EFFECT: The magician asks, “Does anyone want to know how to do a card trick? This one is dead simple, it’s what we in The Biz call a 'self-worker’. No skill required”.
“Alright! I’ll need someone to perform the trick, and someone to act as a volunteer”.
“Now, the best way to allay any kind of suspicion is to start with a fresh deck. Here we have a new pack, never opened.
“Ask the volunteer to remove the wrapper, and sift through the cards and choose one. But they must pick a number card, no letter cards. In other words, neither an Ace, a Jack, a Queen nor a King.
“Best if you look away while this is being done! Tell your volunteer to hold the cards upright with the backs to the spectators. Very good, sir!
“Make sure he memorises the selected card. Say something witty, like ‘You will be quizzed on this’. Excellent!
“Then ask him to replace the selected card anywhere in the deck, and thoroughly shuffle it. After which, you may turn round and say, 'Thanks. May I have the pack?’
“You now request the digit, that is to say, the number of the chosen card, but advise the volunteer to refrain from mentioning the suit just yet. Good!
“The number in this case is seven, so what you do is count off seven cards from the top of the deck, in a neat pile on the table. Then deal a second pile of seven right next to it. Perfect!
“At this point, allow the volunteer to decide which stack of cards he wants. After he makes up his mind, be sure to badger him repeatedly about the liberty to change his mind. Right!
“Set aside the stack that he rejected, and deal yet another set of seven cards beside the one he wished to keep. Pester him again in the same manner as before. Which does he want? Is he absolutely sure? Fine!
“Repeat this process until you have too few cards in your hand to make another stack of seven. Implore him one last time to pick the stack he likes.
“Say something trite such as, 'Wouldn’t it be amazing if your card was actually in this stack?’ When you gain assent from the crowd, look a bit nervous and mutter, 'Yes, I quite agree’.
“Now all that remains is to tap the stack with your forefinger seven times. Go ahead! One-two-three-four-five-six-seven. Bravo!
“Step back a bit and say with as much dignity as you can, 'Would you be good enough to turn over the top card?’”
When the volunteer does so, both he and the magician’s apprentice are equally astounded to find that if is the very card!
SECRET: This of course is primarily a comedy routine, but it can be an effective piece of magic despite the fact that it is nothing new. You will need three identical decks of playing cards. I would suggest bridge size for easier handling.
Leave one pack unopened for the stage presentation. Open the other two and sort out the “number cards” in all four suits, 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.
Pair up the duplicates, so that you have two of each. That is to say, nine doubles in each suit (two 2S-3S-4S-5S-6S-7S-8S-9S-10S; two 2D-3D-4D-5D-6D-7D-8D-9D-10D, etc.). The prep is simply to conceal these pairs on your person, or on stage, so you may grasp the one you need in an instant.
When the volunteer is choosing a card, observe carefully to determine which quarter of the deck the card is drawn from. Note the direction of the spread (right or left) and deduce which suit he is picking from. As he has been instructed to select a “number card”, it should be quite obvious. If he chooses from the lower quarter, the suit will be Spades. The upper quarter, Hearts. The “number” sequences of the two interior suits (Diamonds and Clubs) are separated by four “letter” cards (J-Q-K-A), so a quick glance ought to be sufficient to conclude one or the other based on the general position of the chosen card. Most folks will halt when they come to a new suit anyway, and in all likelihood rush past the “letter cards”, making it clear where they are.
Make a habit of tapping the stacks of cards forcefully with the forefingers of both hands as you indicate the volunteer’s choices. Does he want this one, or that one? Is he sure?
Whilst the participants are engaged in the dealing of the cards and the selection of the stacks, subtly palm the appropriate pair of duplicate cards, holding them out of sight, for now that the volunteer has revealed the number of his card, you know precisely which it is.
When the choice comes down to the last two stacks, you will have one of the dupes palmed in each hand. Quickly and undetectably slap them onto both stacks in tandem as you ask the volunteer which he prefers. By this time, everyone should trust that it is a free choice and be little concerned about your manipulation of the cards. Naturally it makes no difference which of the two final stacks is singled out.
Yes, it is ham handed and cumbersome from the magician’s point of view, but the payoff is well worth it! Done gracefully, this can be both stunning and amusing.
Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.
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