The Center Deal is a false deal in which a player deals a playing card from the middle of a deck while seemingly dealing the top one.
The sleight became legendary because many magicians at first thought it was impossible to perform undetected.
Dai Vernon heard of the existence of a gambler named Allen Kennedy who could do the center deal in 1931 from the Mexican gambler Amador Villasenor, who was being held for murder in the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita, Kansas. After several months of field research throughout the Kansas City gambling world, Vernon found Kennedy living in Pleasant Hill, Missouri on March 20, 1932. Kennedy showed Vernon the center deal which he had worked on the sleight for years, building up his hands with five years of hand exercises and working out the mechanics through constant card handling. Vernon passed it on to other magicians, but kept it secret from most others until finally explaining it in the 1980s Dai Vernon Revelations video series. The search was also documented in the book The Magician and the Cardsharp by Karl Johnson (2006).