Conjuring lessons

Elmsley & Jordan False Counts

Of all the false counts in the realm of card magic, the Elmsley Count is the most famous. And the Jordan Count is not far behind. You can say that those two are the grand parents of all modern false counts. They are used in thousands of card tricks, and are the foundation for many other false counts.

What you need to take this course:

  • A deck of playing cards of a good brand. Magiversity have a penchant for the Phoenix Deck, but most decks manufactured by US Playing Card Company, Fournier, Piatnik and Cartamundi works well.
  • A notebook and a pen. The size and brand of the notebook is not important, but if it fit well in your pocket, chances are that you’ll have it at hand whenever you get an idea you want to document.
  • (Optional) A metronome. A real one is nice, but an app version is more handy. Search for “Metronome” in the iOS or Android app stores, and you’ll find hundreds of them. Pick any of them.
  • (Optional) A video camera. The one in your mobile phone is perfect. A selfie stick and some duct tape works well as a camera stand.
  • (Optional) An account at a video sharing site (YouTube, Vimeo…). If you are uncertain about how to get an account, there are plenty of tutorials on internet that you can consult.
  • (Optional) Fingertip Moistener for those with very dry fingertips. There are many various brands out there. Sortkwik is the most known, but any of them works (Elfen, Horse, Sparco, BilTema…). Can be found in stores for office supplies, and on Amazon and eBay.

General assumptions:

  • The lessons assume that you are right handed and have average motor skills. Those who are left handed will have no problems adapting the lessons, but it might take a few seconds extra at times.


1: True Count

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Easy

Knowing what you try to emulate makes for a better deception, so we’ll begin by looking at a few true counts.

2: The Slip-back

Length: 12 minutesComplexity: Standard

The Slip-back is the first half of what makes the Elmsley count deceptive.

3: The Block Push-off

Length: 12 minutesComplexity: Standard

This is the second essential part of the Elmsley and Jordan count

4: The Elmsley Count

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Standard

We assemble all the parts into the famous Elmsley Count.

5: The Jordan Count

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Standard

With a small adjustment of the handling, we get the Jordan Count, that goes well together with the Elmsley Count.

6: Dry skin

Length: 3 minutesComplexity: Easy

But what if you have dry skin, due to climate or age?

7: The Metronome

Length: 10 minutesComplexity: Standard

The most important factor in a false count is the rhythm, and a metronome is a great aid!

8: Count or Display

Length: 10 minutesComplexity: Standard

Depending on whether you show the identities of the cards or show the amount of cards, it can be useful to change the appearance of the count.

9: (n) as four

Length: 10 minutesComplexity: Standard

The Elmsley Count can also be used to misrepresent the amount of cards in the packet.

10: Body positions

Length: 20 minutesComplexity: Easy

A magic performance isn’t done solely by the hands, but with the whole body. We examine how the body can contribute.

11: Twisting the Aces

Length: 20 minutesComplexity: Easy

One of the most known applications for the Elmsley Count is Dai Vernon’s “Twisting the Aces”. We take a look at that routine here.