Newbie - How long does it take ?

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.

Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby Guest » January 2nd, 2004, 7:52 pm

I have been at card manipulation for about 7 days now. I'm having a hard time doing even the most basic things like a regular overhand bridge type shuffle.

The deck feels like a mattress in my hands. I'm reading about stuff like "The Glide" and the books say it is one of the easiest things to do but I am having trouble with it. 6 cards stick together when I try.

The cards stick, they fall on the floor, it is very frustrating.

Is this typical ? What should my expectations be on how long it will take to get better at this ?



Re: Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby Guest » January 2nd, 2004, 8:23 pm

Hi Squeed! Don't worry, you aren't the first to experience this and certainly won't be the last. Most if not all of us went through this phase at the outset - heck, i'm not much far past where you are at now. My cards fall to the floor all the time!

If i may ask some questions: How old are you? What cards are you using? Where are you learning your card skills from - books, DVD? (This might help others advise you further).

You might like to start with some self-working card effects. You'll find these thoroughly enjoyable and they'll help develop performing confidence. And in the meantime keep working on your sleights skills, without being overly worried that it's taking longer than expected. Keep at it and everything will soon click into place i'm sure.

John Clarkson
Posts: 63
Joined: January 22nd, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Cathedral City, CA

Re: Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby John Clarkson » January 3rd, 2004, 7:26 am


Cards, like paramours, generally respond better to a light touch. If the cards are sticking together during a glide, try loosening your grip and the pressure you apply when gliding the card back with your right hand. Finding just the right touch will continue to be an issue. Just yesterday I was working with an effect and realized that the cards were not staying aligned perfectly during the presentation. I had to spend considerable time experimenting to find just the right amount of pressure, applied at just the right spot on the card(s), at just the right moment. These are the challenges that make card magic fun.

If six are sticking together, I'd also suggest trying a newer deck. Cards get a bit unruly after a while. If you get serious about card magic, you may find yourself using up lots of decks. Buy them in bulk to keep the cost lower. You will find that a deck has (fairly short) "perfect stage." When you firt open the deck, it will be too slippery and the edges a little rough. Then it will be perfect. Then it will become unsatisfactory for some sleights. At this point, they'll still be good enough to use for poker, but you won't want to use them for your magic.

Good luck!


Re: Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby Guest » January 3rd, 2004, 2:48 pm

Thanks guys I'll keep at it. Zaf, I'm using Aviator and Bicycle. The Bicycle have some sort of plastic coating on them that make them very slippery.

Mostly I'm using books. I purchased a VHS tape from my local magic shop, it isn't bad but it is a little much right now. I need to get the basic stuff down before trying to emulate the tape.

I'm thinking about buying a closeup pad.


Dave Shepherd
Posts: 423
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: 15 miles w. of Washington, DC

Re: Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby Dave Shepherd » January 3rd, 2004, 7:21 pm

Squeed, I think you are on the right track. Certainly by surfing over to this Genii Forum, you have associated yourself with a lot of people who know a lot.

Concentrate on the books, and take your time. I can't emphasize the second part of this enough. Sit with the books and take your time and work through them.

There are sleights and moves and methods you will want to use that will take you months and years to get right. When you do get them right, you will have the delicious joy of fooling very smart people very badly.

This will not come in a hurry, though. Be patient and work with this stuff every day for several weeks. Don't try to gulp it all down at once; you'll get a magical tummy-ache.

There a great essay from the pre-Kaufman Genii by Eugene Burger on enthusiasm and restraint when you are beginning in magic. It used to be online somewhere (I think on the very spare web site of the Larsen-era Genii), but I can't find it right now on the Internet. The gist of it was that we get very enthuasiastic when we are first learning, and want to show off every new thing we learn. But the wiser thing to do is not to show a piece until it is really ready.

There's tons of advice people will give you, but perhaps one of the most helpful pieces of advice comes, I think, from Harry Blackstone Sr., passed down through Harry Jr.: learn one really good trick very well, and perform it a lot.

I second the recommendation of Card College. Royal Road to Card Magic is also very excellent, and will move you along very quickly toward following Blackstone Sr.'s advice.

I also very much agree with learning a killer self-working trick or two to show while you are working on sleights. Two of my favorites are Al Koran's Lazy Man's Card Trick from a wonderful book called Close-Up Card Magic, by Harry Lorayne; and Karl Fulves's Gemini Twins, in his book More Self-Working Card Tricks.


Re: Newbie - How long does it take ?

Postby Guest » January 13th, 2004, 6:23 am

It's OK - frustration is part of the learning process. One time I got so frustrated I threw a pack of cards across the room. Then I got to spend half an hour looking for them all. :D

Use new cards, and use a relaxed touch. I'm just now finding out how important that is. You'd think that really gripping items would be the best way to go. But, relaxed allows you to do your thing and still look natural.

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