R. Paul Wilson On: The Secret Behind This Magic Card Trick

R. Paul Wilson On: The Secret Behind This Magic Card Trick

It’s getting close to silly season so I thought I might break the habit of a lifetime and share a little magic with you that might also make an interesting betcha for family and friends.

If there’s a pack of cards available, this simple card trick can be made miraculous with just a little bit of presentation on your part.

What Happens?

Place a card aside from a borrowed deck that’s been legitimately shuffled – by anyone who wants to mix the cards – guaranteeing that there can be no set order.

Someone then concentrates on the mysterious card you set aside, dealing cards into a facedown pile until they feel the urge to stop dealing.

From the exact position that they stopped dealing, those same cards are divided into two piles, the top cards of which are used to formulate a random card by suit and value.

No matter where they chose to stop in the shuffled deck, the card they decide upon is the exact card you predicted.

How’s It Done?

Whoah, stop a second.

Re-read that description and think how it might be possible for two cards randomly arrived-at in a shuffled deck to accurately identify the only card set aside earlier with no switches or sleight of hand.

Take a moment because this is the feeling you want to convey when performing this effect.

I’m not saying you can’t just do this as a simple card trick – in fact it’s one of the first tricks you’d learn if you went beyond the typical tricks available to the public.

What I’m hoping to encourage is that you try and sell the miracle nature of what happens despite the incredibly simple secret to how it happens.

The Method

At your next gathering where a deck of cards is present, raise the topic of precognition and the idea that people can intuit the future without realising that they’re doing it.

This serves an important purpose as it can determine the filter through which your audience will perceive the following effect.

By basing a magic trick around an idea, the simplest of secrets can become miraculous whereas the same trick without such an idea can be mildly interesting or momentarily impressive and quickly forgotten.

Consider the secret of BLACK MAGIC, a family tradition of mine that fooled the pants off of me and everyone else who witnessed it.

The name itself evoked a way of thinking that concealed the method while compelling participants to see one more demonstration.

In brief, anyone who knew the secret could take part as ‘mediums’ and leave the room while one item in the room was nominated.

On their return, the medium would be asked about random items and would always say ‘no’ until the nominated object was pointed out and they would immediately say ‘yes, that’s it!’.

The secret was so simple as to be laughable but the feat could be repeated multiple times without any clue for the audience as to how it was done.

So, back to the card trick.

Image: Shutterstock

You’ve initiated an idea and borrowed a deck of cards, which you should have thoroughly shuffled by anyone who wishes to.

Next, ask someone to look through the cards without changing their order and without anyone else seeing the faces of the cards.

Choose someone who is unlikely to be an amateur memory champion, or this miracle will end early and with your assistant in the spotlight!

Take back the deck, quickly run through so only you can see the faces and remove a card.

The card you take is not random, but you should learn to take it as if you’re simply taking a card entirely by chance.

In fact, the card you remove is determined by the top two cards of the deck which should be different suits and different values from each other (if they happen to be the same suit or value, cut the cards to any suitable pair).

Combining the suits and values of these cards gives you two possible other cards. 

For example, the ace of spades and king of hearts can be combined to form the ace of hearts (value from the ace, suit from the king) or the king of spades (value from the king, suit from the ace) and so on.

I advise that you use the value of the top card and the suit of the second card to determine which card you remove and place face down on the table.

By making sure you use the value of the top card, you are able to be clearer about something important in a moment.

Let’s imagine the king of hearts is on top and the ace of spades is second from the top, so you remove the king of spades.

When setting this card aside, be sure no one sees its face but place it in a prominent position as it represents the climax of your miracle.

Return the deck to your helper and ask them to run through the faces one more time without changing the order then ask them to hold the deck face down and deal cards one at a time into a face down pile.

Allow them to deal at least 10 cards (coach them to deal neither too quickly nor too slowly) before telling them they can stop dealing at any time.

Once they stop, take the balance of the deck from them and place it aside and ask them to pick up the dealt pile and deal that into two piles until all the cards are dealt.

As they do this, note where the last card is dealt (left or right pile) and you’re ready to complete the effect.

Remind them that the deck was shuffled, a card removed and that your helper examined the deck before and after the card was removed and thanks to the remarkable powers of the human mind, he or she has subliminally calculated not only the missing card but how to identify that card through seemingly random dealing of the cards.

Point to the pile where the last card was dealt and say, “Let’s imagine this card nominates value,” then point to the other pile saying, “—and this card nominates suit,” and remind everyone again that the deck was shuffled and that your unwitting assistant decided where to stop dealing without being given any other direction.

Turn over the value card saying “king of—,” then turn the suit card, “—spades!”

Have your assistant reveal the predicted card you set aside at the outset and take your applause.

The Blow Off

Congratulations, you just learned a real card trick, albeit a very simple one but I guarantee this is about a thousand times better than the average trick most non-magicians happen to know.

If you enjoy it enough to learn more, I recommend buying a copy of ‘The Royal Road To Card Magic’ and reading it in order (don’t skip chapters).

It teaches sleight of hand for beginners and each chapter includes a sleight-free effect or two that will really blow your friends away.

As for this trick: If you succeed in engaging people’s interest enough to get the strongest effect, you must learn to fend off demands for the secret where every tactic imaginable will be leveraged to make you share the method.

Don’t do it.

Don’t even point them to this article.

Telling the secret isn’t sharing, it’s killing the effect and depriving people of the experience they just had.

A lot of new magicians can’t help but tell in order to show how clever they are but it never works, and people soon lose all interest when they see that “that’s all it is”.

So before you perform this, be prepared with something to say that will fight off the persistent ones (and there will be).