How to Become a Magician

Seven Parts:Simple Card TrickMisdirection TrickSimple Coin TrickLearning More MagicDeveloping Your ShowGetting WorkLiving the Life

Being a magician means more than just learning a few card tricks and performing at children's birthday parties. A real magician makes a career out of amazing and most importantly entertaining the audience and improving his skills and craft. If you want to know if you have what it takes to be a magician, then read on!

Part 1
Simple Card Trick

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    Ask a volunteer to pick a card. Shuffle a deck of cards and fan them out in front of the audience. Have a volunteer pick a card and look at it, without letting you see the card.
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    Return the card to the deck. With the deck back in a stack, pick up the top half of the deck and tilt it down, so you can see the underside. Ask the volunteer to place the card face down onto the bottom half of the deck.
    • Again, she should make sure you cannot see the chosen card.
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    Look at the card above the chosen card. The top half of the deck is pointed toward you. Quickly look at the underside and memorize this card on the bottom of this stack. This will be your "key card." Place the two halves of the deck together. You haven't seen the chosen card yet, but you know it is underneath your key card.
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    Ask the volunteer to cut the deck. To show that you're not up to any tricks, ask the volunteer to cut the deck. She may cut as many times as she likes.
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    Flip cards from the deck onto the table. Flip cards from the top of the deck onto a face-up stack on the table. When you see your key card, note the card immediately after it — the chosen card. Continue flipping without slowing down for another three or four cards. Place these slightly offset so the chosen card is still visible.
    • The audience should think you made a mistake. If you slow down the flipping or show a reaction, it won't be fooled.
    • When you stop flipping, leave the top card of the stack pulled out, as though you were about to flip it.
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    Reveal the chosen card. Tell the audience "The next card I flip over will be your card." Hover your hand over the top card of the stack, pretending you are about to flip it over. Move your hand to the chosen card face up on the table, and slowly flip it face down in front of the audience.

Part 2
Misdirection Trick

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    Set up the trick. Before you begin, choose any card from an ordinary deck. Write the name of this card on a piece of paper, and fold it so the name is hidden. Place this card on top of the deck.
    • This sets up a "force:" a trick that appears to give someone a choice, but forces her to make the choice you want. This specific trick is one of the simplest forces to perform, the "Criss Cross Force."
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    Let a volunteer cut the deck. Hold out the deck to the volunteer and ask her to cut it (place half on the table). Keep the bottom half of the deck in your hands.
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    Complete the cut with a cross shape. Set the half you're holding over the half on the table, so the halves cross at an angle. Say "we'll just mark the place where you cut for now."
    • This is a lie — the card in between the two halves was not the place she cut to. It's actually the top card of the deck, which you have written on your piece of paper.
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    Distract the audience. Bring the audience's attention away from the cards by lifting your head to make eye contact. Distract them for a few seconds by talking, to take their mind off what just happened.
    • For example, say "Now, she could have cut at any position. Ten cards down, twenty cards down, any number. But I can predict exactly the card she cut to."
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    Pick up the top half. Now return to the deck of cards and say "Let's see which card you cut to." Pick up the top half the deck, and ask the spectator to pick up the next card on top.
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    Reveal your prediction. As the spectator shows the card to the audience, reveal that you had already predicted which card she would cut to. Unfold the piece of paper to show the name of that card.
    • Encourage skeptics to look at the deck of cards, proving it's an ordinary deck.

Part 3
Simple Coin Trick

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    Choose a coin. Coin tricks are common in magic performances. Practicing this trick will teach you a fundamental technique of coin tricks: the "French drop." This relies on misdirection and careful maneuvering to make a coin vanish:[1] To get started, pick any large coin. You may want to try a few coins and see which you find easiest to use.
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    Hold the coin with a C grip. Form a "C" with your hand and grip the edge of the coin between your fingers and thumb. Turn your hand so the coin is facing upward, with your curved fingers underneath it. Make the coin clearly visible to the audience.
    • The coin edge should run along the length of your finger and thumb.
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    Pretend to grab the coin with your other hand. Reach over to grab the coin with your other hand, hiding the coin from the audience's view.
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    Let the coin drop. Instead of taking the coin, let it drop back onto the lowest joint of your fingers. Keep them bent slightly so the coin stays in position, gripped between your lowest finger joints and the top of your palm. Meanwhile, withdraw your empty hand, as though it were holding the coin.
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    Make the coin vanish. Lift the hand that's supposedly took the coin. Slowly lift your fingers one by one, revealing that your hand is empty.
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    Make the coin appear. Now lift the hand that's really holding the coin and reveal the coin to your audience.
    • Practice holding the coin between your palm and lowest finger joints. In this position, you can move your hand with open fingers, making it look empty before the coin suddenly appears.

Part 4
Learning More Magic

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    Learn more basic tricks. There are a tricks out there for all levels of magicians. If you're enjoying the simple sleight of hand tricks above, learn more fundamentals like the back palm vanish, card rise, or coin knuckle roll.
    • While all magicians know sleight of hand, not all of them specialize in these close-up tricks. You can also look into club magic (medium audiences), stage magic (large audiences), escape tricks, and mentalism.
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    Watch other magicians perform. Masters of the art know what an audience wants to see, so pay attention to what types of tricks and what styles modern magicians use. See which magicians appeal to you the most, and try to think about what about their style and approach to the audience appeals to you. You can watch contemporary magicians or even watch videos of some famous magicians to see how they master their art. Here are some magicians you may want to observe carefully:
    • David Copperfield
    • Tommy Wonder
    • Mark Wilson
    • Doug Henning
    • Lance Burton
    • Penn & Teller
    • Harry Houdini
    • S.H. Sharpe
    • Criss angel
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    Read hundreds of magic books. Read any biography of a magician and you'll see that most of them started off by going to the library and checking out books about magic and reading them from cover to cover. This can help you have an understanding of the discipline that is truly required to be a magician, and the fact that you won't spend most of your time performing in front of captivated audiences: you'll be on your own, learning how to master complicated magic tricks.[2]
    • The Tarbell Course in Magic Volumes 1 - 8
    • Books of Wonder by Tommy Wonder
    • Strong Magic by Ortiz
    • Drawing Room Conjuring by Hoffman
    • The Fitzkee Trilogy
    • Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic by Wilson
    • The Amateur Magician's Handbook
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    Buy magic DVDs or watch magic videos online. Though you should still use books to learn about being a magician, DVDs and online videos can also help you hone your craft. There are thousands of them out there and you have to make sure that you're getting a video from a reputable magician and that you're not paying for a cheap video with tricks that are too easy.[3] Online communities of amateur and professional magicians can help guide you to good sources.

Part 5
Developing Your Show

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    Try to get a magician to guide you. Once you've gained some skills, reach out to a local professional magician and ask if you can be an apprentice and give you some helpful feedback. You'd be surprised by how helpful many professional magicians can be, remembering themselves when they were starting out. You just have to be receptive to feedback and be ready to take some criticism that can improve your craft.
    • He might not reveal you any tricks, but he could give you tips on how to perform your first tricks like a pro. If you don't have this advantage, try to learn from your mistakes as much as possible. Over time, you will know what your audience wants most.
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    Be original. Once you've mastered the basic tricks and have gained your footing as a magician, then it's time to be your own kind of magician -- you can't just rely on the tricks of others if you really want to succeed. No one wants to see an unoriginal magic act being performed over and over. Of course, you should have some (or many) old and famous magic tricks in your act (such as the cups and balls). The public may enjoy some old classics (like the Miser's Dream), but you should avoid certain old classics, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat (instead make it appear in a box).
    • Instead, think of an idea that has never been done before. For example, make strings disappear from a guitar. Then, decide how you will accomplish the effect. Now, think of a way to make the trick convincing. Make some equipment, if necessary.You might even need duplicate object with which you're working on. Once you've got all the parts planned out, start practicing the trick.
    • Develop a unique style of performing. Don't steal others' styles. You may take an old (dead) magician's style and put a unique twist on it, but never take a modern magician's style. It's better to have unique style and perform previously performed tricks, rather than take someone else's style and perform your own tricks.
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    Develop the qualities necessary to be a good magician. If you want to be a great magician, then you can't just have a great repertoire of tricks if you don't have the personal qualities that make you receptive to the craft. Here are some of the traits that you need to master:[4]
    • Commitment
    • Self-discipline
    • Patience
    • The ability to process info
    • Good communication
    • Dressing fashionably
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    Take acting classes, gain theater experience and work with a good director. Magic is theater and a magician is a performer. You don't have to go to acting school, but if you're shy in front of a crowd or just want to feel more comfortable in front of a crowd, then take an acting class or two to step up your game.[5]
    • Private acting lessons are very expensive, but you can learn a lot in a group setting.
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    Get organized. Before performing a show, be sure to rehearse it many times. You also might need to know how the room you perform in is designed. If you're performing at a party at your friend's house, that's not really necessary. Just make sure there's no one behind you. Your equipment should be made properly. Be sure to check, if everything works.
    • Also, try to merge several tricks together to create a new effect. For example, after you turn a ball into a tissue, make a coin appear out of the tissue; then, make the coin go through your hand.
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    Make your own equipment. If you can't produce your own equipment, ask some of your friends to do it for you, or go to a magic store or website and buy the equipment. Also, you might consider making people to help you as your assistants during your tricks (You already gave away the secret of many tricks to them, so why not make them part of the show?).
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    Get an impressive costume. A traditional costume for magician is a black jacket, a red formal vest that goes under it, and a pair of black pants that go with the jacket. The jacket should have many little pockets on its inside for storage of secret coins, cards, balls, etc. The vest should have big pockets on the inside so you can make big objects, such as plates, disappear/appear. And pants should have two pockets, one on each side. The pocket should be long and made under the folded part of the pants.
    • Also consider using the same basic outline of the costume to create a more modern one. One thing is certain you should dress a little nicer than the people you will be performing for.
    • Remember that comfort is also important when you make your costume. If you're feeling itchy or stifled in a costume, then it doesn't matter if you look incredible.
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    Improve the flexibility of your arms, fingers, and hands. Start with coin manipulation. It's easiest to master, but it is still challenging. You'll find links to helpful websites in external links section of the tutorial. Anyway, back to coin manipulation. Learn how to palm the coin on your hand. Find a spot in your palm where the coin will stick the most even if you open/close your hand, or turn it upside down. Then, learn creating illusions (like pretending to put an object in your other hand when really its still located in the first hand).
    • After mastering coin manipulation, you can move on to ball manipulation and, finally, card manipulation.
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    Develop some artistic talent and sense of humor. Try to narrate or tell a story with your tricks. Be very humorous and funny (unless your style is to be mysterious or serious). If your magic act is boring, no one would want to watch it. Remember to tell some jokes every once in a while that relate to the trick. You might also want music playing during your act, just to make it more exciting.
    • Sound effects can have a great impact too. But do not make an act with only music and no talking because then practically nobody would know what's going on.
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    Learn how to read the audience. Working the audience is a big part of being a great magician. What kind of audience do you have? Is the crowd overly enthusiastic and up for anything? Too critical or bored? A bit tipsy? You have to know who your crowd is and to tailor your tricks to the mood of the audience accordingly.
    • This will require some improvisation. You may see that your opening trick is wrong for the audience you have and will have to switch things up at the last minute.
    • If you're at a corporate event or another event with other acts, watch the other acts to see how the audience reacts, and see if you can recall those acts in your own act for bonus points.

Part 6
Getting Work

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    Start performing for friends and acquaintances. When you're just starting out, don't expect to work a corporate event with 500 people. You'll have to start with the people you know, which can be your friends, your family, your acquaintances, or your family friends. This is how it works: you perform for your friends or family at a birthday party and someone at the party likes your routine and then says, "Hey, I have a friend who's having a birthday party..." and bam! You've got your first real gig.[6]
    • Have patience. It can take time to build up enough skills to get work this way. Make sure that you're really ready when you start performing for an audience and you'll raise your chances of getting noticed.
    • Performing in front of a smaller, more intimate audience will make you more comfortable when it's time to get in front of crowds of strangers.
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    Take it to the streets. Some magicians like to work as street performers and to try their tricks out in front of random crowds. Your only pay will be whatever people throw into your magician's hat, and you may be faced with some tough audiences. However, this is a great way to build up nerves of steel and to get more comfortable in front of anything an audience throws your way.
    • If you choose to go this route, then make sure you're not taking over another magician or street performer's location. People are pretty touchy about their territory and you don't want to get into a conflict.
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    Work small gigs. As you build a following, you can start working at "real" gigs -- kids' birthday parties, hospitals, churches, adult birthday parties, or really anything you can get your hands on. This will be a great way of cutting your teeth in the world of magic and getting a sense of what kind of audience you really want to perform for and what audiences you like best. This can help you discover what kind of a magician you want to be -- maybe you'll see that you like exclusively performing for adults or only children.
    • Be prepared to do this for a while. It can take years to rise above this level.
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    Market yourself. If you really want to build up a reputation as a magician, then you have to market yourself. This means make a professional-looking business card, take your career to social media, and make a professional-looking website. This will help people learn more about you when they're looking to hire a magician for an event. Consider making one with the help of a professional if you're committed to marketing yourself.[7]
    • Give out your business card as often as you can.
    • Stop by local magic shops and ask if they need anyone to perform or if you can leave your business card with them.
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    Consider getting public liability insurance. This can help cover any accidents that may occur when you're performing in front of a crowd. Though your acts should be safe and careful, it can help cover anything inadvertent that happens, like having an audience member get injured by a prop.
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    Network. Once you've been around a while, you'll start to attend events for magicians and will work bigger gigs. You'll hopefully already have some contacts in the magic world from your previous gigs and from when you asked professionals for help. Continue to attend as many events as you can and promote yourself without being annoying. The more contacts you make, the more likely you'll be to find work.
    • If you make networking a priority, then you'll be more likely to meet a manager or an agent (see next step.)
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    Get a manager or an agent. An agent or a manger can be the key to a magician's success. If you want to really make it a magician, then you may need a manager who will help you find more work, promote you, and keep the work coming. An agent can be useful in this regard too, but he or she may get up to 15-20% of the commission for the gigs that he or she can find you. You can continue to work independently, but these people can be valuable for your career.[8]
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    Join the big leagues. If you've worked for years and years, have marketed yourself, have built a following, and have worked enough gigs, then you may have been lucky enough to have risen to the big leagues and to make magic a full-time job. Don't be disheartened if you haven't -- you can still consider yourself a real magician even if you have to do temp work the other half of the time to make ends meet; it's about following your passion, not making the big bucks. Still, if you have made it to the big leagues, then here are some of the events you may work:[9]
    • Corporate functions
    • Country clubs
    • Upscale charity fundraisers
    • High end private events, such as anniversaries, elegant children's parties, or holiday parties

Part 7
Living the Life

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    Don't reveal your secrets to lay people. A true magician doesn't reveal his secrets -- especially if other magicians are practicing them. If you're talking magic with a friend of yours, then you may trade secrets from time to time. But if you're accosted by the annoying type of person who insists he knows how you've done a trick or begs you to tell him how you've done something, you'll have to learn to tell these people to bug off.
    • A true magician honors his craft. Revealing your secrets is betraying your commitment to being a magician.
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    Master the "patter." Being a good magician means more than wowing your audience with one trick after another. It means knowing how to charm the crowd while you're performing the tricks, which can take a while. If you want to mesmerize your audience, then you have to be able to captivate them, keep them interested, and even distract them when you're in the middle of a difficult trick. Essentially, it means making captivating small talk to a room full of strangers -- it's not as hard as it sounds.
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    Join a magic club. If you want to be a masterful magician and to be in touch with magicians in your area and worldwide, then you should join a magic club so you can see what the latest magicians are working on and continue to hone your craft. Some of the most reputable clubs include The International Brotherhood of Magicians and The Society of American Magicians. You can also join the online club, The Magic Classroom.
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    Keep your "sleights" up to date. If you want to be the best magician you can be, then you have to keep your tricks current. Check out what other magicians in your field are up to by going to local shows. Talk to your magician friends to see what they've been working on. Don't do the same old thing one year after the next or people will start to think of you as "old rabbit out of a hat."


  • Don't be embarrassed if you mess up in front of your public. If you can't fix it without anyone noticing, just play along with your public. Laugh with the crowd as if the trick was planned to be unsuccessful, then move on to the next trick without making any comments on last one.
  • At the very beginning just introduce yourself properly and make a joke during your first routine. The audience has to like you to laugh with you!
  • Speak clearly. Try talking with a pencil in your teeth to help enunciate your words more. You might also consider using a mic so people can hear you better. Lapel mics are great and they free up both hands.
  • Dress professionally and create suspense!


  • Never perform a trick if you haven't rehearsed it properly. You have to have a trick mastered when you're performing it.
  • Never explain the secret of the trick (this is exposure and harms other magicians) to anyone just to show off your "mad magic skills", cause it can spread pretty quickly. If you plan on writing a book "100 Best Magic Tricks Explained", that is alright because it will only be bought by magicians and those with a sincere interest in magic.
  • Never warn the public about what you're going to do in your act (unless it's part of the plan to fool the public), or *Never show the same magic trick right after doing it the first time, no matter how much the audience begs you. Only exception would be if you know another way to do the trick, that won't get caught by the audience now watching you carefully.
  • Never argue with the audience. If someone makes a negative comment (for example, "I think I saw an extra penny behind your back!"), don't be distracted. Just ignore the comment and continue the trick. Be humorous and only answer public's questions/comments (if necessary) after you're done with your trick.

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Categories: Magic Tricks