My Favorite Card Tricks: John Archer

By Alex Robertson - Thursday, June 4, 2020

We asked some of magic's greatest minds to share with us their favorite card tricks. This week is the turn of John Archer. You may know him from his many TV appearances, or from his hit DVD sets Further Education and Educating Archer. Over to John:


  1. Think of a card. I do think that giving the spectator the impression that they merely thought of a card rather than choosing one, can leave them with a much stronger effect. I have several methods that I use depending on: The spectator involved, the environment and the quality of the deck I am using, (sometimes it can be a very worn borrowed deck).
  1. I use a Hofzinser spread force. So, they touch a card and I hold it up for them to look at and remember. I then give them the deck and eventually name the card. Not my favourite method but for certain people and in the right place it is sometimes the safest.
  2. I use a spread method which I learnt from some early Father Roger Crosthwaite’s VHS tapes (Yes, I said VHS tapes) titled ‘Inner Sanctum’ I believe. The effect is called ‘Think-A-Card’, and it’s a simple (in principle) technique of spreading the cards from hand to hand and looking over the top of the spread to watch the eyes of the spectator. As soon as they relax their concentration you take a little finger break. I then just fish around the three cards below that break. Roger Crosthwaite goes into much more detail to help make this work. It doesn’t work best with alpha males (or indeed alpha females) who are out to catch you as such. I usually do this with a person who wants the magic to happen and usually if I am honest it’s normally a female. That sounds sexist but I am being honest if a female did this trick they may find the dynamic different.
  3. I will sometimes just riffle through the deck and ask them to say stop. I then take a break and peak as I hand them the deck to shuffle.
  4. I have been using a marked deck as my standard go to deck at the moment. DMC Elites to be precise (when I can afford them). So often I will just have them touch the back of a card which I then hold up and have them remember. I read the back and reveal the thought. I always prefer to leave the cards in their hands as I reveal the card as I think it leaves an image in their minds of me not handling the cards much or even at all. I used to reveal the card using body language and eye movement etc but I realised that everyone is doing that and we are all essentially ripping off Derren Brown. So now I just close my eyes, look at the floor, look back, smile etc and pretend that I am reading their mind. It’s surprising how strong that can be.
  1. A Sandwich trick. Chris Power inspired me to do this effect and he does it wonderfully, I’m not sure of the correct name for his effect, I’ve always just called it ‘The sandwich trick’. I’ve played around with various versions but this is how I do it now. I use a marked deck and have them think of a card, but of course you could just use a peak the card, which is how Chris first showed me the effect. They can then shuffle. I now explain that we will use two special cards to find their card. As I spread through the deck to ostensibly remove the two black aces (or kings if they happen to be thinking of an ace), I up-jog the aces but at the same time I take a break three cards below their chosen card. Now as I remove the aces individually, I separate the deck at the break, as I place the aces on the table or in their hands. It just looks like I am splitting the deck as I take out the aces. I then reassemble the two halves with the three cards and chosen card now at the top of the deck. essentially it’s is an open pass, covered by removing the aces. Now I can spread the cards face down culling the fourth card (the selection) and ask them to place the aces face-up together, anywhere they like in the deck, as the spread is closed the selection is loaded between the two aces. Now you just reveal that the aces will search through the deck and find the chosen card. You spread and the selection is sandwiched between the two aces. It looks and seems impossible when done correctly. Simples dot com!

  2. My final choice is a packet trick but a great one, and it is Roy Walton’s ‘Rainbow cascade’. I always carry it with me if I think I may need to do a close up trick while I’m out socially. I love it because it hammers home the clear idea that we are constantly seeing the backs and faces of four identical cards which suddenly become brightly coloured shiny backed cards. It is the nature of the backs that seems to make a spectator think they would be so hard to hide. I have a few nuances which I think help with the effect, or certainly help me. When I do the Elmsley count I let the indexes of the cards show as they finish in my right hand. What I mean is that I don’t fully square the cards as they arrive in my right hand, so at the end of the count you are seeing three card indexes rather than a tightly held squared up packet. I think this subliminally sells the idea of all the cards being visible each time, either face up or face down. The other thing that I do is when I show that the bottom card has turned over and I place it to the top, I keep it side jogged. Again this shows more than one card face up (or down) at the start of the count but it also makes the initial takeaway of the first card for the Elmsley count much smoother.

Reader comments:

Jamy Ian

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 23:36 PM - Reply to this comment

Words of a true "worker."


Friday, 12 June 2020 01:21 AM - Reply to this comment

Great tips!! But nothing tops his “$100 in ANY envelope you choose and it’s yours” routine. Killer.


Friday, 12 June 2020 06:30 AM - Reply to this comment

Goes to cupboard to find Dav’s Rainbow Cascade purchased in the 80’s..


Friday, 12 June 2020 10:27 AM - Reply to this comment

Must check out Rainbow Cascade. Thanks John.


Friday, 12 June 2020 19:43 PM - Reply to this comment

I love this guy! Smile that lights up the room! Charming and funny, a 1st rate entertainer. Get his videos if you don't already have them. The way he commands an audience and keeps them engaged is art at its finest!

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