How to do magic tricks


It’s the No. 1 rule of magic: Never reveal the secrets behind your tricks.

Magicians have been following this code for centuries. Until now.

More than 200 Boy Scouts gathered at Camp Workcoeman in New Hartford, Connecticut, for The Magic Camporee. They were there to work their way through 10 stations, learning a different magic act at each one.

They learned that magic isn’t accomplished by some kind of supernatural ability. It’s all about distracting your audience so they don’t realize what you’ve just done. And it’s a lot like playing a sport or musical instrument — it takes practice to get it right.

But before the Scouts at The Magic Camporee did anything, they had to make a promise.

“I do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout that I will keep secret the magic tricks that I learn today.”

Thankfully, Boys’ Life is the most trustworthy publication out there. We were able to convince the organizers of the event — most of them professional magicians — to share four of their tricks for the exclusive use of our readers.

So read on to learn how to amaze your family and wow your friends.

And remember: Never tell them how you did it.

Good Magic? The 3 Questions That Will Help You Decide

Over the first 3-5 times I test out a new trick, I use three specific questions to help me decide if an effect is any good:

1. What was their reaction?

good magic trick reaction

This is simple. As magicians we want people to react. People do react in different ways, but is it positive? A reaction could be “I saw that!” and to point out your secret move. That instantly tells you this effect either has poor angles or you need to work harder on your technique.

Also, what reaction are you going for? Are you going purely for laughs and don’t mind sacrificing the strength of the magic? Or do you want a gasp?

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Target the response you want…and accept no substitutes!

2. What does the audience tell me?

good magic trick feedback

“Oh, that was clever,” or, “Cute!” are things people might say, but what do you want your audience to say?

It’s important here you don’t ask for this feedback. It has to be given organically, but if you listen, your audiences will tell you exactly what they think. When they do, write it down.

They may not even say anything. They may just look uninterested and look away. That will certainly tell you something as well.

This is also a great tip for finding presentational angles and finding interesting, entertaining things to say. If you want good comedy within your effects, listen to your audience. They will write the show for you!

They may even ask a really interesting question along the way. Again, write it all down.

3. How did it feel?

good magic trick feel

After I perform a new effect, I evaluate how it felt to perform. Did it feel clunky? Did I feel connected to the audience? Am I disappointed? These are all possibilities after performing something new.

Then I think, “Can I fix this? Or is it just the trick itself?” If it’s me, I know I just need to perform it more and work out the kinks, but if I feel the trick itself just isn’t hitting strong enough, maybe it’s the routine.

If it’s a stage piece, I watch it on video. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do for any performer. This allows you to see exactly what you look like.

Most important, you have to give each piece of magic the amount of time it deserves. If you try to add one trick to your act every week, those piece won’t have the space to grow. Remember, you only need a small handful of magic tricks to tour the world.

I’m reminded of the best advice I’ve seen:

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We cannot emphasize too strongly that knowing the secret of a trick is not the same as knowing how to perform that trick; and that knowing the secret of hundreds of tricks is of little value unless each can be performed smoothly and entertainingly. It is far better to know only a few tricks which can be performed with grace, skill and effect.”          —Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard

Go With Your Gut!

To put yourself on a good path for finding good material, look towards classic books, ones that have survived multiple reprints. That’s usually a sign something may be worth your attention.

You can also look toward workers you admire. At Conjuror.Community, Aaron teaches Alpha Class Effects. These routines are incredibly amazing to a lay audience and they allow you to inject your own persona into their presentations. The effects are very strong, but the first few times you perform them you may need to adjust yourself. 

So, there you have it. To REALLY know if a trick is good for you, you have to perform it. Most of the time, you’ll find a new trick doesn’t connect with you. Most of the time, you’ll sense this before you even attempt a performance.  

You may think it doesn’t feel right in your hands, or you look in the mirror and think, “I don’t like this.”

And that’s okay – in fact, it’s great. That’s your gut telling you the trick is  not what you are looking for.

About the Author:Shawn Mullins ProReviews has quickly become a favorite staple of our Online Events for Conjuror Community members. In each episode, Shawn leads you step-by-step through everything you need to tackle a great piece of magic. 

Check out Shawn's live shows on Conjuror Community.

Now it’s your turn, leave a comment below and let me know your favorite way of knowing whether your new effect is a Good Trick or a Bad Trick? I can’t wait to read your responses.

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11. Vanish a ball inside a cup

This trick requires a cup, a ping pong ball, and a glue dot. Place the glue dot at the bottom of the cup. Let the ball fall right on the glue dot and then put the cup upside down to show no ball is falling out of it. A certain level of confidence and some razzle-dazzle movements with your hands are required to make this trick look genuine.

This trick consists of the magician holding a coin in each palm of his hands and then quickly turning the hands upside down. When the magician lifts his hands from the table, both coins appear under one of his hands, making it look as if the coin had travelled. The secret is to rapidly throw one coin towards the other before turning your hands – the audience will not notice if you do it fast enough and have the impression the coin has travelled to the other side.

As you have probably noticed, magic tricks are extremely simple. Everyone can perform them, but what makes someone a successful magician is a mix of dexterity, confidence, and charisma. You can try these tricks to entertain your friends or your kids, and if you have the right personality type you may become a magician, who knows?

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