How To Learn Close-Up Magic Like Ant-Man — No House Arrest Needed

Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios

Being under house arrest can grow quite boring, so it's important to develop some hobbies while you're restricted from leaving you're home. That's exactly what Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, did while he was under house arrest for two years following the events of Captain America: Civil War. His hobby of choice was close-up magic, and Scott's new skills as a magician become a running gag throughout the new film Ant-Man & the Wasp. And here's the good news: You don't have to be under house arrest to become a magician, so here's how to learn close-up magic.

If you've ever seen one of David Blaine's old Street Magic specials from before he starting freezing and electrocuting himself, then you're already familiar with close-up magic. These are magic tricks that are meant to be performed up close, as opposed to on a stage. So instead of stage magic illusions like sawing someone in half, pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or making the Statue of Liberty disappear, the most common forms of close-up magic are card tricks and coin tricks. There are a few other tools of the trade as well, including the good ol' cups and balls routine. The main difference between close-up and stage magic, other than their proximity to the audience, is the type of skill involved. Stage magic often relies on props and special effects, whereas close-up magic practitioners must be skilled in the art of sleight of hand.


Sleight of hand basically refers to how quick and dextrous your hands are when manipulating playing cards or whatever else it is you're using to perform your tricks. It's a skill you have to learn, and it definitely takes time and practice before you actually get good at it. But learning it is easier than ever, since this is 2018 and the internet is full of videos instructing you on how to perfect your sleight of hand. One of the first skills you'll want to learn first if you're interested in performing close-up magic is the palm. Palming is just what it sounds like; holding a card or coin in the palm of your hand. The idea is to get to the point where you can hide something in the palm of your hand without your audience noticing. Here's a video by eHow showing how to do it with a coin.

eHow on YouTube

Look at that! You've already learned your first close-up magic trick! Another good basic skill to learn that's a little more difficult is the double lift. This is one of the most important skills to master if you're going to be that person at the bar who wows everyone with a card trick, and with some practice it's not too difficult — though it does take some time to pull it off consistently. The double lift is when you look as if you're flipping the first card off the top of the deck, when actually you're flipping over two cards. Here's how Howcast explains it.

Howcast on YouTube

A third core technique is forcing a card. This is when you force your audience member to choose the card you want them to choose so you can wow them later by knowing what it is. And while it may seem like real magic, you won't need any training at Hogwarts to do it. There are a ton of ways to force a card, but this method from YouTube user Hester23BearsCH is one of the easiest.

Hester23BearsCH on YouTube

You'll need to practice all of these methods a lot. Use a mirror, go slowly, and do them for several minutes each day. You'll then have a nice little foundation where you can start learning some basic card and coin tricks, and before you know it, you'll be just as good of a magician as Ant-Man!