The 7 Best Story-Based Card Tricks (Explained)

People love stories, and there is no better way to captivate an audience than with incorporating storytelling into your card magic.

A story works both as entertainment for the audience and as a method of misdirection when performing sleight of hand techniques in front of spectators.

While card tricks that are strictly sleight of hand are awesome, including a card trick with a story into your routine will have audience members more emotionally attached to the outcome of the trick.

And with some of the card tricks listed below, the ending to the trick will have spectators left in disbelief.

Some of the best card tricks with a story are:

  1. Sam the Bellhop
  2. Gambler vs Magician
  3. The Twins
  4. Cannibal Cards
  5. Jack the Bounty Hunter
  6. Cops & Robbers
  7. The Rich Man and the Porter

Let’s take a close look at each of them.


1. Sam the Bellhop

Skill Level: Intermediate

First performed by legendary magician Bill Malone, Sam the Bellhop is a fast-paced card trick that incorporates both comedy and sleight of hand that gets a great reaction.

Don’t worry — you don’t need to be as charismatic and funny as Bill Malone to perform this trick!

Throughout this trick, the magician will reveal cards that align perfectly with the story.

The spectators will be entertained by the story of Sam the Bellhop and wonder how you are revealing the cards for the trick effortlessly.

The Story

The focus of this story is about Sam the Bellhop, a hotel worker who first encounters four gentlemen who walk into the hotel looking for help finding women to keep them company.

Sam helps these four gentlemen (kings) by bringing four ladies (queens) from the 654 Club to accompany them.

After a while, these four gentlemen become bored, and they request that Sam the Bellhop help them by finding four card players. Sam comes back from his search with four card players, all named Jack, who he found at the 654 Club.

While playing cards, the four gentlemen run into trouble with the ladies and need Sam to help them cash a $40 check. After Sam has finally brought their money, they are impressed by his service and ask him if he also plays cards.

The trick ends with Sam telling a story about the Poker hands he recently saw at the famous 654 Club.

The magician reveals the Poker hands during this part of the story and ends with the best Poker hand of them all — a straight flush.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

The trick Sam the Bellhop utilizes several card handling techniques that work together to achieve this effect.

The deck is carefully setup before the performance to work with the story, so card handling is a must to maintain both the storyline and secret of the trick.

The sleight of hand techniques necessary to perform this trick are:

  • The False Cut
  • The False Riffle Shuffle
  • The False Run

With enough practice, you can tell the story and perform the sleight of hand techniques effortlessly.

Learn it from Bill Malone himself on his DVDs.


2. Gambler vs. Magician

Skill Level: Beginner

Developed by Harry Lorayne, the Gambler vs. Magician trick is a simple and straightforward card trick that has a surprising ending.

This card trick always gets an excellent result for me, and the setup for this trick is quick so that you can perform this as an impromptu card trick.

The Story

For the story of this card trick, a gambler and a magician argue about who the better card manipulator is.

The gambler is a subtle card manipulator who performs card sleights that aren’t noticeable. A gambler is subtle because, in the world of gambling, a cheater will face severe consequences if caught.

On the other hand, a magician is an entertainer and will get booed out of the room if they mess up their sleight of hand techniques.

To put the magician’s skills to the test, the gambler bets the magician one million dollars that he cannot shuffle the deck, cut the deck of cards, and turn over the top card four times to get four of a kind.

The magician accepts this bet and begins by cutting the deck of cards three times to reveal a Queen as the top card.

He does this two more times, each time unveiling another Queen. As the magician cuts the deck of cards one last time, he seems to have made a mistake and shows a 2-card instead of a Queen.

As the gambler reaches for the money, the magician stops him and tells him, “you didn’t say the cards needed to be Queens.”

As the gambler flips over the other three face-down cards revealed previously, it’s revealed that these cards were 2’s all along.

This card trick’s story can be modified to fit your style, and the result will always surprise the spectators.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

This card trick is beginner-friendly and requires a small setup beforehand and knowledge of two sleight of hand techniques.

The two sleight of hand techniques used in the Gambler vs. Magician trick is a double-lift and false cut.

These two techniques are basics of card magic, and with enough practice will be natural.

Learn it from Michael Ammar here.


3. The Twins (or Gemini Twins)

Skill Level: Intermediate

The Twins by Brother John Hamman is a simple trick that requires only a handful of cards but packs a punch.

It was also made famous by magician Micheal Ammar after he performed this card trick with his version of the story under the name “The Gemini Twins.”

Both names are the same card trick. However, many magicians online have started to use the Gemini Twins name to describe another unrelated card trick. To find the proper card trick, The Twins only uses four cards in the performance.

The Story

The story begins with the magician saying that there are two pairs of identical twins with dark hair (black suit) going on a double date at a bar. During the date, both ladies (Queen) excused themselves to the restroom, leaving the guys (King) at the table.

As they scanned the room, one of the guys noticed an attractive redhead woman (red suit) at the bar.

That guy struck up a conversation with the women. While they talked, the other guy noticed she also had a twin sister with red hair and struck up a conversation with her.

While conversing with the redheads, the two guys’ dates left the restroom and noticed they were talking to other women. Both women grabbed their partners by the hand and left the bar quickly.

In a turn of events, two redhaired men begin talking to the redheaded women at the bar.

This part of the trick is a surprise because there were no red king cards throughout the first part of the card trick.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

The Twins is a masterclass in how you can use sleight of hand to turn only a few cards into an impressive trick.

The entirety of this trick is a collection of effortless double-lifts and triple-lifts.

You must also practice this trick often to memorize the order of the few cards you have in your hand.

Accuracy is crucial in this trick, and one exposed double-lift with the bottom card showing is a recipe for disaster.

Learn this one from Michael Ammar here.


4. Cannibal Cards (or Cannibal Kings)

Skill Level: Advanced

The Cannibal Cards trick is a very unique and visual trick that always makes spectators laugh without fail.

Lin Searles is the originator of this card trick, but Micheal Ammar made it famous by including it in one of his instructional card trick DVDs.

You can let your creativity run free with this card trick and come up with your own story to tell about these cannibal cards.

There are endless variations of this trick performed online from stories about famous serial killers to exotic cannibals in the jungle.

The Story

The story of the Cannibal Cards typically starts with the kings of the deck taking the cannibals’ role. In Micheal Ammar’s retention of this story, the cannibals march through the jungle looking for people to eat.

They come across their first victim, and the mouth made of cards consumes its first victim, then flips over and burps. It is revealed that the cannibals have entirely devoured the card, and the card disappeared.

After devouring the second victim, the cannibal cards are still hungry and start to cannibalize themselves. The king of clubs begins to eat the rest of the cannibal tribe until he’s the only one left.

This card trick ends with a display of the tribe of cannibal kings, and the cards previously eaten are in the “stomach” of the king of clubs.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

The Cannibal Cards is a card trick that requires a high level of accuracy and misdirection to pull off properly.

While the story of this trick is simple, the techniques to make the cards disappear after the cannibals have eaten them takes practice.

The sleights of hand you need to master are:

  • Ascanio spread
  • Pinky break
  • ATFUS (Anytime Face-Up Switch)

The hardest sleight of hand technique to perform is the Ascanio Spead, but once you have mastered it, it is a useful tool to add to your arsenal for more advanced card tricks.

Learn it from Michael Ammar right here.


5. Jack the Bounty Hunter

Skill Level: Beginner

Jack the Bounty Hunter, is a simple mathematical card trick that doesn’t require any fancy sleights of hand to perform.

All you need for this trick is to follow the basic math formula, and Jack will find the suspect every time.

The Story

Since this card trick is basic, there is no elaborate story told throughout the performance.

The premise of this trick is that Jack is a Bounty Hunter will find any suspect (card) the spectator chooses.

The spectator will notice with every new pile of cards, Jack is getting closer to the suspect until finally, there are only two cards left.

One face-up card shows Jack and the other card—which is the suspect of the crime.

Get a quick tutorial for Jack the Bounty Hunter right here.


6. Cops & Robbers (or The Jacks Rob a Bank)

Skill Level: Beginner

The Cops & Robbers card trick is a simple one, but never ceases to amaze audiences when it’s performed.

The creator of this trick is unknown, but there are dozens of variations to this card trick — each with a different story.

If you are performing for kids and want to shy away from a crime-filled story about a robbery, a great alternative is the story of the four firemen who help save someone trapped inside a burning building.

The story is easily customizable, with the main effect remaining the same and getting a great reaction from spectators.

The Story

This story begins with an introduction of the four brothers (Jacks) who plan to commit a robbery at a bank. Each Jack is assigned a task during the burglary, with the bank signified by the deck of cards in the magician’s hand.

While the brothers assign themselves their tasks for the robbery, they start by taking a helicopter and land on the bank. They begin by spreading out throughout the bank (card deck) on different building levels, looking for a vault.

One robber who was assigned to be the lookout on top of the bank notices that cops are starting to surround the bank quickly.

The other three jacks swiftly make it to the rooftop and escape from the helicopter just in the nick of time.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

This trick’s main effect is the quick appearance of the other three Jacks at the top of the deck.

This effect is created by making the audience believe you are pushing the Jacks into the middle of the deck.

The only sleight of hand technique needed for this trick is a pinky break.

There are more advanced versions of this trick, but a simple pinky break is all you need to get great results with an audience.

Check out Chris Ramsay’s excellent tutorial here.


7. The Rich Man and The Porter

Skill Level: Beginner

Strangely enough, this card trick was made famous by legendary country music singer Willie Nelson from a Youtube video.

This card trick is a simple one that requires you to memorize the order of cards and count each card correctly.

The storyline of this card trick is similar to the Sam the Bellhop card trick but is geared more for beginners. Unlike Bill Malone’s version, you don’t need to make fancy false cuts or false shuffles to perform this effect.

You will need to set up the deck beforehand, keeping your cards in the same order is crucial for this card trick.

The Story

The story begins with a rich man entering a fancy hotel and asking the porter to help him by sending four card players to his hotel room to play poker with him.

The porter searches the neighborhood and comes back with four people who look wealthy (Kings).

The rich man tips the porter two dollars and now requests he finds four ladies (Queens) to help keep them company.

The porter searches the neighborhood again, and this time comes back with two redheads and two brunettes.

The rich man praises the porter’s service and tips him two dollars again. The rich man then requests that the porter find four waiters to help serve him and his guests.

The porter leaves again and comes back with four waiters, all named Jack.

The conversation continues between them, each time placing down cards that relate to the story.

The card trick ends very similar to Sam the Bellhop, and the porter explains the poker hands that beat him to the rich man.

Sleight of Hand Techniques

This card trick requires no sleight of hand techniques and is one of the simplest card tricks with a story to perform.

If Willie Nelson, at the ripe old age of 87, can perform this card trick — you can as well!

Watch Willie Nelson perform this one right here!


Conclusion

No matter your skill level, there is always a card trick with a story that you can perform to amaze audiences. Even the most basic of card tricks can be something special with a magician who knows how to tell a great story.

You can choose an elaborate story like Sam the Bellhop or The Rich Man and The Porter.

You can also choose a more simplistic approach like the Cannibal Cards or The Jacks Rob a Bank that always makes audiences laugh.

Get creative with your routine and use the storytelling card tricks listed above to steal the show.

Now check out some more of my favorite card-trick roundups like:

Good luck, magicians!