A Critical Examination of the SAM Membership Card Trick

I have never been a member of the Society of American Magicians. I think I attended a magic auction they held once when I was around 14. It didn’t turn out to be the most enticing group. It was a bunch of old guys with bushy eyebrows, uncomfortably ogling the “fresh meat” that had walked into the room. In that sense it was kind of like what I imagine going to a gay bathhouse would be like. Except the constituency was even older (and possibly gayer). And at the bathhouse—even if it’s not their priority—the clientele is likely subjected to the cleansing properties of water. Based on the B.O. situation in the room at the SAM auction, “bath” wasn’t a word I would associate with that crew.

I don’t believe I’ve attended an SAM function since then. Perhaps I missed out on a wealth of magical knowledge these gentlemen could have bestowed upon me, but I didn’t get that sense. Their skillset seemed to range from “somehow screws up self-working tricks” to “hasn’t quite mastered the paddle move.” It didn’t even seem like they were that into magic. The only real enthusiasm they showed was when someone cracked open a three flavor popcorn tin.

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I don’t know if there’s been an influx of youth in the SAM since then. Magic is obviously having a renaissance, but I don’t know if the magic clubs have been able to capitalize on it.

I have a friend who is a member and will occasionally text me shots from M-U-M Magazine (the magazine for SAM members).


Hmmm… does he though?

Recently my friend sent me a photo of his membership card…


Damn… you can’t just uphold the oath, you have to live by it? That’s intense. “Throw out your simpleminded Ten Commandments! You will now live by The Magician’s Oath.

Some live by the golden rule… but not me…. my life is built upon these words of wisdom:

“I shall discourage advertisement in magical publication for any magical apparatus, effect, literature or other materials for which the advertiser does not have commercial rights.”

I think that’s part of the oath. I couldn’t really find the “oath” online. That’s in their code of ethics, at least. And, as I’ve pointed out before, if you harm the chickadee you use in your final load for cups and balls, you’re out of the SAM. But if you make the birthday boy jerk you off…. you can still be a member in good standing. You just point to the code of ethics and—like a man in a movie defending his decision to use a donkey to kick field goals for his football team—you say, “There’s no rule against it!”

But not only do you get this sweet membership card when you join the SAM, you also get this totally mindfucking trick they suggest you perform with the card.

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So you vanish a quarter and make it appear under your membership card. What a brilliantly constructed piece of magic! Sure, you might say this took 6 seconds to think of because you can do the same trick with… oh… say… any object in the world larger than a quarter. But I disagree. Obviously a lot of thought went into this effect.

I am, admittedly, a little confused by the “That’s the last one” bit. It’s written on the card under Jimmy Yoshida’s picture, and is repeated during the effect multiple times. Was this a catchphrase of his? Were they his magic words? I googled it, but nothing came up. Anything you might say in response to “I’m going to eat the last Totino’s Pizza Roll,” seems a bit too informational to be somebody’s magical incantation. But they really seem to be hitting it hard in the presentation.

They also say you can add a “magical dimension” (always a good thing to have in a magic trick, I’ve found) by giving the spectator a choice of four quarters. And they mention using “magician’s force” (which I’m guessing is the same as equivoque/magician’s choice) to force the Hawaii quarter. I can’t quite wrap my mind around how you would use magician’s choice when you’re tied to the, “That’s the last one,” patter line.

Magician: Touch one quarter.
[Spectator touches the Hawaii quarter.]
Magician: That’s the last one!
Spectator: The fuck are you talking about?


Magician: Push any two coins towards me.
[Spectator does.]
Magician: Now hand me either coin.
[Spectator hands him the Hawaii quarter.]
Magician: That’s the last one!
Spectator: How so?

Okay, sure, maybe there are some kinks to work out. But it would definitely be worth it. Can you imagine the look on your spectator’s face and what their reaction would be if you wrapped up the trick with that stunning crescendo of a finale as written in the instructions: “That’s the last one — the 50th state quarter representing Jimmy from the Aloha state.”

I can totally picture it! That glow of wonder, and that beautiful look of child-like awe, slowly spreading across their face, as they say: “I’m sorry… what? I’m not following. Who’s Jimmy? What are you talking about?”