Standup Card Routines

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Brian Rasmussen » 11/12/03 09:54 AM

What do most consider the best card routines to use standing in front of 20-30 people? I realize that some routines will not play well to this size or audience layout. But if you HAD to do cards what would you do for such a group? I was thinking of having two people up front to help with a cards across. Any other ideas? Thanks.
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Postby Guest » 11/12/03 11:49 AM

Cards Across is good.
However you are not that restricted anyway if you only have 20-30 people around you.
I would imagine that 60-70% of card tricks can be seen easily by that amount of people.
Of course you run into trouble when the numbers get to above 50 people.
I do a card act that can be seen by several hundred people. However I will certainly admit that the material is very restricted indeed.

Incidentally, the svengali deck can be seen by 20 to 30 people. I often have that many people in front of me when I am demonstrating it.

Trade show magicians often have large crowds in front of them and they seem to do card tricks a plenty.

At one point I used to do a 15 minute card act in night clubs. Every single trick came from the Royal Road to Card Magic.

Here is a great one that can be seen easily by quite a large crowd.

The Tipsy Trick in the Royal Road. It is basically the triumph effect but using a slop shuffle invented by Sid Lorraine. It has a couple of advantages over the regular triumph effect. First it has a more entertaining plot. Second it does not require a table and third it can be seen from a distance.

Try it. You will like it.

Postby Carl Mercurio » 11/12/03 12:05 PM

The Tipsy Trick in the Royal Road. It is basically the triumph effect but using a slop shuffle invented by Sid Lorraine. It has a couple of advantages over the regular triumph effect. First it has a more entertaining plot. Second it does not require a table and third it can be seen from a distance. Try it. You will like it. [/QB]
One of the great, overlooked card tricks in all of magic. Been doing it for 25 years and never failed to get gasps from the audience. So simple it's almost embarrassing; but, then, a lot of the good stuff is... ;)
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Postby Guest » 11/12/03 12:16 PM

Aha! Great minds think alike!
Actually, Carl I think you are the only person I have ever heard of doing this trick. Oh, and I did see Eddie Tullock do it on a video.

It is indeed a wonderful trick. I hope everybody goes on "overlooking" it. I am beginning to wish I hadn't mentioned it. Still, I bet everyone knows it anyway but have ignored it in favour of all the complicated riffle shuffle variations invented after 1954.

I knew Sid Lorraine fairly well but had no idea he invented this trick. I only found out after his death. I kicked myself that I didn't know. I would have thanked him profusely.

I have even done it in theatres. The patter story makes it easy to follow even if the audience can't quite see it properly. It really is a winner. I have been doing it for about 42 years.

Postby cataquet » 11/12/03 04:20 PM

I know some will strongly object, but under these circumstances, I would encourage you to use jumbo index Bikes. They are much more visible for a larger audience.

Mark (Psychic) is probably right that a good chunk of card magic plays just as well for a larger crowd, but the cards have to be seen. That is, with a larger audience (although it depends how they are grouped) the hearts and diamonds look the same as do the clubs and the spades.
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Postby Guest » 11/12/03 04:26 PM

Rick Maue has an excellent standup card trick in his most recent lecture notes. It kills magicians, too. But, of course, Tossed-Out Deck is the classic.

I've always wondered about Premonition. Has anybody ever played with that? Is it as good as it seems on paper? I've never worked it up.

Postby Guest » 11/12/03 05:26 PM

The following routines play well for larger audiences. Most of them can even be performed impromptu.

A Reverse Routine (LePaul)
Diminishing Cards (out of Royal Road to Card Magic)
Kaplan's Lie Detector
Leipzig's Card Stab
Card through Handkerchief
Rising Card
Homing Card Plus! (Giobbi's handling of Carlyle's Homing Card with the 51 cards to pocket climax)
The Travelers (Vernon)
Cavorting Aces (Dr. Daley)
Six Card Repeat
Cards Across
Thought Card Across (the version in Ultimate Card Secrets by Ganson)
Multiple Selection Routine
Everywhere and Nowhere (Hofzinser)
Histed Heisted (mental gem by Simon Aronson; uses a Memorized Deck)

Postby Guest » 11/12/03 06:08 PM

On Uli's list is 6 card repeat. This is especially useful for large audiences. Incidentally I don't consider 20 to 30 people a large audience.

50 people or more is a large crowd for card tricks.

The reason I can especially recommend 6 card repeat is that as an opener it is quite wonderful for quietening noisy and inattentive audiences. It doesn't matter if the attentiveness is caused by immature high school students or drunks at a night club.

There is something about the monotonony of the counting that makes the audiences pay attention.

I resisted learning this at first because I always hated the usual story that comes with it and I always thought that it was a corny trick.
I was so wrong.

That trick has saved me on many occasions. I recommend it. A modern classic.

It is not as old as people think. It was invented by Tommy Tucker fairly recently.

Before 1954 of course.

Postby John Smetana » 11/12/03 06:52 PM

Mark (Psychic's) mention of the Six Card Repeat reminded me of the Senator Crandall performance of this effect on the Don Alan Magic Ranch show. If I'm not mistaken, someone said this is the version in Tarbell. I don't know if it is..but it sure is good. Of course, maybe only Crandall could could pull it off.

Best thoughts,
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Postby Guest » 11/13/03 04:52 AM

...I also use Jumbo Index, even for smaller groups, because the selected card is more visible. They do, for some strange reason, create a psychological impression that they might be some sort of gimmicked deck, so I spend a few moments mentioning that they are real, made by the U.S.Card Company -- yada yada.......I, too, think an in-the-hands Triumph is a super-solid bit-- any in-the-hands routine is better, because the use of a table tends to cut down the View-Ability of those in the back rows......


Postby Ian Kendall » 11/13/03 05:12 AM

A couple of points; I know of quite a few people who use the Slop Shuffle all the time (one of my favourites).

Re jumbo index cards; Max Maven made a good point a few years ago - jumbo index cards are worse for middle sized groups. People at a distance will recognise cards by counting the pips, which are smaller on the JI cards. It's a false advantage to use them...

Take care, Ian
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 11/13/03 05:41 AM

Edward Victor's The Eleven Card Trick (used by Fred Kaps and Derek Dingle) is a wonderful platform effect.

(I described my version in the Perverse Magic thread under "General Magic" below)
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Postby El Mystico » 11/13/03 06:07 AM

Here is another fan of Tipsy Trick.

Other goodies include cards up the sleeve and Egyptian Pocket from the same book.
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Postby Guest » 11/13/03 06:55 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned card-to-forehead. What a versatile effect! Do it stand-up, no table...for two people or for several hundred. Lots of laughs.....all you need is a deck of cards, a card control and steal.... and voila!

After my opener, it's the first thing I do in both my stage and parlor shows.....


Also....a good rising card effect for a group that size might be Kuladini (sp?) Rising....

Postby mrgoat » 11/13/03 07:23 AM

Originally posted by El Mystico:
Here is another fan of Tipsy Trick.

Other goodies include cards up the sleeve and Egyptian Pocket from the same book.
My Uncle bought me RRTCM in 1983 (can't quite thank him enough). I still perform the tipsy trick at every gig I do.

I also use Dr Coue, Ambitious Card and Cards Across - admittedly with slightly altered handlings.

God bless the slop shuffle!
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/13/03 10:13 AM

Sidwalk Shuffle
Chase the Ace
Onosaka's jumbo 3-Card Monte
Ken's Krazy Kard
Six Card Repeat
Homing Card (Bob Sheets Version)
Rising Cards (Nemo)
Simple Manipulations (McBride video)
The list goes on
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Postby Guest » 11/13/03 11:25 AM

Oh, very well Fraser.
I will mention the card on forehead trick. I do it a lot in a stand up card act if the audience is of a moderate size.
It is indeed terribly wondrous and funny. However I do it the old fashioned way. I do not do the version where you get a spectator to look through the deck on the ground that this was invented after 1954.

I like doing it the old way since I do not have to get anyone up on stage with me. It is a nice feeling to address the audience all by yourself without the distraction of a volunteer.

I will give the details of the old way of doing this if anyone is interested. It is very funny indeed rather than a great mystery.

The new way might be better for close up but I like the old way for a stand up act.

Postby Guest » 11/13/03 12:44 PM

Definitely interested here! I think the 'spectator looking through the deck' presentation is done to death! --Asrah

Postby Guest » 11/13/03 06:49 PM

Very well. Try this.

Spring the cards from hand to hand and
address some hapless member of the audience thus:

"I am going to run the cards hand to hand just like this and I want you to call out stop anytime you like and we'll use the card you stop me at> Are you ready? Say stop whenever you wish!"

Spring the cards so fast that the spectator hasn't got a chance to say a word. He will say "stop" after the cards are sprung. Say "too slow-you've got to be quick! Say stop quickly!"

Spring them again. Too fast again. Say "you're still too slow. Say stop QUICKLY!"

You make a motion as if to spring them but don't. The spectator who is now rushed says "stop" before you have even started the spring" Say "I haven't started yet!" This will get a big laugh.

Continue "Tell you what. I will slow down, you speed up and we'll meet somewhere in the middle"

Spring them again and this time it works out. Give the sprung selected card to the volunteer to show around. Have him replace it and control it to the top of the deck but get a glimpse of it by your favourite method so that you know what it is.

Now say " I am going to read your mind and tell you what the card is. Let me think" Lift your right hand to your lips in a thoughtful pose. Transfer some saliva to your fingers.

Say "I am going to close my eyes to see if I can get a psychic impression of the coulr of your card whether it is red or whether it is black."

Raise your right hand to your forehead transferring the saliva and take up a telepathy pose. Continue " I am getting an impression of a black card." Then look puzzled and say "oh, sorry that is because my eyes are closed. Everything looks black. Let me try again."

If you have polite audiences they will laugh at this great witticism. If they are not polite they will not laugh and it will be your fault for copying my weak jokes.

If the card is red you say "I am getting an impression of a black card" If it is a black card say "I am getting the impression of a red card" In other words say the opposite. The spectator will inform you that you got it wrong.

Now let us assume that the card is the eight of diamonds. After saying you see a black card the spectator will deny it. You now get a huge laugh by saying "I see a red card now"

Transfer the deck to your right hand and lift it to your forehead. Press it against your head in telepathy pose and you will stick the selected card to your cranium. If the deck is taken away it will be stuck there face outward. But don't take the deck away yet. Continue "I see a heart"
You will get a "no". Continue "I seem to get a diamond" Another laugh.

Announce "your card was the 5 of diamonds?" You will hear "no". Say "the King of Diamonds? Again "no" Now announce a little less confidently "the 2 of diamonds?" Again no. Always say the wrong card.

Start to open the fingers of the left hand as if counting them and say "3 down, 49 to go" Another laugh. Conntinue "this is getting difficult. I think I am getting stuck. In fact I am stuck.What was the name of your card" You will hear the card named. Remove the deck so that everyone can see the eight of diamonds and say "Oh, the eight of diamonds. In that case I"m not stuck-the card is"

You can now finish off by saying "I knew that card was on my mind" Another laugh. Remove the card.

There. All done. You can now make use of it if you wish. It works great for a larger crowd if you want to do card tricks.

No great mystery but it does garner amusement.

Postby Guest » 11/14/03 11:10 AM

Card to forehead - absolutely! It playe hugely, whether for 5 or 500.

To take the "sting" out of it for the volunteer, try this line - "Don't feel bad - think of how I feel having to do THIS" - point at the card stuck to your forehead - "for a living!"

Then, as you take it off of your head, top change it and say, "Actually it's not your card at all. It's a pigment of your immigration!" Rub the card on THEIR sleeve and turn it up to show the change.

As they react, look at the audience and say, in an almost sarcastic tone , "ooooh, NOW you're impressed!" Top change it back on the laugh and hand it to the volunteer. Have him or her "push the RESET button on the back." Have them turn it over and watch them fall on the floor.

This has been a trade show stand by of mine for about 20 years now. It never fails to get a great reaction. And it keeps the volunteer from feeling like a fool and thinking you are a pr-<anatomical reference omitted>. ;) :D

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.

Postby Guest » 11/14/03 11:42 AM

Very good, Lee.
I shall definitely use that. It will turn a silly but entertaining trick into an amazing one as well.

Postby Stefan Nilsson » 11/14/03 01:43 PM

Here's another list of standup card magic. It's from Magic with Faucett Ross by Lewis Ganson, Supreme, year unknown (but I suspect it is after 1954...). By the way, this book is a very good source for standup material.

Cards up the sleeve. (Cy Endfield and many others)
Rising Cards. (Tarbell and many many others)
Thirty Cards. (C. Lang Neil, Thompson Jr. My Best, etc)
Cards Across. (Leipzig, Vernon and others)
Hugard - Conus Four Aces.
Lepzig Slap Aces.
Wrapped and Stabbed Deck. (Vernon, Tribute to Leipzig)
Malini Card Stabbing. (Vernon, Malini and his Magic)
Ladies Looking Glass. (Hugard)
Everybody's Card. (Roterberg, New Era Card Tricks)
Card Under Foot. (Henry Hay, The Amateur Magicians Handbook)
Shower of Aces. (Professor Hoffman. Modern Magic.)
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Postby Guest » 11/14/03 02:11 PM

The Faucett Ross book is indeed after 1954.
However, you will note that most of the references that he gives are from before 1954.
I rest my case.

Good book though.

Postby Jeff Haas » 11/15/03 02:45 AM

Wait a minute...Lee's idea is about 20 years old. That would put it in 1983.

Sounds far too new for you to use, Mark.

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Postby Guest » 11/15/03 05:13 AM

Thanks for the "sting-less" card to forehead. I still think I prefer using a volunteer on stage, though.

hmmmmm....that said....

I do the occassional kid show and have never used cards with the tykes....I think the version of card to forehead you described might be spot-on for kids. Still lots of laughs and all directed at the fragile egos hurt.

No worries about me stealing your jokes...most wouldn't translate to Japanese so well anyway....

Postby Pete Biro » 11/15/03 10:44 AM

McComical Deck (period!) :D
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Postby Guest » 11/15/03 12:15 PM

Oh, you can steal my jokes-I don't mind. And they actually ARE my jokes. All out of my own brain. I can't invent tricks. Jokes are different. The jokes just come impromptu when I work and I keep them in for future use. If I can remember them, that is. Billy Mc'Comb suggests tape recording every show in case you say something funny that can be used again. Good idea.

To Jeff. Lee's idea is actually from before 1954. Old as the hills. I already use something similar.

However, I like the adaption to the card to forehead because it turns a silly trick to something quite amazing. There is nothing stronger in card magic than a card changing.

I maintain that someone can do some great routine with lots of amazing moves and triple climaxes and all that sort of thing and not get as strong a reaction as simply taking a card from the top of the deck, giving it to a spectator to hold face down, telling him to wave it in front of him saying "Quack! Quack!" and then the card changes.

Double lift is all that is needed. Don't blame the silly "quack, quack" patter on me though. That came from famous Scottish magic pitchman Johnny Neptune.

Postby Guest » 11/15/03 02:20 PM

Originally posted by Fraser Gould:
Thanks for the "sting-less" card to forehead. I still think I prefer using a volunteer on stage, though.

hmmmmm....that said....

I do the occassional kid show and have never used cards with the tykes....I think the version of card to forehead you described might be spot-on for kids. Still lots of laughs and all directed at the fragile egos hurt.

No worries about me stealing your jokes...most wouldn't translate to Japanese so well anyway....
Um, the stingless Card to Forehead is mine, not Mark's, but that's okay.

And I DO do it on stage with a volunteer, I just included my asides TO the audience as part of the routine.

Sorry if I was not clear on that!

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.

Postby Guest » 11/15/03 03:05 PM

I have already mentioned Devant's Cards Across ("Lessons in Conjuring"), I think, and the alternative to that, which I have used for a long time, is Al Baker's Cards Across, from "Magical Ways and Means". There are several other standup card tricks that I have used for decades to great effect:

1.)Charlie Miller's version of one of Liepzig's favorite tricks - Herbert Milton's Sympathetic Cards (see "An Evening with Charlie Miller) is extraordinary!

2.) Marlo's "Super Count", from the "Spade" book, as Marlo in Spades has come to be known. I actually do a revised version of this based on a Frank Shields' handling, which includes the entire deck ending up in the spectator's hands. The other trick that is obviously similar to this is the Victor "Eleven Card Trick"...

3.) A Bert Allerton effect that I cannot remember the name of - Vic Kirk taught this to me in the seventies - it involves the spectator sending the impression of his thought-of card to a member of the audience with the help of a "scientific device" for transmitting thought waves! (This device is an egg beater, with wires attached to a head band. It is worn by the spectator and the egg beater is rotated rapidly to increase the intensity of the thought waves and allow the audience member to recieve them. ("Hugard's Magic Monthly", I believe...) Quite funny, and it is related to the Kaplan Lie Detector from the "Fine Art of Magic", another fine standup piece.


Postby Curtis Kam » 11/15/03 04:13 PM

Paul, I think the "Thought Transmitter" (i.e. egg beater) prop and routine are Clayton Rawston's, from, as you indicated, Hugard's Magic Monthly.
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Postby Guest » 11/15/03 04:39 PM

Also in Clayton Rawson's book "How to entertain children with magic you can do."

There is no particular "sting" in my forehead routine. As described in my philosophy of "defensive resentment" I try to avoid this at all costs.

It looks like I keep getting it wrong. No sting in that.

There is one more trick that can be done on stage.It has not yet been mentioned. I cannot bring myself to name it.
I want it all to myself. It is so valuable and is always a closing trick. Nothing can follow it.

I underestimated this trick in the same way I was reluctant to learn the 6 card repeat. I once did a card act at a magical society function and someone came up to me afterwards and said "have you ever considered performing ...............
I said "no. I don't like it. It seems a bit slow and ponderous"
A very famous magician that you have all heard of said to the fellow "oh no! That is not a trick for the likes of us professionals. It is too complicated, slow and will bore the audience easily"
I felt vindicated but got very suspicious years later when I found out that he did this trick all the time himself. He obviously didn't want others to be doing it. Then one day another magician told me about this trick being a sensational item.

It is. It is a card trick that is not too well known but is a killer. I cannot tell you. My big mouth wants to but I just can't.

Let us see if you can figure it out. If you guess it right I will tell you. If you guess it wrong I will also tell you.

This is such a wonderful item that you should have to work to ferret it out. You will appreciate it more then.

Mark Lewis

Postby Guest » 11/15/03 07:10 PM


When I said "sting-less" card to forehead, I was referring to the no-volunteer-on-the-stage version that Mark described.

I did borrow the term "sting" from your post - didn't mean to cause confusion by doing that, but I thought it was an apt description of Mark's routine.

That said, I do like your idea of doing a top change with the card as an extra kicker. I'll be giving it a whirl (with your permission :) ) next time I'm out.


Postby Guest » 11/15/03 07:21 PM


Are we going to get any hints as to where to find this "sensational, wonderful, killer" mystery routine?

An author? A year published? You're not giving us much to go on. If others are reading this post and have a clue where to start looking, then I guess I am out of my league.... :confused:


Postby Guest » 11/16/03 12:09 AM

I agree with harold on the use of jumbo index Bikes.

Cards Across is great--Daryl and Phil Goldstein currently have very similar but very strong versions on the market. A wonderful stand-up routine is Steve Beam's "Multiple Impact." The stop Trick works well for me, as does the 10 card poker deal with Jumbo cards.

Postby Guest » 11/16/03 10:26 AM

Clayton Rawson it is! Thanks for the correction, Curtis. Mark, I think the item you are referring to is centuries old, if I'm on the right track - how about it?

Best, PSC

Postby Guest » 11/16/03 06:55 PM

I don't know if the item is centuries old or not. I suspect it isn't. I do know that it is certainly from before 1954 which of course is all that is important.

There are hardly any descriptions of the trick, thanks be to God.
Sadly however there are indeed a tiny few. Luckily they are hidden away in obscure places.

I have only seen two magicians in my entire life do the trick and have heard of just one other.Actually two if I include the person who tried to scam me out of doing it.

I believed him at first but cottoned on to what he was up to a few years later. I got so mad that I decided to learn it. I knew there had to be a reason that he wanted to keep it secret.

It is technically quite easy to do but extremely hard to present in the right way. It has taken me quite a few years to get the knack of it properly. It was very hard at first to get the impact I wanted.
Now I think I have the hang of it.

Postby Guest » 11/16/03 11:57 PM

Rich Osterlind (at least on his old Busby tape) had the only 6 card repeat that ever floored me; as I recall it ends with a Royal Flush and makes the entire patter logical and a bit difernt. I mean how many tricks are based on, "I walked into a magic store and saw this trick and then wanted to do it. . . ."etc.

Postby Guest » 11/17/03 11:01 AM

I swear that I saw another version of this in some book written before 1954.I must check it out.

Perhaps I am imagining it. On the other hand perhaps I am not.
People often unintentionally invent tricks that have already been invented.

The version I may or may not have read did not have the magic shop patter though.

The late Herb Morrissey amused me once by saying that anyone could invent tricks and market them. He claimed that he could invent 8 tricks "today" before he went to bed.
He said all you have to do is go through all the old books and slightly adapt and then put it on the market. If the trick used rope then market it using string. If you had to throw a dice to force a number then eliminate the dice and force it with cards. In other words just alter it slightly.
Most magicians know very little about magic and will not recognise that you are simply rehashing something out of an old book.

Oh, dear! I suppose I have just unleashed a horde of new (?) tricks on the market by eager young money grabbers. Don't blame me if it happens, blame Herb Morrissey.

Still, if it encourages the sales of books written before 1954 this can only be a good thing.

None of this applies to Richard Osterlind of course. I have always found his ideas most ingenious.

Postby Guest » 11/17/03 05:59 PM

Jumping back to 'taking out the sting of card on forehead' Thank you Lee Darrow for posting a SUPERB 'sequence.' VERY commercial.

Along similar lines: Bill Duncan's "Tubthumping" opens with a look at "Taking Away The Sting - Card on Forehead." The last line of his 'forehead' presentation is worth (more than) the price of his booklet (so I'm not gonna spill the beans here... go give Bill Duncan $12.00 if you're interested!) Side note: IMO: This book(let) is one of the better "post 1954" offerings.

Re: 5 Card Repeat
Perhaps you speak of Elmsley's "Five Card Sam" (which Minch documents back to the early 50's) It concludes with 5 aces... and it uses rhyming patter... right up your alley.

Doug Conn

Postby Guest » 11/18/03 10:01 AM

I vaguely remember something called "One Card Pete" He was a gambling man or something and he ended up in Reno or something or other.

Also rhyming patter.

Rhyming patter is NOT up my street. Not after the horrific experience I related on a previous thread when I stood on a giant stage in a giant club with hundreds of working men types looking at me with a solitary thimble reciting some stupid rhyme appertaining to this bloody silly thimble which nobody could see anyway.

Arnold Furst invented it. I cursed the bastard for months afterwards.


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