Trick deck

Trick deck

A trick deck usually refers to a deck of playing cards which has been altered in some way to allow magicians to perform certain card tricks where sleight of hand would be too difficult or too impractical. These decks can be bought from most magic dealers.

Trick Decks

Stripper Deck

A Stripper Deck (also known as a Tapered Deck, Wizard Deck or Biseauté Deck) allows the magician to easily control the location of a card or group of cards within the pack. Even after being shuffled into the deck by a spectator, the magician can cut to a selected card; or after being lost in different parts of the deck, the magician can control multiple cards to the bottom or top of the deck with a few innocent shuffles.

Unlike the Invisible or Svengali Deck, the Stripper Deck can be handled and examined by an audience member, and it can withstand a modest amount of scrutiny without exposing the secret; however, this deck is found in a number of beginners' magic kits, so the secret is well-known, even by non-magicians.

Many of the effects achieved with this deck can also be accomplished with sleight of hand, and it is often regarded by professional magicians that using the Stripper Deck to control a few cards is lazy. However, magicians still use this deck for some tricks where they are controlling too many cards to keep track of individually, for example, half the deck.

Svengali Deck

The Svengali deck of cards is a specially constructed deck that can be used by magicians to perform various card tricks. The deck and the tricks performed with it is self-working and require almost no skill. Burling Hull claimed to have invented the deck in 1909.

The deck can be dribbled or riffled to create the illusion that the deck is completely ordinary. It can even be shuffled. One basic trick involves a spectator choosing a card from the deck and returning it; the card can appear practically anywhere in the deck, making tricks like the Ambitious card incredibly simple. The final and most stunning trick is when all the cards are suddenly presented as being all the same card as chosen.

Joe Stuthard's Trilby and Bi-Co Trilby Decks are variations on this deck. In the 1960s and 1970s, Marshall Brodien sold 17 million Svengali decks under the name TV Magic Deck.

The deck alternates between normal cards and shortened cards, and the shortened cards are all of the same number and suit. When the deck is riffled front to back, only the normal cards are visible; when it is riffled back to front, only the shortened cards are visible.

Unfortunately, the conjurer cannot allow an audience member to examine the deck. The use of a Svengali deck can also be detected by its characteristic faster riffle and sound. Finally, because the deck is so venerable and is widely sold in joke and novelty shops, many laymen are familiar with it.

Invisible Deck

An invisible deck is used mainly for mindreading purposes.

In the classic presentation of this effect, the magician hands the spectator an imaginary, or 'invisible' deck, hence the trick's title. On being handed the deck, the spectator is made to mime the acts of 'removing' the cards from their case; 'shuffling' them; 'spreading' them face-up on the table; freely 'selecting' a card; 'replacing' it face-down among the other face-up cards; and 'returning' the deck to its box.

At this point, either the spectator keeps the imaginary deck while the magician removes the real deck from his pocket, or the spectator hands the imaginary deck to the magician, which suddenly becomes real in the magician's hand. The magician then asks the spectator to name the card he/she selected, removes the deck, face-up, from its box and spreads the cards to show one face-down card. The spectator removes the card to find it is the one he/she named moments earlier.

In the more comedic version of the routine, more focus will be drawn to the part of the effect where the spectator is handling the cards. Often, the magician might criticize the spectator's card-handling abilities, or remind them to take the cards out of the case before trying to shuffle them.

A more serious routine can be performed, which focuses more on the magician's mindreading abilities and the fact that the spectator had a completely free choice of card. The magician could hand the spectator a box of cards to hold, ask them to freely think of, and concentrate on, any card in the deck, and then to name it. The spectator then hands the box back to the magician, and the trick completed as before.

Brainwave Deck

The Brainwave deck is similar to the Invisible deck and performed in exactly the same way; however, to locate the selected card the deck is spread face-down and the named card is the only one that's face-up. As a second climax to the trick, this card is turned face-down and shown that its back color is different from that of the rest of the deck, thus proving that that the magician really did know what the spectator would say in advance and didn't just secretly turn the card over.

Marked Deck

A Marked deck has an extremely subtle mark on the decorative side of the cards. Usually the mark is placed in a certain position to indicate the number of the card and the mark is a certain color or shape to indicate suit. The magician shows the card to the audience and reads off the number and suit of the card without seeing it, indicating 'x-ray vision.'

Mental Photography Deck

The Mental Photography deck's cards are roughed (treated) so that two cards will stick to each other. You can fan the deck and show both sides and they will seem to be completely blank, but when you cut the deck a card will appear. It is all self-working. Then you may flip through the deck and show that all the cards are printed and then return back to blank if you wish.

Forcing Decks

These decks are used to force a spectator to select a particular card, which the magician knows in advance. Such a feat can be accomplished quite easily using a regular deck and sleight of hand but with the aid of a forcing deck the trick is made self-working. The simplest forcing deck is one in which all cards are identical. In this instance, the magician must be careful to prevent the spectator from seeing the faces of the cards.

A two-way forcing deck consists of two sets of identical cards, one set comprising the top half of the pack and the other the bottom half. A deck of this nature can be used to force two different cards on two spectators. Similarly, a three-way forcing deck is comprised of three different sets of identical cards.

A 50/50 forcing deck is a deck in which the top half is made up of the same card and the bottom half is composed of indifferent cards. Providing he only shows half of the deck, the magician can fan the cards face-up to supposedly demonstrate that all cards are different. When offered to the spectator for selection, he must ensure that he or she selects a card from the top half.

Some decks are made by making the deck have every other card being one card so the magician can force it on a spectator easily, and so that he can take out other cards that are not one of the forcing cards.

It's worth noting that these decks have fallen out of favor amongst professional magicians, due to an increased suspicion amongst audiences of the use of gimmicked props. As such, they are rarely employed.

Non-Standard Decks

These decks are not trick decks per se — they have no properties that makes performing magic with them easier — but they do differ from ordinary decks in some way, be it in size, shape or color.

Miniature Deck

A Miniature Deck is about half the size of a standard card deck -- measuring 1.75 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall.

Because of their small size, they are difficult to shuffle and generally only collected as a novelty item or used in card tricks such as the "Vanishing Card" routine.

Round Deck

A round deck consists of cards that are circular. The cards' indices are printed around the edge of the card, every 60 degrees. In the case of spot cards the pips are printed similar to how they would be on a rectangular card; for court cards, the court characters have four heads as opposed to the traditional two.

Jumbo Deck

A Jumbo Deck is four times the size of a standard card deck and is used primarily for stage magic where regular cards are difficult to see.

Crooked Deck

A Crooked Deck is just the same as a normal deck of playing cards, apart from the fact that the edges of them move back and forth in a Zig Zag fashion.

Other Trick Decks

  • Goofy Bridge Deck (Also known as a Reverse Flush Deck and a Reverse Color Deck)
  • Richard Osterlind's Radar Deck
  • Rising Card Deck

See also


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