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Created: 11/17/2018
Updated: 01/23/2022

Story Deck Effects

by Chris Wasshuber

A 'story deck effect' is an entertaining story of some kind which is told with the help of a deck of cards (full deck or partial deck). At certain moments in the story the performer displays a card or a set of cards to illustrate or 'play out' the story.

Probably the most famous story deck effect is Sam the Bellhop as performed by Bill Malone. Bill Malone has to be credited for adding false shuffles and cuts to the performance turning good entertainment into a stunning and amazing signature piece. But this is not the first nor will it be the last story deck effect published.

Here is a list of various story deck effects ordered alphabetical by title of story. For some we do not know where they have been first published. If you know where these have been published or if you know of other story tricks please enlighten me.

  1. "A Chip and a Chair" by Scott Grossberg.
  2. "A Detective Story" in Online-Visions by Al D’Alfonso.
  3. "A Fish Story" in New Tops Vol. 4, No. 12, p. 48, by Herb Runge.
  4. "A Night at the Improv." By Eric Mead in Paul Harris triple issue of Magical Arts Journal as the final of "The Act".
  5. "A Play on Hearts" in Linking Ring, Vol. 4, No. 6, p. 109, by Charles A. Leedy.
  6. "A Story and A Deck of Cards" in Genii, Vol. 1, No. 8, p. 6, by Robert Nellar.
  7. "After Hours" in Constant Fooling vol. 2 by David Regal.
  8. "An Englishman in New York" in Dobson's Choice by Wayne Dobson.
  9. "Apologies to Dickens" by Ron Giesecke. The Ganson Book by Lewis Ganson
  10. "Clever Dick" in The Ganson Book, p. 108, by Lewis Ganson.
  11. "Dental Surgery" in IBM convention note Little Rock from 1999 by Doc Dixon.
  12. "Diamond Jack" in Tricks of the Imagination by Robert Neale and Eugene Burger, Tops, Vol. 20, No. 11, p. 7.
  13. "First Story" and "Second Story" in Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz (each one is a half deck story).
  14. "Hopping Henry" by Tim Sutton in The Magic Circular, January 2009, p. 8-9.
  15. "Jack Goes To Town" in Scarne on Card Tricks by John Scarne.
  16. "Jack Hart in the Army" in Tops Vol. 5, No. 4, p. 32, by Monte Harris.
  17. "Joe the Bartender" by Ed Watkins.
  18. "Love Conquers All" in Jinx, No. 109, p. 650, by Jack Vosburgh.
  19. "Monty the Spiv" in Gen 1964 by Fred Lowe.
  20. "Risen" by Michael Paul.
  21. "Saga of Sam the Bellhop" by Frank Everhart.
  22. "Sam and Moe" in The Last Word on Cards by Rufus Steel.
  23. "Sam the Call Girl" by Whiskey Fletcher.
  24. "Sermon with a Deck of Cards" in Linking Ring, Vol. 28, No. 10, p. 72 by Roy Wallace. Scarne on Card Tricks by John Scarne
  25. "Silas and the Slickers" in More Card Manipulations p. 74, by Elmer Applegit and Jean Hugard.
  26. "The Adventures of Diamond Jack" in Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Jean Hugard; probably pirated from Herman L. Weber (ad April 1926 in The Sphinx)
  27. "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" in Twenty Five Tricks and Ideas (item 25) by U.F. Grant (partial deck and giant cards).
  28. There and Back Again by Kent Gunn (Also gives good advice on how to create your own story.)
  29. "Who Killed Lilly Longlegs?" in Son of Simon Says by Simon Lovell.
  30. "Why Dan McGrew Was Shot" by Frank Lane.
  31. "Wide Boy" in Ken Brook's Magic Place p. 288 by Anthony Brahams.