26 Card Tricks

For the Intermediate Level Magician Using a Standard Deck
(Published February 1, 2011)

26 Card Tricks - Book Cover
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CHAPTER 1 — TECHNIQUES

All of the techniques that are used in the card tricks presented in the following chapters are relatively basic and most should be familiar to the intermediate level magician, but “refreshers” are always useful. If you need these refreshers, you should have a deck of cards in your hands as you follow along. Note that my specifications of “left hand” and “right hand” are not sacrosanct—they are simply the way I do it. If you prefer to use the other hand, feel free to do so. I have opted to present only the simplest versions of these techniques. Note that the techniques presented here, because they are simple, will probably not withstand the scrutiny of advanced-level magicians. If you would like more in-depth information about them (and any number of variations thereof), I suggest you consult Jean Hugard and Frederick Braué's book, “The Royal Road To Card Magic,” or other books in the bibliography.


Shuffles:

  • Riffle Shuffle: Divide the deck into two packets, put the packet ends together, bend both packets upward, and release the cards so that they become interlaced.
  • False Riffle Shuffles: To keep a card on the top of the deck, release the cards from the top of the packet that contains the top card last of all. To keep a card on the bottom of the deck, release the cards from the bottom of the packet that contains the bottom card first of all.
  • Overhand Shuffle: Hold the deck in your left hand (card faces or card backs toward your left palm depending on your objective) at a 45-degree angle to the vertical and take the majority of the right-most cards in your right hand. In sequential order, with your left thumb pull off small packets from the bottom of the packet in your right hand, letting them fall to the left of the cards in your left hand.
  • False Overhand Shuffles: To keep a card on the top of the deck, hold the deck in your left hand with the faces of the cards toward your left palm, employ the overhand shuffle and, after pulling off packets with your left thumb to the left of the cards in your left hand, simply put the final packet to the right of the cards held in your left hand. To keep a card on the bottom of the deck, follow the same procedure, but start with the backs of the cards toward your left palm. By appropriate sizing of the packets (the last packet being just 1 card), the bottom card can be moved to the top, or the top card can be moved to the bottom.

Cuts:

  • Standard Cut: The general principle of the cut is to put the bottom half of the deck on top of the top half of the deck so that the order of the cards is rearranged. One way of doing this is to hold the deck in your left hand, take the top half with your right hand, place it on the table, then take the bottom half of the deck with your right hand, and place it on top of the top half.
  • False Cut: Hold the deck in your left hand and with your right hand take the bottom half, and place it on the table, then take the top half with your right hand and place it on top of the bottom half. The order of the cards will remain unchanged. While this may sound simplistic and obvious, if done adroitly, your viewers will be unable to distinguish it from a standard cut.

Forces:

Most card tricks involve having a viewer select a card from the deck. A card force is used when the magician wants the viewer to select a specific card, the identity of which is known to the magician. Many different types of forces can be employed. Five simple and effective ones are presented here.

  • Riffle Force With Top Card Slide: With the card to be forced on the top of the deck, hold the deck in your left hand with your thumb along the left side and your fingers on the right side curled over onto the top of the deck. Riffle the cards with your right thumb until the viewer says, “Stop.” Apply pressure to the top card with your left fingers and, with your right hand, remove the top (unriffled) packet (except for the force card which will be held in place by the pressure of the left fingers). The known top card will then drop to the top of the left-hand packet and will become the card that the viewer has “selected.”
  • Fanned Deck With Bottom Card Slide Right Force: With the card to be forced on the bottom of the deck, hold the deck face down in your left hand. After spreading the deck with your right hand, thumb on top and fingers #1, #2, #3, and #4 on the bottom, have a viewer point to (but not take) a card. Applying pressure to the bottom card with your right fingers, remove it and the card the viewer pointed to (as well as all cards above it). The known force card will now be on the bottom of the right-hand packet and will become the card that the viewer has “selected.”
  • Top Card Palmed Force: With the card to be forced on the top of the deck, hold the deck in your left hand. While squaring the deck, palm the top card with your right hand. Have a viewer shuffle the deck then cut the deck and complete the cut. Take back the deck with your left hand, transfer it to your right hand, and place the palmed card on top. The known force card will now be on the top of the deck and will become the card that the viewer has “selected.”
  • Deal From The Bottom Force: With the force card on the bottom of the deck, hold the deck in your right hand with your right thumb on the top, right fingers #2, #3, & #4 on the left side, and right finger #1 on the bottom. With your left hand, deal from the top of the deck one card less than the number specified by the viewer. For the last card to be dealt, slide the bottom card forward with your right finger #1 and deal it as if it were being dealt from the top of the deck.
  • Magician's Choice Force: With four (or three) cards face down on the table, have a viewer point to two of them. If the card to be forced is not one of those two, discard them. If the card to be forced is one of them, discard the other two. With two cards remaining, have the viewer point to one of them. If that is the card to be forced, it becomes the viewer's “selection.” If it is not the card to be forced, discard it—and the remaining card will become the viewer's “selection.”

Reversals:

Many card tricks involve having a card appear reversed (turned over) in the middle of the deck. The most practical way to accomplish this is to turn over the top or the bottom card on the deck and then move it to the middle. There are numerous methods for doing a top or bottom card reversal. Three are presented here.

  • Top Card To Bottom Fingertip Reversal: Hold the deck face down in your left hand with your thumb along the left side and your fingers #1, #2, #3, and #4 on the right side, curled over with their tips pressing on the backs of the cards. Take the deck from above with your right hand, thumb on the inner edge, fingers #1, #2, and #3 on the outer edge. With your right hand, move the deck slightly up and to the right while maintaining pressure on the back of the top card with your left fingers. The top card will naturally turn over onto your left fingers and will be reversed on the bottom of the deck when you square it. If you wish to reverse the bottom card on a deck rather than the top card, begin with the deck face up in your left hand.
  • Bottom Card In Place Fingertip Reversal: Hold the deck in your left hand (card faces toward your palm) with the left edge angled upward at a 45 degree angle, your left fingers on the right edge curled over onto the back of the top card, and your left thumb on the face of the bottom card. Take the deck from above with your right hand, thumb on the inner edge, fingers #1, #2, and #3 on the outer edge. With your right hand, move the deck slightly up and to the right while maintaining pressure on the face of the bottom card with your left thumb. The bottom card will naturally turn over onto your left fingers and will be reversed on the bottom of the deck when you square it.
  • Side Of The Leg Reversal: To reverse the top card on the deck, hold the deck face down in your left hand. Turn your body half left, and at the same time let your left hand drop to your side. With your left thumb, push the top card to the right until the right edge of the card contacts your left leg. Move your left hand downward with your thumb still pressing on the back of the top card, and the card will turn over. Square the deck and continue. If you wish to reverse the bottom card on the deck rather than the top card, begin with the deck face up in your left hand.

Card to Top (or Bottom) of Deck:

When a viewer has selected a card and returned it to the middle of the deck, the magician often needs to be able to move that card to either the top or the bottom of the deck. Two ways, one each for moving the card in different directions, are presented here.

  • Card To Top Of Deck: With the packet above the card selected by the viewer in your right hand, and the packet below the card selected by the viewer in you left hand, have the viewer return her/his card to the top of the packet in your left hand. Put your left finger #4 on top of the left-hand packet to establish a break and place the right-hand packet on top. Then draw off the entire right-hand packet and employ a false overhand shuffle, keeping the viewer's card on the top of the deck.
  • Card To Bottom Of Deck: With the deck in your left hand, riffle the deck with your right thumb until the viewer says, “Stop.” Lift the top packet and show the viewer her/his card on its bottom. Place your left finger #4 on top of the left-hand packet to establish a break, and place the right-hand packet back on top. Cut the deck and complete the cut at the break to bring the viewer's card to the bottom of the deck. With the backs of the cards toward your left palm, do a false overhand shuffle keeping the bottom card on the bottom of the deck.

Reveals:

There are many ways for the magician to reveal a card that was selected by a viewer. Most of them are quite prosaic, but some seem to be magic in and of themselves. Three of these are presented here.

  • Rising Card Reveal: With the viewer's card on the top of the deck, hold the deck vertically in your left hand with the card faces toward your palm and toward the viewers, the top 1/3 of the deck being down-jogged about ½ inch. Put your right finger #1, extended toward the viewers, on the top edge of the deck. Secretly put the tip of your right finger #4 (preferably moistened if you can arrange that) on the back of the top card near its bottom. Slowly raise your right hand and the top card will come along with it. Allow the top card to move forward over the jog, square the deck, and it will appear that the card has risen from the middle of the deck.
  • Drop-Flip Reveal: With the viewer's card on the top of the deck, hold the deck horizontally in your left hand. Bring your right hand over the top of the deck with your thumb at the inner end and your fingers at the outer end. Using your left thumb, slide the top card about 1" to the right under cover of your right hand. Take the deck in your right hand and throw it down on the table from a height of about 24". Air pressure will cause the top (viewer's) card to turn over and separate itself from the rest of the deck.
  • Slap-Deck Reveal: With the viewer's card on the bottom of the deck, have the viewer take the deck from the outer end with her/his thumb on the bottom and fingers on the top. Slap the protruding end of the deck one or more times. Cards from the deck will fall to the table until the viewer finally ends up holding only her/his “selected” card.

Glimpses:

The purpose of the glimpse is to permit the magician to secretly determine the identity of one or more cards at specific locations in the deck.

  • Bottom-Card Glimpse: Simply find a way that is comfortable for you to secretly peek at the bottom card as you hold the deck in your hand. For example, take the deck in your right hand, thumb on the bottom, fingers on the top, and as you transfer the deck to your left hand, tilt it slightly so that you can see the index on the inner left corner of the bottom card.
  • Top-Card Glimpse: Take the deck in your left hand as for dealing but with your left finger #1 curled over the outer end and your left thumb lying flat along the left-side edge. Turn your left hand palm down so the deck is face upwards. With your left fingers, push the top card of the deck to the right so you can see its inner right index. Return your left hand and the cards to their original positions.

Miscellaneous:

  • Palming: Several different methods of palming are available. One, the Slide-Right Palm is presented here. Hold the deck horizontally in your left hand. Bring your right hand over the deck with your right thumb at the inner end and your right fingers at the outer end. Under cover of your right hand, use your left thumb to move the top card on the deck about 1" to the right. Take that card in the curved palm of your right hand and keep it hidden. Have the viewer do whatever needs to be done with the deck and then take back the deck with your left hand. Transfer the deck to your right hand, and replace the palmed card on the top of the deck.
  • The Double Lift: Hold the deck face down in your left hand with your left thumb extended along its left side. Bring your right hand over the top of the deck with your right thumb on the inner edge, fingers #2 and #3 on the outer edge, and the tip of finger #1 on the back of the top card. Slide the top several cards slightly inward and use your right thumb to raise the inner edges of the top two cards just a bit. With your right hand, lift the top two cards as one, keeping a slight pressure on their backs with your right finger #1 to prevent them from bowing apart. As if it were the top card, show the face of the second card to the viewers, then return the two cards as one to the top of the deck.
  • One-Ahead Principle: Note the identity of a specific card (usually on the bottom of the deck) and have viewer #1 “locate” that card in the face-down deck. Without showing the card chosen by viewer #1, note its identity and set it aside, face-down. Have viewer #2 “locate” viewer #1's card in the face-down deck and continue the process with all of the viewers involved. Task yourself with “locating” a card, named as the last viewer's card, then actually locate the originally noted card (usually on the bottom of the deck) and set it aside. Assemble the cards in the order of the cards tasked to each viewer and have the viewers name their tasked cards. Show the appropriate cards to confirm the viewers' success with the tasking.