ACAAN is an effect that magicians seem completely obsessed with. There are seemingly thousands of versions of this effect. Well, now there’s one more. In this blog, I’d like to share some thoughts about my version of the effect called A Numbers Game (Ladanye’s ACAAN). You can watch it here:

In most versions of ACAAN, the performer asks audience members for both variables, the card and the number. Then, without any false moves, the performer (or in some cases, a spectator) counts down to that number and there we find the named card. The less the performer handles the cards the better. This means that the performer is not doing the effect. Oftentimes, that’s the presentation: “Look, I won’t do anything.” This means that the effect is a coincidence. If the performer didn’t do anything and the spectator’s certainly didn’t do anything, the effect was that the spectator’s happened to name a card at a position. That’s a coincidence.

My first change to the classic effect was to take full credit for moving the card. I wanted this to be something that do, not a coincidence that someone else does. In other words, I’m openly saying I’ll move any card to any number. I want two spectators to name the conditions and then I’ll move it invisibly.

The next challenge is to make people care. Who cares that you can move a card to any number? In my experience, audiences like context within the effect. I want to show my audience that here’s a skill and here’s why and how I use it. My skill in this effect is to secretly move cards around in a deck so I can cheat. Let’s say you are playing seven-card stud, seven-handed. You realize that the one card you need to win is the Ace of Spades. You’re about to deal the final round of cards hoping the Ace of Spades will land as your river card. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to reposition the Ace of Spades to the seventh position so that when you deal fairly it ends up in your hand? I needed to teach this to the audience so they will see the use of secretly repositioning cards in the deck. As a matter of fact, the patter that I use was inspired by a poker player during a real game. During a hold ‘em game, a player asked for his one “out” to move to the second position. (His card didn’t move, however, it got my mind thinking.)

Now they see that it’s a useful cheating skill. Now they know that will be making the card move. However, in their minds, they’re thinking, “Yeah, but how can you move cards around without anyone catching you?” You’ll get the NFW moment when you do it invisibly!

I added one more thing: a card tracking and estimation phase before the ACAAN effect. In this first phase, the deck clearly gets mixed. Now I’m starting the ACAAN effect with a mixed deck. These phases make you look like a master with a deck of cards.

My end goal was notto perform this routine as a “hands-off” coincidence like every other performer. My goal was to turn this effect into a gambling demonstration where you show you can effortlessly track and follow any cards you want in a deck. And, that you can move any cards you want to any positions you want to take down a pot. This presentation fits my role as a gambling expert. After watching this effect, your audience will definitely see you as someone NOT to play cards with. (This effect can be found in Game Changer.)


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  1. Victor Oriza 6 years ago

    That’s exactly why I loved your presentation so much because you gave a meaning to a classic efect. It always resonates in my mind when you explain an effect to Darwin and he says” yes its a good effect, but WHY?” It was a ground breaking moment for me and totally shift my way to see magic. If you can answer that question WHY you are doing it and WHY it makes sense, you are one step close you make strong magic and your audience to feel they are watching something closer to the impossibility.

  2. Thom Parkin 6 years ago

    “The next challenge is to make people care.” Wow, that is refreshing.
    It is disturbing to watch magicians fall into the trap (I will NOT exclude myself) of pursuing [what they believe to be] the perfect effect. But the effect of any magic trick is different for magicians than it is for non-magicians.
    It is a struggle to think like the spectator (and stop thinking like a magician) when constructing/routining effects.
    I just discovered this blog and I am thoroughly enjoying my dive through your archives here.

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