Solo Aces

by Robin Robertson

Starting with Dai Vernon's Slow Motion Aces, aces began to not only leave their packets to join the leader ace, but to do so one-at-a-time. As with the original ace assembly, countless versions have appeared over the years. I published my first version over 30 years ago in Micky Hades now long defunct Hadegram Magizette. I once had a thrill when I walked into Tannen's for the first time and someone did my own version for me. I kept fiddling with it over the years and published a tighter version in my book Card Modes in 1983. But the thing has kept evolving, with tiny little changes that are hardly noticeable but make it ever cleaner. Here's the version I do today. Though it may seem to have a lot of sleights, they are all relatively easy ones. I'm going to go through it in some detail. Feel free to move on to other effects if you find this level of detail boring.


Fan the deck face-up and openly remove the 4 aces and toss face-up on the table.

The False Count

Turn the deck face-down and seemingly count off 12 other cards, but actually take 14. Just count the cards into your right hand one on top of the other, taking two as one twice during the count. I always do this on the 2nd and 7th cards, so I don't have to think about it. The important thing is sto keep a rhythm in the count, which makes it impossible for the spectator to see that you're taking more than one card. Count in 3's: 1, 2, 3, slight pause, 4, 5, 6, slight pause, 7, 8, 9, slight pause, 10, 11, 12. On "one", count the first card normally into the right hand. As you're doing so, push off two cards with the left thumb. They don't have to be lined-up. Take the two cards on top of the first on the count of "two". But continue counting, taking a single card on "three." Continue the count, picking up another pair of cards on "seven". If you've never used this false count, you'll be surprised how both how easy and deceptive it is.

The Braue Addition

Lay the remainder of the deck in the middle of the table. Transfer the 12 (?) face-down cards to your left hand, then pick up the aces and fan face-up on top. Openly arrange them in order AD, AC, AH, AS, from face to back. As you're doing this, let the top few cards of the deck spread a bit, so that you can pick up a break under the 2nd face-down card. Add the two cards under the aces as you square them with the right hand from above, preparatory to using a slightly modified Braue Addition.

As normal with the Braue addition, the left thumb pulls off the top ace (AD), then the right pack flips it face-down on top of the deck. Continue with the AC, but as it turns face-down let the remainder of the right hand's cards drop on top. In the same motion, the left thumb fans off the AH and AS. The right hand uses the AS to flip the AH face-down, then it in turn is turned face-down on top

Laying Out the Aces

You're going to deal the four aces (?) in a diamond formation around the deck, beginning in the south and moving clock-wise. Turn the AS face-up again and deal it in the south, nearest to you, naming it as you do so. Deal the next ace (AH), face-down in the west, saying "Ace of Hearts." The next card (an x card) goes in the north as you say "Ace of Clubs", then the final card (another x card) in the east: "Ace of Diamonds." As you deal off this last ace, let the top cards spread a little so that you can pick up a left little-finger break under the second card from the top.

The Rest of the Lay-Out

With the right fingers on the left side of the packet, flip it over sideways, as if opening a book. You'll find that the two cards at the rear (AC, AD) are slightly right-jogged so that you can easily pick up a break above them in the now face-up packet. (I believe that this is a Marlo subtlety.)

Pick up the packet from above with the right hand in Biddle position. The left thumb counts off the face card. As you count the second card into the left hand, add the two aces below it. Keep a break under the card you counted on top of the aces, then pick it back up under the right packet as you count off the third card. You have apparently counted off three cards face-up, but actually have four cards, with two aces in the middle. Square the three (?) cards with the left hand alone, then lay them on top of the face-up AS at right angles to the ace. "Three on the Ace of Spades."

Count off three more, fairly them time, and place the on the east card, again at right angles.. "Three on the Ace of Diamonds."

Again count three fairly, and put them on the north card. "Three on the Ace of Clubs."

Finally count the four remaining cards as three, simply holding the last two cards as one during the count. These go on the west card. "Three on the Ace of Hearts." The audience has seemingly seen the faces of all 12 cards that you've dealt onto the aces.

"Three cards on each ace. Now we're going to make the Ace of Diamonds, the Ace of Clubs, and the Ace of Hearts vanish, and join the Ace of Spades here. [Pause.] One at a time. That's the hard part."

As you mention each of the first three aces, use both hands to rotate the three (?) cards on top until they square with the aces. For the AS, pick up the three and lay in your left hand, then pick up the face-up AS and lay on top right-jogged. Flick it with your right forefinger, then turn it face-down on top, and lay the packet back in place in the south.

The Ace of Diamonds Goes

Now you're already set to vanish the first two aces, but you milk it. Pick up the packet in the east. "We'll start with the Ace of Diamonds." Overhand shuffle it, reversing the order of the packet (not that it matters). Then hold in glide position in the left hand and remove the bottom card, turning it face-up and laying it back down in the east position. Then the next card from the bottom. On the third card, glide and take the top card, turn it face-up and deal on the table. Then finally turn-over the last card and lay on top of the others. These actions simply mimic those you would do if you were doing the original Stanley Collins ace vanish, or any of the numerous variations.

To make the Ace of Diamonds appear in the leader pile, pick up the pile, turn face-up and do an Ascanio, pulling off the bottom card (AS) with the left fingers, then the second from the bottom, then the left thumb pulling off the face card, while the right hand drags out the AD (with the AC hidden behind) and adds to the face of the fan. Square up and lay the packet back face-down in the south.

The Ace of Clubs Goes

"The Ace of Clubs goes next." Here we use a piece of flummery from Paul Harris to supposefly vanish the ace of clubs. Fan the four card face-down and take the top two with the right hand. Brush the edges of the right and left hand packets against each other several times, then replace the right hand cards under the left hand cards.

Use a very old, fancy deal (which I don't know who to credit) to turn the cards face-up one at a time. Simply push off the top card with the left thumb, catch it with the right thumb, and let both thumbs flip it face-up. Then deal it on top of the other face-up cards in the east. Continue with the remaining three cards.

Pick up the leader pile and turn face-up. This time you're going to use a variation of the Ascanio which keeps the ace in the middle of the packet. The Ascanio proceeds as usual until you're ready to pull out the AC (with an x card hidden behind). But slightly rotate the left hand clockwise and the right hand counter-clockwise, then shove the AC back into the fan second from the face. When you're done the left hand alone grips the fan showing the four cards. "Here's the Ace of Clubs."

Square and turn the packet face-down. Again do an Ascanio, fully pulling out the two cards as one, but instead of putting on top, slide them on the bottom of the other three. Drop the packet on top of the deck in the middle of the table. You've just disposed of the extra two cards. "Three down, one to go."

The Ace of Hearts Goes

Pick up the final packet from above with the right hand. Turn the hand palm-up to display "The Ace of Hearts." Turn palm-down again and place in the left hand. Fan off the top three cards into the right hand, holding the last two as one in the left. Turn the three cards face-up and replace on top, fanned. "And his three friends."

Square with the right hand from above, then again turn palm-up to display the AH. Turn palm-down again and use the Side-Glide as the left hand appears to take the face-down AH (actually an x card).

"We'll isolate it." The left hand crosses over the right arm and place the AH (?) face-down on top of the face-up cards in the east. The right hand transfers its cards to the left. "So it has to go through all these cards." The right hand picks up the packet on the table and drops it on the left hand's cards. Pause, then drop them all on top of the deck. "In order to join the other aces."

Snap your fingers, then turn the face-down card over to show the ace has vanished. Lay it in the east. Quickly count off two more face-up cards on top of it, then three more and lay in the north, three in the west, and three in the south.

Pause, then turn over the AH and lay it on top of the cards in the west, where it came from, then the AS goes to the south, the AC to the north, and the AD to the east. A very pretty display to end.