5 Things for Beginners That Will Make you a Great Magician (And They Each Cost Less Than $10!)

After recently joining this site and reading the post on 45 manly skills I was pleased to see that magic was in there. I have been performing sine the age of 16 (now 24) and have experimented with many different tricks.

For guys who would like to learn a few tricks I have compiled this short list with 5 things every magician should have. The magic market is huge nowadays and could be quite intimidating for the beginner so I have compiled this list with the following in mind.

1. Easy to learn ad perform
2. Costs less than $10
3. Strong magic that I have performed and is in the routines of working professionals the world over.

NB: I live in the UK but i know that the majority of AoM members live in the States so I have provided links to US sites. If anyone needs anything clarifying please send me an e-mail and I will do my best to help out.

1. Bicycle Playing Cards


Bicycles are the standard magicians' cards. I imagine all you guys in the States will already have some of these at home due to their popularity. They are used by a vast number of magicians for the following reasons:

1. They are amazingly durable. Bikes are quite tough and last for ages through both practice and performance. For example, I bought a brick of 12 last Christmas (2008) and I just used the last pack for a gig in December. Excellent value for money.

2. They handle wonderfully!. Bikes (and most of the lines carried by the United States Playing Card Company) are famous for their finish which makes them very easy to handle, spread, fan, flourish, shuffle and just about everything else a magician could need to do with them!

3. They look great. The standard back design and box design are both excellent and there are indeed several tricks which are based on the markings on a deck of bikes. There are also a wide range of styles available and the guys at the USPCC keep bringing out excellent designs like these

4. They are cheap. Even in the UK where we get them imported we can get a box of 12 for about £10 in the local wholesalers.

2. Karl Fulves' Self Working Card Magic

The definition of a "Self Working" magic trick is one that does not require any sleight of hand or other skill on the part of the magician but work due to a mathematical principle, stacked deck, key card or other principle.

Whilst I do recommend that all magicians learn some basic sleight of hand, self working tricks are a great place to start for beginners and will let them get out and perform as soon as possible. Even the best working professionals in the world use self working magic.

This book was my first magic book and is still a trusty source of inspiration. Fulves offers a range of tricks including coincidences, predictions and gambling swindles. All are presented in a clear and accessible way that is excellently illustrated by Joseph K Schmidt. Amazon.com link here

3. Sponge Balls

Sponge balls are an absolutle, dyed-in-the-wool classic of magic that a vast amount of working professionals perform every night (such as this performance by Wayne Dobson at the Royal Variety Show from 1min 49 seconds)

The video above shows the basic idea of the routine, a ball vanishes from the magician's hand and ends up in the spectator's. There is (as you can imagine) plenty of gags you can throw in here and plenty of other moves to spice up the routine. This does require a bit of sleight of hand but it isn't too difficult and the payoff is well worth the work. This is a staple of my profesional routine.

The best ones to buy are Goshman sponges that come in a range of colours and sizes. Here is a link

4. The Invisible Deck

The Invisible Deck is one of the strongest, most mind bendingly amazing tricks you can possibly do. The effect goes something like this. You offer the spectator an invisible deck of cards, get them to choose one, remember it and put it back in upside down so it is the only card facing the other way. You then take a real deck of cards out of your pocket, fan them out and there is one card upside down! shock! horror! they slowly look at the card and it is their card! you can then pick the spectator up off the floor.

This is an amazing trick that works on a devilishly simple principle that the audience will never realise. It takes a bit of memorisation and performance to pull it off but no sleight of hand as such. You could quite easily perform this on the same day you get it. It has never let me down.

See link here for video and shop.

5. Colour Monte

Colour Monte is an ideal trick to carry in your wallet for performing at a moment's notice as it only comprises 3 cards! However, the amount of magic you squeeze out of these cards is incredible. It is a gambling trick similar to find the lady where you challenge them to find a money card. The spectator however, can never find the money card no matter how easy you try and make it! This all leads up to a killer twist in the tale which will leave the audience stunned.

This probably requires the most practice out of all of the effects but the sleights that you learn will come in handy with plenty of other tricks. The excellent story and portability earns the colour monte the final slot in this list. There is a link here

Hope you have enjoyed this and found it useful. Please get in touch with any comments or questions.

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Comment by Kenny on February 14, 2010 at 10:42am
You have mentioned good tricks. I have recently started magic as a hobby. I have been a fan of magic for many years after watching Paul Daniels as a kid and starting to enjoy magic as a magician. I don't have many tricks but have recently purchased colour changing handkerchiefs, magic cards, a book on how to perform magic with handkerchiefs and a zig zag card.
What other tricks do you own?

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