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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ebooks, PDF's or Downloads » » Review: The Infamous One-Handed Card Trick by Paul Rathbun (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Munseys_Magic
I came across this routine, and thought I was seeing things when I saw the price was $2.99. I actually thought it had to be a typo, but it's not. Maybe the price is so low because this is Paul Rathbun's first release (to my knowledge).

Effect (copied/pasted from Penguin Magic, but I can say it's totally honest after learning the routine): A photo is shown with the magician's hand behind his back. "That is what the trick looks like from the back," the magician explains. It is initialed and placed face down on the table. The cards are riffled through one handed and the spectator calls stop. They peek at the card and then a moment later it is shown to have disappeared from the deck. The magician then shows the peeked at card was in his hand behind his back. When the photo is turned over, the selection is now inside the photo in the magician's hand as well.

Short Version: BUY IT! For $2.99, it's a steal. It would be a steal for $10, possibly more.

Longer Version: The routine is clearly explained with more than enough detailed photographs. You'll have to make a gaff that will take literally two minutes, and you will need a color printer to print photographs of yourself holding a card behind your back. That's literally the hardest part of this routine. Once that's done, you've got a real worker that will be entertaining for all ages. It's PERFECT for table hopping because not only do you leave your spectators with a souvenir that includes your contact info, but the trick instantly resets for your next group. I mean INSTANTLY. In the process of naturally scooping up your cards, you are ready to move on to perform at the next table. Trust me guys and gals -- pick this up while you can!
Jim Munsey
Munsey's Magic
William Draven
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I took a look at this effect too, and here's my thoughts on it.

Title: The Infamous One-Handed Card Trick
Artist: Paul Rathbun
Producers: Penguin Magic
Retail Price: $2.99 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy / Beginner
Notes: Some Assembly Required. Instructions are a downloadable PDF.

Every now and again you stumble across some brilliant little worker that belongs in someone’s personal arsenal of tricks and you think to yourself: “Man, why am I not doing this myself?” I had one of those moments when I stumbled across this little gem by Paul Rathbun, who by the way has an awesome name. Rathbun. Sounds like a Bond villain. I digress. The effect is called The Infamous One-Handed Card Trick. Sounds like something a Bond villain would name a magic trick too… Anyways the trick is all detailed in an illustrated PDF file that you can purchase in instant download format directly from penguin magic’s website.

This routine comes with a bit of set up. You’re going to need to build a gimmick or two so there’s a bit of construction involved. Not hard construction, Not complicated construction, but construction none the less. A little extra time spent on setting this up on the front end will create hours of enjoyment performing this on the back end. Well worth the investment. One of the beauties of this routine is just how personal it is to the individual performer. What I mean by that is that one of the gimmicks requires you to take a pair of photographs. One of which you’ll be holding a playing card, face up, behind your back, the other with your hand empty. Now the instructions say you print wallet sized photos, which you can do from home on photo paper, but I’ve found that paying the extra money to go to Kinko’s (or your favorite office supply store) and have these pictures printed on glossy business card stock is well worth the extra cost and time. Plus, in a standard order of 500 “business cards” you’ll have more than enough product to last you quite a while. Not a bad thing as you’ll be using this everywhere you go. Also, while you’re at it… may as well print your business card or contact information on the back side. Why waste such a perfect marketing opportunity? Once you’ve done that, grab a deck of cards and a rubber band, and you’re almost ready to go. Almost because there’s another gimmick you need to build but blessedly that one sets up in about as much time as it takes super glue to dry. Once you’ve made it that far, you’re ready to go melt some minds.

The effect is a simple one, but packs a punch. The entire trick is indeed, as aptly named, done one handed. A photograph of you with an empty hand is displayed, and signed by the spectator. Placed face down in their hands. A card is selected, again all of this is done with a hand behind your back (like in the photo), and magically vanishes from the deck. Upon inspection of the photograph, you are holding their selected card in the picture! From a magician’s point of view, nothing in this routine is knuckle busting. There’s practically no sleight of hand involved, as the props do most of the leg work for you. This leaves you ample room to focus on presentation. And there in lays the real magic! Presentation with this routine is everything! The reactions this thing gets is amazing. Not a magician fooler, but an audience favorite for sure. This is also a great way to get your contact information out there for potential gigs too! Perfect for strolling or table hopping. The magic happens in the spectator’s hands, the reset is instant, there are no angles to be worried about, and they get to keep the object that does the magic as a memento of their experience! This has every element of strong personal magic built into it. This is a working mans trick, and it’s one that’s going to be used by you every chance you get.

The price of this routine is obscenely low. And that’s my only real complaint. Magic like this shouldn’t cost you less than a cup of coffee. The magical principles aren’t anything new, but their application is quite effective. This effect is easily worth paying $20 bucks for. I wouldn’t pay much more than that honestly, but I could easily see spending ten to twenty on this. I think Paul is selling himself short on his first release.

At the end of the day I think this is a wonderful little working gem. It’s a diamond in the rough! Arm chair, weekend warrior magicians, and collectors will probably snub their nose at it. Their loss. Anyone in the trenches doing real work for real people will instantly see the power and entertainment value this offers. The added personal touch of having a picture of yourself, instead of a mass produced generic magician, really adds something extra to this routine. It makes it personal, it makes it unique, and with your added contact information on it, it makes it a valuable marketing opportunity. This is something that lives in your close-up case, and is an instant go to when working for lay audiences. And for less than a cup of coffee, why the heck not right? Can you say stocking stuffer?

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The three points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 9
The price is WAY to low for this routine. The magic is solid, and is built on real working mans conditions. You’ll use this.

Teaching Quality: 9
The instructions are well designed. Easy to follow, and the gimmick is easy to build.

Overall Quality: 9
Love it. You will too.

Do you have a product you want reviewed? Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval? Contact me directly at to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews! Don't forget to like my blog where all my reviews are posted at
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It is definitely worth the small asking price (or more). It is a nice combo of known (and credited) principles. The "Arts and Crafts" are taught in a simple way so anyone can do it (and with lots of pictures for you "visual learners") Smile . Those familiar with the principle involving the pictures will know several ways to present that part. You may even have a wallet or a special something already to put the photos in. The other item / card you must do some work on, is taught in a simple / workable way. You could make it a little better if you already have certain tools common in gaffing (although the method taught works and will likely NEVER be noticed, and shouldn't be if properly handled).

The effect itself is simple and straight forward. Great for close up and/or parlor (could be adapted a bit for stage). I can see it working well in a table hopping setting (although I would set up several sets using different cards) Once you make one up, It is very simple to make more. I have used a marketed effect in the past that was similar and it always garnished great reactions but the effect itself was probably over $25 and "refills" were around $10 for a packet of 25 (or somewhere in that area).

All in all, if you are looking for an inexpensive card routine to add to your act (and can also serve as a great give-away with your business info on it) It is totally worth the money.
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Profile of Nicolino
The older I get and the more time of my life I've spent studying magic books, the more frequently I sense a nostalgic longing back to those days when I was a kid: when magic literature was scarce and every new discovery of a principle and effect felt nothing but thrilling.

Well, if I still was a novice and I had stumbled upon "The Infamous One-Handed Card Trick" (of which Paul kindly sent me a review copy)...oh boy, my excitement was enormous!

Yet, it's nothing groundbreaking at all: two age old principles (one dating back to 1912, the other to 1630) are cleverly combined to make a selected card disappear from the deck and mysteriously appear on a previously signed photograph.

Despite (or should say: because of?) their age, both principles are immaculate and proven to work, though. The idea to merge them into a plot dealing with an "one-handed performance" is a very charming touch and surely suited to hook the audience!

The 10 page booklet is clearly written and illustrated, and I have no doubt the effect - given a nice presentation - will play strong.
With a ludicrous low price of $2.99 it's a surefire recommendation for anyone interested in the plot.

If I was to name any downsides, it would probably boil down to two things only:

- if you follow the recommended approach of having the photo autographed there's a need for refills. The photographs you need are not regular sized photos but rather business card type printouts (if you need them to look professional you'd want to have them produced by a printer shop instead of making them at home. I have the feeling they are a bit harder to obtain/produce than regular photos say from a photo quick service (at least here in Germany).

- for one of the principles to work you are obliged to carry 'more than necessary' with you (trying not to spoil too much here). I would have loved if the author had provided us with some kind of justification for that.

But these are minor quibbles, especially given the price and attitude of the whole release.

Nice work, Paul!
The Mati Envelope
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Tarot cards in a scenic piece of mystery.....
Paul Rathbun
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Profile of Paul Rathbun
Thanks guys! I am glad you like it. I know $2.99 is dirt cheap, but I wanted everybody who bought this to feel they got their moneys worth. If you have questions you can PM me. Thanks.

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Profile of Jared
Full disclosure: Paul and I are good friends and we've been exchanging ideas for years. About 2-years ago, he enthusiastically developed this routine and started performing it in the restaurant he performs weekly. After debuting the routine, it played even better than he could have imagined and has since become a permanent staple in his working repertoire.

As William pointed out above, it combines classic methods interwoven in a manner that layperson's will have no chance of figuring out...Suffice to say, it will SLAY your audiences! I almost yelled at Paul for pricing this so LOW ($2.99) given the amount of work and real-world experience he's put into this routine. I hope many of you will buy it because you'll be richly rewarded with something that you'll actually use!
Paul Rathbun
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Thanks for the kind words Jared!
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Profile of dooblehorn
Ok, I took a look at this a few weeks ago, but some other life drama got in my way. I cannot really improve upon William Draven's detailed review above, but wanted to give my own comments, in any case.

This uses the same principal of a recent marketed effect which I just adore. The principal's certainly not new, but put to extremely good use in this effect. So because of that I will definitely use and perform this. Requires a minimal bit of arts & crafts, but nothing too difficult.
Pdf is well-written, with lots of detail.
And I was shocked to check Penguin and see that it's still available for the same ridiculously low price.
It's a no-brainer, if you like the premise of this effect, just buy it, you cannot go wrong, and I doubt you'll be disappointed!
Highly recommended!
Paul Rathbun
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Profile of Paul Rathbun
Thanks for the positive comments dooblehorn. I hope you get lots of use out of this.


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