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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I am relatively new to the world of magic. While I used to do magic shows for “little kids'” birthday parties when I was in junior high school, I've been doing magic as an adult for less than ten years. I consider myself to be an intermediate level magician—by no means an expert—and therein lies the motivation for my writing this book. When I decided to involve myself in the field again, I discovered that most of the available books were written either for the novice (and the tricks were utterly transparent), or for the expert (and required countless hours of practice). I wanted something that would help me learn tricks that would be effective when performed for the layperson but wouldn't require great skill or extensive training. Finding that “something” proved to be quite a challenge, so I decided to create it myself in order to assist others.

Reading the books for both the novice and the expert, I took notes—pages, and pages, and pages of notes. It then became a matter of reviewing and editing those notes and putting them together in such a way as to create tricks that would work for me. Along the way, I completely lost track of what my sources were, so I find myself unable to provide appropriate acknowledgements and attributions. For that I apologize to the various authors who preceded me and whose writings proved to be immensely helpful. Suffice it to say that while the specifics don't appear here in print, I extend to them my sincere thanks.

While there are many different genres of magic, I found that card magic appealed to me the most—perhaps because I have always been interested in cards (bridge especially) and because card magic generally does not require a lot of equipment/props. There are any number of card tricks that can involve the extensive use of props, but that was not where I wanted to go. There are also any number of card tricks that can involve the use of gimmicked decks, but that was not where I wanted to go either. I wanted to focus on tricks that use a standard deck of cards (without jokers), employ a minimum of props/gimmicks, and don't require extensive preparation (stacking of the deck and such). That being the case, this book—presenting 26 card tricks with a standard deck—is the end result.

Terminology can sometimes be confusing in a book of this sort. Magic-specific terminology will be covered in Chapter 1, “Techniques,” and more general terminology is best dealt with right now.

  • “Magician”—The magician is, of course, you the performer. For consistency, the magician will be spoken of using the masculine pronoun “he.”
  • “Assistant”—The assistant is an individual whose primary role is that of assisting the magician. The assistant is often “in the know,” and sometimes performs tricks herself. For consistency, the assistant will be spoken of using the feminine pronoun “she.”
  • “Viewers”—The viewers are the audience members and one or more of them are often called upon to temporarily assist the magician. For consistency, a viewer will be spoken of using the combined pronoun “s/he.”
  • “Fingers #1, #2, #3, and #4”—Finger #1 is the index finger. Finger #2 is the middle finger. Finger #3 is the ring finger. Finger #4 is the pinkie.
  • “Left and Right”—Unless otherwise specified, “left” will refer to the magician's left, and “right” will refer to the magician's right.
  • “Inner and Outer”—”Inner” will mean the end of the deck toward the magician, and “outer” will mean the end of the deck toward the viewers.

Here are some general thoughts I have about the approach to card magic that I have presented here:

  • I have never been inclined to include the jokers in my thinking. For me, they seem to be a “clutter factor,” and hence all of the tricks I present are done without them.
  • Many magicians create fanciful names for their card tricks. I am more inclined to use straightforward descriptive names that provide information as to what each trick is all about.
  • As you read through the methodology for a given trick, I suggest that you do so with a deck of cards in hand. The conceptuals are one thing; the practical realities are something else entirely.
  • None of the tricks that I have presented here is particularly difficult to perform. Using one to five stars (★) to rate the level of difficulty (★= very easy, ★★★★★= very difficult), I have rated none higher than three stars.
  • I am inclined to think that a presentation of magic should be, to the maximum extent possible, about empowering the viewers, not about enhancing the magician's ego. Given that philosophy, I have included nothing about “flourishes.”

In writing this book, my intention was to create a “how to” manual, not some literary masterpiece. To that end, I have used as few words as possible and have avoided the inclusion of “fluff.” I hope that my approach has minimized the “confusion factor” for you, and will permit you to learn what it is that you want to learn, simply and easily. Remember, of course, that almost any trick can be made even more interesting by compelling “patter” (“chit-chat”). Chapter #5 offers some suggestions for patter, but I recommend that you devote some time to creating patter of your own.

Chapter 1 of this book has to do with techniques used in card magic. If you are an intermediate level magician, there will probably be nothing new here for you, but “refreshers” are always useful. Chapter #2 has to do with card tricks that require no props or preparation and use a single deck. Chapter #3 has to do with card tricks that require some (minimal) props and/or preparation. Chapter #4 has to do with routines—the combining of two or more tricks to create a package that has continuity and depth. Chapter #5 has to do with “patter”—the verbal “glue” that holds a routine together and makes it more interesting for the viewers.