Monday, December 9, 2013

You Don't Need a Trick Deck to Perform

A lot of novice magicians seem to think that you need a 'gimmicked' or trick deck to perform really spectacular card tricks. Either that or you need to spend years and years of painstaking practice mastering clever moves and manipulations. Well, the good news is, they're wrong! There are hundreds of powerful card effects that you don't need a trick deck to perform. If you want to go professional, then years of practice are required but even that shouldn't stop anyone learning some easy but effective card tricks you can perform with any deck. Let me share with you three of my favorites for beginners.
The Magic Breath
The Magic Breath

With this trick, the presentation is everything. Whilst the trick is very simple, if it is performed properly it makes for a truly striking effect.
The effect: a card is transported to any number position picked by a spectator. At the first attempt, after the cards are counted out, an incorrect card is shown but the second time around, it is precisely the spectator's chosen card.
The method: this is very easy to do. The card is in the first position at the outset so that the first (false) count brings it to the position required when the cards are put back on the top of the deck. So the second time they are counted, there it is at the number position the spectator freely chose!
So, the spectator chooses a card freely, memorizes it and puts it back in the deck. It's position is marked and the magician performs several controlled shuffles to bring it to the top and hold it there.
S/he then says to the spectator something like, "Do you have the famous Magic Breath? Let's see if we can find out. If you do, you'll be able to send the card you chose to wherever in the pack you want just by breathing out over the cards. So, let's see if you've got it. Choose a number. Seven? Okay. Now breathe gently over the deck and concentrate on your chosen number."
To get a laugh, whilst your helper breathes over the cards, turn away and pull a face at the audience. "Phoo! Well, you've certainly got powerful breath! Let's see if that power is magical, too. Please take the deck and count through from the top the number of cards you chose." Of course, the card he turns over will be incorrect (but in counting out he'll have placed the chosen card at the chosen depth by reversing the order - ready for you!).
Take the pack, put the packet counted on top and execute a false shuffle; take the card he turned up and push it in somewhere amongst the top eight cards. "I knew you would fail," you say, "instead of thinking while blowing, you blew while thinking, not the same thing at all. Let me show you a real magic breath. See, just a gentle zephyr, but it has sent your card to the number required. What was it you chose? Seven?"
Deal out six cards, have the spectator name his card and turn over the seventh. He will be astonished to see that it is his chosen card!
The smelly breath joke can be omitted if it seems inappropriate. You have to judge the person and the situation carefully. Your job is to entertain, not offend!
Color Divination
Color Divination

The effect: borrow a pack of cards or first hand your own out for inspection. Then, when everyone is satisfied that the cards have not been 'fixed' in any way, put the pack, face up, in a spectator's hands. Ask him to deal the entire pack out, placing the red cards on your upturned left hand and the black cards on your right. Place the black cards face up on the table and then hand him the red cards. Ask him to shuffle them.
Now take a piece of paper and write the name of a card on it. Now put it down on the table. Ask the spectator to pick a red card, keeping the face down, without looking at the card and put it within the packet of black cards. Fan these black cards out, face up to reveal the selected card: it is, of course, the card that you wrote on the piece of paper. You can then put the cards away and repeat the same trick with the red cards!
So here's the method: Whilst the red cards are being counted out onto your left hand, you count them. When you see the twenty-sixth card, that is the one that you must remember because that is the one that you will write down on the piece of paper. Now here's the tricky bit: as you accept that particular card into your hand you must mark its position by slightly inserting the third finger of your left hand under it. Do this subtlely so it goes unnoticed.
In turning left ways to place the black cards down on the table, straighten out your left fingers, so that the top cards are lifted upwards, allowing you to catch sight of the marked card. Now slip that card down and pass it to the bottom of the black pile as your hands cross. Then you put that pack down secure in the knowledge that it has the added red card resting at the bottom. You can now happily hand the rest of the red cards to the spectator to be shuffled.
Whilst he is busy with the shuffling, just write the name of the spotted card down on the paper, fold it and leave it.
Turn the black heap face down. The spectator pushes any red card into the black packet, face down without looking at it, as you fan the cards. Make the pass, bringing it to the top, then fan the cards. In the middle will be the card you secretly transferred, whose name is on the slip, but the spectator naturally believes it to be the one he just pushed in. Have the slip read, take the card out and replace it in the red packet. The trick can then be repeated.
The Red and Black
The Red and Black

This is the effect: you take your pack of cards and give them a good shuffle. Then you spread all the cards out on the tabletop, all of them face down. This done, you then explain that you can tell 'psychically' which colour the cards are without looking at them or even touching them. You explain that this is because the psychic powers are especially responsive to the primordial colours of red and black.
Now, you ask a spectator to point to any of the cards. Whichever card he points at, you are able to declare correctly the colour of the selected card, which point is proved when the spectator turns the card over. You can repeat this effect as many times as you need to convince the spectator of your amazing abilities! (of course, if there is any danger that the spectator really believes that you have 'psychic' powers then you must explain that it is all a clever game).
So, how is it done? Here's the explanation:
You need first to prepare the pack, so this is not a trick that you can perform impromptu. What you have to do is separate out all the red cards into one pile and all the black cards into another. That done, you take each packet in turn and, having squared them up, you bend them slightly all together - the reds in one direction and the blacks in the other. You must, of course, take careful note of the direction in which you have bent each colour as it is this that will enable you to identify the cards later.
Once the cards are bent in this way you will discover that they remain bent even after they have been shuffled but that the bending, once they are well mixed will be quite well disguised to those not 'in the know'.
From that point it is easy to tell which cards are red and which are black, simply by noting the subtle bend in them and whether they are bent upwards or downwards. The audience will never guess it!
You should have a lot of fun with these easy card tricks that you don't need a trick deck to perform. Just remember that even a very easy trick will need some practice before you show it to others. You can make all these effects more powerful be really acting out your part as a magician and adding in your own funny or mysterious patter. Use your imagination and enjoy yourself.
One last word of advice: people don't like to feel that they are being tricked but they do like to be entertained. For that reason present your trick as something fun you want to share rather than starting out betting they won't know how it's done. You want them to want the trick to work, not to be trying to catch you out!
Austin Hackney is a performing magician, entertainer, theatre practioner and writer of many years standing, always keen to share his experience and encourage the novice. His website, The Magic Tricks Homepage is a great free resource for magic tutorials, articles, visual guides, eBooks and more. If you want to learn magic well, not just a huge number of tricks but solid performance skills, the site is well worth a visit. You can download card magic video tutorials here which is a great way of learning and building a repertoire.

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