Feauturing Magic and Magicians from around the World

Easy Card Tricks - The Best of Magic!

So, you have decided that you would like to impress your friends, make your family feel like you have harnessed dark and supernatural powers, be the life of the party, or woo that significant someone? Great! Maybe card tricks are for you then. If you cannot pass up the lure of the pasteboards, then join us as we explore some principles that you can use to build up your card trick repertoire. These are concepts that you can put into practice right away so you can get in front of some spectators and start building up your performing confidence before you learn harder and harder sleights, for more advanced tricks.

The Card Trick by John George Brown

Card Trick Jazz Magic

Welcome to Lesson 1

by Dr. Will Given
University of California, San Diego

In Lesson One we take a look at the concept known as the key card and will see how this can be used to build some pretty interesting magic. A key card is a card in a deck that you know the position of that you will then use to know the position of another card, generally one a spectator has selected.

For example, let’s say that you give a deck to a spectator and have them shuffle it thoroughly. You want to make sure that they know there is no funny business going on; that the deck is indeed completely shuffled. Once they finish shuffling, have them square the deck which is to give it a good couple of taps on the table to get it all neat and tidy. Catch a glimpse of what the bottom card is. Guess what? All the preparation you need to do is now done. Easy, no? And you haven’t even touched the deck at all. So let’s look at how this can play out.

What makes this series different from other “How to Do Card Trick” tutorials is that we don’t want you to memorize a bunch of lines (what magicians call “patter”), nor do we want you to memorize a bunch of very complex sequences. This is what generally makes card tricks in the hands of an amateur, or aspiring magician so difficult to watch – the amateur magi is so worried about getting something right, or not flubbing a line, or not doing something out of order that, well. . . the trick becomes a bit tedious to sit through. Watch a professional though and the same trick can be nothing short of miraculous. This is because the professional has practiced those lines, those moves, those combination of sequences hundreds or even thousands of hours, making microscopic fine-tuning adjustments based on performance feedback.

If you do love card magic then that could be you someday. But until then, we want you to take a different approach. We want you to view a card trick as jazz. Take on the mindset of a jazz musician who is going up on stage to sit in with some other musicians and jam. The musicians may not know one another, but they can create magic on stage. How? Western music has only twelve notes in an octave. Period. It doesn’t matter if someone is playing the piano, the guitar, the trumpet, or the bass, they all have the same twelve notes to explore. Each has mastered precisely how to play these notes on their respective instruments. Now they just need to find their way through a piece of music based on the musical conversation they are having with the other musicians in order to take the audience on a specific kind of journey.

So why does this matter to you the aspiring card magician? Because this is exactly what you are going to do. You are going to take your spectators on a journey – one that you have no idea where it leads, but one that is based on the tone you want to set for the room. Maybe it is going to be a supernatural journey. Maybe a funny one. Maybe one centered around love. The fact is, you have no idea where you are going or where you will end up. You are just going to riff. Sound scary? Good! Let’s get started. Remember, we are just going to give you the loose framework here. It is up to you to create the magic.

The spectator has just been handed a deck and has just shuffled it thoroughly. In the process, you have glanced at the bottom card. What can you do with this powerful information? Let’s play some.

  1. Tell the spectator to cut the deck to wherever they would like. You can even have them change their mind and cut to a different place if you want. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is the seven of clubs that you've already spotted at the bottom of the deck. (figure 1)
  2. Have them take the card they cut to and set it aside face-down. In this case the three of hearts. Have them replace the cut (return the top portion of cards they cut back on top of the deck). (figures 2 & 3)

  3. Sequence of cards in trick
  4. Now have them pick up the card they freely cut to and stare at it, not letting anyone else see what it is. Tell them to visualize it in their mind, saying it over and over in their mind, even screaming it as loudly as they can in their mind if you want. (figure 4)
  5. Have them put the card face-down on top of the deck (figure 5), and then cut the deck again. (figure 6)

  6. Sequence of cards in trick
  7. Now have them replace the cut, which will put the seven of clubs on top of the three of hearts. (figure 7) Turn the deck face-up and spread the cards out, asking the spectator to be certain that their card is indeed in the center of the deck, and that no trickery has occurred. Make sure they don’t reveal what the card is. (figure 8)

Sequence of cards in trick

Guess what? You now know the card! It is the one directly to the right of the key card that you know. In this case the three of hearts which is next to the key card, the seven of clubs.

An amateur magician might end the trick here and reveal that TADAH, they know what the card is! Not you though. That would be boring and mundane. You want to play some jazz. You want to create some magic. To you the trick is just starting. Now is the time to practice some improvisation. Before our next lesson you have some homework to do. Yes you are reading this online, but we are still giving you homework and are trusting you do this before you click ahead. Before Lesson 2, write out three different riffs you could play based on the above scenario. Each one must have a completely different tone. How would you reveal the spectator’s card?

Until next time, play some magic!

You are on your way to learning some of the greatest easy card tricks of all time but remember.... PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and have fun practicing. Then, when you take a break from practicing, check out the Best Card Tricks of all Time as well as watch some of the Greatest Card Magicians. These will not only give you ideas on how you can create new tricks but inspire you as well.