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Outs

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Outs, or Multiple Outs, are strategies and techniques used by magicians to succesfully conclude a trick when something hasn't gone as planned. Although the performer may choose or be forced to change the entire course of the trick after it has begun, to the audience it should seem as if the outcome was the magician's plan all along.

The idea is mentioned by Robert-Houdin in his Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (1878). His trick The Card Thought Of requires a fan force, and after the description of the technique, Robert-Houdin added, "...this sleight is supplemented by certain ways of escape, which in the event of a failure, render the trick just as surprising as if the performer had completely succeeded in getting the right card..."

In 1940, Charles H. Hopkins wrote a book called "Outs", Precautions and Challenges devoted to the subject. For many years, Milt Kort tried to keep the book a secret, even buying out the complete stock at Sterling's where he was working. The little booklet was one of his sub rosa sources for magician-fooling material. Kort's approach to learning and using outs was published as No. 19 in Ron Bauer's Private Studies Series).

Multiple Outs, based on advertisements in Genii and The Linking Ring, seems to have started as a term in magic around 1975.

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