San Antonio native, Richard Turner, is the world’s greatest card shark and he’s doing it without the help of his sight.
At the age of nine, Turner says his eyes progressively got worse, till eventually he was left blind and bitter. But he says he quickly turned the hand he was dealt, into something positive.
“Honestly, I look at my loss of sight as an asset,” Turner said. “It has allowed me to focus on what I really loved as a boy and developed it to the extreme because of the amount of the difficulty involved and heightened my other senses.”
A deck of cards quickly turned into an outlet for Turner, and his life changed. At the age of 21 years-old he met his mentor, Dai Vernon, the only man to win title of fooling Harry Houdini himself.
“Vernon took a liking to me and I became the recipient of a century worth of his most guarded card information,” Turner said. “Because I couldn’t see … he would describe them to me in the way he wished and dreamed they could be done... so I learned things that he thought were impossible.”
Contrary to popular belief, Turner is no card ‘magician’ but rather a ‘card mechanic,’ two very different things.
“Card magicians do tricks to entertain and fool people but a card mechanic is someone who can control the outcome of a card game,” Turner explained. “The techniques used at a card table are literally a thousand times more difficult to develop than the techniques of card magic.”
Card mechanics focus on the outcome, they're the ones Vegas worry about, Turner said.
“You can shuffle up a deck of cards and hand it to me and say ‘I want to play 7-Card Stud, I want five players at the table and I want the third player to have the winning hand’ then hand me the deck and I’ll deal it out so that the third deck just won with a full house,” he explained.
The techniques involved are ones that Turner has spend much of his life perfecting and learning. Thousands of hours practicing and mastering card manipulation, some days up to 20 hours at a given time.
And because he can’t see the cards, Turner relies on his touch to decipher between each.
“It’s all based on the texture of each card, they’re each not the same, each card is different,” he said. “I may have lost my eyes by my touch is better than anyone’s.”
Turner’s life will soon become the subject of feature-length documentary, entitled ‘Dealt,’ and will follow his life journey and extraordinary talents. Austin producer and director, Luke Korem, said Turner’s story is one that should serve as an example for all.
“The only way to really present his story is in a documentary,” he said. “It's really a film about determination and what you can do if you put your mind to it. People can’t help but be inspired by [him].”
The film is still in production and is set to be released sometime in 2015.
For more information on the film, you can go here.
Turner was recently featured on a morning segment for CBS This Morning; in the clip he talks about his life and shows off some of his secrets.