Side steal trouble

Oct 25, 2008
I've been doing card magic for several years now, but haven't taken the time to learn the side steal. Until now. The thought of palming scared me a bit, as it does to many others, but now that I'm confident on doing regular palms as top and bottom palms, my next goal is to learn the side steal.

My problem is that I really find it difficult to learn. I watched several tutorials on the side steal, and been practicing for quite a while, but I just don't feel that I get it right. It makes too much noice and I don't get it in the right position when moving it into palm. Also, I feel that it looks way too unatural when doing it.

So my questions is, is the side steal a difficult move or is it just a knack? And do you have some good tips for getting better at it?

Sep 3, 2007
I just kind of naturally learned it until one day I did it in a performance without thinking about it for a bottom to top control. I didn't intend to do it, but just did it naturally, I guess. I would consider it more of a knack to get it to look good and have a nice speed to it. But "difficult" varies from person to person, so it may take you longer to get it down than somebody else- experience plays a big factor in that.
Sep 1, 2007
There are several great resources on the side steal - its one of those moves which I firmly believe is better described with text and diagrams rather than "visually" on a DVD. Card College has an excellent section on the side steal. volume 3 chapter 38. However I learned mine primarily from Wesley James' "Enchantments" - great description in there and he also goes over the top card covered side steal which is a great move that has a lot of applications, not to mention being far better covered than the standard side steal.

Other good resources for the side steal include Mike Close's download on the side steal from the "workers" series - this is a pdf complete with photo illustrations and video embedded into the pages with demonstrations of the move and a bit of teaching as well. Mike goes over some variations on the side steal geared towards those with smaller hands which are interesting, as well as other palms, steals and controls such as the Lowey Left Hand Top Palm. There's also Paul Cummin's "Side Steal Declassified DVD" which is very difficult to find right now - it sold out very quickly! Paul Cummins is a master of the side steal - if you read his FASDIU lecture notes he has many uses for it and also cites more resources for learning the move, notably Marlo.

With regards to noise and naturalness, a couple of tips - the noise is primarily caused by tension in the card being stolen. This tension is there because the cards is exiting the deck at a different angle, causing it to bend - this bend causes a clicking noise as the card leaves the deck. This is resolved by making sure the card leaves the deck perfectly flat - once it has cleared the deck you can then bend it or change its angle. Naturalness comes with hours of practise, first training your muscles to DO the move, then concentrating on the look of the move as a squaring action. Eventually you end up thinking of the move as a squaring action, almost forgetting the steal. At that point it will start to look natural. Watch your angles - its usually best to perform the side steal facing the leftmost (your left!) person in the audience. Don't look at your hands!

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Jun 10, 2008
Newcastle upon Tyne
I'm intrigued as to where you found these tutorials. If it's where I'm imagining it's no surprise if you've been taught incorrectly.

I struggled with learning this move. I truly think that getting the basic mechanics down and then watching closely how other practitioners perform the sleight will help alot. Just watching Josh Jay perform this sleight helped me alot in my understanding of how to best execute it.

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