Here is where things start to get really exciting. Get ready, young padawan, to learn the ways of the force.

6.1 The Cut Force

Royal Road, chapter 16. If this is the first time you’ve encountered this technique, then I feel bad, because it reads like nothing and you’re going to have to take it on faith that it works. I remember the first time somebody did this for me, and it fooled me terribly. Definitely pay attention to part 4, though. The time misdirection is the key part of what makes it work.

6.2 Riffle-Break Force

Royal Road, chapter 16, often just called the riffle force. If you consider getting a break below the card, rather than above, now you’ve got something suitable for any instance where the spectator isn’t able to pick a card, such as parlour, stage, or walk-around at a cocktail party.

6.3 Hindu Shuffle Force

Royal Road, chapter 15. Like the riffle force, is suitable for situations when they can’t take a card. Now, the method described involves dropping cards off and having the selection taken, but one thing that works is to honestly just keep the card at the face of the right-hand’s packet, and when they say stop, you flash that bottom card at the audience.

6.4 One Hand Card Force

Theodore Annemann’s Miracles of Card Magic (TLPP at I like this, and Eugene Burger even has a version of it where you don’t bother having the card selected behind your back. It’s worth having two reversed cards as well so that they can just take the card themselves and have everything be copacetic.

6.5 The Classic Force

Ok, this one is a doozy. The idea is that you spread the cards out and you make sure they actually take the one you want. It’s taught in a few places, and while the technique discussed in Royal Road Chapter 16 is good enough, the real key to this is honestly just practice on regular folks. Tons, and tons, of practice. There’s also the unfortunate reality that you could be an expert at card magic, but if before the cards are spread the spectator gets it in their head that they want a card right near the bottom, you’re pretty much sunk. This might not be a problem if you’re having a card selected for “A Design For Laughter” or something similar, but if you need that card to match a prediction or a duplicate or something similar, then you should know that this force isn’t 100%. Thankfully, though, there are alternatives talked about elsewhere in this chapter, including the next one which can also be done from a spread.

6.6 The Sliding-Key Force

Royal Road, chapter 16. Here you go. Again, the great technique that’s got application as a key card placement also can work very well as a force. Learn to do this deceptively, and it will serve you well.

6.7 “Thoughts Ablaze”

Charles Roe’s trick from issue 150 of the Jinx ( is a strong enough trick that you don’t have to save it for impromptu situations as described in the magazine, and you also don’t need to go through the trouble of carving up a card just to get the outline you want. Just use soap and write the card if you want. It’s good. I honestly used to be able to close kids’ shows with this. Whether it was responsible of me to have fire in a kids’ show is up for debate, though. Actually, arguably not, I was probably being an idiot. That said… Whatever, it’s strong.

6.8 “Before Your Eyes”

Norman Ashworth’s trick from issue 32 of the Jinx ( is another good trick, and while it’s described using slates and white paint, you can get a similar effect using a whiteboard (with two markers, one permanent and one eraseable) or a business card (with two pens, one regular and one frixion, and a bit of heat).

6.9 “The Pulse Trick”

Royal Road, Chapter 16. The first part is pretty good, and the second part really elevates it. Watch your angles, though.

6.10 “Salty Surprise”

From Christopher Milbourne’s Conjuring With Christopher, Chapter 4 (Victoria State Library). You’ll want to be careful that your preparation doesn’t catch the light before the reveal, as that would tip the method. This is a similar issue in “Thoughts Ablaze”, incidentally. You’ll see what I mean if you try it out.

6.11 “Card in Orange”

Cazeneuve’s trick in the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (, and it’s got “closer” written all over it. Unfortunately, the card can’t be signed, which is very en vogue for this type of trick these days, but whatever, it’s still pretty good in this form. Later in your magical education, Darin Ortiz has thoughts in his book Designing Miracles on how to gain conviction with object-to-impossible-location tricks where an object isn’t signed.

6.12 The Backslip and Backslip Force

Royal Road, chapter 8, and you’ll need to read the basic description of the backslip first in order to understand how it can be used as a force. Hugard and Braue are correct that this move is used a lot (it still is, even today), and they’re correct that it’s easy, and they’re mostly correct that it’s deceptive, as it does fly. The problem, though, is that it’s not really all that natural.

Here’s the theory. When you’re having a card selected by an audience member, there are three major scenarios. First, the audience is close by and can take the card. Second, the audience is far away and can’t touch the card. Third, the audience is holding the cards themselves.

For the backslip force to work, the spectator needs to be close-by to take the card. Conceivably, you could raise the deck and push the card over with the thumb, but they have to be so close to see the index that you might as well just have them take the card. But, if you’re going to have the spectator that close, why not just have the card taken from a spread, or why not have them take the cards and choose a card themselves?

What’s more, the covering action by Leipzig that’s recommended, allows everybody to see the adjacent card, and that includes the magician. Usually, in magic, the card selection procedure is best done by having the magician apparently see nothing, to the point that some performers will frequently look away as the card is shown to the audience, even when using a totally fair deck, just to explicitly sell the image of the magician not being able to see anything about the card. Yet, with this approach, the magician gets to see the selection that’s right next to the card, which is a bit anomalous.

Now, usually the application is a force in order to do some sort of magic that can’t be explained by a simple glimpse of the adjacent card, but why introduce potential problems when you can just do a more natural force?

That said, the overall technique is still deceptive, so can it still be used as a force? I’d argue yes, but I’d offer the suggestion that it be used as a revelation instead of a selection. Meaning, you have a card selected and it’s returned to the deck. You riffle down the edge and ask them to stick their finger into the cards wherever they want. They do. You open it up and show the face of the indifferent card at that point. You say “Well, it’s either above-” (point above to the face as per the Leipzig subtlety) “-or below where you touched. Take the card below?” They do, and it’s their card. This rarely fails to get a strong reaction for me, and in my multiple selection routine it’s a reliable high point early on in the revelations. You could even do this as a single card routine with a card stabbing presentation (I recommend using a very dull knife).

6.13 R.W. Hull’s Force

This is #79 from Annemann’s 202 Methods of Forcing, Part 1 ( For reasons that are similar to the backslip force, you might want to consider saving this one for a revelation, rather than for a selection. R. Paul Wilson and Andrew Gerard have some neat work on this that you might want to try hunting down.


In addition to all the tricks and strategies employed here, you might want to consider using a force for a slightly more humble reason, which is to have it as the selection procedure for some of the effects taught earlier in JACK, the reason being that you may want to add the detail to your trick that the spectator was able to shuffle the cards after the card was returned, or else as a safeguard against a spectator who’ll demand the right to shuffle themselves.

There’s also the fact that you can use this scenario as an excuse to set up other cards. For instance, a card is selected, returned, and you cut the cards. The spectator looks at the deck, perhaps wondering if the card is truly lost. You cut it again. They continue to stare. You decide to let them mix the cards. They do. You now say that you’re going to try to read their mind. You do your best psychic facial expression, and then hunting through the deck, examining cards individually and then discard them at the top of the deck. Finally, you reveal their card however you like, and then once that’s done, all those discards you got rid of were actually cards that you can now use for another trick, such as a fancy four ace reveal or whatnot.