My Favorite Card Tricks: John Lovick

By Alex Robertson - Thursday, November 12, 2020

We asked some of magic's greatest minds to share with us their favorite card tricks. This week we are lucky to have John Lovick. You may know John, or Handsome Jack from his books: Handsome Jack, etc. SWITCH: Unfolding The $100 Bill Change, Experience: The Magic of Jon Allen and more, or perhaps you've seen him fool Penn and Teller. Over to John.


The Three Card Tricks I Perform Most Often By John Lovick

I’m gonna cheat a little bit. I’ll briefly tell you about the three card tricks I perform the most often. But really, who cares? They’re close-up/walkaround tricks. And when people talk about close-up magic, my name never comes up, and when people talk about my magic, the phrase “close-up” is never uttered. So, really, who cares what card tricks I do? But after I fulfill my assignment, I’m gonna tell you about the three card tricks I enjoyed the most as a spectator/fan of magic.

The three card tricks John Lovick performs the most often (in other words, hardly ever):

“A Fold in Time” by Jay Sankey from 100% Sankey (1990) by Richard Kaufman. This is a great Card to Impossible Location, where I always have the “impossible location” with me—my wrist watch.

“Sanverted” by John Carney from his book Carneycopia (1991). This is a packet trick that combines a sort-of Ambitious Card sequence with “The Last Trick of Dr. Jacob Daley”. This combination of two clear, powerful effects lends itself to a lot of different presentational angles, but it can be understood with no patter at all.

“The Smiling Mule” by Roy Walton from The Complete Walton, volume 1 (1981). For a long time I could never quite remember the exact title of this trick, and so I took to calling it “Donkey Kong”. It has the classic structure of a groan-inducing “joke”, followed by an absolute miracle involving a named card. Great trick. This is the kind of trick that makes you feel like a “real magician”.

Now for the three card tricks I’ve enjoyed watching the most as an audience member.

“The Conus Aces”. This is a classic in every sense of the word. It is one of the greatest—and oldest—card routines of all time. It is funny, playful, interactive, magical, and surprising. What more do you want in a card trick? I first saw Bruce Cervon perform it at an A-1 convention, and here’s the way it played out. Cervon claims to deal the four Aces onto the table, then asks a spectator to put their hand onto the four cards. Every time, however, Cervon would flash and the spectators would see a move or glimpse that the cards weren’t Aces. Someone would object, the spectator would look at the cards under his hand, and they were Aces. This happens about five times. Finally, Cervon hands the deck to the spectator. He deals the four Aces to the table, and covers them with his hand. Cervon magically gets the Aces away from him. There was a big crowd of people around his table, and I couldn’t really see the cards or the table, I could just see his interaction with the spectator, and so I missed all the “flashing” and the feints, and the trick still worked! When I finally saw it in all its glory, it was even better.

Cervon’s handling is in his book Ultra Cervon (1990), and there is also a very good version called “Full-Frontal Conus” in Steve Mayhew’s book What Women Want (2014).

“Patrick Page’s Cards to Pocket”. In The Royal Road to Card Magic (1948), Hugard and Braue wrote that a magician’s worth can be determined by his performance of “Cards to Pocket” because it calls for technical skill, an interesting presentation, and the ability to make credible an impossible feat. As Patrick Page wrote, “If you could perform this effect well you could hold your head high in any company.”

This starts as a standard Cards to Pocket routine, but halfway through it takes a comedic detour with a brief Six Card Repeat sequence, and finishes with three cards jumping at once to your pocket. Unlike almost all other Cards to Pocket routines, it requires no palming. Bruce Cervon (him again!) performed this routine regularly, however, he varied the Six Card Repeat phase by adding a wrinkle from “Senator” Clark Crandall’s “One Hand Six Card Repeat” from The Tarbell Course in Magic, volume 6 (1954). Instead of twice discarding three cards, he would “accidentally” drop two cards while gesturing, and not notice the falling cards. Then he would count the packet and still have six cards. While talking, he would again “accidentally” drop two cards, and yet still have six when he counted them. He would repeat the dropping of two cards and the counting one more time, all the while not noticing he’d dropped cards. It made for a very amusing sequence.

Patrick Page first published this in the February 1953 issue of The Gen.

“The Tamed Card”. This is Tommy Wonder’s beautiful method for “Wild Card” from The Books of Wonder, volume 1 (1996), which he co-wrote with Stephen Minch. Everything about this trick is perfect: the presentation, the method, the subtleties—there’s nothing about this that can be improved.

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