Self working magic tricks can be a great tool for beginner magicians when they don’t have enough sleight of hand knowledge. They’re also good for advanced magicians because they provide an alternative and impressive form of magic!
In today’s post, I’ll be going through my personal top ten self-working magic tricks, explaining them, as well as referencing some of the best videos on them.
What are the best self-working magic tricks?
- Contact Colors
- Gemini Twins
- Play it Straight Triumph
- Emotional Reaction
- Lazy Man’s Card Trick
- Con Cam Coincidencia
- Out of this World
Okay, let’s kick things off and get going! This list will be completely subjective so feel free to disagree with me on my list, I’d be happy to hear another opinion if you think I might have got a detail wrong (leave your feedback in the comments section just below this post).
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 10: Contact Colors
This classic trick features three moments of increasing surprise: first there’s the coincidence of two selected cards showing up at the same time, then four aces are revealed simultaneously, and finally there’s the miracle of all the cards in the remaining piles being sorted separately as red and black. While this routine requires somewhat of a set-up and involves some longer phrases, it can be incredible if done well, and it’s hard to believe that it is even self working. Some magicians even use it as a closer in their performances, given how strong it is. The surprising color separation at the end is amazing, and Colombini often used this as a highlight in his lectures and performances.
Watch Ian Moran perform contact colors in the video below:
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 9: Overkill
First developed by Paul Harris, Overkill is a fantastic prediction self working magic trick.
This trick requires a small setup beforehand, and you will need both a duplicate card with the same colored back and a different one as well.
Your spectator removes a small packet of cards and secretly counts how many cards they have. From a row of cards on the table, they remember the card in the position corresponding to their number. Not only can you identify the card, but it turns out to be the only card in the deck with a different colored back, and was even predicted on the card box! As an extra twist, the card originally cut, turns out to match the selected one!
What’s amazing about this trick is how it has several phases of revelation. It’s already an impressive feat to identify the thought of a card, but it becomes all the more astonishing with the three demonstrations that follow: the different colored card back, the prediction on the card back, and perhaps most amazing of all, the matching card. This effect features climax after climax after climax! It’s a lot of fun to perform for the right audience.
Watch Paul Harris perform “Overkill”
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 8: Gemini Twins
The magician begins by choosing two prediction cards and placing them face-up onto the table for the spectators to see.
Once the magician has their prediction cards, they will hand over the deck to a spectator and ask them to deal as many cards as they want, face down onto the table.
Once they have stopped dealing with the cards for the first time, the magician will take one of the prediction cards and place it face-up on top of the pile of cards. The rest of the deck will be placed on top, so the prediction card is inside the middle of the deck.
The magician will instruct the spectator to do this process again for the second prediction card as well.
Once both prediction cards are somewhere in the middle of the deck, completely at random, the magician will fan out the cards to reveal both face-up prediction cards.
The magician will take both the prediction card and the card next to it and place it back onto the table.
With both prediction cards face-up and two cards facedown, the magician will reveal the facedown cards to be the same card as the prediction cards with a different suit — their “twins”.
Despite the simplicity of the method, this effect is incredibly impressive. What makes it strong is that the spectator genuinely shuffles the deck, and can stop at any point that they want. And to prove that it’s not a fluke, it happens twice, and yet you end up with not just one but two matches. The plot has great opportunities for presenting it well and will get good reactions.
Here is a tutorial below:
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 7: Untouched
As the name of this card trick hints, the magician will not touch the deck of cards during the performance of this self working card trick. Using just their eyes, the magician will be able to make a fantastic prediction.
If you have an audience member who is willing to be in the spotlight for the performance, this is the card trick for you.
The magician begins by explaining that they are thinking of a card and that they will not touch the deck for the entirety of the card trick.
The magician will hand the deck of cards to an audience member and instruct them to fan out the cards with the cards’ faces away from them.
While the spectator is fanning out the cards, the magician is looking closely to spot the card they are thinking of and instructs the spectator to remove that card (without seeing it) from the deck and place it face down.
With the predicted card facedown, the magician tells the spectator to deal as many cards as they want onto the table.
Once they have stopped dealing cards, the magician will then instruct them to split the cards into two separate groups.
Once the spectator has finished making their two piles, the magician will turn over the top card of both piles.
In a fantastic display of mentalism, the two cards that are turned over will have the same value and suit as the original card the magician chose initially.
Watch Micheal Amar perform “Untouched”
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 6: Play it straight triumph
While this trick requires somewhat of a set-up, the result is something that feels genuinely magical and powerful, especially when you add some humor to the presentation. It’s known as a real fooler with a big impact and has a visual element and built-in presentational element that helps. The impact far outweighs the relatively little effort required to learn and perform it, which allows you to put all your energy into the presentation.
The spectator selects a random card, and then you divide the deck into four piles which you shuffle into each other face up and face down, to create a random and jumbled mess. When the spectator names the suit of their card, you reveal that all the cards in the deck are face down except the cards of that suit! That is, all except a single card – their chosen card!
Watch John Bannon perform “The Bannon triumph”
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 5: Emotional Reaction
This method used here is simple, but because it is presented in such a fresh and novel way, not only does the method go undetected, but it also makes for a very entertaining trick. It is all about the presentation, which both sells the trick and entertains at the same time. As the name suggests, it can create a strong emotional reaction that will be remembered even months later.
Your spectator shuffles the deck and secretly takes out a card that he freely chooses, and then holds it to his heart. The chosen card is buried into the middle of the deck, and from then on he merely thinks of his selected card. With the cards spread face up, your spectator then holds your wrist, and based on their emotional responses, you can identify which is their chosen card.
Despite its simplicity, this routine has even fooled an entire room of magicians.
Watch “Emotional Reaction” be performed below
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 4: Devastation
What makes this trick so strong is that under apparently impossible conditions, it reveals a card that was merely thought of. The deck is in the spectator’s hands virtually the entire time, and they do all the shuffling and make all the choices. Yet it’s super easy to do, and it’s the presentation that can fry people. It can also be done completely impromptu with a borrowed and shuffled deck, making it great for any situation.
After your spectator shuffles the deck, he makes several piles of cards, chooses one such packet, then remembers one card and the number of its position in that packet. The piles are placed together in any order by the spectator and cut multiple times – all of which can be done without you even looking. Yet when dealing with the spectator’s number, there is the very card they have been thinking of!
Sal Piacente also has a wonderful presentation of the routine called “4,5,6 Packet Trick”.
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 3: Lazy Man’s Card Trick by Harry Lorayne
This trick produces reactions of amazement since you don’t touch the deck at all after giving it to the spectator. This makes it even more baffling to the audience because they have been making all the decisions and doing all the handling. They freely select a card of their choice, they cut it numerous times. And yet despite it being completely out of your control, you can tell exactly how far into the deck their card is. When presented well, it can be a real killer, despite how easy it is.
The magician begins by telling a story about how after a long and tiring magic routine, someone would ask them to see another trick after the show.
With the magician no longer interested in performing any complicated tricks, they decide to let the spectator do all of the work.
The magician tells the spectator to take any card they would like out of the middle of the deck and to remember that card.
Once the spectator remembers the card, the magician tells them to put it on the top of the deck and to cut it back into the middle.
The magician then tells the spectator to cut the deck multiple times while the magician acts like they aren’t interested. After the spectator has cut the deck numerous times, the magician will instruct them to flip the deck face-up and cut them again.
The magician will finally flip the deck back over and sense where they think it is inside the deck.
In a fantastic display, the magician will count off several cards and stop at one card—revealing it to be the spectator’s choice.
Watch Lazy Man’s Card Trick by Harry Lorayne
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 2: Con Cam Coincidencia
This trick is also called “C3”, and it is highly regarded. Some magicians consider it right up there with “Out Of This World”. It was good enough for Shin Lim to perform in the season finale where he was announced as the winner of America’s Got Talent, and he subsequently performed it on the Ellen show as well.
You can start with a borrowed shuffled deck, which takes all the heat off the cards from the outset. The fact that you can involve three different participants makes it all the more engaging, and also helps make the spectacular ending seem more impossible. Given all the steps involved, there’s also no way that any of the spectators can deconstruct or reverse-engineer the method, especially given the free handling. A good presentation that emphasizes the odds helps highlight the impossibility. There’s no doubt that this trick packs a punch, and is a real reputation maker.
A spectator shuffles the deck and remembers a card that is shuffled into the deck. Then you divide the deck into four approximately equal piles, with three spectators taking one each. Each of you then deals and shuffles your pile of cards thoroughly, and discards a random number of cards from it. Amazingly, the originally selected card ends up at the top of the initial spectator’s pile! And as a kicker, its mates are revealed to be at the top of the other piles!
Watch Shin Lim perform “Con Cam Coincidencia” on TheEllenShow:
Self Working Magic Tricks Number 1: Out Of This World
This is such an incredible and powerful trick! After all, it seems completely impossible, and impossibility is what makes magic so strong. It would be astonishing to just sort even a few red and black cards correctly, but to sort through the entire deck in this way is truly a miracle. Another key to the beauty of this trick is that the spectator is the one doing all the decision-making, and virtually all the handling. Not only does it make the spectator appear like a hero, but the hero himself will be completely baffled about how he even accomplished it.
The magician will begin by having the spectator select a random card from the deck of cards.
Depending on the card’s color, the magician will place that card face-up, pick another card of the opposite color, and put them side-by-side.
Now, the magician gives the spectator full control and tells them to put the cards of the deck facedown on top of the color they think the card is in their hand.
They can put any amount of cards down and as random as they would like.
Once the spectator has put down about half of the cards, the magician will tell the spectator to switch colors on both sides, so they are opposite again.
After the spectator has finished placing down all 52-cards, the magician will reveal that all of the cards the spectator placed down are the same color.
Watch Harry Lorayne perform “Out of This Universe”
Thanks for reading the top ten self working magic tricks, hope you enjoyed it.