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The Magic Marker

Trick Courtesy of: Sean Kirk

Original Author: Unknown

Effect: A card is chosen and placed back in the deck.  The performer then finds a marker card, which coupled with a number chosen by the spectator, locates the selected card.   

1. Shuffle the deck thoroughly, as you complete an overhand shuffle, note the card on the bottom and finish with a riffle shuffle, keeping the bottom card the same.   

2. Have the spectator choose a card and show it to someone else. 

3. Place the pack of cards on the table and press your hand down on top of the cards.  Next rotate your hand (still pressing down) clockwise, fanning out the cards in a circle.  As you start to do this, tell the spectator to say when to stop and when they indicate, use the tips of your fingers to pull away the cards not part of the existing fan. 

4. Arrange the cards on the table so they make an almost full circle, leaving one space between the bottom and top cards with the bottom right corner of the top card tucked under the bottom card. See the picture for how this should look now. 

5. Tell the spectator, "Slip your card in here," (point to the space so there is no confusion) "To complete the circle."  The spectator's card is now directly below the key card you noted on the bottom of the deck.  

6.Next, starting at the bottom of the circle, opposite from the replaced card, collapse the circle into a stack and add it to the rest of the deck.  It isn't necessary, but I like to give the remaining deck a cut and put the cards from the fan in the middle to create the illusion of losing the chosen card in the middle of the deck.

See the video for what steps four, five and six look like.   

7. Invite the spectator(s) to give the deck as many cuts as they like (make sure they don't shuffle it though!). Once they are satisfied, pick up the deck and casually look at the bottom card (without appearing to do so).  If the bottom card happens to be your key card, give the deck one last cut.  Just to be clear, if the bottom card is your key card, the spectators card is on the top of the deck. 

8. Say to the spectator, "If I were to find your card right now, would that be a good trick?"  Give the spectator a moment to respond and then say, "Well I'm not going to do that trick, I'm going to do something a little different.  First I must find an appropriate marker card." 

9. Starting at the bottom, fan slowly through the deck, faces towards you, pausing from time to time to "consider" different cards.  Perhaps rub certain cards with your fingers while looking thoughtful before shaking your head and moving on.  This is just for dramatic effect of course.  When you come to your marker card, note the card beneath it, counting it as one.  Count your marker as two, the next card as three and so on until you come to a face card or an ace.  You can really count as far as you like depending on how many cards you want to deal out before coming to the spectators card, just keep counting each card as one until you come to a suitibly appropriate looking marker.  IMPORTANT! DO NOT include the marker card in your count.  Stop your count with one card below the marker, and flip the marker face up saying, "I guess this will do."   

10.Turn the deck face down and give it a cut (obviously without cutting between your marker and the spectators card). Then deal out the cards, face down, stopping when you deal out the marker card. 

11.Say the spectator, "Okay, there's our marker.  Now, pick a number between ten and twenty... Now add the two digits together...Now subtract your current number from the first number you thought of...Now subract/add ---"  You see, the trick here is that no matter what the spectator chooses, the result after adding the digits and subtracting the total from the original is always nine.  Since you know this, from here you can direct the spectator to any number you please.  So if the cards you counted to your marker card were five, the final instruction would tell your spectators to subtract four which would of course give them five.  Once the spectator has nine in their heads, you have the control and can direct them to whatever number you need. 

12.Get the spectator to tell you their current number, then deal out that many cards (in this case five) and flip over the last one, which will of course be the spectator's card! 


Have your spectator choose a number between one and ten and multiply it by nine.  Then add the two digits together.  The answer is always nine. 

Have the spectator choose a number between twenty and thirty, add the two digits and subtract from the original number. The answer will always be eighteen.  In fact for each set of ten you go up and use this technique, the control number will go up nine.  For ten-twenty, it's nine, for twenty-thirty, it's eighteen, for thirty-forty, it's twenty-seven, and so on.   


Occasionly you may get a spectator who does the math wrong or something and comes up with the wrong number.  In this case, don't correct them.  Instead, just say,  "Now, if you have done the math right, when we deal out the cards, the last one will be yours."  This adds to the illusion of not knowing the spectators card or controlling the numbers.  The card that you come to will of course be wrong, but then the spectator just believes that they didn't calculate right (which is of course the case) and you can just say, "Oh, well," then pick up the deck and pull out the spectators card saying, "Is this one yours?"  To avoid this, explain slowly and clearly in step 11.  If you like, you can also have the spectator tell someone else their number so you have two people following the math. 

You may happen upon someone who says when you pull out their card, "But what if the number is always ---?"  But you can quite truthfully tell them that this is not the case, for the controlling number is not the final result but of course the nine.  This trick is best not to be performed twice for the same group of spectators because you don't want to call attention to the number that is always the same. 

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