I am the dude that made the "world's greatest card trick" tutorial last summer. I have been gone for awhile, but I am back for good now with some more great tutorials. This first one is probably my most favorite trick in the entire world! It looks like real magic, can be performed on the spur of the moment, and will leave them talking about you for a long time.
This tutorial teaches you how to perform the World's Awesomest Card Trick. Check it out, it is only 2 minutes long:
Step 1: Secret Setup Arrangement
This is a semi-impromptu trick. The only thing required is for you to get a few cards set up on the top of the deck.
The cards that should be on the top of the deck are these:
Top card: Four of spades
Second card down: three of spades
third card from top: two of spades
After that secret setup, there is one card sleight you must learn: The Elmsley count.
Step 2: Perfect the Elmsley Count.
It sounds confusing, but it is very simple. I made a whole instructable on how to do this that goes into greater detail, but in a nutshell, here is what you do:
While holding a five-card packet in the face down dealing position in your left hand, turn the 3rd and 4th cards face-up to practice.
Your right hand approaches the stack at the lower right corner, and prepares to grip the packet at the tips of the thumb and first two fingers.
At the same time, your left thumb slides the top card to the right, and your right hand grips all four remaining cards and carries them away slightly, as you count "1."
When you go to count "2," a tricky thing happens. It should appear that all you do is simply "thumb off" the next top card on top of the one you just counted as you count "2". But what really happens is this:
The "1" card gets slid under the whole stack, and is going to be gripped and retained by the right first finger and thumb. But before this happens, your right thumb pushes the ENTIRE stack of cards in the right packet over to the left, retaining only the bottom card. In essence, it shifts the top block of three cards over into the left hand while counting "2", as the right hand retains the original "1" card, which now becomes the bottom card of a two card stack in the right hand.
It sounds confusing, and you are doing a lot of things at one time, which is why it takes practice. But once you practice it and get it up to speed, it really looks like you are just counting cards one on top of the other. Now, back to the count:
So you have counted "2" as you took the top three cards from the right hand packet and dumped the original "1" card underneath the last right hand card.
Now the only thing left to do is cleanly and fairly count the last two cards by "thumbing" off the last two cards while counting "3" and "4". You take the "3" card onto the top of the left packet with the left thumb, and then you finally take the "4" card onto the top of the left packet with the thumb.
If you performed this correctly you never see the two face-up cards that were originally at the 3rd and 4th position. At the end of the Elmsley Count, they are now the BOTTOM two cards in the packet of five cards you have just counted as 4.
Here is the video I made for the Elmsley instructable:
Step 3: Performing the Trick, Step by Step: First Phase, Pulling Out the Aces.
This first phase requires some serious practice too, but it is well worth it. Performed flawlessly, it sets you up for a cake-walk through the rest of the trick, but if you flub it, your whole boat is sunk... so, ON TO THE TRICK!!!
You have the secret setup, and now you are ready to go. What I like to do is to spread the cards face-up and hunt through to pull out the aces. When you pull out the aces, you will place them in front of you on the table arranged (from left to right) in this order:
Ace o' diamonds, ace o' spades, ace o'hearts, and ace o' clubs.
In reality, the only ace that has to be in position is the ace of spades as the second card in on the left, and the left most ace has to be a red ace. I like this order because, as you will see in a few steps, the ace of diamonds is shown twice and most people don't notice it. If you show the ace of hearts twice, I think they are more likely to have it register just because most people can identify the ace of hearts easier than the ace of diamonds for some strange reason.
So after you pull out the aces and set them on the table in front of you, the next step is to get a little dirty work set up with the deck in your left hand.
Step 4: Dirty Work
As soon as you pull out the aces, and set them face-up in front of you (from L to R: AD, AS, AH, AC), you want to gather the deck together, turn it face down in your left hand in dealing position, and get a left pinky-break under the top 3 cards. (the 4,3,2 of spades)
Easier said than done, but practice makes perfect, so here is how I do it:
After gathering the face-up card spread together I turn it face-down in my left hand, by using my right hand. As SOON AS the cards are face-down in the left hand, with my left thumb across the back of the deck and my right fingers still holding the outer edge of the deck, I use my right thumb to quickly count the top three cards. This is not a super-secret move, because you will also be talking about the four aces and attention at this point should be on the four aces. So you simply use your right thumb to "bite" the top card up a little, then "bite" the second card up, and finally "bite" the third card up, leaving your right thumb holding the top three cards up a little bit, with maybe 1/8 inch of thumb flesh separating each card, for about a nanosecond.
Once the 3rd card gets bitten up off the deck, the left pinky slips under the third card and your right thumb releases the grip on the top three cards. Because your left thumb is holding down the top of the deck by resting across the back of it, the top three cards instantly fall down back to the deck, just with a bit of the left pinky under the three.
Onto the next step "Gathering the Aces"
Step 5: Gathering the Aces, and More Dirty Work.
With the pinky breaked deck, use your left hand to help the right hand gather the aces up and hold them in a slight fan, with the left most ace (diamond) on the bottom of the face up ace packet, and the Ace of clubs (previously the right-most ace) is on top.
At this point in your presentation, you are about to introduce the four aces to the spectator.
What you are really doing in this step, however, is "loading" the top FOUR cards onto the bottom of the aces.
But wait, you say. We are only holding a break above the top three cards, how do we get the top FOUR cards under the aces.
Answer: easily. Here is what this next step appears like to the spectator:
You close up the mini-fan of aces and make them into a nice 4 card packet to count to the spectator.
What really happens: You close up the mini-fan, load the top 4 cards under the ace packet, AND RETAIN A RIGHT THUMB BREAK over the BOTTOM card of the packet.
Here is how you do this:
As soon as you "closeup" the mini ace fan by pushing the aces against the left thumb, your left thumb holds the aces flush against the top of the deck. With your pinky break, you have the four aces, and the top three cards, now "broken" as one packet on the top of the deck. At this point, the left hand re-grip the "ace packet" by moving the right thumb to the inside edge, and the right fingers to the outside edge.
At this point, the right thumb picks up the ENTIRE packet above the break, and then BITES OFF one more card, the original fourth card from the top of the deck. The purpose of this card is only to "mask" the two face-up aces we are about to ditch from the packet onto the top of the deck. If you forget this masking card, your trick won't work and you will suck.
So now, your right hand carries away its new 8-card packet, with a thumb break above the bottom card. Make sure you keep the faces of the aces pointed directly at the spectator's eyeballs. In other words, they should be looking straight-on at the aces, not edge-on where they can see you are holding more than 4 cards. This is important.
This whole sequence, as well as the previous step, needs to be PRACTICED A LOT! You are doing lots of little technical dirty work things, but it should appear to the spectator that you simply gathered up the deck, then the aces and put them together in a nice little packet. If you fumble with this simple task, your spectators will know you are "up to something" and they may call you on it.
Also, you should have running dialog going at the same time, this further masks the action. Many beginning magicians "go silent" when they are doing their dirtywork, as if they can't concentrate on performing something sneaky while they are running their mouth. This is natural, it just means they need more practice.
Practicing these "boring" behind-the-scenes sleights isn't glamorous, it doesn't make for fancy videos on youtube. But in reality, if you practice these "invisible" sleights so that they are indeed invisible, your trick will appear to really be magic. You owe that to your spectators, so practice practice practice!
Okay, enough lecture, on to the next step: Introducing the Aces
Step 6: Introducing the Aces
In this step, you have a nice 8-card packet in your right hand, with a right thumb-break under the bottom card. You are now all set-up to "Introduce" the 4 aces to the spectator(s).
While keeping the faces of the cards pointed directly at your spectator's eyeball thingees, they can't see the edge of the packet as you do more dirty work... so keep that in mind.
What you do now is you "thumb off" the top ace (clubs) onto the deck in your left hand with your left thumb as you introduce "We have the ace of clubs"
After you do this, your left thumb pushes the ace of clubs over a little bit while the right hand carries the entire packet over and on-top of the ace of clubs. Your right thumb then grips the ace of clubs onto the bottom of the stack, while retaining the break above the, now two, bottom cards.
In plain terms, you pull of the top ace and put it on the bottom of the stack.
Now for the dirtiest part of the whole trick:
Next, as you introduce the ace of hearts, you do the exact same move, with one exception. As you put the A.H. underneath the right hand packet, you DUMP all the cards BELOW the break (the two face up aces and the indifferent face down "masking" card) onto the top of the deck.
THis takes MORE PRACTICE!!!
Then you are left with a five card packet in the right hand: Two face up aces on top, and the 4, 3 and 2 of spades face down in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th position of the packet.
BIG SIGH OF RELIEF.
Next you cleanly count the Ace of Spades as you introduce it, and put it under the packet. You don't pull off the Ace of Diamonds, you simply introduce it when it is the top card of the packet.
So, this whole counting thing should be done with a rhythm, so that each "introduction" takes the same amount of time, and you should count each card the exact same way, so that when you are doing the dumping it looks IDENTICAL to when you are just counting the Ace of Spades.
Watch how I did it in the demo video again if you have to.
Now for the fun part: Doing the magic!
Step 7: The Turning Over of the Ace of Clubs
In this step, you are going to magically make the first ace (clubs) turn face down. If you have made it this far, and the audience hasn't suspected you have been shifting cards all over the place, give yourself a pat on the back. Your hard practice has paid off and now when the magic happens people's jaws with start hitting the floor.
After introducing the aces, take the deck that is in your left hand and GET RID OF IT! It will not be used again. Put it as far out of the way as possible, and don't let people look at it. It has two face up dead aces under the top card and you don't ever want those bodies found!
Put the packet of "aces" in your left hand now, and wave your right hand over the packet. A magical gesture is very important, because it conditions the people to accept that when you wave your hand, magic happens. It is very powerful indeed.
After waving your hand over the packet, or saying your magic word, or whatever your magical gesture is, you then perform your first ELMSLEY count, as you say "The Ace of Clubs turns face down!"
It is VERY important to say "Ace of Clubs" before you start showing the aces, this puts the image of the "Ace of clubs" in people's minds, and it shifts their mental gears to start to look for the "ace of clubs." The reason you want this to happen is because you are about to show them the Ace of Diamonds two times, but you want them to think of it both times as "just another red ace" or "not the ace of clubs"
You perform your first elmsley, and one card is seen to be face down, and since they didn't see the ace of clubs, and since you told them it's the ace of clubs, they will swear the ace of clubs just turned over! Very surprising.
Next up, the ace of hearts!
Step 8: Ace of Hearts Turns Face Down
After the first elmsley, you are left with a packet of cards that from top down are as follows:
face up a of d
face up a of s
face down 4, then 3 , then 2 of s.
Do your magical gesture bullshit again, and this time to turn the "ace of hearts" face down you DO NOT ELMSLEY.
You simply thumb off the top three cards, one at a time, onto the left hand, and then you "temporarily" place the final "DOUBLE" card to the right hand side of the fan, while your left thumb holds on to it.
Display this fan for a little bit, showing two face up aces on left side of fan, and two face down "aces" on the right side of fan.
Now, when you gather the cards together you RE TAKE the double card, and use it as a "scoop" to scoop under the REST of the cards in the packet. In effect you are simply taking the double from the top and moving it to the bottom of the stack.
You now have a packet of cards in your left hand that is , from top to bottom:
face down 4S
face up AS
face up AD
face down 3, 2 S
Step 9: Ace of Diamonds Turns Face Down
Magical gesture or word, announce the ace of diamonds is going to turn face-down next, and elmsley count, showing 3 face down cards, one face up ace of spades. After this elmsley, yourx packet should be like this (from top down)
Face down 4
Face down 2
Face up AS
Face up AD
Face down 3
Step 10: Ace of Spades Turns Face Down
magical gesture, announce ace of spades turning face down next, elmsley count, showing four face-down cards.
Packet is now like this:
Face down 4, 3, 2, with face up AS and finally AD on bottom.
Step 11: Ace of Spades TURNS BACK FACE UP
Now, we are going to suggest that we can do the whole procedure in reverse, which would be pretty cool. And at this point in the trick, the spectators are amazed, but questions are starting to form in their little brains... the chief one being "how many f'ing cards does this guy have?"
We'll get to that in the next step, but for now you are going to "turn" the ace of spades back to being face up. How do you do that?
NOT with the elmsley count.
Instead, we are going to show the A.S. as turning face up, the same way as we showed the "Ace of hearts" to turn face down: by thumbing off the top 3 cards one at a time into the left hand, ending with a "double" on the right side of the fan.
Now at this point, it really looks like you only have 4 cards, with the only face up one being the A.S.
On to the kick-in-the-sack ending!
Step 12: Show the Only Cards As Being Ace Through Four of Spades
Time for the killer ending!
Address to the spectator their thoughts about how many cards you have, then swear "I only use four"
At this point CAREFULLY set the Ace of spades down on the table, being careful not to spread it so they can see two cards .. THIS TAKES MORE PRACTICE!! You don't want to hold it so firmly that it looks like you are holding a manhole cover, yet if you grip it too lightly you will lose control of the double and it will separate, KILLING your WHOLE TRICK!
Luckily, the heat won't be on this double much longer, as you are about to drop the big on on them.
As you count "2, 3, and 4" you are going to turn over the 2, 3, and 4 of spades and set them on top of the ace, forming a nice little fan of cards on the table. Done properly, it looks great and if anyone reaches for the cards to look at them it is a good idea to chop off their hand with the meat cleaver in your pocket. You do carry a meat cleaver with you when you perform magic, don't you? I do. Keeps the fingers off my cards...
And there you have it! The sequel to the World's Best Card Trick!
Step 13: Thoughts and Finesses
Okay, so you watched my video, and you have noticed my "clean" ending. I spread the cards in a way that would be impossible if I had a double, right? Well yes, sort of.
You can end "clean" by having a small piece of semi-sticky double sided tape on the back of the ace of spades the whole time.
It only works in very controlled settings, because if it is too sticky you can't do the elmsley counts and the trick backfires.
If it is too unsticky, then it won't stick at the end of the trick.
I had to do about 6 takes with my camera until I got the right "stickiness" on the double sided tape by rubbing it on my close-up mat a little bit to soften the stickiness. In real life it probably won't work too well.
Also, I can't stress enough how good the first few "get-ready's" have to be practiced until they are really good. If you look like you are juggling cards and shifting shit, it will not play as good in the mind of the spectator. This is a really really powerful trick, and please give it the practice it deserves.
I am not the creator of this trick, it was shown to me by a friend several years ago.
Go forth and make some jaws drop!