The Zen Of Transcendent Cards Across

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I first shared some of my work and experience with Michael Zens’ Card Across here and here. Please go back and read those posts, as what follows builds on those posts.

OK. You’re back. Here are a few more performance hacks for the routine. Like the previous posts, I’ll assume you are familiar with the effect and method. If you’re not familiar with it, or if you’re not even a magician, this is going to feel like some Illuminati level lingo LOL.

Make your selection bank a mem deck slug.1

How does this help? I easily know what cards should be in that bank. It makes reset easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.2

Additionally, if a spectator tells me she selected a card outside the mem deck slug, I immediately know things are going sideways and can adapt much earlier, easier, and better.

Confession: I’ve had a spectator tell me the wrong card maybe twice in over twenty years of performing this routine (my script is a big help), so you might think, why take out the insurance? Simple. Because this insurance is free. It costs me nothing to do this, plus, as you’ve read, the reset is much easier.

Make the face card of your add-on be a mate for the bottom card of your selection bank.

What does this accomplish? When the cards are added underneath the selection bank, the bottom card will change. It’s better to change from a four of diamonds to a four of hearts than a four of diamonds to, say, a king of spades. It’s one less thing for an eagle-eyed, anal-retentive spectator in the front row to notice.

Do I think this is a crushing problem inherent in the trick? No. But like the previous bit of insurance, it costs nothing.

The smaller non-selection bank that is present at the climax of the trick should consist of non-mates of the selection bank.

What does this accomplish? It avoids this scenario: A spectator chooses the two of hearts. Due to inattention, inebriation, or both, they say the chose the two of diamonds. If you have not followed this advice, when the spectator says, “two of diamonds” you’re sunk, as the two of diamonds is still there where it started.

If it’s not there, at least you have a little presentational wiggle room, in selling the fact the selection was actually the two of hearts.

Do I think this is a crushing problem inherent in the trick? No, not with a good script and spectator selection. But like the two previous bits of insurance, it costs nothing.

Is there a …transcendent message here??

Here are the most important takeaways from these three cards across posts.

It started with great magic. Thank you, Michael Zens (1877-1952)!

Like you read, it started, but it didn’t end with Zens’ work. DaVinci said, “Art is not finished. It’s only abandoned.” That’s true with a painting, as you have to eventually put down the brushes and hang up the painting. It is not true with live performance, as there is always the next show. You don’t have to abandon it. You can make the next show better, even if it’s only the smallest advancement.

These changes aren’t for the sake of being different. These changes are for the sake of better deception, better spectator interaction, more bulletproof magic, and easier trouping. And please don’t minimize the importance of making a routine easier to troupe and reset. Effort not spent packing can be spent elsewhere for better performance.

Confession: The changes I’ve made (and they are not the only ones) came from a nerd-like passion for this stuff. Simply, put I love this trick in a deep, nerdy way. Every little improvement in it presses the happy buttons in my skull. (Yep. That’s nerdy.)


Everything I’ve said about this cards across routine can apply to every magic routine you do.
Start with great magic.
Don’t abandon it — keep improving it.
Seek improvement in ALL the areas that count.
Tap into your passion — even the nerdy ones.

Until Next Time,


1Haven’t learned a mem deck yet? You now have another reason to start.
2You can always rely on me to use the hip new phrases that the kids use at the soda fountain.


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