We’re moving into the final stretch where we cover some more advanced techniques, the sorts of things where if you’re caught, you’re pretty much sunk. First up is the palm, easily one of the more intimidating moves out there.

9.1 Top Palm — First Method

Taken from Erdnase (lybrary.com), you’re going to have to work on this one, because it’s not that easy to read or execute. The major idea is making sure that the fingers doing the pivoting aren’t seen, and this allows you to get the cards into palm position without having a telltale alignment of the hand with the deck. You’ll see an example of what not to do in a bit.

9.2 Top Palm — Second Method

Also from Erdnase, this is an alternative to the first method, if you think it suits you.

9.3 Palming

This is also from Erdnase, but from a different part of the book — the Legerdemain section. You might find this to be the most straightforward approach, although it suits a single card rather than multiple cards.

9.4 Top Palm, Single and Multiple Cards

This is from Royal Road, Chapter 7. The description here isn’t all that bad, although there is an image that shows something that you should definitely not be doing, that of aligning the hand directly with the deck. In fairness to Hugard and Braue, the description is better than what’s depicted there.

Honestly, when it comes to readability, my inclinations lie with Hugard and Braue, but when it comes to technique, I’d go with Erdnase. Now, I didn’t learn it the Erdnase way, and as a result, I had to unlearn a lot of habits that I had in order to get the technique passable. If you’re just starting out, but you want to aim really high, I’d go with Erdnase first and foremost.

9.5 Replacement of Palmed Cards

This is from Expert Card Technique, Part 3, and it talks about how to get palmed cards back onto the deck. This will allow you to do some neat things, like loading a force card to a deck they just shuffled, or else returning a card you’ve stolen from the deck after they’ve shuffled it. Many options to choose from.

9.6 “A Psychological Impossibility”

Ok, this is a tough inclusion, because it comes from Lesson 9 in the Tarbell Course in Magic, which is in the public domain, but it’s not easy to hunt down. At the moment, the magicbunny.co.uk forum has it available at the top of the main page, but if sometime after this it goes down, you might have to resort to seedier (aharhar) methods of getting it, which is a shame, because it’s public domain.

If for whatever reason you can’t locate it, here’s a description, and you might be able to piece together a method from it using other similar tricks out there… The magician asks the spectator to divide the cards in half. The first half is shown in a fan to the audience, and they are asked to choose a card, remembering the number that card lies at in the fan. Those cards are set down. The second half is then mixed up, and a single card is removed and put into the magician’s pocket. The magician then asks the spectator the number they were thinking of, and that number of cards is dealt from the first pile. That card is turned up, and it’s not their card. The card that was selected from the second pile is removed from the pocket, and it’s their card.

If you’re unable to figure out the method, look at 9.7 and try to think how you might alter it to accomplish the above.

(Incidentally, Tarbell offers his own description for palming cards, just in case you needed another one.)

9.7 S. H. Wimbrough’s “Card From Pocket”

From Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (lybrary.com), Chapter 18, this trick is really very similar to the method taught in “A Psychological Impossibility”. In my opinion, the specific choreography of Tarbell’s version is a bit nicer, so I’d recommend hunting it down, but the effect here is just about identical. That said, I actually rather like the fact that the unseen, indifferent card is put in the pocket before one is viewed, and I believe I’ve seen at least one performance of Tarbell’s trick that orders it that way.

9.8 The Card and the Handkerchief

From Erdnase, in the card tricks section at the end of the book. Now, in Erdnase, they recommend that you execute the pass to get the card into correct position. You’ll learn about the pass later on, and while there are some potential benefits to using it, not all that much is lost by simply shuffling the card into position, especially since shuffling is involved in the trick anyway. There is a very nuanced discussion that can be had on this topic, though, and we’ll come to it later when we discuss the pass.

9.9 The Penetrating Cards

From Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, Chapter 18. In the book, they say that this is an improvement on the usual method (such as what Erdnase described) since the card penetrates both the handkerchief and the card box. It’s up to you which you prefer.

9.10 Three Cards Across

From Royal Road, this trick is great. I will admit to not being very impressed with it, since the method seemed quite obvious, but performances showed how much people seemed to like it. One specific thing I would recommend would be to actually have the card selected after they count out the small packet of cards. The reason is straightforward — if, for some reason, you knew that they’d picked a 4 (for example), then it may make sense that you’d take advantage of the one time you contact the cards to get those 4 cards into position. Moving the selection to after that moment adds an extra layer of mystery to the trick, since you never go near their cards after you discover that they took a 4. One caveat emptor to this is that if you decide to put the card selection second, then the packet that your assistant is holding will be out of the audience’s sphere of attention momentarily, and so you’ll want to remind the audience maybe once or twice how many cards they’re holding, before you count them to show the other cards have arrived.

9.11 William Larsen’s Out of Sight

From Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (lybrary.com), Chapter 12, this is an additional way to get mileage from a strategy taught earlier in the Jolly Almanac.

9.12 Spring Catch

From Royal Road, chapter 7, this is a fun way to reveal a card. It can get messy, though, so it may be best saved as a closer.

If you need to learn how to spring cards, you can use the method taught in Royal Road, or else you can look at the version in Expert Card Technique (Part 2), which I think is a bit better.

9.13 “An Unwitting Wizard”

From Card Manipulations, #3 (lybrary.com), you can use a regular palm instead of the one-hand top palm recommended by the author. This is a very fun idea, and most people are doing a related version of this called “Change in Hand”, which is kind of nice if you’re trying to avoid method tells.

9.14 “The Card in the Shoe”

From Expert Card Technique, Part 4, Chapter 8. Now, on the subject of tricks such as Card to Pocket or Card to Wallet, Allan Ackerman made the argument that a really important point in such effects is for the audience to see an empty hand going to the destination. This doesn’t have this, simply by virtue of the method, and while Hugard and Braue praise the choreography, I find it a bit risky. If this sort of thing is your bag, you might want to consider having a dummy card already in the shoe, so that you have something to show before you reach inside and “produce” their signed card, using the regular technique.


One regret I have was that I wasn’t able to get permission to use Dai Vernon’s “Topping the Deck” in this project. I’m still not entirely convinced that Select Secrets isn’t in the public domain, but whatever, I’m not in this to make enemies. In any case, if you’re reading this and you’re on the internet, all you need to do is go to the Victoria State Library website and you can currently view that book for free there.

One other thing that you ought to know is that the easiest single card palm that I know of is John Carney’s method taught on his Carney On Palming DVD. It’s dead simple, and because it happens from the bottom of the deck, it’s well-covered. I’d highly recommend seeking that one out if you’re intimidated by any of the other methods here, and you really only need a steal of a single card.

Otherwise, there’s a lot of stuff worth considering in here, and honestly, palming is one of those aspects of card magic that separates the kids from grownups. Pay great attention to the various ways that the tricks offer you motivation, timing, and misdirection to get away with the moves.