Every card trick has at least two participants, the person performing the trick and the person who is the subject of the trick. Some tricks can have multiple performers and most tricks will still work with multiple subjects, but you need at least one of both.
The first trick that is explained here is based mainly on charisma and the second is simple mathematics.
The False Choice
This success of this card trick relies on the ability of the performer to be able to subtly guide the subject through a series of selection and elimination to arrive at a seemingly randomly chosen card.
Before starting the performance of the trick, you need to set up some things first:
You’ll use this list to keep track of the your progress as you are guiding the subject to select a card that you have chosen.
Make a show of shuffling the deck a few times and then handing it to the subject and asking them to shuffle it to their heart’s content. The first step in the performance is to covertly observe and remember the card at the bottom of the deck when they hand it back to you after shuffling it. A good way to get a look at the bottom of the deck if you don’t get a glimpse when they pass it back is to tap the deck on it’s edge to align the cards and glance down. However you manage it, you must see and remember the bottom card! This is the ‘random’ card that you will guide the subject to select so you have to remember it.
This guiding process is accomplished by having the subject pick suits and cards at random and then filtering those selections in or out based on whether or not the bottom card is included in the subject’s selection. Circle or cross out the subject’s selections to help keep things on track. While it’s not critical to hide the paper, an observant subject can determine your technique if you show too much of what you’re doing by keeping track of their selections. If you can do this by memory, it makes the trick that much better.
Below is an example of the interaction between the performer and the subject after the performer has successfully observed the bottom card which we’ll say is the 4 of clubs:
Note how when the subject selects a set that doesn’t include the four of clubs, the performer says, “Ok, that leaves …” Using this kind of language makes it seem like it’s natural to filter those selections out and continue with the remaining options. Similarly, when the subject makes a selection that includes the four of clubs, the performer makes a smooth transition to selecting from within that set. Whether you work with the selected set or filter it out, each time you have the person pick a set, you want to cut the options about in half.
Now that the subject has “randomly” selected the 4 of clubs, it’s time to make a show of it again. With whatever drama and mystery you can muster and the deck of cards face down in your open palm, ask the subject to predict the number of cards you’ll have to draw before you draw the 4 of clubs. If they give a big number, say 20 or more, you can tease them about how long that will take to draw that many cards, though it will have no effect on the success or failure of the trick. Usually the subject will pick somewhere between 3 and 10 cards. For the sake of this example, let’s say they choose seven cards.
Now, crank up the drama and use big showy arm movements as you draw and flip over the cards from the top of the deck. These big movements will help distract the subject when it’s time to draw their card. When you’re drawing and flipping the first six cards you should hold the deck in one hand so that your drawing hand is palm down over the deck when you draw. Doing this will hide your thumb from the subject’s view so that you can slip it under the bottom of the deck to draw the 4 of clubs on the seventh draw.
This trick uses simple mathematics to allow the performer to pick the card randomly chosen by the subject. Very little, if any, charisma is required to successfully execute this trick though some drama always makes a card trick that much more fun.
Shuffle the deck and ask the subject to do so as well. Have the subject pick 21 cards from the deck and set aside the other half of the deck as those cards aren’t used in this trick. The subject should then select one of the remaining cards to be their card. Have them memorize this card and then shuffle the 21 remaining cards and hand them back to you.
Lay out the cards face up into three columns of seven cards each. It’s important that you lay the cards out row by row. This means you start by laying out three cards in the first row. Then lay out three more cards to form the second row. Continue laying out cards row by row until you’ve laid out all 21 cards so that each card’s suit and number is visible.
Ask the subject to point at the column that contains their card, but do not identify the card specifically. Collect the columns so that the column containing their card is in the middle. For example, if they identified column three as the column containing their card, collect the columns so that column one is on top, column three is in the middle, and column two is on the bottom.
Repeat this process two more times and, if done correctly, their card will be the 11th card from the top of the deck when held face down. You can simply turn over the 11th card and show them their card, or you can maneuver the 11th card to the bottom of the deck and then ask them to predict the number of cards that you’ll have to draw before drawing their card as described in the False Choice above.