Struan asked for help performing a deck change or deck switch to introduce gimmicked playing cards:
‘I’m struggling to get ready for my first performance in public. There’s a cafe near me which asks for volunteers to go in and do acts, which I’m going to try.But I’m new to magic, and I’m having trouble stitching together a coherent routine – a few of the tricks I use gimmicked playing cards, so I need to somehow introduce them. What’s my best bet? Should I just be open about the deck change? Or should I do a secret deck change, or palm or cop the gimmicked cards in?’
Firstly Struan, well done for finding a venue where you can practice your magic in a live situation- the best way to improve your magic is to perform regularly for real people, so you are on the right track with what you are doing.
Keep It Simple Stupid!
It is great that you are thinking about how you will transition from one trick to the next, and the fact that you have identified a potential problem at this early stage is a real positive. You may find yourself in a position similar to a lot of other magicians whereby in trying to come up with a perfect solution to your problem you end up over-complicating the deck switch, to the point where your solution is completely impractical for real world performance.
Whatever method you use to achieve the deck switch, your focus should be simplicity. By keeping it simple, there will be less for you to worry about when you perform- and the less you have to worry about the more relaxed you will be. The more relaxed you are, the smoother your performance will be.
Perhaps the simplest way of switching decks is to be open, and draw attention to the fact that you are using a new deck. It sounds obvious, but sometimes we overlook such straight-forward methods because we don’t feel like we are being deceptive enough.
There are a number of ways you can justify openly switching decks depending on your style and the magic tricks you are performing. If, for example, you begin your act with a regular deck of Bicycle playing cards then you could introduce an old-looking deck of playing cards and tell your audience that the magic trick you are going to show them was first performed by the original owner of these cards years ago (if you have a magic trick which lends itself to a story presentation). You could even bring out playing cards with a different colour back design and cite ‘superstitious’ reasons for the change. As long as you come up with some kind of covering line and deliver it confidently, this kind of deck switch will not be questioned.
‘Bringing In’ Individual Playing Cards.
A simple way of either adding gimmicked playing cards or removing them from a deck ready for your next trick is to put the whole deck of cards into your pocket whilst you show the audience that there is nothing ‘tricky’ with your hands and nothing up your sleeves. You remove the deck of cards from your pocket to continue performing along with any extra gimmicks from your pocket, or without gimmicks from your previous trick that are left behind in your pocket.
Palming or ‘copping’ playing cards to and from the deck whilst it is in play is a very useful technique to have, and if you have mastered these sleights then undoubtedly you are well equipped to switch playing cards in and out without any fancy gimmicks or apparatus. Having said that, if you are at all uncomfortable with the technique then you may wish to consider some easier alternatives for your first time in the new venue so you are not putting yourself under unnecessary pressure…
Considering Your Options.
Your concern about deck switching is something that some of the best minds in magic have given a lot of thought to- so you are not alone!
Former FISM world champion Henry Evans has devised a truly elegant and simple way of switching decks without actually switching decks! In his excellent trick Modern Times, Henry causes a red and a blue deck of cards to visually switch places. Because this trick requires 2 decks of cards to be used, you can simply put one deck away when you are finished and continue to use the second deck of cards that is already in view. The great thing about this approach is that the method for introducing a new deck of cards forms part of a stunning magic trick on its own!
The great magician Tommy Wonder came up with an extremely straight-forward method for a deck change which a lot of professional magicians still swear by. You can watch Tommy teach this in-depth on his DVD Wonderized or you can read about it in the phenomenal BOOKS OF WONDER .
Sleight of hand or misdirection may not be the way you prefer to perform your deck switch. Sometimes, using a gimmick to do the work for you can speed things up and give you one less thing to work on. Ultimately, we created this blog to help you and your fellow magicians by giving you tips and advice about performing in the real world. This is not just another selling platform, so we won’t bombard you with products because that is not what this magic blog is about. However, this is such a great topic that will be relevant to a lot of people who regularly read the blog so for the sake of completeness we would also draw your attention to 2 relatively new gimmicks from Jeff Kaylor and Christian Engblom respectively called TKO 2.0 and THE COOLER, which are both extremely deceptive and unique sleight of hand free solutions to performing a deck switch.
What You Should Do.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Every magician is different- has their own way of thinking about magic and their own level of capability. Hopefully this article has been able to bring you closer to the answer you seek by highlighting some of the options that are currently available to you, so that you can consider what is right for you as an individual.
DON’T FORGET- whatever you decide, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don’t try anything on your first night in this new venue that is going to put excess pressure on yourself. Relax, have fun, and BE GREAT.
Best of Luck!
Did you find this post useful? What’s your preferred method for doing a deck switch or switching playing cards? Have you ever been caught out? What tips could you pass on to help? Please leave a comment in the section below: