Monday, June 13, 2011

The card trick that fooled Houdini

Here's master magician Steve Cohen demonstrating the "card trick that stumped the great Harry Houdini." By the way, Steve was trained in magic by his uncle who claimed to have trained under Houdini.

You can read more at Steve Cohen's Chamber Magic Blog.


  1. Very nice technique. Very clean. Beautiful. Nice to see a relaxed magician.

  2. Houdini would not have been fooled by the Double Lift because I recall reading in a book years before he was the handcuff king, he wrote about it.

    I think what fooled him was that when Vernon turned the card over and took Houdini's signed card off of it, the next card was still face down. If it was a Double Lifted, then this card also would be face up.

    There was no such thing a a double facer. Vernon probably just glued two cards together. And for good measure, I bet this card was shaved to be shorter.

    Vernon would know that Houdini would watch closely at any tell tale sign of any kind of get ready move. With the short card and double facer, Houdini would not even suspect something so simple could have been used.

  3. The real thing was the following:

    a) The trick was performed in two stages: in the first one, there is not a double backer. Instead, Vernon uses a lot of skill and two cards (face to face) to simulate a double backer. So, in the first stage, Vernon employed "triple lifts". Houdini asked Vernon for the deck to inspect it and once he didn't notice any fake card, Vernon introduced the "double backer".

    b) Now, with the "double back" card in the deck, Vernon started the second stage of his trick. Then, he only employed "double lifts" to continue the trick.

    It was a master piece.

    1. Where did you get this information?

    2. From Dany DaOrtiz, a great spaniard magician, who did a depth research about how Vernon fooled Houdini. Houdini was not such a fool as not to examine the deck. Vernon at the start of the trick didn't utilize a double backer. And once Houdini discarded the idea of the presence of fake cards, Vernon did introduce the double backer. It was a great trick because of the sicology he used to perform it.

    3. Thank you, RbnJrg. This is excellent info. Although I'm not sure I understand a word of it! But that's just as it should be. ;)

    4. Sorry John, I know my english is not good. :) In a first stage, the deck was with his first card (top card) face down and the second card (top-2) face-up. Of course, the top-2 card always remained hidden. Vernon, with the deck in the left hand and Harry's card in the right hand, placed this last card below the face-up card in the left hand (as top-3). And then he (Vernon) made a triple turnover to show the HH's card again in top. And as the second card was face-down, HH discarded the idea of a double lift.
      But after that (in a second stage), Vernon did use a double backer card in top-2 (instead of the set up I described above), and employing this time only double lift and double turnover (a piece of cake for Vernon) to show how the HH's card always was in top.

    5. Oh, sorry, that's not what I meant at all. Your english is excellent. I just meant that I'm not a student of sleight of hand at all. I don't know any of these terms. I don't even know how this trick is done on a basic level. So I can't really follow along with an explanation of a more complex method, and that's fine because we don't want people to know how things are done anyway. :)