Self-Working Card Tricks

Self-Working Card Tricks

by Karl Fulves


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486233345
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/01/1976
Series: Dover Magic Books
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 135,765
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Karl Fulves is one of the most respected authorities in the field of magic. For over 40 years, he has written hundreds of books on the subject and taught the art of illusion to thousands of people of all ages. This legendary figure also edited and published such magazines as Epilogue and The Pallbearers Review.

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72 Foolproof Card Miracles for the Amateur Magician

By Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1976 Karl Fulves
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15656-9



In terms of plot, or the effect as seen by the audience, card locations are probably the simplest and most direct card effects. The spectator chooses a card and returns it to the deck. The magician then finds or locates the chosen card. Generally speaking, the manipulator is concerned with two things in the location trick, the means used to secretly determine the identity or position of the chosen card, and the means used to reveal the chosen card to the spectator. In this chapter we will begin with simple card locations and then develop the theme to include more sophisticated mysteries.


A spectator chooses a card and returns it to the deck. He then cuts the deck and completes the cut. His card is lost in the pack and no one-not even the magician—knows where the card is.

The magician takes the deck and begins dealing cards one at a time into a face-up heap on the table. As the magician deals, he instructs the spectator to call out the names of the cards. The spectator is asked to give no clue when his selected card shows up. He is not to pause, hesitate, blink or change his facial expression. Nevertheless, the magician claims, he will be able to detect the faintest change in the spectator's tone of voice at the exact instant the chosen card shows up.

The cards are dealt one at a time off the top of the deck. The spectator calls them out as they are dealt. It does not matter how he calls them out; he can disguise his voice, whisper, shout or name the cards in French; when the chosen card turns up, the magician immediately announces that it is the card selected by the spectator.

Method: This trick makes use of a principle known as the Key Card. Before performing the trick, secretly glimpse the bottom card of the deck. This can be done as the deck is being removed from the card case. In Figure m1, the Key Card is the 3D.

Hold the deck face-down in the left hand. Then spread the cards from left to right, inviting the spectator to choose a card from the center, as in Figure 2.

As the spectator removes his card, separate the deck at the point from which the card was taken; see Figure 3. Tell the spectator to look at his card and remember its identity. As he does this, place the packet of cards in your right hand on the table.

Tell the spectator to replace his card on top of the packet that lies on the table. Your instruction should be something like this: "Please place your card back in its original position in the deck." As you speak, point with the right hand to the tabled packet. As a matter of fact, the spectator is not returning his card to its original location, but this fact is never questioned.

When the spectator has placed his card on top of the tabled packet, place the packet in your left hand on top of his card. Tell the spectator to carefully square up the deck. His card is apparently lost in the deck, but really it lies directly below the Key Card, the 3D in our example.

Now begin to deal cards off the top of the deck, turning them face-up as you deal. Explain that if the spectator names the cards as they are dealt, you can detect which card is his, no matter how he tries to disguise his voice. Encourage him to announce each card in a different manner; he can speak in a dialect or an obscure foreign tongue; he can shout, scream or whisper. The more variety he uses, the more impossible the trick seems.

All you need do is wait until the 3D shows up. Then deal the next card. This will be the spectator's chosen card, and you announce it as such.

The next trick is a good follow-up routine because the performer appears to make a mistake. The trick looks as if it will go completely wrong for the magician, but he succeeds anyway in finding the chosen card.


This version of the "No-Clue Discovery" is presented as a gambling trick. As you shuffle the deck, tell the audience that a gambler once showed you an infallible way to win a bet. So infallible is this system that the lucky few who know about it have earned millions of dollars. As you talk, glimpse the bottom card of the deck and then place the deck on the table. We will assume the Key Card is the 6C.

Instruct the spectator to remove a packet of cards from the middle of the deck. Hold the end of the deck with the right hand so that the deck stays in place while the spectator removes a packet of cards, as in Figure 4.

Emphasize that you have no way of knowing how many cards the spectator holds. Then tell him to shuffle the cards until they are thoroughly mixed. When the spectator is satisfied that the cards are completely mixed, have him note the top card of the packet. He then replaces the packet on top of the deck.

As a further precaution against trickery, tell the spectator to carefully square the deck; then have him cut it and complete the cut. Finally he is to square up the deck once more. The situation appears hopeless, but in fact his chosen card is directly below the Key Card, the 6C in our example.

Again emphasize that your infallible system cannot possibly fail. So sure are you of this system that you would be willing to bet thousands on its success. As you talk, deal cards off the top of the deck. Turn each card face-up as you place it on the table, and overlap the cards so that they are all visible to the spectator, as in Figure 5.

Sooner or later you will turn up the 6C. Do not hesitate or pause in the deal. Place the 6C face-up on the table, deal the next card (the chosen card) and two or three more. Of course, the card you deal right after the 6C is the chosen card, but you do not give any indication that you know this fact. Simply remember the identity of the chosen card as it is turned face-up. For the sake of example, say it is the 2H.

After you have gone several cards past the chosen card, stop dealing, tap the top card of the deck and say, "The next card I turn over will be your card. It's absolutely guaranteed; the system is infallible. I'd offer to bet you a small sum of money on the outcome, but I don't want to take your hard-earned cash. The system never fails."

The spectator will be obviously skeptical of your challenge because he sees his card already on the table. Before he has a chance to say anything, however, you remark, "Remember, I said the next card I turn over will be your card." Reach for the top card of the deck as if you are about to turn it face-up. Then hesitate, withdraw the right hand and immediately drop the hand onto the chosen card. (If you forget the identity of the chosen card, it will be the card immediately to the right of the Key Card, from the spectator's point of view; see Figure 6.) Remove the chosen card from the spread and turn it over so it is face-down.

This outcome is completely unexpected by the audience. When you have turned the chosen card over, you can say, "A remarkable system, isn't it?"


A different type of location is used here. The identity of the chosen card is not known; instead, position in the deck is controlled by an offbeat means.

Borrow a deck of cards if possible. Then say that you want to be sure there are no jokers in the pack. Turn the pack and spread the cards from left to right. As you pretend to look for jokers, you in fact count the cards, beginning at the face card of the deck, and continue the count until you reach the 12th card from the face.' Note and remember this card, which we'll say is the 8H.

Tell the spectator you would like to write a prediction about the card he is going to select. Pick up a business card and on the blank side write, "This Must Be It." Pick up the deck, fan it and insert the business card directly in back of the card you glimpsed (the 8H in our example); see Figure 7. Do not let the spectator see what you wrote.

Square up the deck and place it face-down on the table. Instruct the spectator to cut off some cards from the top of the deck. Remark that he should cut off less than half.

Tell him to shuffle the cards he cut and to note the top card. Then tell him to drop his packet back on top of the deck and give the deck a cut. When he's done this, take the deck and cut it at the business card, so that the business card becomes the top card. It is easy to cut to the business card; the thickness of the business card forms a natural break or separation in the deck, and you simply cut to this break and complete the cut.

Turn over the business card so the side with the writing is uppermost. Have the spectator read your prediction aloud. You then spell out the prediction message, T – H – I – S – M – U – S – T – B – E – I – T , dealing a card off the top of the deck for each letter in the message. After you have dealt off the card corresponding to the last letter of the message, turn over the next card and it will be the chosen card.


In this trick the spectator does most of the work. It was a favorite of the stage magician Blackstone, who often presented it by having several spectators invited up on stage to participate. You can do the trick with as many as five spectators, the procedure being the same in each case. For the present, we will assume you are going to present it to just one spectator.

Tell him that sometimes you can spot someone who has the talent to be a magician and that he looks like the type who could be an expert with cards. As you talk, remove ten cards from the top of a freely shuffled deck and hand these to the spectator.

Say that in this trick he is going to do all the hard work. Direct him to shuffle the packet. Then have him look over the cards and decide on one. When he has chosen one, tell him to remember its position from the top of the packet. To take a specific example, assume that when he fans the cards he decides on the 8H. He would then remember that the Eight of Hearts was 6th from the top of the packet, as in Figure 8.

Tell him to square up the packet and hand it to you. When you get it back, say, "We'll give them a cut." Hold the packet face-down in the left hand. Push off the top five cards. Take these as a unit and place them on the bottom of the packet. Then hand the packet back to him.

Have him hold the packet face-down in his left hand. Then tell him to transfer as many cards from top to bottom as the original position of his card. In our example, since his card was 6th from the top of the packet, he would transfer 6 cards, one at a time, from the top to the bottom of the packet.

Now say, "All you have to do is use the elimination shuffle to eliminate every card except the one you picked." The elimination shuffle works like this: he transfers the top card of the packet to the bottom of the packet. Then he takes the next card and places it on the table. He places the next card under the packet and the next onto the table. He continues this elimination shuffle (called an under/down shuffle by magicians because the first card goes under the packet, the next card down on the table, the next card under the packet, etc.) until he has one card remaining in his hand.

Ask him to name the card he chose. He'll say it was the 8H. Have him turn over the card and it is indeed the 8H. Congratulate him on being an outstanding magician.


This is an instance where two magical effects take place, one right after the other, without any moves or sleights. As the audience sees it, the magician openly places the Ace of Spades face-up adjacent to a chosen card, and then cuts the deck. He snaps his fingers and spreads the cards to reveal that the Ace of Spades has changed magically to the Ace of Clubs. The deck is squared up and respread. Now it is seen that both of the black Aces are face-up with a face-down card between them. When this card is removed from the deck, it proves to be the chosen card.

Method: Before doing this trick, secretly bring the Ace of Clubs to the bottom of the deck and reverse it. Place the Ace of Spades on top. Figure 9 shows the condition of the deck at this point, though you do not of course reveal the presence of the reversed Ace of Clubs to the audience.

Remove the top card and place it face-up on the table. Say that the Ace of Spades will aid you in an interesting demonstration of magic. Spread the cards and have the spectator remove one. Square up the deck and place it face-down on the table. Then have the spectator place his card face-down on the table. Place the deck on the top of his card. You then place the Ace of Spades face-up on top of the deck.

Give the deck a cut and complete the cut. Then place the deck in the left hand and spread the cards to the right until you come to the first reversed Ace. It will be the Ace of Clubs. Do not spread the cards any further at this point because you do not want to accidentally expose the Ace of Spades. When you get to the Ace of Clubs, say, "The Ace of Spades has changed to the other black Ace."

Square up the deck. Say, "Now let's see if we can get both of the black Aces to turn face-up." Snap the fingers and then spread the deck face-down on the table. The two black Aces will be face-up in the center of the deck with a facedown card between them. Have the chosen card named. Then remove the card between the black Aces and show that the Aces trapped the spectator's card.


The Joker is inserted face-up into a face-down packet. The cards on either side of the Joker are remembered by two spectators. Then the cards are shuffled and the Joker removed. Placing half the packet in each jacket pocket, the magician asks the Joker to whisper to him the name of each chosen card, and also how to find it.

Pretending to hear an instruction from the Joker, the magician reaches into each jacket pocket and removes the chosen cards.

Method: This trick, developed by Charles Jordan, exploits a little-known principle in a clever way. You will need a packet of 20 cards plus the Joker. Have the packet shuffled and placed face-down on the table. Ask a spectator to turn the Joker face-up and insert it anywhere in the packet.

Then tell him to pick up the packet, fan the cards so he can see the faces, and remember the card just to the left of the Joker. Have a second spectator remember the card just to the right of the Joker.

When they have done this, take the packet back (the face-up Joker is still in it) and perform the following shuffle. Hold the packet face-down in the left hand and slide the top card to the right. Then slide the next card to the right, but slide it up also so it is upjogged. Slide the third card directly to the right, but upjog the fourth card. Continue in this way, upjogging every other card, until you've gone through the packet. Then separate the upper group of cards from the lower group, placing the upper group on top of the lower group.

Repeat this shuffle exactly as described above. When you have finished, pretend to remember that the reversed or face-up Joker is still in the packet. Remarking that you won't need the Joker, run through the cards until you spot the Joker, then cut the packet at that point so the Joker is on top. Place the Joker face-up on the table.

Have someone cut off about half of the packet from the top and drop it in your left jacket pocket. The other half of the packet is dropped into your right jacket pocket.

Pretend to get "whispered" information from the Joker as to the location and identity of the chosen cards. Actually one of the chosen cards is in the left pocket, exactly five down from the top, while the other chosen card is in the right pocket, exactly five cards up from the bottom. All you need to do is reach into each pocket and remove the proper card.


Audiences are invariably impressed by the fact that the magician can work with any deck handed to him, without the need for special apparatus or elaborate setting-up procedures. Many of the tricks in this book fit the impromptu category, and some, like "Ultra Coincidence" (No. 27) and "Mental Miracle" (No. 67), can be built up as unfathomable mysteries.

The tricks in this chapter were collected together because they are strictly impromptu and thoroughly tested before audiences for maximum impact. Although they are easy to perform, you will get much more credit for magical powers if you pretend that great skill is involved. At least half of the secret of acquiring a reputation in magic is knowing how to act while presenting the trick.


Although a trick of honorable ancestry, this card location still rates as one of the most impressive in the entire literature on the subject. In describing it here, I will give a step-by-step procedure that should make it easy for anyone to follow, and at the same time avoid ambiguities that might otherwise mislead the reader.

Any deck is used. Tell a spectator to cut it into three piles. The exact number in each pile is not important, but the piles should be approximately equal in size.

While you turn your back, ask him to pick a pile, shuffle it and note the top card. Then tell him to turn the pile face-up and place it on top of either of the two other piles on the table. When he has done this, have him place the remaining pile face-down on top of all.

The condition of the deck now is that there is a face-up pile of cards sandwiched between two face-down piles. Tell the spectator to carefully square up the deck. Then have him cut off half of the deck and shuffle it into the other half.

Tell him to square the deck after the shuffle and give the deck a cut. At this point the spectator himself can look through the cards and verify that face-up and face-down cards are randomly mixed throughout the deck.


Excerpted from SELF-WORKING CARD TRICKS by Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt. Copyright © 1976 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.

Table of Contents

1 No-Clue Discovery
2 A Sporting Proposition
3 Spello
4 The Lazy Magician
5 Trapped
6 Whispering Joker
7 "Any Deck, Any Time"
8 Mental Mates
9 Deuces Wild
10 Rapid Transit
11 Z-Ray
12 Matching Matches
13 The Magic 13
14 Lesson in Larceny
15 Automatic Poker
16 Naming the Aces
17 The Three-Jacks Deal
18 Cutting the Aces
19 The Bridge Hustler
20 Aces Up
21 Poker Expert Outdone
22 Do as I Do
23 The One-Deck Version
24 Child's Play
25 Unseen Powers
26 Double Disclosure
27 Ultra Coincidence
28 The Card Revealed
29 The Haunted Name
30 Though Speller
31 The Duplex Mind
32 Pre-Figured
33 Three on a Match
34 Computer Mind
35 The Stop Trick
36 Sensitive Fingertips
37 Think of an Ace
38 Pocket Prediction
39 Psychic Magnet
40 Fate #1
41 Fate #2
42 Double Prophet
43 Blind Date #1
44 Blind Date #2
45 Hocus-Pocus
46 Out of Sight
47 Long Distance
48 The Phone Miracle
49 A Card and a Number
50 Magic by Proxy
51 "Signed, Sealed and Delivered"
52 Impossible Location
53 Slim Chance
54 The Blue Phantom
55 It's in the Bag
56 The 3 1/2 of Clubs
57 The Geiger Counter Card Trick
58 Opposites Attract
59 60 Seconds Flat
60 Personality
61 Jumping Joker
62 Calculator Cards
63 Process of Elimination
64 The Joker Knows
65 The Controlled Cut
66 Follow the Leader
67 Mental Miracle
68 Twins
69 O. Henry Card Trick
70 Astro Twins
71 Topsy-Turvy
72 Quick as a Wink

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Self-Working Card Tricks 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
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Great . Book
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Tons of easy to do card tricks that take no skill to complete yet you get amazing results!