Ambitious Ghost Finale

In last Monday’s post I mentioned a presentation for ambitious card that involved the spectator drawing a ghost on a card and then that card “passing thru” the other cards like a ghost.

I mentioned it in the framework of presentation vs. context. It may seem like I was dismissing the idea, but I wasn’t. It’s just not the style of material I’m performing much these days. But it is a trick/presentation I’ve done in the past. It can be very fun/funny (if you’re a fun/funny person). And if I was performing currently in a restaurant or something along those lines, I could see myself doing the presentation again. (In a professional performing situation, your context is already established. You’re the guy who performs magic in a restaurant (or whatever). To layer another context on top of that would be confusing. So in a professional situation you would want to focus on presentation, not context.)

Here is the way I end the trick.

They’ve drawn a ghost on the face of a card and it has risen up through the deck a few (39 or so) times.

I then pause and look at their ghost drawing.

“This is really terrifying imagery.”


“I’m curious. Is this the ghost of a male or a female?… A female? Hmm. Was she a child? An adult? Or an old woman when she died?… Oh… just a child? That’s so sad. How did she die?… Oh, she ate some of that sushi that’s made with the puffer fish and if you eat too much it’s poisonous? That’s terrible.”

I just go along with whatever they say here.

“What was her name? … Penny? Okay. Write her name on the back of the card. I think we can help Penny out.

“They say that ghosts get trapped in this world and can’t move on because they have ‘unfinished business.’ What was Penny’s unfinished business?… Oh, she wanted to kill the chef who gave her too much of the fish? That makes sense. She was just a little kid. She probably wanted a fish stick, not poisonous puffer fish sushi.”

I pause here and then do something to “finish” the ghosts unfinished business. In this case I could make a solemn vow to the ghost that I’d kill the chef or I could draw a chef’s hat on a Jack and then tear up the card, or I could make a phone call and put a hit on the chef. Whatever. It would all depend on what the ghost’s unfinished business is. You just want to do something to “finish” that business quickly so you can move on.

“Penny, you’re free! The chef is dead. You don’t have to be a ghost anymore.”

I take the spectator’s ghost card, wave it, and it the image transforms into a little girl.


I take the card and toss it in the air. “Ascend, sweet princess!” I continue to look up and off into the distance as the card flips and flops to the ground a few feet away.

When the spectator retrieves the card they can verify it’s their selected card with their signature on the back.


You will force a card with a lot of white space on it for the purposes of having a place to draw. Let’s say the 4 of Hearts.

You have a stack of six cards on the bottom of the deck, with one indifferent card covering them (so your stack is cards 2-7 from the face of the deck). This stack consists of 6 duplicates of your force card each with one of these images on the face :

  • Old man

  • Adult male

  • Young boy

  • Old woman

  • Adult female

  • Young girl

(Buy a one-way forcing deck for all your duplicate needs.)

You put them in the deck in an order you know. I would stack them young to old female, followed by young to old male, because that makes the most sense to me, but it doesn’t really matter as long as you know where the cards are.

You go through your normal ambitious routine with this stack of cards in position. They shouldn’t get in the way of anything.

You have the deck in your hands and the ghost card on the table at the end of the ambitious portion. Ask some questions about the ghost to elicit the sex and general age-range. As you further discuss this with the spectator, you’ll cull out the appropriate card with that image on it to the bottom of the deck.

Place the Ghost Card on the bottom of the deck and turn everything over. Ask about the ghosts name and double turn-over the two cards and have your spectator write the name. They’re writing on the back of the human drawing, they assume they’re writing on the back of the ghost card.

You need to get those two cards back-to-back in preparation for the Twirl Change (or whatever you call it). You can figure out some way to do it. Here’s how I usually did it. They just wrote the name on the back of the face-down double on the face-up deck. I would rub the ink a little as if to test if it was dry. In this process I’d get a little finger break under the two cards and pinch those two cards between my right fingers. I’d necktie the deck towards me and bring the cards up to my face pulling out just the bottom card (the ghost card) of the double that was pinched between my fingers. And I’d blow on the back of that card. There’s not actually anything on the back of that card, but from the spectator’s perspective, they drew on the back of the ghost card and now they see you blowing on the back of the ghost card. So it all makes sense..

I’d lower both hands as I replaced the face-up ghost card on the face down human card. Pause. Gesture or say something. Pick up the double in Twirl Change position. Turn over the deck in my left hand so it’s face down. Do the Twirl Change. Place the double back on the face-down deck. Say something. Then remove the single human card from the top and toss it into the air.

I’m not a huge fan of writing up the “do this, do that” part of magic, but I’m sure most of you have some idea of this choreography. If not, read it a few times with the cards in hand and you’ll figure it out.

When I do the Twirl Change, I hold the card from top and bottom, not the corners, so there isn’t an orientation discrepancy. But I’m sure no one cares. You can, of course, use any other color change that works there.

The presentation is meant to be goofy, but the trick itself can still be very fooling, especially if you have a solid force of the card initially. The ambitious sequence should be strong, and then you have their drawn ghost, transforming into the freely named age and sex person on their signed card. With a decent color change, there are a lot of layers going on to make it a deceptive trick. And you end clean.

End clean? Aren’t there 6 duplicates still in the deck?

No. When I toss the card at the end and I’m like, “Fly away, sweet angel!” The spectator always wants to see the card so when they go to get it. I just take a small chunk of cards from the bottom and slide the one off the top and put them all in my pocket and set the rest of the deck on the table.