• Madison Hagler

Talk About Tricks: The Complete File

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It was a lot of work to produce this review. I am not going to lie and say it was easy. While I did enjoy going through and examining every trick in the book, it is a lot of pages and a lot of reading. I read each and every page, and I spent hours and hours trying out routines with props in hand. I debated on how I was going to present this because some years contained more hard hitters than others, but ultimately, I decided to share with you my three favorite tricks from each year. This alone was a difficult process as some of these years I had as many as twelve tricks on my notes for consideration and had to boil it down to just three. The qualifications for making the list were generally what stood out to me as unique, practical, and worth pointing out for one reason or another. There were dozens of other tricks which could have easily made the lists as well, but here are my three favorite tricks from each year.


Clairvoyage by Phil Goldstein – Two spectators select a card bearing the name of a country. They are sealed in two envelopes. The performer correctly identifies both countries.

This uses a combination of two different methods to cancel each other out. It’s a clever combination that would make the routine very difficult to backtrack. For those wondering, it does not use one ahead.

Trait Secrets by John Bannon – Two cards are removed from the deck as predictions and tabled face up. Another card is also removed and placed face down. Two spectators each deal through the deck stopping whenever they want. They mark where they’ve stopped by placing the next card face up. The cards stopped at match the predictions that have been faceup on the table all along. The facedown card is revealed to be an ace. The other three aces are found at the precise places the spectators split the deck.

This is a modification of a classic which gives you the kicker production of the four aces. It is self-working and the four ace production is difficult to backtrack thanks to some clever psychology built into the routine.

Kickback by Ryan Swigert – Two red Aces are displayed. Two spectators select a card and the cards are lost in the pack. The tabled Aces are inserted into the center of the deck. When the deck is spread again, two cards are discovered between the aces. These cards are removed by the spectators, who immediately reveal them to be the red Aces! The cards left in the performer’s hands (formerly the red Aces) are now the two selections!

This has become a classic plot, and this is where it all originated. It is practically self-working and yet the kickback is very unexpected and very clean. It provides a great shock, and it is sure to generate big reactions. You do require a couple of gimmicks, but these gimmicks do all the heavy lifting allowing you to feel like the magic is truly happening without any sleight of hand.


Slip Shift by Joshua Jay – A multiple card shift to the top of the deck.

This is a clever move where in the process of slipping the top four cards into four different parts of the deck, you actually keep the four cards on top of the deck. It is a fun move to play around with. It is best viewed from an extreme right angle, so turning to your left gives you the best coverage. The move deceptively plays with the switching of packets, and it has a nice economy which is what makes it so fun to play with.

Llaser Open Prediction by Manuel Llaser – In typical open prediction fashion the performer names a card and begins dealing the cards face up from the top of the deck. At any point, the spectator calls stop and the next card is dealt facedown. The rest of the deck is dealt faceup on top of all. The named card is not seen amongst the faceup cards. The facedown card is shown to be the very card named at the beginning.

This is one of the easiest and most deceptive methods for the open prediction plot. Many have tackled this plot, but this one is so effective because it relies on the retention of vision rather than sleight of hand. So, when the focus is fully on the facedown card, there doesn’t have to be any tricky moves, instead, the card is cleanly removed and shown to be the very one named. It’s easy enough for anyone to master, yet deceptive enough to even fool the pros.

Lucky Ticket by Brian O’Neill – A large denomination bill is borrowed from an audience member. The performer announces it will be used as a raffle prize. The performer hands out raffle tickets to the audience. The remaining stubs matching the ones handed out are kept in a long strip. To select a winner, an audience member calls stop as the performer runs his finger down the strip of tickets. The number on the selected ticket is read aloud. Low and behold, the matching ticket is held by the very spectator who loaned the performer the bill in the first place.

This is a great, logical approach to the classic clippo effect without the need for scissors. The storyline is interactive for the whole audience and creates a full circle moment at the end. If you don’t like the presentation, you can also use this to force any particular audience member of your choosing Just imagine the possibilities there! For instance, hand out raffle tickets and the winner gets whatever is in an envelope hanging in full view. The winner is announced, and when they collect their prize, they discover along with a $20 bill is a description of the exact outfit the winner must be wearing to collect the prize. Fortunately, the spectator is wearing precisely what it calls for. I think this is a genius way to force a spectator for a plethora of effects. Don’t overlook it just because the presentation may not speak to you.


Outjogged Oil & Water by Ed Marlo – This is a wonderful oil and water sequence where the cards are clearly and genuinely alternating colors and yet in an instant, they are all separated.

This is one of those ideas that is so simple, it is easy to skip it. Seeing Joshua Jay perform this really shows just how deceptive it truly is. It isn’t a routine by itself but plug it into virtually any oil & water routine you already do, and you have a deceptive phase that is hard to beat.

Daniel Garcia on Flying Match – This is an expert talk on the classic flying match effect. What makes this particularly unique is the puff of smoke you breath out of your mouth to cause the magic to happen.

Many many years ago, Daniel Garcia released “Warning” to the magic community, and I remember being absolutely floored by it. Once I bought it and learned the method, I used to perform it all the time. Little did I know this method for breathing smoke totally impromptu was first taught here. If you have never seen Daniel Garcia perform his “Warning” effect, you will be shocked when you try this for the first time. The smoke you get is big and thick and white. It may not be the safest trick to perform, but it is at least fun to do.

Miumph Redux by Reinhard Müeller – This is a triumph routine without any false shuffles.

This is one of the most deceptive triumph sequences there is. I mean that. It is deceptive because where most routines incorporate sleight of hand, Reinhard instead incorporates an invisible optical illusion that feels and looks completely natural yet does all of the dirty work. This is just as fun to perform as it is to watch, and the method allows you to stress the freedom of all of the actions from beginning to end.


Among the Discards by The Chicago Session – A spectator freely chooses an Ace. The two black Jacks are inserted facedown into different parts of the deck. The spectator’s chosen Ace is inserted facedown into the deck between the Jacks. The remaining three aces are tossed aside. The magician states he will cause the two black Jacks to come together on either side of the selected Ace. This instantly happens in a surprising way; upon turning over the three discarded Aces, they are seen to be the two black Jacks surrounding the selected ace!

This is a quick snappy trick that you could add in after any four Ace routine. The ending comes as a big surprise, and the economy in the method is so silky smooth, that you’ll feel a little devilish when performing it. The sleight of hand is very minimal with the primary method coming from a subtle dodge rather than overt sleight of hand. This is a keeper. By the way, the “Chicago Session” is code for Simon Aronson, John Bannon, and Dave Solomon—the three wonderful creators that came together to make this trick.

Reflipped by Yannick Chretien – Four Aces and four Kings instantly and visually transpose.

This is a very quick and visual transformation between packets. The method is over before anyone even knows the trick has begun leaving you in the perfect position for the magic moment. This is not a stand-alone routine, but this can go into absolutely any routine you already do that uses two packets of four of a kind. You can even use it as a finale to an Oil &Water routine as Joshua Jay does.

Mismatch Sandwich by Pit Hartling – Two cards are removed from the top of the deck and shown to be two random cards. They are placed aside. The deck is riffled and a spectator calls stop whenever they’d like—they remember the card stopped at. The deck is spread face up on the table and the two random cards are inserted facedown in the top and bottom portion of the spread. The spectator confirms their card is somewhere between the two facedown cards, but nowhere near them. The deck is closed and instantly respread where suddenly those two facedown cards are now trapping the selected card.

This routine uses a completely ungimmicked deck of cards, but it does require a setup which is perhaps a little tricky to get into. In fact, there is no method described for getting into position in performance. It’s not impossible to set up in front of an audience, but it will take your own creativity to figure out the best way to do it. What you gain from this setup is a routine that appears to be lacking any moves. Genuinely the spectators see nothing except you closing a spread and respreading it. It is that clean.


Time is Money by Asi Wind – A spectator is handed two folded bills. Somehow, one of these bills vanish in their own hand. It is found under their watch.

This was my first time being exposed to this routine. I have heard about it for years, and I know it has gained legendary status, and now I see why. The “switch” that is used is very clever and is a big part of why this routine is so deceptive. The good news is with smart watches being so popular now, you are bound to find at least one person in any group that you can perform this on. P.S. This one routine is taught across nine pages with a whopping 32 photos!

Proof Positive by David Parr – The performer places something on a table and hides it with his hand. The spectator chooses one of three imaginary coins and imagines flipping it in the air. They decide if they want it to land heads or tails (a completely free choice) regardless of their decisions, when the performer’s hand is lifted, their selected coin is seen resting on the table in the exact orientation they chose!

This is David’s take on Max Maven’s Positive Negative routine. This is a routine I originally read right over the first time I saw it. It’s so simple that it seems like it shouldn’t be deceptive. However, the method for controlling the coin as heads or tails is genius and despite its simplicity, it is very deceptive. The first half of the routine uses equivoque, so the better versed you are at that, the more deceptive it will be, but I believe the completely free choice of heads or tails at the very end of the routine will influence the way the spectator thinks about all of the other choices they made seeing them all as fair. You can perform the routine anytime anywhere as long as you have a small coin such as a dime or penny nearby.

Any Card At Any (Page) Number by Joshua Jay – The performer displays an old magic book and details the history of the any card at any number plot. The spectator freely chooses any card and freely names any number between one and fifty-two. The performer counts to their number in the deck, but their card isn’t there. He checks the cards surrounding the chosen number, not there either. Finally, he opens the book to the page number the spectator chose. Inside the book is one card—the chosen card.

I first saw this routine performed on Joshua Jay’s Penguin Live lecture many years ago, and I still remember the impact it had on me. I was fooled badly, and the routine felt so fresh and innovative I was itching to perform it. It is the perfect routine for a parlor performance. There are many subtleties at play from beginning to end making this play very clean. The routine is taught quickly which may cause people to overlook it, but you would be missing out on a powerhouse of a routine.


Coin and Bottle by Rune Klan – A coin vanishes and reappears under a bottle multiple times. For the finale, the bottle and the coin unexpectedly change places.

This routine is very unique in its structure. The vanishes are clean, and each phase sets you up for the next. The unexpected transposition is by far the best part, and it comes at such an unexpected time that it will make spectators do a double take. It’s also quite easy to do which is a big bonus.

Reswindled by Caleb Wiles – Four Kings are placed under a spectator's hands and the magician removes four indifferent cards from the pack. One by one the cards change into the Kings and and then back into four indifferent cards. The Kings are shown to have returned to under the spectator’s hands. Finally, with nothing added or taken away, the Kings transform into the four Aces.

I genuinely think this is one of the best routines in the entire Talk About Tricks books. It is a practical version of Paul Harris’s “Reset” with a surprise kicker of four Aces. For one of the best tricks in the collection, it sure has a meek appearance. The whole thing is taught in just over a page and all without a single photo. It is easy to overlook, and I imagine many people did just that when the magazine first came out, but if you walk through the routine with the cards in hand, you’ll experience how deceptive the routine is.

Hamman on Christ by Bro. John Hamman – Four Aces are lost into four different parts of the deck. Each one is found in a different way. When the last ace is found, the other three Aces make a surprise reappearance.

This is Bro. John Hamman’s take on Henry Christ’s Fabulous Four Ace Routine. Bro. John Hamman’s big addition here is the implementation of Lin Searle’s Moracle routine as a finale. His modifications to the Fabulous Four Ace routine automatically sets you up for Moracle without any adjustments. The entire routine is completely impromptu fitting in at any point in your set.


Touching on Hoy by Luke Jermay – Three spectators think of three different things. The performer accurately reveals all three thoughts without any process whatsoever. In fact, the entire routine is propless from beginning to end, but it plays big enough for even the largest of theatres.

This has become an absolute classic in the world of mentalism, and for good reason. It is an anytime anywhere routine that can be done at the drop of a hat once you are armed with the knowledge. It looks as fair as fair can be, and it plays like the real deal. I have used this routine in my stage show before to great effect. It’s one of those routines that can be a lifesaver if your luggage gets lost, or if you get hired for closeup but get asked to do a stage set as well. Having routines like this in your belt ensures you are ready for whatever life may throw at you.

Blast from the Past by Spidey – A signed card magically rises to the top of the pack several times. Next, the card is placed on the face and rises visually. Then, the signature is “erased” from the selection magically. Finally, the entire deck is erased front and back, leaving only blank cards.

This routine was inspired by Paul Harris’s Solid Deception allowing an ambitious card routine to be performed “around” a blank deck without the audience being the wiser. The routine revolves around the idea of traveling back in time which pairs nicely with the vanishing of the signature and ultimately the vanishing of the ink off the cards. This could replace any “blizzard” routine in your arsenal. The structure of the routine is well executed cleaning itself up as it goes along.

About Face by Simon Aronson – Four Aces are set aside. The performer removes a random card without looking at it and keeps it in a prominent position face down on the table. A spectator selects any card, signs it, and loses it back in the deck. The four Aces are very cleanly displayed away from the deck. They are placed face down on top of the deck and are instantly spread to show one Ace has turned face up. This Ace matches the suit of the selected card. The Aces are left in a spread condition on the table with the Ace of the same suit reversed. The performer turns over the mystery card that he removed earlier. Everyone expects this to be the signed selected card. On turning the mystery card over, it is seen to be the Ace which matches the suit of their card. When the reversed card is removed from the spread of Aces, it is seen to now be the selected card.

This may read as complicated, but the routine has just the right number of twists to feel totally impossible. It uses a gaff which may not be easy to find, but it wouldn’t be too complicated to make yourself. This gaff does all of the work leaving you with practically no sleight of hand to perform during the trick itself. It is a beautiful example of how minimal work can still give you maximum effect.


Running Man by Tyler Wilson – This routine is performed for a couple. They each select a card. One person writes the first half of a sentence they always say to each other on the face of their selected card. Their card is placed facedown into a face-up half of the deck. The second person completes the sentence on the back of their selected card. It is placed face down into the other half of the face-up deck. The cards are squared, and when the first half is spread, the face-down card has vanished completely. When the other face-up half is spread, there are now two facedown cards side by side. They are the two selections. For the final kicker, the two cards are held between the couple’s hands where they morph into one card.

This is Tyler’s impromptu version of an anniversary waltz effect. The routine can be done at absolutely any point in your set because there is no get-ready and no need to ring in any gaffs. There are several moments in the routine that really sell the idea that the cards are completely separated. I have always felt that performing another trick with the two cards before fusing them is necessary to convince the spectators of the situation. This routine does a great job of that. It has a very fun and playful presentation with the couple finishing a sentence they often tell one another, and there are no complicated moves.

Butter Bill by Daniel Garcia – A normal straw penetrates a borrowed bill twice in an impossible manner.

This is Daniel’s impromptu take on Timothy Wenk’s Misled. Annoyingly, the photos are in the wrong order for this routine, but if you go in knowing that you will be able to make sense of it a little better. The routine takes some practice to get the moves looking natural, but with a little work, all of the secret moves are totally hidden and you end up with a very convincing straw through bill effect that can be done anytime anywhere. It’s the perfect bit of bar magic to pull out when out with friends or to break the ice with strangers. A straw penetrating a bill may not make as much sense logically as a pencil, but unless you work in a school, you will find straws “out in the wild” much more often than number 2 pencils.

242 2.0 by Joshua Jay – The performer openly removes and mixes ten cards. He plays two rounds of blackjack with the spectator. The spectator decides which cards to keep and which cards to give to the performer, yet the performer wins both rounds. The demonstration is repeated with a game of poker. Again, the spectator decides their hand and the performer’s hand, yet the performer wins. For the last phase, a third person is introduced, and five more cards are added. The two spectators each choose their own cards and the magician still wins with the leftovers.

This is Joshua’s three-phase extension of Richard Vollmer’s routine 242 which first appeared in Talk About Tricks in October 2006. Joshua added the first phase of blackjack and the last phase with the second spectator. These create bookends for the original routine taking what was once a quick poker deal into a full-fledged three-part routine. It is totally impromptu, and the three-phase nature has a nice build which makes it clear that it isn’t simple luck on your side. It feels fair throughout, and there’s only one move required of the whole routine. I think this is a perfect ten-card poker deal demonstration that everyone should know.


Intro-verted by John Guastaferro – An Ace, Two, Three, and Four are lost in the deck and then revealed in surprising ways. The Ace turns face up in the center of the pack. The entire deck turns face up except for the Two. The Three appears face down between the Ace and Two. And with a swipe of the first three cards, the Four materializes on a spectator’s palm.

This is a wonderful sequence that I’ve seen John use in multiple works of his. You can do it with four Aces, four selections, or any four cards you want. This isn’t pointed out in the text, but another benefit of this entire sequence is that you only see the backs of the four selected cards meaning at the end you can even cause the rest of the deck to change colors. It’s a great sequence that flows naturally and ends with the shocking appearance of a card on the spectator’s hand.

Harapan Ong on the Cull – This is an expert talk on a subtlety of the cull which allows you to use the Convincing Control to bring a card to the top of the deck rather than the bottom. During this process, you clearly show the selection isn’t on top or on the bottom, and during that display, you are actually controlling the card.

This won’t be something you won’t use as your go-to card control, but if you have a routine that depends on the spectator truly believing their card is in the middle of the deck, this display is very convincing and very hard to backtrack.

A Center Deal Demonstration by Denis Behr & Pit Hartling – The four Aces are placed face up at four widely separated positions in the deck. Dealing to five players, the performer deals each Ace to himself, from the center.

This is an extraordinary display of center dealing which doesn’t require center dealing. You will need a good second deal for the demonstration, but to all watching, it will appear the Aces are coming from four different parts of the deck. There are two different versions taught. One requires some quick memorization and the performer putting the aces into the deck. The other doesn’t require as much memorization and allows the spectator to put the aces in wherever they want. The downside of the second method is it requires a little bit more sleight of hand, but I prefer the second method to the first. It isn’t the easiest routine you’ll read, but it is an utterly convincing demonstration of center dealing.


Thunderstruck by Ken Niinuma – A selected card is kept from the pack while the magician thoroughly shuffles the remaining cards, face up into face down. When he spreads the cards, the magician reveals that now only the cards of the selected suit are face up, and all of them are in numerical order. In this way, he located all the cards except the selection. Taking things further, the magician proves that he did, indeed, locate all the other cards. Every card in the pack is in numerical order by suits.

This is Ken’s take on John Bannon’s Play it Straight Triumph with the added kicker of the rest of the deck being in numerical order. Ken has added some wonderful subtleties which really make it appear the deck is thoroughly shuffled face up and face down and in truly no particular order. Cleverly, he sets for the finale while appearing to mix the deck even further. It’s my favorite version of Play it Straight Triumph that I’ve seen, and I think it is a marvelous performance piece. Obviously, there is a full deck set up so it will have to be used as an opener, but I think it would be most effective if performed as a closer after a deck switch.

Prismatic by Ken Niinuma – Four blue-backed Jacks turn face down, one by one, and then all turn face up simultaneously. To conclude, the backs of all four cards change to different colors.

This is taught without any photos in about a page of text. You may overlook it, but when you try it with the cards in hand you feel why Josh felt this was worthy for publication. It’s a packet trick that doesn’t require any displacements and it instantly resets. Obviously, as most packet tricks, it will need to be carried separately from the rest of the deck, but the surprise kicker of the four different colored backs may be worth it.

Rolled Triumph by Hiviki ­– After a card is selected and lost in the pack, the magician mixes face-up cards into face-down cards. Instantly, he causes all the cards to right themselves except for one—but this card is revealed not to be the selected card. To rectify the situation, the magician changes the wrong card into the right card.

I have been performing Ben Earle’s Triumph from Past Midnight as my go-to routine for years and years now. It follows a similar plot line as this routine. The benefit to Ben’s is that it can be performed mostly in the hands. This version required a surface that you can do a nice ribbon spread on, but the benefit is that there is a natural retention of vision which makes it appear like the selected card never leaves their sight.


Coin on Call by Aljaz Son – The performer borrows a penny from a spectator and then photographs the spectator holding her penny. After changing the penny into a dime, the performer points out that the coin in the photo has also changed into a dime!

This trick caused a stir in the magic community when it first came out. It’s such a simple idea, but I think this was the first routine that used a camera phone in this way. This led to several other routines with a similar feel. There is a gimmick used and the gimmick literally does all the work for you. It causes the physical change and the digital change all by itself. I’ve always felt that magicians probably have a hard time viewing this routine objectively because of our knowledge of gimmicks. But for spectators, they can’t even begin to fathom how this could be possible because they have nowhere to even begin looking for an answer.

Sympathy for the Devil by Paul Vigil – A spectator chooses two packets of cards from a shuffled deck, and the packets are mixed separately, then isolated in two wine glasses. Amazingly, each corresponding card turns out to be a match: the first cards in each glass are red Aces, the second cards are black Nines, etc. All the cards in the glasses match. To conclude, one packet of cards is mixed further, then a spectator is asked to key the values, one by one, into her mobile phone. She pushes the button to connect the call, and the magician’s cell phone rings!

This is classic Paul Vigil magic at its finest. It is a self-working card trick that plays for a large audience. The visual of the packets of cards in the wine glasses looks beautiful and brings the trick off the table. The routine wouldn’t fool most magicians, but it uses two deceptive mixing procedures which (I can say from my own experience) consistently fool laymen.

Diplopia by Paul Vigil – A deck is borrowed and shuffled. The spectator and magician both think of a card. Both cards are free choices. The spectator is asked to read the magician’s mind and remove the card that the magician is concentrating on. The magician removes the card that he thinks the spectator is concentrating on. With apparently no questions asked, the magician manages to find the spectator’s card, and the spectator finds the magician’s card.

This is Paul’s extension of Paul Cummins’s routine Tap a Lack from the July 2005 issue of Talk About Tricks. I think Paul’s changes significantly improved the routine. I first purchased this routine from a site that only sold downloadable products. I don’t even remember the site now, but I remember when I read the method, I was blown away. I actually printed off the pdf and had it bound so that I would never lose it. That’s how much I liked it. I had to be 13 or 14 years old at the time, and although I found the method challenging, I performed it every chance I got. This frequent performing made me quicker and quicker at the required task. If you’re new to clocking a deck, this is the perfect routine to start and end with. The construction of the routine is about as perfect as you can get, and it is very difficult for people to backtrack. You’ll even fool magicians who aren’t familiar with the concept of clocking a deck.


Vitaly Shevtson on the Injog – This expert talk focuses on a very convincing card control which occurs as a selected card is tossed into a deck as it is dribbled on the table. It appears perfectly fair and any control of the card seems completely out of the realm of possibility.

This is truly a wonderful control with many applications. It will also fool you the first few times you do it. It doesn’t seem like it will work, but when you give it a try, you’ll be surprised to see just how easily you gain control over the card.

Pandora Transposition by Micah Johnson – Four Aces and four Jacks are shown, and the Jacks are placed inside the card case. As the box is tossed to the table, the Aces visually change into Jacks. The Aces are found in the case.

This short and sweet four-for-four transposition is very deceptive and visual. The visual change of the Aces into Jacks is unexpected and self-working. You’ll have fun performing this one.

Double Open Prediction by Jason Dean – The magician announces the name of a “target” card and then begins dealing cards into a face-up pile, allowing the spectator to stop him anywhere. The stopped-at card is placed face down on the face-up pile. Now the magician announces another target card and deals face up until stopped. As before, the stopped-at card is placed face down in an otherwise face-up deck. The reversed cards are shown to be perfect matches of the target cards.

This is an easy double open prediction effect with many fooling elements. It’s so easy it’s practically self-working, yet, I’m certain I would have been fooled by it if I had seen it in action. There are a couple of principles at play that make this very hard for laymen to backtrack. It’s a quick, punchy routine without any perceived moves. What’s not to like?


The Watchman by Pete McCabe – You take the Jack of Diamonds out of the deck, calling it the Watchman. Your spectator—let’s say his name is Alex—shuffles the deck, after which the Jack is inserted, face up, somewhere in the deck. With your back turned, Alex cuts the deck, looks at the card freely cut to, and loses it back into the deck. You remove the Jack and hold him to your ear. Jack names the chosen card—and announces where it is in the deck!

This has a classic of magic feel to it. There are two different methods that camouflage the workings so much that even magicians would struggle to keep up. I don’t love routines where cards “whisper” or “talk.” As I think personifying a card is a little condescending and just a strange thing to want to exhibit with cards. Luckily, you don’t have to stick to that presentational angle, and I’m sure you could come up with many better alternatives with a little thought. Whatever presentational angle you come up with, you have a structurally sound process you can slip it into with this.

Holey Grail by J.K. Hartman – The performer, saying he needs a prop, takes out an envelope and drops it on the table. He shuffles the deck and spreads it face up to show that it is well and randomly mixed. He squares it up and never touches it again. A spectator names a number from 1 to 52. The performer tells him to pick up the deck and count to that number. The card arrived at is set aside. The performer then picks up the envelope and removes the contents: a card from a different colored deck. The spectator turns it face up and it matches the card to which he counted.

This is Hartman’s take on The Grail by Alakazam. Hartman set out to come up with a method in which the performer didn’t need to touch the deck or remove it from the box, and in which the spectator displays and freely handles the prediction card. It takes a little mental calculation to perform this version, but this calculation is what allows you to quickly know everything you need to know about how the spectator should deal the cards without having to think about anything at all. I remember The Grail causing quite a stir when it first came out. I certainly think this method is an improvement.

Hitchcock by Joshua Jay – The performer begins by removing a card from the deck, and without divulging its identity, tearing it into four pieces. He places these pieces in full view on the table. Four spectators each select a card and then slip their card back into the pack anyplace they choose. The performer waves his hand over the deck and shows that, impossibly, each of the four selections has reversed itself in the pack. Then he reveals that each of the four pieces on the table has become part of one of the selected cards. To conclude, the reversed selections are removed from the pack to show that each one is now missing a corner, and the tabled pieces fit perfectly into each card. The pieces have become part of each selection.

This is a masterpiece from Joshua, and it is a wonderful way to end the entire Talk About Tricks column which is precisely what this does. The effect may read as complicated, but when you watch it, it just seems to be one impossibility after another. This was a standout from Joshua’s first Penguin Live lecture. Amazingly, all of the magic you read in the above description is almost entirely self-working thanks to the clever routining.

Wow, after many weeks of reading and writing, this concludes the review of the entire Talk About Tricks series. The book ends with a few extras, but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. One of the best things at the end of the second book is an in-depth index to help you quickly find any trick you may be looking for. Every trick in the series is listed by creator and by category which is amazing to see cataloged out. After the index is also a list of Joshua’s top ten effects from each year. If you get these books and don’t intend on reading them page-by-page in order as I did, and you just want to know where to start, these lists are a helpful place to turn.

As always, the quality of production is top-notch from Vanishing Inc. The only problem is they may steal the show on any bookshelf you put them on (or break the shelf entirely—these things are heavy!)

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