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Card Magic Tricks: The Basic Effects

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Card Magic Tricks: The Basic Effects
Beyond merely stating that "card magic tricks" are magic tricks or effects that employ playing cards, the genre, thanks to generations of clever and innovative magicians, has a multitude of plots and effects that I will attempt to identify and define in this article. Just as magic has its basic effects that include: animation, destruction and restoration, escape, levitation, penetration, transformation and vanish, card magic has it’s own basic effects that fall into the following categories.

Card Magic Tricks: Identification and Location
Perhaps the best known genre and type of card magic trick is that where a spectator randomly selects a card that is returned to the deck. And seemingly, there’s no way for the magician to know the spectator’s card. However, in the end, the magician either identifies the card or locates it. Perhaps the best known beginners’ magic trick that follows this plot is “The 21-Card Trick.” I also consider “spelling card tricks,” those effects where the magician asks the spectator to name the card and the magician spells to it, to also fall into this category.

This genre also includes mind-reading style effects with playing cards. In these card magic tricks, the magician has a spectator freely select a card and without looking, and seemingly with no way of knowing, the magician can “read” the spectator’s mind and identify the card. “Identification and Location” plays on the notion that it would be against the statistical odds for a magician to guess and successfully determine a spectator’s selected card.

Card Magic Tricks: Prediction Against the Odds
In these effects, a spectator still selects a card as in “Identification and Location,” but here, the magician proves that she knew ahead of time the card that the spectator would select. In these tricks, a magician usually reveals that the identity of the chosen card was written down before hand or previously identified in another manner, which forms the revelation and crux of the effect. A good example of a prediction effect is the aptly named “Prediction Card Magic Trick.” Like “Identification and Location,” “Prediction” is based on a statistical improbability, the one-in-52 chance that a magician could successfully predict a card that a spectator would freely select in the future.

Card Magic Tricks: Order from Chaos and Gambling and Poker
I’ve bundled these genres together because I believe that they are related. The idea in these card magic tricks is that a deck is mixed, but despite this, the magician is able to produce a four of a kind (for example, four aces or four queens), a winning poker hand (for example, a royal flush), or even an entire deck in a specific order, for example, “new deck” order. Another variation includes tricks such as “Do As I Do” where the deck is mixed and the magician and spectator perform similar actions that result in similar outcomes. A famous card magic trick in this vein is Paul Curry’s “Out of This World.” Like “Prediction Against the Odds,” this genre is another that concerns itself with statistical improbabilities.

Card Magic Tricks: Color Change
Some card magic tricks involve playing cards that change colors. For example, a spectator’s card changes from a blue-backed card to a red-backed card. Or a magician may cause the backs of every card in a deck to change from one color to another. To magicians, “color change” also refers to a family of sleight of hand moves that makes it look as if one card is changed into another one. The various moves are typically employed to change a playing card into a the spectator’s selected card in an application of “Identification and Location.” In a sense, a color change is simply a basic transformation effect.

Card Magic Tricks: Transposition
Any effect where two objects switch or trade places, and this can include coins, people and any two objects, transpositions are often performed with playing cards.

Card Magic Tricks: Vanish and Production
At times, magicians cause playing cards to vanish and then reproduce them, however, this a feat that’s more common in a stand-up act, as opposed to close-up act.

Card Magic Tricks: Torn and Restored
Magicians often tear-up napkins and newspapers and restore them to their original states. And cards are also torn and restored. This is simply the “destruction and restoration basic magic effect applied to playing cards.

Card Magic Tricks: Card to Impossible Place
Beyond the “Identification and Location” of a spectator’s playing card, there’s a distinct area of card magic that concerns itself with causing a selected card to end up in an impossible place. This can include a wallet, the page of a book, inside of a box that’s held by a spectator and more. Typically, in these effects, the card is signed or a corner is torn off so the spectator can later verify that his card actually traveled to its destination and that the magician didn’t simply employ a duplicate card. A variation on this effect is “ambitious card” where a card is lost in the deck and repeatedly rises to the top.

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