Wild Card Variation
by Mike Rogers
illustrations by Dave Goodsell
article is an annotation of an item I published
in the June 1986 issue of MUM. There are several
adjustments adding more historical information.
The excellent illustrations were drawn by MUM
editor Dave Goodsell, he of West Coast Wizards
Magic Camp fame. Incidentally, the cover subject
of that particular issue of MUM is a popular
beloved American magician who, quite frankly,
lacks common sense. For instance, he thinks
the Classic Pass is a method for picking up
girls in the classical manner, the Paddle Move
is a form of child discipline, and the Double
Lift is an under garment for the lusty and busty
gender. How foolish. Everyone knows the Double
Lift is a fan of two cards.
into that old shoe box of unused items, pull
out your WILD CARD set and follow along. The
WILD CARD effect has been around for more than
35 years. During that time it has been kicked,
hashed, rehashed, embellished, shortened, lengthened,
discarded, reinvented, improved, and screwed
up every way possible. Through it all, it has
sold by the thousands as a standard dealer item.
It started the packet craze and might be the
best known packet trick in existence. However,
it is seldom seen in its original form, whatever
that might be ... I'll even go so far as to
say that it is seldom seen in any form, as it
seems to have fallen out of popularity. To add
to all this, the creation of the effect has
caused considerable controversy as to who actually
conceived the notion. For years Frank Garcia
was considered the father of the WILD CARD,
and the original Tannen release carried Frank's
name. Pictured here is one of the original vinyl
card cases used for the trick by Lou Tannen.
Somehow Lou successfully pulled one of the most
astute marketing moves in the sale of magic.
Lou was able to sell them by the thousands before
other vendors were able to obtain the needed
cards and package it themselves. Garcia used
to say Lou Tannen enjoyed retirement because
of WILD CARD. (I question that.) Ethics among
magic dealers has not always been of the highest
standard, and dealers around the world jumped
on the band wagon and started putting together
their own sets. By then Tannen had already flooded
the market. Later it was learned that the original
concept came from the creative mind of Peter
Kane; hence, a flap in the making that has never
is not to establish who did or who didn't, but
any discussion of the WILD CARD would be incomplete
without some mention of various names and places.
Garcia has taken heat; Peter Kane currently
receives credit; while others have contributed
significantly to the winding path of the effect.
Incidentally, Frank Garcia did the effect flawlessly.
A name seldom mentioned is TV star Bob McAllister.
Bob was one of the first to realize the commercial
appeal of the effect; and he was one of the
first to start playing with the glide as different
handling. Derek Dingle and Larry West each took
the effect and shook it like a dog with an old
shoe. Hence, Derek's "Wild Fire" and Larry's
"Wild Wild West."
and ungimmicked versions have been appearing
in magic publications for years. It has been
done with cards having pictures, symbols, signatures,
blank, and even cut in half. The late Bob Snodell
used to print the special cards having company
logos for Eddie Tullock and me to use in trade
shows. (Neither Eddie nor I ever cared much
for that idea.) Frank Garcia wrote a complete
book about it as did Jon Racherbaumer. Jon's
book, published in 1992, is called THE WILD
CARD KIT. Along with the book you received the
necessary cards in poker size. Jon's bibliography
lists over 40 references regarding the effect.
Brother John Hamman had a published version
gaffed to the extreme called WILD ALL THE WAY.
Derek Dingle had a published version in the
New Stars of Magic called WILD FIRE. It is good,
but a better version from Derek appears in his
Complete Works book, and is called WILD MOVE.
The late Jack Gwynn told me that WILD CARD was
the only close up effect he ever learned, and
until he saw WILD CARD he had never considered
doing a close up trick. One of the finest presentations
I've seen was performed by Mark Wilson on network
TV. If you want to really have fun, without
working hard, check out TAMING THE WILD CARD
by Racherbaumer in the September 1991 issue
of The New Tops. In essence it is the same as
Mark Wilson used for the TV performance. For
many years Dick Ryan used the trick as his tip
builder on the aisle of trade shows. Even the
purists do it in some form, their idea normally
being to eliminate the use of the gaffed cards.
only scratched the surface, as attested by the
40 reference entries in WILD CARD KIT.
beat goes on.
getting into my handling of the trick I'll relate
an amusing anecdote concerning Al Cohen. It's
just one of the reasons he has so many friends
in magic. I walked into Al's shop and saw Al
performing WILD CARD on the display counter
while talking on the phone. It seems a layman
customer had purchased WILD CARD while on a
business trip to Washington, D. C. The guy was
staying in a Washington hotel, and while there
he was attracted to Al's shop. The idea of having
a magic trick appealed to him. When he returned
to his hotel and read the instructions he simply
couldn't comprehend the action. This is not
uncommon with laymen, for magicians do seem
to have their own jargon. Anyway, the guy tried
and tried, finally phoning Al for some guidance.
While holding the phone to his ear using his
shoulder, Al took a WILD CARD set and went through
the entire routine on the counter explaining
what he was doing at the time. On the other
end the guy had his WILD CARD set laid out on
his hotel bed following along. Al Cohen is a
have I got to add? Still another version. First,
let's discuss the basic effect as sold by Tannen
35 years ago. The effect is short and simple.
Eight identical cards are shown, plus a ninth
indifferent card, which is said to be "wild."
The identical cards are placed on the table,
four face up and four face down. These cards
are then "influenced" by the "wild" card, at
which time every card changes value to match
the value of the wild card. That's it, but what
most part I have retained the original approach,
but have adjusted the handling a bit. In the
original handling as sold by Tannen, the identical
cards are shown by first showing four of them,
then the "wild" card, then the remaining four.
At least that's what it is to seem. I have always
felt that showing the wild card in the middle
was illogical. I feel that you should first
show the eight identical cards and then the
wild card. I have never liked showing the wild
card in the middle of the count. Others have
felt the same and, as a result, have solved
the problem by repeated use of the glide. That
method does the job beautifully except for one
thing. Very few can do repeated glides without
having an extra card drag out at the wrong time.
When that happens, the trick goes down the drain
before ever getting off the ground. Moreover,
I personally do not like the glide. In the routine
that follows I've handled the problem by adding
one additional card to the standard marketed
set. The handling allows for the identical cards
to be shown one at a time all together.
getting into it, let's expose the gaffus up
front getting that out of the way. Double-faced
cards are used. This thing has been fair game
for so long that no one should be upset at this
point when a version appears in print. Besides,
the double-faced cards have to be purchased,
and the best way to get them is simply to buy
the original WILD CARD set from your local dealer.
for the one sleight needed goes to Brother John
Hamman. Inspirational credit for the method
of showing the like cards all together goes
to Derek Dingle. Francis Carlyle deserves mention,
too, as I'm told that my ending duplicates his
ending, though I never saw Carlyle do the trick.
to what I have to offer. This handling duplicates
the original effect. Eight identical cards change
to the value of one single wild card. My set
uses a total of ten cards; and by adding just
one normal card to your WILD CARD set you are
in business. Let's assume you are going to change
a group of 9's to a group of 2's. That's one
of the sets as sold by dealers because the Nine
of Clubs/Two of Diamonds is a standard double-faced
is this. Place on the table, face up, five normal
2D's in a stack. Place on this stack a normal
9C, also face up. This is the one card you have
added to the WILD CARD set. Now on the face
of the tabled stack place four gaffed cards:
9C/2D, nine side showing, You are now ready.
it's not logical that anyone in the real world
would ever have such a collection of cards for
any reason. This can be overcome by using jokers,
the idea being you collect jokers from new decks
as you open them. Anyway, I'll continue to describe
it with nines as that's one of the standard
WILD CARD sets. Introduce the packet of cards
and hold face up in the left hand in dealer's
position. Comment that you collect 9's. With
that patter line, fan the 9's one at a time
into the right hand until all five of them show,
and on the fifth nine do a block push off of
all remaining cards except the bottom card.
A 2D will show on the bottom. Don't comment
about the number of cards or the number of 9's.
Simply show a bunch of 9's and a single 2D (see
that deuces are "wild," so this card will be
used later. Place the deuce face up to one side.
You now comment that you have a total of nine
9's; and, as you patter, you show just that
by doing the Hamman Count in the following manner.
Holding the face-up packet in the right hand,
in the Biddle Grip, you peel the first four
cards into the left hand fairly. On the count
of five, you exchange the two blocks and continue
counting, showing nine cards all having the
value of 9C. Now turn the cards face down and
repeat the count; that is, exchanging blocks
on the count of five. You have shown nine cards
face up and face down. All appears to be fair.
Turn the block face up again. Incidentally,
the block exchange on the Hamman Count gives
many magicians problems. All I can say is work
on it and it will come naturally after a bit.
the block of cards face up, deal the first four
cards to the table as shown in sketch #2. Now
turn the remaining cards face down and deal
the next four cards to the table face down.
These are the normal 2D's. Turn the one remaining
card face up, and all will appear as in sketch
that you will exchange a 9C for the "wild" card;
and you do just that, swapping the 9C you hold
for the tabled deuce (see sketch #3 again).
Comment that you will now influence each card
with the "wild card." What you are going to
do is the same move as used by Allerton in his
TWO CARD TRICK, page 22, Allerton's THE CLOSE
UP MAGICIAN. Place the card you hold under a
tabled card and picking up both, turning them
both over as you do. Sketches #4 and #5 show
the result. The normal 2D is placed under one
of the double-faced cards, and both cards are
turned over in a continuous movement. Place
the 2D that is showing on the table and take
the face-down card (a 2D) and snap it turning
it face up, showing it now to be a deuce.
this normal deuce do the same move, only this
time do it with one of the face-down cards.
Again, the 9C seems to have changed to a 2D.
Before going on, let's admit there's a discrepancy
here. The turnover move makes no sense, but
oddly enough it looks normal and will be accepted.
Even more strange, it takes on the same appearance
when done with a face down normal card as it
does with a face up double-faced card. Continue
with this turning and changing business until
all the cards have changed to show a value of
2D. Scoop up the row of normal 2D's (sketch
#6), flash their backs, then use them to scoop
up the row of fakes . It's not necessary, but
you can again do the Hamman Count to show all
backs. The faces will all show as 2D's without
any monkey business. Stop here. Don't add to
it by changing things back to 9C's. You want
only one climax.