Horizontal Ambitious Card

A long time ago I was chatting with Nick Lewin and we were talking about the Ambitious Card. He said it was the “greatest card trick ever” and I agree with him! With the base effect, you put a card in the middle and it’s instantly on top. Very easy to follow. I do think that most modern versions are really multiple revelations of a selected card, as it’s more than the card simply jumping to the top.

A couple of weeks ago I started doing the ambitious card from a spread. Here’s what it looks like:

When I do it there are two phases, the first I push the card in and in the second they do. That gives it a sense of build. I like getting to play a little bit with having them move their finger along the spread of cards.

I’m liking doing it this way when I have a table. It doesn’t play the same with the cards spread in my hand. I think it’s because with the cards in my hand, it feels less impossible.

Give it a try!

French Pasteboards…

A while ago when I performed at the Moisture Festival I was in shows with Mike Caveney and Tina Lenert. Tina has an amazing act (read about it here) and so does Mike.

Backstage I was talking to Mike about how he got into writing magic books. He was asked to write a book by Bernard Bilis called French Pasteboards. There’s a really cool move in that book called the Bilis Spread. This is a one handed display of three cards, but you really have four cards.

When Mike mentioned that book, I told him I learned to do the Bilis Spread when I was a teenager and he commented that I’m probably the only other person that does the move (aside from Bernard Bilis).

Personally I love little booklets like this, they tend to be overlooked and usually have some fun little nuggets in them!

Verbal Card Magic…

There’s a lot I don’t like about how a lot of card magic is presented. A lot of them are “magiciany” things that we think everyone knows. Let’s start with the fact that there’s a chunk of people that don’t know what the spade and club suits are called. We assume they know that, they don’t.

The one that gets me is that magicians expect people to know what the “mate” of a card is and they use the word “mate” which really is an industry term. It’s not a hard concept to grasp, but when we use industry terms it doesn’t really help. Recently I watched someone do a card trick, they showed the seven of spades and they asked, “what’s the mate to the seven of spades?” The person didn’t know what they were talking about. It would be easier to say, “that’s a black 7, so we’re looking for the other black 7, which would be the seven of clubs…” There’s really nothing gained by asking them what the mate is, and not telling them.

I think “mate cards” are the card magic version of calling scarves “silks”. It still works to convey the idea, but it doesn’t work really well.


Short Event Promo Videos…

I think I’ve written about this before, but Hondo’s Flap Cards are amazing! These are essentially cards that change from one card to another. I frequently do quick little videos for events that I perform at for them to use on their social media and I usually use a flap card.

Here’s one I recently did:

What makes the flap card so great is that I can get two changes in very fast while delivering the message. Also it’s a very visual trick that doesn’t have a phase where I have to prove something, like showing a box empty. For me, these cards fit the bill!


Theseus – review

theseus by nathan colwell

Over the summer I drove through Chicago and stopped at Magic Inc and picked up Theseus by Nathan Colwell. The book is on a single trick, but has multiple methods and a bit about the journey that Nathan took to get to the different solutions to figure out the different methods.

The effect is a card is signed and torn into four pieces. Each piece is replaced by a turn corner from four different cards. When the four replaced pieces of card are turned over, they are the original signed card.

I really like the premise of the trick. It’s based on the Ship of Theseus thought problem. Essentially it’s if you took all of the parts of a ship and replaced them, is it the same ship? It’s a hell of a premise for a card transposition and great presentational connection that Nathan made!

The methods are good, and there are many of them. Just a heads up, this isn’t an self working trick to do, you will need to do some sleight of hand. That said the methods aren’t that hard if you’re not afraid to put in a little bit of work. Honestly it’s not that hard to palm a quarter of a card.

My big complaint with the book is that Nathan uses a lot of non standard techniques and unless you already know them or own the original source material, you’d have to spend and additional couple of hundred dollars on books/videos to correctly learn each method correctly. An example of this is you end up in “master palm” position. If you don’t know the palm, you don’t know if you’re doing it correctly. Nathan does give a credits and where to find the info, however a quick description of the master palm position would be helpful.

With the lack of complete descriptions considered, I still think the premise of the trick is great and if it appeals to you, get the book. There’s enough info in the book to kinda figure out the moves you don’t know, or at least get from point a to point b. That’ll give you a feel for that particular method and you can decide to invest in the source material for the moves you don’t know.


Runner Up Twist

A while ago I wrote up the sequential twisting effect that uses what I think is an original count of mine that I’m calling the Runner Up Count. I finally made a quick video of it:

Here’s what I think the pros and cons are of it when compared to the original Twisting the Aces:

– The sequential nature makes it easy to follow what has and has not flipped
-There’s no variation in the sequence, all the counts look the same.

-starting with a double deal as the first count is difficult

Honestly I don’t know if every phase looking the same is a good or bad thing.

Triumphant Flip Off

I’ve been facinated by using the old card revelation where you drop the deck on the table and the top card flips to reveal a selected card as a way to correct the deck for a triumph style effect.

Here’s a video demo of one that I’ve been doing lately:

About a month ago I wrote up a quick outline of the working of the effect:


One of the challenges was figuring out how to do Daryl’s Triumph Display with the deck in the condition that the deck is in for my routine. It’s basically the same as Daryl’s except the final two blocks of cards are hand hand and you rotate your hands palm up to show the face up and face down blocks.

I’m glad I figured out how to do the final display, it just took sitting around and playing until I worked it out, and the solution was soo simple!


Twisting the Aces…

A couple of weeks ago I posted a method for doing an Elmsley style false count that hid the second card from the top (you can learn this false count here) that I came up with on a long flight. Unfortunately, this count isn’t particularly useful and doesn’t have much of an advantage over a normal Elmsley Count.

Well, last week I was on another long flight from New York to Seattle and I was playing with the false count that hides the second card and I came up with a trick with it. It’s Twisting the Aces, but it has one advantage over the original Dai Vernon version and that’s that it all four counts look the same, so you don’t have to openly turn over the ace of clubs or do that weird strip out of one of the red aces and then flip over a few cards.

You start with the four aces (could be any order) face down in your left hand.

  1. Triple turn over to show the “top card”.
  2. Kill your wrist and turn just the top card over.
    -The position of the cards are: face down – face up – face up – face down
  3. Do the “Thru the Fist Flourish”, but don’t flip over the packet.
  4. Do the Second From the Top Elmsley and this will show the first face up ace.
  5. Do the “Thru the Fist Flourish”, but don’t flip over the packet.
  6. Do a regular Elmsley and this will show the second face up ace.
    -The position of the cards are: face down – face up – face down – face up
  7. Do the “Thru the Fist Flourish”, and secretly flip over the packet.
  8. Do the Second From the Top Elmsley and this will show the third face up ace.
  9. Do the “Thru the Fist Flourish”, but don’t flip over the packet.
  10. Do the Second From the Top Elmsley and this will show the fourth face up ace. As you do the count, leave the final ace out jogged.
  11. Strip out the final ace and put it on top of the packet face up
  12. Half pass the bottom card as you spread out the packet to show the three face down bottom cards (this is the Asher Twist move)

The main problem with the above version of Twisting the Aces is that it’s soo much harder than doing the Vernon version. Honestly, I don’t know if this is better than the original Twisting the Aces, maybe the variation in procedure makes that trick more watchable from the audience perspective?


Event Promo Videos…

Frequently I’m asked to make little promo videos for events that I’m performing. Here’s one a made for a gig a few days ago:

They wanted me to thank the sponsors and to do a quick trick. One of my “go to tricks” for situations like that are flap cards for a quick color change. I do the first change in the glass (which as far as I know I’m the first to do) which I think adds to the impossibility of it changing. Then the second is just the toss change.

Having a quick and visual trick you can do for things like this helpful. Also essentially having a formula for doing videos for events, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. I just grab my glass and card and I’m good to go!


Triumph Clean Up…

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of using the old card production where you drop the deck of cards on the table and the top card flips over as a “clean up” for card trick triumph. By clean up, I mean the last thing you have to do in my sequences where you need to reverse one card…or half of the deck.

In the past I’ve published a fairly complex version of Triumph that used a stripped deck and had a kicker ending, but used the flip over production to clean up the deck for the reveal. About a month ago, I think I finally hit on a sequence that makes sense, and it’s pretty simple, I’m surprised I didn’t think of it earlier. Here it is:

  1. Card is selected and returned to the deck, but secretly controlled to the top.
  2. The bottom half is flipped face up and you are going to do a modified zarrow shuffle. You will shuffle all but the top card (selected card) of the face down half into the bottom half of the face up cards. Then run about a quarter of the face up cards, drop the final face down card, and run the remaining face up cards.
  3. You will now strip out the face up cards, but add the face down selection to the face up cards, so they to on top.
  4. Find the natural break between the face up and face down halves. Side jog the face up half and drop it on the table. They should flip over, giving you deck that’s all face down except for the face up selection!

That’s it. While the shuffle procedure reads fairly complex, it’s not. If you can do a Zarrow Shuffle, you can do this.