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Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects

Colm Mulcahy
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Kara Shane Colley
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Mathematical Card Magic is a great reference for aspiring magicians who are curious about the mathematics behind card tricks. I am not a magician, nor am I an aspiring magician, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless. What I liked best was taking a peek behind-the-scenes of the card trick setup. I had always known that there was some secret to card tricks, but I never thought very carefully about what that secret might be. As it turns out, most tricks are a combination of careful dealing, careful shuffling, an astute memory, distracting the audience, and mathematics.

I liked the way the book is organized. Every trick is scored on the sophistication of the underlying mathematics, how entertaining the trick is for the lay audience, how much setup is required, and how hard the trick is to perform.

The author is clearly a seasoned pro. He is a skilled mathematician and an expert magician. He also has an easygoing way of explaining clever card tricks, combined with careful diagrams so that the reader can master every trick.

Kara Shane Colley teaches math at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. She also teaches a math circle at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

Colm: Cool and Collected by Max Maven

Hit the Deck Running

Tips of the Trade

The Ratings Game


Convention Center

Low-Down Triple Dealing
Three Scoop Miracle—Done Magic Before?
Any Card (and Any Magician)
Triple Revelation
Ace Combination

For Richer or Poorer
Alphabetical Triple Addition
Subtler Bracelet
From Alpha to Omega
Volunteer Four Hours

Poker Powers
Ditch the Dud
Worst-Case Scenario
Full House Blues
Poker with Any Ten Cards

More Additional Certainties
Little Fibs
Consolidating Your Cards
Matching Interest Rates
Any Two Cards (No Fibbing)

Off-Centered COATs
Celebrity Selection
Never Forget a Face
Oddly Enough
My Lucky Number Is Seven

Gilbreath Variations
Easy as Pi
Lucky Number between One and Thirteen
Unadditional Love
Tapped Out

Word Row
The Biggest Names in Magic
Twisting the Knight Away
Easy as Tau (I Prefer Pi)
Intrinsically Disordered

Bligreath and Beyond
Matchmaker Instincts
The Guessing Game
Flushed with Embarrassment
Wholesome Threesomes

Flipping Miracles
I’ll Be Lucking Out for You
Coprime Twins
Royal Flush at the Eleventh Hour
Any Mathemagician

Red, Black, Silver, and Gold
Double Location
Top Twenty Hit
What’s Black and Red and Red All Over?
Gold and Silver

Slippery Slopes
Ten Soldiers
Slippery Enough
Erdős Numbers
No Drama Queen

Hamming It Down
A Horse of a Different Color
Multiple Personality
And Now for Something Completely Different

The Hidden Value of Cards
Fitch Cheney’s Five-Card Twist
Eigen’s Value
Ups and Downs
Fitch Four Glory