Music & Entertainment

Easy Card Tricks: How to Do Penn & Teller’s Whispering Queen Card Trick In 8 Steps

Written by MasterClass

May 23, 2019 • 5 min read

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Card tricks are the most popular form of magic tricks, and for good reason. A deck of cards is cheap and easy to find, and the number of cool card tricks you can do with playing cards far exceeds all other tricks combined. Card effects vary greatly, from mathematical puzzles and highly visual eye candy to intellectually subtle mysteries.

If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of easy card tricks you can do, such as:

  • The Circus Card Trick
  • Card to Impossible Location
  • The Four Appearing Aces
  • Pick a Card, Any Card
  • The Rising Card
  • Card Levitation
  • The Floating Card
  • The Magnetic Hand
  • The Spelling Card
  • The Reversed Card
  • The Best of Fives
  • Do As I Do
  • The Mind Read and Prediction

Once you master your first magic card trick, there are far more advanced card magic illusions you can perform using complicated sleight of hand to blow people’s minds.

For now, build your arsenal of magic card tricks with this step-by-step tutorial on how to perform Penn & Teller’s Whispering Queen.

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What Is the Whispering Queen?

The Whispering Queen is a card trick where you force a card on a spectator, making them select the card you want them to while making them think they had a free choice.

  • You instruct the spectator select a Queen, which you remove from the deck and set aside. The spectator cuts the deck of cards into three packets, memorizing the top card of one packet. They then reassemble and shuffle the deck. You take the isolated Queen and run the card through the deck. In the end, the Queen “whispers” the chosen card’s identity to you. She is never wrong.
  • This “find a card” routine, where an audience member selects a card that the magician knows the position of, is also called the Lazy Man’s Card Trick. Magician Harry Lorayne popularized the effect when he published it in his book Close-Up Card Magic (1962).

How to Perform Penn & Teller’s Whispering Queen Card Trick in 8 Steps

The only things you need to pull off this trick are a deck of cards and some practice. Pay attention to the wording of particular lines here to maximize the effectiveness of the deceit.

  • Step 1: Establish the Whispering Queen. Have an audience member shuffle the deck. A common riffle shuffle or any other kind works. When they’re finished, take the deck back and say, “This trick is called ‘The Whispering Queen.’ Which of the four Queens should we use to be the Whispering Queen?” Note their choice. To help illustrate, let’s assume the spectator says the Queen of Hearts.
  • Step 2: Perform a peek. Pick up the deck with the faces toward you, and run through the cards, looking for the named Queen (Hearts, in our example). While you are looking through the cards, take the opportunity to look at the top card of the face-down deck, which is the bottom card of the face-up pack. (Secretly looking at and noticing a card like this is a “peek” and it’s a vital part of the set-up.) Let’s say the Four of Diamonds is at the top of the deck when it’s face-down. Remember the card you spied.
  • Step 3: Isolate the Whispering Queen. Find and remove the Queen of Hearts. Say, “We don’t want her to see what we are doing, so I will put her face-down and cover her.” Place the Queen face-down onto the table and put the card box on top of her.
  • Step 4: Cut the deck into thirds. Set the deck face-down onto the table a little bit to your left. Ask the spectator to cut off about one-third of the deck and place the cut-off packet to the right of the deck. Ask them to cut off another third, and to place it to the right of the first two packets.
  • Step 5: Force the middle packet. Use “Magician’s Choice” to force the middle packet, which has the card you peeked, the Four of Diamonds, on top. (Magician’s Choice is a verbal technique where you offer the illusion of a free choice, but in reality, your structure all the procedures in a way that all of the spectator’s choices will end up with the same result. It’s a very powerful technique, and it is used a lot in magic.) Say, “Point to one of the packets.” For the Magician’s Choice to work, do not say, “pick” or “choose” a packet. Say, “touch” or “point to” a packet. If the spectator points to the middle packet, which happens most of the time, say, “I’m going to turn around. Take a look at the top card of that packet, and show it to everyone.” If the spectator points to either of the side packets say, “We’ll eliminate that packet.” Set it aside. Ask the spectator to place an index finger on each of the remaining packets. Say, “Lift up one of your fingers.” If they lift the finger from the non-force packet, set it aside with the first packet. Ask them to look at the top card of the remaining packet, which they have their finger on. If they lift their hand from the force packet say, “Okay, I’ll turn around. Look at the top card of that packet.” Take the other packet and put it with the first discarded packet. No matter what choices the spectator makes, they will end up remembering the force card. (Practice your responses to all possible choices so you instruct the spectator quickly and naturally and it doesn’t seem like you’re making adjustments depending on their choices.)
  • Step 6: Reassemble and shuffle the deck. Ask the spectator to return the card to its packet, reassemble the entire deck, and shuffle the cards. When they’re done, set the deck onto the table. (All of this is time misdirection. These actions dilute the memory of the selection procedure, so the audience only remembers the spectator picked a card and doesn’t suspect your forced the card. The revelation is much more likely to surprise the audience, which will have trouble backtracking to reconstruct the selection procedure.)
  • Step 7: Listen to the Queen whisper. Pick up the Queen of Hearts and hold it face up in your right hand. With your left hand, lift up about half the deck and pass the Queen between the halves. Hold the Queen up to your ear and pretend to listen to her whispering to you.
  • Step 8: Reveal the forced card. Reveal the identity of the selected card a little bit at a time. Be as theatrical as you want. For example, if the force card was the Four of Diamonds, say, “She says you picked a red card. It’s a Diamond. Is that correct? It’s the Four of Diamonds! Is she right? She never misses.” And just like that, you’ve performed one of the best card tricks in the game.

Learn more magic tricks and performing techniques in Penn & Teller’s MasterClass.