mind reading magic trick...
TAP A LACK A spectator and the performer each think of a card. The spectator is given the deck and asked to read the performer’s mind by removing and tabling what she thinks may be the performer’s mental selection. The performer then takes the deck and removes and tables a card that he thinks might be the spectator’s selection. Both are correct. While it is amazing enough that the performer has read the spectator’s mind by divining a thought-of card; it is even more amazing to the spectator that she has successfully determined the performer’s thought-of selection. I was first exposed to this effect while reading Allan Ackerman’s “An Ungaffed Ted” from his Classic Handling lecture notes. Allan tells me he was inspired by a routine outlined in the instructions to a deck of Ted Lesley marked cards that he had purchased from a magic shop. My friend Rafael Vila pointed out the effect “Double Thought” from Al Koran’s Professional Presentations as an even earlier precursor. Clearly, the simplest and perhaps strongest method for the routine is to use a marked deck as in the instructions Mr. Ackerman received when he purchased the Lesley deck and as Mr. Koran used in “Double Thought”. Mr. Ackerman wanted to use an ungaffed deck and resorted to a memorized stack – and his routine is exceptional. I, of course, wanted to do the effect from a shuffled deck in use. The effect requires that you know how to “clock” the deck. Clocking the deck means to remove one unknown card and then sum the values of the remainder of the deck to determine the name of the previously removed card. I know that it sounds time consuming and presentationally uncomfortable to count through the entire deck during a performance but you will see that the clocking process need only take up about 18 or 20 seconds and is constructed as part of the presentation. I’ll first explain how to clock the deck, and then I’ll outline the routine. Clocking a Deck This process has been around for many, many years. Stephen Minch has tracked it back to the 1700’s. In 1976 Harry Lorayne published a little booklet called The Epitome Location and briefly re-popularized clocking. Mr. Lorayne’s booklet was my first exposure to the clocking process and, fortunately, Mr. Lorayne halved the time it took to count the cards by counting only twenty-six of them – the reds or the blacks. Here’s how it works: remove a black spot card from the deck and table it. Now spread through the face-up deck and add together the values of the first two black cards that you come to. If their total exceeds 10, then drop 10 from the total. For instance, if the first two black cards you come to are the 7C and the 6S
you would add seven and six for a sum of thirteen. Since thirteen is more than ten, you would drop ten from the thirteen and your running count for these two cards would be three. Always count Jacks as “one”. Jacks actually count for eleven, but since eleven is higher than ten you would drop the ten and arrive at the number “one”, so you should always think of a Jack as a count of one. Similarly, when you see a Queen, consider it as a number “two,” and a King is always counted as a “three”. So, with your running count of three (having added together the 7C and the 6S to get thirteen and having dropped the ten out), assume that the next five black cards you see are: Ace of Clubs King of Spades Nine of Spades Four of Spades Seven of Spades To the right of each card below, I’ve shown the running count and the calculation used to arrive at the running count: Ace of Clubs: Three (your running count from the first two cards) plus one (the ace) is four. King of Spades: Four plus three is seven. Nine of Spades: Seven plus nine is sixteen, drop the ten for a running count of six. Four of Spades: Six plus four is ten, but you drop the ten, so your running count is zero. Seven of Clubs: Zero plus seven is seven. After you’ve counted all 25 of the black cards, you’ll have a one-digit running count. Subtract that number from twelve to learn the value of the black card that you had placed aside earlier. Note though, that if your final number (after subtracting from twelve) is one, two, or three, then the card you placed aside may be an ace or jack, or a two or a queen, or a three or a king, respectively. And, if your final number is zero, then the card placed aside earlier is either the ten of spades or the ten of clubs.
Now, it will seem like spreading through the cards and making all these calculations will be unwieldy and take a lot of time. Here are just four ways to speed up the process. 1. When you see a nine, think “minus one” instead of thinking “add nine and drop ten”. When you see an eight, think “minus two”. I learned this strategy from Harry Lorayne’s booklet, Epitome Location. 2. Spread about 10 cards at a time, which will usually display from three to six black cards (the others in the spread are red), and look for combinations that add up to ten; like ace/nine, eight/two, eight/queen, five/five, seven/king and so forth. When you see two (or three) cards that add up to ten, ignore them. 3. Identify other combinations of cards and their sum. For instance, when I see a six, seven, and eight, I think “one” because the sum of those three numbers is twenty-one and after dropping both tens I’m left with a running count of “one”. 4. Because the court cards initially locked up my mental processes, I made it a point, as I practiced, to identify the king/king, king/queen, king/jack, queen/queen, queen/jack, and jack/jack combinations (6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2, respectively), to improve speed. Using our earlier example: 7C 6S AC KS 9S 4S 7S When I see a spread such as this I immediately ignore the 7C/KS, the 9S/AC, and the 6S/4S because each pair represents ten, which is zero. I only count the 7S. So, rather than making eight or nine calculations, such as these:
Seven plus six is thirteen, drop the ten for a total of three; plus one (AC) is four; plus three (KC) is seven; plus nine (9S) is sixteen, drop the ten for a total of six; plus four (4S) is ten, which is zero; plus seven (7S). …I make just four calculations: Seven/king drop; six/four drop; ace/nine drop; seven. If you practice this for just an hour you will be amazed at how fast you can get through a whole deck counting just 25 cards of one color. With more and more practice, you will be able to clock the black (or, of course, red) cards in less than 20 seconds consistently – almost as fast as you can run through the deck. Some randomly shuffled decks will have many combinations that you will recognize immediately: 4S 6S 5C 5S 7C KS … and you’ll fly through such a deck, sometimes in as little as fifteen seconds. Note that each pair of cards, starting from the top of the list, adds to ten and may be ignored. Other times you’ll come upon, say, a block of ten black cards – which will startle you for a moment until you just drop out the combinations of ten and count the others up. As I said earlier, once you have the deck clocked, always subtract your final running count from twelve to identify the value of the card that has been removed. Remember too, that the number one may mean that the value is ace or jack; the number two may mean that the value is two or queen; and the number three may mean that the value is three or king; and that the number zero means the value of the isolated card is ten. To determine the suit of the card, and to determine whether a final number of one, two, or three is a spot or court card, you must backspread through the deck or square it and spread through it again. This spread through is much faster,
however, because you are only looking for either three cards or one card. That is, if your final count (after subtracting your final running count from twelve), is three, then during the second run through (or while back-spreading through the deck), you will be looking for the either two kings and a three or both threes and a king, using the process of elimination to determine which three or king is missing. If your final number is eight, for instance, then you will just be looking for a black eight – and if you find the spade, then the card that had been removed is the club, and visa-versa. This is a quick description of deck clocking, but I believe gives you enough information to successfully learn and perform the routine. The Routine Begin with a shuffled deck in use. The deck must have all 26 black cards present; so I usually just ensure that the deck is a full deck. Jokers have no bearing on the routine so they may be present in the deck or not, although you should check the Credits, References, and Remarks section for a note about Jokers. Spread through the face-up deck and note a card about three-quarters of the way in from the face. Obtain a break below this card – it will act as your key. I always set the four of diamonds in this position so that my key card for this routine is always the same card. Clocking the deck involves enough mental activity, and I’d rather not have to remember a different key card every time I perform the routine. Usually, I borrow a deck and spread through it quickly asking, “Is this a full deck?” During the patter I establish a pinky break below the four of diamonds. Then, as the spectator answers my question, I cut the deck to bring the four of diamonds (and my break) to a position three-quarters from the face of the deck. So, for the purposes of this description hold the deck face up with a pinky break below the four of diamonds, and patter that you will demonstrate for your spectator how you want you’re her to select her thought-card. Spread through the face-up deck, allowing the spectator to see the faces of the cards. Break the spread about midway such that a black spot card is at the face of the left-hand half. Place this half-deck against your chest. You should still have your pinky break below the four of diamonds near the middle of this packet. While taking these actions, explain that you are demonstrating how you want your spectator to choose her card, “Run through the deck with the faces towards yourself and when you see a card you like, take it and all those below it and place them against your heart.” “By the way,” you say, “since we’ll both be thinking of a card, (indicate the card at the face of the left-hand packet) I’ll think of a black card and you think of a red one. That way we cannot accidentally think of the same card, okay?” It is very
important that the spectator understands that she is to remember a red card, as you will see in a moment. Continuing, say, “Put the other cards on the table, take another good look at your card so you don’t forget it, and then cut this pack, burying your card. Finally, place these with these.” Again, as you patter, you are demonstrating the actions the spectator is to take, to wit: place the right-hand packet face down onto the performing surface. Take another look at the card against your chest. Give the inhand packet a straight cut at the pinky break (bringing the four of diamonds to the top of that packet when it is face down), and then table the in-hand packet face down onto the tabled packet. You are performing the mechanics of a Dai Vernon routine here, called “Emotional Reaction.” Vernon’s wonderfully hidden use of a key card will allow you to determine the spectator’s thought-of card in a few minutes. You have thoroughly explained – and demonstrated – what the spectator is to do. Also, you have managed the key card, the four of diamonds, surreptitiously to the top of the tabled deck. You are ahead of the game. The Spectator Chooses Her Card Now walk the spectator through her selection process. One ruse I always use when doing this routine or the Vernon original is this: As the spectator begins to run through the deck to select a card, I use the back of my fingers of either hand to tap the backs of the spread cards or the lowermost portion of the spectators hands, pushing the spread closer to them and saying, “Hold them up, so I can’t see!” This gives the impression that you want to be very fair, which is good; but it also puts the spectator slightly on the defensive, so that they are more inclined to pay attention and follow your directions exactly. Also, just after you have the spectator hold the cards up, add, “And remember, you should think of a red card.” This, of course, to ensure that the spectator does, in fact, choose a heart or diamond. Watch the spectator closely. Once she has placed a packet against her chest, ask her this: “Your card is against you?” She’ll either say yes, or will look confused. This, because every now and then, the spectator will leave their chosen card atop the packet that is not against her chest. You must manage the spectator, and ensure that the card she is going to remember is at the face of the packet that she holds against herself. This is easily done, but very, very important. Have her place the balance of the deck face down on the table. At this point you want to have the spectator take one more quick look at her card to ensure that she remembers it. If not performing one-on-one, I will cover my eyes and have my helper give the other spectators a peek at the card as well. If you do so, make sure that the packet is placed against her heart again before uncovering your eyes. Patter, “Just so there is no way that I can even get an
accidental glimpse of your card, give those a cut.” Here you should pantomime a straight cut with your hands up at your chest, again, directing the spectator’s actions. Her straight cut will place back of the four of diamonds against the face of her thought-of card. Lift about half of the tabled packet and have the spectator place her packet onto the tabled quarter-deck, drop the cards you had lifted onto the her packet, and the deck is once again complete. The spectator’s thoughtcard and the four of diamonds key card are together near the center of the deck. Placement of the Spectator’s Thought-Card “I will now think of one of the black cards,” you say. Pick up the deck and run through its faces - close to your chest, so no one else may see. Spread three or four cards past the four of diamonds (which, as I said, will be near the center of the deck) and table the right-hand packet. This tabled packet will hold the four of diamonds about fourth from the top, with the spectator’s selection right above it. For now do not identify the spectator’s card for yourself, just ignore it. Take another quick peek at the face card of the packet against your chest as if making sure to remember it. Of course, you ignore the name of this card. Just as the spectator did, give this packet a straight cut. Lift about half of the tabled packet with your right hand and then place the left-hand packet onto the remaining tabled quarter-deck. Place the right-hand cards onto the tabled deck, again, completing the procedure. Note that this procedure ensures that the key card and the spectator’s thought-card are very near the top of the deck. Pick up the deck and spread it face-up between your hands as you say, “Is there any way that you could know what card I am thinking of?” The spectator must agree that there is no possible way. Continue, “Similarly then, there is no way that I can know what card you have in your head, right?” Get the spectator to agree – and they will because they correctly realize that they couldn’t give a guess as to which card is yours. Reading One Another’s Minds Hand the deck to the spectator and say, “I want you to read my mind and remove my card – remember that mine is a black card – and put it face down over here.” Indicate a spot on the table. When performing this routine for magicians, they understand fairly quickly that they are to remove any black card and table it. A non-magician, however, will sometimes need a little more instruction! She will ask, “What do you mean?” Or she’ll say, “I can’t do that!” Simply encourage her, “Yes you can, just remember that my card is black. Read my mind, take out the black card, and put it here,” again, indicating a spot on the table. At this point the spectator will be game, and sometimes she’ll really act this up, which is fun. Just be sure to watch her closely again to make sure that she doesn’t flash the face of the card as she tables it. And, of course, make sure the card is tabled face down.
Retrieve the deck, saying, “Wow, that was fast! It’ll take me a few more seconds than you…” Begin spreading the deck with the faces towards yourself and visible only to you. Clock the black cards as fast as you can and when you get to the four of diamonds at the back of the spread, upjog the card to its left. This card is the spectator’s thought-of selection. Be sure to include any black cards to the left of the spectator’s selection in your count. “I think I have it,” you say, “but let me make sure.” Here, just quickly back-spread, to determine the suit of the card (or to determine whether it is a picture card or spot card and the suit). As soon as you have determined the exact identity of the black card missing from the deck, square up and remove the upjogged card, placing it face down on the table. As a side note here, notice that the selection procedure ensures that the spectator’s thought-card and the adjacent key card are near the top of the deck. This is so that you must run through the entire deck prior to upjogging the spectator’s selection and thus all the black cards may be clocked. If the spectator’s thought-card and the adjacent key card were in the middle of the deck or near the face, then there would be no reason to spread past it while continuing to clock the black cards. The Denouement “What,” you ask, “is the card you thought of that I could not possibly know?” The spectator will name her card. Flip up the spectator’s card and immediately say, ”Nailed it! Mine was the four of spades, did you get it?” You will see by the spectator’s reaction that she did indeed determine your thought-of card. Needless to say, the key element of this presentation is to clock the deck extremely fast, hopefully as fast as it takes you to spread through it. Your spectator will have absolutely no clue as to she was able to pick your card out of the deck. References, Credits and Remarks •
Allan Ackerman’s terrific routine, “An Ungaffed Ted,” may be found in his Classic Handlings lecture notes (1999), on page 21.
Ted Lesley’s marketed marked deck is a great utility device and probably the most popular of the marketed mark decks in use for magical performances – as opposed any employment at the card table!
Al Koran’s routine, “Double Thought,” may be found in Al Koran’s Professional Presentations, (undated), edited by Hugh Miller, on page 91.
Harry Lorayne published his Epitome Location booklet in 1976. The entire booklet is devoted to clocking the deck; and, significantly, Lorayne reduced the count to 26 cards by only clocking the reds or blacks.
Dai Vernon’s wonderful routine, “Emotional Reaction” may be found in Dai Vernon' s Inner Secrets of Card Magic, Lewis Ganson, (1959) on page 7. The pagination is the same as it is in the L&L Publishing reprint (1996).
Some years ago my friend Marty Kane pointed out that Lewis Jones included some clocking information in "Speedcount" from his book Counter Feats, (1996), on pages 22 – 26. Mr. Lewis describes some excellent timesavers in this work.
Stephen Minch has tracked card counting/deck clocking to the seventeenth century! He writes: Jacques Ozanam, in his book Récréations Mathématiques et Physiques of 1693, mentioned an early system for adding the cards of a deck to discover the value of a missing card. Reinhard Müller found that system also in Natuerliches Zauberbuch of 1745, p. 230. In Friedrich Wilhelm Conradi' s Der moderne Kartenkuenstler (1896) he found, on p. 100, "Der Gedaechtniskuenstler" ("The Memory Man") which has the following effect: A spectator takes one card from the deck, shuffles the remaining cards and calls out the names of the cards, card by card. The performer names at once the missing card! Method: card counting with casting out tens. In 1903 Conradi gives in his book Magisches Allerlei, p.102, an improvement. He adds up the value and the suit at the same time, in two columns of numbers. Then Conradi expands the effect, letting a spectator call out any number and the performer names the card at that number.
J.K. Hartman became excited about the routine you have read here as he had done very little work in the area of card counting and deck clocking. He subsequently came up, as is his usual way, with a couple of outstanding routines that employ clocking. He intends to publish a favorite, called, “Tri-Psychle” in his upcoming release: Card Dupery.
Finally, Mr. Hartman also pointed out that Karl Fulves has published quite a few booklets on card counting and/or clocking. He writes: The Shamrock Code/The Parallel Principle (2 in 1 booklet - the second section deals with Card Counting), 1979. Parallel Lines, 1980. Card Counting, 1982, reissued 2005. When Psychics Play Poker, 2004 - discusses a Speed Counting technique at length. In presenting the history of the technique, Fulves (in Card Counting) cites Hooper' s Rational Recreations, 1744 (!!!). He says that at least two methods were in print prior to 1900 but doesn' t
cite them. He does cite the March 1905 issue of Ellis Stanyon' s Magic for an approach by an Indian magician Satya Ranjan Roy. Along the way, he mentions a "truly new idea" by Ken Beale in "Half a Headache," Ibidem #2, 1953. He also mentions Charles Hopkins'Outs, Precautions and Challenges, referring to "Hopkins' 220 System."
Mr. Hartman also correctly pointed out to me that trying to create a complete list of deck clocking references is futile as some reference will always be missed. The above list, however, should provide some fodder for the interested student. Fulves’ Card Counting appears to be the most complete work on the subject.
It is extremely important to appear relaxed when clocking the deck. At first, you’ll be uptight – feeling the need to go both fast and not to make any mistakes. This stress will show on your face and in your body language. As you become more confident with the clocking process, the stress will dissipate.
If you end up with a running count of two and subtract it from twelve to get a final number of zero, then the isolated card is likely a ten. When you backspread to determine which ten, you will sometimes find both black tens. Either you have miscounted or the spectator removed a joker. Check the deck quickly to determine if either joker remains; if only one joker remains, then the spectator removed the other joker. If both jokers are present, then you have mis-clocked the deck.
Mis-clocking the deck is a massive drag on the effect because in order to successfully complete the routine you must clock the deck again. Better to go a little slower during the initial clocking and be accurate than to go too quickly, mis-count, and have to re-clock.
I would like to thank Marty Kane, Stephen Minch, J.K. Hartman, and Rafael Vila for helping me with the above references.
The title? An acronym for Ted-Allan-Paul-Al---Lesley-Ackerman-CumminsKoran.