Cards in the Hands of the Spectator

Dec 20, 2009
A simple post really.

Card tricks where you put the "selected" or "random" card (which you've already switched out) in a spectators hand and tell them to hold it (usually by putting it on their hand and telling them to sandwich it with the other). How do you make sure they don't randomly turn it over and look at it?

Now I'm not a novice. I know what to do. Show them the card as much as possible (presumably in a double lift), tell them to put their hand out, turn lift over, put other card in their hand, immediately turn their attention to something else, continue onto the next part of the trick. And believe me, most of the time it works.

But just sometimes there's those people, and more often than not, these are the people who know me, people who don't trust me, or people who simply go about to troll magicians (you can recognize them when you perform for them). You just know they'll turn it over just to check no matter what.

An even more egregious example is (what great timing) when I was performing French Kiss for an audience member. I folded up the (swapped card), told them to bite down on it. Even then, right then and there, they asked if they could open it and check it. I had to just say keep it in your mouth, but that gives it away. They've got what they wanted. And once again, I know the subtleties. Turn over the double, blow on the card so that it looks like its the same card, fold it, put it directly into their mouth, etc. I did that. Funny thing is, after I put it in her mouth, she pulled it out and asked if she could look. Luckily, by the nature of the signatures and how French Kiss works, she was still pretty amazed, but she knew something funny was going on, and that card in her mouth was probably not her card.

With French Kiss, the reaction is still fine. With a simple swap (see Justin Miller's 4sum, "ace" goes into their hand, obviously joker), as soon as they see the different card, the effect is basically ruined.

So yeah. I know it's a matter of confidence, but does anyone have any specific tips, subtleties, or moves that make it seem like you're absolutely putting the card they think you're putting into their hand seem like it's actually going into their hand?

Feb 18, 2014
Hey there! I have been through this before, not with french kiss, but with hand sandwich. I had one time where they peeked the card. Most of the time for this trick what I do Is I ask another spectator to put their hands above and below, sometimes I do three, so now there is no way for them to peek the card. If your doing it for one person, I just say " put your hand on top and hold it tight, to make sure I can't get to it." That works for me.

For French Kiss, you probably don't want to hear this but confidence is a huge factor, also do not make a huge deal of what you are doing. Don't focus too much attention when your folding the card talk to them and eye contact is key. Just make sure your very casual. As for any moves I just use the vernon push off double lift, and I keep the push off there for a couple of seconds to convince one card as im talking.

Hope this helps! Good luck :)


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
If this is happening regularly then you have to look at yourself as the reason. You're clearly not picking the right spectators, and/or they are not on your side when you're doing these tricks, and/or your presentation is challenging them to "solve" the puzzle of the trick rather than enjoy the magic.

Even if it's friends of yours or people who know you well, you should have the audience management skills to convince them that it'll be more fun to see the result of the trick than to try to figure it out ahead of time.
In my experience friends and family are almost always harder to perform for. This used to happen to me a lot. The solution i found is, 1. believe that what your saying is real, similar to a false transfer your body language and attitude must all point to what your doing is legit, and 2. i immediately pick up the pace to draw the attention to what im doing, try saying their name or asking a question. basic misdirection goes a long way.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
My advice in these situations is always the same:

Examine your performance and figure out what you are doing that is making it more satisfying for the audience (any audience) to figure out how you do your tricks, rather than just watch and enjoy them. Family or not, you should be able to find a way to present the trick so that they can enjoy it, rather than feel they need to catch you out.

Judge your audience, figure out what kind of performance would be entertaining and engaging for them, and perform that way (or refuse to perform all together).
Sep 2, 2007
There can sometimes be something that you're doing with your facial expression or body language which signals that there's something suspicious about the card. So, do your best to genuinely not care whether they turn it over or not. If you relax, and turn your own attention to something else immediately as if it's really unimportant, then they're less likely to treat it as important themselves. In the performer/spectator relationship, the performer is the dominant party, so the spectator will take their cues from you.

Think about how you treat the card box when you put it to one side at the beginning of a performance (assuming that the box is free from guile). How often do you look at it? Do you position it carefully and precisely or just toss it onto the table? How quickly after unboxing the cards does your attention move elsewhere? How far away from you do you place the box? Does anyone treat the box as if it's suspicious? If you can learn to duplicate the way you treat the box, or the jokers, or anything else unimportant that you might place to one side during a magic trick, then your audience is less likely to view the card with suspicion.
Last edited by a moderator:
Jun 27, 2014
I usually perform for friends and family and two friends in particular are ALWAYS trying to catch me. What I've done before is:

I'll do several tricks before hand-sandwich where the spectator holds a card for me. Except in these tricks, I don't need to switch any cards. I either do a double lift and a second deal, or I just do a single lift in the same style as my double lift, then I place a card face down in their hands and ask them to hold on to it for me. They inevitably want to check, I pretend for a second like they caught me, and then I tell them just kidding, go ahead and check. It's still the same card. I do this 2-3 times usually, and get them really used to the idea that when I place a card in their hand, it really is the card I said.

Typically what happens is, they only want to check the first time. I do a second and third to gauge where they're at, and almost NEVER will they want to check on the third or fourth time if they haven't also checked on the second or third time.

It's just a matter of building trust. Pretend to do all the sneaky things that magicians usually do, so that when they think they've caught on, they haven't. Work those fake moves into your routine and do them all early on so that later on, they have your trust and you can sneak a lot more past them.

Keep in mind though, this is a very difficult way to build trust, there are probably a few ways that are easier.


Director of Operations
Team member
Jun 5, 2009
Charleston, SC
Everything that has been said so far has been spot on, but adding onto what hellafont is saying, it sounds like you could try and add false solutions to your magic, and if you want to take your magic to the next level, The Magic Way by Juan Tamariz (so glad it is back in print) is the perfect book to study if you want to create false solutions for your audience. Super powerful. If you want, you could also look into The Five Points in Magic by Tamariz as well. The combination of those two is absolutely killer. Highly recommend you look into it!
Jan 4, 2014
Hey Rneogy,

I totally understand what you are talking about i have been through the same thing. Its harder doing card tricks that involve using a dupe card or switching cards because there is always that possibility that someone can turn the card over and see the switched card, even for me i use to think what if wind picked the card up and dropped it on the ground and they see the card is not the same card. (Pretty crazy huh lol). Its just naturally your scared of what can happen because your , in all honesty, lying straight to their face and people dont enjoy figuring that out.

With that said there are a few things i do to help with it. First thing is to learn your spectators if they are the type that tries to find out the point you do a switch of some sort then these are the people that you have to keep showing them your not doing anything. For example with french kiss, have the person sign the card BUT!!! dont go on with the trick yet. I dont want to give anything away so i wont go in detail but just keep turning over the card they signed and flash it keep exposing that the cards have done nothing yet. You also want it to seem like your just making sure everything is correct not that your trying to prove them wrong. (not only do we feed off of the spectator they feed off of us so if it seems like your trying to rub it in their face and prove them wrong they are going to keep bumping heads with you through out the whole performance). Finally when you have shown the card a few times your go on with the trick. At this point most, not all spectators but most, will assume that you have done nothing because they saw their signed card so many times so they will let you just go on with the trick. While you are going through the trick like teedee stated you want to make sure you have a poker face on as your doing the move because in the end it may just be you that tells the spectator that the switched happen. If you talk to them joke with them as your doing this it helps you actually take your mind off of it and so you can hide it more.

Another thing that can be done is like a few people stated. As your doing the trick when you do the switch and put the card in their hand move on to the next part faster then usual. You have to emphasize that your doing the next part, this does miracles, just because people are naturally curious so when your starting the next part they are going to either watch whats next or they want to see whats next so they can see if anything funny happens on the next part. The only down part with this is the trick doesnt flow at the same pace through out it changes for the fact that you speed up and slow down so it makes the performance a little off.

Finally, I've seen several people do this. just brush it off when they ask or want to do something like look at the card. David Blaine does it the best there are several times where they turn the card over or something and all he does is not let it affect him and states " Ok but watch this" and does something else. This makes the spectator forget what they saw and watch too see another trick but their intentions are to see if its going to happen again.

Id also like to recommend Justin Millers The Bold Project vol. 1-3
he has a crowed of loud mouth people that are not the typical stand and watch a trick spectators they are all over the place. One of the guys rushes the trick and you would think it would have ruined the trick but in fact Justin thinks on his feet and recovers from the mess up. This dvd set shows a lot of tricks that you put the cards and things in the spectators hands and he explains what to do to control what they do and have to get them not to question it by having full confidence. its a must get because it is in fact what made me better with these kinds of situations.

hope this helps.
Jun 13, 2013
I guess your problem is your putting too much attention on lying the card on the hand of the spectator. Just say to him hold this for me and don't make a big deal of it and don't look at the card while doing so.

I used this principle successfully to refine 2 routines of mine and they've proven in battle after that.
Dec 20, 2009
Thought I should post a reply since I've gotten so many. Thank you everyone who's given me advice, I've read everything as it came along. I'll try working on everyone's tips and incorporate them into my performance. I've been also thinking that maybe I could record myself performing for someone and then see exactly the movements or the reactions that make the audience become suspicious. Just an idea.

Thanks again!
May 21, 2014
Staunton, VA
I rarely run into this problem, but one does occasionally run into a spectator that wants to do the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong moment. It happens to the best of us, no matter what anyone tells you. It is possible in those situations to take back the reins if you know what you're doing, but prevention is key.

Effective spectator selection is one option people have talked about. Having someone on your side limits the likelihood that they'll try to mess up your effect.

Properly constructed patter is a solution that I find to be important for about 9/10 of these situations. For the one you describe, I usually tell people "Don't move" when I hand them the thing, tell them to make sure I can't get to it, and sometimes throw in some crap about how it's important that I don't see or touch the card so everybody knows I don't cheat.

Don't overdo it, especially if they're suspicious for some reason. The key is subtlety. As a magician, it's assumed you're lying at least some of the time, so verbal convincers have to be carefully arranged. Painstaking attention should be given to when, where, and how you use words like "take," "choose," "point," "hold," etc. I've found that some study in psychology and/or sociology goes a long way toward knowing what to do and what not to do when you're verbally leading someone toward a particular frame of thought.

Giving them another task is a good way to keep the trick moving so they don't get time to blow your cover if you can tell they're about to. The other night I had the exact situation you're talking about. I was finishing up my ACR and transitioning into a sandwich switch and the dude wanted to know if he could look at the card right then.

There was a brief exchange that went something like this:

"I need you to wait!"

"Why can't I look right now?"

"I need you to wait!"

"Why can't I look right now?"

"I need you to do something first. I want you to take the deck in your mind..." and then I just kept rolling through the patter for the trick. This got him thinking about something else and shut him up long enough for me to finish the routine, which got a strong reaction from all present, including the card holder.

Once the noise died down, he said "I just have one question. What would have happened if I had looked at the card before?"

I responded without hesitation, "It would have screwed the whole trick, dude. Magic isn't real. What the #$%& is wrong with you?"

To which he replied "Thank you. I just needed to hear you say that." I continued with a few more routines and had no more trouble from that spectator. He enjoyed every bit of it.

Sometimes people just want you to level with them a little bit for whatever reason. Sometimes it's because they're a showoff or felt threatened or wanted to screw you over because they're the magician-boogeyman, but sometimes it's because they just want you to be honest about what you're doing. Other times it's just because they think they've figured something out and just get excited about it, so they'll ask you to confirm their theory to see if they're right. For those people, a small moment of admission is ok and sometimes necessary to their enjoyment. The trick is timing that moment of admission for when it won't bring one of your routines crashing to the ground.

PS: Sometimes if someone figures something out it's because you made a mistake, but not always. I've watched performances where the effect is flooring me and the other spectators and everything is being done perfectly, but my brain still has a brief moment of "OOOH...that's how he's doing that." As a magician, I keep quiet, but spectators don't always keep that under control, and it's not always because they hate you. I've found that sometimes letting people get a toe behind the curtain is harmless and sometimes even beneficial.
Last edited by a moderator:
{[{ searchResultsCount }]} Results