I’m often reminded of someone I knew in college that performed ambitious card and triumph back to back. We were part of our school’s magic club and often perform at events for visiting alumns, ranging from young parents to elders. He’d start with ambitious card and would always ask “does anyone know what ambitious means?” It was always met with silence, and he’d just stand there and wait until someone answered. Eventually someone would slowly raise their hand and he would call on them to answer. And then he’d go “well, let me show you how a card can be ambitious…” and go into a very typical routine. And then when he’s done, he’d go “does anyone know what triumphant means?” And wait AGAIN for someone to raise their hand… then “well… let me show you how a card can be triumphant…” Ah, good stuff.

Anyways, here’s a neat and simple ambitious card type routine that doesn’t involve you asking if anyone knows what ambitious means. The premise is that cards will always end up back where it is suppose to be so it doesn’t matter if you shuffle or not. The method is simple so I’ll just break down into steps.

  1. Do a quick overhand shuffle then cut 1/4 of deck onto a table. Any table…

  2. Execute double, bury x-card, reveal it’s back on top

  3. Quick overhand shuffle

  4. Cut off a third onto the packet on the table, then repeat step 2 and go to step 5

  5. Quick overhand shuffle

  6. Cut about half of the remaining cards onto the table

  7. Execute double, but place x-card on top of the tabled pack at a slight angle

  8. Execute a double - doesn’t work - turn the double back over, square up the x-card on top of the tabled deck, turn over single top card to reveal it now works.

  9. Take tabled packet and place on top of packet in your hand.

  10. Execute double, place x-card protruding half way down from the back of the deck, hand them the deck, have them push the card in, they can reveal top card.

BONUS: if you have a dupe, start with the two dupes on the bottom, and secretly keep the two cards at the bottom in overhand shuffles. Change step 5 to: shuffle the two dupes to the top. Then add step 11- they can do it again themselves. Have them bury the revealed card into the middle because the dupe is on top.

BONUS #2: here’s the coolest version. Idea came from Tatanka. They don’t get to participate at the end, but the ending is more aligned with the “shuffling doesn’t matter, cards will always be where they’re suppose to be” presentation. A bit more prep and set up is required, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.

  • Deck stacked in new deck order except Jack of diamonds.

  • Short Jack of diamonds corner- I prefer bottom right corner.

  • Pencil dot the back of the Queen of diamonds in the top left corner.

  • Jack of diamonds starts in between 3 and 4 of clubs.

  • All overhand shuffles are false. I recommend Ben Earl‘s optical false shuffle.

The procedure remains almost identical.

  1. False overhand shuffle

  2. Riffle up on the bottom right corner until you feel the short, cut cards above the corner short card (JD) onto the table closer to your left side.

  3. Execute double to show x-card, take JD, riffle down with left thumb until you see the pencil dot, go one card past, insert JD and push in flush, reveal x-card is back on top.

  4. False overhand shuffle

  5. Riffle up the bottom right corner for JD, cut cards above it onto the table- to the right of the first packet.

  6. Execute double to show x-card, take JD and insert it half way down, reveal x-card is back on top.

  7. False overhand shuffle

  8. Riffle up to JD, cut cards above it onto the table- to the right of the second packet.

  9. Execute double to show x-card, take JD and place it on top of the third packet at a slight angle. This puts JD back in order.

  10. Execute double to show wrong card. Square up JD. Turn over single top card to show it’s now back.

  11. Place packet down to the right of the third packet. Turn all all packets face up noting that the “random” cards at the faces are all where they’re suppose to be.

  12. Spread each packet starting left most one at a time to show that the cards are back in new deck order.

So, all three follow the same procedure. The fun thing about bonus #2 is that it takes very little to prepare. So if you have access to a pencil and a pair of scissors or nail cutter, then you can quickly prep a friend’s deck secretly. They’ll never even know to look for the short corner and pencil dot, and you’ll always have that every time you go to their place.