Svengali Deck

Playing cards

Imager Visioner/Wikimedia Commons 

Definition: A Svengali deck is a trick deck of cards that allows you to easily perform some seemingly amazing effects and it’s a great beginners magic trick for anyone of almost any age.

Svengali magic cards are gimmicked so that anywhere that a spectator cuts will reveal the same card. Also, the decks allow you to display the deck with either different cards or being made up of a single card. Because of the gimmicking, Svengali magic cards cannot be examined by spectators. Although the deck can be convincingly shown to contain different cards.

These magic cards are often found in beginning magic sets and sold in toy stores and at fairs to the general public. Decades ago, the cards were mass marketed to the public as "TV Magic Cards." If someone in a toy store is demonstrating and selling a trick deck of magic cards, it's more than likely a Svengali deck or another well known set of trick cards known as a Stripper deck.

The two decks are quite different and rely on different methods and create entirely different effects. The Stripper deck allows the beginning magician to allow a card to be freely selected and lost in the deck and even shuffled. And yet, the magician will be able to find it.

I recommend Svengali decks to beginning magicians and this includes both adults and kids. The gimmicking in itself is fun to learn about and employ. The trick features a standard routine so one doesn't have to worry about presentation. Also, the deck is easy to learn and use.

 Basic Routine

A basic Svengali routine usually goes like this:

  1. The magician brings out a deck of cards and shows that it contains different cards.
  2. The magician has a spectator select a card, show it around and replace it back into the deck.
  3. The magician lays the deck on a table and asks a spectator to cut the deck. When the card is revealed at the location of the cut, it's the spectator's selected card.
  4. The deck is made whole again and the magician taps on the top of the deck and it's shown that the spectator's selected card has jumped to the top.
  5. The magician asks the spectator to cut the deck into three or four piles. Whichever pile the spectator points to, it's discovered that the selected card is found on top.
  6. In the grand finale, the magician snaps her fingers and it's discovered that the entire deck has changed into the spectator's selected card.
  7. At the end, the deck is shown to contain different cards.

A Svengali deck can be used to perform the full routine as described above. However, many magicians might feel that the routine exploits the capabilities of the deck too much and exposes the fact that more there's multiple versions of a single card. A Svengali deck has lots of utility in a less flamboyant manner--being switched in as needed to support a card trick.

A Svengali deck can also be used to force a card. A spectator thinks that he has a free choice of selecting any card in the deck but the trick deck makes him select one card.

Also known as: None

Alternate spellings: None

Examples: He used a Svengali deck in his magic.