For impromptu occasions, this effect is hard to beat. When invariably, someone asks me to "do something," I usually turn to a young woman seated nearby and ask if she has a deck of playing cards with her. To date no one has pulled one out. "Naturally," I say, "under the circumstances, perhaps we can make a small deck out of a few business cards." I remove my business card case and take out five cards. Handing the cards and a pen or pencil to the young woman, I tell her that when my back is turned, she's to print the name of a different playing card on the blank sides of the five cards. To save time, I urge her to use initials, for example, "4H" for the Four of Hearts, and so on until each of the five cards has an identity.
When she's finished, I ask her to turn the cards over so no one can see any of the five cards and to mix the cards thoroughly. When the young woman has indicated that the cards are well mixed, I turn and ask her to place the pack of cards on the table and to cut the packet into two piles. I then point to the original bottom packet and tell her to place this packet on top of the half she cut off. This enables me to innocently look at the last digit in the Zip code as I point to the packet. Further, I instruct her that while my back is turned, she's to look at and remember the identity of the top card of the deck. Of course, you already know which card she'll be looking at, although not the card's ascribed information.
When the spectator has finished, she's requested to shuffle the pack before I turn around. At no time have I touched the cards. Later, they'll remember (incorrectly) that the card was selected and looked at while my back was turned.
Facing the spectator, I request that she now deal the cards writing side down, in a row on the table. Removing a coin (preferably an ancient looking one with an interesting origin) from my pocket, I hold it between the first and middle fingers of the left hand. Then, pretending to close my eyes ( I keep them open ever so slightly) I ask the spectator to lightly grasp my left wrist and to picture the card she's thinking of in her mind. As I slowly move my left hand (and hers) back and forth over the row of cards, suddenly, the coin drops out of my grasp and lands on one of the face down cards.
Naturally, I spot where the selected card is located in the row, and release the coin so that it drops on the proper card. I then point out that not only have I not seen or handled the cards at any time, but the cards have been repeatedly shuffled by the spectator while my back was turned. Now, I ask the spectator to reveal for the first time the name of the card she's concentrating upon. For example, she says, "The King of Spades." I ask her to turn over the card upon which the coin has mysteriously dropped. When she does so, everyone sees the initials "KS." This routine also works well using a pendulum.
I can't begin to tell you just how strong this seemingly, impromptu mental effect, really is. Even though there are only five business cards involved, the impact is as strong as if I had used a pack of fifty-two playing cards. For the benefit of those of you who never read the 1958 version, here are a few of the effects possible, using the Zip code principle.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.