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"Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic" - Chapter 2, Self-Working Card Tricks


"Best of Five" Easy Card Trick

Chapter 2, “Self-Working Card Tricks,” begins a magician’s journey into the world of simple tricks with playing cards. It’s an approach that I completely agree with as budding magicians who purchase the book will probably be raring to learn and perform simple magic tricks. And the book abides by teaching card tricks that require no sleight-of-hand skills.

I’m sure that there are lots of magicians who, at the start of their magic careers, performed these very tricks for family and friends. And a couple may be even in the repertoire of some experienced magicians.

Automatic Card Discovery
This trick has been published in numerous beginning books and it’s one that just about every magician knows. Here, a spectator’s selected card turns out to be the only face-up card in the face-down deck. I once performed this trick as a kid. Overall, however, I don’t particularly care for it.

The method asks beginning magicians to have a selected card returned in a specific manner, however, the process requires some spectator management - skills that many beginners won’t have. The tendency for spectators is to return the card by first creating a small break in the deck to create an opening, and at this point, the secret of the trick is revealed. Despite what the book states, magicians should take the card and insert it into the deck themselves.

No pro would probably perform this trick as a classic, sleight-based “Triumph” routine - cards are shuffled face-up and face-down and then the magician causes the cards to right themselves with the exception of the selected card - offers a far more impressive and flashy effect.

Also, placing the cards behind the back, as one does in this trick, is rather fishy. I’m sure that I could come up some way to misdirect and secretly turn over the card, but is this trick really worth it?

You can view a version of this trick that is published on this site by clicking here.

Fantastic Five
This is one of the best card tricks in the chapter that is easy to perform and only requires a minimum of spectator management. What I like about the trick is that it features a strong double climax.

After the selected card is returned to the deck, the deck is shown with one card face-up in the face-down deck, but it’s the “five of clubs” and not the spectator’s card. At this point, spectators think that the magician has made an error.

The magician then states that the “five” is an “indicator card” and counts down five cards to reveal the spectator’s card. This is revelation number one.

For the second revelation, and it’s a strong one, the magician turns over the four in-between, counted cards, which turn out to be aces. Every beginning magician should learn and perform this trick. Among the many easy card tricks in this book, this one offers an actual routine that naturally builds and engages spectators. It’s one of my favorites in this chapter.

You can view a version of this trick that is published on this site by clicking here.

Turn Over Card Trick
This trick introduces a classic technique for finding a spectator’s card, the use of a key card that is glimpsed early on and cut on top of the spectator’s card. This effect is known as a “sucker” trick as the spectator thinks the magician has made a mistake, however, in the end, the magician is shown to be correct. This effect is well known as the “Circus” trick.

This trick belongs in a chapter on self-workers and it’s a good trick. However, I need to warn beginning magicians to not perform and treat this trick as a “ha ha, I got you,” type of experience. I recommend this trick as the method is fundamental to the education of beginning magicians and can and will be applied elsewhere.

But please be kind to your spectators. This trick can be obnoxious.

You can view a version of this trick that is published on this site by clicking here.

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