Learn a card trick with Pete Firman
Want to amaze your friends? Postmodern magician Pete Firman explains a trick anyone can do
Watch Pete Firman explain a card force
Use the force, and a smartphone, to fool your friends
Nearly 24 years ago I was given a magic set as a birthday present and it blew my mind. Granted, I was eight at the time and, as well as loving magic tricks, my ambition in life was to be a Muskehound. I’m a dreamer. I like magic because it’s fun to astonish someone – it’s on a par with making a person laugh. On this page you’ll learn how to astonish someone with a card trick that’s easy to perform. What’s cool is you can have it set up hours in advance and pull it out whenever you see fit: a lull at a wake? Or maybe post-coital, instead of those nasty cigarettes?
Here’s how your punter will see it. You have them pick a card (any card) and explain that you are going to read their mind. When they do, you look them in the eyes to try and divine their selected card. Nothing. Explain you are having trouble, but it’s not a problem as you have subscribed to a support service. You scan a QR code (download it here) on the back of your card box with your mobile, which takes you to a video of a rather handsome oracle. He reads your friend’s mind and reveals the card that they were thinking of! Make sure you have a spare set of underwear for them, as this is crazy impressive.
So, you’re asking, how does the flippin’ thing work, Pete? There is very little work for you to do here. I’ve got my hands dirty and prepared almost everything for you. Result! (You’re welcome). Here’s what you’ll need: a pack of cards, a pair of scissors, sticky tape and, when you want to do the trick, a smartphone that can scan QR codes. Let’s work backwards through it. For the reveal you are going to require the QR code to attach to the card box. Download the QR code, print it out, carefully cut it out and stick it with the tape to the back of the card box (fig 1). If you’ve scanned it already you’ll have seen that it plays a video of me revealing the card as the three of clubs; that’s the card you’ll need to make them pick every time you perform the trick.
To prepare the cards and force them to pick the three of clubs, position it tenth from the top of the face-down deck prior to performing. To do this, quickly deal nine cards into a pile (fig 2), place the three of clubs on top of the remainder of the deck (fig 3) and then place the nine cards you just dealt on top of that. Bingo! It’s now tenth from the top (fig 4).
To perform the trick, explain that you are going to try some mind-reading and you need your punter to pick a card to concentrate on. Now, you can either handle the deck yourself or have them do it, depending on how ballsy you are feeling. Explain that you won’t use the whole deck, just a bunch of cards. Ask them to name a number between ten and 20. Let’s say they choose 15. Deal 15 cards from the top of the face-down deck on to the table. You can put the rest of the deck to one side at this point: it’s no longer needed. Suggest that to make a truly random selection you could add the two digits of their number together. In this case their number was 15, so 1 + 5 = 6. Pick up the 15 face-down cards from the table, being careful to keep them in exactly the same order as they were dealt. Now deal six cards from the top and hand the sixth card to your punter to concentrate on. The card you hand them will be the three of clubs, every time. This works for any number between ten and 20. How? I don’t know… maths or something?
Next comes a bit of performance. Do your best psychic routine – massage your forehead and look deeply into their eyes – and try to guess the card, but get it wrong and act like the trick has cocked up. This is a great device: everyone loves to see magicians fail, and it sets them up for the video you are about to show them. Now explain that you have a back-up plan: the magic trick support service you subscribe to. Scan the QR code (fig 5) and ask them to watch and follow the instructions on the video. Fingers crossed they’ll freak out. So, there it is, a little mystery you can perform when out and about with pals. Just promise me this: you’ll only ever use your powers for good.