The Invisible Deck. It just might be greatest magic card trick of all time. It is certainly one of the most popular, and it has stood the test of time, with many variations as added as well. Let’s jump into the Invisible Deck with this complete tutorial and guide.
The Invisible Deck Card Trick
Imagine, a spectator names a card, any card at all. A 100% free choice. They can even change their mind, and they are asked if they want to. The magician opens a deck of cards that has been in view the entire time. They spread through the face up cards showing one card has been turned face down. It’s the only face down card in the entire face up deck. They pull it out, to reveal it is exactly the card the spectator named.
In the original version, the magician has an “invisible deck”. They have the spectator pretend to shuffle the invisible deck of cards, and accidently drop one. It’s put back into this invisible deck of cards, but facing the wrong way.
The magician then turns this invisible deck into a visible deck. And when the cards are removed from this now visible card case, they are spread face up. All the cards are face up except for one card. When this card is removed and shown, it’s the card the spectator named.
That’s the plot for the famous Invisible Deck magic trick, one of the greatest magic tricks of all time and a classic of card trick magic.
The interesting thing is, it is one of the easiest tricks to perform, but it is very powerful if done correctly and with the right presentational skills. You do need an actual invisible trick deck in order to do the trick though. But if you do, it is a trick which requires basically no sleight of hand. So even a beginner in sleight of hand can learn this trick. That’s why I list it in the Super Simple & Easy Card Tricks for Beginners – Ultimate Guide. It’s a trick which you don’t have to spend years mastering certain sleight of hand moves in order to perform. There is one basic type of move, if you even call it a move, and just putting in some practice and being able to do some mental recall, and you can perform this.
It’s such a popular trick that a lot of times you will get an Invisible Deck with instructions in beginners magic kits, such as Joshua Jay’s Complete Magic Course. There are many ways that the trick can be advanced and used in different formats and presentations to create new effects. Some entire DVDs I will mention later are based on card tricks around the Invisible Deck.
The Invisible Deck History
The Invisible Deck is one of the best known card tricks of all time. It is commonly credited to Dai Vernon, Eddie Fields or Don Alan, but it was actually Joe Berg who invented it in the 1930s. It was originally called the Ultra Mental Deck. The term “Invisible Deck” came from the more popular presentation that was introduced by J.B. Bobo.
Why Learn the Invisible Deck?
The Invisible Deck is quite possibly one of the most powerful card effects in magic. It’s also simple and direct, which is something that is great for any magic trick. Also, there are a lot of different things that can be done with the deck once you become more experienced and know more principles of magic. You can begin to incorporate other tricks into using the Invisible Deck. Sometimes, your imagination will be the limit. I’ve had tricks I would learn and think, I could incorporate the Invisible Deck into this in this way.
Also, it is a great trick for beginners to learn. This is because it requires basically no sleight of hand. A lot of people want to do or learn street magic, and street magic can be very hard and require a lot of skill. But, this is one of the few tricks I would say, could possibly be presented as a street magic trick, and it not too difficult. The secret of the deck pretty much does all the work. And when the card is revealed, it can get a nice reaction.
(Check out Super Simple & Easy Card Tricks for Beginners – Ultimate Guide for more guidance for beginning magicians learning card magic)
The only downside is the deck cannot be examined by the audience at the end. Also, you will need another deck if you would like to do any other regular card tricks in addition to this great one.
One final thing is the deck can work as a good out if you are ever in trouble or have another card trick screw up.
How Does the Invisible Deck Work?
The Invisible Deck has been revealed countless times online and in tutorials, so it isn’t a big secret anymore. Even Wikipedia describes how it works. For a spectator, they will probably not know the name of the trick, so they won’t be able to look it up though.
The Invisible Deck uses the rough and smooth principle. Each card is paired with a matching card and they are place back to back. Roughing or sticky fluid has been placed on the back of each card in the deck, so they are stuck together in pairs. But they are stuck in a way, that a little bit of pressure, the right amount of pressure, can push them apart.
When they are together, they seem to be one card, but when they are separated, it looks like a face down card has always been there. So, when spreading through it looks like all the cards are face up, until pressure is applied and one card is revealed to be apparently the only one face down.
You can see the Invisible Deck explanation in action in this video
What is an Invisible Deck?
An Invisible Deck is a trick deck that has been prepared with a particular setup. This is a rough and smooth principle as described before. Every card has had special fluid applied or has been roughed which causes every two cards to stick together until enough pressure is applied for them to separate.
An Invisible Deck is usually purchased from a magic dealer with instructions, or from Amazon, but it can also be made. They are usually pretty cheap though, and under $10, so it’s probably worth it just to buy it rather than spend the money and materials and time to make it. Also, the results if you make an Invisible Deck yourself might not be as good a quality as you might get if you purchased an already made one.
How Do You Make an Invisible Deck?
To make an Invisible Deck, you can either get specially made roughing sticks, sold from magic dealers, or you can get something called Krylon Matte Finish spray. Krylon Matte Finish spray can usually be found at a Walmart or local store craft or hobby store like Michaels. If you know the way the Invisible Deck works by watching a tutorial or owning a previous one with instructions, then you will know the way the cards are put together.
You can spray the backs of all the cards with the Krylon Matte Finish spray, but just a light coat. Also, make sure you are in a well ventilated area, since it could potentially be toxic. Also, try not to breathe it in if possible, and maybe wear a mask.
Allow it to dry, and it should give the cards a rough surface on the backs where the Matte finish was sprayed. When two cards are placed back to back with both the sides touching that have the Matte finish spray, then they will stick together when the cards are spread.
You can also accomplish the same by using roughing sticks by Harry Robson. These are rubbed onto the backs of the cards, much like a glue stick. They will create the same rough surface, so when two of the rough surfaces are in contact, they will stick when there is light pressure. I believe Harry Robson says you can make tens if not hundreds of Invisible Decks from one roughing stick. For most this will probably be overkill unless you are a professional magician or someone who makes Invisible Decks.
The Invisible Deck Setup
The cards are usually set up in an Invisible Deck with two cards back to back so each face shows on both sides. They are paired so that the values both add up to 13. And a spade is usually grouped with a heart, and the diamonds with the clubs.
The only time the values do not add to 13 is with kings. Kings are paired with another king. The red kings will go with the corresponding black king.
But you can set up your Invisible Deck in any way that you like. As long as it is something you can remember. This was just the traditional way most have used as the Invisible Deck setup.
How Do You Make an Invisible Deck without Matte Spray?
If you don’t have Matte spray, you can use roughing sticks, or roughing fluid, which was mentioned earlier. The works in much the same way and is supposed to be easier to apply. Also, it is apparently not as toxic.
Another possible option I have thought of is the possibility of using double stick tape. In theory this seems like it might work, but I have never tried it. The only problem is that the individual card will not be examinable. The Invisible Deck is never examinable, but with an original Invisible Deck, the individual card that the spectator has named, can be handled by the spectator freely.
Invisible Deck on Amazon
You can usually find a lot of different Invisible Decks on Amazon. Including the red Invisible Deck Bicycle, which is the Invisible Deck in the classic Bicycle playing cards. You can usually find these at under $10 as well.
Invisible Deck Resources
There are some good resources I know of it you would like to go beyond the basics of the Invisible Deck at look at more advanced uses. Also, these will teach new handlings that go beyond the old classic handling of the trick.
Jay Sankey – ‘Invisible’
Jay Sankey presents the trick deck in his own light and with his own touches, techniques and tips. He even teaches how to shuffle the deck.
Sankey really expands on the deck and presents numerous new effects that you can do with, beyond the classic presentation.
The Invisible Deck DVD starring Oz Pearlman
Oz Pearlman teaches the classic effect plus a couple of additional effects. One of these is even a pretty cool and clever triumph type of effect using the deck. You also get some of Oz’s personal touches.
This doesn’t seem to go as in depth as Jan Sankey’s DVD, but Oz is still a good teacher and great at explaining and presenting effects. His stuff is usually worth a look.
Hand-Picked Astonishments: Invisible Deck – Joshua Jay
Joshua Jay is one of the best magicians and great at explaining and teaching. He also knows a ton and is a tremendous resource.
In this one he teaches the classic effect and basic handlings, but then dives into a couple more effects that you can do. Plus, he teaches his own touches and insights.
Essentials in Magic – Invisible Deck – Daryl
Daryl is probably the greatest magic teacher of all time. And he is so complete in his teachings, and is so good for beginners and even for advanced magicians as well. You can always learn something new from him. He teaches routines, tips, and handlings for the deck as well as different uses for the deck.