Help me remember this crazy card trick
August 6, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I was taught this amazing card trick as a youngster and I can't remember it to save my life!

When I was around 12 or so we had a Japanese foreign exchange student that taught me the coolest card trick. All I remember is that you got the person to pick a card and put it back in the deck without you seeing what it was. Somehow you know where the card is and you spread the cards in the deck out on the table, remembering where the chosen card is. You would then ask the person to draw a line on the table with their finger, dividing the cards. You then take whichever group does not contain the card and move them away. You continue to do this until you are left only with the chosen card.

It was really an impressive trick and it kills me that I've forgotten it. Can anyone fill in the details or tell me where to find more info on this trick?
posted by jluce50 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
It's a variation of "The Force."

The answer is that you, the mark, have no choice in what card you actually choose. Where it's put is arbitrary, he knows where it is. It's just a matter of dicking around until you find it for him.

Or possibly I misunderstand and it's just a marked deck of some sort.
posted by TomMelee at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Several card tricks I know rely on this bit - when the mark puts the card in the deck, you get a look at the bottom card of the top "half" of the deck. You now know where their card is relative to the one you saw. Fan the deck real quick, let them see that nothing is amiss, recut the deck at the right place and now you know exactly where their card is (on top, on the bottom, etc). The rest is finesse. This sounds like a variation on that - if you know exactly where their card is, you can remove halves of the spread arbitrarily until only theirs remains.
posted by jquinby at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2009

This sounds like a pretty standard card location trick. Only the method of revealing the card is what makes it seem unique. There are many ways to accomplish this. The most obvious is (explanation purposely vague) that the card is freely chosen, but shuffled by the magician in a manner that controls the location of the card, and as the cards are spread out the magician controls its placement, and, as you said, remembers which one it is. The rest is showmanship.

Other possible methods:

The chosen card may be forced, and has a slight but perceptible-if-you-know-where-to look mark previously made.

The card may be freely chosen, then surreptitiously marked afterwards while shuffling or other handling of the card.

I would probably use a method that forces a card, but then allows the spectator to shuffle the cards as much as he wants, but I would still be able to control the card's location in the process of spreading them out.

So, basically, whatever method you use, the "trick" is all at the beginning, before anything seems to have happened, and the showmanship is at the end.
posted by The Deej at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2009

The "choosing" technique is called "Magician's Choice".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2009

I've done a similar trick, totally simple and here's how I did it. It could be combined with any of the other fairly simple "Stick the card back in the deck tricks where you know which card is theirs"

Take 25 cards and lay them on a table face up with 5 rows of 5 cards, build the rows on the table by row instead of column (this makes sense later)

Have the mark pick a card and tell you what column its in (1-5) pick up this column and put it face up in your hand. The next part is just misdirection. If they picked the third column count columns to the right "One, Two, Three" and then pick up that column, wrapping round columns from 5 to 1. Keep doing this until all columns are picked up, make sure to keep stacking the columns face up in your hand. The key is when you flip the cards over the first column (which contains the marks card) are the top 5 cards in your hand.

Now reset your 5x5 face up grid. Building the row by row, what should happen if you picked the cards up right is that the first row is All the cards from the column they chose are the first row of cards. So if they chose column 3 initially then the cards in column 3 are the first cards in the top row. Now ask them what column the card is in and repeat the pick up procedure. If done right their card is the First card in your hand.

Now create 5 "groups" of 5 cards facedown (I do 4 cards in the corners and one in the middle) on the table pay attention to which card is the marks. Now have the user pick 3 groups of cards. If the group contains their card pick up the other two, if it doesn't contain their card pick up the 3 they picked. Then have them pick 1 or two groups continuing to pick up around the group which contains their card. They will never notice if you switch between picking up what they pick or leaving what they pick. When you are down to one group, repeat the process by having them pick 3 cards, picking up around their card. Continue until the card left is their card.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's been a while, but IIRC the card was freely chosen. There may have been some kind of "Magician's Choice" involved but I can't recall that detail. Definitely not a marked deck.
posted by jluce50 at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2009

I think the operative illusion here was the selection of cards to be discarded... the mark points to one half of the spread. Sometimes that is the selection discarded but other times, that is the selection that is saved (because your card is within) and the other half discarded. It is done so quickly, smoothly, with showmanship that you think you pointed to the discarded selection each time. It's all in the patter.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, the division of cards until the selected card remains is the part I remember. It's the initial choosing of the card, inserting it back in the deck, and remembering it's position when the cards are spread out that escapes me.

If anyone knows how to do this and doesn't want to post it publicly, feel free to shoot me a message.
posted by jluce50 at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2009

I've been doing this trick for ages. I'm not sure how other people do it, but I guess I can give away my method. I'll see if I can explain it in writing. It's definitely easier to demonstrate.

This takes some preparation. I always use bicycle cards for this trick as they are usually off register. You'll be able to see that the image on the back of the card is off center. I sort all of the cards I'm going to be using so they're off center in the same direction, so the image is shifted to the right (for instance) on all of the cards.

I shuffle the cards in plain view, being careful not to flip them the wrong way and mess up my registration, then I fan out the cards, present them to my victim, and while they're looking at their cards I surreptitiously flip the deck the other way around so the image is now shifted to the left on all of my cards. Have your subject put the card back in the deck. You can even shuffle again as long as you're careful.

When you lay them all out on the table face down the one that's shifted the wrong direction will be glaringly obvious to you, and will seem like magic to your friends.
posted by Kicky at 12:04 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Are the cards placed on the table (before "the line" is drawn) face up or face down? If they're placed face up (which I assume they are) then it's a simple variation on what bitdamaged described. You don't have to remember where the card is in the deck at all...
posted by lazywhinerkid at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2009

If the cards are face-up on the table while you're doing the division, the easiest way to do it would be to get a glimpse of the card next to the chosen one.

They choose a card, you ask them where to cut the deck, and when they put the card in you sneak a peek at the one just above it. Put the deck together, spread it out, and you know that theirs is the card next to the four of clubs or whatever.

If they're face down, I got nothing.
posted by chazlarson at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure they were face down. If memory serves, you would know the cards position in the deck and when you deal them onto the table you remember where you dealt the 20th card (or whatever) and always divide the cards away from that card.
posted by jluce50 at 1:41 PM on August 6, 2009

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