My Favorite Card Tricks: Karl Hein

By Alex Robertson - Thursday, October 8, 2020

We asked some of magic's greatest minds to share with us their favorite card tricks. This week is the turn of Karl Hein. You may know him from his extremely workable magic products: Heiny 500, Cube FX, Heins Catch Up and so many others available in his download bundle. Over to Karl.


The readers of this blog might be interested to know that while the title of this post is "My Favorite Card Tricks," I was initially asked to write about the "card effects I perform the most." I immediately realized that the card effects I perform the most (socially and for paying clients) differ from my favorite card routines to watch as a spectator. The tricks I regularly perform also differ from the card routines I most enjoy performing.

I'll leave the card effects/routines that I have most enjoyed watching as a spectator for another time since they generally have more to do with the personality and the style of the performer or the moment in time I first experienced them.

Usually, the card routines that I most enjoy performing fit one of the following categories: Unpublished, Challenging, or Spontaneous. Unpublished routines (either my own or those of close friends that I am permitted to perform) give me the feeling of sharing something special with a specific audience. "Three Degrees of Separation" is an example of a challenging routine for me to create, perform, and execute. While I published my technical method years ago for getting a shuffled deck back into order in the course of a coherent routine, I have limited its distribution because I still consider it a work in progress. Spontaneous effects happen when unrepeatable circumstances present themselves. For example, someone challenges you to produce a specific card, and by chance, you've already loaded that card in their pocket for another effect. Of course, part of what makes these three categories of routines enjoyable to perform is that I don't, or can't, perform them all the time.

Here are the card effects that I have performed the most at live events in the past five years and why I choose them over others.

  1. "Psychotic Prediction" - This has been my opening strolling effect for many years now. I taught the basic concept of several freely named cards to an impossible location on the Heinous Collection: V2 DVD/Download. It is short, sweet, and hard-hitting. It involves as many members of the audience as I want. I can alter the presentation and the effect in many ways depending on my audience. It can be a magical effect, or it can be a mentalist effect. It can be a demonstration of influence, mind control, prediction, or impossible coincidence. It can even be a way to reward kids for guessing the correct answers. Most importantly, it allows me to manipulate group dynamics and determine how much time I want to spend with this group (and decide which effects will follow). Furthermore, I often follow "Psychotic Prediction" with a two to five card multiple selection routine. If the card I am about to force (in the next routine) is freely named (in this routine), then I can skip the selection procedure and just use the freely named cards in the multiple selection routine.

  2. "Sublime" - This two to five card multiple selection routine can be found on the Heinous Collection: V3 DVD/Download. Small multiple selection routines have always been my go-to since they allow me to interact with multiple spectators while giving them a fun experience with multiple magical moments. I also love the opportunities to jazz, and sometimes, even take on the challenge of finding a spectator's selection the way they want me to. Mixing freely chosen selections with one or two forces also allows for some impossible and memorable effects like card in lime. The ups and downs between revelations of the selections create perfect moments of misdirection, during which I always try to develop spontaneous magical moments based on the situation. I have made many lasting impressions for producing large objects from my hat (or other unexpected places) throughout the routine, creating many varied moments of magic and surprise within a few minutes. During a formal show, I think it's often appropriate to build suspense over a period of time to achieve one climatic effect. However, when given limited time with an audience while strolling, I want them to have a memorable experience with as many moments of magic as possible and walk away with a fantastic story to tell.

  3. "Triumph" - I generally perform in-the-hands versions of this classic Dai Vernon masterpiece. I think it's important to know that some magicians, like Jason England, argue "Triumph" is a better and clearer effect when performed on a table. A table takes away the space in which a spectator can suspect the cards to be secretly reversed. Table shuffles are more familiar to laypeople. A table spread is the fairest way to convince spectators the cards are actually mixed, while making the effect play to a bigger audience. While I think those are all valid considerations, the venues I regularly perform in are more suited for in-the-hands versions. I will typically alternate between three variations depending on the audience's demographics and my preparedness. All three of these "Triumph" routines contain multiple magical moments. "Transformer Triumph" (Heinous Collection: V2) allows me to contrast a display of skill to find a selection with magically unmixing all the cards in the spectator's hands. Then there is the kicker of all the cards returning to New Deck Order, which fries even the most skeptical audiences. Jay Sankey's "Back in Time" is a classic that has been in my repertoire for well over twenty years. It can be performed at any time, has a great built-in presentation, and ends with the spectator's selection appearing in their hand. Finally, Asi Wind's "Double Exposure" is a modern close-up masterpiece with a kicker that leaves the spectator with lasting memory on their phone.

Honorable Mention goes to "Two Card Transpo." Like "Triumph," I regularly alternate between standard versions with a duplicate, variations of Wayne Houchin's "French Kiss," and my version of Edward Oschmann's "Visual Pocket Transpo" (which doesn't require a duplicate). A modified version of this routine for virtual performances can be found on my "Connections Lecture" through Vanishing Inc. under the title of "Homing Pocket Transpo.”

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