The other night, I went out to the Waterfires in Providence (Rhode Island). My brother was visiting from CA, and I was meeting some friends. Anyway, as we were standing around, this guy came up and asked us if we wanted to see a magic trick, it was “kind of like practice” was the claim.

Of course, I say “sure” and he asks if I’d like to help. What reason would I have to deny the magician a volunteer. So he did a basic card switch (swapped the card in my hand with the card in his). Someone mentioned I was a magician, and he asked if I would do a trick so I did Daley’s Last trick, but flubbed the beginning. It turned out OK, i just hate when I do that. From there, the “pro” did another trick which was actually very interesting (gaffed cards and he repeated the “effect” a couple more times than he should have, but it still was a nifty idea).

So whenever someone shows me a trick, I do tend to look at how they present it, how they do or hide their moves, sometimes even what they say (although I tend to watch more than listen, as it’s not important what a magician says). And I always tend to see if they’re performance is better or worse than mine. Now, admittedly, I’m good. When I practice, anyway. But it’s not just because I do the moves well or something, it’s because I try to understand how a move looks. If it looks too “magicky” (that’s not a real word, FYI), then I try to “dumb it down”. Unfortunately, most other magicians don’t. They look at a move as a move.

So after someone has done a trick in front of me, I do sometimes get the question “was he good, can you do better”, etc. In most cases, it’s yes. But to a normal spectator’s view, the trick may look very much the same (assuming they didn’t see both me and the other person perform the exact same trick). But, I’d like to think, that had someone watched me without prior knowledge of another magician doing the same trick, my performance seems a bit more impossible, but that feeling would be un-explainable as to why it exists.

For me, it’s not just practicing a trick, but understanding how it fits together, understanding what people see, and understanding what they’re expected to see. Without those 3 elements, then you’re just learning a trick.

EDIT: I remember he also did another “classic” called the Ambitious Card where the card continually jumps from the middle of the deck to the top. Interestingly, he did the 1st version of this routine I was taught. I’ve tried to manipulate and tweak the version I use, but I don’t always use it because I do find it gets repetitive. One good purpose of the routine is to give away the signed card to the spectator, who will then always remember you from that card (and, yes, the magician gave his business card to one of the guys there who had kids, because he does shows professionally for money).

Related Blogs

At the end of some tricks, there is something called a “Kicker” ended. Essentially what that means is that the trick has a basic ending (magician finds the card in some amazing way), but then the “kicker” is that the car has a different color back than the rest of the deck. The problem is that sometimes, either the kicker completely overshadows the basic ending (which is great in its own right), or the kicker is timed poorly and doesn’t get noticed after doing the basic ending, when some people think the trick is done.

As another thing I do when choosing tricks I like and want to perform, I tend to stay away from “kicker” endings, unless it actually makes sense in the trick, and even then, it’s not necessarily an extra part of the trick, but is integrated as part of the trick and so flows much better. Maybe I just like tricks that have a decent flow to them. As of this writing, I don’t have any specific examples, but check out some of the videos I’ve posted to see how well the flow works for me.

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There are essentially two types of flourishes within a magic trick (and although this could apply to coins and other things, I’m being specific to card magic).  The first is something that is obvious to the audience.  An example of this is a card spread or a fan of cards.  The second is something that isn’t really obvious at all.  An example of this would be a count that might hide or miscount the cards.


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