The “Sidewalk Shuffle” has been a classic stand-up trick with playing cards. What makes it so special is that it uses only 4 cards and it is suitable for a cabaret or stage performance. For visibility, it is not performed with the usual sized playing cards but with jumbo sized playing cards. It has several factors that contribute to making it a great effect. It is funny, has a lot of magic happening within the short performing time, and is an act by itself with 3 distinct phases. It also reaches out to a large audience.
Here is what the effect looks like. The performer shows 4 large sized playing cards. They comprise 3 blank cards and an Ace. One blank card is set aside, leaving the performer with 3 cards. The performer places the Ace between the 2 blanks. He slowly mixes the cards around with their backs facing the audience. The audience can clearly follow that the Ace is still sandwiched in the middle. When this card is turned around, it is not the Ace – it is a blank! In fact, all the 3 cards are shown one at a time to be blanks. The Ace has vanished! The performer turns his attention to the lone card that was set aside earlier. This turns out to be the Ace! The effect, as it is, is stunning to the audience. But this is only the first phase.
In the second phase, the performer offers to repeat. He again places one blank card aside. The Ace is placed in the middle of the 3 cards and the cards moved around. Once again, he shows that the Ace has vanished, and all the 3 cards are displayed as blanks. He picks up the card set aside earlier and turns it around to show the Ace! The audience is now stunned twice!
Three is always the lucky number, so the performer offers to show one more time. Again, he places a blank card aside. He puts the Ace between the 2 cards and mixes all the 3 cards. While it is still obvious by the mixing that the Ace is the middle card, the audience is wised up by now. They want to see the card set aside earlier. The performer turns this card around – it is not the Ace as expected – it is a blank card. The performer says in jest that had any one pointed to any of the 3 cards he held, they would have got the Ace. The performer turns the 3 cards around and show all the 3 cards to be Aces! Nobody can see this coming. This is a befitting climax to end the routine!
You get an online video teach-in by Wolfgang Riebe himself. The 30 minutes video comprises an introduction, 2 live performances by Wolfgang, instructions on how to make the cards yourself, and the full routine meticulously explained by him. The biggest take-away is Wolfgang’s 30 years’ experience of performing this routine. His handling and patter have been refined to give you the most entertaining routine with this effect. His tips on how to construct the cards, especially on the placements of the graphics, are priceless.
Even if you have owned the “Sidewalk Shuffle” or “Chase The Ace”, you will like the presentation by Wolfgang. His very large sized cards not only make the effect more visual, it makes the magic seem more incredible. I have never liked “Sidewalk Shuffle” because of the gimmicked cards. Joe Riding came up with a non-gimmicked version which he called “The Irish 3 Card Trick” or “The Only 3 Card Trick In The World Using Only 4 Cards”. This has been one of my favourite tricks and is in my performing repertoire for over 20 years. Joe’s effect does not use blank cards but 3 spot cards against one picture card.
I have personally seen Wolfgang performing this effect and I love his presentation. The effect runs for about 3 minutes. This, plus the fact that he uses extra-large cards and the great contrast between blank cards and the Ace of Spades have convinced me to use “The Giant Sidewalk Shuffle” in my future performances. You will, too.