In this magical appetizer, Jonah makes a case for counting tricks. Love them or hate them Jonah is convinced that they should be a staple trick in your roster and lays out his reasons why. 

Specifically we are discussing one type of card trick, the counting card trick, where you end up counting to a number. It could be any number, a card, a position, weighing the cards, or an actual trick where you are dealing lots of cards. 

Misconceptions of Counting Tricks 

Maybe, when you hear counting tricks, you immediately think of some of the problematic counting tricks like the 21 Card Trick. What we are hopefully going to express to you in this episode is that most of the challenges that you have with counting tricks are actually with dealing tricks. Those are tricks where you are dealing for a long period of time without any justification for why you’re doing it. If you don’t have a reason for the actual counting through the cards then what you’re doing is boring and, for the most part, audiences are smart and they know when you are dealing through a deck, over and over and over again, that there’s some sort of mathematical mumbo jumbo going on.

You probably know of a couple of tricks that are mathematical card tricks in nature, and they probably deal with lots and lots of dealing, and those are not the ones that we are making a case for. We are making a case for when you count and you get closer and closer to the number. 

Embedded Suspense

Jonah likes to do a multi-phase weighing the card trick where he ends up counting through more than half of the deck multiple times and people go crazy. Usually if you’re doing a card trick you want to build a little bit of suspense. Maybe someone picks a card, they shovel inside the deck, you get a card out, and then they name the card and you look at the card and maybe pause for a second and look at them. You’re trying to build this drama, trying to manufacture drama by not just turning over the dang card. If a card is at a position, like the 21st position for example, you actually have to count one by one by one to get to that position. There is no other way to get there. So instead of there being manufactured drama, which an audience can feel, now there is built in drama. 

The best example outside of card magic is the nest of boxes. As you’re opening a box and a smaller box in a smaller box, in a smaller box, getting closer and closer to what is going on, there is anticipation and excitement and the suspense is building because there’s no other way for you to get to that smallest box in the middle, aside from opening the biggest and then the next, and the next, and the next. There’s no faking that kind of drama, it’s built into the magic.

Becoming The Conductor 

One big thing in magic that Jonah is a big fan of is the rhythm in magic. When somebody is picking a card, when you’re returning it, and when you’re building suspense, there is rhythm. Quite literally, the drama gets closer and closer and closer. You can imagine and draw out the rhythm of what a trick looks like. There’s rhythm built into different magic tricks.

Imagine you tear a card once and then you tear it again and then you put your hands together and then, boom, it restores. There’s rhythm to those moments, how long you want to pause between each thing. With counting card tricks you become the conductor of that rhythm. You can decide at what pace you are getting towards the punchline, the climax. You get to conduct the rhythm of how people respond. You can get louder as you get closer to the number or you can go slower as you get closer to the number. The point is, you can really decide how people are experiencing the punchline of this trick.

If the card is the 30th, you have to deal 30 cards. There’s no other way to get there but you can decide exactly how you want to arrive there and take the audience with you.

Invite Jonah To Your Next Magic Lecture

This episode is an excerpt from Jonah’s lecture notes, which you can only see if he lectures in your city. So if you want Jonah to lecture in your city, and you want to get some lecture notes, then you can send an e-mail to and we will see if we can make our way to your city in 2024.

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