Guessing someone's birthday with playing cards is a magician's trick that is also a demonstration of mentalism. The trick requires the magician to be a keen observer of the subtleties of human behaviour. However, the magician can stack the odds in his favour by selecting a participant who is more likely to cooperate with the trick. Practice makes perfect, so try the trick on a few friends in private before breaking it out on an audience.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Two decks of playing cards
- Coat with many pockets
Hide two, one and two cards somewhere on your person. Hide cards numbered three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten elsewhere on your person. Remember where each card is stored. Hopefully, the cards will not be necessary.
Approach an audience member and tell him that you are a mentalist and will correctly guess the day of his birth using ordinary playing cards. Select an audience member who is bubbly and outgoing as they will likely be easier to read.
Reveal the deck to the participant and let him inspect it. Ask him to pull out cards one to ten; in any suit or variety of suits, it doesn't matter. Lay the cards out from one to ten on the table.
Say that for the trick to be performed correctly you need to "get in tune" with him and are going to ask some basic yes or no questions. Ask him to respond with "No" for each question, even if it is true. What you are actually doing is getting a baseline for his unconscious signals.
Ask him five questions, two that will definitely be no and three that will be yes. For example, a no question for a man may be "Are you a woman?" A yes question may be something like "Do you wear glasses?", assuming the man is wearing glasses.
Ask each questions slowly and pay very careful attention to how the person responds. Pay attention to the speed of the answer, tone of voice, intonation, facial movements, body movements and eye movements. All people give away clues when they are lying. Pay attention to how the man responds differently to the yes and no questions because there will be a difference in the way he responds. Look for patterns in the yes and no questions. Some people may blink, others will respond quicker, you must be observant. This requires practice and skill; however with some work anyone can learn to spot these movements.
Have the participant stand in front of the cards. Tell him that you will go through each card one by one and ask him if the number is in his birthday. Tell him that he must answer "No," no matter what card you point to.
Point to any card, except one or two and see how the man responds. Save one and two for later as there is a higher likelihood that one of those cards is in the birthday. Watch how he answers when you ask if this number is in the birthday. Compare the answers to the reactions of the yes or no baseline questions. If the reaction is similar to a yes from the baseline, then it may be his card.
Ask the same question for every card until you get a feeling for which card(s) may be his. It is OK to repeat a card if you are unsure of the subtle cue. He is more likely to have a one or two in the birthday, so pay even more careful attention when asking about those cards.
Reveal the birthday after you have best determined which numbers are in the birthday. If you have guessed incorrectly, then apologise and ask what his real birthday was. For example, if you say the fifth and he says the twenty third.
Reach into your pocket, pull out the cards that correspond to the real birthday and remark "I was wondering why these cards were here." This salvages the illusion somewhat and offers a positive end to it.
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