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[P]
Hacking Humans at the Card Table

By Jizzbug in Culture
Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:35:56 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Magic has been around for millennia--the art being probably as old as humanity itself. Throughout the span of time and cultures, magic has manifested itself in many forms, and its roots run deep. Before magic was relegated to the domains of amusement and recreation, it was the medium of the priests, the shamans, the wise men (and women), the sages, and the magi of old. These practitioners of legerdemain, these prestidigitators, were among the first social engineers, the first hackers of humanity.


Every culture, it seems, has developed its own form of magic. Take the aboriginal Australians as an example:

Clever-men emerge into aboriginal society as men of outstanding personality, well versed in trickery, sleight of hand, and sly opportunism, first-class hypnotists, politicians, mystics, and intermediaries with the great forces of nature.[1]

Aborigine clever men--the term indigenous Australians give to their shamans--have a long and well documented history of utilizing sleight of hand in their rites and rituals. In performing a healing, the clever man might run his hands over his patient; reach into the skin with his fingers; and seemingly pull a bone, crystal, or stone from the body; leaving no sign of a wound. He might suck on the patient's skin, and spit out blood, bones, and pebbles. One can only imagine the impression this technique must leave on the credulous patient. To the extent that their illness was subject to psychosomatic healing, it would be a rare patient indeed who did not get better.

The history of magic is a fascinating one, and is easily romanticized, as can be seen in this passage:

When primeval man saw the first flash of lightening, he saw the magic of the gods. And with the thought of homage to his own particular gods, there came man-made magic. The first attempts ... showed a natural cunning that could beguile those of lower mental stature. Those early magicians were the forerunners of the latter-day magician who would make the mysterious entertaining.[2]

Magic teaches many lessons and subtleties which are not only of value to the elitist circles of modern magicians, but to all of humanity; hackers and social engineers in particular. Where hacking is sleight of bits, sleight of technology, sleight of information, and sleight of knowledge; magic is sleight of hand, sleight of mind, sleight of psychology, and sleight of human. The two mindsets are (or can be) very related.

One of the most important lessons, with many philosophical implications, that magic has to teach is, I believe, the inherent infirmity and fallibility of human perception. Magic is, after all, only learning to exploit the faulty assumptions that humans make about their reality.

Even though I've thought a lot over the years about the parallels between the hacker ethic and the wisdom of magic, I was glad to discover that I'm not the only individual to have picked up on this. I was intrigued to read in the missing chapter of Kevin Mitnick's new book that Kevin, too, was struck by the parallels between prestidigitation and hackerdom.

In this article, I hope to pass on a few of the lessons of magic to the general readership of K5 by actually teaching something that won't be a waste of our time. As one of the first axioms of magic is "never reveal the secret", many may wonder why I am doing so in this article. K5's audience is quite intellectual, so I have a feeling that many around here will appreciate what they will learn from this article for what it's worth. And as K5's reach is relatively narrow, it's not like I'm giving the secret to this gem of a trick to each and every one of the six-some-odd-billion humans that inhabit this Earth. Even though I've published this secret here on K5, you'll have absolutely no problems finding humans susceptible to its powers.

Like most people with a fascination for magic, my interest was instilled in me at a very early age. My passion for the art became serious at about age 10, when I began to methodically teach myself real sleight of hand: palming, vanishing, and reappearing small objects; pasteboard manipulation; etc. While some of the more dexterous magical feats require months of practice and years of experience (e.g., I am holding a U.S. half dollar coin in my palm as I type, can you?), there are a great many effects that can be performed with only a good amount of diligent thought and consideration. An effect of the latter type will be presented here.

With the proper thought put behind the secret to be revealed, you will be sure to put what you are about to learn to great use for the length of your natural life. Presented in a proper context, you will find that the affect upon the spectator is like no other. I discovered this method while I was playin' around with three cards one night, when all of the sudden it hit me. After six pages of notes, this is what I came up with. I call this trick "Psychic Three Card Monte", and it is quite literally one of the best (and most concise) little bits that can be performed with a deck of cards.

I'd like to preface this description by saying that I doubt my discovery is unique; however, I don't believe it's well known among magicians either. I've seen tricks similar to what I'm about to describe performed before, maybe even exactly like what I'm about to describe. Either way, I think I've improved the effect with my own addition. But even without my improvement (which I believe may be unique), this is a lil' psychic feat that you should be able to use to even fool other accomplished magicians.

Sitting around debating whether or not humans have extrasensory, telepathic, or telekinetic abilities? You can be the only person the others have ever met that can demonstrate effectively their supernatural powers! (Just be sure you leave out the part about all magic being fake!)

Psychic Three Card Monte

Effect: The spectator selects three cards from the deck and sets them face-up on the table. The magician turns h{is,er} back to the spectator and the three cards whilst the spectator mentally selects one of the three cards, switches the other two cards, and turns all three cards face-down. The magician turns back around and faces the spectator, asking h{im,er} to switch any two cards at a time until {,s}he is satisfied-- la Three Card Monte or The Shell Game. When the spectator is satisfied with h{is,er} mixing and wishes to continue, the magician reaches down and turns face-up the spectator's mentally selected card.

So here we go:

Fan the cards face-up on the table.

"Pick any three cards out o' this deck. I don't ever wanna touch the cards at any time throughout this, so you'll have to do all the work. I don't want you to think I'm influencing the cards in any way."

The spectator (Pat) pulls out three cards. Let's assume Pat picked a 9, an Ace, and a 7. The cards are on the table like so:

9 A 7

"I'm going to turn around."

Turn around. At this point, just remember the two outside cards for later on. In this case, remember "9 7".

"Mentally select one of those three cards."

Pat mentally selects the 9--but we don't know this yet--and says, "Okay."

"Turn the cards face-down."

Pat turns the cards face-down and says, "Okay."

"Now switch the two cards that aren't yours."

Pat switches the Ace and 7, and says, "Okay."

You turn back around. The magic has already happened, and you probably didn't even know it.

The trick isn't done yet, but we're going to have to digress to teach ourselves a simple concept. So go ahead and pull out a 9, an Ace, and a 7 from that deck sittin' beside your computer. The middle card contains all the information we need to determine their card, especially if we remembered to remember the two outside cards, "9 7". Let's go through it a few times to show you exactly what I mean. First, let's mentally select the 9, that means we must switch the 7 and Ace--do so. If we were to peek at the middle card, we would see that it's now the 7. Because we were remembering "9 7", we know their card can't be 7, because it has switched from an outside card to the middle card--their card has to be the 9. Now, let's start over and mentally select the Ace, that means we must switch the 9 and 7--do so. If we were to peek at the middle card, we would see that it's the Ace. Because we were remembering "9 7", we know their card must be the Ace since it's not one of the two cards we were remembering. Finally, let's start over and mentally select the 7, that means we must switch the Ace and 9--do so. If we were to peek at the middle card, we would see that it's now the 9. Because we were remembering "9 7", we know their card can't be 9, because it has switched from an outside card to the middle card--their card has to be the 7. Okay, with that out of the way, let's get back to the trick.

After we've turned back around, we can't assume anything about the cards yet, except that the middle card has our answer.

"Now because you mentally selected one card and switched the other two while my back was turned, I can have no idea as to the order of these cards. To be even more exacting, I want you to mix up the cards by switching two cards at a time--exactly like this [demonstrate]--until you're satisfied."

As Pat mixes the cards, follow the middle card. When Pat is satisfied, you'll have followed the middle card to where ever it is now. Hold your hand over each card, as if you're trying to sense their card. Ask them to picture the image of their card in their mind's eye (or anything equally cheesy). Look into their eyes, as if you're trying to find their card in their thoughts. Peek the middle card that you've been following. Since Pat mentally selected the 9, the middle card (which is probably no longer the literal middle card) is now the 7. Because you were remember "9 7", you know Pat's card is the 9. And because you immediately know their card after the first peek, you can start to play upon that fact in your patter. In this example, you might say something like, "I'm starting to get an image of your card. Maybe it's a ... nine ... or ten. Hmm, I dunno, it's very vague." Peek one of the other two cards to determine which of them is the 9. Do some more psychic mumbo jumbo, then turn over the 9.

That last part is all about acting. Make the two peeks very casually and delicately, as if you're doing so to confirm your suspicions. Act in a manner that fits your personality and the context of the situation. Because everyone is different, everyone's psychic mumbo jumbo should be different. In other words, don't be a carbon copy of this article: be yourself.

So that's the part that I highly doubt is unique. In fact, I would bet my life that it's not unique. In any case, it's really impressive to laypeople and magicians (who don't know it) alike. If you're only going to be performing the basic effect, without my addition of a counting system, you only need to remember the middle card from the beginning, not the outer two cards, to determine their card at the end--it should be obvious how and why. However, if you only remember the value of the middle card, and not the two outside cards, you won't necessarily know which card is theirs after the first peek. Personally, I find remembering the two outside two cards to be no more difficult than remembering just the one middle card.

Now here's for my addition, which I believe may be unique, 'cause I've never read anything like it. Using my improvement cleans up the discovery in a subtle but dramatic way. It's a position counting system.

When we turned around after Pat had completed our orders, we can't assume much about the cards. All we can really assume is their order: first card, second card, and third card. Because we don't yet know what card Pat mentally selected, we can't now assume what first, second, and third might be. However, we can devise a fairly simple counting system to track first, second, and third as the spectator switches the cards two at a time.

As first, second, and third get mixed, there are only so many positions they can assume. These are:

1 2 3
1 3 2
2 1 3
2 3 1
3 1 2
3 2 1

We can effectively compress and simplify our counting system by ignoring the middle card, thus making the numbers much easier to work with in our heads. For example:

1 2 3 = 13
1 3 2 = 12
2 1 3 = 23
2 3 1 = 21
3 1 2 = 32
3 2 1 = 31

So before Pat makes any moves, we have 13 as our position count. This position count changes based upon which two cards are switched:

  1. If Pat switches the left two cards, the left (first) digit of our position count becomes the only available alternative; in this case, 13 becomes 23.
  2. If Pat switches the right two cards, the right (last) digit of our position count becomes the only available alternative; in this case, 13 becomes 12.
  3. If Pat switches the outer two cards, the digits of our position count invert; in this case, 13 becomes 31.

And those are the essentials of the counting system used as the spectator makes each move.

Let's assume that Pat makes four switches: left, right, outer, left. Our count as Pat made these moves would have been:

(we turned back around)
13
(left switch)
23
(right switch)
21
(outer switch)
12
(left switch)
32

So there we have it, 32. We've successfully tracked the positions: 32 = 3 1 2.

Now after Pat has made as many switches as desired, peek at 2, where ever it happens to be based on our position count. Since we were remembering the two outer cards (cards 1 and 3, or "9 7") from the beginning, we can determine what their mentally selected card is and exactly where it is right now (thanks to our position count).

So back to our example. The cards are now in position 32, or 3 1 2. Peek card 2 and see that it's a 7. As we were remembering "9 7", we know their card is the 9. We also know that originally the 9 was the first card, so we know that the first card hasn't changed. So we point to card 1 based on our position count, now the middle card, and ask them to turn it over.

I think the effect is heightened quite a bit by only requiring one peek. And statistically, a good percentage of the time, that one peek will actually be their card.

The counting system requires a fair amount of practice, but the effect it enables is unparalleled. This effect should fool even those magicians that know the simpler version of this effect.

Cheers,

Derek P. Moore
1st w/o 2nd
The Omnipotent

All my articles are anti-copyright 2002 by myself. No rights reserved. Plagiarism is encouraged. Intellectual property is an oxymoron.

NOTES:

1. Ronald Rose, Living Magic: The Realities Underlying the Primitive Practices and Beliefs of Australian Aborigines (London: Chatto & Windus, 1957), p. 114.
2. historyofmagic.com, http://www.historyofmagic.com/pages/history.html

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Hacking Humans at the Card Table | 49 comments (32 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Too complicated (3.50 / 4) (#1)
by tftp on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 10:19:09 PM EST

This effect should fool even those magicians that know the simpler version of this effect

I doubt a magician would choose this analytical method because it is too easy to make a mistake. Given that the trick is performed in a controlled setting, a magician can determine which card was selected before the spectator even makes the first switch.

Complication and control. (none / 0) (#2)
by Jizzbug on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 10:31:52 PM EST

Yes, assuming a controlled setting, the magician could work out other trickery to determine the mentally selected card. But since the trick is so easy in the first place, why should she bother? Given that the simpler method is so effective, I doubt many magicians will choose the more difficult method. That doesn't mean, though, that it's not worth knowing that a "better" (and more difficult) method exists. And, yes, the analytical method is adding quite a bit of complexity to the trick (for the magician, not the spectator). However, if the spectator is directed properly during the presentation, using the counting system shouldn't be too difficult (that is assuming you've practiced it enough that you could do it in your sleep). For example, if in demonstrating how to mix the cards, you make the switches by sliding the cards along the table and not picking them up, it's very likely that the spectator will do the same. In this case, you have plenty of time to change "thirteen" to "twenty-three" in your head while the cards are being slid in place.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]
Interesting. (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by Redemption042 on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 10:43:55 PM EST

As a child I studied for many years at card manipulation.   At one time I was good enough that I could have cheated at poker.  I also studied many differant forms of card tricks.   This trick would have highly interested we at the time and I'm not sure if I would have been able to figure it out.  I'd like to think I would have, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to.
Nice bit with the math to make it nicer.
Well written as well.
Kudos!

Another problem (5.00 / 5) (#14)
by tftp on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 02:22:28 AM EST

Look into their eyes, as if you're trying to find their card in their thoughts. Peek the middle card that you've been following.

How exactly would you do that? With the third eye? Remember that the spectator is likely to look into your eyes as well, since there is nothing happening with the cards at the moment. If you look down, the spectator will do the same, following you.

Here you grossly violate the cornerstone of magic - you fail to distract, and the trick now depends on you seeing potentially all three cards while the spectators around you are staring at your eyes, hands, and cards. That's wrong. A magician should have the trick done in first 20% of the performance, and the rest should be dedicated to pure entertainment...

the middle card has our answer

True. So peek at it while demonstrating the card shuffling technique. This way you need only one glance at the card, not up to three, and the spectators are likely to be distracted with your hands - and they will not notice (even if they know what to watch for!) how exactly you can see the bottom of the card without turning it over... (by saying this I am probably spoiling the trick, but on the other hand, it was explained on Discovery Channel...) This is the standard practice for the trick, and it can be played in many settings, since it requires only one small and easy condition that can be found virtually anywhere.

Problem solved. (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:21:43 AM EST

By "peek", I meant: Reach down with your hand and lift up the left corner nearest you. The spectators will see you lift up the corner and look at the card. But it really won't matter, because if you pull it off properly, saying the right things and acting the right way, your audience will think nothing of it. You sound like you have some experience with magic. In the vernacular of magic, think more along the lines of the "spectator peek", where the index is looked at and everybody knows it. You're thinking along the lines of the "glimpse", where the card is secretly looked at. There's nothin' secret about a "peek", there is something secret about a "glimpse". At least the way I choose to use the words.

By saying, "Look into their eyes", and crap like that, I was meaning to give examples of psychic mumbo jumbo that you could do. At some point along the line of doing psychic mumbo jumbo, you openly peek the middle card that you followed.

If you use the counting system, you only need one peek. If you don't use the counting system, you only need to make two peeks. You can make three peeks, but that last peek is extraneous, since it doesn't really provide you with any more information (unless your brain isn't any good at deduction).

I think I covered most o' your concerns in the article. Maybe my style of writing doesn't mesh well with your style of reading. Maybe if you read through the method more slowly and deliberately (as boring as that might be), you might be able to extract what I mean to say better.

I've performed this trick many times, both with and without the counting system. Nobody has ever suspected the two open peeks. You just have to fit your patter and attitude to the peeks. Make your audience think you're only trying to confirm your suspicions by openly looking at the card (better yet, make /yourself/ think that's what you're doing).

Usually I'll play like I can't decide between two cards (the middle card being one of the two cards). I'll say something like, "There seems to be something about these two cards, I'm not sure what it is though." I'll move my hands between the two cards like I'm tryin' to figure it out, then I'll peek the middle card.

Just be creative with how you handle your audience with your psychic mumbo jumbo, and they won't think anything of you openly peeking two cards.

Also, as to your last point: peek while demonstrating the Shell Game shuffle. I wouldn't do that. I just wouldn't feel comfortable. I'd rather get away with openly peeking the cards, as people don't think anything of it. Also, that would involve you touching the cards. I find the effect more powerful if you never touch the cards until you make that first open peek. You only need to demonstrate the shuffle if you're using the counting system. And when demonstrating the shuffle, I usually take three cards out o' my pocket and use those, that way I don't touch their cards.

If you play all this right, by the time you start peeking cards, the audience will be solidly convinced that you can have absolutely no idea where their card is. 1) Because you can't know their mentally selected card, 2) because you couldn't know the order of the cards once you turned around, and 3) because they also mixed up the cards a whole bunch, and they themselves lost track of where their card is. Anyways, you say they exposed this trick (or a similar one) of the Discovery Channel? Can you tell me more 'bout that? I'd be very interested. Ever since I figured out the method, I've been tryin' to find any information about it that I could. Also, what kinds o' magic do you do and stuff?

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

The show on the Discovery Channel (none / 0) (#16)
by tftp on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:56:02 AM EST

You sound like you have some experience with magic

Not really, but I read some books and watched some decent TV shows about that (Discovery etc.) Books were particularly informative - and not in disclosing the secret, but in explaining the process. Many tricks of great magicians of the past are still unexplained.

The spectators will see you lift up the corner and look at the card. But it really won't matter

It will matter, IMO, at least because it damages the trick. If you need to know the card and have to look at it, then it will be better to do it openly, from performance point of view - the spectators will take it as a natural part of the trick. But again, I am not a magician, and those guys know how to perform. Most of the tricks are polished by generations, and the "user interface" is most important part of it, not the mechanism.

you say they exposed this trick (or a similar one) of the Discovery Channel? Can you tell me more 'bout that?

It was about 2 years ago, and I hardly watched TV since then. It was an hour long program about "street magic" - exactly the type you described here; some with cards, some with other objects. They explained one trick that is very similar to what you describe, and it can have many variations. Their version was to be shown in a restaurant, and that was important. A spectator takes a card, writes a word (a name) on it, and passes it to the magician, holding it so that the card's side with the writing is always hidden from magician's view. He puts the card into a small envelope, still holding it away from his eyes, and burns it in the ashtray. Then he stares at the ashes, struggles, and writes on another piece of paper the word that was on the card. This trick requires a skill, though.

I've performed this trick many times

Then it works for you, and that's great! Whatever the "other" method is, and whatever other magicians think, is irrelevant as long as your method works for you. My opinion was only based on observation that most tricks are very, very simple, and a lot of them depend not on math but on performance, on training, and sometimes on equipment.

[ Parent ]

We're sayin' the same thing. (none / 0) (#17)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:15:33 AM EST

If you need to know the card and have to look at it, then it will be better to do it openly, from performance point of view - the spectators will take it as a natural part of the trick.

That's exactly what I was tryin' to say. Just openly reach down and look at the card.

Just as side note, I've been performing pretty advanced sleight of hand for about 12 years now. So I'd like to think I'm pretty good in terms of utilizing proper amounts of misdirection and distractive psychological tricks.

It was actually my goal to be a professional magician when I was younger. But then I discovered computers and was hooked. Computers turned into a career towards the end o' high school for me, so I didn't pursue magic professional. However, with the collapse of the fake economy here in the U.S. and the literal absense of tech jobs, my interest in pursuing magic professionally has been reignited.

You're right that the "user interface" is the most important part. People would be surprised with how important the presentation is. After all, what you say creates the reality in which the trick happens. You can get away with some pretty crazy things just by explaining everything to the audience in the right way.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

Gah, don't call it hacking. (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by xriso on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:18:40 AM EST

I realise that ESR has decreed that people can "hack" things other than computers, but to me hacking is always associated with computers.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Streetmagic! (5.00 / 5) (#20)
by marcos on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:37:03 AM EST

After watching David Blaines street magic video, I actually started doing street magic. I can redo almost all his tricks. I'll explain some.

Anyways, this trick you have is sweeht. I'll add it to my collection.

The Double Lift

Double lifting is the core of a great many card tricks, and allows you to do tricks that actually look impossible. It is not hard to learn. There are many ways to do it, but this one is easy:

Pick up the pack in your left hand, and let your first finger be at the fore of the deck, and all your other fingers at the right of the deck. This will allow you align the card properly. Riffle through the bottom left corner with you right hand till only 2 cards are being held up by your thumb. Use your right thumb, left thumb and right first finger to press the two cards till they are flush with each other. Grip the two cards with your right first finger and thumb at the left edge, and turn them over in one motion, directly over the deck of cards.

Remember to distract the viewer while you flush your cards. To see this double lift demonstrated, watch the David Blaine street magic special.

Card Swap 2 card monte

Effect: The viewer picks a card from the deck, looks at it, and drops it on top of the pack. You look at it, return it to him, and he seals it in his palm. You pick up the first card on top of the deck, show it to him, then wave it above his closed palm. You turn it over, and it is the card that he has in his palm. He opens his palm, and the card you just showed him is inside. Watch David Blaine Stret special to see this trick demonstrated.

Trick: Get two identical decks. Take one card from the second deck and add it to the first deck. That is, there are two cards that are exactly the same. Drop the two cards on top of the pack. Spread the cards in a fan, and ask the person to pick a card. He does so, and looks at it. You take the top card away, and ask him to drop the card on top. He drops it, and you cover the card with the card you took away. Say the double card is an 8, and he picked an A. Your arrangement is now

|Deck|8|A|8

You do a double lift, and show him the Ace, then cover it again, and hand him the 8 face down to lock in his palm. Do another double lift, and show him the second 8. Cover it face down, and take the A, wave it, and turn it over. He is amazed since he thinks he has the A locked in his palms. Tell him to open up his palms. He sees the 8 and faints.

You need to see this trick performed skillfully to appreciate it.

Some notes:

When you cover the card he drops with the top card, there is no need to palm the card. That will just arouse suspicion. Simply do it naturally, distract the viewer, and even if he does see it, talk so that he forgets it. I've done this trick hundreds of times, and nonone ever realizes that their card is obviously not the top card. Watch Blaine do it. He also does it openly.

You need to practise showing the double card, covering it, and then picking it up again. that move has got to be very fluid, else the trick fails.

Arm Twist

A simple but effective one.

Effect: You lay your palm on the ground, and twist it more than 360°.

Trick: I can't explain it if you have not seen the trick performed. If you have, then all you have to do is twist your arm before you place it on thr ground clockwise. When you do that, you can twist it more than 360°.

Awesome. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:17:48 AM EST

I'm glad you appreciated the trick. I knew a few people were bound to.

I've been doin' pretty advanced sleight o' hand since I was 10. So that makes 12 years o' practicin' the art for me. I'm glad to hear you're out performing for people. That's the most important part.

Here's the effect of my favorite trick. I won't explain the method, 'cause it's pretty advanced. I call it "The Improved Fifth Grade Trick", 'cause part o' the trick actually goes back to something I was doing in fifth grade when I was 10.

I take a normal deck of cards and have the spectator shuffle. I take back the deck and shuffle it up a bit myself. I'll say, "I'm going to riffle down the corner of the deck with my thumb, you just tell me when to stop so we can get you a card." They say, "Stop". I hold out bottom stock of cards for them to take the top card, the card they said "stop" at. I say, "Take this card, but don't take the 3 of Clubs." Of course, they take the 3 of Clubs. I say, "Actually, you can't help but take the 3 of Clubs your first time. So don't worry about it." I take their card back from them, and set it face-down on the table. I say, "Okay, let's do this again, just tell when to stop." They say, "Stop." And again I say, "Okay, take this card, but we're still not using the 3 of Clubs." They take the card, and it's still the 3 of Clubs. I say, "Actually, don't worry about it, again. You can't help but take the 3 of Clubs your second time, either." I take the card back from them and set it face-down on the table. We start over, I riffle the cards, they say "stop", and they take the 3 of Clubs for a third time. Here I say, "Actually, you can't help but take the 3 of Clubs every single time." I take the card back from them, set it face-down on the table with the other two cards, and say, "Here, I'll show ya what I did. Before I started this trick, I preloaded the deck with three cards that were all the same. Do you believe me? No? Well, let's look." I set aside the deck, and I pick up the three cards from the table. "Let's look at this card here on bottom... Yup, it sure looks a lot like the 3 of Clubs. How about this card on top? Yeah, that looks a lot like the 3 of Clubs, too. And this card here in the middle? That's also the 3 of Clubs. So we've got three cards all the same, all the 3 of Clubs. Or at least that's what it looks like. These three cards are indeed all the same, just not how you think. You see, the back of the bottom card is the same as the face, and the face is the same as the back. You see the markings on this middle card here? They're the same as on the top and bottom of the top card. And that card in the middle? That's the same on top and bottom as these other two. So we've got three cards ... one ... two ... three cards that are all backs." As I'm sayin' all that stuff, I'm actually showing them what I'm saying. Hopefully you understand. First all three cards are shown to be the 3 of Clubs, then all three cards are shown to have the back design on both sides of each card. At this point, I toss the three cards onto the table and say, "Actually, pick up those cards and check 'em out. None o' those cards are even the 3 of Clubs, and their not all backs either. Before I started this trick, I put your card in my back pocket, and I projected its image onto those three cards." I turn around and reach into my back pants pocket and pull out their 3 of Clubs.

Whatcha think?

By the way, about David Blaine. The stuff on his street magic special isn't that technically demanding. He does use some standard gems, though. There are an aweful lot o' tricks that aren't technically demanding, and Blaine sure picked the good ones for his specials. I don't want to bash Blaine or anything, 'cause I'm sure he's a cool guy. He's just more like the N'Sync of magic than he is the Frank Zappa of magic. If you wanna see the Frank Zappa of magic, check out Lennart Green's stuff (especially his snap deal).

Anyways, I'll have to keep in touch with you. I love knowin' people to share magical knowledge with. And I'll teach ya the Fifth Grade Trick.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

Let me try (none / 0) (#22)
by marcos on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:55:01 AM EST

I have this failing of always wanting to discover the trick without being told how to do it. I actually discovered Blaines tricks by rewinding and fast forwarding the VHS time and time again. The only one I didn't figure out is how he stuck a card into the pocket of a little girl without being executed for patting a small girls bum. I finally decided that he had a helper.

Let us see if I can figure out this trick:

  1. He shuffles. You shuffle and control, and move the 3 into the middle of the pack, and pinkie break. When he says stop, you do one last riffle, which takes you to the pinkie break. He picks your card.
  2. You have a palmed card. You collect their 3, drop it on top, drop your palmed card on top of it properly, pick your palmed card, and drop on the table. You repeat the first move.
  3. I have no friggin idea, except that it must require some mad skillz to do that swap move.


[ Parent ]
Wait a min (none / 0) (#24)
by marcos on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:56:06 AM EST

The first part you could also do this way:

You don't pinkie break, but simply rifle through, in a way where you see the card above. When they say stop, you drop the card above unto the pack, and ask them to pick it. You know what card they pick, so tell them - don't pick that card. They pick it, obviously.

The second part, you could also palm the card they hand to you, and pretend like you drop it on top, then pick the top card. Or you could palm another card, and drop it on top of the pack, then put it on the table.

For the second stop, you could also break the pack when they say stop, keeping the two halves level. A quick switch would make them think that you are giving them the middle card, instead of the top card.

[ Parent ]

A hint. (none / 0) (#26)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 01:56:18 PM EST

I'll give you some hints. Here are the common sleights employed in the trick. You should be able to figure out the first part pretty easy. The second part is a little, well, convoluted.

Searchin' Google for this phrases should get you a description of them, the sleights are given pretty much in sequence, but some are repeated (for example, the slip force and top change are repeated three times):

slip force (or riffle force)
top change
top palm
bottom card half pass
a type of false spread
annemann alignment move
buckle
triple turnover (or block turnover)
flushtration count
bottom palm

At the end when you toss the three cards on the table, there's a sleight I devised to correct the bottom of the three cards. After the bottom palm, you have three indifferent cards in your hand, the top two are face-down, the bottom card is face-up. As you toss the cards onto the table, you buckle and flip over the bottom card really fast.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

Great Article (none / 0) (#29)
by vile on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:21:18 PM EST

Insightful Tips. I would like to see a site posted about this, giving some visual examples.

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
wah (1.85 / 7) (#31)
by tps12 on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:22:37 PM EST

I thought this was going to be about poker. Instead it's just another stupid Magic: the Gathering story. Zzzz...

Magic: The Gathering? No. Magic: The Art. (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:28:08 PM EST

If you just skimmed the article and saw all the technical lookin' crap towards the end, I can see how you thought this was about Magic: The Gathering.

It's not.

It's about magic, the art. Magic: now you see it, now you don't. Magic: you're a stupid human and I can fool the hell out o' you.

I was originally gonna write about card sleight of hand... And I was thinkin' about usin' a poker deal trick. But I decided that for a first installment of the article, I'd present a really good trick that doesn't require any physical manipulation. As tricks that require skillful manipulation and sleight of hand take quite a bit o' practice.

Maybe I'll write a second installment, and present the poker deal trick.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

heh (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by tps12 on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:50:52 PM EST

I was thrown by the use of the word "hacking." Sleight of hand tricks always seem more like trolling than hacking to me. I was thinking it was about poker, but not cheating at poker, just being good at it. You sort of have to "hack" people's "codes" to leverage your hand. Oh, and I knew it wasn't about MTG. YHBT, &c.

[ Parent ]
Don't worry... (none / 0) (#35)
by Wayfarer on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:46:57 PM EST

You're not giving away the secret--you're just providing a technique.  The "secret" is that which makes the audience believe your card manipulation is magic.  ^_^

Now to find some unsuspecting victims...

-W-

"Is it all journey, or is there landfall?"
-Ellison & van Vogt, "The Human Operators"


Magic metaphor (none / 0) (#36)
by Pseudonym on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 06:48:22 PM EST

Here's a deep metaphor for everyone to ponder upon:

At a magic show, there are three kinds of people. The children believe it's magic. The adolescents know it isn't, but insist on knowing how the trick is done. The adults sit back and enjoy the entertainment.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Re: Magic Metaphor (none / 0) (#39)
by jck2000 on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:35:49 AM EST

Cf. Luke 18:15-17.

Now, whatever happened to my deck of TV Magic Cards?

[ Parent ]

And... (none / 0) (#45)
by epepke on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 06:59:17 PM EST

The magicians clap at the wrong time. I accidentally did this to James Randi once.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Well.. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by mindstrm on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:34:51 PM EST

all is well and good.. but it's really not that clever.

You obviously knew the order of the 3 cards at the beginning, and the audience knows it...
And then you peek at a card... again so the audience can see it.

Sorry.. if the article is about distraction... great....

I was expecting something about reading pokerplayers... I guess you get a +1 for misleading title.


It's better than you think. (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:51:12 PM EST

Reading magic tricks will often leave people with feelings like this... But believe me, this is one of the best tricks in all of card magic. Seriously! I've been doin' card magic for 12 years, I should know.

I'm 99% certain that you'd have been blown away if I performed this trick on you before you'd read the article.

Study the easy method for an hour or two, 'til you're confident you can do it on someone, and give it a try. You'll be surprised with how effective it is.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

I don't agree.. (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by mewse on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:05:57 PM EST

I think your revelation of the card is particularly uninteresting. This is just an "aren't I clever?" revelation -- nothing the viewer would consider to be magic takes place. And in fact, any moderately intelligent viewer would end up assuming that the backs of your cards are marked. Which, incidentally, would be an easy way to avoid having to do the 'switch two' rule, and having to watch the spectator while they rearrange the cards. And if they're going to assume the cards are marked anyway, you might as well do it that way in the first place and save yourself all the mental gyrations.

And now that I think about it, with marked backs, you don't need to do a peek, either, and can recollect the cards and do whatever sort of revelation you wish -- something which will throw the viewer off from the whole 'marked back' scent. So ironically, you could build a much stronger effect, one which wouldn't make the viewer suspect marked cards, if you actually do use marked cards.



[ Parent ]
Don't be so quick to judge. (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by Jizzbug on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:12:47 PM EST

I understand your concerns. And they are valid, to a point. But the power of this effect isn't something that one can agree or disagree about. It simply either is or isn't. The effect is indeed quite magical, as a simple test drive will prove. Of course, people will suspect trickery--they always do. Most people know that magic is fake, but that usually doesn't make the magic any less amazing.

And in fact, any moderately intelligent viewer would end up assuming that the backs of your cards are marked.

That's why you borrow a deck of cards. If you're using their deck, they'll be certain its not marked. And if you haven't even touched their deck yet, they'll be even more confused.

Which, incidentally, would be an easy way to avoid having to do the 'switch two' rule...

Even with marked cards, you'd still need to employ the 'switch two' rule. If they don't switch the two cards that aren't theirs, you'll never know which card they mentally selected. When you read the backs of the cards, they'll still be in the same order as when they were face-up, and you'll be left having to guess which of the three cards they're thinking of.

Presentation is certain the key with this trick. You could certainly present it in a way which wasn't impressive. But it's also very easy to present it in a way that is.

Saying things like, "Now, my back is turned so you don't think I'm following at your eyes, to see which cards you look at", or, "You can move the positions of the cards, if you want; move them closer together, father apart, forwards, backwards--just so you can be sure I'm not figuring out your card by looking at their relative positions after you switched the two that aren't yours", really helps a lot. If you lead them astray in their thinking of how you might have performed the trick, they'll be even more baffled. And, of course, when you turn around emphasize that fact that you can't know the order of the cards, because indeed you can't.

Lots o' cool things can be done with marked cards, but it isn't a good idea to rely solely on marked decks, as you won't be able to do anything magical without your special instruments.

But seriously, give this trick a try. Put together a little patter for yourself, make sure you have the presentation down, and give it a try. You'll be surprised how susceptible people are. And you'll be surprised with how many people think it's genuine mind-reading.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]

What's a peek? (none / 0) (#40)
by ToastyKen on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:15:35 PM EST

You casually mentiong making a "peek" at a card.  If the cards are sitting face down on the table, how do you peek?

Definition of "peek". (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by Jizzbug on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:36:59 PM EST

Sorry I was so obscure about what I meant by "peek".  In the vernacular of magic, "peeks" are done in the open, "glimpses" are done in secret.  To "peek" at a card, just reach down and turn up the end nearest you.  The spectators will see you do this, but they won't really think anything of it, especially if you engineer your psychic mumbo jumbo properly.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#46)
by ToastyKen on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 12:11:10 PM EST

Ah. Thanks.  You need a lot of confidence in your misdirection to pull stuff like that off, though, I imagine. :)

[ Parent ]
Ignore misdirection. (none / 0) (#47)
by Jizzbug on Sat Dec 07, 2002 at 01:12:54 AM EST

Oh, there is no misdirection. The spectators will see you look at the card(s). The peek is not done in secret. So you need not worry about covering the peeks in misdirection. Just make your peeks something natural in the {presentation,patter}.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]
I Don't get it.. (none / 0) (#48)
by ogre2112 on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 02:27:43 PM EST

So you're trying to guess a card, and the mark sees you openly look at the card? Where's the magic again?

[ Parent ]
Depending on the method you use... (none / 0) (#49)
by Jizzbug on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 08:43:50 PM EST

the spectator just won't be able to figure out how you knew which card they were thinking of even when they see you look at one or two cards. The one or two peeks won't register in their minds as anything significant because of the all their mixing and your psychological misdirection that's already taken place.

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

[ Parent ]
Simple (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by dipierro on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:48:30 PM EST

You peer through the cards with your X-ray vision. This is magic, after all.

[ Parent ]
Hacking Humans at the Card Table | 49 comments (32 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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