Shin Lim
Smoke Cards Trick

Shin Lim performed this amazing trick on the semi-final of America's Got Talent. It is an extremely complex performance involving many different parts, which makes it even more incredible.

In the beginning, Shin takes a deck of cards out of the box. He asks Heidi to select one card from the deck and sign it. He puts the card on the table, and smoke starts forming around it. Shin turns it around to reveal that it has turned blank. Next, Heidi’s card appears inside his mouth in a cloud of smoke! Shin then puts it inside a bag and gives the bag to Heidi.

He does a similar thing with Tyra. He asks her to pick a card and sign it. He then makes her card teleport to several different places until it finally appears in his mouth, accompanied by a cloud of smoke.

In the grand finale, he makes both signed cards switch places multiple times, and then makes the whole deck disappear in the smoke. Amazing!
See the performance if you haven’t yet, then read the explanation below.


There is a lot going on in this trick and a whole book could be written trying to explain all the different techniques and gimmicks Shin Lim is using in this trick. Since we don't have so much time, we will focus on the parts of the trick which are easier to understand for the average person without detailed understanding of sleight-of-hand techniques.

Let us start at the very beginning of the trick. When Shin Lim takes the cards out of the deck to begin the trick, you naturally assume that he took all the cards out. However, this is not the case! In fact, he only takes out about half of the cards. Later in the trick, he will make »the deck« disappear from his hand and appear back in the box. The reality is that we never see one full deck, but two different halves of a deck. He only takes the first half out of the deck, makes it »disappear«, and when he opens the box, the second half is waiting there, just where he left it. This creates the illusion that the deck magically teleported back into the box. 

Next up, he asks both Heidi and Tyra to select a card. An important thing to remember is that this choice was forced. They didn't select a random card out of many possibilities, they »selected« exactly the card he wanted them to select.

Now that you understand the basics, let's look at some more questions about the details of this performance.

How does he make the cards with the signatures teleport all over the place?

Those are not actually the same cards. Pause the video and analyze the signatures on the cards. You will see that the signatures are not the same throughout the trick. He is using duplicate cards.

How does he make things disappear?

His west is full of hidden pockets. The rest is skill.

How does he change the card once it is inside the bag?

This one is actually really simple. There is only one card in the bag. On one side, it has the Jack of Clubs (with »Heidi« written on it) and on the other side the 2 of Spades (with »Tyra« written on it). To »change« the card, he simply has to turn the bag around so the audience sees the other side of the card. He does this in such a dramatic way that you don't notice him turning the bag, but it is actually quite obvious if you pay attention to it.

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