Trick deck

Trick deck

A trick deck usually refers to a deck of playing cards which has been altered in some way to allow magicians to perform certain card tricks where sleight of hand would be too difficult or too impractical. These decks can be bought from most magic dealers.


Trick Decks

Stripper Deck

A Stripper Deck (also known as a Tapered Deck, Wizard Deck or Biseauté Deck) allows the magician to control the main location of a card or group of cards easily within the pack. Even after being shuffled into the deck by a spectator, the magician can cut to a selected card; or after being lost in different parts of the deck, the magician can control multiple cards to the bottom or top of the deck with a few innocent shuffles.

Unlike the Invisible or Svengali Deck, the Stripper Deck can be handled by an audience member unfamiliar with the Stripper Deck, and it can withstand a modest amount of scrutiny without exposing the secret; however, this deck is found in a number of beginners' magic kits, so the secret is well-known, even by non-magicians.[citation needed]

The cards of a Stripper Deck are slightly tapered, so that the sides no longer form a perfect rectangle. The change is slight enough to be undetected by visual inspection or even casual handling, but if a single card is rotated 180° so that it's tapered in the opposite direction from the rest of the deck, the card's broad end can easily be detected, by feel or even by sight, among the narrow ends of the rest of the deck. At this point the magician can select the target card through sleight of hand.[1]

Many of the effects achieved with this deck can also be accomplished with sleight of hand, and it is often regarded by professional magicians that using the Stripper Deck to control a few cards is lazy.[who?] However, magicians still use this deck for some tricks where they are controlling too many cards to keep track of individually, for example, half the deck.

Svengali Deck

Diagram showing operation of Svengali deck

The Svengali Deck of cards is a specially constructed deck that can be used by magicians to perform various card tricks. The deck and the tricks performed with it are self-working and require almost no skill. Burling Hull claimed to have invented the deck in 1909.

The deck alternates between normal cards and shortened cards, and the shortened cards are all of the same number and suit. When the deck is riffled front to back, only the normal cards are visible; when it is riffled back to front, only the shortened cards are visible.[2]

The deck can be dribbled or riffled to create the illusion that the deck is completely ordinary. It can even be shuffled. One basic trick involves a spectator choosing a card from the deck and returning it; the card can appear practically anywhere in the deck, making tricks like the Ambitious card incredibly simple. The final and most stunning trick is when all the cards are suddenly presented as being all the same card as chosen.

Joe Stuthard's Trilby and Bi-Co Trilby Decks are variations on this deck. In the 1960s and 1970s, Marshall Brodien sold 17 million Svengali decks under the name TV Magic Cards.

However, the conjurer cannot allow an audience member to examine the deck. The use of a Svengali deck can also be detected by its characteristic faster riffle and sound. Finally, because the deck is widely sold in joke and novelty shops, many laypeople are familiar with it.

This is also the name of a Derren Brown show in which he may be using this pack of cards.

Marked Deck

A Marked deck has a subtle mark on the decorative side of the cards. Usually the mark is placed in a certain position to indicate the number of the card and the mark is a certain color or shape to indicate suit. The magician shows the card to the audience and reads off the number and suit of the card without seeing it, indicating 'x-ray vision'. This principle is derived from similar card marking techniques used to cheat at gambling.

Mental Photography Deck

With the Mental Photography Deck, you can fan the deck and show both sides and they will seem to be completely blank, but when you cut the deck a card will appear. It is all self-working. Then you may flip through the deck and show that all the cards are printed and then return back to blank if you wish.

Forcing Decks

These decks are used to force a spectator to select a particular card, which the magician knows in advance. Such a feat can be accomplished using a regular deck and sleight of hand but with the aid of a forcing deck the trick is made self-working. The simplest forcing deck is called "one-way": all cards are identical (with the possible exception of one or two at the top and bottom of the deck). Using this deck, the magician must be careful to prevent the spectator from seeing the faces of the cards.

It's worth noting that these decks have fallen out of favor amongst professional magicians, because of an increased suspicion amongst audiences of the use of gimmicked props. Thus, they are rarely employed.

Rising Card Deck

The spectator chooses a card and puts it back in the deck of cards. Then magically the chosen card would rise, whether it be in the box, in the hands, on a surface, even in a wine glass.

The construction of these decks varies. The simplest of these, often described in amateur magic books is as simple as a hole cut in the back of the carton so that the performer can surreptitiously push up the top card with their finger. More complex arrangements include a pair of cards gimmicked with an elastic band onto which the target card can be pushed (between the gimmicked pair), or a deck with a fine black thread passed across the top onto which the target card can be pressed down. There are doubtless more complex and clever arrangements in use.[3][4]

Invisible Deck

The invisible deck has been described by some as one of the best card tricks known. Simply put, in most handlings, a so-called invisible deck is handed to a participant, who is instructed to fan through the cards, pick one, remember it, and reinsert it facing the other way. When this is done, the deck is handed back to the magician; Joshua Jay (amongst other magicians) also has a handling in which the deck is tossed back into a paper bag, whereupon it becomes real and visible. When the cards are spread through face-up, the spectator's card is the only one reversed in the deck. Another way to present this is as an experiment in precognition, in which the spectator guesses a freely-selected card and it is shown that before the performance, the magician apparently knew the spectator's selection and reversed it in the deck he was holding all along.

In the classic presentation of this effect, the magician hands the spectator an imaginary, or "invisible" deck, hence the trick's title. On being handed the deck, the spectator is asked to mime the acts of removing the cards from their case, shuffling them, spreading them face-up on the table, freely selecting a card, replacing it face-down among the other face-up cards, and returning the deck to its box.

At this point, either the spectator keeps the imaginary deck while the magician removes the real deck from his pocket, or the spectator hands the imaginary deck to the magician, which suddenly becomes real in the magician's hands. The magician then asks the spectator to name the card he/she selected, removes the deck, face-up, from its box and spreads the cards to show one face-down card. The spectator removes the card to find it is the one he/she named moments earlier.

In the more comedic version of the routine, more focus will be drawn to the part of the effect where the spectator is handling the cards. Often, the magician might criticize the spectator's card-handling abilities, or remind them to take the cards out of the case before trying to shuffle them.

A more serious routine can be performed, which focuses more on the magician's mindreading abilities and the fact that the spectator had a completely free choice of card. The magician could hand the spectator a box of cards to hold, ask them to think of, and concentrate on, any card in the deck, and then to name it. The spectator then hands the box back to the magician, and the trick completed as before.

Joe Berg created the Invisible Deck in the 1930s, originally calling it the Ultra Mental Deck. It was Eddie Fields who came up with the invisible presentation after watching a patient in a psychiatric unit of a hospital shuffling an imaginary deck of cards.

The deck can be bought from magic dealers, and it requires some memorization work on the part of the performer. It is also possible to construct the deck using a regular deck and additional materials from department stores such as Walmart.[5][6]

Brainwave Deck

This is a lesser-known deck which operates on a similar principle to the invisible deck. A selection is given, and the magician pulls out a deck of cards and fans it face down, he spreads through the deck until he reaches a face-up card, this is the spectator's selection. For a final kicker the magician explains that he really did know which card would be selected, and that he had not secretly turned it over, by showing that the selected card has a different back than the rest of the deck. An inverse handling of the Brainwave deck is the X Deck, originally invented by Jay Sankey and identical to the invisible deck, but with the odd cards having an X on them. Both decks are meant to show that the magician did not just secretly turn the cards over.

Non-Standard Decks

These decks are not trick decks per se - they have no properties that makes performing magic with them easier — but they do differ from ordinary decks in some way, be it in size, shape, texture, or color.

Gaff Deck

A gaff deck is a deck that is used in conjunction with a normal deck. The gaff deck has the same back as the normal deck of cards, but the faces are changed visually. For example, there might be two 3½ of clubs, which can be used to split a 7 of clubs into two cards.

Fan Deck

Fan decks are decks which have special designs on both faces of the cards to allow for various shapes to appear when fanning the cards. A total of eight different fanning designs can be possible with a single deck of cards. (One for each corner of the cards, and the same on the back). A famous example is the Dragon Fan deck which, if fanned in a particular way, forms a dragon, from head to tail.

Miniature Deck

A Miniature Deck is about half the size of a standard card deck—measuring 1.75 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall.

Because of their small size, they are difficult to shuffle and are generally only collected as a novelty item or used in card tricks such as the "Vanishing Card" routine.

Round Deck

A round deck consists of cards that are circular. The cards' indices are printed around the edge of the card, every 60 degrees. The pips of spot cards are printed similarly to the way they would be on a rectangular card; the court characters have four heads as opposed to the traditional two.

Jumbo Deck

A Jumbo Deck is four times the size of a standard card deck and is used primarily for stage magic where regular cards would be difficult to see.

Crooked Deck

A Crooked Deck is just the same as a normal deck of playing cards, apart from the fact that the edges of them move back and forth in a Zig Zag fashion.

Other Trick Decks

See also


  1. ^ Jean Hugard, John Joseph Crimmins, Glenn G. Gravatt (1974). Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0486212521. , p.261
  2. ^ The Diagram Group (1996). The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Card & Magic Tricks. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN 0806993472.  , p. 166
  3. ^ Joshua Jay (2008). Magic: The Complete Course. Workman Publishing. ISBN 0761149872. ,p. 103
  4. ^ Dennis Rourke (2005). The everything card tricks book: over 100 amazing tricks to impress your friends and family!. Everything Books.  p. 144
  5. ^ Joshua Jay (2008). Magic: The Complete Course. Workman Publishing. ISBN 0761149872. ,p. 85
  6. ^ Ed Rose (1997). Presenting and training with magic!: 53 simple tricks you can use to energize any audience. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0070540403.  p.165

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  • trick — n. & v. n. 1 an action or scheme undertaken to fool, outwit, or deceive. 2 an optical or other illusion (a trick of the light). 3 a special technique; a knack or special way of doing something. 4 a a feat of skill or dexterity. b an unusual… …   Useful english dictionary

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