A few routine questions from a amateur

Oct 29, 2017
I am a aspiring magician from Norway, been into cards for...a long time, but never actually made a routine..most of my experience performing troughouth the years have been at bars and such, nothing official, just me bringing my deck of cards with me wherever I go.
but I have never actually made a routine.

so here are a few questions for the professionals out there:
1. how long should a routine last for cards

2. do you string your tricks together so it feels like a natural flow, or do you do a trick, then change over to a new trick withouth them having any connection to eachothers (sorry if that doesn`t make any sense, but can`t really find any other way to explain what I mean)

3. with larger audiences (15+) how do you ensure everyone is able to see what is going on.
I had my first performance, and I noticed quickly that the table I was at made it impossible for the ones in the back to see what was going on

Thank you for any and all answers/suggestions.


Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
New Jersey
So let's start with definitions. An effect is something magical that the audience sees. To me the "trick" is the method that the audience doesn't know. An effect can be performed singularly or as part of a routine. A routine is a series of interrelated effects using the same or different props For example, .Card to Mouth can be a stand alone effect or can be the last phase to an Ambitious Card Routine.

A set is a series of two to four stand-alone effects or routines performed in sequence for strolling or "street" magic or maybe if you are part of a larger show. A show is a series of five or more effects or routines performed in sequence for a parlor, stage or other stand-up show.

To borrow a definition from Larry Haas, a performance piece is the combination of the method for an effect or routine with scripting, presentation and your character.

So, a set should be around 10 to 15 minutes. A show, around 30 to 45 minutes (if the show is longer there should be a intermission).

A routine has multiple is tied together by the props and the plot. Think a Cups & Balls routine, a Linking Rings routine, an Ambitious Card routine or a Three-Fly coin routine.

A set or show is mostly tied together by your character. You can transition between stand alone effects and routines based on props (e.g.using the same signed card) or simply make it clear that you are going to do something different. It is possible to tie together stand alone effects and routines based on a theme related to your presentations but that is more difficult to do well.

To have more than 10 people be able to see what you are doing, you need to shift to stand up card magic rather than table magic. Roberto Giobbi has a book called Stand Up Card Magic with some great effects. There is a great discussion in Guy Hollingswoth's drawing Room Deceptions about converting card magic to stand up magic. Some effects can be done without much conversion like invisible deck, cards across, five card repeat and twisting the aces. It really is about selecting the right material. Most of the card material I perform for parlor shows is from Jim Steinmeyer ' Conjuring column in Genii.
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