Mike Rogers – Double Faced Helpers

Mike Rogers

Double-Faced Helpers

Back in June 1986 I was honored for the second time by being the cover subject of the MUM magazine. It’s great for the ego, but I’m the first to admit that carrying a copy of that issue, combined with two bucks, will only get me a beer in any bar in Escondido. Still it was fun. The magic in the issue was devoted to one subject only, the use of double-faced cards in card magic. It started this way.

If one were to evaluate the many concepts in card magic, the use of double-faced cards would have to rate high on the scale. Jean Hugard wrote extensively on effects using these cards, and most marketed packet effects rely on them. Even the “Stop Light” effect seen in children’s shows uses a double-faced card. However, the existence of double-faced cards is something laymen seldom understand. Perhaps that’s why they are of such value to us. This lack of understanding is true even when the layman actually holds such a card in his own hands. The simple “Two-Card Monte,” for years a slum pitch item and an advertising giveaway, throws the layman for a loss. Through the years, I have given away thousands of “Two Card Monte” effects at trade shows. Even after explaining it, and providing written instructions having illustrations, the laymen still have problems. For some reason (lucky for us!), they can’t seem to accept the fact that a playing card can have a face on each side.

Incidentally, it should be mentioned that many of the marketed packet effects using double-faced cards are quite mediocre. My dear friend the late Lloyd Jones even published a booklet of many effects using same-both-sides double-faced cards, and I’m sorry to say that the effects in that publication are, for the most part, also quite mediocre.

Through it all, though, the use of these specially printed cards has made some card effects shine like gems when it comes to quality card magic. Many clever card men have built reputations by intelligent use of these gaffers.

Consider the “McDonald $100 Aces. Whether it’s the Garcia routine, the Johnny Thompson routine, or the original from Vernon’s “Inner Secrets” series, it’s difficult to find a better effect with cards. How about “Wild Card”? All the gaffed versions I’ve seen use double-faced cards in some manner. Moreover, Allerton’s wonderful “Two Card Trick” uses a double-faced card, not to mention the “Million Dollar Transposition” as performed by Frank Garcia and the late Francis Carlyle. Then, too, the Martin Lewis “Ghost Deal” can’t be beat when it comes to a gambling routine with mystery. Ask J. C. Wagner; he know its value. Another is Leipzig’s “Sympathetic Cards.” The trick cannot be done without the use of double facers, and consider how many thousands of spectators have been entertained by the late Al Koran with his “Five-Star Prediction.” Johnny Thompson alone has probably entertained thousands with his version. Moreover, how many realize that Don Alan and Roger Crabtree have a sure-fire force that’s a fooler using double-faced cards? Finally, there isn’t a cleaner method for making a card vanish or change than using a double- face card.

Thus, the concept deserves some thought and appreciation. My guess is, if the methods of magic are ever influenced by high technology, the double-faced card will still be around.

In coming months I’ll will submit various effects making use of such cards. Let’s kick things off with this offering which I had in the Linking Ring magazine back in November 1985.


It is said that this was one of Bert Allerton’s favorite effects. The handling is not difficult, yet it is easy to get confused as to where you are while doing it. My handling, though extremely similar to Allerton’s, eliminates this confusion. I’ve also added an ending that’s different.

Effect: The Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts are removed from the deck. The magician comments that these two cards have the value of 20 in the game of Blackjack. The spectator holds one card face down while the magician places the other in his pocket. The two cards transpose. An explanation of sorts is given, yet the two cards again transpose. To conclude, one of the cards changes to an Ace making the value of the hand total 21, a winner in the game of Blackjack.

Method: Before getting into the actual handling, memorize this simple formula. Once memorized you’ll never get confused as to where you are in the trick:

1. Any card or cards in pocket ALWAYS have lowest value facing OUT.

2. Any card placed in pocket ALWAYS go BEHIND what’s already there.

3. Any card removed from pocket ALWAYS is taken from the FRONT of what’s there.

4. Any card taken from pocket is ALWAYS placed on TOP of what’s already showing.

That’s it. If it makes no sense stay with me, it will. Follow along with the cards in hand and refer back to the formula as we go through it. You’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.

A double-faced card is used. Let’s assume the one you are using is the Ten of Spades/Jack of Hearts. (That’s one of the standard DF cards from Haines.) The double faced card is in the breast pocket, Ten side facing out (Rule 1).

Run through the face-up deck and openly remove the Jack of Hearts and the Ten of Spades. Table them face up. While looking for these two cards secretly cut any Ace to the top (Back) of deck and table deck face down to left side. Patter that you have removed the value of 20 in the game of Blackjack. Explain that one card will be the hole card and one card the face-up card. (This is not entirely true in some gambling joints where they no longer deal a hole card …. But for this effect that patter line fits.)

Turn the Jack face down, calling it the hole card. Ask if they can remember it. Regardless of what they say, tell them you will take the Ten out of the game for the moment. With that line, place the Ten in the pocket BEHIND the card already there (Rule 2). Again ask if they can remember the hole card. Make sure they can, because if they can’t recall which card is where the effect won’t register.

Turn the Jack face up and tell them you will add still another dimension, the sense of touch. Remove the Ten from the pocket; however, actually take the double-faced card Ten side showing (Rule 3). Place it on the face-up Jack (Rule 4).

Pick up the two cards and hold as shown in Figure #1. Have the spectator hold his hand palm up very flat. His hand will become the working surface, or the card table. Deal the cards onto his hand like this. Flash the single back of the cards in the right hand and then, with the cards face up, use your right thumb to push the Ten onto his open palm. Now flash the back of the Jack again and while it is face up use it to flip over the Ten on his palm exchanging the two cards as you do. It’s sort of an odd-ball Mexican Turnover; and, yes, it’s illogical, but it will pass. It’s been used for years to exchange a double-faced card for a normal card. Your right hand carries away the Jack which is actually the double-faced card. He thinks he holds a face-down Ten, but it’s actually the real Jack. Openly place the double-faced card, Jack side showing, in your pocket BEHIND the card already there (Rule 2).

Recap what has happened. Ask which card he holds. He’ll reply that he holds the Ten. You reply that you have the Ten, and he has the Jack. With that remove the real Ten from your pocket, the front card (Rule 3). He holds the Jack.

Offer to explain how you did it. Place your Ten ON his Jack (Rule 4). Tell him you are using extra cards. Place the two cards which are showing into your pocket face side showing, but place them BEHIND the one card already in the pocket (Rule 2). In the same move take the two front cards (Rule 3) from the pocket saying these are the extra cards.

The cards in your hand now show as the Jack on the face and the Ten below it. The Jack is actually the double-faced card. You are all set to repeat what you did before. Before you do, however, openly remove the card in your pocket showing it and commenting that they are to remember you are using extra cards. Place it back in the pocket. It’s the real Jack incidentally.

Again have the spectator hold his hand palm up and very flat. Again hold the cards as in Figure 1, again flash the back, and again push the face card, the Jack this time, onto his open palm. Flash the back of the Ten, use it to flip over the Jack, exchanging them as you do, and walk away with the Ten side of the double-faced card showing.

Patter that you will exchange the Ten for the Jack in your pocket. Do just that, which will leave you with the real Jack in your hand. Tell him that explains how you exchanged your card; what you want to know is how he exchanged his! As he looks to discover he is now holding the Ten, you pick up the deck with the left hand as if the effect is over. Just as he looks at his card, you top change the Jack for the Ace which is on top of the deck.

Apparently the trick is finished. Twice the cards have transposed and the customer is none the wiser even though you gave an explanation. Now take his Ten and turn it face down. Place it under your face-down card which he thinks is the Jack. Shuffle the two cards around each other a time or two and tell him that after doing that very few people can say for sure which is the Ten and which is the Jack. That’s true, incidentally.

Continue to patter that with the value of 20 you could still lose. With your magic you insist everyone go away a winner. With that turn both cards face up showing that you now have the value of 21, an Ace and a Ten.

You couldn’t ask for a better transposition which happens twice in their hands. The final change to 21 gives the thing a nice climax that makes sense.

Many readers will notice that the first part of the effect duplicates the Allerton handling. What I’ve added is the climax plus the formula to keep things straight. Many magicians, when using double-faced cards, get confused as to which value is facing which way. Then they have to peek, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by the astute viewer. My simple set of four rules eliminates the problem .

One other final word of importance. When doing transposition effects, whether it be with cards or coins, it is essential that the customer remember which card or coin he should be holding. Hence, drive the point home many times before actually making the switch. How many times have we seen beautiful sleight of hand performed in, say the copper and silver effect, only to have the spectator comment that he doesn’t remember which he holds.

Have fun.