Amazing Card Trick

This trick was done on the Conan O’Brien show about four years ago. It amazed me then and when people talk about cool tricks they’ve seen, this one is the one I list.

Okay, the magician comes out with a deck of cards. He asks Conan to pick one card and write his name on it. Conan did this and showed it to the camera(I forget what it was, but let’s say it was the Ace of Spades).

Conan put the card back in the deck and the magician handed the deck to Bob Dole(yeah, Dole was on). Dole holds the deck in his fist and the magician puts his hand over it. Then they go through the deck and realize that the card is not there.

Where was it? The magician has Conan take of his jacket and feel in the lining in one of the corners. Conan takes a pair of scissors and cuts open the lining on his suit jacket. The card is in there, signed by him.
So what’s up?

Good luck, Mahaloth. But the trick is told when the trick is sold.

So you won’t feel completely slighted, I’ll tell you that once you find out how this trick works, you’ll understand why the first guy in a three-card monte game actually wins.

I was just going through old posts and I realized I never got an answer to this.

Anyone wanna tell me? It’s been 10 months.

Well, the first problem is getting the card out of the deck, the second is getting it into the jacket.

The first part is pretty straight forward. There’s a million ways to control a card, so getting it to the top (or bottom) of the deck is easy, and palming it is also easy.

Getting it into the jacket, I dunno exactly, but the way you describe the trick, there was probably plenty of time to do it while Bob Dole was looking through the deck to discover the card was missing.

I’ve suggested this before on another thread, but you know it just might be worth having a policy of not discussing magic tricks on the Board.

I know some will take a different view - offering arguments ranging from ‘free speech’ to ‘fighting ignorance’. But revealing how magic tricks are done isn’t fighting ignorance, it’s spoiling entertainment. Okay, so some magicians and some tricks are cheesy, but there’s also a lot of very good, hard-working and skilled guys and gals out there devising and performing good, entertaining magic. Discussing the secrets in a public forum isn’t really helping.

I know all the arguments about ‘exposure doesn’t really harm magic’, but harm isn’t necessarily the point. Why trash a lot of hard work offered in the name of entertainment? I’d say it’s different when people offer magic tricks as if they are really psychic - then there’s a ‘fighting ignorance’ reason to debunk. But that’s different than an entertainer doing his job well with a card trick.

Besides, there is a practical issue here. The only people who are going to know the answer are other experienced magicians, and we don’t sing the secrets. The rest is just uninformed and always inaccurate speculation.

I think it’s totally appropriate to discuss magic secrets. when I watch a trick (that’s done well), even when I know how it’s done, I’m impressed. I think Pen & Teller are great magicians (if a little sick), and even watching a trick that’s been explained is impressive.


I’d have to side with PosterChild on this one.

How they do the trick is oftentimes more interesting to me than the presentation of the trick.

I’ve never understood why magicians get so goofy about anyone else out there knowing how the trick is done.

If I didn’t want to know how it was done, I wouldn’t read it.

But, in my case, I want to read about it.

Where’s the harm?

The point of misdirection must have been at the time when his jacket was cut open. Who reached into the seam? Who cut the seam?

Well, if we’re going to speculate, I’d say he did the switch during rehearsal.

That is, he did a dry run with Conan earlier in the day and had Conan write his name out and all that, and kept that card.

After the rehersal, but before the taping, the magician gets a hold of Conans jacket and puts the earlier card with Conans signature on it, and plants it in his jacket.

He goes on stage for the taping, and the cards already in Conans jacket.

He has Conan write out his signature again on a the same value card, and simply palms it.

Since a signature typically doens’t change from one to the other, noone knows there’s been a switch.

Then he cuts open the jacket and all viola! There it is- But it’s been there for a while.

Which would, of course, be trivially easy, if Conan is an accomplice. No reason he wouldn’t be; he’s not the primary audience for the trick, and I’m sure that he could do a convincing job of acting surprised.

Good question.

I think you have your own answer.

As to the other speculation about the trick having depended upon a dry run–I’ve seen similar tricks in public forums where there clearly could not have been a dry run, unless the person who participated in the trick was an accomplice.

I’ve seen this trick done where the card I signed ends up sealed in an envelope in the guy’s zipped up wallet. I know that wasn’t done in advance.

Expressing myself, that is, but let me give it a try:

From a purely business standpoint,(and magic is a magician’s livelihood) does it make sense to reveal your “business secrets” to the world? IOW, how would a magician protect his trade so that he may continue to derive monetary gain from it if not to keep his methods in absolute secrecy?

I really like that phrase, "It’s told when it’s sold"
And I hate that program on Fox that shows the “masked magician” giving tricks away.

I guess those among you who have more business savvy than I can put that in better terms, but this is my feeling on the matter: I am paying for entertainment and as long as I am being entertained and enjoy said entertainment, I could care less how it was done.




I’ve started a thread in GD on the subject of discussing magic tricks on the SDMB.

As for Mahaloth’s trick, my WAG would be that Conan was in on it. Although, could the signature have been forged (similar to Penn and Teller’s watch trick with David Letterman) and the card planted much earlier?


IANAM(agician), and that being said, I think everybody’s right (kind of). Half the fun of seeing a good magic show is discussing it with your friends afterwards, to try and figure out “how’d he do that?” I can also understand from a business and professional standpoint, etc., that magicians would not want to reveal their secrets. So don’t! No one is compelling you to, and since the rest of us (the ones with some common sense, anyway) realize that, it’s understood that it’s just we amateurs trying to figure out the puzzle.

Of course, some of us non-professionals know more than others, but what the hell. Much of this kind of information is available in book stores or magic shops anyways. Most people just don’t want to take the time or trouble or effort to learn it. My wife bought me a magic book a couple of years ago, and while it was interesting to leaf through, I soon got bored with it because I did not want to take the time or put in the effort to learn or practice the tricks. I’m sure there are some top-notch and original magicians who create new illusions from time to time (and I’m sure Penn & Teller would be in that group), but most everything you see is a variation of stuff in a dozen magic books. I’d be willing to bet that same info is available on the web, too. So it’s just of matter of how hard you’re willing to look for it, and it seems to me that The SDMB is a perfect forum to look for and aquire hard to find info. That’s why we’re here!

My (educated) guess on the Conan O’Brien show trick:

First, my guess would be that Conan was NOT an accomplice. If he were, then anything would be possible, but I’m sure this was a professional magician who performed the trick and he used a trick that he normally does in his act. Like pohjonen, I’ve seen tricks very similar to this done many times, and I’d be willing to bet my second-born child that the “victims” of any of those tricks were NOT acomplices.

Using sleight of hand, it would be very easy for an accomplished magician to remove the signed, selected card from the deck. It probably never got as far as “back into” the deck in the first place. That’s what magicians do. If not for the signature, it would even be possible for the magician to not worry about removing the card; he could have a deck with 52 of THE SAME CARD (say all four of spades, for example), and then before he gives the deck to Dole to look for the card, he just SWITCHES DECKS (to one with every card BUT the four of spades)! After the card has been mixed in the deck and the magician is explaining what’s going to happen next, no one bothers looking at the deck closely. It would be easy for the magician to switch decks at that point. In fact, to pick up on CnoteChris’s idea, if he had Conan sign a card during a rehearsal, he still could have done this, using a deck of 52 cards the same as the one Conan had signed earlier… or using a special deck during rehearsal that could “copy” or transfer Conan’s signature onto the specific card used on the show. But I still guess not. He probably just palmed the actual card while “shuffling” the deck after Conan put it back.

Then how did it appear in Conan’s jacket?

I have no idea. Well, maybe a little idea… you didn’t say who it was that took the card out of Conan’s jacket. If the magician took out the card, then it’s easy to imagine him doing a “look, here’s a quarter coming out of your ear” move, albeit far more skillfully than we normally think of. Same thing if Conan handed the card to the guy before looking at it. But if Conan actually took out the card from the jacket and showed it without the magician having any influence over it, then I guess I’m stumped.

If Sublight’s idea of a forged signature is plausable, then maybe it would be possible to have 52 different cards secreted all over the jacket, and depending which card was picked, he directed Conan to the appropriate hiding place. Or even easier, by “forcing” the card into Conan’s hand as he picked it, another professional magician skill, all he needs is access to Conan’s jacket ahead of time to place the forged signature card in it before hand. But I really believe it was not forged (as I’ve seen this trick too many times when the magician could not have possibly known the volunteer ahead of time) so I think he either just placed or switched the card while “removing” it from the jacket (I think this is the most plausible explanation) or he must be able to place the palmed picked card there somehow.

Anyone else want to offer some ideas?

On a related topic, there was the recently aired (reaired) David Blaine show in which he performs a similar trick with a little girl and her mother (card is selected, disappears, reappears). The kicker in this one is that the card “reappears” in the little girl’s (who is seated the whole time) back pocket. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but if I catch someone surrepticiously messing around with the back of my little girl’s pants, I’d be tempted to call the cops. So in this case, my WAG is either the mom was in on it or it really was magic. :wink:

Want a real answer, just ask in the newsgroup, alt.magic.secrets they know.

Frankly I don’t think a magician would cut a guys jacket up for a trick.

Didn’ Blaine do a similar trick with a basketball?
He popped in on a pro team during practice, and did some similar trick with a note or a card.

Then, after getting the card back in the deck, or the note back in the envelope, he walked over to a pile of basketballs, took out a pen knife (rather good sized one), and cut open one of the practice balls…

…then he had a player reach in the ball carcass and pull out the card.

My first thought was that somehow through slight of hand he had put the card in the ball when he was cutting in.

My guess for Conan is that the magician handled Conan’s coat at some point after, or during, cutting it open.

The problem with the “dry run” explanation is that Conan
would have to have drawn the same card, and signed
it on the same part of the card, with no noticeable

Either the first responder was correct (his 3-card Monte
implication that Conan was in on it), or the misdirection
was at the very end of the trick - he’d planted any old card
in Conan’s jacket, but switched at the time it was produced.

Well that explains it all right there. David Blaine is notorious for having cuts and omissions so large you actually make it look like you were flying down the boardwalk.

In the case that you mention, I don’t see how hard it would be for a person to slip a card into a girls back pocket. Especially if you come up on them joking around and obviously having fun. It doesn’t hurt that you have a camera crew standing around you either.

So I doubt the mother was thinking, “Better watch out here. This guy could be a molester after my kid!”.

Instead, he probably goofed around with the mother and kid a bit before he did his trick and slipped the card in then. When it came time to do the trick, it looks like it was there the whole time because he didn’t have any contact with her.

He did, they just didn’t air it.

In terms of it being the same card, even Blaine has shown his ability at card control. Or, to explain it better, he’s shown that he can have any card he wants to the top of the deck and keep it there.

It’s not much of a stretch to believe he could control which card it was the girl picked out or Conan.

He makes them pick out the same value card, palms it, and reveals the previously planted card of the same value.