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danaruns
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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...
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
mlippo
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I guess I'm one of those who fell in love with the instrument

Mark
TeddyBoy
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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? Smile I kind of thought that mentalism was indeed quite popular, but you would certainly know better than me.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
WitchDocChris
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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.
Christopher
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funsway
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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 Café' 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?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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MGordonB
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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.

I’m 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.
Aus
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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.

I’m 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.


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.

Magically

Aus
Dick Oslund
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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!
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Kevin Janise
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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.

Kevin
TeddyBoy
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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!
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
Steve Malco
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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.
Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky, and a dog to eat the rare steak. -Johnny Carson
wulfiesmith
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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.
funsway
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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.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Ravenspur
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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.
mlippo
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All good points, Ravenspur!

Mark
Drylid
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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.
TomB
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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.
Bob G
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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.
Bob G
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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.
wulfiesmith
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I guess, at some time or another "everyone" is shown a card trick.
And that is their first intrigue into "Magic" ...
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