Reconstruction of a trick – the spectators viewpoint

Found this rather amusing Yahoo question about our good old friend the Invisible Deck-

Reconstruction of tricks in the spectators mind is something I find facinating and Ascanio/Tamariz theories are essesital reading for  showing you how you can insert things into your performance which will make the sepctators misremember what actually took place. I’ll post more on this later.


Styles of card magic

I’ve been thinking about this recently – there are a few performers who have a very definite style to how they perform. There’s the crazy Juan Tamariz style, the messy Lennart Green style,smooth and sophisticated Guy Hollingworth etc. Magicians tend to try and imitate a performer they admire and end up mimicking them in an odd way. One style which I’ve never seen anyone imitating is Jean Pierre Vallarinos suave style –

I really like his card magic – he adds plenty of flourishy moves but they flow and seem to work.


Psychological forces

I’d never felt comfortable trying a the psychological stop force until watching disk 3 of Dani DaOrtiz’s DVD set UTOPIA. He breaks down the timing of the move and it explains it better than anyone I’ve read/seen before. I starting doing Dani’s “Numerical Match” routine and you really do start to get a feel for when the spectators will say stop, – it’s wierd. When done right I think the performer actually slows the pace slightly near the end to almost urge them to stop then. Of course what’s so great is that Dani also provides complete fool proof outs if you miss so you really can’t go wrong.

I think many card tricks can be made so much more miraculous if we try adding in some psychological forces. The complete belief on the part of the spectator that they had a complete free choice of when to stop is powerful stuff.


Don’t practice sleights, practice tricks.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I used to try and learn as many sleights and moves as possible, purely for the satisfaction in practising something which is difficult to do. Recently I’ve been reminded of some great advice – practice tricks, not sleights. Peter Kane in his audio session tapes (available from Martin Breese) talks about this very thing – sleights are secondary and not really needed he says. You shouldn’t think about sleights, you should think about the effect. If you want to practice a new sleight or move then practice it in the context of a trick. If you keep thinking about a sleight and how great the move is then when you’re performing the effect you’ll be thinking about the sleight when you shouldn’t. If you keep thinking about about sleights then you’ll loose the timing of the trick, you’re misdirection and the audience may pick up on something they shouldn’t.

Sleights are secondary all the time.

Peter Kane

An impossible location

Most impossible locations are dry in presentation and don’t include a huge amount of participation by the spectator. The conditions under which the card is selected and then lost is the single most important thing if you decide to do this type of challenge magic – it has to be ‘impossible’ and you should appear to not handle the pack at all – here’s a great example of an entertaining approach which seems impossible.

"Accidental" Misdirection

In Al Leech’s excellent book on misdirection “Don’t Look Now” he talks about misdirection which occurs as the result of an apparent accident.

There can be not stronger misdirection than a carefully planned accident.

Leech talks about how a card can “accidently” fall to the floor or it can fail to appear in a pocket which provides cover to transfer the deck to another hand with the card ready to produce from another pocket. Of course this should not be done in ever trick as  Leech also wisely states; overuse would make the spectator think you were simply inept. In fact in most cases it should never be done at all, however there may be special circumstances when this can be an effective ploy and is worth keeping in the back of your mind for such an occasion.

Anyways I found an excellent example of this which I’d failed to spot several times before realizing what was going on – it comes from the one and only Tom Mullica – see if you can spot it during the card sections.

This originally appeared in “Stuff the White Rabbit”.


I have never understood the appeal of Paul Harris’s RESET – or the endless variations – and have tried saying so before on a magic forum (before quickly getting shouted down). Anyway – Andrew has come to my rescue by elegantly setting out the manifesto for the ‘Anti-Reset’ brigade. I agree with every word he says. Click HERE.

Hat tip to cardman for the link…