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observations on the side steal

Observations on the Side Steal

The side steal is a bugaboo card sleight. There are some effects, such as my The Card, the Forehead, and the Salt Shaker, for which it is absolutely vital; you can’t do the routine without a swift, dependable way to palm a card from the middle of the deck. There are other routines in which the side steal can be circumvented. For example, a selected card can be controlled to the top or bottom of the deck and palmed off, rather than having a card peeked at and stealing it from the middle. From the standpoint of expediency, the side steal is great, especially when used from a peek. There are no extraneous actions; the card is peeked at and immediately stolen (either palmed out or moved to the top of the deck).

Because the needed card is trapped in the deck, the side steal adds another layer of complexity to any card palming procedure. To do it well requires attention to many small details, each of which must be committed to motor memory before the move will begin to flow. If you have large hands, many of these details become more forgiving. If you don’t (I don’t), some serious, concerted practice will be necessary. In other words, the side steal is not for wimps.

Having said that, some methods for the side steal are easier than others and can be mastered in a relatively short period of time (assuming you are already comfortable palming cards). Other methods, like the Erdnase Diagonal Palm Shift, may take a lifetime of practice and experimentation before you feel satisfied with your results. Be that as it may, if you want to add some form of this powerful move to your arsenal, it behooves you to get the best instruction possible.

To this end, Lisa and I have revised and updated our 2007 Side Steal ebook. It now matches the format of our other ebooks. You will receive both an EPUB file (perfect for reading on tablets) and a PDF file (perfect for desktop computers and printing). Included is new analysis of the inherent problems of moves like the DPS and ways to dispel “the heat” when using the side steal as a card control.

It has taken longer than expected to bring this updated ebook to the marketplace, and for that Lisa and I apologize. The side steal is a technical sleight. It has to be explained clearly, with each detail examined so the student can understand the process – and thus the delay as we made sure we’d covered all the bases. If you want to add a version of this sleight to your arsenal, this ebook will get you started on the path to mastery.

[For a glimpse of how a standard side steal looks if the performer has large hands, check out this clip, of John Scarne in a beer commercial from the 1970s The side steal happens at around 0:43.]


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Leo Hevia - July 5, 2021

Side stealing from the bottom of the deck for a color change is also tough and not for wimps. You have the challenge of the entire thickness of the deck to overcome. Michael Skinner in his prime had the smoothest most undetectable side steal. He was a step ahead and when he revealed the color change, it was too late. His side steal went right under your radar. Fortunately we can watch the videos over and over to learn from him.

Thomas Van Aken - January 6, 2020

Thanks for sharing this! I saw numerous references to this commercial in the magical littérature but never saw it before today. By the way, the side steal is used here to prepare a colour change meaning that the card it stolen from the bottom of the deck; different (and easier) than a card’s control side steal where the card is stolen from the middle of the deck.

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