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Sleight of Hand

Knowledge of tricks that can be performed so quickly and deftly that the manner of execution cannot be observed

Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation ('quick fingers') or legerdemain (pronounced in French, from 'lightness of hand' or deformation of 'le jeu de main' i.e. 'playing with the hand'), is the set of techniques used by a magician (or card sharp) to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly. Sleight of hand is not a branch of magic, but rather the means used by a magician to achieve magical effects. The techniques involved are sometimes difficult and may need months of practice before they can be performed proficiently. Sleight of hand is mostly employed in close-up magic, but it can also be used in stage magic.

Close-up magic is performed with the audience close to the magician, possibly in physical contact. It usually makes use of everyday items as props, such as cards and coins (see Coin magic). The guiding principle of sleight-of-hand, articulated by legendary close-up magician Dai Vernon, is "be natural." A well-performed sleight looks like an ordinary, natural and completely unsuspicious change in hand position or body posture.

Sleight-of-hand techniques can also be used to cheat in gambling games, in street con games such as the three-shell game, to steal, or, in some cases, to claim supernatural powers, as in the performances of 19th Century and early 20th Century spirit mediums. For this reason the term "sleight of hand" frequently carries negative associations of dishonesty and deceit, and is also used metaphorically outside the above contexts. However, the techniques used by gamblers are very different from those employed by magicians; similarly, the techniques used by self-proclaimed psychics or spirit mediums are often different from those found in "straight" close-up magic and mentalism. However, the differences are due to the different working conditions and the different degrees of proximity between spectators and performer; the same basic techniques and approaches are common in all the areas of deception mentioned.

A good way lo learn this is to take out a book from your local library on any kind of magic. This can be very fun to learn, and is great at parties.

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