The Magic Café
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » How to (re)start climbing the mountain of the Art? (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

View Profile
New user
34 Posts

Profile of Déclic
I wanted to come back here to ask some advice as I remembered that I had good ones from you kind fellows back then.

I have been taking my first course like 6 or 7 years ago, at 32. I had been interested since childhood, and learned my first trick with a small magic box.
Still I was disappointed by the need of using gaffes and automatic tricks, tried without success to find how to do sleights of hand on my own for several months without success (no internet in that time. Still I am baffled that I never came with some manipulation trick. Wonder how the creators of our art stepped upon these? That's another whole topic)
and lost the spark.
When I met my professor, so like 20 years later, I had much interest and got like twenty courses in card magic, learning the basic tricks.
At first I felt great, then when my first fails happened, I was disappointed; when I failed a trick, forgot my material, or was met with lack of enthusiasm, or audience seeing through the tricks even when performed correctly (at least, with no technical error).
The fact that I had to manage professional life beside made me leave the Art again.

But it feels unfinished and unsatisfying and I am still burning inside about being great and making people dream with my magic, and enjoy this.

Still, I don't know where to begin (again).
I like card magic but I feel like coin magic (and finger rings/balls/pens and common object magic) and mentalism maybe would be "easier" to work with.
I can spare like 1 or 2 hours each day, but not always in a completely private environment, so maybe these are better to be working.
Also, I had quite a handful of references (Royal Road, Card College, Harry Lorrayne's Magic Book, Bobo's Modern Coin Magic and Roth's expert coin magic, Corinda's, Derren Brown trick of the mind) and had bought or can be lent most of these.
But I feel overwhelmed. I know that I can learn, and have results. But Card College, while probably the most comprehensive, is like climbing the Everest.
Indeed I like magic and it is a pleasure. But that's more than one thousand pages.
I understand and agree that magic should not be easy, and while my teacher provided essentials in card magic like handles, counts, force, breaks and a few other one, and I felt a little lacking in knowledge in these and other kind of tricks, here it is the complete opposite, even thought M. Giobbi's ability to teach is indeed paramount.

So I thought maybe books might not be good for me. I looked into Masterclasses/Videos by R. Giobbi, Aaron Fisher or 52kards, which felt both comprehensive but maybe more engaging, but still don't know what I should take (if I should prefer this to books), or even if I should begin by cards.
I think with work I can go around my problem memorizing tricks, but I need to feel that I am not impaired by my way of learning and that I am really going somewhere.

Would you have some insight about these?
Thanks for your help.
Harry Lorayne
View Profile
New York City
8471 Posts

Profile of Harry Lorayne
Definitely stay away from my THE MAGIC BOOK, or ANY of my books!!!
Mr. Woolery
View Profile
Inner circle
Fairbanks, AK
1944 Posts

Profile of Mr. Woolery
I'm not going to argue with Harry, but I will say a lot of people do seem to like his books.

I know there are folks who will tell you to stay away from videos and only work from books. And there are folks who really don't want to work with books and do fine with videos.

I think the real danger with a book is that it isn't too hard to miss some subtle nuance of how to do a move or trick right and end up with (for example) a false transfer that doesn't look convincing. It was watching videos of people doing them right, particularly one by Jay Sankey in which he noted a little thought about simulating the weight of the item (big coin) being apparently put into the hand, that got me able to do a halfway decent one.

The danger with videos is that it is so easy to copy a presentation because you like the way (for example) Bill Malone does a trick. You end up with a schizophrenic performance that looks like 3 different people and none of them is you. I think I learn better from someone whose presentations I would not want to copy. So, I like Michael Close but I would not like trying to imitate him. Not at all. However, his teaching is pretty darned good, so he's a great example for me to learn from because I naturally would try to present it in my own voice. Bob Cassidy, I love his performing and would fight to not fall into imitation. That's a potential issue for me and probably for others.

As to specific advice, I'm purely a hobby magician. Anything I say is going to be from that point of view. If you want to earn money with magic, please ignore every word I type. But here are a few thoughts for someone else who wants to pursue this as a hobby.

I suggest you have three tricks that form your go-to repertoire:

Pick one special personal trick. One. A trick that really inspires you. For me, it is the 3 Ball Trick. This is the one I will carry with me when traveling. It is the one that I try to come up with variations or improvements. So far, anything new I do with it is actually something that has already been done or else turns out to be a step backward, but it is worth playing around with. I do essentially the David Roth routine, but I drop the balls into my hat instead of a net. Being bald, I wear a hat pretty often, so it is fairly organic for me. I have played with this one trick in several variations for years. I've bought at least 4 DVDs just to see a different performer's take on the same trick. If there's one trick that keeps me in magic, it is the 3 Ball Trick.

Learn one trick that you can entertain with. A different one from the special personal trick. Card through Handkerchief is mine. I don't truly love this trick, but I like it and I think I do it pretty well. Practice this one for presentation. Look for something that gives you scope for being silly or dramatic. In my case, the handkerchief has a personality, so I can be the straight man and this essentially turns into a puppet routine.

Finally, learn one trick that you can do any time, any place, as long as you have the props you need (a deck of cards is a prop, for this explanation). And here's the kicker: make it something you can carry all the time without it seeming silly. I have a large bead on a cord that I wear like a necklace. I adapted a ring and string routine for the large bead. Since I am a glass worker in another part of my hobby life, this isn't odd for me to wear in casual life. It might be very odd for anyone else, so find something for you. If it is color changing knives, you can always have a pocket knife and that's fine. If it is the endless chain, you can wear it doubled around your neck as a necklace. A coin trick, if you normally carry coins. But pick one routine you can get into quickly and fairly easily.

Now, with those 3 tricks, you have a basic repertoire. Don't neglect them. Remember that they are your core go-to tricks.

Once you have 3 tricks, learn anything else that amuses or entertains you. Pick up a book or DVD and watch it for tricks. Get an online lecture video and see what you like there. Watch YouTube for tricks. Whatever. (I'm not a big fan of the YT approach, mostly because putting the tricks out there like that exposes some really good ones that I wish were kept more exclusive. However, knowing which tricks are popular there means you can look for stuff that isn't there, if that's your thing.) BUT! Pick the tricks you like. Not the ones you think you should learn in order to be a better magician. Pick tricks you enjoy and learn them for the fun of it. I love watching good card magic, but I don't really enjoy doing most of it. So, I only have a couple of card tricks at all and one of them is part of my core three. I just don't have fun with cards, most of the time. I do have fun with rope, with balls, and with a pendulum.

For me, a lot of this came about from a visit from an out of town friend years ago. I was just practicing a basic overhand shuffle while controlling the top card. She saw me playing with cards and said "I love magic, can you show me a trick?" I immediately forgot every trick I'd tried to learn. As in, I literally could not recall a single one. Now, if I get asked that same question, I can grab a handkerchief and go to my fallback card trick. If asked for another, I can take off my necklace and do that one. Back then, I pulled it off by deflecting into fortune telling with cards, which was more than a trick to her.

I hope that's some food for thought, at least.

View Profile
New user
78 Posts

Profile of Drylid
First thing I'd suggest before thinking about targeting in on what type of magic to do, is who you want to be as a magician. There is a post somewhere on the forum about personas that talks about who you want to come off as while performing.

Me personally, I'll always be a card guy, but I do not do skill demonstrations. By that I mean I don't do gambling style demos or parlor cards, I prefer walk around card effects that all rely on sleight of hand but come off as mystical, like ambitions cards, card to impossible location, transpositions, etc. You will never see me do any 4 ace tricks period. I hate them with a passion and they don't ever get the reaction that I go for. It isn't that they are poor tricks when performed by people who enjoy them, but they don't fit MY persona as a magician. I will also never do any prop tricks as they remind me of children's party and do not fit in on my day to day performances with adults. *Please do not confuse this with using gimmicks* Im talking sword through neck style props -_-

Also, due to my hyperhidrosis, doing any coin effects other than very basic ones is impossible. On a good day I can do maybe two really strong coin effects, but anything that relies on me constantly doing palms is a never ending struggle.

Honestly, just sit down and picture you doing a show, what do you see yourself doing? Are you surrounded on all sides by the local townsfolk? Are you wearing a snap back hat, heavily tattooed, and wearing basketball shorts and a tank top? Id suggest looking into street style effects. Are you on a stage with smoke, fog and dark eyeliner? Go for mentalism Smile lol. Is loud music playing as you move around on stage in 80s leotards? Look into stage effects. I am kidding and being humorous in my descriptions of course but you get the drift.

Start with a LASER FOCUS, don't let all of the things out there distract you from getting good. You mentioned quite a few card books, so I question you, how much do you know from Royal Road? How much from Card college? Can you DPS?

We all get busted, its how you deal with it that really makes you a magician. Say , " hey thanks for the feedback, its something new I'm working on and I cant see from the angle you are at on my own." Usually at that point the person who busted you feels like they helped out, which is playing to their ego, and since they saw it, have em watch you as you do it again and get some honest feedback.

As for lack of enthusiasm, don't let that drag you down either. Keep working at your craft. Remember, you don't get into magic, magic gets into you.
View Profile
Loyal user
220 Posts

Profile of TomB
Mentalism is much easier and has a pretty solid reaction. Who can actually read minds, right? Am I reading your mind now? Are you feeling thirsty?

If you can perform the ambititios card routine, I would just stick to it and practice it. If that is a bit messy for you, then I would probably move on from card magic unless you really, really want to do it. Then, just practice it like crazy.

There are a number of self working tricks. These naturally require less skill. You should build up some confidence first. There is nothing wrong with having someone pick a card, any card, have them put it back in and have it shuffled 3 times with a cut. And then you know the card or even have it rise out of the deck. And all you did was have a deck that was full of the same card. You can even repeat it a few times and have a groundhogs day speech going. I would not do it as an opener. The key would be to show them a different deck and let them think you have a normal deck. Then switch it out later.

Magic is all about deception of the senses. Some of the best tricks are the simplest and cheapest.

To have a card appear in a lemon is fairly cheap trick. How much does a lemon cost and one card that they wrote their name on?

Finding the right audience is an art too. Who are you asking to do magic for? How are you finding these people? What demographic are you targeting?

You can always post videos here and ask for critiques too. Remember, magic should not be performed to public until it is mastered at home first.
View Profile
New user
78 Posts

Profile of Drylid
I agree with TomB on all but one thing. Get COMFORTABLE at home. Practice many hours at home. But you cant master at home as there are too many variables while performing for people. Light, peoples angles, your audiences intelligence all play into actually mastering an effect. Do not fret about being caught. By no means do I cindone being lazy in practice. But nothing is more important than being nervous and performing in front of people. After a few times, you'll be getting thag inflated magician ego hah
View Profile
New user
63 Posts

Profile of Laughing
On the subject of showing a trick before mastering it. I guess if you are in a bar and show some folks a magic trick, their expectations are fairly low, take some risks, get caught and get comfortable getting caught. If I get caught I often just palm the card into my pocket and tell em they couldn't have had the card they claim as it was in my pocket all the time. Drylid is right, performing for an audience is completely different from practicing at home.

There is a sticky in this section about sleights to master and in what order. A force, a control and a double lift gives you ammunition to create all kinds of illusions. Limiting yourself to a handful of sleights will make you feel less overwhelmed.

Best of luck
View Profile
New user
34 Posts

Profile of Déclic
Thanks for all of your advices. To tell a bit more where I stand in knowledge or character:

As for techniques; as far as I remember (I don't have my magic lessons notes at hand, so I had to recollect these memories from playing with my deck and trying to go through my old courses), I was exposed to these concepts and techniques:

Basic Deal/Biddle (not magic but fundamentals)
Slide glide
Top and bottom breaks and associated cuts to send the card at the bottom or top of the deck (sorry I'm missing the translation here, upper, under cuts?)
Double lift/turnover (I was just introduced with the concept, not a peculiar technique/author, so I then tried a variety of techniques to find the one natural with me but would not know to whom attribute the ones I can practice correctly)
Use of glimpse
Amman count
Faro shuffle but not the associated Elmsley control
Overhand shuffle and associated force (don't know if for you that includes the force or is the basic shuffle that you can add the trick in?)
I knew a trick with a stock aimed another with culling on a broken card
Know a few principles of misdirection (make a big move to hide a small one, taking pauses, letting people believe I will perform an effect and ending with another, or that I made a mistake, being a step ahead by concealing moves, making useless moves to lose them...)
Charlier cut

I can pinky/thumb count a little (tried it by myself but lacked courses on it so maybe I miss important things)
No flourishes, changes, controls, switches (no DPS), steals, tilts, reverses, palms (I tried to learn Tenkai's by myself when not studying my lessons, but could not fit it to my hand geometry), sandwich or lapping techniques (knew or found the terms in Card College tomes index).
I heard about the saying about a palm/ control/ pass but I guess my teaching was incomplete there...

As for routines,
I learned
-"elevator cards" (from Bernard Billis I guess, here:
-another one using two slide glides (where you show the top and bottom cards, drawing them and losing them in the deck, then using a pinch move, retain them in your hand -while throwing the other cards in your other hand. Literal translation from French is "Top Bottom", but I guess that won't help. It was nice but did not feel magical to me, more "tricky").
-The one using a stack (3's and Kings) and multiple cuts, and making the audience believe you try to trick them about Aces being Three and revealing King's in the end. Again, maybe nice to know for the principles but not too pleasing)
-An effect with the Overhand shuffle (but it is pretty long, I will come back with the name when I found out, I enjoyed it: this one hold the same name but not sure it is performed the same:
-A few more more routines (biddle trick:, nice; a trick revolving about the "lost and found" principle using Amman's count and Overhand shuffle, "basic effect" but nice; and a pair of others I can't remember as a whole and lost my notes about these. They were really amazing but I could never master these well (problem being that it would probably be tricks I would select as part of my go-to selected tricks).

As for coin magic I tried to learn by myself with first chapters of Bobo's opus, but I could not figure out some description and did not get the feeling I was smooth. So I am not sure about my French pass and so on.

Regarding my persona/character:
I read careful these:

I was exposed to the idea of having a character or "mask" by my teacher. He told me it allowed himself not being impressed etc.
Actually, I could not find the need of "being different", cause I had been an introvert in my teen years and had a hard time in my young adult years to push the envelope and go out of my shell. Now I am pretty calm but easily communicative and extrovert, and I am quite open about what I am doing.
If my "mask" could grant me more skills, I would happily embrace it, but as for my magician persona, I don't know. I don't intend to disguise myself or wear different clothes, I don't want it to be a performance, maybe it's more "casual", while I like the "special moment" idea more than the "show" one.
I guess I would want to convey what my personality is: humorous, tongue in cheek and playful, sarcastic, a little dark, cocky or absurd (Monty Pythons' style) for laugh, versatile, nonchalant and careless at times, very in control and focus at other, quite logical but also liking and knowledgeable in symbols (and pop culture references, from the 50's to our days), poetry, literature, science and arts (and liking to share it more than it is reasonable). I like elegance and sophisticated things. As for performances I am impressed with and always like the style, I think that such performance from Rene Lavand (, Dai Vernon (, Yves Carbonnier (, I like the punchy effects while he is calm and has collected manners), or Eric Chien lately would got me over any Copperfield, Blaine, Shin Lim (, he is incredibly good but a little too flashy and over the top I guess, that spoils the "miracles" for me) or in more comedic style Tamariz ( or Billis above (I like Billis/Tamariz effects and cardistry, they are funny and down to earth, but that's not what I would want to perform). In an "intermediate style" that I appreciate and could want to emulate, I think that Roberto Giobbi (, more punchy still stylish) or Ana Deguzmann ( are very nice.
I don't intend to make a living of it. Now I just want to make beautiful things for my son and people I love and enjoy. Magic is something I like to share like the beauties of art, nature, science, like a good laugh or cunning thought. I like to perform as a special moment, as a gift, or for people special for me to enjoy. I always wanted to build an effect around an Alexandrine. I don't want to look "mystical" and make them believe to something.

One exercise in my previous course was to make a patter over an effect (the one with the overhand shuffle). I came with a story about Cards history and symbolics (from the mundane ones to pretty esoteric ones), and I was pretty proud of it.
I happened to perform for friends in parties context, for families too, for friends in nightclubs, or for strangers in bars and nightlife venues. A woman in a nightclub (I had a good talk with her and had to go, but wanted to leave her something special as we would not meet again) told me that I manipulated the deck like a magician well before I had performed my trick and that I "created magic more than doing it", in her own words. A few people told me I had a strong persona when handling the cards that stuck out.
I don't know if it is good, actually, my teacher always told me to be simple and not playing to impress my audience with flourishes and so on because when you do this they automatically expect you being able to manipulate cards so well any sleight becomes possible in their mind, when you sometimes don't even use these;)
Still he was not shy with showing dexterity, but not in flashy ways, just in quick moves that feel natural but are difficult to follow when you try remembering these (like double cuts moves with the three deck parts and so on. Always made me mad;) and I like this over flashy flourishes and XCM)

About being caught; people who got me where both my best friends, knowing me from 30 years. I had worked a lot but missed a few psychological details in the presentation, and also, while not mimicking someone else, had not made the basic moves natural for me. So I made these moves, and completely different moves when I was doing my sleights.
I guess that I may also have repeated the trick too much in front of them (I did not have more than 3 tricks in my bag at the time and was overly confident).
I hated this because for me, it breaks the magic I want to convey.

I guess that I will start by getting back to my old repertory of routines and practices the most the ones that please me really, as you suggested, and maybe try to find another one to these like Triumph, Follow the Leader or Oil and Water.
I will then have to add a few sleights to my bag of tricks, especially from the force/palm/switch/control/pass kind.
Could you please advice me with the most useful ones in these areas?
As for coins, I think I'll have to start again later, probably with a teacher. As for mentalism, I don't know what to begin with, but it might be nice additions. I know that there are some "mental effects" with cards, but that doesn't reach the whole thing for me.
I would like to learn a ring trick and a pen trick as they are props I often have...

Thanks for your help, that made me think about many things and got me a few ideas.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » How to (re)start climbing the mountain of the Art? (7 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.31 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL