How to Do the Ribbon-Spread Turnover

By Tom Interval

If you love movies, you might have seen Paul Newman in The Sting (1973) manipulating cards like a magician or gambler. Of course, there was expert manipulation going on, but it mostly wasn’t Newman doing it. Why do I say “mostly”?

Because, despite magician and card expert John Scarne lending his hands for almost all of the close-up card work in the film, Newman actually did one of the moves himself. Or should I say he did half of one of the moves?

Which one? It’s called the ribbon-spread turnover, and in the film, a close-up shot of Scarne’s hands shows Scarne spreading the deck on a table. But once the deck is spread and Scarne’s hands are out of the shot, there’s a noticeable splice just before Newman’s hands come into view and finish the move by turning over the deck with a flourish.

Many films have shown characters doing the ribbon-spread turnover to establish their skill or shrewd nature, but you don’t have to be an expert magician, con artist, or Hollywood stand-in to do the spread well. It does take some practice, but if you follow my video tutorial carefully and put in the time, you’ll have a real conversation starter at your next poker game.

You can watch the full tutorial by following the link or watching the embedded video below. And when you have time, update me on your progress. Good luck!


About Tom Interval

San Diego Magician Tom Interval, owner of Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and nationally. A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), Society of American Magicians (SAM), and the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia. With a BA in professional writing and minors in communications and business administration, Interval writes magic-related e-books, magazine articles, and blogs and produces tutorials and related videos for his YouTube channel. Most recently, Interval earned The Linking Ring Award of Excellence for a cover story he wrote for the magicians' publication. To learn more, please visit
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