We’ve all heard the term “magic.” Some of us use it in our daily lives. But what really is magic? Well, the formal definition of magic is something like this: Magic is the performance of illusions meant to entertain, baffle and amaze. The purpose of magic is to give the illusion that the impossible or supernatural has been achieved. Although magic deals with the illusion of the supernatural, no ghostly beings or entities actually have any part in a magic act. Truly entertaining magic is always done by a skilled performer who knows how to use natural means to create the impression that something next to impossible has been done.
Early magic was most likely probably used for cheating in gambling games such as cards or in times of war like the use of the Trojan Horse. But during the 18th magic became less of a series of seemingly pointless deceptions and more of a respectable activity done by professional illusionists.
The earliest recorded modern practice of magic tricks was done by Jean Eugene Robert Houdin in the mid-1800s. In fact, many consider Houdin the father of modern magic. Houdin, originally a trained clock worker, switched to the practicing of magic when he opened a magic theater in Paris in the 1840s. Houdin’s special magic trick of the time was creating small mechanical pieces that seemed to move and act as if they were alive.
After that the popularity of magic continued to grow. In 1873 two men, British performer J. N. Maskelyne and his partner Cooke established their own theatre, the Egyptian Hall in London England’s Piccadilly. The magic tricks these two men were best known for performing were hiding special mechanisms in their stages to control audiences’ points of view. So, the magic was in people and items suddenly disappearing and reappearing, or being distorted in some way.
The late 19th century brought on celebrity magic and celebrity musicians. This was the time of the world-famous Harry Houdini, whose real name was Erich Weiss. Houdini’s magic tricks were based on the ability to escape impossible situations. Today this term is referred to as escapology.
Depending on whom you talk to today, magic is a trivial past time for children, or magic can be a real source of entertainment. At least that was the common attitude towards magic in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today magic seems to be in vogue again. But most modern workers of magic follow a strict code of ethics. For example, those who perform on television don’t use camera tricks and videotape editing to create the illusion of powerful magic. Magic workers today use only traditional forms of magic. This means they use the same forms of magic for television as they would for a live magic show.
The old saying about magic being smoke and mirrors is true. The art of magic tricks is all about fooling the audiences’ eyes and getting them to think they are seeing something that really isn’t happening. That’s what true magic and the practice of good magic tricks is all about.
This prediction card trick is one of the basic routines that every aspiring magician should have in their repertoire. It has been around for centuries and can be performed hundreds of different ways, but if done well, still has the power to amaze your audience.
The Card Trick
Holding a deck of cards face down in your hands, fan them out and ask for a volunteer to help you with the trick. Holding the fan of cards with one hand use one of the fingers from your other hand to point at the fan. Run your finger around the fan of cards and ask the spectator to say stop when your finger is over the card that they want.
The chosen card is then shown to the audience and returned to the pack, which is then handed to a member of the audience to be shuffled. The magician then proceeds to reveal which card was originally selected.
At the start of the performance, hand the deck to a member of the audience and ask them to shuffle the cards. When the spectator hands the cards back, take a quick look at the card on the bottom of the deck. This is going to be the card that they “select”.
Next, fan out the pack and get another person from the audience to select a card. Run your finger across the cards and ask them to say “Stop” when your hand is over the card that they want.
When they say “Stop” put the thumb of the hand that’s holding the cards on the top of the selected card. With your other hand, gather together all the cards on top of the selected card and get ready to slide the whole packet of cards (including the chosen card) off the top of the deck so that the audience can see the card that has been selected.
But while you’re gathering the cards on top of the selected card together, use the fingers of your other hand to work the card on the bottom of the pack towards you.
The aim is to slide this card from the bottom of the pack (the one you already know) at the same time as you slide the cards from the top of the pack.
This allows you to make sure that the card on the bottom of the pack becomes the “chosen” card, while giving the illusion that you are displaying the card that has been selected.
Once you’ve done this, show the “selected” card (the one from the bottom off the pack) to the audience.
At this stage you can stand back and let the audience do the next part of the trick. The trick will be far more impressive the less direct contact you have with the cards.
Ask the person who chose the card to take it and make sure everyone has seen it apart from you. Then ask someone else to take the whole pack of cards, replace the chosen card and give the deck a good shuffle.
Now it’s time to reveal to the audience that you know which card was selected. There are hundreds of ways to do this, so let your imagination run wild.
If you want to add extra sparkle to this routine, try this; when it’s time to reveal the chosen card, hold the deck of cards face down over the table and flip the cards over one by one.
When you reach their card, turn over another three or four cards and then stop. Say to the audience “I bet you that the next card I turn over will be yours!”.
At this stage they’ll be eager to accept the bet because the chosen card is already on the table and they’ll think that you’ve made a mistake.
So imagine their surprise when you reach out to the table and turn their chosen card face down.