Swindles, Scams, and Kahns by Scott Kahn
This is Scott Kahn's third full-length publication on card magic. It is 396 pages and contains 325 photos to accompany the text making these routines easy to learn even if you're a visual learner.
Let's dive right in.
What Are the Odds?!
Three spectators. Three shuffled decks. Each reverses a single card in their pack sight unseen. Despite the odds, all three decks are spread to show that each spectator has reversed the exact same card. A stunning coincidence!
This is a solid method that is simple to execute. The spectators each select a card in three different ways, but the clever part is the system Scott uses to allow you to use three shuffled decks to achieve this. He has a wonderful way of setting up for the next spectator right under everyone’s nose without anyone being the wiser. When you play with this with the decks in hand, you’ll really get a feel for how clean this is; it all appears totally innocent.
Wax On, Wax Off
A classic of magic with a new twist and a new presentational hook. A spectator locates their freely chosen card by stabbing an indifferent card into the deck while the cards are held behind their back. The selection then proves to be the only odd-backed card in the entire deck. No forces!
I really enjoy this routine. There are a lot of moments in this routine that excite me. The primary effect of the spectator stabbing an indifferent card right next to theirs is a decent effect–I don’t think it will blow them out of the water because of how plausible it is; however, the kicker ending is killer. The way Scott gets in and out of the routine is my favorite part of this; it has a clever structure to it which feels just plain sneaky!
A random mystery card is placed aside. Two spectators each think of a playing card. The first selection is signed and used for an extremely visual transposition sequence in the first spectator’s hands. The mystery card is then revealed to be the second spectator’s thought-of card!
The first time I read this, I thought, “Man this is a lot going on in a routine,” but when I got the cards in my hand and tried it out, it’s much more straightforward than it seems. It is easy to do, and you get a lot of mileage out of the few sleights that are in the routine. Scott does a good job of taking well known strong magic effects and utilizing those strong effects as kickers. This sort of doubles up on the magic they are seeing over the course of one routine, and it guarantees the reactions at the end will be the biggest.
The Time Travel Paradox
A progressive, four-phased demonstration of time travel that revolves around the Back to the Future storyline. With the aid of the iconic Flux Capacitor, two spectator-signed cards move along the space-time continuum, transposing with each other several times. The signatures fade away and the selections vanish altogether as the past is altered. Ultimately, the space-time continuum is restored, leaving the audience with tangible proof of Doc Brown’s now famous Theory of Temporal Displacement.
This routine has a thoroughly entertaining presentation revolving around Back to the Future. Throughout the routine cards change places twice, signatures vanish, cards change, and signatures reappear. It has a nice build to it so that each phase is stronger than the last ultimately ending with their signed cards in their hands. There are some moments in the routine that aren’t as crisp and clean as I’d prefer, but I think the fun of the routine masks that and keeps the spectators involved. This follows a logical through line, and it has a strong visual of a flux capacitor card making this routine stand out for an audience.
An exploration of the Any Card At Number plot. The spectator counts down to a selected number in a deck that they have had in their pocket from the onset and finds their freely named card. A devastating fooler!
If you’re looking for an ACAAN to replace the one you’re already using, I’m not sure this will be the one. If you are new to ACAAN routines, this is a good place to start because of its simplicity. My primary stipulation for ACAAN is not to use a memorized deck because I think the spectators genuinely shuffling the cards is an important aspect. (My current favorite version is Drew Backenstoss’s from Architect of the Mind.) Ultimately, I want my ACAANS to be clean and direct, and unfortunately, this one is a little too convoluted for my liking. It’s not a bad routine; it works well and it’s easy to do if you have a memorized deck; it’s simply not my cup of tea.
A new variation of head-to-head poker is demonstrated. Although designed to prevent any form of cheating at the card table, the magician is somehow able to beat the odds in this game every time. A beautifully designed swindle!
Scott is a big fan of the Bill Simon Prophecy move, as is evident when reading up to this point in the book. This routine puts the prophecy move front and center and creates an entire poker demonstration around it. This is squeezing about as much out of the prophecy move as humanly possible! This uses an odd procedure that is nothing like playing poker, but the presentation covers for it by introducing it as a new way to play. Personally, if I'm going to do a poker routine, I want it to feel like it is in line with a traditional game of poker; however, some of the readers may dislike traditional poker demonstrations but are still intrigued by the idea of producing a royal flush. If that's the case, then this will be great for you.
Five face-down cards are removed from a shuffled deck. The spectator imagines that these cards form a perfect poker hand – all except for one card that ruins it. They blindly exchange one card for another. When the final hand is revealed, it is a perfect royal flush. Such a simple scam!
This is a wonderfully deceptive routine with many wrinkles which will leave a spectator (and many magicians) scratching their head. It is very direct and super clean. As simple as this is, it may be my favorite routine in the book because it has a nice layering of methods, and the final exchange of the card will be just enough to leave spectators in deep thought.
Fate and serendipity are explored in this three-phase routine that combines a unique solution to the two-card transposition plot and Dai Vernon’s classic Triumph plot. An ideal effect to perform for a dating or married couple.
This routine uses a gimmicked deck, but the impact may be worth it. Two cards transpose twice under impossible conditions. These transpositions are extremely fair because of the nature of the deck used. It will fry laymen. Then the triumph aspect of the routine is introduced and despite genuinely losing their selections, they appear as the only reversed cards in the deck. At the end of the day, you’ll have to ask yourself if this routine is worth carrying an extra deck for, but it certainly offers unique advantages that you absolutely could not achieve with a normal deck.
Let’s Cut A Deal
A red deck and a blue deck are shuffled by a spectator. They randomly cut to a card in the blue deck. Without looking at the faces, the magician dead cuts to the same card in the spectator-shuffled red deck. A completely hands-off wonder!
This is a quick and clean routine which plays precisely as stated above with hardly any compromise. It’s easy as pie, in fact, it’s self-working, but it looks great. My only complaint is how short it is. This feels like a nice introduction to a larger routine or a super clean ending to a routine. By itself it feels a little incomplete, but I guess all I’m really saying is: I wish this were longer!
Cutting the Spades
A behind-the-scenes demonstration that allows the audience to see how the magician warms up for a performance. The thirteen Spades are produced in order from Ace to King from a thoroughly shuffled deck of cards, using a different and progressively more impressive revelation each time. The routine concludes with a kicker that no one will see coming.
This is Scotts fully explained production of thirteen cards all performed without changing the order of a stack. As Scott says in the book, many others have done this, he is simply sharing the handling and various productions he uses to make this happen. There is a good variety in the productions and each one feels wholly unique to the ones that came before it. If you want a multiple production effect that you can start performing right away, look no further.
The Cartomancy Con
A demonstration of fortune telling with playing cards. The spectator freely selects three cards representing the past, present and future. After a brief cold reading using these cards, the spectator’s Card of Fortune is determined by first adding up the values of the three cards and then counting down to the card at that numerical position in the shuffled deck. The Card of Fortune is then proven to have been preordained – it is the only odd-backed card in the deck. A final kicker then confirms this card was destined to be chosen even before the demonstration began.
Scott took an old and complicated card force, dressed it up, gave it a fitting presentation, and added additional kickers to turn that old force into a full powerhouse routine. The presentation revolves around cartomancy (could you have guessed that from the title?) which means the spectator will be thoroughly engaged from beginning to end. It is a truly perfect presentational angle because it takes the procedural nature of the card force and paints it red. The layering of reveals Scott has added at the end build nicely on one another leading to something that feels truly special. With some tweaks to the revelations, you could even play this very real and use it for some impressive displays of psychic powers. It's not the easiest routine to do as some serious pinkie counting is required, but I think it would be pretty easy to do away with that if you don't have that skill.
In-The-Hands Open Prediction Revisited
A new-and-improved handling of the most popular routine from Kahnceptual Card Magic. This is a two-deck solution to Paul Curry’s classic Open Prediction Problem. An inexplicable miracle with a new presentation!
Scratch what I said earlier, this is my favorite routine in the book. I absolutely loved this routine back in 2018 when I read it in Scott’s previous release. I began playing with it and found some interesting ideas that I thought added a little to the presentation; I sent it along to Scott and he enjoyed the changes enough to include them here in this revisited edition of the effect. I am happy to see Scott has further developed the ideas I shared with him to make this routine as slick as can be. It uses two decks and a couple of gaff cards, but I really like the structure of the routine. This new handling is much improved from the first one, and this has an instant reset so that by the time the decks are back in their boxes, you are good to move to the next table and do it again. My favorite aspect of the routine is the kicker ending. I get a slight thrill out of performing it because the move that achieves the final kicker is so very bold you literally do it right in front of everyone, but the use of the gaffs help hide the move entirely so that it is 100% invisible. You'll feel sneaky doing this one too.
If you’ve never read any of Scott’s work, I think this is a good place to start. His material is always practical and very efficient. He does a great job of weaving effects together to create additional kickers, and his presentations are always engaging. I didn’t speak much about the presentations in each of the routines above, but all of the presentations shine in this release. None of the effects follow the typical magician presentation of, “Watch. Now the cards will do this. Watch. Now they will do this. Watch. Watch. Watch.” It’s always a breath of fresh air when creators have taken the time to script their routines and put thought into their routines beyond just how it works.
As of right now, I believe this is only available through Scott directly for $50 at:
Until next time!