The Most Popular Card Magic Tricks Ever

Card magic tricks are just as popular now as when they were first invented. Everyone is familiar with a deck of cards and understands what should be possible with them. They know how they behave and what they should do, So when a deck of playing cards starts doing things your audience knows is impossible, it’s something they can very easily understand. New magic tricks are released almost every day, but there are some that are still being used today, decades after they were initially invented. Here’s a list of nine of the most amazing card tricks you can learn today.

Ambitious Card

We’d hazard a guess that anyone that has every shown even the most fleeting interest in card magic has worked on an Ambitious Card routine at some point in their magical journey. It is, in essence, just about as simple a trick as you can get. A card is selected, inserted into the middle of the deck and with a magical gesture of your choosing, appears on the top of the deck.

It’s based on a 400 year old trick called The Four Robbers, but the modern presentation can be traced back to Gustav Alberti in Recueil de Tour de Physique Amusante which was published in French 1877. It was than translated into English by Professor Hoffmann as Drawing-Room Conjuring in 1855.


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Color Changes

The British magician Fred Robinson always started a performance with a series of Color Changes. Why? Well, they are easy to follow, the magic happens in seconds and it clearly establishes the performer as someone worth watching. There are thousands of different Color Changes available today ranging from knuckle-busting to easy as pie. Here’s some that are worth looking into:

REL Change (as seen above) - Michael Brewer  

The Color Change - Tony Chang  

Standard Color Change - Ricky Smith  

Card To Impossible Location

This is simply a trick where a selected card appears in an impossible location. Hence the name. It’s a hugely popular trick as the variety of impossible locations demonstrates. From inside an orange, or block of ice, or wallet, or, well, anywhere you can think of. David Blaine used it to fool the pants off Harrison Ford in this clip from his TV show.


Card To Wallet Options

To really get into the weeds of this plot, you need to head over to Denis Behr’s Conjuring Archive where there are 1,167 entries.

Cards Across

The first time this saw print was as “The Strange Subtraction” in R.P.'s Ein Spiel Karten, 1853, p. 55 of the Pieper translation. Again, thanks must go to Denis Behr as he has 294 entries for Cards Across you can trawl through.

Essentially, the basic plot involves a spectator counting how many cards are in a packet, and then that number changing whilst they’re holding the cards. Most popular today is a version called Three Cards Across where two spectators count 10 cards and then after some magical shenanigans, one spectator has seven cards, and the other has 13. Aside from The Invisible Deck, it’s hard to find a stronger effect in card magic.


Morgan and West's Thought Of Cards Across

Six Card Repeat

This is a card trick that can play on the largest of stages, hence it’s continuing popularity. The magician counts out a packet of six cards, discards three of them, and then counts out six cards again. This is repeated multiple times. Tommy Tucker first published this plot in Chas Eastman's Expert Manipulative Magic, 1933, p. 18.


Hector Mancha's Super Six Cards

McDonald’s Aces

Although many of you reading this will remember seeing David Copperfield’s elegant and touching version of this trick on TV, it actually dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The first trick of its kind to be published was Kaufmann's “Prepared Four Ace Trick” in Mahatma, Vol. 7 No. 11, May 1904. It is, essentially, an Ace Assembly. This means a trick where the four aces are placed on a table, covered with three indifferent cards, and then all found to have assembled in one of the four packets. The name comes from Dai Vernon’s More Inner Secrets Of Card Magic by Lewis Ganson, published in 1960, p. 26.


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Torn and Restored Card

It’s hard to think of a more clear piece of magic. A single playing card it torn into pieces, then restored. The first time it saw print was in R.P's Ein Spiel Karten, 1853, p. 27. Although the concept was initially written about in the first ever magic book, Reginald’s Scot’s The Discoverie Of Witchcraft in 1584. Now, there are 390 entries in Behr’s Conjuring Archive for the plot. Some have a signed card, some use a dupe, some use double cards. Whatever method works for you, it’s a plot that is hard to beat in terms of clarity for your audience. They see a card ripped up, then see it restored. The standard to beat nowadays for this is Guy Hollingworth’s The Restoration which was published in Drawing Room Deceptions.


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Out Of This World

Marketed by Paul Curry in 1942, Out Of This World remains an incredibly popular card trick. The cards are dealt face down into two rows by the spectator. When the cards are turned over, it’s seen that the spectator has managed to somehow separate the red and black cards. The plot is not original to Curry, however. F. W. Conradi offered two methods in Der Moderne Kartenküstler, 1896, p. 110. Magician’s Magic by Paul Curry, chapter 13, shares a story about the trick being performed by Harry Green for Winston Churchill during a dinner party during World War II. Churchill insisted the trick was performed for him several times and was totally fooled by it. There are now dozens of versions of the trick using a variety of different methods.


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Card On Ceiling

This plot is incredibly simple to describe. A selected card is returned to the deck. The deck is thrown up at the ceiling. One card adheres to the ceiling and the rest of the deck flutters down to earth. The card is, of course, the selection. Bill Kalush has found an early version of the trick in Denis la Marinière's La Maison Académique, 1654. Today, the deck is normally wrapped in a rubber back for convenience. This idea is from John Nelson in The Sphinx, Vol. 9 No. 12, Feb. 1911, p. 259. Although we here at VI quite like the image of all the cards falling back to the ground, it is a mess to clean up! There are 93 variations published in Denis Behr’s archive. We published what we believe to be the definitive teaching guide to learn the trick from Jamy Ian Swiss.


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