My Favorite Card Tricks: Andy (The Jerx)

By Andy - Thursday, April 9, 2020

I want to first thank Josh and Andi and the Vanishing Inc team for asking me to write this post for their site. Being able to write for a magic blog? I mean... what more incredible opportunity could I ask for? I always thought it would be just a beautiful dream. But here I am... doing it for real. And I get to write about such a scintillating subject as... my favorite card tricks! Yes! Score!

This is going to be a wildly unsatisfying post for the people reading it because you'd probably like me to list a few obscure gems, and instead I'm going to list a few tricks you're likely already familiar with. But perhaps you will be able to find some value in why these are some of my favorite tricks.

The reason many people feel card tricks are lame or boring is because so many of them are inherently meaningless. If people can't connect to what's happening - even if what they're seeing is impossible - then there's going to be a limited shelf-life as far as how long they will find that sort of interaction entertaining. If you found out your new roommate could legitimately make playing cards change and transpose and all of that, you would be fascinated the first night he showed you, but then, by night three when he said, "Do you want to watch me make playing cards change?" you'd say, "Uhmm... nahh...that's okay, buddy. I want to pick at this thing on my arm."

If you're a professional and you're continually cycling through new audiences, that doesn't matter that much. But I come from the perspective of someone performing for friends and family. I want to keep them engaged in the magic I show them over the course of months and years, ideally.

So let's go back to your new roommate. This time, instead of being a true wizard, he's just a guy who always has a funny or interesting story about his day to share with you. You would listen to that for the rest of your life.

Good stories never get boring, meaningless impossibilities do.

And by "story" I'm not talking about the patter that goes with a trick. I'm talking about the context that the trick exists in. If that's not a clear distinction, I've written thousands of words on this subject on my site. (Search for the posts marked: Presentation vs Context).

For that reason, my favorite card tricks fall into a category of tricks I think of as "blank slate" tricks. These are tricks that can be recontextualized in a multitude of different ways. That makes them incredibly valuable to me. I'm not the sort of person who is looking for many ways to do the same trick. I'm looking for tricks that can be presented in many ways.

That's why the card tricks below are my favorite. They can become so many different types of effects.

Directed Verdict by John Bannon - This is John's brilliant Spectator Cuts the Aces handling. A spectator cutting the aces can be presented in a lot of different ways. It could be a gambling trick. Or a trick where you're controlling their actions in a mystical way, or in some sort of psychological way. It could be a coincidence effect. And so on. But what makes the possibilities really explode is when you realize you don't need to do it with four cards and those cards don't need to be aces. It's a trick that lets you introduce a certain small number of cards into the proceedings in a way that feels fair. Those cards could be the four aces, or the last four digits of their social-security number, or random cards that were predicted, or four specific tarot cads for a reading, or whatever.

See: Spectator Cuts the Aces Three Ways.

Cellmates by Paul Harris and Shuffle-bored by Simon Aronson - In Cellmates the spectator shuffles a deck and ends up dealing out cards that correlate with your phone number. In Shuffle-bored you are able to predict certain aspects of an incredibly mixed up deck. Both are great tricks. And what makes them even greater is understanding the value that both of these tricks are just different ways of getting a specific group of cards into play in a way that feels random. You can do a 10-Card Poker Deal from a spectator shuffled deck with Cellmates. You can use letter cards as an "oracle" to give you letters that spell a certain phrase in a "fortune telling ritual" with Shuffle-bored. Using either of these effects you can create all sorts of tricks that require a set of apparently random cards from a spectator shuffled deck.

See: The Most Impressive Least Impressive Prediction for one of my favorite way to perform Shuffle-bored

Two Card Transposition - I don't know who would be credited for this. As a far as I know, it's the "standard" way to do a two card transposition with a duplicate card. The set-up from the top down is duplicate, x card, duplicate. You do a double to show the x card, turn it over and deal down the 1st duplicate. Do a double to show the 2nd duplicate, then turn over and take off the x card. A two card transposition can be contextualized in 100 different ways. It can be a gambling move. It can be hypnosis. It can be time travel. It can be anything.

See: Two-card Transmogrification for more thoughts on this.

Reader comments:


Thursday, 09 April 2020 07:27 AM - Reply to this comment

Love this, thank you. But I came here for the tickle fight.


Thursday, 09 April 2020 09:26 AM - Reply to this comment

John Bannon is about to get real popular today. Haha. Excellent post and three great routines.


Thursday, 09 April 2020 15:00 PM - Reply to this comment

The collaboration we all needed but didn’t deserve ??


Thursday, 09 April 2020 21:08 PM - Reply to this comment

Andy writes for andy. Does Josh know? Thanks a card transpo with a sven deck is cool too. Love to all the magic. Also,.... The 5 1/2 hr videos really taught me alot and made me feel a whole lot better. Thanks again.


Thursday, 09 April 2020 23:14 PM - Reply to this comment

Interesting read cheers


Friday, 10 April 2020 14:31 PM - Reply to this comment

An untested idea for Shuffle-bored: perform as outlined by Andy, but without the preamble about predictions. Rather, when the final card is noted, act as though it is a genuine mistake. Get increasingly uncomfortable about this error, to the point where you vomit multiple duplicates of the card, i.e. cards from mouth. "I'm feeling a bit better now."


Friday, 16 July 2021 20:53 PM - Reply to this comment

The two card transposition is also a favorite of mine. So many variations. Done well, can be mind blowing.


Saturday, 01 October 2022 21:29 PM - Reply to this comment

Damn, Andy, this is just such an amazingly helpful set of observations!

I remember Marlo saying somewhere that just about everything is obvious, once somebody else has written it all down for you, etc., but it’s really not like the concept here is “rocket science,” just that it’s still an extremely versatile and important point that you really cannot be reminded of too many times. I think it’s in Thompson’s “The Living End,” maybe, where he says something like, if you know 100 different ways of controlling a card, and one way of revealing it, you know one trick, but if you have know one convincing way of controlling a card, and 100 ways of revealing it, in the eyes of most people, at least, you know 100 tricks. And on that score, the links you provide to places where you have written up even more insightful explanations of the concepts under discussion here just add immeasurably to what you have to say.

You make me proud to have been a prize winner, and not impossibly the only prize winner, in a contest on the original gone-but-not-forgotten The Magic Circle Jerk blog, lo, all those bleary years ago.

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