Magic Hoax Explained

Many people know I have an interest in both magic and math. With that in mind, many people have asked about how the trick in this video works: Card Magic

The video evidently engendered a lot of questions, so he made a follow-up one here, which doesn’t add anything significant to the first video: More incredible self-working easy magic that anyone can do!

In both videos, Jason (the magician) says it’s just a math trick and works every time. If you watch just one video, choose the first one. However, if you don’t want to watch it or can’t, here is the list of how the video goes:

1. 1. Take a shuffled 52-card deck (at the 0:22 he says “the order doesn’t matter”).
2. 2. Choose a rank from ace to 10.
3. 3. Deal cards one at a time until you deal the first card of the rank from step 2. Write down that number of cards.
4. 4. Continue dealing until you get to the second card of the rank from step 2. Write down that total as well.
5. 5. Deal further until you get the third card of the rank from step 2. Write down that number of cards as well.
6. 6. Take the sum of the cards from steps 3 to 5.
7. 7. Then deal down the number of cards from step 6 of the remaining cards. The last card dealt will be the fourth card of the rank from step 2.

It doesn’t sound possible to work other than by blind chance, but plenty of people in the comments back up the magician. Here are just some of the comments.

“Worked for me three times in a row.” -- illinialumni

“Works every time!” -- waynelagasse9914

“Remember kids, if it didn't work for you, you're doing it wrong. Try again, this actually works!” – Herbert

I tried this on myself many times and it simply didn’t work with a shuffled deck. Then I watched both videos several times and I couldn’t detect anything I was doing wrong.

So, what is going on? The whole thing a hoax.

Here is how to actually do it.

Set Up

1. 1. Choose any rank. It does not have to be between A and 10. Let’s call this the Chosen Rank.
2. 2. Choose any position where the third card of that rank will appear. Do not pick a number over 26 nor too small, lest the “random” deck look fishy. For the sake of example, choose 19, as Jason did in the first video. I would recommend something in the range of 15 to 25. Let’s call this total x.
3. 3. Separate from the deck the four cards of the Chosen Rank.
4. 4. Place one of the cards of the Chosen Rank face down.
5. 5. Place x-1 cards from the remaining 48 cards face down on top of the card from step 3.
6. 6. Place a second card of the Chosen Rank face down on top of the pile.
7. 7. Mix the last two cards of the Chosen Rank with x-3 other cards.
8. 8. Place the cards from step 7 face down on top of the pile.
9. 9. Place the pile from step 8 on top of the rest of the cards.

Then do the trick as shown in the video. However, make the choice of rank seem arbitrary. Jason did it by dealing down what seemed like a random number of cards, but it wasn’t random. The rest of it will work just as he did it.

Example

Let’s choose queens for our Chosen Rank and 16 as x. Here is what to do:

1. 1. Place a queen face down.
2. 2. Place 15 cards from the rest of the deck on top of the first queen.
3. 3. Place a second queen on top of the pile.
4. 4. Mix the last two queens with 13 cards and place them on top of the pile.
5. 5. Place the pile on the remaining cards.

If you have done this correctly, you will see that it works. At this point, you may have some questions. Here is what I wondered initially and my answer to those questions.

Q: Didn’t Jason demonstrate by shuffling he did it with a random deck?

A: It was a controlled shuffle. He is a very skilled card magician and can control the location of every card through a shuffle. Since most people don’t have this skill you’ll either have to do a fake shuffle or none at all.

Q: If this can’t be done on a randomly shuffled deck, why do so many people in the comments say it worked for them?

A: It is part of the hoax. The term “gaslight” means to make people question their sanity with tricks or lying. This is what they are doing. They probably got fooled themselves, eventually figured out they were had, and are passing the BS on.

Q: As an amateur magician yourself, why are exposing it?

A: In general, I oppose revealing the secrets to magic tricks. However, I make exceptions for some simple tricks, in the interests of sparking interest in new magicians. In my last few Live Stream videos, I have shown how simple tricks are done.

I also believe in a magicians’ code of conduct. This would include:

1. 1. Do not use audience plants/stooges. These are people who are in on the trick with the magician, pretending to be randomly chosen audience members.
2. 2. Do not lie to the audience. Even I will embellish a trick by saying things like “I shall read your mind,” when I’m really not. However, if a magician says something specific like “the order of the deck doesn’t matter,” when it really does, then I have a problem with that.

The whole video is a big hoax and in violation of the second principle. Much like I would have no compunction to debunk a psychic or faith healer, so I am debunking this video.