The cups and balls magic trick is a timeless classic. Some magicians consider the cups-and-balls routine to be the oldest magic trick in existence.
Roman conjurers had a version of it. A drawing in a burial chamber from ancient Egypt appears to depict it. And it remains in use today—from magic shows to birthday parties in backyards.
There are even variations used by street hustlers—often called a ‘shell game’ or ‘classic cups.’
In today’s post, I’ll be giving you all the information you need to know about the cups and balls magic trick and how you can perform it.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is the cups and balls magic trick
- The props you’ll need
- How you can perform it
- The best cups and balls magic sets
What is the cups and balls magic trick?
First things first – let’s go exactly over what exactly this classic routine is. Picture this:
Three cups and three balls are set down in a line.
One of the balls is placed on top of the center cup and the other two cups are placed on top.
The magician makes a magical gesture and the cups are lifted to reveal that a ball has penetrated the cup.
Again the cups are set in a line, the center cup covering the ball which has already penetrated.
Another ball is placed on top of the center cup and the other two cups are placed on top. The cups are lifted to show the second ball has penetrated.
This is repeated with the third ball and finally, all three balls are shown to have penetrated the cup.
Here is a video of the cups and balls magic trick being performed and explained.
The props you’ll need?
- Three opaque cups. This can be a coffee mug, Styrofoam cup, opaque drinking cup, or a metal magician’s cup (which can be purchased at a magic shop).
- Four pom poms (However the audience only sees three balls.)
How To Perform:
Note: Before performing the trick secretly place one of the balls in the middle cup and stack the cups together.
1: Show 3 balls on the table and hold the stacked cups in your hand.
2: Take out the bottom cup and place it face down on the table. Take the middle cup (with the ball inside) and place it face down alongside the second cup. If you do this in a natural motion the ball will not fall out. Then place the third cup face down alongside the other 2 cups.
3: Next place one of the balls on top of the center cup and stack the other 2 cups on top.
4. Wave your hand or magic wand and say the magic words.
5. Lift the 3 stacked cups together to show the ball has ‘penetrated’ the cup.
6. The hidden ball is now in the yellow cup (in the picture above). Place the yellow cup on top of the ball on the table. Place another ball on top of the yellow cup and once again stack the other two cups on top. Lift the three cups together to show the second ball has ‘penetrated’ the cup…
7. The hidden ball is now in the blue cup (in the picture). Repeat the process, this time placing the blue cup on top of the two balls on the table. Place the third ball on top of the blue cup and once again stack the other two cups on top. Lift the three cups together to show the third ball has ‘penetrated’ the cup.
The LAST cups and balls set you’ll ever need! With the Legends Cups and Balls Set, Murphy’s Magic has completely raised the bar on what a superior quality set of Cups and Balls can look and feel like. It would be hard to argue a trick that is more widely known than the Cups and Balls. For thousands of years, this iconic magic trick has been performed in nearly every venue imaginable around the world by some of the most legendary prestidigitators to ever live. Now, standing on the shoulders of the giants who paved the way, this jaw-droppingly gorgeous Legends Cups and Balls Set offers you an unprecedented opportunity to write your own legendary story. These breathtaking copper plated cups are the epitome of elegance, immediately adding a level of professionalism and sophistication to any magic trick. Combined with an exceptional weight and perfect balance, this is the ultimate cups and balls set. Two versions of the Legends Cups and Balls Set are available: The Polished version uses a striking, high-shine finish to highlight the naturally stunning brilliance of the copper. The Aged version uses a hand-brushed patina to offer a remarkably authentic vintage aesthetic. Both sets include a set of crocheted balls. PLEASE NOTE: Despite the video saying the cups are copper, they are actually copper-plated. No matter which version you choose, you can rest assured that the Legends Cups and Balls Set will be the best you’ve ever owned! - Vanishing Inc
Top 100 Magic Books:
Don’t ask how long this took to write, it gives me headaches just thinking about it.
We’ve recently written an incredibly article on the top 100 magic books for magicians. It’s really informative and each book is amazing in it’s own right.
If you haven’t seen it yet I’m going to throttle it down your throat with a call to action link below…