Let’s face it: Close up magic is OUT (for now) and Zoom magic tricks are IN. Magic tricks on the phone are also seeing a surge in popularity. So if you’re not harnessing the power of the so called ‘long distance’ magic, you’re practically leaving money on the table.
What does that mean?
It’s high time for magicians to pivot to an exciting NEW branch of magic… Zoom magic shows.
Zoom has changed the face of magic. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s in times like these, when pressure is mounting for new solutions to new problems, that creators really shine and innovate HARD.
And innovate they have. We’ve seen a whole host of incredible virtual magic tricks and effects spring up in a matter of weeks (and the resurgence of a few ‘old dogs’ that have proven very useful for this setting)
But that doesn’t mean they’re all created equal.
Which is why, in this blog post, you’ll find the hottest curated list of magic tricks you can perform on Zoom anywhere on the web. It goes without saying that these are also magic tricks you can perform on any kind of video conference (Google Meet, Skype, etc.) as well as some of the best magic tricks on the phone too!
I’m updating this list of virtual magic as often as new products emerge!
Let’s get into it…
- Effect No.15 – The Invisible Deck
- Effect No.14 – Virtual Mind Reading System by Jamie Daws
- Effect No.13 – David Blaine’s SWCT (self-working card trick)
- Effect No.12 – Tequila Hustler by Mark Elsdon
- Effect No.11 – The BM Project
- Effect No.10 – Jim Steinmeyer Impuzzibilities
- Effect No.9 – I.D by Steve Cook
- Effect No.8 – Virtual Triumph
- Effect No.7 – ZOOMentalism
- Effect No.6 – Psychological Subtleties by Banachek
- Effect No.5 – The Lockdown Project
- Effect No.4 – The Love Ritual by Woody Aragon
- Effect No.3 – Cinemental
- Effect No.2 – Verbal Magic by Juan Tamariz
- Effect No.1 – The Evolution Project by Alejandro Navas
- General Advice
- Further Reading
- Further Reading
No.15 – The Invisible Deck
Sometimes, you just can’t beat the classics.
Everyone knows about the Invisible Deck. It’s one of the first magic tricks beginner magicians learn.
Occasionally, in our pursuit of newer and shinier magic, we forget just how powerful this effect is. But really…it’s one of the hardest-hitting pieces of magic ever invented.
Just think about it:
Your spectator THINKS of a card. With no funny moves, you spread though a deck of cards that has been in front of you the whole time. There’s one face down card…their THOUGHT OF card.
It’s hard to get any cleaner, and more powerful, than that.
Here’s the good news (and the reason the Invisible Deck makes it into this list):
Since the Invisible Deck is SO simple yet astonishing, it makes for a great effect to perform over video chat/Zoom.
You can have the deck of cards clearly in view of the camera, ask your spectators to name ANY card, and slowly spread through the cards
One of the issues with performing magic over Zoom is that people naturally get distracted more easily. We’ve all seen it happen. You’re 15 cards in to the 21 card trick, half the cards are out of frame, the internet is choppy…and to top it all off their cat just walked into the room. In situations like this, you really can’t blame them for being unable to focus clearly on your performance (if anything, the fault is yours for failing to select the RIGHT material to perform.)
The Invisible Deck helps solve this problem because it’s direct and can be performed in a matter of SECONDS.
While this post is all about magic over Zoom, the Invisible Deck is a great device for all KINDS of presentations relevant to our current situation.
I read a great post over at The Jerx blog about how the Invisible Deck could be performed as (and I’m majorly paraphrasing here)
‘I’m going to hand you a deck of cards, but since we want to minimize physical contact, it’s an imaginary deck. Now just take an imaginary card from the imaginary deck, and reverse it. Now hand the imaginary deck to me…’ and perform the Invisible Deck like usual.
No.14 – Virtual Mind Reading System by Jamie Daws
Now this one is a little more controversial, but unlike the Invisible Deck it’s a recent release designed specifically for virtual magic.
According to the official dealer copy, here’s what happens in this effect:
“This versatile method allows you to know with 100% accuracy whether someone is lying or telling the truth, in which hand they are holding a real or imaginary coin, a thought of number or playing card, or even which item from a list of 100 choices they have randomly selected!”
Judging by early reviews, this trick is dividing opinions. Some like it, some say it’s too obvious. I think it’s too early to call – so watch this space.
Virtual Mind Reading System is available here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/13615
13. David Blaine’s SWCT (self working card trick)
I recently saw a performance of a David Blaine effect that works wonderfully over the phone.
This video only has 25 views, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a strong effect made doubly strong by the fact it works long distance.
While this video doesn’t explicitly explain how the effect is done, it’s pretty simple to reverse engineer what’s going on and figure out the method. After all – it has to work in the spectators hands, relying solely on the verbal instruction of the magician.
NOTE: One of the ‘bonuses’ of this routine is that it’s a magic trick you can perform over the phone (without being on a video call).
12. Tequila Hustler by Mark Elsdon
This is an effect that, when presented wrong, is simply ‘puzzling’ but when done right as truly amazing.
It’s a ‘which hand’ routine with only one phase.
In essence, you guess which hand the coin is in – with 100% accuracy, even though there’s seemingly no way you can know.
Some people think this routine is ‘overhyped’ for the fact it’s essentially a 50/50 choice, bu personally, I’m a fan of Tequila Hustler. It’s just another tool to add to your ‘which hand’ toolkit. You can mix this up with other methods (such as Timon Krause’s, or any other). Mixing up your routine with different methods will help mak
Here’s another reason I think Tequila Hustler is VERY relevant right now:
Most ‘which hand’ coin routines require an actual, physical object to be placed in the spectator’s hand.
Obviously, there are two issues with this.
The first is germs. People aren’t going to want to hold a sweaty coin pulled from your back pocket (most which hand routines use a coin.)
Secondly, you might not even be performing in person. If you’re on a Zoom call, you can’t hand your coin to your audience. Maybe they could supply one, but who knows if they’d have one handy or not.
Here’s the beauty of Tequila Hustler: it works with an IMAGINARY coin. So you can simply ask them to imagine a coin, imagine which hand they’d put it in, and carry on with the routine as normal. It’s both powerful mentalism AND very convinient for a Zoom show.
Tequila Hustler is available here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/6435
BONUS: Since the techniques Tequila Hustler relies on are purely verbal, this is a magic trick you can perform on the phone!
11. The BM Project
This one fooled me pretty hard when I watched the demo!
You can perform a ‘Perfect ESP’, ‘Invisible Deck’ and many more classics of mentalism over Zoom using this new twist on an old technique.
It’s not the cheapest item on this list, and I haven’t personally bought it so can’t guarantee the quality – but from what I can see it looks really great.
One thing it definitely has going for it is – like some of the other items on this list – it was designed specifically for performances over Zoom. So you should find that it quite naturally fits in your online shows.
Take a look at this video of mentalist Lior performing BM Project on the Late Late show:
The BM Project is available here: https://bakoremagic.com/collections/frontpage/products/bm-project
10. Jim Steinmeyer’s Impuzzibilities
Jim Steinmeyer has long been known for both his study of magic history and his own creative ingenuity. His ‘Impuzzibilities’ series are great, and many of them contain ideas for long-distance magic.
One that I saw recently pointed out is an effect called the ‘Nine Card Problem’.
This can be done over the phone (or Zoom).
Here’s a paraphrased description of the plot of this trick that I found on Genii:
The spectators selects any nine cards from the deck, and looks at one of them. She mixes up the cards by spelling the name of the card she looked at and cutting the cards there. The magician (who doesn’t know the name of the card) can identify the location of the card at the end of the mixing. The effect is especially suitable for use in distance magic effects over the phone or video recording.
This is a really simple trick I would highly recommend picking up – if only because it’s so easy, it would be crazy not to.
I found a couple of versions of this effect performed by Justin Flom. The first is his performance on Ellen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvTX9sK-TdU
The second is, in my opinion, a slightly stronger version that you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfclmvp6MLk (the last trick in the video).
Now, in terms of method, there’s really nothing to reveal. Since this is a trick you can perform on the phone, it stands to reason that there really isn’t much of a secret to it…simply follow the script and you’ll get the same result every time. The base concept is mathematical, but all you need to memorize is what to say. Practice it a few times on yourself and you’ll soon have it down to a tee!
9. I.D by Steve Cook
Like the Invisible Deck, this trick wasn’t designed specifically for video call magic, but it fits that purpose very nicely.
Special thanks to Loosley from Alakazam for demonstrating how to make this play very well over Zoom!
8. Virtual Triumph by Adrian Lacroix
I have to give kudos to Adrian here, because Virtual Triumph was the FIRST effect I saw to be marketed as a piece of bona fide Zoom magic. So fair play for being so quick to the draw, Adrian!
And from the looks of the reviews, it’s a solid Triumph plot that really does work long distance.
The official dealer copy says:
“Imagine you’re on a video call…
1. You have a deck of cards and tell your friends to grab one too.
2. You shuffle some cards face-up into face-down creating an impossible mess and ask them to do the same.
The performer instantly and visually fixes his cards with a snap of the fingers.
…All card are facing down, except all four Aces!
3. And then this will happen too, miles away through the screen, in their hands!!!”
NOTE: The final reveal isn’t limited to the Aces – they can name any random four of a kind they want and those will be the ones left face up.
Check it out here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/13519
Mentalist Mark Eldson has adapted some of his best mentalism work for Zoom in this instand download.
Like Virtual Mind Reading System, this one has an early review that is rather lukewarm.
I think anything that’s designed to tackle Zoom specifically right now is better than nothing, so while I understand where these reviewers are coming from, let’s cut some slack for creators doing their best to fill an unexpected demand in the market.
6. Psychological Subtleties by Banachek
Banachek is possibly the greatest mentalist of all time. His books contain MANY classic mentalism routines, but inside them you’ll find plenty of effects you can perform over the phone…or in our case, Zoom.
Also, Banachek has a release named ‘Radio Magic’ that is especially fitting for right now!
5. The Lockdown Project by Ian Hamilton
This product is a little different from the others on this list, because it deals primarily with the ‘technical’ aspects of your show, rather than the actual material. In this class, you’ll discover how to get your ‘tech stack’ set up for maximum amazement.
If you’re just performing casually over the phone to friends and family, this probably isn’t for you, but if you’re performing paid gigs and want to make sure your shows have a professional vibe, I would definitely recommend checking this out.
Check it out here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/13574
4. The Love Ritual by Woody Aragon
This is a classic of long distance magic. I first experienced it in a theater in London, and i’ve seen variations of it performed over the years, always to great effect.
Here’s a summary of the official dealer copy:
Everyone in the audience gets given 4 playing cards, that they can shuffle. They then rip those cards in half and shuffle again. They then place one of the pieces in their pocket and shuffle the rest even more. After eliminating cards by throwing them in the air, everyone ends with just one piece of torn card. They bring out the piece they previously put in their pocket and it’s a perfect match. Everyone in the audience is successful!
Check it out here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/13456
3. Cinemental by Nikolas Mavresis
I’m biased here. The reason I place Cinemental so high on this list is because I myself used it to fool a friend over Messenger video chat recently.
Here’s how it went down…
The Cinemental deck is a deck of cards where each card contains a movie poster. You can deal cards face up, and whenever the spectator tells you to stop, you stop (it’s a real free decision). You take a look at the movie poster they landed on.
You tell them to check their messages. When they do, they find out you texted them the name of the movie they’d stop on…minutes before they even chose it!
Although Cinemental wasn’t originally designed to be performed over the phone, due to the VERY clever nature of the effect, it makes for a great powerful piece of Zoom or phone magic.
Check it out here: https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S28615
2. Verbal Magic by Juan Tamariz
Juan Tamariz is, in many people’s opinion, the greatest magician in the world.
And this post would be seriously lacking if it didn’t explore one of the best contributions to the art of long distance magic…Juan’s ‘Verbal Magic.’
Verbal Magic is ALL about how to astonish people over the phone/radio/video call…using only verbal magic (hence the name of the book.)
I’ve had several of the effects in this book performed on me, and let me tell you – they’re incredibly powerful. Juan finds a way to take a difficult question (how do you make it feel like real magic just happened in their hands, rather than just a cool ‘maths’ trick?) and answer it with real, powerful answers.
It’s a classic book on the topic of this blog post, and if you can find anywhere to grab a copy…please do so.
1. The Evolution Project by Alejandro Navas
The big problem a LOT of the effects on this list have is that they were designed ‘pre-Zoom era’ and so they need to be adapted to work over video calls.
This project is the opposite. It was designed ‘from the ground up’ to make for the strongest possible effects you can perform ‘long distance.’
It’s hard-hitting, direct card magic you can perform over Zoom or any kind of video call.
You’ll unlock 5 astonishing effects. The methods are super clever and designed to ‘stack’ so that the previous effect actually sets you up for the next one…meaning you’re always ‘one step ahead’ of your audience.
Here’s what I especially love about this project:
The effects included aren’t off-the-wall math tricks and obvious self-workers.
That kind of stuff doesn’t impress anyone.
But being able to pull off effects like Oil and Water, Hand Sandwich or the Ambitious Card…well, those are the type of effects your audience would be lucky to see LIVE, let alone over Zoom.
And it’s all in this project.
Just take a look at this video to see how powerful the reactions are…
BONUS: What you should know before you perform ANY of the above…
Just having a solid effect isn’t enough. After all, who cares if you perform the perfect Invisible Deck if you accidentally leave yourself on mute the whole time?
In order to make your Zoom magic shows really resonate, you need to master not just the material but the technology.
In the list above I alluded to a product (the Lockdown project) that would help you do this, but I want to quickly run through my top 3 tips for a successful Zoom magic performance:
Tip 1: Lights
It’s simple, folks. If they can’t see you…you’re going to have a hard time amazing them. While most people think just having a working camera is enough (and more on that in a second), it’s not. You need to make sure the room you’re in has good lighting – so everyone can see you and your props easily, without needing to ‘lean in’ to the screen so much.
Make sure to avoid ‘glare’ on your cards – when the light reflects of the cards to the camera, obscuring the face of the card and making it hard to reveal or show cards. You can avoid this by opening dummy meetings in Zoom with your camera set up and practice your angles.
Tip 2: Camera
Okay, so, your lighting is good. You also need to make sure your picture quality is up to standard. Make sure you can call in on a device that is fairly modern and packed with a good quality camera.
If you’ve already made sure your lighting is good, you should be halfway there – better lighting helps your camera a lot.
Again, hop onto a test call and see how you look first!
Tip 3: Audio
“Is this your card? The S – akdj of aslkaj?”
I’m sure you get the idea. You need to make sure your audio is clean and audible – so that your reveals and general interaction with the audience will run smoothly and ensure they understand exactly what’s going on.
If your audio is particulary bad, consider investing in a Mic. You can pick them up from anywhere between $10-$50 on Amazon, and I’d highly recommend doing so if your audio isn’t up to scratch!
Here’s some great general advice on performing over Zoom/video call I found on r/magic – https://www.reddit.com/r/Magic/comments/fsctr7/card_tricks_to_do_over_a_zoom_call/
Some useful posts I found on the Cafe:
Remember, folks – interaction is the name of the game. People’s attention spans aren’t great at the best of times, but over a Zoom or phone call they may well get distracted by other stuff going on in their home. So make sure you contrust your routines to be interactive!
Final Note: on ‘cheating’ in magic over Zoom
A lot of magicians shy away from ‘cheating’ during their Zoom performances.
They say: “Well, I really shouldn’t, because after all, I wouldn’t get away with it in real life.”
Well…that’s kinda the whole point.
And in fact, that’s exactly why you SHOULD do it.
Look. There are a LOT of disadvantages to performing over Zoom…so it seems crazy not to make use of some of the few advantages—such as getting away with sneaky moves that you wouldn’t be able to in real life.
Let me get this into your head:
You’re a magician.
It’s literally your JOB to deceive your audiences.
There’s a thing Theodore Anneman says in the very first issue of legendary magic magazine The Jinx that I think all magicians would do well to remember:
He says “‘I don’t care if the audience is 1 person and I need to employ 99 people to fool them—if that is the required method, that’s what I’ll do.’
Let’s not forget that our job as performers is to give our audience a magical experience by constructing an incredible effect via the best possible method.
And Zoom offers so many easy methods to accomplish things that wouldn’t be available in real life.
For example, most of the best versions of ‘Any Card at Any Number’ require you to ‘shift’ a certain number of cards covertly.
This takes a lot of skill to do in real life. But in Zoom, it’s as easy as ‘accidentally’ moving out of frame for a second before you adjust the camera angle (and executing the shift in that moment.)
Zoom also makes it easier to ‘ditch’ objects you have palmed, switch objects, and so much more.
Most magicians are blindly ignoring many of these ‘hidden benefits’ to performing over Zoom.
Here’s some more ideas to get those gears whirring (do with them what you will) :
– Marked cards are harder to spot over a video call
– If you use an ‘index’ system, no need to hide it on your person…just arrange it in plain view but off camera
– You can false shuffle the deck under the pretense of ‘if you were here maybe I’d have you do this, but since you’re not…’
– You can classic force cards much easier since your spectator can’t just butt in and grab the card, PLUS you can use the slight ‘time lag’ you get over Zoom to time the force even easier
Look, the list goes on and on.
I don’t have time to go over all the various methods and effects here.
BUT, if you’re starting to realise that Zoom ain’t all bad…there are a ‘hol bunch more of such hidden benefits and diabolical methods all packaged up inside the effects on the list above.
And while cheaters in real life are decidedly NOT winners, there’s room to blur the line in your Zoom performances.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Share this resource with friends if you think it’ll be useful for them too, and don’t hesitate to leave a question about any of these effects below! Have any other suggestions of notable video call magic tricks? Leave a comment!