The Knowing by Mike Powers Review

A magician fooling version of the 21 card trick? Sounds a little far-fetched but with The Knowing, Mike Powers certainly pulls it off.

I doubt there is a magician out there who hasn't at some point had a non-magician announce that they know a trick and insist on performing it. 99.999% of the time it turns out to be the 21 card trick. To be honest, I really don't mind, it shows they are interested and wanting to get involved (and usually it's better than a hack magician doing the same old tired version of ACR that every other hack magician does). The way I plan to use The Knowing is to perform it after I'm shown the 21 card trick by a punter. It's always fun to mirror something back but also change it beyond possibility.

This trick could happily be performed to fellow magicians, and it will almost certainly fool them, but although that can be fun, I really don't think that's where the power of this little routine lies. It's the knowledge of how the 21 card trick that the layman has that makes this such a powerful piece.

So What Happens?

The Deck is shuffled, 21 cards are taken and separated into three piles (the spec can do this separation), The spec then picks up any pile (the performer can have their back turned while this and the next few steps happen). The spec shuffles their selected pile, then looks at (and remembers) the top card when they are happy they are mixed well enough. The spec then cuts a number of cards from either remaining pile and adds it to the top of their pile. Then then bury the stack in the middle of the remaining pile, shuffle the remaining cards from the pile they just took some off and drop that on top. The performer then starts to deal as in the standard 21 card trick, but one single card is dealt face up, that card is impossibly the selected card.

How Is It Possible?

That's an excellent question. The method behind this is VERY clever and something that's next to impossible to backtrack. There is a mathematical element to it, but it isn't brain melting equations that need to be memorised or anything, it's simple enough for practically anybody to do. I normally really dislike mathematics in magic performance (I'm not sure if that's because I'm a PhD mathematician, or in spite of it that makes me dislike them), but this doesn't seem to have a mathematical component, so nobody needs to worry about that. By the way, mathematics is only part of the method, so I'm not revealing how The Knowing works by mentioning this.

What's Needed?

Some ‘special' cards are required, but they aren't so special they can't be kept in your deck and used normally, in fact depending on what other effects you like to do, these prepared cards may actually help with you normal magic set, and you may even already have them living in your EDC deck. In the short while I've been playing with The Knowing, I've worked out a way to ‘prepare' the needed cards on the fly from a borrowed shuffled deck in use, but if you are using your own deck, just do the prep in advance and forget about it.

The prepared cards need to be in specific positions, so you'll need to either start off with The Knowing or position them as needed after doing other effects, but as I have recently reviewed both Cullfather and Mastering the Spread Cull, you should all be up to speed on how to cull cards.


The main routine is the one shown in the trailer, but there is also a Jason Ladanye idea that converts the method to fit a gambling demonstration presentation, so if that fits your style better, you may want to use that version rather than the main one.

Will I use it?

Yes, the main routine is not going to be part of any of my paid sets, but I will keep the prepared cards in the deck for when (not if) I'm shown the 21 card trick by a spec. I've never gone in for gambling demonstrations as they don't really fit my performance style, but I have noticed I am getting asked about them more frequently recently. If I do decide to put together a gambling set, the second presentation will without doubt be included in it.

Final thoughts

The Knowing is currently being sold for less than ten dollars on Penguin, so you'd be daft to not have a look. Even if it isn't something you are going to use every day, it's a splendid piece of magic for when you do want to perform it. I would still recommend it at three times the price. At what it's at now, it's a total steal. 21 out of 21. Go buy it right now.

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