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How to create new card tricks

How to create new card tricks

So, you want to create your own card tricks? You've been learning your Dai Vernons, reading through your Marlos and practicing your Bannon packet tricks - but, you want the satisfaction of creating something that you can call your own. 

Many creatives, including myself, will tell you that creativity is a muscle which you have to use every day. While that may be true, you might not know where to start or how exactly you can use that creative muscle.

In this article I'm going to show you how you can create your own card tricks by following some simple steps and choosing to focus your attention on just a few elements. Let's get it started! 

For every step I will also make a choice myself so you can get an example of how the process would look like.

  • If you're not familiar with any of the terminology that I will be using, refer to this list from Magicpedia where all card trick themes are explained.

Step 1 :: Choose a location

Where will you perform the trick? Will you do it in the hands or on the table? The place will decide a lot of the things that you can and can't do.

My choice: At the table.

Step 2 :: Choose your card effect

Now that you know where you'll be performing your card trick, it's time to decide what you'll be creating. Do you want to try your hand at a new 4 Packet Trick like this one from John Carey? Or maybe you care to craft a new type of Sandwich Effect like one from our Mega Bundle? Whatever it is, you have to choose one and focus all your attention on that. 

If you want to see a full and diverse list of great themes, effects and tricks in card magic, there is a great one on Magicpedia.

Write 20 of these on small pieces of paper and pull a random one from the bunch. It's better if you leave the choice to chance as you're more likely to come up with something when you're taken by surprise. 

If you want to use a deck to help you choose easier, The Magicians playing cards by Biz have card effects written on the court cards.

My Choice: Production of Kings and Queens.

Step 2.1 :: Choosing an existing card trick

One of the best ways to create a new card trick is to come up with a variation of an existing one. Luckily for you, you have a lot of tricks in your Bigblindmedia download library which you can choose from.

For example, for my choice, I will take John Bannon's "collusion" from Move Zero Vol.1. In this trick, the spectator ends up finding a playing card under very incredible circumstances. You can see a full performance of it here.

I felt there was potential for a variation here as the trick used 2 concepts which I liked: forcing 2 cards with the help of 2 other cards and the illusion of free choice. I knew I could take this trick and put a new spin to it using these elements. 

But, that begs the question: how do you create a variation of an existing card trick?

Step 2.1.1 :: Creating a card trick variation

After I choose a trick that I want, I have to decide if I want to stay in the same theme or bring the trick into another one. For example, John Bannon's "Collusion" is a prediction effect. I looked at it and saw potential for a production effect. I could use the tools that "Collusion" used and produce the 4 Kings and Queens. 

Obviously, this is not an effect, so I had to make them find the spectator's selection. It took a little bit of thinking, but I found a solution in the end. You can check out "Double Marriage" which is my variation of "Collusion" here on our Instagram.

  • This is the easiest way to create a variation. Try changing a Sandwich trick into a Collectors, or a Card to Pocket to a Transposition
  • As pointed out in step 2, sometimes it's better if we leave some decisions to chance. As such, write a bunch of themes on notes of paper and pull one out at random when deciding a new theme for an existing trick.

Step 3 :: Choose your card sleights

Some effects will tell you directly what sleights you require. A "Card through table" will most likely imply the use of a palm or lap, an "Ambitious Card Effect" will make use of a card control or switch, and so on.

After choosing a place and theme (or existing trick) it's time to choose what sleights you'd like to use inside your trick. It's always better to limit yourself in order to kickstart your creative juices. Choose 1 sleight as your main tool and another one or two as sidekicks which will help you achieve the trick you want.

  • For example, you can choose to create your card trick using only psychological forces or only palming. 

Of course, this changes on a base-to-base situation. But, say you would like to perform a "Homing Card to Pocket" without using any palms. This simple limitation opens up new possibilities. You'll be forced to use ditches and other clever subterfuges.

For example, the original method for Alpha2Omega by Stephen Tucker required the use of a palm, but Liam Montier wanted a version in which palming wasn't required - so he created one after setting himself that limitation.

Step 4 :: Use other objects

Tools don't only refer to sleights. There's many weapons in a magicians arsenal and many of them will fuel your creative mind. Imagine creating an "ACAAN" using matchsticks, or a "Do as I Do" using an actual mirror. 

When we bring an extra object into a trick, it already makes it feel like a new trick.

  • This is a great hack if you want to create a variation of an existing effect. 

Step 5 :: Create "garbage"

This is the most important step. After you've sat down and created your first trick or variation, call it a day and move on to another idea. It doesn't matter how bad or good it is (well, if it is good then write it down before moving on), what matters is that you start working those creative muscles.

  • Sit down and set yourself a timer for 30 minutes. Whatever you create in that time-limit is what you've created for that day. Do this every now and then and you won't feel like you'll need a timer anymore.


This might feel like a lot to take in if you've never created a card trick before, but the hardest part is actually giving it a go. 

Let me know in the comment section below if you found this list of steps useful and if you've tried creating a card trick until now.

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