From Penn & Teller's MasterClass

Cups and Balls

Once you’ve mastered the French drop, you can expand upon that method to develop a routine with cups and balls. Penn & Teller demonstrate a few of the countless variations you can do with cups and balls.

Topics include: Cups and Balls


Once you’ve mastered the French drop, you can expand upon that method to develop a routine with cups and balls. Penn & Teller demonstrate a few of the countless variations you can do with cups and balls.

Topics include: Cups and Balls

Penn & Teller

Teach the Art of Magic

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - When you have the friends drop, you can bend down, and you have to put it into some sort of routine like a cup and ball thing. - I mean, you asked a very good question earlier when you said, once it's gone, won't they ask, won't they ask where it went? And the answer in this case might be that it goes boom from here to there. - OK, what? - We are using a venerable magic method called a duplicate. And we're going to give you all duplicate balls so that you can each learn to do this. And we're going to combine that with what in magic is called a load, which is almost a self-explanatory term. It's the movement where you sneak a ball underneath a cup. And in this case, this is a very simple operation. Hold the ball. You're going to hold the ball like this just in your little finger like that, and then you're going to take the cup, and just place it on the table, and let the ball sit underneath it. Really nothing to it. You just-- you take the cup, and you said set it down right over the ball. It's good to have instead of having the ball in the outside, have the ball right underneath there. - So that's like this? - That's right. Exactly. So when you set the cup down, it's the most natural thing in the world to set it down. And of course, you could do that long before the audience expects the ball to appear. They think there's only one ball in play. So here we are again. When I did that for you the first time, I just sort of waved this cup around as if, you know, as if I was not interested in it. I did my load low very quietly there. And now, you go back, and you do your your, your French drop vanish once again using your wand. Yeah. Yeah, that's right. So we take it. We put it in our hand supposedly. We tap the magic wand there. Boom. That's-- and we tap there, and there's the ball. Now, we're in a very interesting position here because watch what happens. Here's where I've been left. I've been left with this ball is here, right? So if I go this way, boom, and it goes there, and I lift it up, I can show this ball and secretly load this at the time. So it becomes a little-- so it has a little slightly cascade effect to it. So there it is. Watch how that sequence might work. You go here. Bang. There. And oh my goodness, there's the ball. Well, let's do that again. Boom, boom, boom. There's the ball again. [LAUGHTER] And you can do this until you're blue in the face. Or at that point, you could take this ball and say, well, I'm just going to put the balls away now. Oh my goodness, it's back again. Oh my goodness. [LAUGHTER] What's interesting about this is that each, each, each magical surprise is covering the next move, right? When the ball, the ball first appears, first appears under the cup, it just appeared in the-- oh, people are surprised by that. That gives you the psychological cover to quietly set the cup down. Quietly setting the cup down. They don't think anything else i...

Open your mind with magic

With more than 40 years performing together, Penn & Teller have sold out shows around the world, earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and created the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas. Now the legendary magicians are taking you behind the curtain. Learn fundamental magic tricks and the psychological tools that create amazement, at home or on stage. Expand your perception of the possible.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Penn and Teller are really good teachers. I've really enjoyed their lessons. And they have taught me some pretty cool magic tricks

Very good but could have used more magic content

Would like to know the Cell Fish trick. Good entertainment.

It wouldn’t matter their craft, I appreciate how genuine and invested Penn & Teller are in their interactions w/ others—their talent in magic is bonus



PENN AND TELLER CONTEST!! Win two tickets to see P&T live. Enter a video of you performing a Penn and Teller-inspired magic trick into the Community thread:

Christopher B.

Teller is a wonderful and natural teacher. Funny to hear him speak but he's really effective.

Christopher B.

Loved it but cannot download the PDF. Getting AccessDenied from Amazon S3 bucket.

David R.

I've literally always wanted to learn this, if not for performing then for fun with friends and family or for myself. I've never had any real reason to learn the French Drop though, so this is nice.

Kevin N.

This is so cool! I don’t gamble, but I enjoy going to Vegas for the shows. I loved how they stymied me, then revealed it, then taught it. Looking forward to the next sections.

Rich C.

I was worried that this was too quick of a jump from the previous lesson but I was wrong. It's perfect. And what a sense of accomplishment when it begins to come together.

Little Gray Face

Nice demo with killer break-down of the elements of the trick. Excellent refresher on the definition of "pandering" appears at the end. ;)


Beautifully explained and executed. You got me with the finale! haha. Thanks. I have been a huge fan and practitioner of magic for over 30 years, putting things on my own into the game and trying to make it mellifluous to the eye. The length and complexity of the lessons is enough for the ones who really want to learn. Going back to the basics in my case, it is always great. Thanks I will keep going.

Margaret M.

I made my tinfoil ball appear under a cup for my sister, after showing her there was nothing there. She was totally baffled--like a pug whose biscuit has just disappeared. I asked her if it looked like magic and she said, YES! (I realize this comment makes us sound like kids--we're in our 50s.)

Stijn H.

This particular lesson was nothing new to me, but I still enjoyed it. Too many people who teach magic forget the important details. How does the actual real move feel? Only then can you do a convincing fake. Follow the supposed movement of the ball with your eyes, it's a natural thing to do and it is a psychological cue for the audience to do the same. Also, use the surprise to do the load. All those details are what make the French Drop work in an actual magic routine. Thanks Penn, Thanks Teller. Keep it up! (For those who don't know. Listen to what Teller says, because when he talks, it's usually worth listening to.)