Magic Spell

Here’s what I wanted Magic Spell to look like when I started brainstorming on it:

One spectator freely names a card. The other spectator cuts the cards as much as they like, and then cuts face up anywhere they like.

The card they’ve cut to isn’t the named card—but when we spell the identity of the card, we land on the exact named card!

2 super important things to know about the method:

First, this effect uses the memorized deck.

If you’ve not learned the memorized deck yet, here’s an incredible resource available for FREE to all members:

Secondly, there is no one set way to perform this effect. Since both the card they name and the card they cut to will be free choices, that’s a potential 2,704 possible combinations.

Instead, I’ll give you a set of guiding principles and a 4-step ‘strategy’ that you can apply each time you perform this.

These four ‘steps’ make this effect actually possible.

Step 1: Know the stack

Unlike with some of my other effects where you can perform them even if you don’t know the stack, you’ll need to have a VERY good knowledge of the stack numbers of each card.

Step 2: Know the distance

In the effect described, one spectator cuts the deck anywhere, and the other names a random card.

We’re always going to end up with a certain ‘distance’ number based on these two cards.

For example, if we’re in the Tamariz stack and someone cuts at the 2D while the other names the 5C, we’re working with the 19th card and 30th card—meaning the distance is 11.

To perform this effect, we’ll need to be able to make that calculation in an instant—hence why it’s so important to know the stack so well.

To drill this, you can practice randomly generating two cards in the deck and seeing how quickly you can calculate their distance. Google ‘random playing card generator’ if you want to find a website that will do this for you.

Step 3: Know the letters

Since we now know the distance between the two cards, we need to figure out whether we can make either of the cards named ‘line up’ with that distance.

For example, in the previous example we had the 2D and the 5C, and the distance was 11.

‘Two of Diamonds’ is 13 letters, so that’s a no-go. However ‘Five of Clubs’ is 11 letters.

So in this case, we’d be able to spell ‘Five of Clubs’ starting on the 2D and land on the 5C.

Now, we don’t want to be trying to figure this out on the spot.

Hence why we should get familiar with the following list of letters and the number of them…

Diamonds = 8

Hearts = 6

Spades = 6

Clubs = 5

Of = 2

One = 3

Two = 3

Three = 5

Four = 4

Five = 4

Six = 3

Seven = 5

Eight = 5

Nine = 4

Ten = 3

Jack = 4

Queen = 5

King = 4

The = 3

And = 3

Step 4: Combine all the above

You’ll notice I was purposefully vague in the description of this part:

“The card they’ve cut to isn’t the named card—but when we spell the identity of the card, we land on the exact named card!”

When we spell the identity of WHICH card?

Well, the truth is, it will change every time, based on the distance.

Sometimes we might spell the card they cut to. Sometimes we’ll spell the card they named. Sometimes we’ll spell both. Sometimes we’ll just spell the value, or the suit.

We’ll be spelling into the facedown portion (the remaining cards after they cut) or the faceup portion (the face up packet they just cut) depending on this calculation.

This all might still sound a bit ‘unbelievable’, so let’s run a few examples…

I’ll be using the Tamariz stack and a random card generator.

Example 1:

Card they named: QC

Card they cut to: 2D

Distance = 2D (19) – QC (13) = 6

(As you see, make sure you calculate distance by subtracting the smaller stack number from the bigger stack number to get our starting point. As I talked about in example 1, we can use the other distance number if we want to, but we should start this way.)

Queen = 5

In this case, we’d say:

“Nice try! I’m afraid spectator #1 wanted a Queen though, not a Two. Actually, you know what. Maybe you cut here for a reason. Let me try this…”

And then we would spell ‘Queen’ into the faceup portion. After spelling Queen (5 cards), the card left on the face (the 6th card) will be the QC.

Maybe we just got lucky with that one, though.

Let’s try another example…

Example 2:

Card they named: 10H

Card they cut to: JD

Distance = 10H (38) – JD (32) = 6

Hearts = 6.

In this case, we’d say:

“Nice try! You cut to a red card, which is halfway there. But Spectator #1 wanted the Ten of HEARTS!”

As we say ‘Hearts’, we spell it into the facedown portion, turning over the 10H as the last card of the deal.

Example 3:

Card they named: JH

Card they cut to: 4C

Distance = JH (20) – 4C (1) = 19.

‘Jack of Hearts’ = (4) + (2) + (6) = 12.

‘Four of Clubs’ = (4) + (2) + (5) = 11.

This raises an interesting idea that I haven’t mentioned yet. While we will usually be looking at distance in terms of going FORWARD, we can also look at it in terms of going backwards.

In this example, counting BACK from the 4C to the JH is actually 33 cards.

NOTE: What if they didn’t cut deep enough for us to count 33 cards backwards?

In that case, all we need to do is take the face down packet, turn it face up, and place them beneath the currently face up packet.

We already know that the JH and the 4C are 12 and 11 respectively. 12 + 11 is 23, which is still 10 cards short of 33.

But what if we spell ‘THE Jack of Hearts’ and ‘THE Four of Clubs’. Well, that would add an extra 3 letters to each card. That brings the total up from 23 to 29.

We’re still 4 cards short.

But what if we spelled ‘The Jack of Hearts AND The Four of Clubs.’

‘And’ gives us another 3 letters, which would bring us to 32 cards—which is actually enough.

See, the JH is 33 cards behind the 4C, which means if we were to count ‘33’, the JH would be the card dealt as the last card of the deal. But since we’re dealing through the face up deck, we can actually get away with counting 32. If we count 32 cards, the 33rd card will be the card left on the face of the deck.

So in this case, the effect would look like this:

The first spectator would name a card—the JH. The second spectator would cut the deck a few times, and then cut the deck face up at the 4C. We would then spell the names of the two cards ‘The Jack of Hearts and the Four of Clubs’, starting on the 4C, and showing that we arrive at the JH once we finish dealing.

NOTE: Remember, since we’re using a stack, we can let them give as many single cuts as they want without disrupting the overall order of the stack.

Example 4: 

Card they named: JS

Card they cut to: 8C

Distance = JS (45) – 8C (33) = 12

Eight of Clubs = 12

Jack of Spades = 12

This is a nice one. In this case, either card would work, so you could give the audience the chance to choose which one you use, or simply choose one yourself and say something like:

“Hmmm. You cut to the Eight of Clubs, but Spectator #1 wanted the Jack of Spades. But it’s okay. I think you cut to the Eight of Clubs for a reason. Watch what happens when I spell the Eight of Clubs…”

You then spell the 8C into the facedown portion and land on the JS as the last card of the deal.

Example 5:

Card they named: 5S

Card they cut to: 6D

Distance = 5S (16) – 6D (6) = 10

Five of Spades = 12

Five Spades = 10

In this case, we’d simply spell ‘Five’ and ‘Spades’ to get a total of 10, landing on the 5S. We might say ‘Five of Spades’ as we deal, but simply pause the deal as we say ‘of.’

(or rather, we spell the Five on one line and move beneath it to spell the Spades, using that as the moment to say ‘of.’)

Alright, how about a few more examples to wrap things up?

Example 6:

Card they named: 7C

Card they cut to: 8D

Distance = 7C (47) – 8D (29) = 18

The Eight of Diamonds = 18

In this case, we’d simply spell ‘The Eight of Diamonds’ into the facedown portion, landing on the named 7C.

Example 7: 

Card they named: 8C

Card they cut to: 7S

Distance = 7S (37) – 8C (33) = 4

Eight = 5.

If we start our count with the 7S (as E) and spell ‘eight’ we’ll land on the 8C in the faceup portion.

Example 8:

Card they named: AC

Card they cut to: 4H

Distance = AC (43) – 4H (5) = 38

This seems more tricky, but it’s actually not too bad. Just complete the cut so that the 4H is now the bottom card of the deck and spell ‘The Four of Hearts’. We’ll land on the Ace of Clubs.


Because the stack is cyclical, we can go both directions. It was 38 cards if we went forward from the 4H to the AC, but only 14 cards if we go BACKWARD from the 4H to the AC.

‘The Four of Hearts’ is exactly 15, so if we start our count with the 4H as T and deal the next 14 cards we’ll land on the Ace of Clubs.

How crazy is that?

Each of those examples were randomly generated, and yet our process worked every time!

Look, I can’t guarantee this will work for you everytime. Unless we were both willing to sit here for 2,704 combinations, we won’t know for sure.

But, as you’ve seen already, it’s definitely NOT impossible, and in many cases actually very simple.

It does require you to know your stack inside out, so I would recommend putting this effect on the ‘backburner’ if you’re still new to the game.

And, wherever needed, feel free to add any ‘jazzing’ of your own. For example, if your calculation works out 6 cards short, but you’re performing for someone called ‘Danny’, chuck their name in there to get that extra distance. And don’t forget you can use a double lift or glide deal to reach even further (or heck, a triple lift will let you reach a card that you’re 2 away from!)

And don’t forget you can mix and match suits, values, count the backwards distance number rather than forward, and do so much more. If it doesn’t work at first, keep thinking about it.

(If you want, you could get the card named and the card cut to at the start of your act, and then leave the deck out in the open, promising you’ll come back to it. This will let the tension and intrigue build while giving you plenty of time to chuck stuff at the wall until you find the combo that works.)

It will all require some trial and error on your part.

But MAN, what an effect, huh?

Just imagine…

One audience member freely names a card. The other audience member cuts the cards as much as they like, and then cuts face up anywhere they like. 

The card they’ve cut to isn’t the named card—but when we spell the identity of the card, we land on the exact named card!

I mean…how cool is that???? I can’t believe we actually made it work!

Thanks for indulging me yet again with another crazy effect 🙂

P.S. the added bonus of this routine is that once in every 52 times performing, the spectator will actually cut to the right card.

(And 1 in 52 times the face down card following their cut will be their card. And 1 in 52 times the facedown card below the top face down card will be theirs, which you can reveal using a double lift. So 3/52 of the time you’ll get a nice hit.)

BONUS idea:

If you perform this using a marked deck, you could do the following…

Once the first spectator has named their card, have another spectator cut the deck. Once they’ve done so, learn the identity of the top card by looking at the mark.

There’s a 1/26 chance that either the card on top or bottom of the deck is the chosen card. If it is, that’s the effect. If not, without missing a beat ask them to cut again. Do the same again. Do this a couple more times and if the chosen card doesn’t appear at all, just tell them to “keep cutting until you’re satisfied, and then cut and turn the portion you cut face up and we’ll see what card you cut to.” At this point, carry on with the routine as normal.