Mentalism Tips

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The 'One Ahead' Mentalism Technique

The One Ahead technique is an absolute staple of Mentalism. Using this technique, you appear to be able to read the minds of several audience members at once.

Although there are many different uses of the one ahead, here is a simple one to give you a proper example of how it works...

Have six audience members write down the name of a child on a small piece of paper, fold it once or twice, and return it to the magician. The magicians hold one to his head and announces "Tiffany". He then confirms that one of the audience members did in fact write Tiffany on one of the slips. The catch: The audience member who said they wrote Tiffany was a plant, a friend, a confidant. This was agreed to beforehand.

What actually happened was - the magician opened a slip that had a totally different name on it, something like "Luke". He announces "Tiffany", opens the slip, and casually drops it on the table as he and his confidant carry out their ruse. Now, the magician is officially 'One Ahead'. He knows that Luke is one of the audience members child. So, as he picks up the second slip and holds it to his head, he announces "Luke", opens it and drops it on the table. The second slip actually said something like "Robbie". He is still One Ahead, and will be one ahead throughout his performance.

The only manipulation required is that the slip given to the magician by his friend must be the last slip picked up and opened. The magician will have to collect the slips in a way so he can keep a close eye on this slip. Although the last slip says Tiffany, the magician will announce that it says whatever name was on the previous slip... again, always 'One Ahead'.


Mental Math Magic

For those of us who love mathematical magic, here is a beautiful effect that you can do anywhere, anytime, with any deck. All you need is to be sober and able to do a little simple subtraction.

With your back turned... ask Scott to write down a four digit number, any number. Now, ask Scott to add together the four digits and subtract them from the original four digit number. Example: Scott writes down 3941. He adds 3+9+4+1 = 17. Scott subtracts 17 from 3941 and arrives at 3924. Have Scott look through the deck and find four cards who's numerical value equals his total. Also, ask him to make sure the suit of each card is different from the other three. So, Scott finds a Three of Hearts , a Nine of Spades, a Two of Clubs, and a Four of Diamonds.

Ask Scott to secretly remove one of the four cards and put it in his pocket. He can lay the other three face up on the table as you have no way of knowing the fourth card... or do you?

Looking at the three cards, you will immediately know the suit. Assuming Scott put the Nine of Spades in his pocket, it's obvious the Spade card is missing from the table.

Remember three key numbers... 18, 27, and 36.

Mentally add together the total of the cards on the table. In this case it's a 3, a 2, and a 4. So, 3+2+4 = 9. Subtract your answer from whichever of the three key numbers is immediately higher than your total. In our example, 9 from 18 equals 9. Sound familiar?

Nine is the number in Scott's pocket. A Nine of Spades - to be exact.

If the three cards had totaled say.. 22, then you would have subtracted 22 from 27, and the card in the pocket would have been a Five.

Don't ask me why it works... it just does. OK...


Clairvoyance Anyone?

This effect employs a mathematical principal to achieve a mental magic result. In this effect we will use a phone book to bring everything together, although this is one of those principles that can be used creatively in a number of different ways.

Before begining this effect, hand an audience member an envelope to hold. Tell them that it contains a prediction and should not be opened before the end of the effect.

Hand a note pad to an audience member and ask them to write down a three digit number with three different digits. Ask a second audience member to turn this number around and subtract the smaller number from the larger.

Now, ask a third audience member to turn the answer around and add the two numbers together.

Example: 1st number - 371. Turn it around - 173. Subtract 173 from 371 = 198. Turn 198 around and add 198 and 891 = 1089.

Give a fourth member of the audience a phone book and ask them to go to the page represented by the first three numbers of your total of 1089. In our example... 108. Ask them to count down to the telephone number represented by the last number in our total of 1089. In our example, the number 9.

Ask them to write this name and telephone number down on the pad.

After due patter, ask the audience member holding your prediction envelop to open it and read it aloud. It will match the number on the board and everyone will be thoroughly impressed by your mental powers.

Secret? If you follow the example above, the total, the four digit number, will ALWAYS be 1089. It's just a mathematical principle. Knowing this, you can easily go to page 108 of the phone book and write down the ninth name and number. You can use any phone book from any city, as long as it contains at least 108 pages.


How to Use a Swami Gimmick

A swami gimmick is a magicians prop used primarily in mentalism effects to create an illusion of knowing a prediction in advanced. Generally, a swami gimmick is a small holder of a piece of pencil lead that discreetly fits on your thumb. The Mentalist can use this lead to write on a small tablet after the prediction has 'supposedly' been recorded and the spectator has revealed his answer.

A performance would appear as so: The mentalist asks the spectator to look at his credit card and memorize the last four digits. The mentalist then asks the spectator to think hard of the four digits as the mentalist picks up a small pad of paper and 'apparently' writes a number on the pad. Actually, the mentalist only pretends to write a number on the pad before then laying it face down on the table.

After some affirming patter, the mentalist picks up the pad, holds it with the side supposedly containing the prediction facing him, and asks the spectator to tell everyone the last four digits. As the spectator calls out the four digits, the mentalist uses the small pencil lead attached to the end of his thumb, under cover of the pad itself, and stealthily writes the four numbers on the pad. As everything occurs behind the pad, facing the mentalist, no one knows the performer is adding the digits after the fact.

Now, all that remains is for the mentalist to take the pad with his other hand, turn it to reveal the correct prediction, and ditch the swami gimmick, if he feels a need to do so.

This is one of many effects that can be performed with a swami gimmick, a very versatile, but simple, prop that can astound your audience. Available at most good magic shops and at the larger online shops.


Dice Prediction

Here is a nice prediction effect, using a die. The magician asks the spectator to roll a die (one dice), perform a couple of quick mental additions, roll the die again, perform another quick addition, and then announce his total... The magician, from this information alone, is able to tell the spectator both the first and second number he rolled, without having seen any of the steps performed.

The prediction works as follows:

Have the spectator roll a die. Ask him/her to double the number and then add five to it. Now, ask them to multiply the total by five. Ask them to roll the die again and add this number to his total. For example - he rolls a FIVE, doubles it to TEN, adds five and the new total is FIFTEEN. He now multiplies it by five, so the total is now SEVENTY FIVE. He then rolls the second die and rolls a THREE, for example. So, he adds THREE to his SEVENTY FIVE and gets a new total of SEVENTY EIGHT. This is the total he tells to you.

All you need to do is subtract 25 from whatever number he/she tells you is their total. If you subtract 25 from the number above (78), you get FIFTY THREE. You will now know that the spectator rolled a FIVE and a THREE - in that order. Works every time !

What is mentalism?

Mentalism - a definition

Mentalism is "Magic of the Mind," that is, recognition, telekinesis, telepathy, psychometry, ESP and pyrokinesis among other mind-related effects. It`s one thing to pull four aces from a deck but it`s something all together different to divine how much money a stranger has in his pocket or what the headlines for the New York Times will be the following day.


The Card Behind the Back

Fan a deck of cards and ask the spectator to select any card. Ask them to memorize the card. You now need to let the spectator put the card back into or on top of the deck. You will need to control the card back to the top of the deck, so use whatever method suits you best. One simple way is to let the spectator put the card on top of the deck, perform a hindu shuffle to take it to the bottom of the deck and then a second hundu shuffle to bring it back to the top. This will make the selected card appear to be lost in the deck.

Tell the spectator that you will not only find their card, but you will announce the value and suit without looking at a single card.

Put the deck behind your back to assure the spectator that you cannot see any cards. As you appear to be concentrating on the card, bring one of your hands to your forehead, leaving the deck in the other hand. After dilligent thought, announce the selected card.

The secret? With the deck behind your back, take the top card, the selected card, and put it partially up your shirt or jacket sleeve just before bringing your free hand to your forehead. Glimpse the card, then return it to the top of the deck when you're ready to announce your prediction. If you don't have sleeves, you can risk putting it under your watch band. You will have to be careful of the angles.

What is mentalism?

Mentalist Library

I include this separate article because most magicians generally avoid mentalism. For me, personally, I believe there is no branch of magic that is more mystifying and perplexing. It´s one thing to pull four aces from a deck but it´s something all together to divine how much money a stranger has in his pocket or what the headlines for the New York Times will be the following day. I´ve never had as good a reaction to my magic as when I do mentalism. But, of course, it´s not for everyone; not everyone feels comfortable presenting a mentalism trick. I would suggest that, as every magician should acquaint himself with a dozen or so card tricks, I believe that every magician should know at least a few mentalism tricks. There are books that every mentalist will need to procure. I suggest the following resources: Books: 1. 13 Steps to Mentalism by Al Corinda 2. Practical Mental Magic by Ted Annemann 3. The Art of Cold Reading by Robert A. Nelson 4. Sequel to the Art of Cold Reading by Robert A. Nelson 5. Magic of the Mind by Bill Severen 6. Self-Working Mental Magic by Karl Fulves 7. The Encyclopedia of Mentalism Vols. 1 - 3 (Hades Publication) 8. Complete Course in Magic by Mark Wilson 9. Tarbell Course in Magic by Harlan Tarbell 10. The Buckley Trilogy: Gems of Mental Magic by Arthur Buckley 11. How to be a Fake Kreskin by the Amazing Kreskin


How a Small Item Produces Big Mentalism Effects

Mentalists love the small manila 'pay envelopes'. You can slip coins in them, cards in them, predictions in them, and whatever else your imagination desires. Here is a simple, but strong, technique involving pay envelopes to get you started on the mentalist highway...

All you need are five pay envelopes, a small piece of aluminum foil - like a gum wrapper, or a very small bead. Give an audience member a padlock and five keys. Only one key actually unlocks the padlock and the other four won't. Have the spectator try a key in the padlock and, regardless of whether it opens it or not, have them hand you the key and you'll drop it into one of the random pay envelopes laying on the table.

Have the small piece of foil or bead tucked out of sight between two of your fingers.

When the spectator tries the key that opens the padlock, you carefully drop both the key AND the foil or bead into a pay envelope. Once all the keys have been dropped into envelopes, you can turn your back while the spectator thoroughly mixes them.

You are now ready for the spectator to hand you the envelopes one at a time, as you hold each to your forehead and try to determine which contains the correct key. Of course, this is an easy task, as all you have to do is 'feel' the bottom of the envelope for a small 'lump' (the foil or bead). Set this envelope to one side and say that you'll get back to it. Select a second envelope as well. Go back and forth between the two, holding one to your forehead and then the other, until you dramatically decide on one only. You should open the envelope, hold it by the bottom, squeezing the foil or bead, as you turn the envelope upside down, emptying it into the spectators hand.

The work is done, the correct key is discovered, miraculously... and you are officially a Mentalist. This technique with the foil or bead can be used in many creative ways.


The Coin Prediction Trick

Here's an easy tip to make you look like a real mindreader. All you need to perform this little bit of mental magic are five different coins and a magic marker. Take the marker and put an 'X' on the back of one of the coins. Put the coins in your pocket until you're ready to perform.

Tell your spectator that you're going to make a prediction about a future event. Take a small piece of paper and write down the denomination of the coin on which you put the 'X'... Fold it up and place it out of your reach and tell the spectator that this is your prediction. Remove the five coins from your pocket. Lets assume you're using a penny, a nickle, a dime, a quarter, and a fifty cent piece. Lets also assume that you put the 'X' on the quarter.

As you take the coins from your pocket, look at them privately for a moment and make sure that the 'X' is not visible on the quarter. If it is.. then simply jingle the coins about as you flip the quarter over. Lay all the coins on the table and tell the spectator that you are going to put an 'X' on each coin. Make sure some of the coins are heads up and some heads down.

The quarter is now the only coin with an 'X' on both sides, unbeknownst to anyone but you...

Take the marker and put an 'X' on each coin. Now, pick up all the coins, jingle them about, and hand them to the spectator with instructions to hold them tightly in their hand. Have them toss the coins onto the table. Tell them that you are going to eliminate all the coins that do not have an 'X' showing. Move the coins with no 'X' showing to one side as you also pick up the coins with an 'X' showing and hand them back to the spectator. Have them repeat the tossing of the coins until there is only one coin left. Now, you can show them that the prediction you made beforehand matches the only coin left on the table. Of course, you can't let them see the 'other' side of the coin, or they'll realize that the quarter, with an 'X' on both sides, had to the the last coin left... Works every time!

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