his handling of Gibson's routine popular under the title “Big Fella, Little Fella” in Close-up Card Magic, 1962, p. 61.

For information on this trick, see Jon Racherbaumer's Provenance Bulletin 1-5, 1997, p. 4, “Provenance Bulletin 3: Three Jacks Deal”.

The central principle of the Three Jacks Deal is shared with the trick of placing one of three Knights on top of the deck, another on the bottom and the third in the middle, after which the deck is given a cut and the three Knights are shown gathered together in the middle with a Queen. This trick goes back to at least the 1700s (e.g., see Pablo Minguet's Engaños a ojo vistas, 1733, p. 168 of the Pieper translation; the translation appeared in Gibecière, Vol. 4 No. 2, Summer 2009, pp. 61-225) and is a likely seed for the development of the Three Jacks Deal.