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Henry Sugar

A self-working mental card routine

by Liam Montier

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Copyright November 2003 © The Underground Collective & Liam Montier

All rights reserved.

[email protected]

This manuscript and all contents therein are protected by international copyright laws, and may not be reproduced,
republished, distributed, transmitted, displayed, broadcast or otherwise exploited in any manner without the express prior
written permission of The Underground Collective and/or Liam Montier. All infringements of this notice will be investigated

and where applicable, legal action will be taken.

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Inspired by “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”, a short story written by Roald Dahl,
this effect is a three-phase, self-working mental card effect. Two ancient principles are
combined to create a clean, strong routine that builds in impact to a logical finish, and a
charming story (by Mr Dahl) compliments what is my favourite card effect to date.

Thank you to Andi Gladwin (for researching the credits, and his always valued input) and
to Jamie Badman, for proofreading, designing and formatting the booklet.

I would like to think that you enjoy reading Henry Sugar, and perhaps even consider
adding it to your repertoire.


Liam Montier, November 2003.

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Effect and Presentation

“Tell me, have you ever read “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”? It was written by
Roald Dahl, and was written as a true account of a man who cheated casinos of millions of
dollars that he donated to orphanages around the world.”

“His rather unique power came from a chance location of a little exercise book that stated
with enough practice in the mental aspects of Yoga, various powers could be achieved,
including, amongst other things, seeing without your eyes.”

“Studies and practice meant that eventually, Henry Sugar could know what playing cards
where in an opponent’s hand, by mentally visualising it.”

“The book describes the technique in a good amount of detail, and, having read it several
times, I decided to give the technique a try.”

“What I’m about to demonstrate is over seven months hard work, and while it’s certainly
more modest than Henry’s attempts (I can only visualise the more colourful picture
cards), I think you’ll find it interesting…”

A deck of cards is on the table. The magician cuts the deck and goes to shuffle the
packets together, but on afterthought, allows the spectator to do it. He then explains that
the spectator is to take cards one at a time and look at them. When the spectator has a
court card, he is to concentrate fiercely on it, and not allow the magician to see it.

The spectator does this, and the magician names the picture card that the spectator is
thinking of! This is repeated two or three times!

The spectator shuffles the deck again, but to no avail, as the magician again repeatedly
names the court cards that the spectator stops on… Even with his back turned.

Finally, proposing a finale, the spectator spreads through the remaining cards and thinks
of any card, picture or spot. They visualise it, then reassemble the deck.

Needless to say, the magician reads the spectator’s mind and reveals the thought of card.


Turn over the page…

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Take a deck of cards and remove all of the court cards, arranging them in an order that
you can remember. I use a circular stack the reads “Queen”, “Jack”, “King”, (think of
ladies and children first) and the suits run in Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds order,
otherwise known as “ChaSeD”.

For the sack of completeness, the whole stack appears below.


Put this stack on top of the deck, and then a couple of indifferent cards on top of that, so
the first card of the stack is two or three cards down.

You are ready to go.

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Phase One

Introduce the deck, and begin your opening remarks about Henry Sugar. Cut the deck
into two equal piles, and go to riffle shuffle them together. Then apparently change your
mind and instead, suggest that the spectator does it for you.

By cutting the pack, and using the appropriate gestures, you can ensure that the
spectator will use a riffle shuffle. If you want to make completely sure, patter can be
made about the casinos, and how the cards are shuffled there. Then demonstrate the
riffle shuffle and have the spectator carry it out.

Demonstrate what the spectator is to do by taking the top card of the deck and looking at
it, keeping the card facing you.

“This is what I want you to do… take the top card, and look at it, like this. Don’t
show me. If it’s a number card, put it on the table”

Remember this card. You’ll use it as a key card later, but if you don’t remember it, don’t
worry. Drop it face up onto the table as a demonstration.

“However, if it’s a picture card, I want you to concentrate on it, picture it in your
mind, and then look me in the eye”.

Allow the spectator to do this, stopping on the first court card, which will be at least three
cards from the top. When the spectator stops, you know what the court card will be – it’s
the first one in your stack (In our case, the queen of clubs).

However, don’t just blurt out the name of the card. Look into the spectators’ eyes, and
reveal the card bit by bit:

“It’s black, a club, I think it’s a club… Queen. The Queen of clubs!”

As you do this revelation, be sure to glance at the back of the spectator’s card once or
twice. We are going to lead them up the garden path a little, and imply (if only on a
subconscious level) that the cards are either see-through or marked.

Repeat the sequence with another card, this time glancing very briefly at the back of the
card that the spectator has. Again, reveal it as before, as you know it’s the second card
in your stack.

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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The third time, again look at the back very briefly, as if you are reading the marks. Don’t
miss this out; it will make the next phase even more impressive because you are about to
ruin any possible theories the spectator may have!

Phase Two

In appearance, you are going to allow the spectator to shuffle the deck, before going on
with your experiment. However…

You need to ensure that the deck is cut in the right place, below the lowermost court card.
Now, that’ll be about half way down the remainder of the deck. You can take a chance
and allow the spectator to cut, but I prefer to do it myself.

Cut the face down cards, splitting them into two piles, but be sure to pick up about two
thirds of the packet (cutting more than half ensures that you won’t make a mistake) and
place the cut off section down, allowing a spectator to shuffle the two packets together
with another riffle shuffle.

Now, continue as before, naming the court cards as the spectator comes to them. To fool
them a little more this time, don’t look at the back of the first card they hold up; just
name it by looking into their eyes.

With the next one or two, have your back turned completely. This is where you will get
strong reactions, as you have conditioned the spectators into thinking that perhaps the
cards were marked or transparent in the previous phase.

Once you have done that, we are ready for the finish.

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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The Final Phase

Finally, offer to try something you’ve “never tried in public before” – the number card.

Have the spectator spread through the remainder of the cards in hand and think of any
card that he sees. Direct him to remove the card from the packet and concentrate hard
on it.

So, whilst your spectator is deciding on a card, ask yourself if you remember your key
card. If you do, turn your head, and casually flip the packet on the table face down.

If you don’t remember the key card, turn the packet face down, allowing the packet to
spread slightly, so you can glimpse what becomes the top card of the packet.

Direct the spectator to drop the selection on top of the tabled packet and the remainder of
the cards on top of the selection, thus burying it into the centre of the deck. If you wish
you can have the spectator cut the deck a few times. Time to recap to the spectator:

“You’ve shuffled the deck, an d thought of a card, is th at right? It could be
anyone of these.”

Note the wording here; this is Juan Tamariz’ concept of ‘rewriting history’; you tell it
almost how it was but leaving out a few crucial details! The spectator who tries to
‘backtrack’ will often find that this ‘summary’ obstructs his clear reconstruction of what
really happened!

Suiting actions to words, pick up the face down deck and casually spread through them
face up, quickly spotting your key card, and remembering the card BELOW it – this is the
spectators selection.

It is possible to do this spread very quickly, as you will know roughly where the selection
went back, so you can just spread that section wide and catch a quick glimpse.

Once you have the name of the card, leave the deck on the table, and concentrate on
presenting the big finish. Name the card, but fake some difficulty in doing so:

“It’s red… that much I can tell… I can’t qu ite see if it’s a heart or a diamond…
Don’t tell me, no clues…”

And so on. When you are ready, reveal the card, and leave the deck to be examined.
They will want to check the cards afterwards!

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Henry Sugar Liam Montier

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Final Phase: The Alternate Handling

The effect ‘as written’ is how Liam performs the effect and it’s a stunner! However, you
may also wish to consider this slightly different approach to the final phase.

This handling is for those people who wish to perform Phase Three without having to look
through the cards and who are adept at card handling. It’s important that you can handle
a deck of cards competently for this variation to work since any hesitation will raise
suspicion in the mind of the spectator. Here’s how it workds:

First, place a breather-crimp in the top two cards of the deck. When you cut the cards, in
phase one, perform a slip-cut – this places a breather on top of both halves.

Now, after the deck is re-assembled in Phase Three, you will find that if you pick up the
deck and hold it face up in biddle-grip in your right hand and you then place it into your
left hand into dealers grip, you can drop the cards that lie beneath the lowermost breather
slightly – in order to take a pinky-break between the two packets.

There are various ways from this position to then glimpse the card above the break (which
will be the chosen card). Here is one way:

Turn the cards face down, retaining the break. Reach forward with your hands, keeping
the deck in your left hand and touch the spectator’s temples with the back of each thumb
as you seemingly try to pick up on the spectator’s thoughts. You should now see that the
deck has slightly separated at the break and… staring you in the face is their selection!

This is a beautifully ‘cheeky’ moment; you glimpse the card in such a crafty manner and
the spectator’s head obscures your peek from anyone else except for perhaps someone
looking directly over your left shoulder – it’s virtually invisible!

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