Self-Working Mental Magic

Self-Working Mental Magic

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by Karl Fulves

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"An excellent introduction to mentalism and mental magic. It covers a broad range of mentalism methods, tools, and techniques. Also, each chapter moves at a good progression from the simplest to the most advanced. Yet even the most advanced stuff is not beyond the reach of beginner." — Magic Reviewed
Karl Fulves, one of the most renowned modern writers in


"An excellent introduction to mentalism and mental magic. It covers a broad range of mentalism methods, tools, and techniques. Also, each chapter moves at a good progression from the simplest to the most advanced. Yet even the most advanced stuff is not beyond the reach of beginner." — Magic Reviewed
Karl Fulves, one of the most renowned modern writers in the field of magic, presents 67 new and foolproof tricks — spectacular mental feats that seem impossible but are easy to perform. None of the tricks requires long practice, supernormal dexterity, or complicated apparatus. Mr. Fulves' precise, easy-to-follow instruction and many helpful diagrams lead to quick mastery and effective performance of each. Perform mystifying mental magic in such categories as Instant ESP Psychic Secrets, Slate Sorcery, Mind Reading with Cards, Mind over Matter, Miracles with Cards, Book Tests, and Psychometry.
Many of these tricks can be done with no prior preparation, and all involve easy-to-find materials: a deck of cards, coins, matches, dice, keys, chalk, etc. But while the materials are ordinary, the effects are truly extraordinary. Magicians who wish to add mental acts to their routines, party entertainers, or anyone wishing to give an amazing performance of mental magic will find this book perfect for their needs.

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Dover Publications
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Dover Magic Books
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Barnes & Noble
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2 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

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By Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1979 Karl Fulves
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15657-6



The best way to achieve a reputation as a mind reader is to be able to perform mental tricks on the spur of the moment, without special apparatus. The tricks in this chapter are designed to accomplish this purpose. Using simple props such as matches, coins and cards, you are able to give the impression of great mental powers.

All mental tricks depend on presentation. The methods are usually simple and well concealed. For a mental trick to succeed, you must present it in such a way that your audience is convinced you have extranormal powers.

The tricks in this chapter are selected to give you practice in presentation. The final trick in the chapter is typical of the best mental magic; it depends entirely on presentation. The secret lies in what you say, and because of this, the effect you achieve is staggering.


Ask a friend to take a penny behind his back, place it in either hand, close each hand into a fist and then bring both hands forward.

Instruct him to spread his arms apart slowly and concentrate on which hand holds the penny. Without hesitation you tell him which hand does indeed contain the penny!

METHOD: This quick trick will work most of the time. As in most mental magic, even if it fails you will get credit for attempting a difficult feat of mind reading. The secret, as described by Stuart Robson, is a curious one. You do not look at the spectator's hands to find out which hand contains the coin. You look at his nose.

For some reason, as the spectator moves his hands apart from one another, his nose will usually point in the direction of the hand containing the penny. You must do this trick without really stopping to analyze any slight tilt of the spectator's head. Strive to obtain an instant impression.

This is the basic trick as it might be performed by a magician. If you want to add an element of exotic mystery, use an old coin or amulet instead of a penny. Hand the amulet to a spectator and tell him that it's left-handed_it knows when it is in someone's left hand and will send out strong mental vibrations. If it is in the right hand it tends to keep quiet. Then follow the procedure mentioned above. With this approach, the spectator's attention is focused on the coin or amulet. If he suspects anything, he suspects the coin of being gimmicked. But this misdirects attention away from the true method and thus strengthens the mystery.


If you are asked to repeat a trick like "Money Sense," it is always wise to use a different method to accomplish the same mystery. The following trick is similar in effect but completely different in method.

In this trick the spectator takes a penny behind his back and places it in either hand. He then brings both hands forward. At the same time you place a penny behind your back and put it in either hand.

The spectator reveals the hand that holds the penny; you reveal that your penny is held in the same hand.

METHOD: The secret is that you use two pennies but the spectator is aware of only one. At the beginning of the trick remove a penny from your pocket and hand it to the spectator. Instruct him to put it behind his back and secretly place it in either his left hand or his right hand.

You then reach into your pocket and say that you will try to guess which hand he chooses. To do this you will use another penny. In fact you remove two pennies from the pocket. Don't show them. Place them behind your back.

Say to the spectator, "I'm going to try to guess which hand you'll choose. I'll use this coin to indicate my guess." With both hands behind your back, place one penny in your left hand and one in your right.

Close both hands into fists and bring them out into view. Ask the spectator to bring his closed fists into view. Ask him to reveal which hand contains his penny. If he shows it is his left hand, open your left hand to show that you placed the penny in the same hand.

You may repeat the trick once more, but do not do it more than that because the spectator may guess that you are using two pennies. Objects other than coins may be used—paper clips or any small objects that fit easily in the hand, providing you have easy access to a pair for you to use.


If a deck of cards is handy you are always able to perform this amazing feat of prophecy. The method was kept in complete secrecy for years and was used to fool magicians as well as laymen.

When a borrowed, well-shuffled deck is handed to you, remark that you will shortly have a spectator cut the deck and select a card. State that you will try to predict exactly where he will cut the deck.

Hold up the deck so that the faces of the cards are toward you, and look through it as if to decide where the spectator will cut. Actually, you look at and remember the top card of the deck.

Close the deck and place it face-down on the table. Then pick up a sheet of paper, write the name of the top card, fold the paper and place it under a drinking glass or teacup. Do not let the spectator see your prediction.

Now say, "To make this really difficult, we'll blindfold the deck." Put the deck face-down on your left hand and drape an opaque pocket handkerchief over the deck. This seems to be what you do, but under the cover of the handkerchief, secretly put your thumb under the deck and lever it over so it is face-up, as shown in Figure 1. The handkerchief completely covers the secret turnover of the deck.

Rest the deck on the upturned palm of your left hand, under the handkerchief. Now ask a spectator to cut off a portion of the deck. He does this by grasping the sides of the deck through the handkerchief and lifting up a packet of cards away from the deck.

You will now apparently take the bottom part of the deck out from under the handkerchief so he can see the card he cut to. But as your left hand, holding its packet of cards, moves down and away from the packet held by the spectator, your left fingers curl in, causing the packet to pivot over to a face-down condition, Figure 2. (The handkerchief is indicated by a dotted line.)

Now bring this packet out from under the handkerchief and have the spectator remove the top card of the packet, Figure 3. It appears as if this is the card he cut to, but because of the subtle handling, it is really the card that was originally on top of the deck.

When the spectator has taken the card, put your left hand back up under the handkerchief to return the packet to the rest of the deck. As you do, secretly flip the packet over with the thumb so that it is face-up again. This action is the same as that depicted in Figure 1.

Have the spectator release the packet he cut. Then, using your right hand, lift up the entire deck through the handkerchief. Using both hands, wrap the deck up in the handkerchief and place it on the table.

Ask the spectator for the name of his card. Then have him open the slip of papers. He will be amazed that you were able to know beforehand which card he chose.


A spectator chooses a three-digit number at random. You then tell him what the three digits are. No questions are asked. This is a good trick to do as an after-dinner demonstration because it is impromptu and works best when done while seated at a table.

You will need a sheet of paper and a pencil with which the spectator can jot down the numbers. But the key to the trick is a new book of matches. Most people do not know that a new book of matches contains exactly 20 matches. This is the key to the success of this demonstration.

METHOD: When you want to perform "The Figures Match," take a new matchbook and remove and discard two matches, leaving 18. Then arrange to have the matchbook on the table in plain sight.

Ask a spectator to jot down a three-digit number while your back is turned. To make the trick more personalized, request that he choose a number that has some meaning to him. He can decide on three digits of his Social-Security number, three digits of his license plate number, etc. To make the test more interesting, tell him that each digit should be between 1 and 9, and that each digit should be different.

Say the number he chooses is 238. Ask him to think of the number backwards to form a new number. In our example he would reverse the digits and get the number 832.

Ask him to subtract the smaller number from the larger number. Remember that he does this while your back is turned. After he has performed the subtraction, he will get, in our example, 594.

Have the spectator note the smallest digit in his result. Then tell him to remove that many matches from the book. From our example, he would note that the smallest digit in 594 is 4, so he would remove 4 matches from the book.

Tell him to place the matches he just removed on the paper, fold the paper and place it in his pocket. Finally, have him hand you the matchbook behind you back.

When you get the matchbook, remove matches one at a time and drop them into view on the table. Continue doing this until you have dropped exactly 9 matches on the table. Do not call attention to the number of matches. Merely toss them out onto the table.

After the 9 matches have been disposed of, take the matchbook from behind your back and note the number of matches it contains. In our example, it will contain 5 matches. Mentally subtract 5 from 9 and you know that the spectator has exactly 4 matches in his pocket.

Further, you know that of the three digits the spectator wrote, not only is the smallest digit 4, but the next smallest digit is 5, exactly corresponding to the number of matches left in the book. This result always holds true, no matter which three-digit number the spectator started with.

Remark that there is a correlation between numbers and a person's character. This correlation is part of the larger study of numerology. Then go on to reveal that the number of matches the spectator has in his pocket, wrapped up in paper, is exactly 4. Remove the 5 matches from the packet and hand them to the spectator as you say, "I see another digit in the number you chose. Your personality is of the 4-5 type, so I'd guess the other digit is a 5."


On a sheet of paper draw the layout illustrated in Figure 4. The only other prop you will need is an ordinary die. The size of the squares in the layout should be the same as the dimensions of one side of the die.

When you have finished drawing the layout, turn your back. Have the spectator choose a number on the die and place it on the crossed square with the chosen number facing down.

Now ask him to move the die along the layout one square at a time. As he does this, he is to give the die a quarter-turn forward each time he advances to a new square on the layout.

He can move the die any number of squares he desires as long as he gives the die a quarter-turn each time he advances to a new square. When he is satisfied that the die is on a random square, he tells you and you turn around.

You do not know the number he started with and you ask no questions. You do not touch the die at first, but you merely concentrate on it. Then you move the die from square to square, turning it a quarter-turn as you move to each square. Finally you stop. The number now showing on top of the die is the very number originally chosen by the spectator!

METHOD: After the spectator has noted a number and moved the die around to a random spot on the layout, turn around and pretend to concentrate. Say that you will try to receive a mental impression from the die. To pantomime doing this, place your palm-down right hand above the die and slowly rotate the hand in a circular motion.

Act satisfied. Then move the die from square to square, one square at a time, giving it a quarter-turn each time, until you reach one of the crossed squares shown in Figure 5. (These squares have crosses on them in this diagram only for your reference. In actual performance there is only one cross on the layout, at the position shown in Figure 4. The crosses indicated in Figure 5 will have to be committed to memory, but that isn't difficult; they fall in the exact middle of each side.)

When you have moved the die back to any one of the crossed squares shown in Figure 5 (always remembering to give the die a quarter-turn as you move it from square to square), the die will end up with the chosen number uppermost.


A sheet of paper is folded in half. A circle is placed at the center of each half. While you turn your back, a spectator fills in one of the circles with his lucky number. He then places the paper writing-side down on the table.

Turn around and tear the paper in half along the fold. There are now two pieces of paper. One of them contains the spectator's number. Without asking a question, you are able to tell the spectator which piece of paper contains the number. Then, without hesitation, and without asking a single question, you name the exact number!

METHOD: This trick is an ideal follow-up to "The Figures Match" (page 5) because a similar effect is brought about by completely different means. Use a piece of paper or index card measuring about 3 inches by 5 inches. Fold it in half. Then put a circle in the center of each half. The circles should each be about the size of a dime.

Turn your back. Have a spectator think of a number from 1 to 9. Again try to personalize his choice by asking him if he has a lucky number. If he does, instruct him to use that number.

While you turn your back he writes the number in either circle on the card (but not in both circles). When he has done this, have him put the paper on the table with the writing side down.

While your back is turned, secretly place the right forefinger against your lips and transfer a bit of moisture to it. Then put the hands together and transfer some of the saliva to the left forefinger. If you have naturally moist hands, this procedure is not necessary.

After the spectator has completed the writing, take the paper between your hands and tear it in half along the fold, as shown in Figure 6. This is where the secret comes into play.

Note that the first finger of each hand rests naturally against the writing side of the paper when you tear the paper in half. Each finger actually rests against the penciled circle on each part of the paper. Hold the paper firmly as you tear it, so that you will pick up an impression of the writing on the forefinger of one hand.

After tearing the paper, place the pieces on the table face down. Secretly note whether the impression of the writing is on the right or left forefinger and you know which piece of paper contains the spectator's writing. A glance at the forefinger will also tell you the digit the spectator wrote.

Build up the ending of the trick. Pretend to have great difficulty getting a mental impression of which piece of paper has the spectator's writing. Then reveal the correct piece of paper. When the spectator verifies that you are right, have him cover that piece of paper with his hand.

Again concentrate, back away from the table, stall for dramatic effect, and finally reveal the number. Although the means is simple, the end effect is exceptionally strong.


Four ordinary objects are placed on the table. You jot the name of one of them on a slip of paper and place it aside. A spectator then chooses one of the objects. Although the choice is a random one, you have correctly predicted which object would be chosen.

METHOD: The four objects are a glass, a cup, a saltshaker and a matchbook. All are usually available at the dinner table or in a restaurant. There is no preparation. Simply group the four objects in a row on the table. What follows is a swindle, but an impressive one.

On a sheet of paper write, "You will pick the glass." Fold the slip and have the spectator hold it in his left hand. Tell him to close his eyes and hold his right hand palm-down over the four objects.

When he has closed his eyes, arrange the four objects as shown in Figure 7, with the glass in the middle. Direct the spectator to lower his hand slowly, still keeping his eyes closed, until his hand touches one of the four objects.

The swindle is this. Because the glass is the tallest object, his hand will touch the glass first. If so, have the prediction opened and verified.

If you're working with the spectator alone and there is no one else around, there is a way to make the prediction ironclad. Have him close his eyes and slowly lower his hand until he touches an object. As he lowers his hand, quietly maneuver the glass to a position under his hand. His hand must then contact the glass with no chance of failure.


The Devil is notorious for tricking the unwary into losing wagers. Almost always the wager is a simple one, and almost always the Devil wins the bet. The mentalist offers to demonstrate just such a devilish wager using two numbers which the Devil claims exert a strange power over people.

These numbers are so elusive they can't be added together correctly, no matter how good a person is at arithmetic. To illustrate, the mentalist jots down two sets of numbers. One set can be added easily but the other seems to create a hypnotic spell and refuses to be added.

A spectator tries his hand at adding each set of numbers. His arithmetic is checked by another spectator. It turns out that the first set of numbers was added correctly, but the second set was not.


Excerpted from SELF-WORKING MENTAL MAGIC by Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt. Copyright © 1979 Karl Fulves. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Self-Working Mental Magic 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u want $20 go to the polly wog park in Manhattan and look in all of the baby swings but first post this on 4 more books and at the end of the 4 other book reviews type D84
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a cool book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
cool book