The Best Magic Tricks
What follows is a comprehensive but not exhaustive, list of the “best” magic tricks for various situations. Of course, it’s just our opinion, and is in no way to be taken as gospel. Still, this list will provide a good foundation for your research.
The 5 Best Magic Tricks for School
Performing in a school setting is a complex and tricky thing to gauge. The issues a student faces performing in school are different than practically anywhere else (prison dynamics might be similar, but so far, I haven’t had a need to test that out).
Egos play an enormous role. In school even friends can be jealous and covetous when anyone else is getting attention for something. My memories of performing in school are mostly being heckled and teased by people, sometimes aggressively so. Other students grab your props or snatch things out of your hand. It can be ugly.
I think a big obstacle is hormones: when you’re a student at any level about about twelve, there’s a weird dynamic where people mask their true feelings about one another and sometimes, in my experience, people who like you and want you to succeed won’t behave that way outwardly. I’ve always advised young magicians to only perform in school when the conditions are PERFECT. Otherwise you set yourself up for disaster.
If you do decide to perform in school, here are five exceptional tricks that fit right in:
Misled by Timothy Wenk
I first saw David Copperfield do this on television and it blew me away, and I think the effect has aged very, very well. You cause a pencil to melt through a dollar bill and everything is immediately examinable.
Risky Bet by Henry Evans
Henry Evans’ best trick, the visual on this is INCREDIBLE and I can’t think of a better condition to perform it in than a school hallway, with a bunch of friends huddled around. You offer to “bet” you can find a selected card and you tuck a dollar bill under your shoe. Now you have a card selected and lost in the deck. You fail to find it but when you look down, the card is under your show...where the bill was a moment before. You never bend over or touch it; it just changes. Easy to do, and amazing.
Imagination Coins by Garrett Thomas
This isn’t just a great trick to do in school; it’s a great trick to do ANYWHERE. It’s a coins across to the spectator’s hands, but it can be done so fairly and so slowly that it will withstand “school room” scrutiny. It also uses quarters, so it’s far more natural that a coin trick using old coins or half dollars, which aren’t common.
This one isn’t an effect so much as it’s a “moment” that would garner a big reaction. Oreos are a common item in a school lunch room, and this allows you to do all sorts of cool, visual things with this cookie.
Sinful by Wayne Houchin
Simply put, this is a killer. You show a coin and sealed can of soda and push the coin through the can. It has so many visual moments and is easy to learn. What’s more, this beautiful book is a pleasurable way to learn the trick...all in a graphic novel.
The 5 Best Magic Tricks for Work
Performing at work is a fantastic place to do magic. At work, any respite from normal things is a welcome change. If you put some effort into cloaking or replacing some of the props for things found around the office, you’ll raise the impact of what you’re doing. If it’s possible to actually gaff an existing desk or water station or area, even better.
We're often asked [/props/articles/how-do-magicians-learn-about-new-tricks/](where magicians learn about new magic tricks) and so we're happy to provide these great recommendations of tricks to perform in an office:
Daniel Garcia’s rubber band masterpiece, if you perform you can borrow the bill and the rubber band. This is such visual magic, and it’s not difficult at all to learn.
This is an odd choice--I grant you that. It’s a Tenyo trick and typically these effects have ingenious methods and aren’t actually great to perform for other people. But this one just strikes me as a great thing to keep on your desk as an oddity. When someone asks you about it, you can show it to them and it would look amazing.
Less is More
I’m SO excited about this effect. It’s not as much a trick as it is an oddity to keep on your desk. But it gives people an EXPERIENCE that will make them smile (or even freak out). You show three blocks of beautiful, polished wood and ask a friend to lift all three off your desk. Now you instruct her to replace them on the table one block at a time. The effect is a subtle one: the blocks appear to get HEAVIER as each block is released. This is a hard thing to envision, but I assure you, in real life, this is a STUNNING illusion. It gets my highest recommendation and makes a beautiful accent piece on any work desk. Work is the PERFECT setting to perform it.
Healed and Sealed by Anders Moden
I envision this would go down SO well at the soda machine during a break. You take an empty crushed soda can and cause it to restore to its full, original state in slow motion. It “unkinks” itself, and then the top seals itself back up. This is easy to perform but does require the right “conditions,” but these are so, so easy to set up in a work environment. Then, during the effect the magic takes care of itself. You make this one yourself very easily, and I think it’s a great office effect.
Impromptu Magic by JC Sparks
I came across this collection recently and was impressed by the unplugged nature of each effect. The card stuff is great--I realize that isn’t specifically for an office setting. But this download also contains magic with rubber bands and other items found around the office. This is a terrific primer in impromptu magic.
5 Best Magic Tricks For Beginners
When asked to supply information for beginners to learn magic tricks, I tend to suggest things that provide “instant gratification.” Sure, one could suggest various classic tricks for the beginner to learn slowly, developing skills as they do it. And that’s a fine approach. But here the list will focus on things truly ANYONE can do, and get enjoyment out of. And make no mistake--these are not “great tricks for a beginner.” These are “great tricks” that a beginner happens to be able to perform. Let’s get it:
Drop what you’re doing right now and go buy this trick from a magic shop. I don’t even have to ask if the trailer fooled you. OF COURSE it did. There’s no way it didn’t. There is NO WAY to figure this trick out without buying it and discovering for yourself. The method is ENTIRELY different to what you would expect, and it’s terrific. I had this effect as a kid and even now, I enjoy it enormously. It may not be something suitable for a professional show, but it will wow your friends.
This effect and the various versions now marketed is an extremely clever apparatus that allows you to change a card VISIBLY from one card into another. The handling often requires a double lift, but that’s it. After that, you feed a card into a small sleeve and cause it to change with seemingly no finger movement at all.
This is a fun one. You show a coin and then...bite off half of it. As if that isn’t enough, you then spit the coin back together visually. David Blaine did this trick on television and caused a sensation. Now it’s made in exceedingly fine quality, and this is an ideal ice-breaker effect in which you can gain performing confidence. Practically nothing can go wrong when you do it, and it has a beautiful visual element.
Baffling Blocks by Eric Leclerc
This DOES involve a paddle move, but this move is so basic it can be taught to a child within minutes. What makes this fun for a beginner is that the presentation is built into the trick. You “build” a prop out of legos and have any color lego chosen. Then you make all the other lego blocks change into that color. It’s a simple trick, but one that is IDEAL if you’re performing at all for children.
Now here’s a trick that has it all: beautiful props, a gripping premise, and no skill required at all. In effect, you remove a beautiful leather wallet and explain that you had a grandfather who cheated at cards. You show a picture of the old man and then remove a hand of cards he was dealt when he was still alive. A spectator is invited to name ANY card, and you show that you perfectly predicted the thought-of card. This can be done instantly and the props will last a lifetime.
5 Best Magic Tricks For The Bar
When you perform in a bar, it’s all about doing arresting magic. The props should be interesting, and the material shouldn’t involve a table. Where you just want to learn one trick for the bar, or [/props/articles/how-do-i-learn-to-do-magic-tricks/](learn how to do lots of magic tricks), these are a great start.
Here’s the effect: you borrow a pair of headphones and put a mint in your mouth. By touching the headphone chord between your lips, you cause the mint to LINK onto the headphones.
This is such a terrific effect. It’s TOTALLY deceptive and easy to perform, yet it’s the sort of thing that if you do it in a bar, you’ll gain a crowd.
This is one of the finest effects of the last decade: you draw an “X” on your hand and cause that “X” to travel to a spectator’s clenched fist. This effect is entirely self-contained in a sharpie marker, and you can learn it within minutes. This is the kind of effect that elicits SCREAMS because the magic happens to the spectator...on their body. It can feel almost violatingly close, since you seemingly never touch the person you do it for.
This is one of the classic bar tricks ever. If you can get BEHIND the bar, or simply perform at a high top table, this is a reputation-making effect. So, so strong. It’s a guessing game with a ball under a cup, and it ends with a production of...whatever you can fit under the cup.
You need just a tiny circle of table space, and the rest you can manage in your hands and pockets. We’ve dedicated a whole page of our site to various resources surrounding the Chop Cup.
Charming Chinese Challenge by Troy Hooser
One of my favorite effects of all time, this works well in a bar situation because the unusual props give the whole thing interest. Also, it can be done for a huddled group or behind a bar: all the magic occurs at chest height. There are two STUNNINGLY visual moments as well. Everything is examinable at the end, which makes this entirely practical.
The set will last you a lifetime and is different to nearly everything else in your repertoire.
Lit by Dan Haus
This effect is so, so, so at home in a bar situation. You fail to find a selected card, and then discover the card has become PART of a matchbook. I can’t emphasize enough how versatile and fun this effect is. What you receive is a force card with a back that matches a matchbook. You can fold it into an object that perfectly resembles a matchbook. You’ll learn a basic switch from a real matchbook to this “card” matchbook, and then you’ll have in your arsenal a TRULY surprising ending.
You don’t have to use this as a stand-alone effect, either. You can use this as the closing part of a multiple selection routine. It’s very tough to follow.
5 Best Magic Tricks For Friends and Family
Doing magic for your family necessitates a different sort of approach because these are people who KNOW you. These are people who likely have seen a lot of (your) magic. So the approach here has to be things based on an experience for your spectators, rather than something that is performance-heavy.
Less is More
I spoke already of this FANTASTIC idea for its placement in an office. But it’s equally good on a coffee table or a shelf at home. Because this isn’t an effect you perform, but rather one that you simply SHARE with someone, it’s terrific. It looks intriguing on a shelf.
The Phantom Deck by Joshua Jay
What appeals about this effect is that you can put it into virtually ANY card trick and it gives you a WHOLE new ending. In effect, you cause all the cards in a deck to change into 52 clear cards. You can cause a selection to be the only real card in an otherwise clear deck. The effect is easy to perform, and can be added into a card effect you already do.
Quantum Angel by Paul Harris
Paul Harris has created an effect that can only be described as “cute,” but in the best possible way. In flipbook style, you reveal a selected card by causing the angels on the back design of the card to remove an envelope from the background and open it to remove a small version of the selection. It’s hilarious and SO unexpected. Better still, the deck does the whole thing for you. The trick works entirely automatically.
Interlaced by Richard Sanders
This is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but if you’re willing to go to the trouble of preparing for this trick (which is a worthwhile thing to do), you’re going to KNOCK OUT your family with it. You cause a borrowed ring to appear tied to your SHOELACE! It doesn’t get any more direct and strong than this. You do have to modify your dress shoes and, potentially, your slacks. But the result is an effect NOBODY will ever forget. And that’s the point of performing for family, right?
I’ve saved the best for last: this is the PERFECT trick to do for family. There’s positively NOTHING for them to “figure out” from the prop, and no matter how fast or slow you do it, the secret is safe. It’s all in how you handle the prop. And it can be repeated again and again and again, each time getting more impressive.
If you haven’t seen this classic effect, it’s all about making a spectator choose between two places they can put their finger. You show how the configuration you place the chain in can result in a “catch” or a “free” situation. In a “catch” the spectator’s finger ends up looped on the chain. In a “free” the spectator’s finger is outside the loop of the endless chain. It’s enormous fun to play with and a great routine.