Easy Mentalism Tricks You Can Do

We already know that card tricks and magic tricks are great ways to impress your friends and family. Now, it’s time to unlock the endless potential of mentalism.

Discover how to leverage human psychology and start your journey to becoming a famous mind reader and mentalist like Derren Brown, Max Maven or Colin Cloud with these easy mentalism tricks you can learn today for free.

Gray Elephant in Denmark

This is a super easy, yet powerful, mind reading trick that can be done for anyone from a single friend to a huge audience.

Start by asking everyone to think of a number between 1 and 10 in their head. Then, have them multiply that number by 9. If their new number is a 2 digit number (i.e. 27), you then have them add those two digits together to create a whole new number (2 + 7 = 9). Once they’ve done this, have them subtract 5 from that number. (Reminder: They should never say their numbers out loud).

At this point everyone will think they have a different number in their head. However, here’s the crazy part that only YOU know! Thanks to some quirky mathematical concepts, everyone will actually be thinking of the number “4” right now.

Instruct everyone to take the number they are thinking of (which you secretly know is “4”) and associate it with a letter in the alphabet. So, “1” is “A”, “2” is “B” and so on. Once they have a letter, tell them to think of a country that starts with this letter. Then, after waiting a few moments for everyone to do that, tell everyone to think of the second letter in that country and think of an animal that starts with that letter. Tell them to really visualize it, including its color.

Then, you can either confirm verbally, or with a prediction you wrote beforehand, that somehow, despite everyone making a variety of different choices, everyone ended up with a Gray Elephant in Denmark.

This trick works on the very significant probability that most people will think of Denmark for the letter “D” and Elephant for “E”. While of course all Elephants are gray, the way you emphasize the importance of the color is what mentalists refer to as getting an extra “hit” or “success”.

With a larger group, there is the possibility that somebody might think of something different. This is totally fine. Many mentalists actually prefer to not have a 100% success rate as it makes their talents seem more “human” and “believable”. You can simply remark about how you like how this person “thinks differently” and use them for your next trick.

However, if you want to guarantee everyone thinks of the same thing, you can also create large sheets with the alphabet printed on them and a different city and animal written next to each letter. You’d, of course, have Denmark next to the “D” on the first sheet and Elephant next to the “E” on the second sheet.

An impromptu performance of mentalism by a mentalism performer

The Red Hammer

Relying on probability like the Gray Elephants in Denmark, this mentalist trick has a slightly higher chance of failing. However, with a little practice, you’ll find yourself being successful more often than not.

The Red Hammer Trick revolves around the unique way our brains process words and images. It uses an amazingly simple method where you leverage a special series of questions to subconsciously prime your spectators. As a result, it’s best performed for one person or smaller groups.

Start by writing down a prediction that says “You’ll choose a Red Hammer” (or maybe even spray paint a hammer red and have it as your prediction). Then, ask the following questions, making sure to ask them in rapid succession. It’s important to not allow much time for thinking. You want them to be impulsively answering by the time you get to the important last question:

  • What day is Christmas?
  • What is 5 x 3?
  • What year was 10 years ago?
  • How many sides does a stop sign have?
  • What are hamburgers made of? (If you’ve got a good pace going here, you might even see them slip up and say “Ham” instead of beef)
  • What side of the road do they drive on in London?
  • Quick: think of a color and a tool!

It’s best to frame The Red Hammer Trick as an experiment instead of a magic trick. If they say “Red Hammer”, produce your production and take all the credit for the miracle. If they say something else, remark how they think much more differently than other audiences and pretend to mull over how that will affect your next trick before moving on to another mentalism trick or card trick.

Famous mentalist and magician Michael Weber tears newspaper as part of the classic headline prediction mentalism trick

Triangle Inside Circle

This is a super easy mentalism trick that’s perfect for a snappy moment of powerful mind reading. It’s quick and easy, and showcases your amazing ability to do mind control or influence suggestions.

Ask someone to think of a shape in their head. A simple shape like a square, but not a square. This simple bit of suggestion will often encourage people to think of a triangle, just like they did with Elephant above.

Now, instruct them to think of another shape around this first shape. As there aren’t many shapes that naturally fit around a triangle, many people will think of a circle.

Now, you can amaze them by telling them how they thought of a triangle inside a circle.

If you want to up your odds of success, try this pro tip. As you are instructing them to think of shapes, very subtly move your hands in the air to help subconsciously paint an image in their mind. This is a very basic example of subliminal programming, a powerful mentalism technique.

Think this trick is too simple to work? Check out psychic detective Patrick Jane performing it on the TV show The Mentalist.

The P.A.T.E.O Force

If you want to follow up one of the above probability tricks with a more foolproof prediction trick, then you’re going to love the P.A.T.E.O. Force. Popularized by magician Roy Baker, P.A.T.E.O is short for “Pick any Two, Eliminate One”, a deceptive method for forcing a particular item from a set of objects. It’s an impromptu miracle that can be done anywhere

This is a super easy magic force. Start by gathering up a variety of different objects. We suggest a minimum of 5-6 and no more than 11-12. But, you can truly have as many as you’d like. Write down one of the objects on a piece of paper and tuck it away. This will be your prediction.

The P.A.T.E.O procedure then works like this. Both you and another person take turns pointing at two objects. Whoever ISN’T doing the pointing gets to eliminate one of those items. So, whenever it’s your turn, just make sure to point at two DIFFERENT objects than the one you predicted. Then, when the other person is going, if they point to the predicted object as one of their two, just eliminate the other one.

Which person should go first depends on how many items you have. Just remember “I’m odd, you’re even”. So, if there is an ODD amount of items, then YOU start by pointing at two (as if you were giving an example of how the game works.). If there is an even amount of items, they start. This ensures you make the last choice and ultimately guarantee the item you predicted is the only one left.

Throughout the elimination process, make sure to act like you’re trying to get into their head and struggling to make your choices so it doesn’t seem as obvious that you’re always avoiding one object.

1089 Trick

The 1089 Trick is a fun mathematical mentalism trick that can truly seem impossible when done right. Explaining the math on this would take another full article. So, you’ll just have to trust us that this one works.

Instruct your spectator to take out their phone and open up the calculator. Have them simply think of a 3 digit number. To make it even harder for you, tell them to ensure every digit in the number is different (i.e. 456). Secretly, this is the best way to guarantee the trick works.

Tell them to then reverse that number in their head. So, 456 would become 654. Then, using their calculator, take whichever number is smaller and subtract it from the bigger number (654-456=198). Now they have a totally new number.

They still should not be saying anything out loud yet. Make sure you emphasize this, as well as the fact that you can’t see anything they’re typing.

Tell them to take this new number (198) and reverse it (891). Then, add both those numbers together. No matter what number they start with, this number will always be 1089.

Whether you send them a text message beforehand or write it down on a piece of paper, the possibilities are endless on how you want to reveal this.

IMPORTANT TIP: If, your spectator chooses a number like 132 to start. They might end up with the number 99 during the first phase after the number is reversed (232 -132). This could ultimately mess up the trick.

To avoid this, after they do their subtraction. Say something like “Now, you might have ended up with a two digit number. If so, that’s totally fine. But, to make sure there are no extra variables in this experiment, we’ll want to use 3 digit numbers. So, we’ll need to add a “0” in front of that number.” Then proceed as normal.

This means they will have 099 which will reverse to 990 and then add together to get...you guessed it..1089!

Mentalists gather to watch The Evasons perform

Once you’ve mastered these beginner mentalist tricks, it’s time to try some of the other most popular mentalism tricks used by professional mentalists. You can also learn more about the art of mentalism from these top mentalism books for beginners and this fascinating look at the history of mentalism.