The "I Hate Card Tricks"

Book of Card Tricks


“Pick a card.”

For some, these are the three most dreaded words in the English language. Let’s face it… some people just hate card tricks!

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I did not write this book because I hate card tricks. In fact, I love card tricks. I enjoy performing them and I enjoy seeing them performed.

I will admit, however, that a vast number of card tricks boil down to a simple plot that goes something like this: You pick a card and I’ll find it. Many really innovative and fun twists have been added to the basic premise over the years. But, for the spectator who “hates” card tricks, it may still amount to nothing more than variations on a theme. No matter how powerful the effect eventually is, you often lose these individuals’ interest the moment those dreaded three words are uttered. With that in mind, I embarked on this enterprise with the “prime directive” (a little play on words for all you “Star Trek” fans) that there would be NO picking of cards in any of these effects.

What I’ve set out to accomplish with this volume is to compile a number of effects that are not “card tricks” in the traditional sense but, rather, utilize cards as the medium for presenting illusions that should appeal to even the most obstinate “card trick hater.”

Still, I wanted to ensure that the cards were not merely window dressing. Although I do utilize cards in the construction of various “cabinets” and other apparatus, the focus of the effect remains on the cards themselves. The props are secondary and are used to accomplish an effect that can still be categorized as a card trick (albeit not of the “pick a card” variety).

I ruled out constructing props such as temple screens, production panels, etc. out of playing cards. That would relegate the cards to “building material” status since the resulting effects would have little or nothing at all in common with a card trick.

Some might argue that several of the included effects are not really card magic but, rather, “close-up” magic. I’ll concede that, in a few instances, I’ve veered somewhat from “accepted” card magic (some call that innovation, others… heresy). However, I’ve attempted to incorporate the best of both worlds.

I’ve avoided simply substituting a playing card for another object normally used for a close-up effect. You won’t find a standard bill tube routine using a rolled-up card in place of the dollar within these pages. Instead, I’ve structured many of these routines utilizing a complete deck (supplemented with some of the card “props”) and developed handlings that are consistent with conventional card magic. The result is a sort of hybrid between card magic and close-up magic.

For the initial offering, I came up with the concept of four “sister” effects that recreate famous stage illusions in miniature using the four Queens as your “assistants.” It was not my original intent to fill the entire book with effects “themed” in this way.

As I brainstormed ideas for the remaining effects to be included in this volume, however, a number of intriguing possibilities emerged. I subsequently decided to include more adaptations of stage illusions.

Some large-scale effects just don’t translate well to a performance using playing cards (somehow, “The Origami Queen” doesn’t seem like it would be exceedingly deceptive. That “assistant” will fit into an awfully narrow space, after all. Don’t think for a minute that I didn’t consider it, though), but I think you will be pleased with the results for those that successfully made the cross-over from the stage to the card table.

It should be noted that these effects are not intended to be performed all in succession. Although each individual effect is quite different, several share common elements (such as the act of cutting the assistant into pieces). Just as a stage magician would probably not perform a sequence of “The Zig-Zag Girl” followed by “The Mismade Girl” and conclude with “Sawing a Lady in Half,” so too, you’ll want to ensure proper variety in your act by “sprinkling” these effects into your set interspersed with a mixture of other types of effects.

Keep in mind that the small similarities between some of these effects are not necessarily a set-back. This provides the strolling magician with the opportunity to perform one of the miniature stage illusions for each table without having to repeat effects. This comes in especially handy in close quarters where other guests are in close proximity and may be observing you perform for nearby tables.

I conclude each illusion with some “assorted random thoughts” related to the effect. If you have purchased several different effects or the complete book, you may experience a strong sense of Déjà vu while reading these sections. Rest assured… your mind is not playing tricks on you. Some passages are relevant to more than one effect in the book. I’ve reprinted them within each applicable chapter (occasionally changing the wording slightly just to keep you on your toes) to ensure that those purchasing an individual effect would not miss out on any of my ramblings, ravings, or brilliant observations. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine which description is most accurate.

In most cases, I’ve provided examples of the patter that I use for the effect. Certain lines have a very specific purpose in facilitating the performance. You should not feel constrained, however, to use my dry humor, etc. if it does not fit your persona as a performer. On the contrary, you should always strive to make every effect “your own.”

Lastly, let me just say that preparing this text is a true labor of love. I hope you have as much fun preparing, practicing and performing these effects as I had in writing them!

                                                 B. Robert Pulver




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