Original Card Routine on Paper vs Reality

Struggling with an effect? Any tips (without giving too much away!) you'd like to share?

Moderators: nickj, Lady of Mystery, Mandrake, bananafish, support

Original Card Routine on Paper vs Reality

Postby x_calibre » Feb 15th, '21, 08:51

Apologies in advance for the very lengthy post. I suspect only a few will read this whole thing, but here it goes anyway. For a quicker read, skip to the paragraphs below the stars (★ ★ ★ ★ ★) for the important part.


It's fair to say that a large proportion of simple card tricks at least roughly follows the basic schema of:

1. Giving the spectator the feeling of familiarity and/or mental ownership of a playing card(s) via an ostensibly fair or actually fair selection
2. The selected card is lost amongst other cards/destroyed/vanished/imprisoned
3. The payoff is delivered when the spectator's card is then recovered and/or produced from its improbable/impossible state in step 2. The payoff can and is often also be derived from the fact that the selection in step 1 was fair and the selection could not have been known by the magician.


I wanted to create an original impromptu routine using the 3 step schema above with the goal of modifying step 1 and step 2 in order to make the ultimate payoff an unexplainably airtight one. In order to make this effect seem truly impossible:

1. I wanted the spectator to think of any card instead of physically selecting one, and importantly never saying the card out loud or writing it down
2. The spectator shuffles the deck instead of the magician
3. Instead of the magician, the spectator locates their thought of card in the deck they shuffled by selecting any position in the deck.

- The deck can be borrowed


Firstly, this had been field tested (not enough perhaps) and is successful. My routine fulfils the requirements listed above, however, I feel that the routine when presented in reality doesn't feel as magical as it sounds on paper (often the case with commercially marketed magic, surprise!). This is possibly because I have had to use my limited hobbyist magician knowledge, and want your opinions on my original method of step 1 of the routine. I write the following through the theoretical lens of magicians sometimes not realising that a common effect achieved via different methods is still just the same effect to a layman.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In order to ascertain any playing card the spectator freely thought of (without the card ever being said out loud or written down), I came up with the method of having them find their card as you slowly spread through the deck at eye level, and have them highlight their own card by pulling it about halfway out of the deck. Elegant and efficient sleight of hand that ensues enables identification of their thought of card. The justification used for the spectator locating their thought of card while you spread the deck is that:

1. You want the other spectators to know what card the primary spectator is thinking of without the primary spectator ever saying the card out loud
2. We need to make sure the card isn't missing from the deck

The patter for these two justifications is nuanced and well off-beat timed but I won't be posting that here for the sake of brevity. Does the fact that this potentially tedious process must be carried out effectively kill the power of the statement: "the spectator thinks of any card, and never says it out loud or writes it down"? Imagine the scenario where you've spread slowly through 40 cards before they see their selection in the remaining spread group. You could put the most commonly thought of cards near the top to largely curtail this, but that wouldn't make the effect impromptu.

I will pre-empt before individuals conflate the two and distinguish that:
- A typical physical selection from a spread, is different to
- The spectator freely thinking of any card then highlighting it as in my method
... OR is it precisely the case that to the spectator that there is no difference in their mind? Do you think my method dampens the spectator's feeling of the complete fairness of their thought of selection in any way if you use these justifications?

The rest of the routine I have put some thought into and am content with, however this issue with step 1 is bothering me. Have I sacrificed spectator enjoyment in the blind pursuit to have this effect (step 1) sound great on paper? I'm not sure if I'm overthinking this and a typical spread selection will have the same effect to the spectator.

Experienced magicians' feedback is valued. Also thanks to all the mods who didn't delete my account for being inactive for over a decade. It made me smile seeing all your familiar names again. I hope all of you are well and in good health, after all we're all older folk now.

Thank you.

Junior Member
Posts: 29
Joined: Jun 13th, '06, 19:30
Location: Sydney, Australia

Return to Support & Tips

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests