Tweak-End: Hide, Keep, and Give Away by Jay Sankey

It's Saturday. I'm debuting two new effects at my friends' place tonight. One involves someone having their mind read by my friend's unborn child. The other is one of the more magical and surreal ideas I think I've ever come up with, so I'm excited to try it out. Both of the effects are pretty practical, so if I decide to share them with you rejects I think you will really like them.

Today i just want to present a small tweak to an effect you may already do. I generally don't like to share every little idea I have for established effects, but this is a small change that vastly improved the level of engagement I received from the people I performed the effect for. 

Since Jay Sankey originally released his 22 Blows to the Head DVD, I have been doing his effect Hide, Keep, and Give Away. Essentially your spectator picks three cards from the deck and shuffles them in their hands, sight unseen. Jay's patter line is then, "You can tell a lot about a person by what they hide, what they keep, and what they give away." The spectator then has a free choice of which card they hide (it gets put into the deck reversed), which card they give to the magician, and which card they keep for themselves. At the end they read your prediction and you've nailed which cards they would choose and how they would distribute them.

I always liked the trick, but I wanted to get into it a little more with the patter. I wanted to ask them a few questions about what they hide, keep, or give away and then make it appear that those answers somehow gave me some insight to allow me to make the prediction. But as I thought about it, I realized those categories don't quite make sense. "Keeping" something or "giving it away" is a logical pairing. But "hiding" something or "keeping" it don't really go together. They're not opposites, they're not even mutually exclusive. Most of the time when you hide something you also keep it. So it was hard for me to come up with examples of these things to suggest to my spectator.

So here is the change I made, and at first it will sound very minor, but it allows you to get into a relatively interesting discussion that leads into the trick. The change is that now I think of the trick as Keep, Give Away, or Throw Away. And here's how that change manifests itself in the patter.

"If you have a relationship that ends badly, do you keep your old love letters or do you get rid of them?... Oh, you burn them? I see. So there's no desire to try and keep mementos of the good times? Ok. Interesting."

"When you have clothes that don't fit or are out of style, do you just toss them out or do you donate them somewhere?"

"Okay, let's say you've just finished a book. And it was fine, but it's not one of your favorites. Do you keep that book or do you give it to a friend or donate it to the library or something?"

I act as if I'm absorbing and making some calculations in my mind based on these responses. Then I spread the deck face-up on the table and scan it back and forth. After a few moments I pick up a pen and paper and start making my prediction.

"You know, psychologists say you can tell a lot about a person by what they keep, what they give away, and what they throw out or just get rid of. I want to see if I can use what you've just told me to try and predict what's going to happen next."

I fold up the prediction and then I go into the trick. The spectator picks three cards. One is "thrown away" by being placed reversed back into the deck with the other "garbage" cards that weren't selected. I then slow things down. "Okay, you've thrown one away. Now, I want you to be very deliberate about this. One of those cards you're going to keep for yourself and one you're going to give to me. Hand me either one." She does. Before I take it I say, "Are you sure? One of these is an old skirt that doesn't fit and the other is the first polaroid of your child. [Or some other examples that came up during the opening discussion.] Are you sure that's the one you want to give away? This is your last chance to reconsider." She doesn't change her mind and you take the card she gives you.

At this point, don't do the DL handling that Sankey does on the DVD (it's much weaker than the top change handling he mentions in passing). Gesture with the "give away" card at your prediction and ask her to open it and read it. As she unfolds it, do a top change. Theres more cover than you'll ever need. Then slowly separate your hands a good couple of feet to imply they were never near each other.

"You will throw away the Ace," she says.

You spread the deck on the table with your left hand to show the Ace is the reversed "thrown away" card in the middle of the deck.

"You will give away the 9."

You slowly turn over the card she "gave" to you. It's the 9.

"And you will keep the jack," she reads. Then she turns over the card she chose to keep and it's the jack.

This is one of my go to effects in an impromptu situation. It takes under 10 seconds to set up. It's technically a five card set-up but you only need to get two into position. The other three you just modify your prediction to roll with whatever is there. The questions are actually somewhat interesting and really do seem like they could give some insight into their character. There's an internal logic to it, but at the same time it's still unbelievable that you could somehow predict those actions based on those questions. 

"Internally logical" yet "unbelievable." I really think this is the strongest combination when presenting magic. 

If you don't have this effect I recommend picking up Sankey's 22 Blows to the Head DVD. There's a handful other effects from there that I've worked on as well and pretty much everything is incredible simple to do.