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Elmsley Count

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Revision as of 22:24, 18 January 2008 by Jpecore (Talk | contribs) (Handlings and Variations)

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Originally named the Ghost Count by Alex Emsley in Elmsley's "The Four Card Trick" (1959), it is a false count with a packet of four cards designed to hide one card.

The Elmsley Count is probably one of the most popular card sleights created.

It can be used to hide an upside down card, a different color card or a special gimmicked card. It has been used in routines to make a card appear, vanish, or change.

After the count, it usually leaves the cards in perfect order to do a Jordan Count.

The biggest flaw most magicians tend to make is to incorrectly interpret the action as an actual count, probably due to the name. You normally should treat it as a display, not as a literal counting of the cards.

There are two typical "grips" used when performing, the finger-tip to finger-tip and the mechanic grip. Each has it's usefulness depending on the card routine you are performing.

Handlings and Variations

  • Underground Elmsley by Phil Goldstein
  • Revolving Elmsley by Jim Krenz's
  • Smile Count
  • Elmsley Flustration Count.
  • Roger Klause's "Lovely Idea" from Mike Close's Workers 5 book for performing the move in a spectator's hands.
  • Paul Gordon's ITHEC (In The Hands Elmsley Count)
  • John Bannon's unnamed move in Smoke And Mirrors (also in the hands)
  • Marlo's OPEC Count (Out of Position Elmsley Count), 2nd card from top is hidden
  • Elmsley Count with deck in hands by Darwin Ortiz in Cardshark

Effects using the count

  • Jazz Aces (Kane)
  • Twisting the aces (Vernon)
  • Elmsley's 4 Card Trick
  • New Four Card Trick (Elmsley)
  • Marked (Derick Dingle)
  • Alien Invasion (Danny Archer)
  • NFW (Gary Freed)
  • Capitulating Cards (Jim Swain)
  • Paradigm Shift (Gerry Griffin)
  • Twixter (Jason Alford)
  • Cascade (Roy Walton)
  • Overture (Phil Goldstein)
  • Illogical Conclusion (Roy Walton)
  • 4 Card Repeat (Williamson)
  • Brothel (Sadowitz)
  • "Impact" (Roy Walton)
  • "Backflip" (Sam Schwartz)
  • "BOMB!" (Walt Maddison)
  • "Famous 3 Card Trick" (Williamon's Wonders, Kaufman)
  • Elmsley Assembly (Brother Hamman)
  • Underground Transposition (Brother Hamman)
  • Hamman's twist (Brother Hamman)


The move is popularly called the Elmsley Count, but was originally published as the Ghost Count. The count is an adaption of the Eye Count by Edward Victor (which used only 3 cards) from the one in Edward Victor's E-Y-E routine and from a move shown to him by Eric de la Mare.

Alex Elmsley has always been forthright about the provenance of his Ghost count. He discuses the item and teaches the Ghost card trick in his videos.

Jack Avis may have shown Vernon an effect that made use of this move with jumbo cards. Of course, you can't deal jumbo cards into dealer's grip, so Avis was forced to use a finger-tip to finger-tip handling. Vernon learned the move from Avis and because of the use of jumbo cards was initially forced to believe this was how the move was executed.