Watch a full-length DVD right now: STREET ART! Instant Download

Gambling Demos Made Easy with Speed-Reading Marked Deck

There are many ways to locate and identify a chosen card without a gimmick or gaff. A marked deck for those routines would be overkill at best. At worst, a marked deck can get in the way.

However, for an out-of-the-hands “fairest of them all” routine, a marked deck is quite efficient. Especially if you need to know the value of ten face down cards from a shuffled deck. I recently watched a world-famous magician use a marked deck on a national talk show, and I was surprised—even knowing the secret—how clean the magic was.

A marked deck is not a crutch for beginners; it is a tool for professionals.

Billy McComb: "I must congratulate you on producing the most readable 'Reader Deck' I have ever seen." Click here to read more.

Billy McComb: “I must congratulate you on producing the most readable ‘Reader Deck’ I have ever seen.” Read more…

Some marked decks use complicated coding systems in an attempt to hide the marks by incorporating them into the back design—an unnecessary hindrance in the course of a magic demonstration.

In contrast, The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. The marks are covert, but easy to read from a distance. There is no code to memorize or cryptic marks to decipher. Read the backs as easily as the faces. It is an ideal deck for gambling exposés and poker deals.

Gambling demonstrations are timeless and captivating. Tailored to any audience. Using a marked deck, you can start with a specific routine and end it there, or flow into a whole separate act impromptu—each hand different. Since you know the value and suit of the cards before the audience does, you are able to generate patter to fit each outcome.

A marked deck in the right hands is a closeup Commando Act all on its own. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

The “Me or You” Poker Deal

Have a member of the audience join you at the card table. Ask them to shuffle the cards, cut the deck, and hand you the cards. Spread through the deck and have the spectator point to a card. Outjog it and ask, “Me or you?” They can choose the card for themselves, or they can give the card to you. Lay the card on the table in front of the person of their choice.

Repeat this ten times, until you each have five cards—a hand of poker—reading the backs of the cards as you go.

In this routine, winning is not the name of the game. But if you see that you have won, then play up the fact that even though your opponent had a huge advantage, as an expert at the card table, you were able to play the hand you were dealt with stunning results, or if your hand isn’t wonderful, a minor victory as a display of your prudence.

Then again, if you have lost, while the cards are still face down, ask the spectator if they would like to trade cards to better their hand.

Should they wish to keep their cards as is, or once the trading is done and your hand is still the loser, ask the spectator to look at their cards without any change in facial expression. Based on minute tells, inform the audience you think your opponent has a good hand. Turn your bad luck into a “poker face” demonstration.

With a marked deck, you always know when to fold ‘em!

Secret Deals, Quad Cuts, and Discards

The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. Since there isn’t a code to decipher, you know the value of the cards quickly in the course of a deal or spread.

After the spectator shuffles the deck, spy the bottom card. Begin your deal, five cards to each person, and if you see a card you want on the spectator’s turn, deal a second or a bottom so that you get the desired card (remember, even a two is a good card if you already have one). An easy-to-read deck means you can make fast decisions.

TIP: Nervous about special deals? As you deal the spectator’s last card, say, “Go ahead and look at your cards,” then special deal to your pile while the audience is preoccupied. And if you are spotted in a secret deal, make it part of the show.

Another technique. After the shuffle, cut the cards into four separate packs—the illusion of a more complete cut—and then gather the piles in an order suitable to stack the first card. To spy the second card of that pack, fumble and let the top card slide to the side enough to see the mark.

Once a hand is over, gather the discards in order to setup the next round.

Black Jack is a Breeze

Twenty-One is a fun way to involve more than one audience member without confusing the group. The rules of Black Jack are simple and can be explained in a few minutes.

Gather up the cards from a previous demonstration or spread through the deck. Cull four cards of “ten value” to the top and an ace to the bottom (this example is easiest, but the best setup is an Ace third down from the top and a ten-value on the bottom).

False shuffle and deal to three spectators and to yourself. Deal the second round off the top to your opponents and a bottom to your hand. This is a good way to open with a win or a tie, so that you can continue with a demonstration of betting strategy if you do not get good cards on fair deals.

The ideas above are a Pandora’s Box. Once you perform a brief demo, you will see immediately how to segue into another routine invented on the fly. Excellent in social settings, a bar environment, or part of your regular show.

Familiarize yourself with gambling terms and concepts, so that you can talk about the subject in a believable way—educate and entertain. With a marked deck, you can demonstrate skills you do not genuinely have while enhancing the skills you do possess.

Want to bypass checkout? Purchase a Ted Lesley Marked Deck direct through PayPal for only $19.95!
Domestic Orders: 
International Orders: 

Something More Convenient than Mentalism…


Magicians are drawn to mentalism for two key reasons... First, a great deal of the material can be performed impromptu or with very little setup. Second, mentalism is scalable from an intimate one-on-one setting with a single spectator to a powerful … [Continue reading]

Five Steps to Corporate Gigs

The most successful corporate magicians have corporate knowledge, or at least a corporate attitude. They are performers with experience speaking with and to business owners, merchants, and fellow entrepreneurs. Don't worry if that doesn't describe … [Continue reading]

Keep it Simple Sands

Sands of the Desert sales increase dramatically this time of year. Magicians who perform Sands of the Desert regularly tend to refresh their supply right before the onslaught of summer festivals and stage/parlor opportunities. Those magicians are … [Continue reading]

A Secret that Fools Magicians…

Yin-Yang Red & Blue Sheen Daub. The perfect amount of red and blue daub, side-by-side, Yin-Yang style.

When I perform for magicians, I fool them best with one "gimmick" above all others. There is this one little secret—though extremely famous and well known—that flies right by seasoned magicians. I think they just don't expect it. And it's not only … [Continue reading]

Best Kept Secrets Four – Wand Scrolls!


Here is this week's Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Magic Wand Scrolls, Suit Up, and the new Cybergician magic chat! (click here to watch the video on YouTube) Covered in this week's vlog: Suit Up - The Corporate Card … [Continue reading]

The Magic Chat is BACK!

Chat with magicians from all over the world. Visit

For years, I sponsored the world's largest magic chat. It ran for years and it had nearly 1000 members at its peak. Now, THE CHAT IS BACK! I have helped start a brand new online magic community called, "Cybergician." There are some big things … [Continue reading]

Best Kept Secrets Three: Mental Marker!


Here is this week's Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Mental Marker! (click HERE to watch this video directly on the YouTube website) Covered in this week's vlog: Secret Powers: A Principle for Better Magic Impromptu Magic … [Continue reading]

Secret Powers: A Principle for Better Magic

From a very early age, we learn what secrets are, but we have an uncontrollable urge to share them with others. (photo by Clara Rico)

Think about the last time a friend entrusted you with a secret. Remember how it felt? You possessed exclusive information. Knowledge given to only a select few. And good or bad, a secret is a powerful thing. If the secret concerned another person, … [Continue reading]

Best Kept Secrets TWO: The $100 Billet Catch!

Aaron Smith's $100 Billet Catch is the easy way for closeup magicians to perform on stage. The perfect addition to any Commando Act.

Here is this week's Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring The $100 Billet Catch! Click HERE to watch this video directly on YouTube. Here's what is covered in this week's Best Kept Secrets video: Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos … [Continue reading]

Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos Magical

Neil Patrick Harris always strikes a nice pose. You can see in this photo all of the tips outlined in Picture Perfect.

For decades, magicians have used pictures of themselves to entice potential clients to book their show. The final selection—the best photo out of a hundred professional studio stills—would appear on the magician's business card, flier, brochure, and … [Continue reading]

Best Kept Secrets Video Edition!


Here is this week's Best Kept Secrets video blog... … [Continue reading]

Jeff McBride: Magic Come to Life (interview)

Jeff McBride with one of his iconic masks.

Have you ever watched Jeff McBride walk into a room at a convention or lecture? The crowd stops what they are doing and everyone turns in his direction. The air shifts. The phrase, "That's Jeff McBride," echoes from wall to wall. There are very … [Continue reading]

Can you dribble and fan your PK Deck? (Demo Video)

Can you dribble, fan, and spring your PK Deck? You can with the PK Deck Slimline! This amazing PK Deck features a tiny secret that plays big. Use it for all the PK Deck effects you perform now, or create new tricks you thought were … [Continue reading]

Join Me on Twitter…

Join me on Twitter. My username is @magicdepot

I am a huge fan of Twitter. It is a window into the amazing lives of my magician friends, worldwide. At times, we all come together to talk about one subject. Other times, we are splintered, each discussing our own unique experiences. Please, join … [Continue reading]

On the Shoulders of Giants…

Howard Thurston by Aaron Smith

After announcing my drawing of Howard Thurston last year, I had several magicians asking for prints. High quality prints will be available down the line, but in the meantime, I thought of a fun way to share the great magician with my friends here at … [Continue reading]

Count Deckula Claws Out from the Underground!


The newest addition to the Pro-Magic Wand Scroll series is Count Deckula. I like to say it's Hamman's Signed Card, REVAMPED! His famous trick has always been one of my favorite plots, and now this version has my attention because of the pop-culture … [Continue reading]

Open Sesame: Magic Castle Performance Review


The release of my Old World Siberian Chain Escape met with tremendous success. I am very thankful for the support I get from the magic community—humbled by the response. But it is a double-edged sword. I make each Escape by hand with … [Continue reading]

Sands of the Desert Buyer’s Guide!

I am a little biased when it comes to Sands of the Desert. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest magic tricks ever invented. It isn't my trick—it isn't anyone's trick—it belongs to the community as a whole. It may have been invented by magicians … [Continue reading]

Best Kept Secrets…

The purpose of Best Kept Secrets is to provide new magicians with a firm understanding of the magic community and magic products that will help them develop advanced skills. Best Kept Secrets is also a platform where I announce my new product … [Continue reading]