(Close Window)
Topic: Why just card magic?
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jun 14, 2019 08:54AM)
It seems that the vast majority of new magicians are card magicians. Why is that? Is it because cards are such a convenient prop? Or is there something about card magic that is more appealing to beginners than other kinds of magic?

There is a whole universe of magic out there. Strolling magic, stage magic, mentalism, illusions, etc. There are so many props, from coins and ropes, to parasols and billiard balls, to big box illusions and even the Statue of Liberty itself. So why, with all the magic in the world, are so many people fixated on playing cards?

Inquiring minds...
Message: Posted by: mlippo (Jun 14, 2019 09:13AM)
I guess I'm one of those who fell in love with the instrument

Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Jun 14, 2019 09:31AM)
Great question. In my opinion, part of the answer may be that books for beginning cardicians are very seductive because they initially lure you in with relatively easy self-working effects. Thus, you get hooked way before the knuckle-breaking really starts. In contrast, I spent one entire day trying to initiate myself to coin magic and could not do a *** thing so I gave up immediately. Later on I read a post from someone here mirroring my perception - that cards are easy to begin but become very difficult, whereas coin work starts out very demanding but gets easier.

The spread of card magic on Youtube may also contribute to its popularity.

I cannot say anything about other forms of magic, but I would think that it is difficult to spontaneously produce cups and balls from your pocket! But, what do I know? :stuckinbag: I kind of thought that mentalism was indeed quite popular, but you would certainly know better than me.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jun 14, 2019 11:50AM)
I think it's multiple factors. Ease of getting cards is probably a big part - they're cheap and there's a lot you can do with them. As TeddyBoy pointed out, there's a nice long beginner's path for the card magician whereas other props require more up front investment.

For me, when I first started magic I focused on cards for a couple years. As a kid I used to play with cards all the time - just shuffling, cutting, dealing, and putting them back in order. No tricks, just physically manipulating the cards was enjoyable to me. I also just enjoy the fine motor skill aspect of it.

And there is a LOT you can do with a deck, physically. Cardistry is obviously a direct result of that kind of obsession.

I also do think there's a certain degree of self-propagation too. As Teddy said, lots of videos showing card magic. David Blaine built his career pretty much on card magic. There's many charismatic folks who focus on card magic and those folks attract followers who do the same.

The other side of it is that many other forms of magic are seen as hokey by those who have never seen it done well. It's a way to seem 'edgy' to eschew the classics.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jun 15, 2019 08:23AM)
I have always been a student of why people enjoy or are intrigued by magic as much as performing and creating new effects.
Over the last 60 years as a magician I have noted many changes in both the expectations/appreciation of a general audience with regards to "inexplicable phenomena,"
and the willingness of students of magic to put in the work required to orchestrate a memorable magic experience.

Card trick are just that - tricks that pose little threat to the inattentive observer or demand much audience engagement or knowledge of psychology.
Plus, as Witchy said,"that many other forms of magic are seen as hokey by those who have never seen it done well," and that many have never seen live performances.

Doing tricks is easy is easy. Demonstrating superior skill can be ego satisfying. Playing "gotcha games" can be rewarding. Doing magic is much harder.

Yes, some observers will find magic in what they see anyway. Yes, those starting with card tricks might move on to other venues and challenges.

The question is what one is attempting to achieve in balance with the expectations of a fractious audience?

It is sad for me that many now consider card tricks to be magic. (opinion). I enjoy watching these skills and packet tricks. Not magic, but fun.
Great that America's Got Talent is won by magicians, but now many will think that card tricks are good magic.


Another answer to the OP is "where does the card trick enthused learner get inspired to "move on?" Not YouTube with hype and exposure.
Not the Cafť' with trolls and posturing and an elitist view (guilty). The "Food for Thought" forum has been killed.
The Sales forums might convince the student the key to magic is "buy rather than learn" and "I looked and it isn't for me" bias.

Note the huge shift of forums to card focus and the ads selling new deck of cards. A chicken and egg problem?
Message: Posted by: MGordonB (Jun 15, 2019 07:23PM)
I think the ubiquitous nature of playing cards provides some of the answers. For the non-working hobbyist, cards are one of the few universal props that can be found in almost every home that provides ready opportunity to do magic.

Iím at a friends cottage this weekend and after a few rounds of card games I was asked to show them a few tricks which I was able to do.
Message: Posted by: Aus (Jun 16, 2019 04:20AM)
[quote]On Jun 15, 2019, MGordonB wrote:
I think the ubiquitous nature of playing cards provides some of the answers. For the non-working hobbyist, cards are one of the few universal props that can be found in almost every home that provides ready opportunity to do magic.

Iím at a friends cottage this weekend and after a few rounds of card games, I was asked to show them a few tricks which I was able to do. [/quote]

I agree with you MGordonB. Card tricks offer a low level of entry, versatility with a widely available prop, and is cheaply available. It's a recipe for mass consumption. When I started magic way back in the early days I started out with Bob longes books with titles like 101 amazing card tricks, Worlds Best cards tricks etc and all of them cost around ten bucks a book and offered a diverse range of card tricks for the beginner for very little money.

I think that's a characteristic of card magic as a whole, and where there is proliferation you will find innervation which is why card magic is such a dominant branch of magic.


Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 16, 2019 01:09PM)
When I was 13, a classmate loaned me a copy of ERDNASE, I studied it, learned all the fancy shuffles, and flourishes, but decided there was no future as a teenage gambler.

Besides, I always got lost in the middle of the "21" card trick.

I've managed to make a living with magic, but my only card tricks are/were Tommy Tucker's 6 card repeat, George McAthy's insurance policy, and Clayton Rawson's egg beater gag. I now only use them occasionally.

Otherwise, I use generic props like silks, golf balls, some coins and a tin can. rope, ETC.

I've known many if not most of the world class cardicians like Vernon, Miller, Jay, Racherbaumer, Marlo, Thompson, ETC. I enjoy watching them work, but I don't do that high class stuff!
Message: Posted by: Kevin Janise (Jun 18, 2019 11:29AM)
Basically there is something for everyone.

Like others have said cards are inexpensive, readily available, and don't take up much room.

The other reason is that there is a large large range of skill levels card tricks apply to. They range from self-working tricks beginners can do with a few minutes practice (not recommended but you can) to knuckle busters which only a few people in the world can do. Beginners can do effective tricks with a little practice using self-working tricks while building their confidence and working on more advanced skills. You could start with a self-worker and as your skills improve throw in a false shuffle or cut and have a really deceptive effect.

Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Jun 20, 2019 05:00PM)
Good question Dana. I was also wondering why there are not more female practitioners of the magical arts? Let's get things normalized a bit. I hope that if your act should ever include sawing someone in half, you will have a male assistant!
Message: Posted by: Steve Malco (Jun 20, 2019 07:12PM)
A lot of good explanations so far, the only observation that I can add is that I got into card magic because a card trick was the very first thing magic related that I was shown in person as a twelve year old by my grandmother. After she taught it to me I started doing it for others, enjoyed the reactions and went out and bought card magic books to learn more.

I can only assume if she had shown me a coin trick then I may have had an affinity for coin magic and that would have become my main area of focus.

That seems to be more or less the origins for most magicians from what I have experienced over the years.
Message: Posted by: wulfiesmith (Jul 2, 2019 04:51PM)
I hear what you are saying ...
Perhaps it is because a deck of cards can be considered to be a common everyday tactile and impromptu object?
Consequently most people would not give much attention to the handling, and possible subterfuge.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jul 3, 2019 05:42AM)
[quote]On Jul 2, 2019, wulfiesmith wrote:

Perhaps it is because a deck of cards can be considered to be a common everyday tactile and impromptu object?

Possibly true, though "a deck of cards in every family room" is less likely today than decades ago.

but -- (always that) to pull out a packet of cards with strange backs never seen by most folks may not produce the casual acceptance you refer to. (opinion)

I agree that when can pick up a deck of cards from a dinner host's table, or at you weekly poker gathering, can allow for impromptu miracles.

Yet, any introduction of a deck or a few cards in a different setting might cause more suspicion that acceptance.
Message: Posted by: Ravenspur (Jul 3, 2019 09:45AM)
I'm new enough to magic that I would be extremely embarrassed if anyone called me a magician.

I'm not that interested in cards, but I started working with them because

1) Cards are an important part of magic in general
2) There are many card effects that have a low skill threshold
3) Cardistry and tricks are easy to practice without an audience.
4) There are also videos available for the basics.
5) Working with cards isn't expensive, at least to start

The first magic book I bought was Mark Wilson's. It starts with.... cards.
Message: Posted by: mlippo (Jul 3, 2019 01:48PM)
All good points, Ravenspur!

Message: Posted by: Drylid (Jul 27, 2019 05:37PM)
I think its because cards are one of the universal symbols of magic. Look at your profile pic lol, holding cards ^_^. Also there's something about cards that is just magical. I prefer close up card magic above all else to be honest. Not packet tricks, not having to sit down tricks, but in your hand or in your face card effects. I'll do ropes and coins and other effects, but most of them have been around forever and aren't anything really new in presentation. Plus how many people these days are handling rope daily? Therese just something about cards that puts spectators at ease. They never see good card effects coming. stage bores me due too *puts on full suit of armor* it being mostly optical illusions and choreography. You cant buy skill at sleight of hand, but you can buy zig zag box, escapology devices, etc. Not saying all stage shows are like that, but the more recent ones like the Illusionists are dropping props from the shows and relying on stage presence and effects that play to a larger crowd using regular props. Growing up an #internetmagician, it was always NEW CARD TRICK THIS AND NEW CARD TRICK THAT that pulled attention. Plus trying to do a rope routine in the classroom while the teachers back is turned would be a real magic trick vs doing a quick card trick. This post isn't do put down, critique, make angry or get ranted at, its just to contribute to the topic being discussed in a respectful manner and provide my point of view which is the only one I have due to our current level of evolution. Anyone who's doing anything is at least putting in the effort. That's half the battle right there, the rest is getting good at it.
Message: Posted by: TomB (Jul 27, 2019 07:12PM)
1) Decks fit in your pocket. Easy to bring around.
2) They are cheap. Very little cost to start.
3) Easy to find the secrets. Plethora of books and videos.
4) Readily available. Almost every house, or store has them.
5) Late night TV shows have top magicians reinforcing that this is what magicians do. The camera can zoom in, making the TV audience feel like they are right there.
6) The tricks can really fool the average layperson. It has a good reaction.
7) Different levels of mastery. Everyone is welcome to the club.

I personally cannot even riffle shuffle a deck of cards. I almost exclusively do the overhand shuffle because of a lack of card skills. I have always been a huge fan of stage magic. But they are heavy and costly and have no place to store it. As a result, my childhood dream of being a magician was destroyed before it even started. Alas, my new focus is trying to update old magic with current technology. If I cannot be a magic performer, I can at least be a magic inventor.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Jul 29, 2019 10:53PM)
Interesting question, Dana, and a lot of good answers. But I'm not sure whether the answers apply to me. I'm trying to remember back to three years ago when I got serious about magic, and I was *so* excited about the ball and vase. I'd had one in a magic kit as a kid (who hadn't?), and I think the Arabian Nights aura of the vase has carried over into my adulthood.

Nevertheless, I haven't learned any of the great ball and vase routines that are out there, though I still want to. Part of what happened was that I discovered Roberto Giobbi. The clarity of his writing and organization is hard to beat when you're a detail-oriented person as I am.

I still want to learn ball and vase, Matrix, thimbles, sponge balls, linking rings, maybe silks.... But time is limited. I feel that I have to get to a certain level with cards before I start on those other things. I don't know exactly what that level is, but I think I'll know it when I get there. I'm really excited by a couple of dozen tricks that are too hard for me now, but which I think are not beyond my reach eventually. Maybe once I've learned them I'll be ready for other kinds of magic.

And a confession: I'm really scared of the False Transfer, which seems to come up in many kinds of magic. There are so many variations that I don't know which one to try to learn. And I don't really know how to practice it. And the whole art of making it happen, in context, without anyone knowing you've done anything seems very intimidating -- but also glamorous. So I guess that's also keeping me from branching out, too.

So what do you think, Dana? You've heard a lot of ideas, and I'd be curious to hear your own thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Jul 29, 2019 11:04PM)
P. S. to Funsway: Your remarks are thoughtful as usual. Just one point where I disagree with you. I think card tricks *can* be magical. Sometimes when I watch videos of really good performers I'm absolutely floored; it really does feel magical to me. I'm learning a simple version of Dr. Daley's Last Trick, and I fool myself sometimes! I have yet to learn the small packet DL well enough to perform the trick; when I do, it will be interesting to see whether family and friends find it magical or just a puzzle.

And here's another view that I hold, one that may or may not contradict what I just said: What's *really* magical is Life. The play of sunlight through trees and then a window -- the kind of silent music that the light and shadows make; lunar eclipses; the very fact that the sun and moon happen to be positioned so that their sizes are the same as seen from earth, thus making eclipses possible... All the miracles of everyday life that we tend to forget in our hurry to get things done.
Message: Posted by: wulfiesmith (Aug 6, 2019 12:46PM)
I guess, at some time or another "everyone" is shown a card trick.
And that is their first intrigue into "Magic" ...
Message: Posted by: HeronsHorse (Aug 6, 2019 07:30PM)
Maybe I'm a bit boring or the exception but I just really loved card tricks whenever I saw any and so I couldn't wait to learn some and hopefully give others that same reward.
Yes, I could go into how accessible cards are, how tactile and creative they can be, the history behind them that makes them oh so attractive but, whilst I have an investment in each of those statements I would be more honest to simply state how much card tricks always amazed and bewildered me. When I decided to dip my toe in to magic it was a pack of card that I bought. I didn't think outside of cards at first. (Yes I know, that really is verging on blasphemy!)
I now realise the error of my ways and with the help of Dick Oslund and some old books I have a love for silks, rope and balls...sponge and the cupped variety! Oh and marbles...not many people do marble magic hmmm?
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Aug 6, 2019 07:52PM)
I'm with you Heron'sHorse. Cards are just cool! I've never heard of magic with marbles, though I don't see why one couldn't do magic with them. Can put put me onto some marble magic?

As I think further about it, two of my favorite things in life and mystery and color -- and magic, including card magic, has plenty of both.

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Aug 6, 2019 07:57PM)
P. S. Ian Kendall, in his wonderful book Basic Training, introduces his first chapter on coin magic by saying something like, If you're interested in doing magic with less than 52 props...

I think that's part of what's so tantalizing about cards: *fifty-two props*! And they all fit neatly in a pocket.
Message: Posted by: HeronsHorse (Aug 7, 2019 04:16AM)
[quote]On Aug 7, 2019, Bob G wrote:
I've never heard of magic with marbles, though I don't see why one couldn't do magic with them. Can you put me onto some marble magic?

Bob [/quote]

I did have a certain marble magic trick in mind when I wrote that actually! I've even bought sone lovely -plastic unfortunately but they will be well used at least!- coloured marbles especially for this book I got by Lewis Ganson. A Magician Explains! A small booklet, didn't cost much, was among the very first things I ever bought for magic and didn't have much to spend at all. It has this fine marble trick, see:

This is what it says about it, the words that sold it to me when I read the back cover!...
"CHARLES HarrisON. Member of the Inner Magic Circle, London. A fine performer who is a master at devising magic dependent upon subtle ideas and misdirection. His "Marvellous Marbles" is one of the finest close-up routines it has been Lewis Ganson's privilege to witness."

You can buy the digital book at lybrary ( https://www.lybrary.com/a-magician-explains-p-384187.html ) and it is also around if you want the booklet but its around thirty dollars. I got mine for a fiver from Taurus magic! The ebook will do.
Great marbles are these: Quercetti 2530 box of 100 Colored Marbles (thats a perfect size)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00TWFXCEA or replace the .com for .co.uk if in uk.!

Go do some marble magic Bob!
Message: Posted by: funsway (Aug 7, 2019 07:21AM)
[quote]On Jul 29, 2019, Bob G wrote:

I think card tricks *can* be magical. Sometimes when I watch videos of really good performers I'm absolutely floored; it really does feel magical to me.

I agree that it is possible to perform an effect with cards that will leave the impression, "must be magic?" Most don't or even come close.

Just me and a distinction that I feel important. Being thought "magical" is not the same as a final conclusion of "must be magic."
Many things in life are magical such as the ones you have shared, but you did not conclude that "magic" was the only possible causality --
you do know the causality, so, despite your emotional reaction, the events are not magic.

It may be enough today for a performer to garnish a reaction of "magical." I suggest that more is possible - "a finer magic!"
In attempting that I would never use playing cards. The moment the observer thinks "trick" the possibility is dead.

Yes, please study and master some tricks using cards and even master some skills useable with other platen props.
In a classroom they may be valuable BECAUSE everyone knows they are tricks.
You might discover that live performance is different than watching videos too.

but, also be open to "above and beyond." Marbles can work better than cards ever will.

Just opinions, of course. My life experiences are different from most magicians.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Aug 7, 2019 11:34AM)
Thanks for all the info, Heron's Horse. A question for you: what makes marbles special, different from other balls, in magic?

Ken, I'm beginning to think that the word "magical" is overused and is too fuzzy to be meaningful. Any sane person *knows* that what a magician does is "just tricks," regardless of the props. Yet somehow a good performer is able to give us a sense of wonder, to move us, even though we know that what we're seeing is illusory.

I vividly remember seeing Blackstone, Jr. perform when I was in my twenties. The trick that has stayed with me was the floating lightbulb. The theater went dark, and he walked out into the aisle. All we could see was a floating lightbulb and Blackstone's face and dark clothing. He ran a ring around the bulb in so many orientations that it seemed impossible that any thread or other object was holding the bulb in place. My senses told me that the bulb was truly floating. My mind told me that of course that was impossible, but I didn't care. Looking back, I think the trick liberated me, for a few minutes, from the laws of physics (among them Newton's Fourth Law of Motion: if you lose your footing, you'll fall -- *downward* :) -- and skin your knee). The darkness was probably part of the method -- but it was also atmospheric. Paradoxically, perhaps, the trick wouldn't have been nearly as good if the lights had been on.

I imagine it's impossible to define "magic" as done by magicians, but let's try this: magic is the act of *seeming* to violate physical law. Of course, it's always possible that someday our understanding of physics will take yet another step forward in some way that truly allows us to make things float without any means of support, not even a spout of upward-rushing air. But that won't be magic, it will be physics and engineering. And yet -- for those who are alive when the breakthrough takes place -- it will be transcendent and wondrous.

Message: Posted by: bluejay17! (Aug 8, 2019 09:30AM)
It's a cycle. Someone shows someone a card trick, they learn card tricks, they show someone a card trick. Paradox much?
Message: Posted by: Laughing (Aug 8, 2019 02:25PM)
I can only speak from my perspective. I started learning magic about 2 and a half years ago. Possibly because of the accessibility of cards I started with card magic. I love coin routines and I can do some basic sleights, however, the amount of time I spend trying to perfect the basic card sleights, DL, DU, DPS etc I just don't have time to do the work to perform even half decent coin stuff.

To be clear I don't buy tricks (I do have level 1) but I invest in books mostly. For me it is just I want to get a decent mastery of cards before moving on to coins.

I have on the odd occasions made a pool ball disappear, or a credit card and I love making a straw or stirrer vanish, however these are all pretty basic sleights.
Message: Posted by: Bambulko (Aug 8, 2019 03:00PM)
Most points have been made already. Cards are everywhere, so anyone can start doing card tricks. But one huge advantage of card tricks are the endless possibilities. You can show a different card trick to your friends every week for years, because there are so many different ones. And all you need is a single deck of cards. Yes, at sine point stuff will repeat itself. But you still have many more options compared to any other method. Also there are very easy tricks that leaves the audience speechless.