FOUR POINTS: Going back to basics always good practice for experts

May 12th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points

Think about how long you’ve been into magic, and all the arcane, obscure material you’ve hunted down. From memorization techniques to NLP, from gambling cheats to elaborate gaffs — look at all the material in your library and rate how complicated they might be.

Got it? How many of those books or videos are intended for beginners?

Seriously: Got a copy of Card College? Crash Course in Card Tricks? Tarbell? Royal Road? When was the last time you looked at one of the basic beginning books and reviewed it with an experienced mind?

We know of at least one group on the Internet devoted to going back in time. Members of the secret group are revisiting Roberto Giobbi’s “Card College,” all five volumes, and making videos based on the principles taught. Their goal is to get a deeper understanding of the magic taught within.

And the first step was Vol. 1, where sleights such as the thumb break, step, overhand shuffle and ribbon spread are taught. Tough stuff, eh? Yet these experienced card workers, most of whom have regular paying gigs, devoted the time to holding a pinky break.

It’s genius for a lot of reasons, but four main ones stand out:


When we first start learning magic, we may not be the best at learning from books or videos. Our brains are not yet acclimated to processing sleight of hand instruction, so we may not take it all in. Or maybe we miss a crucial step. Going back and watching those videos again, or reading those descriptions again, may reveal something we didn’t know what was important at first, something we had glossed over. It’s worth it to check it out and recap how well you’re actually doing something that you THINK you do well.


Speaking of recaps, we tend to breeze through a lot when first picking up magic materials. Especially books: Think about all the tricks in there that we might have glossed over. This is especially true of “Royal Road to Card Magic.” That book is filled with sleights, effects and full routines just begging for us to revisit and adapt to our own style.


Once you’ve mastered a few intermediate materials, you have a larger foundation of magic skills. There’s no better time to revisit those basics, because you approach them with a more rounded outlook and breadth of experience. Maybe a move that seemed impossible now looks doable. Maybe you find something that you thought would never work in front of spectators, such as a bluff pass, and now see the move’s full potential.


Maybe you’ve had a problem that you’ve overcome by doing something different. When you review those instructions, you might discover that a finger is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that you make a move at a bad beat. A review of those basics might fix a problem you’ve been tolerating for a long time.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to

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