Courses on Card Magic

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby Nate Green » 07/30/08 08:11 AM

Hello to All,

Great to be back on the forum. Several of you helped me out a couple of years ago with my entry into magic by recommending some great titles.

Anyhow, I will be starting grad school to eventually become a history professor and was perusing web sites a while ago and came accross this one: Crispin Sartwell's Conjuring Page

I was intrigued because this gentleman is a professor who offered a 200 level class on conjurung and illusion. Therefore, this got me thinking about cards. So, if you all were able to produce a course courses on card magic that takes the student from the very beginning stages of card magic to much more difficult feats, what would your choices of textbooks be?

I hope this isn't a silly exercise, I was just curious as to what you all think. So, if you have a moment, please have fun with it. What are your picks for undergrad, grad, and PhD card studies. (I am sure alot of folks will reference Card College and unfortunately I have not bought those yet.)

My picks that have taken me through my first two years of study are Royal Road and Expert Card Tecnnique. I also have The Expert at the Card Table, Annemmann's Card Magic, and Fulves Self-Working but I only dabble in those.

Take care,
Nate Green
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/30/08 12:33 PM

Does it make sense to presume they have already done the basic theater/acting/character preparation for being a magician so's not to need any remedial work on keeping their "backstage" concerns away from the audience? Part of the job is making sure the "backstage" work in magic is left to their imagination rather then something to be admired in action.

There's plenty of work in print about doing clever things with cards for audiences which are supposed to be (yet somehow inexpliciably) interested in the proceedings - and quite a history of themes which have fascinated clever folks in our craft.

Would you like to start with the audience side of conjuring by way of Hofzinser or prefer the backstage side of fine sleight of hand mechanics by way of "erdnase" and on to Vernon and Marlo?
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 12/31/69 08:00 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: Why yes, I do have a few imps in my coat pockets which hide in my sleeves during the show.
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Postby Nate Green » 07/31/08 11:28 PM


You pose some good questions. For the sake of this post, I am assuming that the individual has already had training in theatre, or is just a natural showman.

I meant for my question to be pointed more toward actual card work.

However, after what I watched last night on Whit Haydn's website I have a whole new appreciation for the audience side of conjuring. I was amazed at what I saw and smiled during the entire thirty minute clip. At the end, I thought, this is how a true magician captivates a crowd. (And the clip I watched had absolutely nothing to do with cards. Perhaps it is time for me to begin branching out...)

Take care,
Nate Green
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Postby opie » 08/01/08 08:56 AM

Here is a suggested start for your course curriculum:



1. Read the Preface and skim through the contents and whole book to get an idea of what a wonderful text this book is.....It is not just a beginner's primer; it is an advanced text.

NOTE: You should spend the first two weeks learning simply to handle a deck of cards, e.g., how to shuffle a deck of cards in a smooth manner.

2. Chapter I - Read all the instructions, with cards in hand, on how to do and use the Overhand Shuffle, through the false shuffles. DO NOT EVEN BOTHER about the "Tricks with the Overhand Shuffle" until you can smoothly execute the Overhand Shuffle and the Riffle Shuffle in Chapter II.

3. Chapter II - Read all the instructions, with cards in hand, on how to do and use the Riffle Shuffle, through the false shuffles. DO NOT EVEN BOTHER about the "Tricks with the Riffle Shuffle" until you can smoothly execute both the Overhand and Riffle Shuffles.

4. Learn and practice the tricks in Chapters I and II, only after you can handle a deck of cards.



NOTE: If you have not mastered Chapters I and II, you might want to continue practicing material in them until you have done so....Also notice that the following assignments skip many of the chapters.

1. Read Chapter XV, The Hindu Shuffle and Other Controls. Master this shuffle and its uses.

2. Read Chapter XVI, The Classic Force. Master this technique and its uses.


At the end of four weeks, you should have a working knowledge of and be able to do the following items with at least some skill:

1. Chapter I - Demonstrate a mastery of the Overhand Shuffle, as follows:

a. Top card from top to bottom and back.
b. A rapid smooth run of 10 to 12 cards.
c. An injog shuffle control.
d. Overhand False Shuffle.
e. Two tricks from the chapter.

2. Chapter II - Demonstrate a mastery of the Riffle Shuffle, as follows:

a. Control top and bottom stocks of cards.
b. Smooth shuffles at a table and in the air.
c. Two tricks from the chapter.

3.Chapter XV - Demonstrate a mastery of the Hindu Shuffle and its related controls, as follows:

a. Control of single and stock of cards.
b. Hindu Force.
c. Glimpse.
d. The Step.
e. Jog.
f. "All Change Here

4. Chapter XVI - Demonstrate a mastery of the Classic Force, as follows:

a. One-Hand Force.
b. Bottom Force.
c. Slide-Out Force.
d. Double-Life Force.
e. Cut Force.
f. A couple of force tricks.

NOTE: If you have mastered the items in the exercise above, you are among a very small minority of card magicians, because therein lies the basics of almost all the remaining card tricks you will ever do. Proceed to Weeks 5 and 6 lesson plan when you are ready....


1. Spend week 5 on Chapters III and XVII...Do not become frustrated with or hung up on the flourishes. Just play with them every day and they will come...But do work on the changes in Chapter XVII...The top change is deadly and its mastery will place you in the Card Man/Woman category faster than the cutesy flourishes...

2. Spend week 6 on Chapters IX, X, and XI...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/01/08 10:23 AM

Watch your students carefully. When you do something and get a look of "what the heck are you doing?" or the rolled eyes of "oh geeze that looks contrived" you can refine your choices in handling and basic technique.

For example, it's not so easy to get from mechanics grip to a position where you can use a glide to good effect. Doing so in a manner which maintains your focus on the audience and permits them to feel you showed them a card and want them to know it's on the table is far more important (IMHO) than a fancy sleight which seems to demonstrate that a single card is turned over then tabled (Stud Turnover and KM).

Agreed with Opie above about learning to motivate the actions which permit a topchange and I'd go on to suggest the BoTop as well since it gets you all set for some of the Hofzinser classics.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Eric Fry » 08/01/08 01:12 PM

Card College is so extensive it serves the different stages of beginner, intermediate and advanced as long as you work through it in order.
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Postby Nate Green » 08/29/08 08:54 PM

Thank you for the replies. Card College Volume 1 arrived today.
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Postby Steve Vaught » 09/02/08 11:07 PM

Opie...a quick question.

I liked the way you had things laid out for studying Royal Road. In fact it inspired me to go back and look through the book. I have spent several years now with the Giobbi Course.

In looking back over Royal Road, I found a trick at the very beginning named "Instinct For Cards". I read it and liked the structure and how I could use the trick.

So, with deck in hand, I read the instructions. It worked! Then I did it again...whoops...let's try it again...oh no it still didn't work. I went back over the instructions. Realizing the margin of error, I tried to stay within those parameters but found to my surprise the one selected card that was SUPPOSED to be out of place was actually put in the exact sequential order in which I started.

So this makes me think...why would one of the FOUNDATIONS of card magic have such a trick that really leaves plenty of room (in my estimation) for error. And it happened to be at the FRONT of the book.

I work in front of laymen quit a bit. When I perform I want to know the secret is in control, so I can focus on selling the magic.

Any thoughts...
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Postby opie » 10/20/08 03:13 PM


I just came across this thread and realize that I had not responded to your question. Sorry about that....

You asked for my thoughts on "An Instinct for Cards". I really don't think much about it. I have never liked tricks where I turn my back, have the spectator cut or count cards, or even have a spectator touch the cards other than those he selects.

In looking over the effect in the book, I can only offer the advice to take the chance, if you like the trick....but you should always have an "out" for chancey effects like this....

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