John Scarne is known for fooling Arnold Rothstein (accused of fixing the World Series of 1919) by cutting the four aces from a shuffled deck of cards. He fooled Rothstein and his men six nights in a row back in 1923. When I read about it as a kid it captured my imagination and fueled my desire to become a magician. There are many layers to this legendary story and it is shrouded in mystery. In this writing I examine those elements.

Each of these elements, for the most part, have their own chapter. The elements are like pieces of a puzzle: none of them on their own will give you the whole picture, it is when the pieces are assembled that you begin to see the whole picture. I am going to examine whether John Scarne really did cut to the aces for Arnold Rothstein and his men with Rothstein’s own shuffled deck.



  • The Story

  • Six Nights Of Scrutiny

  • Timeline

  • The Weather Report

  • Anecdotes About Scarne

  • Discrepancies

  • Video Footage

  • Other Thoughts

  • What’s A Zero Between Friends?

  • The Next Time You Tell That Story, Lie

  • The Final Analysis


When I was about fourteen I read a story about a magician by the name of John Scarne. John Scarne’s claim to fame was that he could take a deck of cards shuffled by someone else, and cut to all four aces. He even did it for Arnold Rothstein, the man accused of fixing the World Series of 1919. Rothstein hired him on six successive nights in an attempt to discover his secret, but Rothstein and his men couldn’t figure it out. John Scarne took his secret to the grave.

Absent any proof, I proceeded as if it were known to be true as best as I could. It has been said that a rising tide lifts all ships and that applies to the four minute mile better than the four aces. Applying the same concept to the ace cutting, it’s as if my ship was rising with the tide, but water was coming in at the same time. The hole in the ship bein