The Si Stebbins is a card stack system used to perform Mentalism and card tricks with a gambling theme (see Magic (illusion)).
The system was originally published in the United States around 1898 by William Coffrin (alias Si Stebbins), in a booklet titled “Si Stebbins’ Card tricks and the Way He Performs Them”. It is not clear whether the original publication of this booklet was made in New York or Boston. There was also a latter edition titled “Card tricks and the Way They are Performed”.
In this system every card is three numbers higher from the preceding card, and the suits (see Suit (cards)) rotate in Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds order (known as "CHaSeD" order). This arrangement allows the performer to know the identity of a chosen card by glimpsing the next card, or determining the exact position of any card in the pack by a mathematical calculation, although many other properties of the system are known and have been applied to different card tricks.
This type of arrangement of the cards is considered to be a mathematical arrangement (i.e., an arrangement based in a mathematical progression as opposed to a “Rosary Stack”, where the cards from ace to king are arranged following an easy to memorize formula).
Although the Si Stebbins stack became popular after the publication of Stebbins’ pamphlet in America, mathematical arrangements of this kind were used to perform divination card tricks much before 1898.
As per Juan Tamariz in Mnemonica, several books previous to the publication of the Stebbins pamphlet describe this system or variations in which the cards progress by five, four or three. Examples of these books are an Italian pamphlet titled "Il Cartaginese" (Verona, 1597), the book "Les Fantasies de L’Escot" by the French writer L’Escot (Paris, 1621), "Giochi di carte bellissimi di regola, e di memoria", by the Italian writer Horatio Galasso (Venice, 1593), the "Thesouro de Prudentes", by the Portuguese writer Gaspar Cardoso de Sequeira and the books by the Spanish writer Minguet published circa 1612, that describe the mathematical card arrangement known today as "Si Stebbins" or variations of it.
Si Stebbins himself, in a latter book titled Stebbins’ Legacy to Magicians (1935) admits having learned the system from a Spanish or Syrian magician.
Although this particular system was known previous to the publication of Si Stebbins' booklet, it is generally known by the name "Si Stebbins" because of the influence of well known magic authors of the XX century, such as Charles Jordan, and Theodore Annemann, who invented tricks based on the properties of this mathematical arrangement of the cards. As most of these American authors published in Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks refer to this arrangement as “Si Stebbins”, the stack is generally known by this name in the United States. Tony Corinda in his book Thirteen Steps To Mentalism also calls the system "Si Stebbins", thus making this particular name for the system popular among English magicians too.
Other magicians and authors, such as Howard Thurston, refer to the stack by other names. In chapter IV of Howard Thurston's Card Tricks, Howard Thurston credits himself with being the author of the system and tricks performed with it, while giving credit to Si Stebbins for providing “many valuable suggestions and ideas with regard to its conception”. He calls this particular arrangement of the cards "The "Thurston" System of Expert Card Manipulation".
The order of the cards is easy to learn and it is possible to train an assistant to use this system in a very short time, greatly reducing the time needed to prepare of a two person mind reading act, and allowing the performer to spend more time in perfecting the acting part and emphasizing the dramatic elements that make the act entertained and varied.
Si Stebbins Pro is the modern version of the classic Stebbins Si Stack. The Pro Stack was developed in 2006 by Dr. Hans-Christian Solka, a german card magician.
Si Stebbins Pro is still simple as the classic version and has more benefits.
Ribbon spreading the classic Si Stebbins Stack shows a treacherous suit sequence. The Pro Stack has a random suit appearance. Nevertheless, to determine following or preceding cards is as simple as with the classic stack.
The position of every card in Si Stebbins Pro is determined by only one clear rule. This rule makes the Pro Stack in a very easy way completely predictable. The Pro Stack involves a simple relationship between cards and positions. The Pro Stack approach is new and much more simple than the conventional Si Stebbins formulas. For one third of all cards you even know the Pro Stack number immediately.
The first 9 cards in the Pro Stack are: 3H-6C-9D-QS-2C-5D-8S-JH-AD…. Dr Christian Solka's Pro Stack