Are you a palmaholic?

"Hi, my name is Geoff and I'm a palmaholic."

"Hi Geoff!"

Good, now that we have that out of the way...

We've all seen the classic magician headshot pose where he's got the card palmed and you're in on the secret:

Harlow magician Andy Clockwise has a secret that he can't keep quiet.

It's annoyingly cliché at this point - but when you see it, don't you want to do it too? No? Just me then? Maybe just to do it better than this photo at least because the gap (or "window") between the 3rd and 4th finger is cringeworthy!

When I was a kid just getting into magic, I really don't remember doing anything with palming. I recall reading about the different palms like classic palm and gambler's cop - but "my hands were too small." Getting back into card magic in my 30's, my hands were no longer too small! Now, they were perfect! Or, they are perfect. Far from perfect, but perfect for palming. We'll get there eventually.

Palming as a hobby

What's your favorite thing to do with cards, other than perform a trick for someone? For me, it's palming. Yeah, color changes are neat and passes are fun to practice. Flourishes are stupid (and yet I keep playing the "pick up all the cards from the floor game" so whatever). But no, palming is where it's at.

I even have a favorite -- the lateral palm. I swear I practice lateral palming daily, even if it's not in my list of things to practice. It just happens. If there's a card in my hand, the bastard ends up in a lateral palm. I do it with my middle finger, ring finger, the gaps between fingers, even my pinky. I lateral palm groups of cards, separate cards between multiple fingers, I even practice holding my hand in palm position without a card!

But holding a card in palm position is only one thing. I also routinely practice moving the card between positions. Try it yourself and you'll find that certain positions are very easy to transition to from others, and some are downright hard. Lateral Palm to Tenkai, easy. Tenkai to Gambler's Cop, also easy. Classic Palm to Back Palm, it flows! Back Palm to Lateral Palm, actually not too hard! Classic Palm to Gambler's Cop -- ouch, now we're getting hard. Ah, but then if we take a step back and think about some of the ones I mentioned are "easy", they're actually easy if you move all of your fingers like wrestling snakes. Doing any of them with minimal movement, or while seated at a table, much harder!

Oh, but wait, we didn't even talk about getting the card into palm position to begin with -- or replacing it back into the deck! Jeez, yeah. These topics are different per palm, and honestly per routine you're doing them in so I definitely can't do them justice by skimming over them here and now. But I'll definitely do a feature on a specific palm or two in the future. I can talk about one or two of my favorite ideas though.

Palming in Routines

Lennart Green's Snap/Laser Deal - need I say more? Whenever I have thought of palming, it's always been to secretly take a card from the deck and hide it (more or less) and then return it at a later time. A common thing I've done is to Classic or Top Palm the top card (the spectator's selection) and let the spectator shuffle the deck and then replace their card when getting the deck back. Yeah, that's the first thing that pops into my head when I think of palming in a routine. But Lennart Green, the man opened my eyes to the wide world of palming possibilities!

We're no longer bound to using this utility move as a side action. No, now we can leverage it as the star of the show. Cards can magically disappear as they're dealt to the table, one after another. Or, they can magically change into completely other cards as they're laid down -- or, even crazier, into coins! Ahhh, the magic!

But wait, there's more! Have you seen what Ryan Plunkett does with a Back Palm? That's right - nothing! Because you don't see him do it, it's friggin hiding under a hanky. It's a subtle move in a classic Card through Handkerchief routine, added to help reinforce the idea that the card isn't in the magician's hand. Yes, you heard right... he's palming a card in his hand to help prove the image that there isn't a card in his hand! Ahhh, the magic x2!

Both of these ideas have something in common, something that is not common for palming cards: they're inviting the spectator to look at the hand that's palming the card(s). In fact, it's a necessity. Talk about my mind being blown!

Thinking about it a little more, that fancy "hand washing" flourish where you keep showing your hands being empty and then poof, the card appears is the same thing I guess. I love that effect too though, so maybe I just have a type...


Now what would a post about palming be if I didn't lay down a few of my favorite references?

As per usual, I can only really recommend things that I own and/or have read (or watched). Palming, whether the sleight itself or routines that utilize it, isn't typically something that's the direct focus of many works. Normally, it's a small piece within a larger volume but sometimes there are works dedicated to it entirely -- those are always pretty neat.



  • EATCT2 - John Galsworthy
  • Classic Green Collection
  • A Study on Lennart Green
  • EATCT2 - Jeremy Griffith
  • Synchronicity - Chris Ramsay

To rehash what I stated above, some of these books & videos aren't focused directly on palming but they contain one or two pieces that have an emphasis on it. Hopefully you find them and enjoy them too!

Also, I feel like I'm missing a lot of references that should be here. I have stacks of books, but unfortunately I can't recall which ones (other than the ones listed above) had good info on palming -- because I recently flipped through the ones above. As I go back through them, I'll update here :)

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