Is the top stock control useless?

May 3, 2018
Firstly, this is more of a gambling sleight of hand question, but there doesn't seem to be such a section of this forum.

Recently, I have been practicing the top stock control from Expert Card Technique, when I started to wonder what the point of it was. Surely you can just execute a normal riffle shuffle, and retain your top stock by just riffling it on top. So what advantages do more elaborate techniques have?

The first thing I thought have was perhaps the simple riffle shuffle while retaining top stock was not that convincing. Most laymen may not notice that the top cards do not change, but perhaps those who play cards and are familiar with shuffling will? This seems to me unlikely as it is difficult to keep track of whether the top packet is cut to the left or right, and so whether it is kept on top or not. It seems to me that even for magicians the way riffle shuffles are performed vary and so it is hard to keep track of exactly what is going on.

The only definite advantage of using ECT's top stock control is for nullifying a cut - a riffle shuffle and then a cut can be executed while retaining top stock. But this seems quite a trivial detail, significant to magicians perhaps, but not to observers.

So what is the point of the top stock control?
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Elite Member
Jul 25, 2015
It pretty much does depends on your audience. You average person won't notice either way as they can barely shuffle a deck of cards themselves. You're unlikely to fool a magician with any version simply because they know to look for it and will simply assume that's what you're doing anyway. It certainly could make a difference to someone who's knowledgeable about cards but is not familiar with magic. It's for you to determine if that group makes up enough of your audience for you to worry about. Most of my friends who would be interested in watching me do a card trick are into cards, so I can see its use. However if I were you I would stick to the basic version and come back to more advanced versions later if you want. There are many more useful things to be learning for now, like how to keep them from watching the cards while you are shuffling them in the first place.
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Nov 3, 2018
I agree with David for the most part. With most people, elaborate shuffling techniques are overkill (and, if not executed without any hesitation, may even be harmful). It may however be good to add another layer of deception when performing for magicians.
You're unlikely to fool a magician with any version simply because they know to look for it
Here's where we differ: Check out @Joey144's Instagram clips. His shuffling sequences would fool me every day, even though we're reading the same books:
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