Mentalism is one of the most intriguing and mysterious types of magic, because you can’t always tell whether it’s a magic trick, or something much more powerful; taking control and reading someone else’s mind using dark diabolical principles, such as reading nonverbal behaviour!
Here’s what we’ll cover in today’s post:
- 5 powerful (free) mentalism tricks you can do today
- How to learn mentalism like a sith lord.
- The goats of mentalism (little history lesson)
5 FREE & Easy Mentalism Tricks You Can Do Today
So you want to learn free mentalism tricks?
I can’t blame you; mentalism is really fun and can absolutely blow people away if you do it right.
Today I will be walking you through 3 of my favourite free-to-learn mentalism tricks, and how you can master them!
Then I’ll be talking about 2 of the cheapest mind reading effects on the market that can score you a serious reputation.
But first, the free stuff!
Pick 5: Guess ANY Thought Of Word
I LOVE this trick.
For one, it’s completely free to learn.
But all that aside, it’s just a straight up awesome magic trick.
You ask a friend to think of ANY word (and it really can be any word in the world). Once they have it, you ask them to write it down on a paper napkin (just a regular paper napkin).
Without any sleight of hand or funny moves, you are able to guess exactly the word they are thinking of just by feeling the napkin.
Sounds great right?
Well, trust me, the method is JUST as good.
Here’s the full video explanation (performance at the beginning, explanation afterward). The crazy magician doing it is Jay Sankey (his YouTube channel is full of great tutorials) who is actually one of the best professional magicians out there.
If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us!
Sneaky, isn’t it?
And it doesn’t have to be a phone’s surface you use. As Jay rightly points out, you could use any reflective object.
Obviously don’t put a mirror on the table, but anything remotely subtle should be good enough. The best way to move forward with this trick is just to practice doing it, and you’ll soon enough figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t.
Like Jay says, try to come up with a good reason to hold the napkin for a few seconds- simply saying something like ‘there’s clearly no way to see through’ is more than enough justification!
Once you have this trick mastered (it shouldn’t take too long), let’s move onto pick number 4…
Pick 4: Guess Any Thought Of Card
This trick is similar to the last one because you once again ‘read their mind’ but this time it is a playing card they are thinking of.
There’s actually a really easy way to do this; it’s called FORCING a card.
It’s more or less how it sounds- they think they’ve picked a random card when in fact it is precisely the card you wanted them to choose.
Sounds hard, but it really isn’t.
To learn a card force, just head over to my recent post where I help you learn 3 of them! (Scroll down to ‘Move 1’)
Now that you know how to force a card, it’s just a simple matter of putting the pieces together.
First you force the card, and then you do a ‘reveal’ any way you like. Some people really go for it; Shin Lim has a tattoo of the Queen of Spades that he uses for his magic trick, but you don’t need to go that far.
Maybe you could take a picture beforehand of you holding the force card? Or you could write it down in your notes?
Another option would be (if you have more than one deck) turning the same card over in a different deck. Once they’ve picked their card you can say ‘and it just so happens that I turned over ONE card in the deck.’
Of course, it’s their card.
There are so many ways to mess with their head at this point that it’s totally up to you which direction you take.
I actually like to model it as a ‘lie detector’ style test. You can read all about how to do that right here!
A good way of figuring out which reveal works best for you is to just try out different reveals on different people, and see which ones get the best reactions. You could even find ways of combining them!
Pick 3: Quick Card Prediction
I found this awesome effect over at 52Kards!
I think it deserves to be on this list because unlike the others, it can be done impromptu.
That means there is no preparation required! You can pull this trick of anywhere- at a friends house, or even with someone else’s cards.
It is also really quick to do, meaning it can be performed on the bounce if you need to.
Here’s how it looks-
You let your friend shuffle an ordinary deck of playing cards. They really can shuffle it for as long as they like- there’s no secret preperation or order to it. You remove one card from the deck and put it face down on the table; this is your prediction card.
(You do remove it completely from the deck, this image was the closest I could find).
Then, you spread the cards and ask them to think of ANY of the cards they see. Again, they really can think of any card they want. Really stress this fact to them- you want them to know that they have a completely free choice.
I sometimes like to use this as a chance to get inside their heads- I’ll say things like ‘and be REALLY careful about what card you pick, because in about 30 seconds you’re gonna WISH you chose a different one.’
When they pick one, ask them to change their mind a few times. This will really emphasize the fact that there is NO WAY that you could know their card.
What all of this is building up to is that huge ‘WOW’ moment later on when you turn over the card you had laid aside at the beginning to revelal that is is THEIR card.
And remember, all of this can be done with a borrowed deck!
Learn it HERE.
Pick 2: The Invisible Deck
I promised you that the first three tricks would be completely free to learn, and they are!
But if you are willing to shell out a few dollars, the next two tricks are both really cheap and awesome investments for your mentalism skills.
Firstly, The Invisible Deck.
This was (I think) the very first product I reviewed on this site; that’s how much I love it.
It’s the kind of trick that you do ONCE at a party, and create a lifelong reputation as a crazy cool magician. Trust me, I’ve been there!
You ask a friend to THINK of a card. Not to choose one from the deck, because that might give you the chance to do something sneaky with the cards.
No, instead they just need to think of the card and hold it in their mind. They can think of ABSOLUTELY any of the 52 cards in the deck (apart from the Jokers).
Once they have a card in their mind, get them to change it a couple of times. Once they have a new card in their mind, get them to change it again! You see how it goes?
Like before, we want them to feel that they had every chance to change their mind so that when we eventually get it right (which we always do) they will be so much more amazed.
So, they have their (finalized) card held firmly in their head.
You pull a deck of cards from your pocket and explain that before the trick even started, you’d had a strange premonition that seemed to rest on ONE specific card. You explain that you went and turned that card over, so it’s the only face down card in the deck.
Now you ask them to name their card aloud for the FIRST time.
All throughout this, your hands stay in full view. No funny moves or swaps; this one is for real.
You spread through the cards that have been in full view the entire time. Sure enough, one card is face down.
What are the chances?
Yep. It’s their card!
The best thing about this trick is that it is so easy. It really is one of the easiest magic tricks there is. I’m not joking; kids can do it!
But of course, your audience don’t know that and they will LOVE this trick. It seems so impossible, there’s literally no possible way in their mind that you could have even come close to figuring out what they were thinking of.
This is just such a great all round trick that you can pick up for under $10 that I would definitely invest in it every day of the week!
Pick 1: Cardtoon
The Invisible Deck might be the most IMPRESSIVE mentalism effect on the market, but Cardtoon is without doubt the FUNNEST effect.
You ask a friend to think of a card.
(I know what you’re thinking- not all this again!)
I’ll skip through all that bit about them changing their mind and so on; the point is that it really is a free choice, they can think of any card (again, apart from Jokers obviously).
Once they have their card in their mind, you pull out a deck of cards from your pocket.
As you show them the cards they’ll notice that there’s a little stickman drawn on the back of every single card.
You know those old school animations where you would draw loads of pictures and then flick through to make them move?
This is basically the same idea, just on the back of playing cards. As you flick through the cards, the stickman begins to move.
But first, you ask them to name their card out loud for the first time.
You say ‘I’m going to be honest with you- I didn’t quite manage to read your mind this time. BUT, the stickman did.’
You point out the stickman on the back of each card again, and then flick through the cards. As they watch, the stickman takes off his hat, reaches inside, and pulls out a single playing card.
That card is, somehow, their card!
This trick (as you may have noticed) is very similar to the Invisible Deck in a lot of ways but for me, it is just more fun to do. The audience get to watch and see the great animation of the stickman for the reveal, which is an awesome moment.
Again, you can find this trick pretty cheap on most magic sites.
So, there you are. If you wanted to learn mind reading tricks, you came to the right place!
How To Learn Mentalism Like A Sith Lord
If I could only recommend one person, only one master for learning mentalism magic it would be none other then, the one and only Peter Turner.
Peter Turner is one of the best mentalists in the world right now, and he’s the best man to go to if you’re looking to expand your arsenal of effects, or improve your knowledge in this area of magic!
This man has changed mentalism for US!
Here are some of his best stuff:
- Royal road to mentalism (12 episodes, 18 effects, and over 9 hours of tuition)
- Legacy collection (10 book set of Peter Turners best material)
- How to read minds 2 (mind reading kit by Peter Turner and Ellusionist)
Royal Road To Mentalism
Mentalists Peter Turner and Mark Lemon embarked on a year-long journey to create a mentalism series akin to the “Royal Road to Card Magic.” This project aimed to modernize classic mentalism for ME and YOU!
After initially offering individual episodes, the creators ceased separate sales four months in, feeling the extensive knowledge shared was too valuable for the modest price. The series, featuring 12 episodes with over 9 hours of content and more than 18 effects, became exclusive to dedicated magic and mentalism practitioners.
The comprehensive guide includes contributions from Christian Grace, Tobias Dostal, and Antonio Bourgeois. It’s designed as a detailed resource for mentalism, offering substantial long-term value for enthusiasts and professionals in the field.
Click HERE to view on Ellusionist.
This exceptional library of books showcases over ten years of groundbreaking mentalism from Peter Turner, a leading figure in the field.
Encased in a deluxe 10-volume collector’s set, “The Legacy Collection” encompasses over thirty signature effects, spanning the core concepts of mentalism. Each piece has been meticulously selected for its potency and originality, offering a compendium of Turner’s most powerful works, creative presentations, and insightful theoretical contributions.
Whether you’re a novice enthusiast, a professional mentalist, or a collector, this collection stands as a testament to Turner’s influential career and will remain a treasured resource for the discerning practitioner.
Click HERE to view on Ellusionist.
How To Read Minds 2
How To Read Minds 2 is a sequel to the How To Read Minds mentalism magic kit by Ellusionist and Peter Turner!
Some of these tricks are absolutely insane, like…
- Have them hold a prediction and think of anything in the world – and it will match your prediction 100% of the time.
- Know the exact song they’re thinking of. No matter how obscure.
- Win any game of heads up, charades or 20 questions – without them ever saying a word.
- Play Russian roulette with real money. You’ll play with literal fire and your money never gets burned.
- Appear to see through their eyes and tell them which color cards they’re holding, one by one – from outside the room.
- Reveal which hand an invisible coin is hidden in, multiple times in a row. Then tell them the exact coin they imagined and the date engraved on it.
- Instantly remember and recall a shuffled deck of cards – with a new, kicker ending.
- Hypnotize anyone and make them forget a card they’re holding. No real hypnosis needed. (self-working)
- Have their chosen card be at their chosen number, without ever touching the deck. Now you can replicate the legendary Berglas effect. The device does it for you.
- Play a game of ‘yes/no’ and influence their choices every single time.
- Predict the insect they think of and watch them erupt as it appears on their hand.
- Gift a stranger your mind-reading capabilities with zero pre-show. Make them the hero! & much more.
Click HERE to view on Ellusionist.
Best Mentalism Books: Classic Tricks, Principles and Techniques
Peter Turner is exceptional but I’d be remiss in not mentioning some of the classics magic books for learning mentalism…
If I could recommend only one it would be 13 Steps to Mentalism by the late Tony Corinda, that is regarded by many as the ‘bible of mentalism.’
This masterpiece contains everything:
Mnemonics and Mental Systems, Mentalism Card Tricks, Blindfolds & X Rays, The Swami Gimmick, Pencil, Lip, Touch, Sound, and Reading Muscles, Billets, Book Tests and Fogel Interview, Two Person Telepathy, Mediumistic Stunts, Predictions, Publicity Stunts, Question and Answer, Patter and Presentation!
Click HERE to view on Amazon.
If you’d like a complete reading list for the best mentalism material click HERE!
History of Mentalism
Let’s rewind the clock a few thousand years…
In ancient times, societies were deeply captivated by the mysteries of fortune-telling, oracles, and prophetic visions. Oracles in places like Delphi and shamans across various cultures were revered figures, believed to possess a connection to the divine or spiritual realms.
Their words held immense influence, and their ability to ‘foretell’ was not just entertainmen—it was an essential part of societal and spiritual understanding.
While the methods and understanding of these early practices differ significantly from modern mentalism, they share a common thread—the profound human interest in the mysteries of the mind and the unknown.
Fast forward to the 16th century and mentalism began to emerge as a form of entertainment rather than a mystical or religious practice.
In Italy, Girolamo Scotto (the first known ‘mentalist’) used clever methods and sleight of hand to simulate incredible mental feats, blurring the lines between magic and mental acumen.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw a surge in the popularity of mentalism, partly fueled by the spiritualism movement. Figures like Washington Irving Bishop and Anna Eva Fay became household names, using ‘mind reading’ acts to awe and mystify their audiences.
In the 20th century, mentalism took a turn towards the theatrical. Performers like Joseph Dunninger and The Amazing Kreskin brought mentalism to the radio and television, showcasing their skills to a wider audience and elevating mentalism to a new level of popularity.
In this era, a notable figure emerged: Theodore Annemann. Known for his profound influence on mentalism, Annemann was not just a performer but also a prolific writer and innovator. His work, particularly the magazine “The Jinx,” is revered for its contributions to the art of mentalism.
Today, mentalism has evolved into a sophisticated art form, blending psychology, performance, and a dash of technology. Modern mentalists like Derren Brown and Banachek have pushed the boundaries, creating intricate shows that challenge our understanding of reality and the capabilities of the human mind.
It’s clear that this art form has always been about more than just tricks. It’s a testament to the power of the human mind, both in creating and experiencing these seemingly impossible feats.
1. Tony Corinda
Tony Corinda, a pivotal figure in mentalism, made his mark in the 1950s and 60s. His groundbreaking work, “13 Steps to Mentalism,” is a comprehensive guide that covers a wide range of topics, from mnemonics to predictions, necessary for any aspiring mentalist.
Corinda’s teachings remind us that a solid foundation in the basics and a broad understanding of various techniques are crucial for creating convincing mentalism.
2. Uri Geller
Uri Geller rose to fame in the 1970s with his mind-bending spoon-bending and psychic demonstrations. Despite skepticism from some quarters, Geller became a media sensation, showcasing the impact of mentalism on a global scale.
Geller’s career underscores the importance of developing a unique persona and the power of showmanship in captivating an audience, regardless of the nature of the trick.
3. Derren Brown
Derren Brown, a contemporary British mentalist and illusionist, is known for his sophisticated blend of magic, suggestion, psychology, and showmanship. His theatrical performances are studies in narrative and psychological manipulation, offering a modern twist to traditional mentalism.
Brown exemplifies how understanding and manipulating human psychology can elevate a magic performance, turning it into an experience that challenges the audience’s perceptions of reality.
(note: we’ve watched Derren perform live and he’s jaw-droppingly good)
Banachek, a prominent figure in both the mentalism and skeptical communities, gained notoriety for his role in Project Alpha. He has been instrumental in educating both the public and magicians about the difference between genuine psychic ability and skilled illusion.
His career teaches the importance of ethical boundaries in mentalism and the role of skepticism, both in performing and in understanding the limitations of what we present as ‘real’ to the audience.
5. Theodore Annemann
Theodore Annemann, an influential American mentalist and magician in the early 20th century, was best known for his work with the publication “Jinx,” which offered a wealth of mentalism and magic tricks. His life was a testament to the creative and innovative spirit in mental magic.
Annemann’s legacy encourages magicians to continuously innovate and find unique methods to astonish their audiences, proving that creativity is as important as technique in mentalism.
6. Max Maven
Max Maven, an American magician and mentalist, is known for his intellectual style and deep understanding of the history and theory of magic. His performances, which often involve complex psychological tricks, have set a high bar in the field of mentalism.
Maven’s approach to mentalism highlights the significance of effective communication and the art of narrative in engaging and holding the audience’s attention through a performance.
Thanks for reading our complete guide to mentalism. We hope you enjoyed it! If you still have any questions, feedback or comments feel free to leave them below and I will get back to you within 24 hours.
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