The Genius of Roy Walton – Guest Post by Joe Mckay

I think it goes back to Origami.

The obsession with how much you can extend a simple material into as many complex and ingenious forms as possible. Bend it, twist it, crease it, fold it. But never cut it. And never cheat with the use of sticky stuff. Glue, tape, staples… All out. The challenge is in meeting the conditions. The task is to tease out the possibilities inherent in a simple piece of paper. I have never been ‘into’ origami but I can recognise it’s charms. Indeed – in some deep sense the two volumes of The Complete Walton belong in the same field. When it comes to experiencing the twin joys of elegance and ingenuity, there is no better place to play.

Unprepared playing cards. Sleights and stacks and nothing else. No gimmicks here. No Cheating. Nothing but two hands, a deck of cards and flash after flash of genius. How much can be done with a simple deck of cards? How can we count the ways in which elegance and ingenuity can be applied to such a simple prop? Well – let’s find out…

Let’s start with Volume One…

But before that let’s start with Jerry Sadowitz.

The greatest performer of card magic in the history of magic. And an amazing creator…

He has ripped apart so many rules in both comedy and magic that it is hard to comprehend his many achievements. One of his traits has being the amount of time he has spent praising Roy Walton on his many national TV appearances. He even had a show called ‘The Roy Walton Moment’. In it he spoke about how incredible the two ‘Complete Walton’ books were. Later – he said he couldn’t find a photograph of Roy, but he did manage to find a picture of his son. The picture was a painting of Jesus Christ.

Another lovely joke he pulled was to have a spectator go through the two Roy Walton books. He would have them mention any effect from the pages of the books. He offered to perform any effect that was chosen. ‘The Overworked Card’ the spectator would ask. Well – that is an interesting trick which also goes by the name of ‘The Collectors’ he would reply. He would then proceed to do the effect that he planned on doing the whole time. Nice joke – but it makes an interesting point. You really can pick any effect from these books at random – and you will always hit upon either a recognised classic or something of real interest. In every Walton effect there is always something to admire. Whether it be a clever twist for an old move (he regularly applies the Elmsley count, half pass, turnover pass and the Gilbreath Principle in unusual ways) or a clever re-working of an old idea. Or maybe some ingenious piece of mathematical elegance. Or a magician fooler. Or a strange new plot which has never being worked before in quite this way. There is always something there. Buried in the small print of his ideas is something that will cause any thinking cardman to pause and catch their breath. To be astonished when learning an effect is wonderful. Roy can do that…

There is something about the structure behind Roy’s thinking which is gorgeous. He will often set up one effect whilst completing another earlier on in the routine. He tightly sets up the method such that the effect can be allowed to unfold later on with extra stages already built into the earlier phases of the method. He plans his effects like a grandmaster executing a sure-fire 6 move checkmate. To watch this thinking unfold is like watching an origami watch be slowly pulled apart. In the folds and creases you see the logic behind the magic. I can understand how it is put together but the wonder is in the creativity that designed it. It all comes together and ticks in the perfect harmony of a singular vision. A vision of how card effects should be constructed. A taste for how method and effect should intertwine in the most effective and ingenious way possible. The shortest distance between any two points may be a straight line. But I find the straight line is rarely the most elegant route. When looking for that route I turn to the maps created by Roy Walton.

I rate the two volumes ‘Complete Walton’ books as the greatest collections of card tricks ever published. I would rate the two volumes of  ‘The Complete Works of Alex Elmsley’ in second place. All well and good, but consider this…

R. Paul Wilson made the interesting point that in any one of the Walton books is more ingeniously constructed effects than in both of the Elmsley books. An intriguing observation – but one which holds up well when one makes the comparison. It is astonishing to consider this. Remember – Alex Elmsley was a bloody genius…

It is part of Roy’s legacy that he has had such an influence on such people as Jerry Sadowitz, Peter Duffie, Gordon Bruce and R. Paul Wilson. But his main influence lies in the hundreds and hundreds of card tricks he has created…

And, sorry – back to Volume One…

My copy of this book is falling apart.

APERITIF – PAGE 1 – A lovely effect which can be used to get into a 4 ace routine. This is both magical and concise. I can’t imagine a better way to magically produce 4 aces from a shuffled deck. Easy to do…

OIL AND QUEENS – PAGE 6 – This is a classic Walton effect. The effect is pretty bizarre and the method is lovely. It makes use of the Hamman Count and I would recommend checking out SUBTLE MIRACLES (by Peter Duffie) for the best handling of this move…

A FURTHER MISSION – PAGE 10 – This is a beautiful sandwich effect. It just seems to happen with no moves what so ever. Easy to do and I can’t imagine a better way of tackling this plot…

TAKING TWO AGAIN, AGAIN – PAGE 21 – This is a plot which goes back to Charles Jordan. A freely named card (of three displayed) transposes into the other half of the deck. I have seen a number of handlings for this effect (including some great ones by Alex Elmsley) and this is the best. It involves a clever bluff for one of the selections which will bring a smile to your face…

IMPACT – PAGE 23 – This is a lovely effect which involves some impossible twists to the ‘twisting the aces’ plot. It is sneaky as hell and actually fooled me the first few times I played with the method. It is a good example of Roy cleverly setting up for an impossible finish early on in an effect.

THE OVERWORKED CARD – PAGE 24 – A clever variation on the TRIUMPH plot. This reworks it and spins it off in a totally different direction. This is another of Roy’s recognised classics…

THE CHANGELING – PAGE 29 – This is such a pretty effect. It is easy to do and gives you an incredibly clean change of a feely named card. This has such a lovely visual impact that it is fun just to play with in front of the mirror…

THE HAPPY WANDERERS – PAGE 31 – This effect really rocked me. Roy’s use of the turnover pass here is brilliant. The construction at work is wonderful. It cleverly uses an indifferent card to achieve one part of the effect and then to set up for the finish…

CARD CASE – PAGE 50 – This is a brilliant variation of Alex Elmsley’s BETWEEN YOUR PALMS effect. Some of the construction here reminds me of the brilliant principle by Dr. Daley detailed in the Paul LePaul book for passing off two queens as all four. There is also a great addition at the end of this effect. It both makes the effect easier to do and more impossible. It also allows for a bizarre signature transposition…

SMOKESCREEN – PAGE 56 – This effect has a similar feel to CARD CASE. It can be seen over here –

COVER PASS – PAGE 60 – Here Roy details his preferred method for this sleight. He then details some of the best uses I have come across for this incredibly useful move…

TRAVELLERS IN TIME – PAGE 69 – This is a rare application of the time travel plot to magic. It is easy to do and put together in a tight way. It can be watched over here –

PARROTT FASHION – PAGE 87 – This is an elegant combination of a triumph type effect and a sandwich trick. It is one of Roy’s best effects and is beautiful when done well. Quite difficult but well worth the effort. You have incredibly fair displays of the face up and face dwon halves of the deck right up until the climax.

UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE – PAGE 88 – This is a handling of the TWISTING THE ACES plot which doesn’t use the Elmsley count. Quite a novelty…

TIT FOR TAT – PAGE 90 – This is a lovely variation of a Dai Vernon plot. It cleverly cleans up the method for the first part of the effect by adding a later effect…

STRANGE ASSEMBLY – PAGE 107 – This is one of my all-time favourite Walton effects. It is a surreal and ingenious handling of the assembly plot. It has a nice finish in which an important move is witnessed but not noticed by the spectator. This is method construction at it’s best…

THE IMAGE MAKERS – PAGE 118 – This effect is similar to IMPERFECT CLONES from Volume 2. However – this effect does not use any duplicate cards. It is cleverly put together such that you are always one step ahead of where the spectator thinks you are.

KINGS GO FORTH – PAGE 122 – A real favourite here. When you practice this effect it feels like real magic. Everything is achieved in such a quick and efficient way…

COLOUR ME JORDAN – PAGE 128 – Another favourite. This effect is a brilliant variation of a great Charles Jordan trick. It allows for an incredibly clean and fair transposition of two freely thought of cards. The trick is also re-printed in Vol. 2…

TRIGGER – PAGE 134 – This details a head-scratching sleight invented by Roy. There are a number of great applications for this move here. My favourite is a wonderfully clean card transposition called GREENHORN on PAGE 143. Another great use is a nice variation of a Bro Hamman effect which can be found on PAGE 144. It is called HORSE SENSE. This brilliant sleight is capable of even more interesting applications…

THE PAINT BRUSH CHANGE – PAGE 155 – This is a great move whose origins are all mixed up. Bill Goodwin goes into the history of this and a great handling for it on his recent RELFECTIONS DVD. There are a few effects here which make use of this move. My favourite is a stunning colour changing card effect called WARPAINT on PAGE 156.

GROWN UP HOFZINSER – PAGE 166 – This is a lovely handling of the Hofzinser Ace Plot. It’s use of giant cards allows for a very strange twist at the end. I have seen Michael Close say that he is a big fan of this effect…

THE CARETAKER – PAGE 168 – This is a brilliant use for a principle discovered by Karl Fulves (another genius). It uses his Incomplete Riffle Shuffle Control (an amazing re-working of a great Ed Marlo principle). This is my favourite use for this self-working riffle shuffle principle…

THE SMILING MULE – PAGE 175 – Another Walton classic. Jerry Sadowitz blows people away with this when done during his stage shows and on TV. Here Walton uses a joke to set-up for the climax. Amazing thinking…

****** Here is a brilliant ‘tip’ for this effect from Euan Bingham. He published it in TWENTY THINGS THAT MARLO DIDN’T PUBLISH. Here is the idea:
Before the trick takes place he loads 4 or 5 cards into different locations (eg both pockets, the card-case, inside both shoes). When the effect takes place, he has the spectator name any card. Should it be one of the cards that is pre-loaded, he ditches the Roy Walton effect and just shows that the card has vanished from the deck and re-produces it from one of his prepared locations. If such a card is not named, he then just continues with the original Walton trick (which is a great trick by the way). About ten percent of the time such an effect will have a stunning conclusion in which nothing but luck is the method…
The way I prefer to use it is to simply have a single playing card in my pocket or in the card-case. That way if that card should be named, I can show that the deck contains just 51 cards. That adds to the mystery of how the named card managed to disappear from the deck. Don’t forget also that this trick involves using the 2 RED ACES to catch a named card. As such – you don’t let them name one of those cards. This will increase the odds (slightly) of you fluking on a miracle! ******

FACE TO FACE – PAGE 176 – This is a great handling of an amazing Dai Vernon principle. It allows for some very clean miracles. This is probably the best use of this principle I have come across…

THE HELENSBURGH TRIANGLE – PAGE 183 – This is my favourite trick in the book. It is a weird colour changing deck which uses some very subtle ideas. This allows for some very clean card vanishes and card reversals. This is a mind-bending effect and the method is astonishing…

CHANGING TIMES – PAGE 216 – This is a wonderful improvement to a classic self-working-effect. The addtion of a simple well covered move really helps increase the impact of this effect.

I have touched on many of the things I have enjoyed from these books. But there really is much else I could have gone into. These books are crammed, packed and filled with fine ideas…

What is a classic? A book we can return to over and over again. Always sure that we will find something new. These books are classics and I have enjoyed returning to them over the past 10 years. I look forward to doing the same in the future…

Now – I want to touch on a few of my favourite effects which are not described in these books.

1) Count Me In – No 15, page 1205 – THE CHRONICLES – This is an incredible card sandwich effect. It ingeniously uses a mathematical card stack/principle to catch a number of cards which matches the value of a freely-chosen card…

2) A Twisted Tale – April 2001, page 52
A Twisted Tale – November 2001, page 70 – Same as above – GENII MAGAZINE

This is a brilliant handling of the ROYAL MARRIAGES plot. It is also the best application of the ASHER TWIST that I have come across…

3) Open Acrobatics – July 2004, page 86 – GENII MAGAZINE – This is another personal favourite. It starts as an open prediction type effect. It then becomes a card transpostion which then morphs into an impossible card reversal. It is my favourite example of Roy cleverly concealing phases whilst simultaneously setting up later phases in a card effect…

4) Duck Soup – Summer 1985 – RICHARD’S ALMANAC – This cleverly uses the Elmsley Count in a strange new way to achieve an impossible prediction effect. It is a joy to play with and may even fool you the first time you use it…

5) A Scarf Called Moebius – January 1958 – Page 25 – PENTAGRAM MAGAZINE – It was a real thrill to discover this effect the other day. It is a strange card transpositon and is self-working. It involves a gimmicked card case and is an unusual example of Walton’s work…

A quick curiosity – Check out ‘SHOUTING JOKERS’ by Jozsef Kovacs to see a variation on STAGE SHOUT by Roy Walton. It seems a shame to add a gimmicked card to a Walton effect. But – it is done in quite a clever way. It is worth looking at if you ever come across it…

Thanks to Roy for inventing CARD WARP (a marketed effect) and thanks to him for inventing a lovely subtlety (THE WALTON SHOW) which is used in Larry Jennings’ excellent VISITOR effect. It seems strange that Roy has yet to make use of this wonderful move in any of his effects… Am I wrong?

All the best,

Joe Mckay

PS I made an attempt to list all of Roy’s published effects awhile ago. You can see the results over here – – There are numerous gaps in my effort. However – that is fine since one of the world’s leading card experts is working in this area as well. His efforts are far superior and more complete than mine…

PPS Here is some stuff I wrote a couple of years ago about VOLUME TWO of THE COMPLETE WALTON…

I should also add that Roy says he has a third volume of material waiting to be published…

STAGE SHOUT – I love this effect. It is a brilliant method to cause a card to completely vanish. It is easy to do and the structure at work is incredible. You are always one step ahead of the audience…

COLOUR FLIGHT – This is wonderful. It uses a lovely swindle that actually fooled me the first time I played with it. A self-working classic with a lovely paradox type effect…

TRAVELLING MAN – There is some great thinking at work here. It was one of the tricks that Bill Goodwin chose for David Regal’s ‘Buried In Print’ article in GENII. That article gets my vote for the best article ever. What is great about this trick is that the first stage sets you up to carry out the second stage without any extra moves.

RIGHT NUMBER – This is one of the strongest tricks you can do with a faro shuffle. Not only that, the deck is left in Stay-Stack order afterwards for further miracles.

ROUND AND ROUND – I love this effect.This is practically a self-working method for doing a transposition of two packets of cards.

GAME LAW – This is very interesting. It is the only trick using the Gilbreath Principle I have seen where the spectator can give the deck TWO riffle shuffles!

COUNT ME IN – I am not a massive fan of this trick (no reason – just personal preference), but you should check out the other trick also called COUNT ME IN which can be found in Karl Fulves’ magazine ‘The Chronicles’. That other trick is one of Walton’s best…

PLAY IT AGAIN – This is a cute variation of the hoary old ‘Piano Card Trick’.

PALMIST’S PROPHECY – The method for this is diabolical. There is also a cute touch involving the Elmsley Count at the end of the trick. I haven’t seen this ‘one behind’ use for the Elmsley Count before.

BORDER CROSSING – This is a lovely transposition effect using two decks. It is almost self-working and is repeated twice. There is a sneaky bluff used for the second transposition.

THE ARRANGEMENT – A clever use for the half pass here. It uses the Stay Stack, so could be used after ‘RIGHT NUMBER’.

CAROUSEL – This is a lovely variation of one of my favourite self-working tricks.

IMPERFECT CLONES – This is a good trick and a pretty novel effect. It again uses the properties of an Elmsley Count in a way I haven’t quite seen before.

CAUGHT IN TIME – This is an ingenious take on ‘The Clock Effect’ that will fool other magicians. I love how the first phase is used to set up for the second phase. Ingenious…

SEPARATION – This uses a lovely Karl Fulves palm addition. This is a great appliaction of this move. I have heard of a magician using it as a ‘magician fooler’ at the bar of The Magic Castle.

JORDAN PLUS COLOUR – This is a great trick (re-printed from the first volume for some reason). What pleased me here was to see one of my favourite magicians (Roy Walton) add a clever idea to one of my favourite tricks by another of my favourite creators (Charles Jordan). This is one of those devious tricks that would fool the pants off anyone. Yep, even R. Buckminster Fuller!

COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE – Again, this is another novel take on The Gilbreath Principle. Good to see more magic squeezed out of this wonderful principle.

THE WITCH-DOCTORS – This has a nice method and a Paul Harrisy type story/effect. Not to my taste, but your tastes may differ…

A STRAIGHT SHUFFLE – I have only ever invented three card tricks in my life, and this happened to be one of them. Of course, Roy came up with this about twenty years before me. It is a good effect that was also singled out by Bill Goodwin in ‘Buried In Print’.

DROP OUTS – This another novel trick which is similar in style to Paul Harris. Perhaps, that is because it is based on a trick by Ron Ferris (who always reminds me of Paul Harris).

BACK INTO TIME – This is one of only a few card tricks that use the ‘time machine’ concept. Steve Freeman published a variation of this in GENII magazine. It can also be found in one of the Card College books. Personally, I cannot recall how different the variation was to the original.

RUNAROUND – The best saved to the end… This is my favourite trick in the book and it is a really wonderful effect. There is magic throughout and then a lovely three-way surprise transposition to finish. It really catches people by surprise and looks like real magic. The ending is one of the most beautiful moments in all of card magic…
However, the effect can be confusing unless done slowly. I would be interested to hear how others present this effect? [THIS IS WHAT I WROTE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO – NOWADAYS ‘STAGE SHOUT’ IS MY FAVOURITE EFFECT FROM THIS VOLUME.]

I love these books and they are well worth working through. Often the effects are not described – instead we are dropped straight into the descriptions. Also, there are very few illustrations. As such, it is acts as a kind of post-graduate education in both card magic and the ability to read magic books. After you have tackled these books, you will be able to understand the descriptions in any other book of card tricks. That too is a cool thing to pick up. Thanks, Roy…

8 thoughts on “The Genius of Roy Walton – Guest Post by Joe Mckay”

  1. Quick note about THE VISITOR effect (by Larry Jennings). This really impressed me when I first read it. I saw a credit to Walton for the mis-show. Anyway – over the years I have mis-remembered that credit and assumed that Roy was credited for the clever vanish sequence along with the idea of passing off one court card as another. So – I have being searching for something that was based on a mis-understanding… Anyway – I just chatted to someone else and realised my error.

    So – If you are just looking for effects where Walton passes off a court card as a DIFFERENT court card then I can think of at least two off the top of my head (not sure if there are others). Firstly there is the postscript to A FURTHER MISSION from VOL.1 of THE COMPLETE WALTON and he makes use of this idea in PINKERTON’S LADIES in one of the early issues of the PENUMBRA magazine…

    Just to be clear – I was under the mistaken impression that Roy had invented both the idea of passing off a court card as another (by reverse spreading the lower card in a pair) and the vanish sequence used in THE VISITOR effect. Well – I don’t think that VANISH sequence belongs to Roy (my mistake!). So – if we are just looking for uses of this PSEUDO-DUPLICATE COURT CARD DISPLAY (ie passing off a JACK as a KING) then the above two references are two occasions that Roy has used this idea. It is THAT idea that should be credited as the Walton Mis-Show. I dunno why I combined that with the vanish sequence from THE VISITOR effect as well. Probably because I really love that sneaky sequence of moves which allows for such a clean vanish. It was one of the first great things I came across in magic…

    So – I hope some of the above is of help. Another idea that is often credited to Roy Walton is when you have a card reversed at the bottom of a packet. You then spread the cards (slightly) to apparently show a white-border showing (which gives the impression that the bottom card is face dwon). Now – Roy uses this idea in STAGE SHOUT (VOL.2 OF THE COMPLETE WALTON) but I have heard that he dosen’t claim credit for this move. The inventor seems to be unknown, so at the very least it would be interesting to find earlier uses than the one given in STAGE SHOUT. He also uses this idea in TAKING TWO AGAIN, AGAIN (VOL.1 of THE COMPLETE WALTON) and in COUNT ME IN (Karl Fulves’ THE CHRONICLES magazine). There are probably other uses but these are the ones that immediately come to mind…

    All the best,


  2. Here is another lovely (and strange) Roy Walton trick that is worth digging out of the old magic magazines. Check out the following:

    PALLBEARER’S REVIEW edited by Karl Fulves [possibly the best magic magazine of all time]

    Devilish Die – Fourth Folio, page 383 – Karl Fulves commenting on this effect: “If an award were granted for an effect relying on outrageous ingenuity to achieve the desired end, Mr. Walton’s dice trick would rate first prize.”

    It is a great trick with a diabolical method…


  3. “but it makes an interesting point. You really can pick any effect from these books at random – and you will always hit upon either a recognised classic or something of real interest.”

    Only if you are non-discriminating and think everything’s great.

  4. Sは私が彼のために感情を持っているが、非常に強いものではなく、非常に思いやりのある人です。しかし、彼はいつも私の中で感染したように気をつけた。


    その後、私は最終的にSを好き1日から。 Sは突然私の学校に来た。



    私は唖然とした。 Sは本当に慎重な人ああです。私は彼がXのことを言及したことはありません。しかし、私はメッセージを削除することに消極的だった私のスペースが、彼は読む必要があります。私は非常に感動した、突然、非常に幸せな気分に。介護ので男があります。




    私は寝室に戻ったその日の後、モンクレール ダウン メンズ私は、X上のものを入れて、私はまた、削除され、削除に耐えることができなかった。私が知っていますが、私は忘れることができるか、Xはそれのように見えます。しかし、私とXが本当になくなっています。今私がSを持って、私は今を引き継ぐ必要があります。



    養うために彼の最初の言葉。私は聞いた。 X.



    私はまた、穏やかなふりをして、ある1つを尋ねた? X数秒間ショックを受けて、私はXにあった、と述べ



    おかしい死んハッハッハ。愛で。私はまだ私を見つけるのが大好き、プラダ キーケースと聞きました。


    あなたは私を憎むXX Xは、言った?なぜそれがとても寒いです。あなたは愛にしている?



















    XはXXはあなたがありますか、モンクレール ダウン メンズ言った?










    私はよくあなたが言う、と述べた。 Xは、あなたがまだ彼にSCに言ったと言った?







    その旅行は素晴らしい時間を過ごしました。私たちは、ランニングシューズ ナイキ自然の場所に行き、さらには携帯電話の信号が所定の位置にない。私は心の旅へ、都市から離れた滞在したい、Sと両親が言って与える。そして、非常に簡単に彼らと劉チー非常に満足。



    、Sは私を見つけるために放課後学校に戻って行くために数日、私はマッサージを行うために食べ物をた??くさん買ったが、また私と一緒に、私は彼に良いバーをしたいと思い、彼は本当に良い、非常に良いと思います。夕方には、S、私は学校に戻っていない、あなたは私に同行?しかし、私はまだしたくない。私はなぜかはわからない。私はS、私は疲れていたこの時間は、寝室の良い休息に戻りたいと思ったと言う。 Sは微笑んでうなずき、大丈夫、私は今あなたを待ってあなたの学校のインターネットカフェを見つけることができます、と述べた。私は戻って、これを行わないと言う。彼は一日にゲームをプレイするカフェに行くすべての権利、道を説明した。







    正直に言うと、私は非常に複雑であったが、私は私のブドウを待って外に私の学校で考える私は戻って寮に考えて、私は水を打っていなかった、何も言わないしなかった。 Xは激しく私を引っ張っ、あなたも最高になりました私を見て喜んでいないことを言う?あなたはとても私を憎む?



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