Translation missing: en.general.accessibility.skip_to_content
The Best Definition of Sleight of Hand?

The Best Definition of Sleight of Hand?

I picked up DelGaudio’s book “Amoralman” without knowing anything about him. The Amazon book reviews were so good and the synopsis promised real stories (I’m a sucker for auto-biographies) so I bought it without much thought. 

When I began reading it I felt similar to how I was feeling at the countryside back in 2009 when I read for the first time “The Magician and the Cardsharp” by Karl Johnson (for those of you who don’t know it it’s about Dai Vernon’s search for the center deal) and saw myself right there next to The Professor adventuring together to find Allan Kennedy, but this time my heart was beating (and I was sweating - HA!) while trying to cheat for the first time side by side with DelGaudio.


The book is a great read for any gambling aficionado. Grab it from your local bookshop and give it a read. If you want to listen to DelGaudio talk about the book and his show “In and Of Itself” (which we’ll review here at another time), there’s a wonderful interview on Youtube with DelGaudio that legendary writer Neil Gaiman held.


I loved this next passage on page 41 and 42 so much that I really wanted to share it with you guys this week. I believe this younger version of himself (for he is quoting himself in this section of the book) is so ON POINT when it comes to defining what sleight of hand is. Let's see what it is.

"In the earliest notebook, the only spiral-bound one, I found an entry where I lamented the narrowness of the accepted definition of the term sleight-of-hand.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: A cleverly executed trick or deception.

Cambridge Dictionary: Speed and skill of the hand when performing tricks.

Macmillan Dictionary: Clever and quick use of your hands, especially when performing a magic trick.

I was particularly annoyed by the fact that all of them emphasized trickery. To me these pathetic simplifications that focused on a limited context rather than the activity itself. I don't need to deceive someone to execute sleight-of-hand, I wrote. I was dissatisfied with the definitions that I created my own:

Sleight-of-hand refers to the practice of using fine motor skills and psychological principles to create unnatural events through seemingly natural actions.

This has to be the best definition of sleight of hand out there. Don't you guys agree?

What would your definition of sleight of hand be? Tell me in the comment section below.


Note: All the beautiful artwork featured inside our blogposts in the past few weeks has been done by Landon Stark

Previous article How do you behave around famous magicians?
Next article The Art of Constraints and Limitations


Dr.Harald Ritzel - October 26, 2022

Hi Liam,
thanks for recommending the book Amoralman. I ordered it From Amazon and will have it in soon, Thanks again .

Robert Mills - October 26, 2022

Obviously DelGaudio’s proposed definition is way better (and more accurate) than what the dictionaries offer. Nevertheless, I would offer a few slight modifications, with the most important addition being a reference to perception, i.e., “Sleight-of-hand is the application of fine motor skills, along with psychological principles, to create the perception of unnatural events through seemingly natural actions.”

Stark - October 26, 2022

Great Article, Biz!

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields