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Allen Kennedy

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Allen Kennedy
BornAllen Bryan Kennedy
June 13, 1897
Pleasant Hill, Missouri
DiedMarch 4, 1961 (age 63)
Harrisonville Memorial hospital, Missouri
Resting placePleasant Hill Cemetery,Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Allen "Bill" Kennedy (h.1897–d.1961) was a cardsharp that Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller tracked down in 1932 to learn his Center Deal, which most magicians thought impossible.[1]


Vernon first heard of the existence of a gambler named Kennedy who could deal a card from the center of the deck 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 discovered that Kennedy lived in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. After persistent questioning, he found Kennedy on March 20, 1932. Introducing himself as a card cheat who worked cruise ships, Kennedy at first wary, was won over by Vernon showing showing some impressive cheating sleights. Finally, Kennedy showed Vernon the center deal. Kennedy 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 Revelations video series.

In the late 1950s, drinking got the best of Kennedy and he became the town drunk. He died in March of 1961 and his body was brought back to Pleasant Hill to be buried next to his parents.[2]

The search was documented in the book The Magician and the Cardsharp by Karl Johnson (2006).


  1. Genii Magazine, Vol. 64, No. 12, December 2001, "Dai Vernon's Quest for Kennedy and the Center Deal", by Karl Johnson, page 30