reading minds

So, last night at a bar I started doing magic for friends of friends.  As we all do when we have too much to drink, but something interesting happened in the set.

I started doing more mind reading and risky magic.  If you guys haven’t seen my lecture on TMC, you should check it out.  I always end up doing this mind reading effect that is super easy but packs strong.  It’s basically a simple riffle force of a card and reveal it in a special way.  So after I did that, the natural thing the spectators wanted was me to do it again.  So I did.  I instant stooged one of his friends and had him read the person’s mind.  They wanted more.

I was in a risky mood, since failure now would not be a nice way to end.  I had the person think of a card and fanned the cards in front of his friends.  I literally made them guess what card he was holding.  Although now I was thinking that a 1 in 52 chance was basically 100% for some reason, the trick failed.  I looked puzzled and started to think what the hell I can do as an out but still keep it in the mind reading context.  I palmed out the card and asked one of their friends to see if his card was in the deck.  Acting confused why they couldn’t guess the card.  I kept asking what the card was (10 of clubs) and kept saying that I didn’t see it in the deck as the 2 were pulling out the card.  The friends agreed.  Having the named card palmed out, I just decided to put it into my wallet since I had a Card to Wallet in my back pocket.  So the problem was to reveal it not in the context of magic.  For example your card transported into my wallet.

So I kept acting confused and then in a moment of clarity, I told them that I think it’s not in the deck because I used it for a trick yesterday.  Then realizing it, I tell them I left it in my wallet!  Being excited (acting) I slowly pulled the wallet out and took the card out of the zippered compartment.

They freaked.

When we use “outs” or trying to come up with a good ending from something that went wrong, we always go to tried and true methods.  This is totally fine, but sometimes they can be out of context.  If I just pulled the card out of the wallet without the acting bit, it would seem as a magic trick.  Where the card transported to the wallet.  But in this case, they didn’t even think I used sleight of hand because in the context it seemed to make sense that I left a card in the wallet before.  The acting sells the fact that it was a coincidence.  It was also a great bit that the friends confirmed with my story of not seeing the 10 of clubs in the deck before.

It’s amazing what jazzing can end up.


Posted: May 18th, 2011
Comments: 10 Comments.
Comment from Eric - May 18, 2011

Awesome stuff.


Comment from Charles - May 19, 2011

A variation (maybe a distant variation) on the theme:

Sometimes I end up in a crowd of my wife’s friends. We don’t really know each other, we don’t really have much in common, etc. But they know I do magic, so I often get requests for tricks.

Friendly, polite, respectful requests, to be sure. But y’know… sometimes you’re just not in the mood to think about what to do, what you’ve done before, etc.

When I’m in that mood, I sometimes take out the deck of cards, and ask them what I should do. It often goes something along these lines:

“What should you do? I dunno, you’re the magician!”

“Yeah, but if *I* pick something, then maybe you will be impressed but maybe you won’t be. If *you* tell me what to do, then you’ll HAVE to be impressed if I do it!”

“Okay, ummm…. snap your fingers and get the two of spades to the 14th card.”


“Okay, I want to pick a card and put it back ANYWHERE in the deck. But *I* get to hold the deck, not you! And *I* get to shuffle! Then you find it…”


Doing this purely impromptu stuff is nice for a few reasons:

1. There’s no such thing as a lame trick any more. Lameness is a failure of creativity, but in this case the audience is the creative force.

2. It gives you a new insight into what people think magicians can do.

3. At least sometimes, it forces you to be creative. Or at least resourceful.

4. It’s more fun than doing the same old crap all the time.


Comment from Adam J - May 22, 2011


I do this very very often. Sometimes I ask them what I should do, but most of the time I just ask them to shuffle the deck and I make up the whole trick as I go along. Sometimes I glimpse the top or bottom card as the spectator is shuffling and work from there, there are endless possibilities. The other day I was practicing a card trick involving a card box incognito when a friends friend challenged me to do a trick using the the card box…naturally I pretended I was making up the trick and just performed the trick I was practicing. Impromptu creative thinking is what I enjoy most about card magic.


Comment from Adam P - July 7, 2011

I was at a wedding reception last night and thought “Hey this might be a good time to try something along the lines of Tony’s little mind reading routine.”

So I did the “special reveal” from the first phase…and it knocked ‘em dead. I just put the cards away because I didn’t think I could top the reaction I got. Strong stuff for a riffle force.


Comment from Charles - August 27, 2011

We miss you, Tony… come back!


Comment from purplecreams - October 2, 2011

yes, come back. im new here, and i want to feel connected


Comment from Jaded - October 4, 2011

Tony where are you??? :)


Comment from Jeff T - November 9, 2011

Magician’s best audience are drunk people. Well done.


Comment from Arthur - February 10, 2012

Card to wallet is always my buddy ;)


Comment from Joel - March 22, 2012

i’ve read some of your post and i say I’ve stubbled upon a gem. Will be watching out for more post :D