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POKER CHIP TRICKS: Poker Chip Spin

By Greg Mallon
COMPLETE STEP-by-STEP and "HOW TO" PHOTOS BELOW!
MPEG Video of Poker Chip Spin with Right Hand MPEG Video of Poker Chip Spin with Left Hand VIDEO NOTE: I am executing these "SPINS" a bit slower than I normally do so that you can see what is going on. When learning, don't try to do it fast. SPEED WILL COME. You should be able to PAUSE the video as I am doing it so you can follow along, which really helps. - Greg
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If you've been watching the World Series of Poker or World Poker Tour tournaments on TV, you've probably seen a number of the players (eg, Gus Hansen, Dutch Boyd) doing this poker chip spin where they take a stack of three poker chips in one hand, slide out the middle chip, spin it with one finger and return it to the center of the stack. It looks very cool, and it can seem difficult to learn if someone doesn't show you exactly how it's done. Well here it is. I'll show you step-by-step, right-handed and left-handed and I'll soon be including a short MPEG video you can watch to make it easier while you practice. There are a number of small details you must focus on while you practice, and if you do, I promise, you will take something that seems ridiculously difficult and perform it effortlessly at the poker table. I personally thought it was just about impossible when I first tried to do this, but now I can do it right-handed, left-handed, and almost without even thinking about it. If you practice, you will too - I promise.

Below you will see a SEQUENCE of POSITIONS (some are actual moves). I also have a number of photos from other angles that will show you some key strategic "positions" (where you must place your fingers). They will be added to the sequences you see below.

Some Minor Terminology Before We Start:
When practicing this poker chip spin, it will be a good idea to refer to both the left-handed and right-handed photos regardless of which hand you are using since you will see a slightly different angle with each series of photos. In my explanation, I will be referring to the "INNER CHIP", so take a look at the photo on the left so you'll familiar with what I am talking about. It may seem obvious, but the "INNER CHIP" will be the one on the stack closest to your palm. I'll also be referring to the index (or first) finger, the middle finger (no photo required... ;-) ), and the ring finger. You won't be using the little finger (or pinky).

So if you're ready, let's get started!



RIGHT-HANDED Poker Chip Spin

   CLICK on the PHOTOs to ZOOM-IN   VIEW Right-Handed MPEG V I D E O!
1: Starting Position 2: The Separation
To start, the three poker chips are stacked as shown and held between the thumb and the forefinger (index finger). The placement of the MIDDLE and RING fingers are critical. The TIP of the middle finger (and only the TIP), is pressed against the INNER BLACK CHIP. This has the effect of "pinning" the INNER BLACK chip between the thumb and middle finger ( see Photos 1B & 1C). The index finger (forefinger / first finger) simply helps hold the stack in place, touching all three chips.

The thumb and the ring finger are touching with the ring finger "extended outward a bit" for reasons I will explain in the next step. Remember, you are not moving anything yet, you are simply assuming a starting position. While it may seem a bit awkward to start this way, with practice you will easily return your fingers to this position with little thought or effort.   You may be wondering how firmly you need to hold the stack of poker chips to execute this move. Ultimately the pressure of your fingers on the chip stack will be "very light" - in fact, as you get better you will begin to relax the pressure of your fingers on the chips (and it will become even easier).

[ KEY POINT: There are TWO main "pressure points" to focus on as you hold the chip stack in your starting position. When I say pressure, I mean MILD, DELICATE pressure. The FIRST is the tip of the middle finger on the INNER chip (as we discussed). The SECOND is the THUMB on the OUTER chip. Your should bend your thumb "inward" (ever so slightly) to focus pressure on the "top part" of the "outer chip" (see Photo 1C). As you might guess, with mild pressure on the OUTER BLACK CHIP and INNER BLACK CHIP, the MIDDLE (RED) CHIP will be the one that is "swept away" as the ring finger come across. ]


Photo 1A [ZOOM]

Photo 1B [ZOOM]

Photo 1C [ZOOM in on Pressure Points]
Before I get into the "separation move", take your thumb and rub it against the first joint (bend) of your ring finger. You should notice the small bump of the bone at the side of the joint of the ring finger. You will be "brushing" that "bony area" of the ring finger against the stack of poker chips. [ By the way - you do not need bony or skinny fingers, but I mention this to help you understand which part of the ring finger will be "rubbbing across" the chip stack. ]

You should review and make sure that your ring finger is pulled inward toward your thumb as I mentioned in step 1 [see Photo 1A. The ring finger should be right up against your thumb before you begin to "separate" the MIDDLE CHIP. The entire stack should be held in place (between thumb and index finger and thumb and middle finger). To begin, move your ring finger across the chip-stack (out and away from your palm), putting mild pressure on the chip-stack with INSIDE part of the ring finger. As you make this move, only the middle chip is "free to move". In fact, when you ORIENT your ENTIRE HAND as shown in Photos 1A and Photo 2, and when the chip stack is held "lightly", the MIDDLE CHIP almost "falls downward" when you make this move.

[ KEY POINT: Since you want to get a good "separation" of the MIDDLE CHIP from the other two, you should focus on making sure the ring finger is as far over to the thumb as possible. Ideally you would like to grab on to the MIDDLE CHIP (with the side of your ring finger) AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. This will give you MAXIMUM SEPARATION and make your next step (of spinning the poker chip) easier. ]

[ PRACTICE TIP: Instead of trying to execute the entire trick of spinning the poker chip, first repeatedly attempt the "separation move" until you feel you can consistently get separation and still have "control" . You DO NOT want to hold the chips VERY TIGHT. It will be natural to try and hold them a bit firmer when you start, but as you progress it will actually help you to relax and holdem them very "lightly". ]

Photo 2 [ZOOM]
3: The Spread 4: Index Finger Extends
This is just a continuation of the "separation move" in STEP 2. What you are looking to do here is create "enough separation" so that the middle chip completely clears the inner and outer chips. Since you will be attempting to spin the middle chip (not yet), you want to make sure they do not run into each other (when the time comes). So practice getting a decent "spread" of these chips. Also, as you spread (create more separation), your middle finger will "release" from the INNER BLACK CHIP (that is, it should be "touching nothing")

[ PRACTICE TIP: Continue the separation and the spread until you can do it with some degree of control. Try separating, spreading and returning (without an attempted spin) - over and over. If you rush forward to the actual "spin steps" without getting control of the separation, you might get a bit frustrated.

Photo 3 [ZOOM] As mentioned in the previous step, the middle finger will release from the INNER CHIP and just be hanging in the air. This is good because you will now "need it" to "begin spinning" the MIDDLE CHIP.

You want to gently extend that middle finger [without offending anyone of course]. You should then find the END of your middle finger just outside the edge of the MIDDLE CHIP.

Photo 4 [ZOOM]
5: Spin Starts 6: Finish Spin
OK, now here is where it gets tricky. You will be attempting to take your middle finger and "GENTLY" pull the outer edge of the poker chip toward your palm.

If you have not done this before, I can almost GUARANTEE you will DROP it. (sorry) That does not mean it is impossible. In fact, you will be quite amazed at how something that seems so impossible becomes trivially EASY with repeated practice. Again, this is a "delicate" move. You want to "gently" touch the OUTER-edge of the middle poker chip and "gently" rotate it toward your palm. Once you practiced this a boat-load of times, you will become faster. You are NOT looking for SPEED at this point.

Photo 5 [ZOOM] Once you begin to have some success turning the poker chip, you will want the chip to make at half-rotation, at which point the tip of your middle finger nail should be at the bottom edge (relatively speaking) of the MIDDLE CHIP [ this is NOT VISIBLE in the current photo ]. That 180-degree, half-rotation is the "spin" you are looking for. It is, in essence, simply "turning the poker chip over". Once complete, the hard parts are over and your only remaining task is to return the poker chip to the center of the stack.

If you are having difficulty executing the spin, do not worry. It is almost impossible to execute the first number of times you try it. But I can assure you that you will quickly develop the required delicate muscle control (SIMPLY BY ATTEMPTING IT). Just practice while watching TV, or anytime your hand is free.

Photo 6 [ZOOM]
7: Returning to Middle 8: Finish
Well, if you have read this far (or practiced this far), good job - at least I feel good. I am tempted to just say "slide the poker chip back to the middle". And truthfully, that's really all you need to do. But I will say a few things. First, when you were practicing the 2nd and 3rd steps of getting your separation and "getting a spread", you may have taken my advice of "separate, spread and return", over and over. If you did indeed do that, you will have helped yourself control the INNER and OUTER CHIPS so that they maintain the GAP (from whence the MIDDLE CHIP came). You simply return it (as you hopefully had practiced before). There may be some difficulty. The MIDDLE CHIP may "bump" into the INNER or OUTER CHIP, but with repeated practice and "fine tuning" you will easily iron that out. Some things I cannot really teach. They are more subtle finesse and control aspects that you are GUARANTEED to resolve with repeated practice. Photo 7 [ZOOM] Here you END where you BEGAN. Hopefully, I have helped you actually pull this off. It is most doable. I will say again that when I first attempted to do this, without knowing what I have just taught you, I thought it was RIDICULOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE. "You've got to be kidding", I thought. Now, I can do it while I am half-asleep, almost without even thinking about it. I expect you will too.

By the way, this may look like a whole lot to do to just the poker chip spin, but it is really not all that much. Once you master the moves, it will really appear to be a 3-step process. First to separate, then you spin, then you return the chip to the center. Focusing on these smaller steps will help you quickly master the trick. Speed will simply come as you practice and you can decide what looks better - fast or slow.

Photo 8 [ZOOM]

If you're right-handed, you should certainly practice these moves first with your right hand. But I promise you that once you get good at it "right-handed", you will be mentally prepared to perform this "left-handed". I think you will be amazed at how much quicker it will probably go left-handed. When I was younger and practiced some card tricks, I realized that once I mastered something with my right-hand, I had already partially programmed my brain to perform it left handed, without even yet trying it. That's not to say you could just pick it up and perform it, but some of that muscle memory does transfer to the other hand (in my experience). At any rate, you should be encouraged that once you put the time in on the right side, you will be rewarded with a shorter learning curve on the left... and then... you'll be one step closer to being Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari.

NEXT UP for Poker Chip Tricks: The "Knuckle Roll" (where you have a Poker Chip walk across the tops of your fingers (from left to right), pull it down with your "pinky finger" under your palm, then BACK up again as you execute a "repeated knuckle roll"). This is a common coin and poker chip trick that you can easily learn (once I take all the requisite photographs and provide detailed instructions). I have been doing that trick since I was into Magic as a teenager. I'll place a THUMBNAIL ICON on our HOMEPAGE once these instructions are posted.

PREVIEW the Knuckle-Roll Poker Chip Trick BELOW:

GO TO the Knuckle Roll Poker Chip Trick
... OR WATCH the VIDEO ...
NOTE: The second time you "play it" will be smoother since the file will have been "Cached" on your machine...
VIDEO!--> Knuckle Roll MPEG V I D E O! (Bellagio Chip)
VIDEO!--> Knuckle Roll MPEG V I D E O! (Circus-Circus Chip)


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