What Is Your Opener...

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
Rick Kirkes
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What Is Your Opener...

Postby Rick Kirkes » May 4th, 2016, 6:06 pm

How does your opener effect the other routines in your set? Do you have a short or long opener?

I do a gambling presentation/demo and I have a quick opener with the cards, which is called The Slug by Martin Nash.

It's quick and sets the tone for the other effects that follow, and it's a skill display in which a chosen card is found.

What kind of opener do you have?

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 4th, 2016, 6:56 pm

I open with The Ambitious Card, make a longish routine of it, then close with the chosen card on my forehead--so I only do one trick!
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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » May 4th, 2016, 7:54 pm

Doc Eason stated somewhere or other that you should never open with a card trick. Instinctively I know he is probably right but I have no idea why. I have never analysed the matter but my gut feeling tells me he is correct. It dawned on me when I read what he said that I rarely open with a card trick either but I do it by pure instinct rather than having thought about it.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 4th, 2016, 8:40 pm

I've never done anything but card tricks for people since I was 14. Starting with a card trick has never been a problem. If you pick the right card trick, they're great to open with. If you pick the wrong card trick, they're not.

As Dai Vernon said, "Use your head!"
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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » May 4th, 2016, 9:52 pm

If you ONLY do card tricks then you don't have much choice! I used to do only card tricks but I always had a nagging feeling that I should have more variety to my work so I added in other stuff too over the years.

When I only did card tricks my opening effect would demand entirely on the mood of the audience and the prevailing atmosphere. If it were a lively or even boisterous audience I would do attention getting stuff to get their attention immediately, such as flourishes or fairly quick tricks. If it was a quiet gathering with a more sedate atmosphere I would open with Poker Player's Picnic which I have always regarded as the best of the cutting aces into four piles tricks simply because although there are fancier versions this is the only one where the magician does not touch the cards. It used to get tremendous reaction.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that if you are performing impromptu your opening trick should depend on what kind of people you have in front of you and what the prevailing atmosphere is. Mind you, that is true even with a set close up show. You gear the material to the people and the conditions.


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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » May 5th, 2016, 8:02 pm

Mahdi Gilbert wrote:Hello


THAT was a good example of an opener!

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Gerald Deutsch » July 10th, 2016, 1:50 pm

Getting a quarter from a spectator's cel phone.

See Perverse Magic thread of this forum (under General) June 2015.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Pepka » August 11th, 2016, 2:40 am

I'm with Richard on this. No problem in opening with cards. I perform almost exclusively with cards. My card opener is a 2 selection transposition of my own invention. If I need a non-card opener I will often use Marc Desouza's miniature bowling ball (ball bearing) from briefcase, which leads to a very brief, (1 phase) sponge ball routine. I've also been known to open with Eugene Burger's sponge ball routine, but only in certain circumstances.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 11th, 2016, 7:18 am

If I have to open with a card trick, then for impromptu purposes I find card under foot to be very effective. Alternatively I use a trick I have always called the Rosini trick on account he invented it. I have no energy to describe the effect but it is very well known and described in various books. It is a stunner as an opener and gets attention immediately. It looks as if it has gone wrong but the magician triumphs in the end.

Neither of these two openers need a table.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 11th, 2016, 7:18 am

If I have to open with a card trick, then for impromptu purposes I find card under foot to be very effective. Alternatively I use a trick I have always called the Rosini trick on account he invented it. I have no energy to describe the effect but it is very well known and described in various books. It is a stunner as an opener and gets attention immediately. It looks as if it has gone wrong but the magician triumphs in the end.

Neither of these two openers need a table.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 11th, 2016, 3:43 pm

performer wrote:If I have to open with a card trick, then for impromptu purposes I find card under foot to be very effective. Alternatively I use a trick I have always called the Rosini trick on account he invented it. I have no energy to describe the effect but it is very well known and described in various books. It is a stunner as an opener and gets attention immediately. It looks as if it has gone wrong but the magician triumphs in the end.

Neither of these two openers need a table.


Performer, is the Rosini effect you perform perchance "Change in the Hand" from Rosini's Magical Gems? The effect I'm thinking of is accomplished by doing a double lift and showing that the top card is apparently not the chosen card. The card is then turned face down, and the actual top card (i.e. the selection) is handed face down to the spectator, saying, "You find your card. Push this card into the deck where you think it might be."

In any event, this is a fabulous effect that gets a great reaction! Oftentimes, when a spectator is handed a face down card that you have already changed, the spectator will want to, or does in fact, immediately turn it over and look at it. From what I have read, Rosini's rationale behind "Change in the Hand" makes eminent sense. Specifically, Rosini reasoned that if a card is shown not to be the spectator's selected card and this card is then handed to a spectator simply as an instrument for another operation, there would be no inclination on the spectator’s part to look at the face of the card.

I also use this ruse as part of my routine in which the 4 aces are "lost" in the deck, and each one is then found in a different entertaining and/or fancy way. On the third ace, I "miss" and explain that the indifferent card I revealed is actually an indicator card and that wherever they insert it into the deck, it will indicate where the third ace is. I hand it to them (really the ace) face down and have them insert it halfway into the squared-up pack, and tell them to hold onto it. I then pull the deck away and tell them to turn over the card. When they do, and see that it's the ace, the reaction is invariably tremendous...

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 11th, 2016, 4:06 pm

Yes, that's the one. It is indeed a terrific trick. It has three strong elements to it. Actually four now that I come to think of it.
1. The strong surprise element
2. The sucker trick element
3. It common knowledge that magic that occurs in the spectator's hand is always very strong indeed. That is another element.
4. When a card changes it is always a very strong element.

It is a very fast opener and establishes me very quickly indeed. My style when performing impromptu is to appear incompetent but to turn the tables. This trick works very well for that particular purpose.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 11th, 2016, 4:11 pm

Oh, let me tell you how I discourage them from turning the card over. I tell them to take the card "with your thumb on top". And then they have to push the card into the deck. It goes against the natural grain to turn the card over in this position and in any event there I work at a fast pace and there isn't really time for them to be contrary as they follow instructions. I use this as part of my trade show act in fact.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 11th, 2016, 4:16 pm

That's good thinking and spectator management. Yes, it would be awkward for them to turn over when gripping it in that position.

Good listing of all the "elements," that are packed into this one effect, as well. No wonder it packs such a wallop!

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 12th, 2016, 10:36 pm

Here is something I just found out in connection with never opening with a card trick. It seems that Vernon asked Leipzig why he always opened his act with the thimble trick and Leipzig replied that opening with a card trick was "poison".
Interesting........................

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Ryan Matney » August 13th, 2016, 3:22 pm

I think the Paul Rosini trick is actually Annemann's Card in Hand. This is one of my favorite tricks too. The only addition I have made is that I always make sure the card they think they have is the Ace of Spades so I can be sure of a good contrast when it changes into their card. Just cut the Ace to the top of the deck before you begin.

I think Don Alan also thought it was bad to open with a card trick. I think it really depends on the trick and the person.

For me, anything can be an opener, as long as it is not too involved and long winded. I like to start with something visual and short. To that end, I use a rising card a lot of the time.
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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 13th, 2016, 7:32 pm

RYAN M WROTE: "I think the Paul Rosini trick is actually Annemann's Card in Hand. This is one of my favorite tricks too. The only addition I have made is that I always make sure the card they think they have is the Ace of Spades so I can be sure of a good contrast when it changes into their card. Just cut the Ace to the top of the deck before you begin..."

Cutting the Ace of Spades to the top is a good idea! Of course, the best contrast is a change from red to black (with one card ideally being a spot card the other card being a royal card), but obviously, that cannot be easily accomplished. So, with the ace of spades being the indifferent card, at least you're insured of a good contrast even if the selection turns out to be a black card. There is the additional advantage that the spectator will actually remember the card he (thought he) inserted into the deck.

Ryan, do you do the business Annemann did of telling the spectator to try to insert the (apparently) indifferent card about 20 cards above where they think their selection is, and once he/she does so, the magician says, "I will make make your card move right up through the deck to that very spot?"

Personally, I was never overly fond of that patter. I first tell the spectator that they might not have realized they have magical powers. I tell them that wherever in the deck they insert the (apparently) indifferent card (let's assume here that it's the Ace of Spades), the chosen card will be in that exact place. I ask the spectator to insert the (unbeknownst to them) Ace of Spades "anywhere" but to insert it just halfway in and to keep holding the card. In other words, unlike the Annemann angle, I do not sell the effect as something "I the magician" am going to accomplish. Rather, I put the spotlight on the spectator having the power to do magic and unfailingly find his/her own card. I like the emotional hook this provides. Just my presentational preference.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Ryan Matney » August 15th, 2016, 4:18 pm

No, I do not use Annemann's patter there as I think it is a vague effect.

I do it exactly as Mark described by having the spectator hold the card with the thumb on top. I actually hold the double ace of spades (with the selection hidden beneath it) as one card in my right hand, and begin to hand it to the spectator. Just before they can take it, I say, "Hold it like this please." and with that, I flip the double face down onto the deck to free my right hand so I can show them how to hold the card. I show the spectator how I want him to hold the card by making a pinching motion with my right forefinger and thumb. Then I push off the top card of the deck hand it to the spectator. This gives a little reason for turning the card face down and mentally distracts from the DL.

Have the spectator insert the card in the deck but do not let go of it. I usually riffle the corner of the deck to facilitate this. I tell the spectator that the Ace is very lucky card and they will put it right beside their selected card, if they let it guide them.

It's important to tell the spectator not to let go of the card they insert as it makes the next part much easier and more elegant. This is from Giobbi's version in card college. With your right hand, take all of the cards above the inserted card in End Grip and lift them away, turning your right hand palm up to show the bottom card of this section asking "Is this your card?" They will say no. Turn your right hand palm down again and use the packet to tip over the top card of the left hand section asking the same question. Again, they will say no.

"Well, we must bring the trick to a successful conclusion." Snap your fingers and have the spectator look at the card in their hand. They should be surprised to find their card instead of the Ace.

When they look at the selection, you have ample misdirection to cut the deck, sending the Ace of Spades on top to the center where you hold a break above it.

"Actually, the Ace did not change INTO your card, it changed PLACES with your card. Think about it, if the card that was lost in the deck is now in your hand, then the Ace must be lost in the deck. Maybe you will have more luck with the Ace."

I then do the old drop packet timing force by cutting packets from the top of the deck and asking the spectator to call stop. If you understand what I mean, the spectator stops on the Ace of Spades and you have a complete routine. You can also do this force onto the spectator's outstretched hand so you need no table for this routine.
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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 15th, 2016, 5:27 pm

I really make it look as if I have made a complete hash of the trick. I show the one above the card and they deny it, then I get confused but think of something else by showing the one beneath the card and they still deny it. I then, (depending on the mood and the atmophere) even repeat the procedure by getting them to insert the card again. It still doesn't work and then I emerge triumphant. I really milk my own incompetence for a stronger effect.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 15th, 2016, 7:20 pm

@ Performer & Ryan

Nice thinking, touches, psychology and subtleties:

This is when I am most enthusiastic about this Forum; i.e., when I can learn and tangibly benefit from the thought others put into great tricks and from their wealth of experience.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Jorge Betancourt » August 16th, 2016, 9:25 am

I'm with Richard, I only do card magic. I think that we are like the doctors, we must know a little bit of everything, but you have to have a specialty, if I'm a neurologist I'm not going to do plastic surgery. My opener is a production of the four aces from a truly shuffled deck, involving four spectators, it's my version of Monarch's Quartette by Larry Jennings.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Q. Kumber » August 16th, 2016, 11:10 am

May I suggest that your opener is not a trick.

Your opener is YOU.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 16th, 2016, 2:45 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:May I suggest that your opener is not a trick.

Your opener is YOU.


Alas that is the problem in most cases. In a tiny few examples it is the best opening of all but alas in most cases it is the most disastrous opening you can imagine. But a very good closing since the agony is about to come to an end.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Mr. Charming » August 16th, 2016, 3:08 pm

For a long time I had the theory that you should *not* open with a magic trick, but rather with a puzzle or curiosity or something similar. This is actually to "warm up" the audience and make them more receptive to your magic.

AFTER several months I found out that LENNART GREEN actually says the exact same thing in his "Master Files" videos, and in fact he does just that (I believe he starts with the "broken hand" joke).

Several weeks ago I choose a Paul Harris effect as an opener, where you slightly challenge the audience to create a square from a few a playing cards and then your perform a type of penetration or optical illusion. That to me is much better than performing tricks straight away. Then I forgot about this effect until yesterday I found this thread.

In any case (and I don't want to sound heavy) you need to answer some (somewhat deep) questions, like: who are you, who is character, who is your audience, what's your venue, etc. Also if people are expecting you, or if they are familiar with magic, etc. I also believe it's important to aknowledge what perception have the audience of magician in general. I believe if you answer all those questions (and maybe more) you will AUTOMATICALLY know what's the best opener to use FOR YOU.

Many times I perform for people who are barely aware of the playing cards. They couldn't know the difference between "Spades" and "Clubs" in the ideal scenario that they are aware that clubs are called like that (and not "flowers"). I think it would be inappropriate to begin performing without even introducing the players (the playing cards).

See the beginning of the Jason Alexander Penguin Lecture, where he explains the challenges he had to create an opener for a Magic Castle act and how he solved them (brilliantly, IMO).

Now overall I have to say that the "best" opener I had ever red about or learned is Jerome Finley's version of the Al Koran opener. IMO is a "one degree" example where a small change can make a whole difference.

I always though this can be combined with the Jerry Andrus Magic Castle opener, but then again, it could be too much.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 16th, 2016, 6:27 pm

Mr. Charming Wrote: "Now overall I have to say that the "best" opener I had ever red about or learned is Jerome Finley's version of the Al Koran opener. IMO is a "one degree" example where a small change can make a whole difference. I always though this can be combined with the Jerry Andrus Magic Castle opener, but then again, it could be too much."

Can you briefly describe the effect(s) in the three "openers" you mentioned?

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby Q. Kumber » August 16th, 2016, 6:28 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Mr. Charming Wrote: "Now overall I have to say that the "best" opener I had ever red about or learned is Jerome Finley's version of the Al Koran opener. IMO is a "one degree" example where a small change can make a whole difference. I always though this can be combined with the Jerry Andrus Magic Castle opener, but then again, it could be too much."

Can you briefly describe the effect(s) in the three "openers" you mentioned?


I understand Al Koran's opener was his There Ring Routine.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 16th, 2016, 6:37 pm

Q. Kumber Wrote: "I understand Al Koran's opener was his Three Ring Routine."

Thanks for that info.

And thought-provoking observation as far as "you" being the opener.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 16th, 2016, 7:06 pm

I well remember Al Koran bragging to me about his opening Linking Ring Routine. He only used three rings and had a theory that they did not have to be examined as the public had already seen about three thousand million routines with the rings with them being examined so it was not necessary to do it himself as everyone else had done the job for him. What he really meant is that he had no idea how to have the rings examined in the first place. However, I invented a method of having all three rings examined before the trick starts which would work in ANY three ring routine. I can't be bothered explaining it though as it takes up too much effort and nobody would appreciate it anyway. Therefore you don't deserve to have it.

Billy McComb was at the meeting that I had with Al Koran and Koran kept saying, "My three ring routing is a show stopper, isn't it Billy? A show stopper! A show stopper! Isn't it Billy?" He kept saying "show stopper" so many times I was hoping the bloody bragging show would stop. Sometimes he would vary his excitement over his own routine by repeating, "I open with the rings in a MENTAL ACT! A MENTAL ACT! A MENTAL ACT!" In fact he nearly drove ME mental with his constant repetitition over the matter.

Anyway, I told this story to Paul Pacific who met Billy just a couple of years or so before he died. Paul likes telling tall tales and making insincere flattering remarks as only Canadians can. So he told Billy that he performed Billy's Linking Finger Ring routine to the letter which of course was a load of old baloney because he had never read it and in reality performs the Osterlind routine. Anyway, Billy beamed and said to him, "Does it play well for you, son?" And of course Paul being the idiot he is couldn't resist exclaiming, "A SHOW STOPPER, BILLY! A SHOW STOPPER! A SHOW STOPPER!" Luckily Billy had forgotten the Koran conversation of so long ago.

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 16th, 2016, 9:31 pm

PERFORMER WROTE: "Billy McComb was at the meeting that I had with Al Koran and Koran kept saying, "My three ring routing is a show stopper, isn't it Billy? A show stopper! A show stopper! Isn't it Billy?" He kept saying "show stopper" so many times I was hoping the bloody bragging show would stop. Sometimes he would vary his excitement over his own routine by repeating, "I open with the rings in a MENTAL ACT! A MENTAL ACT! A MENTAL ACT!" In fact he nearly drove ME mental with his constant repetitition over the matter."

It appears that Al Koran may have been a legend in his own mind before he became an actual legend. I wonder how he would fare under Q. Kumber's litmus test for "openers," i.e. that you are your opener?

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Re: What Is Your Opener...

Postby performer » August 16th, 2016, 10:16 pm

Oh; Koran was superb. I will never deny that.


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