The Card Trick That Changed My Life

Greetings friends,

I’m sitting here in Vegas this week, thinking back on all the events that led me to this point in my life.

I have been reflecting on the timeless question, “How did I get here?”

After much contemplation, I realized that it was one moment in time… (drum roll please!)

The card trick that changed my life!

The fact is, that there REALLY was a card trick that changed my life. Let me tell you about it, and why it matters!

The answer is that “I picked a card!” That is correct my friends, I was 6 years old and saw a card trick and it changed my life!

There were 2 little girls named Linda and Susan. They were 6 years old too, and also identical twins (to me at least). I remember them showing me a card trick…. I picked a card, and what happened next changed my life forever!

My magic career started with just ONE card trick. 

From that ONE card trick I built a life, career, home, and many fulfilling relationships.

All it takes is ONE thing, one moment, ONE step to change your life!

For me, the step was picking just ONE card!
For YOU it might be….

Just ONE step. 

The following suggestions, if you TAKE ACTION will change your life!

After you have taken that ONE step… here are 10 more things you can do that will take NO talent–just commitment!

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
-William Ward

That’s what we do at the McBride Magic & Mystery School—inspire you to become the best magician to which you aspire. We love to teach people of all ages, but have a special spot in our hearts for the youth.
Just look at this great photo of AGT winner Mat Franco. He started with us when he was 12 years old and is now a millionaire with his own show on the Las Vegas Strip!  I had the pleasure of having coffee this week with Mat and catching up. This photo is a classic “now and then” shot!

Many great magicians’ passion for the art gets started at a young age. Now it’s our turn to give back to the next generation of magic.

The Lance Burton Teen Seminar

While most of our educational activity takes place at our Las Vegas location, we also teach at the Lance Burton Teen Seminar (LBTS), which precedes the annual I.B.M. Convention. This year, the LBTS will be held from the evening of Monday, July 8 through noon on Wednesday, July 10 at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, just prior to the I.B.M. Convention.

The seminar is free to all teenage youth.

Daily follow-up sessions will also be held. Lance Burton and Larry Hass will join me as core faculty, as well as guest presentations from select convention performers. The Seminar is free to all teenage youth. Registration details exist at Partial travel scholarships are available. Shin Lim attended the Seminar a few years ago, and look at him now! If you’re a teenager, do join us for what can be a life-changing experience. I’ll save a seat for you.

Mystery School Student of the Month


In the last 2 years, Jad created a sensation by winning 10 major awards at many magic competitions in Europe.

Jeff: Why do you compete Jad?

JAD: Paradoxically, I’m not going to get into the glorifying aspect of winning awards in Magic. Being in a magic competition is one of the most difficult challenges for a magician. There is no time to set the stage, no time to rehearse, no time to set proper lights, no space to keep my stuff safe, and, the cherry on top, everybody in the room knows something about magic, and some people are even going to judge my work.  Usually in this configuration a magician is exposed to the worst and it seems normal that some of these conditions can guide the magician to make mistakes. And I’ve made many… 

I have made mistakes that I have never forgotten, mistakes that I have overcome, and mistakes that made me become a better performer. 

Eugene Burger said, “Sometimes, the greatest gift of all is failure… and that’s what it’s all about!”

JAD says, “For me, every competition was a new challenge. I had a new goal every time. Over the years it has become a pleasure for me to be on stage sharing my work with my peers, taking their advice and thinking differently. I have found that by being visionary in my approach, I have been able to overcome the unexpected traps of a competition. I think that to be successful in magic, the most important thing is to be prepared, and entering a magic competition is one of the best ways to learn how to be prepared.”

Bravo, Jad for becoming our Mystery School “Student of the Month!”  See JAD soon at WONDERGROUND!

Wonderground News
all info at
April 18, 2019

3 Great NEW shows- Never to be repeated

7pm     Strolling magic with Shawn Newman: “The Wand King!”

8pm     Comedy, Magic & Variety
     Your host Tim Wise: Hollywood Magic Star
     Jason Andrews:  A Modern Classic
     Ming Da: Direct from Asia
     Dyno Statts: Steam Punk Driven magic
     Mago Enigma:  Dynamic Illusions

9pm     Close-up magic and Strolling
     Your host and MC Will Bradshaw
     Shawn Newman: “The New Man” in Vegas!
     Jason Andrews: Delightful Deception
     Ming Da: Magic with an Eastern Flair
     Dyno Statts: Magic Beyond Science
     Sean Scott: Artistic Original Creations

THE WONDERBAR- Bar Magic Close-up
Tim Wise: The Hollywood Magic Star
Shawn Newman: “The New Man” in Vegas!
Jeff McBride: McBar magic!
Scott Steelfyre: Die-namic Delights!

10pm   Stage Show Extravaganza
     Your host: Jeff McBride
     Will Bradshaw
     Jason Andrews: Sophisticated Sorcery
     Ming Da: Mysteries from Asia
     Dyno Statts: Is it Science or Magic?
     Mago Enigma: Illusions with a Latin Flair

Bar Magic, Scott Steelfyre & Maggie, Corey Rubino, New World Rythmatism Belly Dancers, Psychic Sideshow and Tarot reading, and many more surprises and special celebrity guests.

So, my friends… the next time we see each other in person, ask me to show you the card trick that changed my life!

It just might change YOURS!

Be inspired,


“Playing cards are like people, the backs all look the same, but the fronts are all different!”

Conjuring at the Capital

Dear Friends:

I’m delighted to introduce you (though I expect many of you already know him) to our guest columnist for this month. He is our long-time friend Cyril John May – The ReSourcerer! I first met CJ almost 20 years ago, when he was head of recycling for Yale University, and wanted to see if we could arrange for Jeff McBride to visit and lecture there. After several years of work, we did make those arrangements, and CJ has become a good friend, both personally and as a friend of the Magic & Mystery School. He is an amazing performer, who uses his magic to further the cause of our environment, and, particularly re-cycling. I think the piece below will really make you think…and perhaps consider ways you can use your own magic to further a worthy cause. Without further ado…Cyril John May!

Using magic to lobby legislators is a double-edged sword. It can help you win their hearts and minds.
It can also get you arrested.
by Cyril John “CJ” May

Magic has more power than even magicians think it does. It can change the laws of the land. On many of my occasional trips to legislative bodies to give testimony on environmental issues, I have used magic. The power to entertain and capture attention is in full play. It pulls bored legislators out of the stupor brought on by hours of mind-numbing, fact-swollen statements read by droning lobbyists, citizens and others. Lawmakers wake up, smile and thank you when you interject fun and creativity into their day.
But magic also is an exclamation point. It does not merely entertain. It helps you emphasize what you are trying to say. Testifying before the New Haven Board of Alders as they considered whether to discontinue the purchasing of bottled water was vastly improved by magic. Producing a stream of smoke from a previously empty bottle made my point: polluting trucks must drive bottled water to its destinations. This use for magic adds pleasing and easily rememberable visuality to important facts. This can lock your message into the memories of the lawmakers and help win your case.
It might also get you arrested.

Controversy over the question of whether the local utility should close a coal-fired plant brought me to Bridgeport, CT with a trick, literally, up my sleeve. A sharp-eyed plain-clothes Federal Marshall, hyper vigilant in the days following 9/11, noticed something suspicious. He briskly whisked me out of the room, gave me a once over, a tongue lashing and the boot from the building. No testimony…but at least no handcuffs.

Like any good show, testimony requires preparation, waiting, and on-the-fly adjustment. I was recently called to Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, to speak about issues related to recycling and plastic bags. I scripted myself for the 3 minutes (maximum time allowed), rehearsed it with props, and packed and arrived early. I knew the venue, and was not at all surprised that even checking in way before the 10:30 am start time, still resulted in my testifying at 3:00 pm. By that time the lawmakers were zoned out. They woke up, however, when I made a bottle levitate. They laughed when one plastic shopping bag became a daisy chain that spanned half of the caucus room. In the four hour wait, I had also realized that they might ask me about the current crisis in recycling markets, and whether we should stop recycling. Fortunately, I had been carrying the right magical answer to that question for several weeks. I was able to display five 5-dollar bills to demonstrate that my employer, the City of Waterbury, still saves $25 for every ton it recycles. And the alternative…? The $25 instantly became $80 to represent what it would cost per ton to trash all those cans, bottles, paper and cardboard. This got exclamations, requests for me to do the same trick with their money, laughs and, most importantly, a point firmly-made.

Magic is powerful.  It can change the world not only by the sense of wonder it provides, but also by the messages it can deliver to audiences in a theater or a government conference room.

Cyril John “CJ” May wears the hat of a sorcerer as well as that of a sustainability professional. He performs “enviromagic” shows for children and families as “Cyril the Sorcerer” ( When presenting on environmental topics to professionals and other adults he is “The Resourcerer” ( He has worked in recycling for more than 30 years and currently serves as Refuse/Recycling Coordinator for the City of Waterbury. As Waterbury’s “municipal magician” he regularly performs magic on environmental topics at City schools, library, events and civic meetings.

News, News & More News

Dear Friends:

This is a special mid-month Museletter. I’m composing it in Jeff’s absence, while he is starring in the 808 Convention in Tai Pei. We have two big news items for you:

Before the really big stuff, though, I wanted to let you know that all of our next set of classes still have spots available. All are already well-subscribed, but there are spots still available in Medicine & Magic, the 3-day Master Class, Real World Close-up and the two Street Magic Classes with Mario Morris. These latter two usually sell out—and I expect they will this year as well, but if you’re interested in attending any of the above, go register now!

Our First Big News:

We have just secured Mac King as our special guest for this year’s Magic & Meaning Conference. Mac has been a long-time friend and supporter of our work at the Magic & Mystery School, and we’re excited he has agreed to join us this year. Here’s a bit about Mac—you’ll know some of this, and be surprised by some:

Mac King

Acclaimed by MAGIC Magazine as the premiere comedy magician in the world today, Mac has been named “Magician of the Year” by the Magic Castle in Hollywood, broken a Guinness World Record, appeared on seven TV specials for NBC-TV, been voted the sixth best show in all of Las Vegas, rocked the audience on The Late Show with David Letterman, tore it up on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us (where Penn and Teller called Mac, “The greatest comedy magician at least alive today, and maybe who ever lived”), and his book from Random House just entered it’s 12th printing.

He’s been named “Entertainer of the Year” by Las Vegas Weekly, and “Best Magician,” “Best Bargain Show,” and “Favorite Male Las Vegan” by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

He is currently starring in the long-running The Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas where, over the last 19 years, he has performed nearly 10,000 shows to more than two million fans.

His astounding sleight of hand and irresistible humor has been seen both live and on television in China, Spain, Japan, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, England, Argentina, Holland, Cuba, Mexico, Finland, Canada, Chile, and Portugal.

According to his wife and daughter, he is a fine husband, a great dad, and all-around swell fellow.
That’s it for our first big news story. If you want the chance to hang out and learn more from Mac, and you haven’t yet signed up for Magic & Meaning, now’s the time!
Our Second Big News:
It is our profound pleasure to announce the four recipients of the 2019 EUGENE BURGER LEGACY AWARDS from the McBride Magic & Mystery School: BEN BLAU, GABRIELLA LESTER, DARYL ROGERS, and TOM VERNER.

Congratulations to Ben, Gabriella, Tom, and Daryl!

Created in collaboration with Eugene’s estate, these awards recognize artists who an anonymous committee recommended as exemplifying Eugene’s highest values and qualities as a magician. Winners of the award will forever carry Eugene’s name forward, and they will also receive a merit-based full tuition scholarship to any class at the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas.

I invite you to study their magic biographies to become acquainted with these extremely talented, wonderful magicians. We believe that Eugene would have been proud. 

Donations to the Eugene Burger Legacy Fund can be made by going to

Let’s meet the recipients:

Ben Blau

Ben Blau is a magician residing in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA. He is the author of the bestselling 2016 book Asymptotes — Sound Thinking on Mentalism with Playing Cards, is the creator of the modern classic ESP match-up routine “Unfazed” (performed by such luminaries as Eugene Burger and Bill Malone), as well as the mind-boggling “HOTOAC”, “Polygraph” and more. He has recently completed his second hardcover book entitled Truth Fables – The Mental Mysteries of Ben Blau.

Ben’s specialty is devising routines that not only mystify his audiences, but due to his appreciation for what Max Maven sometimes refers to as “The Aesthetics of Method”, creates material that often feels real for both the audience and performer.

As a student of Eugene’s, Ben gained the confidence and ability to connect his magical inventiveness to a more expressive mode, which allows him to metaphorically express his occasionally-esoteric worldview, via his distinctive magic creations and performances. 

Ben is also a prominent college educator, professional musician, and practicing audio engineer in the Southeastern Michigan area, and frequently performs his routines for students, professional colleagues, corporate executives and even complete strangers. His writing has been quietly and positively influencing the international mentalism community for decades, and often compares the subjective experience of “creating” a magic effect to that of the archaeologist; namely, the subjective feeling of “discovering” something that was already there. Like the archaeologist, Ben carefully brushes away the dust to uncover something beautiful that was there all along, and just waiting to be performed. 

Daryl Rogers

Daryl became interested in magic when he was twelve years old. In 2004 he decided he wanted to become a full-time professional magician, and began studying, practicing, and performing. In order to take his magic to the next level, he attended a Master Class at the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas. While there he received personal instruction form the school faculty, including two of the most influential magicians of our time, Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger.

Daryl’s next step was to enter a magic video competition, in which he took second place. He then went on to develop a competition act. The first time he performed it, at the 2018 Houdini Club of Wisconsin Convention, he won both First Place and People’s Choice awards in the stage competition.

After many years assisting with the Mystery School Monday weekly broadcast, Daryl was named an Instructor at the Magic & Mystery School. As an active member of his local I.B.M. Ring, he has been involved in fund-raising programs, and has appeared on stage with other performers in ensemble cast shows. He has been interviewed on local radio and appeared on live television to promote various events. Daryl performs his own classical magic shows for many types of clients in Northeast Wisconsin, and is regularly seen performing strolling magic at Green Bay area restaurants.

Gabriella Lester

Gabriella is a 15-year old magician from Vancouver, BC. As a very young girl, she remembers bringing a deck of cards to school, and getting teachers and friends to pick a card and shuffle the deck, so she could go through the deck one by one until the card was found.

Gabriella’s first eye-opening experience with magic was in London. While still in elementary school, she went with her family to that great city for a few weeks. One day, she came across a street performer. Gabriella was completely star-struck. She watched the performer’s full show, and she saw the magician put someone’s phone inside a balloon. Immediately after, she turned to her mum exclaiming, “That’s impossible! Give him money!”

A few years later Gabriella saw Shawn Farquhar’s stage show. She fell in love with the fact that she simply couldn’t fathom “how he did it.” After that, her passion just grew. Within a few weeks, she was carrying a deck of cards with her everywhere she went. At the age of 10, she started performing in every possible venue whenever she got the chance.

In January 2017, Gabriella got the opportunity to fly to Las Vegas to attend the McBride Magic & Mystery School—one of the greatest experiences of her life. In the following months, she began working toward her future career in magic.

Gabriella spends every day learning and growing as a magician. She is grateful for every opportunity she has received and is certain she will continue to follow this path for the rest of her life.

Tom Verner

Tom has worn a number of hats in the past forty-five years: Clinical Psychologist specializing in dreams and Jungian Psychology, A Professor of Psychology and Humanities, and a Magician.

Almost twenty years ago those three paths came together when he was inspired to found Magicians Without Borders, an organization whose mission is “to use the art of magic to entertain, educate and empower forgotten people, especially children, around the world.” Magicians Without Borders have traveled to 37 countries, and performed for over one million refugee and orphan children.

They are teaching magic to five groups of very poor children in different parts of the world. Magic helps them develop confidence, discipline, focus and self-esteem. Learning, practicing and performing magic also awakens dreams that the impossible is possible. They begin to imagine doing things with their lives they never thought possible: finishing High School, going to college, nursing school, and culinary school. Magicians Without Borders even has a Scholarship Fund to help make those dreams come true.

Tom would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering for Magicians Without Borders:

Finally, our monthly

Wonderground News

March 21, 2019

 8pm –  Comedy & Variety show
     Your Host – Jeff McBride
     Captain S. Rokk –  Rocks your world!
     Byron Grey – Master of Mental Power
     Dave Johnson –  Various Hilarious Hocus Pocus
     Kevin Hall – The MadMan of Magic
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

 9pm –  Close up and Strolling magic
     Your Host – Will Bradshaw
     Byron Grey – Intimate Mentalism
     Capt S. Rokk –  Street Magic Pirate!
     Dave Johnson – At the Card Table
     Kevin Hall – Comedy Close up
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

10pm – Stage show extravaganza!
     Jeff McBride – New Magic Creations
     Mystery Guest!
     Dave Johnson – Animated Magical Antics
     Kevin Hall – Grand Illusion & Confusion
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

Plus many more Special Guest  acts to be announced!!!

Music by Nino Miani, Photography by Sheryl Garrett. Bar Magic by Scott Steelfyre & Maggie, Corey Rubino, Belly Dancers, Psychic Sideshow with Morganne – and many more surprises and special celebrity guests.

That’s it for this Muse. We’ll see you again on April 1 with an article from our friend CJ “Cyril the Sorcerer” May. I can’t wait to see what he has for us!

Until then, we wish you all a magical couple of weeks!
Best wishes from all of us at The Magic & Mystery School.

Tobias Beckwith

PS: Have you checked out Jeff’s updated website at yet?

Making Your Magic Optimal

Making Your Magic Optimal
By Larry Hass, the Dean

Over the past year, I have been exploring an idea that I’m now ready to share. Here it is: I believe that every piece of magic has its optimal venue.
What I mean by this is that every routine we do has one best performing context—the setting that’s optimal for my success at astonishing people when I perform it there. Some of the factors involved in assessing “best” are such things as audience size, audience position, visibility, angles, plays up or down, needing to stand or sit, and size of the props, among other things.

To help you consider this, let’s look at one example: Brother John Hamman’s “Final Twist” (The Secrets of Brother John Hamman, pages 41-44). This is Brother John’s popular Twisting the Aces type routine wherein the blue-backed Ace, Two, Three, and Four of Spades magically turn upside down one at a time, then are shown as the Ace, Two, Three, and Four of Hearts, only to be revealed as all having red backs!

“Final Twist” creates a strong visual and magical experience, but if we examine this carefully, it seems pretty clear that it’s best performing venue—its optimal one—is walk-around. That’s because with walk-around I can naturally and quickly put those gaffed cards away as I move on to the next routine or the next group.

This is not to say I can’t perform “Final Twist”—or other gaffed card tricks—while sitting after dinner at a table, but in my view that’s less optimal— “sub-optimal” we would correctly say. Because after I put those gaffed cards away, the people around me have every opportunity in the world to ask me to look at those cards. While I could, of course, switch in ungaffed cards, that doesn’t make “Final Twist” better while seated at a table, or even equally as good. In fact, it’s less good, because now I have to manage more traffic in my pockets, and we are starting to play the dreary game of “bust the magician.”

No, if I am being really honest with myself, my gaffed card packet effects are better in a walk-around setting. Sure, they can be “managed” in a seated setting or a formal close-up show, but those aren’t optimal venues for such routines. And of course there are many more venues where “Final Twist” would be “pessimal” (to use the correct Latin term). That is to say, just plain bad, such as in a platform or stage show, where no one could see the cards.

So again, here’s the big idea: every piece of magic has an optimal venue, a number of sub-optimal ones, and many bad ones.

Now, if you will entertain my Theory of Optimal Venue, I think you might discover an exciting and powerful tool for creating better magic performances and shows – ones with more astonishment, fewer compromises, and less audience suspicion or dissatisfaction. That is, ones that more consistently have stronger impact from beginning to end. Here’s how:

Only ever perform your magic routines in their optimal venue.

Imagine this with me. Imagine you go through every routine in your working repertoire and determine its optimal venue and its sub-optimal ones. Now picture yourself only ever performing your routines in their sweetest spot: the situation and context where you have the best chance for success, for allaying their suspicions, for not exposing moves or gaffs, for the most people to actually see the props and the payoff. Wouldn’t actually doing these two things make every single performance better?

But I understand: you might want to quibble that there’s more than one optimal venue for a given piece. No problem—the basic point and exercise doesn’t change. Although, please beware of self-deception or laziness in this regard; with my own repertoire, one venue always rose to the top.

I also understand that sometimes we find ourselves forced to perform something in a sub-optimal venue. That’s not a crime, and sometimes “we gotta.” Like you, I have been there, done that. But that didn’t make the show optimal. On the contrary, by definition, the show had sub-optimal elements in it—which means it wasn’t the very best show we might have done.

For my part, this idea inspires and empowers me. For now I have a new, razor-sharp tool for assessing my repertoire and building better magic shows: to only ever perform my pieces in their optimal venue rather than shoe-horning them in, where they will be less than optimal. This tool also has the power to clarify which of your working venues are laden with sub-optimal routines, and this can liberate and inspire you to find and create better ones!

If you join me in this, aren’t we then engaged in making our magic performances optimal? Who wouldn’t want that for their magic?

Note: Larry has a new bi-monthly newsletter that aims to inspire your magic. Please sign up at

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