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How to Do the 3-Card Monte Trick

Learn how to do the three-card monte card trick with step-by-step instructions from magician Jason Suran in this magic tricks revealed Howcast video.


I only have a joker; a joker.

Okay, cameras rolling. This is the 3-card Monte.

All right; you guys ready?


And how long have you lived in New York City?

Six to seven years.

So you've been here a little bit. Have you ever seen anybody on the street every playing a game called 3-card Monte? You may have seen them with little cardboard tables they often have set up. This is probably one of the oldest scams in the entire city. It's a really simple game to describe; because all it is, is you start with two jokers, and one queen. And all you have to do to win is follow the queen. Do you think you can do it, Ann? Do you want to give it a shot?

All right, are you ready? Two jokers, one queen. This game is also known as follow the lady, so follow the lady. Right? Do you know where the queen is? Go ahead and take a guess. Not bad; one more time. Do you know where the queen is? Ah, you got me again. All right, I'll tell you what; if you want to really put some money on it you can put some money on it.

All right, so now we'll play one more round, and this time with a quarter on the table. Right? We'll bet a quarter. All you've got to do; we'll do this nice and slow, just follow the queen. Got her? You know where she is; she's right there. All you've got to do is follow the queen. Where's the queen? Ah, I guess you owe me a quarter. And that's how the 3-card Monte scam looks when it's done on the street, more or less.

The move itself, and I like teaching this one, because I think it's important for people to know, because I do see people get scammed on this all the time. My advice is don't ever play; you will not win. And the reason you'll never win is because they'll let you follow the queen for maybe the first one, maybe the second run, but by the time you put money on the table that queen's going to be somewhere else.

So why don't we play with you guys at home, right. Follow the queen; she's right there. So where is she? If you said right over here you'd be right, but the moment you put money on it, I'll show you the queen right there. If you said over here you'd be a few bucks short.

Now the way the move works is the moment I feel like cheating as I pick up the queen, right, I'm actually picking it up, right, I've got the joker here between my index finger and thumb. And I'm picking up the queen with my middle finger and thumb, so it looks just like that. Now what you think is happening and what is happening when I'm playing fair is I'm tossing the queen, so she ends up here. But in order to deceive the eye and of course steal your money, what a lot of Monte scams will do is they'll take the card and they'll do what's called the Monte throw, where instead of tossing the queen down they'll actually toss the top card. Now the reason this is so effective is because it's almost impossible to distinguish from the real version of the move.

So again, you'll take the queen; we know she's right there, take the queen again. And of course she has to be here, until she's not. So never play 3-card Monte; it's a scam and even if you pick the right card there are all sorts of moves that we're not going to go into right now, but moves like the turnover, which involves switching out a card. So even if you guess right you're still not going to win unless they want you to.

So, be careful; keep your money in your pocket, and remember; only a sucker plays 3-card Monte.

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