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Complete Card Magic Guide

category: Miscellaneous | course: Card Tricks | difficulty:

So, you want to impress friends, family, your crush, and anyone else with magic tricks? Well, you've come to the right place. Card tricks are the best ones to start with, because there are so many different tricks you can do with them, and all you need is a standard deck of cards (usually without jokers). What people usually do is teach you a complete card trick, from start to finish. But, what I will try to do, is teach you all the different components and basic tricks you can use with card magic, so you can assemble your own trick! However, if you just want to learn a trick from start to finish, I've got that covered as well.

What do we need?

A standard 54-deck of cards. You can decide for yourself if you want to keep the joker(s) in there. Nothing else, the rest of it is just your own skill. There are, I must note, a lot of beginner card tricks that involve glue and pieces of paper and cards cut in half....but I find those the ugliest tricks ever, I only teach 'clean' tricks here. Not only does this make you a better magician, it also saves you a lot of work and money. And, you can perform your tricks with any deck given to you.

And of course, you need the right attitude! Learning proper card magic requires a lot of practice from your side. Cards may fall out of your hands, they can slip, tricks can go wrong because you accidentally did an actual shuffle (instead of a fake one)...it all happens, you just need to go on until you got it perfectly right. And when you've got it perfectly right, you can study a bit aboutmisdirection to cover up the secret even more.

The Basic Setup

For the people who've seen the movie "The Prestige", this quote may sound familiar:

The first part of a trick, is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary and asks you to inspect it.

The second part, is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary thing, and makes it do something extraordinary.

But making something disappear, of course isn't enough. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, "The Prestige".

Well, sounds cool, but what's my point? That every card trick also has these three 'acts'. First, you show them the deck of cards so they see it's perfectly ordinary. You let them pick a card, study it, and put it back. Then, you do something extraordinary: you make the promise of retrieving the spectator's card. You shuffle the deck, make some cuts, perhaps do some other nice moves. And then comes the last part: you make the card come out of the deck! This can be in any way you like, by making it the top or bottom card, doing a nice reveal, letting the spectator grab the top card, etc. And that's the way you must also read this guide. I have tips and variations for every part...enjoy it!

A Basic Trick

But, to start you off, I present you a very basic trick you can already practice. For the spectators, it goes like this: they may choose a card, put it on top of the deck, you make a cut in the deck, and then you look into the deck and bring their card back! But for you, the magician, it goes like this:

  • Shuffle the deck (really, no fake one).
  • Let the spectator choose a card. But, while he does that, you look at the bottom card of the deck, and memorize it.
  • Then, the spectator puts his card at the top of the deck, and you make a random cut. This means you cut the deck in half around the middle of the deck, and put the bottom half on top of the top one.
  • What this does, is it places the bottom card on top of the top card (= the chosen card).
  • Then, all you have to do, is turn around the deck and look through the cards until you find the card you memorized. The card before it is the card the spectator picked!

Now of course, that is a very basic trick that anyone can see through after you've done it a few times. But it's a great example of how simple tricks can be, and it's an easy one to get you started with smooth card and audience control.

Basic 'Sleight of Hand' Techniques

There are several areas in 'sleight of hand' that can (and/or must) be implemented into a trick, namely:

  1. Fake Shuffles
  2. Location Markers
  3. Passes & Breaks
  4. Card Forcing
  5. Card Hiding
  6. Card Revealing

Everything else essentially comes from these basic techniques, so let's get started!

We recommend you follow the guide in the order presented above, as we'll be heavily using some methods learned in earlier chapters in later ones.

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