What card plots do you hate? Twitter followers, Facebook fans weigh in

August 3rd, 2012 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

Card tricks are just like books, songs or movies: We love some and hate others.

Everyone of us is the same. As much as we are enamored by certain magic plots, we are disgusted by others just as strongly. Someone who loves a-card-at-any-number plots may detest the idea of an ambitious card routine. A card sharp who swears by his gambling demonstration might be nauseated to perform a mathematical, self-working trick.

Our Twitter followers and Facebook fans had some pretty strong opinons.

We asked which card plots that magicians couldn’t stand to touch with a ten-foot wand. The 21-card trick and oil and water plots took a lot of hits, as well as self-working tricks. Here’s what some Facebook users had to say:

  • Nathanael Bergen: Oil and Water – simple: I’ve yet to see an audience ACTUALLY garner any entertainment out of it – whether it was performed by me personally, or a professional elsewhere. They may clap and say ‘wow’ – but anyone can see that in their minds, all they’re thinking to themselves is: was that it…?
  • Andrew Boyd: Ambitious card – put into middle and returns to top. Okay, it’s simple to follow, but a four year old could figure out a million and one ways to do it. It’s not impossible, and unless there is some serious reworking, it’s not entertaining. However, it is good for a little impromptu messing about, showing off, and practice.
  • Luis Vega: mathematical card tricks…that for the audience is obvious you had a stacked deck…people are not stupid….
  • David Webb: The 21 card trick where you lay 3 rows of 7 cards down. It takes forever to set up, it’s contrived, and it’s stupid.
  • Joshua Siebenaler: Any trick where a card can’t be signed. People forget cards and without a signature, that big reveal is nothing.
  • Dalem Arsa Artha: Any trick that involves palming cards. It’s one of the things a spectator will always look for.
  • Magnus Asbjorn: For me any plot where the magician fails and then magically recovers. The only one of those I’ll do is the Biddle trick because it makes a good opener and it so impossible that its good for proving I’m magical.

Our Twitter follwers had similar selections, but the conversation took an interesting turn:

  • Matt Buckland: So there are no bad tricks just bad presentations?
  • Michael Weber: there are no bad plots, just bad versions of potentially compelling stories.
  • David Gamut: 2 magicians can perform the exact same trick, and elicit totally different responses.
  • Matt Buckland: I think magicians get put off by the simplicity of a trick and move on to learn harder sleights, they forget their audience

We agree. For all of you who hate the 21-card trick, Bill Malone (pictured at left) has a version you will love. Tommy Wonder has an amazing ambitious card routine with an impossible ending. A great performance can make an otherwise mundane performance truly magical. But what’s missing is whether Malone or Wonder actually LIKED those plots.

And that just raises more questions.

How does a magician know which effects are worth ignoring their hatred? Do we need to see someone perform a beautiful version of something we hate in order for us to consider working it? Should we all just get over ourselves?

Check back next week — Eric Jones, product development director for Ellusionist, will weigh in with how he approaches plots he hates.


  1. Matt Buckland on:

    I think it depends on the exact presentation the performer uses. One of the respondents hated mathematical tricks but look at the work of Ramon Rioboo and he’ll blow you away AND it’s entertaining. Likewise palming, if an audience suspects it as a method we should abandon it, we should get better at it. Look at John Carney using the palm or the way it’s utilised in Cards to Pocket – it’s great and entertaining.

    Roy Walton has a great trick called Back in Time, the presentation kills but the majority of magicians will overlook it because the method appears simplistic.

  2. All plots are as good as the performer is.
    but there is one plot I hate, the mathematical plot were you count the cards multiple times in a certain way till you find the spectators cards. It takes forever and it is boring and it looks like your a 9 year old amateur

  3. you’are. my bad