View Full Version : Scarne on card tricks
31st July 2003, 11:23 AM
I bought this book a little while ago. The tricks are rather old and not extremely impressive since they're geared towards the beginner level (no sleight-of-hand).
For those of you own the book, what are your favorite tricks? In all it contains over 150 tricks, and I'd rather not plow through all the crappy ones -- i.e. those involving math, envelopes, matches or any prop other than a regular deck of cards.
Here are my recommendations:
3. The Upside-Down Deck (Penguin sells this for $6 as a download!! :rolleyes: )
4. Traveling Aces
41. Hit the Deck
42. The Betting Card Trick
45. The Whispering Card
49. The Acrobatic Card
What are yours?
31st July 2003, 11:43 AM
Card On The Ceiling
31st July 2003, 12:38 PM
Aw shoot, I can't remember the names of my favorites. There are some very good tricks in this book. Some of them can be presented in quite an impressive fashion.
And there are some duds, too.
If memory serves, "The Upside-Down Deck" is the title one of my favorite card tricks of all time. (This is the trick, I believe, in which the performer at one point presents the cards with about about a quarter of them appearing face up, half appearing face down, and the remaining quarter appearing face up.) I have added my own flair to the presentation to make the trick funnier and more mysterious. When I last performed the trick, the spectators thought that I had muffed the trick... and seconds later, they were quite surprised.
My favorites are usually the tricks that can be performed impromptu or that require minimal set-up. In the case of some of the tricks, they can be set up on the fly right under the spectators' noses, but Scarne does not tell you that.
1st August 2003, 03:34 AM
My favorite card trick was called "52 cards fly around the room".
Its extremely impressive to younger folk.
1st August 2003, 07:59 AM
I believe Scarne includes Milton Berle's "Quickie Card Trick." I rather like this little trick. It is one of those tricks that can be repeated over and over (doing it a different way almost every time), and some people will never catch on as to how it is done. And yet, the secret seems so incredibly obvious that you will be astonished at how few people see it.
1st August 2003, 08:20 AM
"My Lucky Card" is a perplexing little quickie.
1st August 2003, 10:59 AM
There's an "upside down deck" trick that I like to throw out there too, not sure if it's the same one. It is really the only one I know without resorting to trick decks. It involves someone picking a card, then placing it back in the deck. You then spread the cards out on the table, and, magically, their card has flipped upside-down. Is that the same one as Scarne's?
1st August 2003, 04:03 PM
Originally posted by JesFine
There's an "upside down deck" trick that I like to throw out there too, not sure if it's the same one. It is really the only one I know without resorting to trick decks. It involves someone picking a card, then placing it back in the deck. You then spread the cards out on the table, and, magically, their card has flipped upside-down. Is that the same one as Scarne's? Scarne describes this trick, but it is in the middle of the book. I don't recall the trick's name.
The trick that I like is one of the first ones in the book. Basically, the spectator freely chooses half of the deck, leaving half for the performer. The spectator and performer each select cards from their halves of the deck and memorize their cards. The performer then buries the spectator's card at a random place in his (the performer's) half-deck, and the spectator buries the performer's card at a random place in his (the spectator's) half-deck.
Then the performer sandwiches his half-deck with the spectator's half-deck. What's odd, though, is that the cards of the spectator's half-deck are apparently face up, and the cards of the performer's half-deck are apparently face down. The performer assembles the cards into a single deck, with approximately half the cards face up, and half face down. And yet...
When the performer fans the cards, it turns out that all of the cards are FACE UP, except for two cards, which happen to be the performer's and the spectator's chosen cards.
There are similarities in this trick to the trick you described.
2nd August 2003, 11:13 AM
Brown is describing an effect inspired by Francis Carlyle (mentioned in my first post).
You can see a video of it here:
I like how the performer put the deck inside the spectator's hands. Six dollars!
If you know a couple relatively simple sleights it's possible to produce the same effect fanning the cards. That is, the spectator can place her chosen card into a fanned deck, and before the resolution the performer fans the deck.
I wonder if the forum gods would oppose a trick exchange where people could trade in private messages.
3rd August 2003, 09:06 PM
Originally posted by Cain
Brown is describing an effect inspired by Francis Carlyle (mentioned in my first post).
You can see a video of it here: This is indeed the same card trick. I have to say, however, that my presentation is better. I'm trying to be objective about this, but, hey, my presentation is better.
When I first learned the trick, I presented it pretty much as shown. I will disclose here one of the techniques that I use that gives me a good audience reaction.
After closing the deck, I tell the spectator that I have turned all the cards the same way. I don't show him that I've done so, I simply tell him. Then I say something like, "That was a pretty good trick, wasn't it?" And then I watch for the spectator's reaction.
Most spectators react with a "Oh, yeah? Show me!" attitude. So I then say, "Okay, I'll prove it to you," and I fan just the top cards. "See, all face up," I say. Then I fan just the bottom cards. "See, all face up!"
Most spectators understand that I'm merely showing them the cards that they already knew were face up. They demand to see the middle cards. So I hesitate a bit, then show them one or two middle cards. When the spectator sees these face-up cards, the spectator is surprised. Then I spread the cards more fully, and the surprise is even more pronounced as the spectator sees that all (or almost all) of the middle cards are face up as well. And when the spectator sees two cards reversed, I stress that there are two and only two reversed cards. I name my card and ask the spectator to name his, and I turn both cards simultaneously. This is the third surprise, and the spectator is quite amazed.
Now... the key thing is to watch for the spectator's reaction early on. I will proceed in this fashion if I get the "Oh, yeah? Show me!" response. If I do not get this response, I will proceed in another fashion.
One more thing... I have to say that there are a lot of tricks called "Do as I do," and this is the first time I have ever seen this title applied to this trick. I often perform a version of a trick called "Do as I do" that does not resemble this trick at all. In Scarne's book, I believe Scarne provides two-deck and single-deck versions of "Do as I do."
4th September 2003, 08:30 PM
An excellent question (and one I've posed myself).
I once got an email from an Australian asking where he could purchase Scarne on Card Tricks. I don't know about "down under," but it's hard NOT to run into it in this country, ever since it came out in low-cost paperback about 30 years ago.
There is a lot of good magic in there. To be honest, there are also a lot of BORING "count-down" tricks in there as well. The hard part is separating the wheat from the chaff.
I think digging out the gems from this popular book is worth the effort. Here are the tricks that I think are the best, from my incomplete reading of this large book:
13 You Do As I Do (imp.)
41 Hit The Deck (imp. card location)
55 Quadruple Coincidence
79 Scarnes Follow The Leader (imp.)
89 Cardini's Color Discernment (imp.)
115 Scarne's Phone Miracle (imp. - one of those seemingly impossible tricks)
119 Card On The Ceiling
140 Seeing Through The Deck (imp.)
148 The Card Through A Handkerchief (unusual)
151 Automatic Pencil Writing (unusual)
I highlighted the impromptu tricks because they're extremely valuable when somebody thrusts a deck of cards into your hands and says "Okay, you're a magician, let's see a card trick. " (This has happened to me.) I like card effects that are unusual because they break out of the standard mold of "You pick a card, I'll find it".
Remember the action/adventure TV series of the '70s, "The Magician?"
4th September 2003, 11:45 PM
Originally posted by MagicFan
There is a lot of good magic in there. To be honest, there are also a lot of BORING "count-down" tricks in there as well. The hard part is separating the wheat from the chaff. I'm not a big fan of the count-down or "spelling" tricks, either, and there are a lot of those. There's a lot of wheat there, but a lot of chaff, too. (The back cover of my edition says something like: "Pick a trick, any trick... They're all winners!" That's not so. Some of the tricks are real duds.)
There are a couple of additional points I'd like to make about the book. First, many of the tricks can be improved. There are several of the tricks presented in which it is easy to come up with an alternate way to perform the same trick. Also, some of the patter is outdated and can be made more contemporary.
Second, be on the lookout for ways to mix and match tricks. You might find a clever force in one trick and a clever reveal in another, and you can combine the force and reveal to make a baffling new trick.
Edited to add: I used to enjoy the series, "The Magician," although some of the plots were rather lame. Also, there was a little bit of "magical dishonesty," in that some of the magic that was presented as impromptu actually required quite a bit of preparation. I believe that the guy who played "Dominick," Joe Sirola, is well known today as the announcer in the Wendy's restaurant commercials.
5th September 2003, 08:15 PM
I think we're looking for a way to AVOID plowing through the book, Brown! There's over 300 pages of dense type in there, with VERY long descriptions of each trick, and it is NOT easy reading! Seriously, you do make a good point; a thoughtfull magician could use the book to invent his own tricks, mix and match methods, and add a few sleights to eliminate some of the the weak points.
Re: my little pasted-in sig file on "The Magician:" I would say you have a good memory! The show did show him doing effects which weren't impromptu as if they were. I guess this was to make Bill Bixby, who did all the effects himself, look like a more skillful magician than he actually was, at least to the uninitiated. One episode was particularly funny in which he picked up a deck of cards the guys were playing poker with and proceeded to do what magicians know as "The Haunted Deck!" Your tidbit on Joseph Sirola was interesting and a new one to me. Thanks!
7th September 2003, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by MagicFan
I think we're looking for a way to AVOID plowing through the book, Brown! There's over 300 pages of dense type in there, with VERY long descriptions of each trick, and it is NOT easy reading!Well, here's a couple of tips.
Skip the tricks that use the word "speller" or a variant in the title.
Skip the tricks that begin with words like "The performer removes the deck from a card case..." as this suggests an extensive arrangement of the deck is required. Ditto if the trick mentions that the performer gives a single riffle shuffle, or if the trick involves separating cards by colors. Or you can also look at the first few lines of the secret to see how much work is involved to set up the trick. (Personally, I prefer the tricks that require little or no set-up.)
Once you find a good trick (or a good part of a trick, such as a good force), make a note in the margin. In my copy I the book, I've written words like "Good" or "Good force" or "Risky" next to selected tricks.
8th September 2003, 08:13 PM
Some good tips! These should be emblazoned on the inside front cover of every copy of the book. But then they couln't claim that the tricks are all "winners!" :wink:
8th September 2003, 09:51 PM
There is one trick in Scarne's book that is called (I think) "The Mathematical Card Trick." Scarne says he likes to use it on mathematically minded people, and they can never figure it out.
Well, I sure couldn't figure it out. I had to sit down and analyze it for quite a while before I understood how it worked.
I think it's a very clever trick. It can be performed completely impromptu, requires no set-up, and is baffling. Part of the trick can be performed with no control whatsoever by the performer, which adds to its mysterious nature.
Basically, the trick involves selection of two cards by what appears to be a perfectly fair procedure. After the selection of the two cards, which remain in the deck, the performer deals the cards into two piles, and after showing the piles to the spectators, proceeds to reveal the two chosen cards in a somewhat surprising manner.
Scarne is right; if you do this trick for someone who has a mathematical mind, it will be even more baffling.
10th September 2003, 01:27 AM
My dad used to do that trick. I think he learnt it from an issue of Scientific American. Actually thinking about it it probably was't that one.
I have a Walter Gibson book of card magic, which I like.
26th September 2003, 08:55 AM
I have to say that there are a lot of tricks called "Do as I do," and this is the first time I have ever seen this title applied to this trick. I often perform a version of a trick called "Do as I do" that does not resemble this trick at all. In Scarne's book, I believe Scarne provides two-deck and single-deck versions of "Do as I do."
It's more like Do As I Do meets Triumph. Talking of which, I've evolved a knock-out handling of the latter which uses the half-reversed fan move from Expert Card Technique (Reverse Supreme) to show a face-down card being inserted into a face-up deck, and (after the riffle shuffle) Dia Vernon's "tilt" principle to apparently move several cards from the top to the middle of the deck (they show face up, face down, face up, face down, of course)
Mentioned only because, your "Okay, I've just turned all face down cards, face up" presentation is exactly the way I do it!
I cut the deck several times in different places, then slam the top half back on top with a look that says, "There. How much proof do you NEED, man?" (they really think I'm serious).
After a few equally deadpan attempts to convince them, I eventually give up, and admit I was lying. Not all the face down cards are face up, after all.
One of them is face down...
26th September 2003, 01:37 PM
My favorite version of "Do As I Do" includes two versions of the "Magician's Choice." I will not describe this technique here, but I will say that Scarne's version of it (in a Houdini-based trick) stinks. Also, Mark Wilson's description is not very good, either, as it could arouse the suspicions of a lay person.
In my version of the trick, the "Magician's Choice" is almost impossible for a lay person to detect, which is what makes the trick so effective.
26th September 2003, 10:04 PM
See the movie Magic (or read the novel) to see how effective a good presentation of "You do as I do" can be. Of course, Anthony Hopkins was playing a guy who was claiming to have real psychic powers (until his dummy tipped the gaff)!
6th October 2003, 11:43 AM
As I mentioned above, "many of the tricks can be improved." I recently took a rather run-of-the-mill trick and improved it. The way the trick is described in the book, the trick can "blow up" if the spectator makes an innocent error (the spectator will not know that he's wrecked the trick, but the performer will know it). The book does not tell the performer what to do if the spectator messes up. (Naturally, the perfomer doesn't want to say "Pick a card, any card, but not THAT one!")
I have discovered two "outs": one that rescues the trick and undoes the spectator's "error"; and the other results in a finish that is truly spectatcular. In other words, it is actually better for the performer if the spectator messes things up: if the trick goes as usual, it is a run-of-the-mill trick... but if the trick gets messed up, it becomes an astonishing miracle!
I will be happy to perform this trick at TAM2, and to teach it (along with my improvements) to anyone who wants to learn it.
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