Pick a card….


I have just announced the results of research carried out at the Edinburgh Science Festival showing that people cannot tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine.  The BBC have covered the story here and The Daily Mail discuss the details here.

OK, here is today’s item….watch and listen to this video in full and then choose a card….

Register your decision after the break….

Thanks, I should say that although I made the video, the idea was created by a very famous magician.  There is lots of debate among magicians about whether it works so it will be interesting to see how the voting goes!  More about it tomorrow!


91 comments on “Pick a card….

  1. significance says:

    It seems we’re avoiding the cards you mentioned.

  2. David Holman says:

    I picked the 9 of Diamonds before you started talking…

  3. Damian says:

    I picked the 9 because I first wanted to pick the 4 (because prior to that I noticed the ace, black and king).

  4. Ian says:

    Was there talking too? Oh, I just watched the video as instructed..

    Anyway, 9 diamonds for me.

    • Francis says:

      So when you watch TV, you never put the sound on?

    • Clay says:

      The instructions say to watch AND listen. So, either the instructions have changed, or your smug attempt at being the only cleaver one to fully read the directions has completely backfired.

  5. safc4ever says:

    My reasoning:

    King – the only court card and placed on the end
    Seven – the only black card
    Ace – placed in the middle and Aces are way too obvious anyway
    Four – no reason for it to stand out
    Nine – placed on the end and 1st red card down in yesterday’s puzzle

    Result – I chose the Four of Hearts!

  6. digitaalfalcon says:

    Surely we’re thinking about this too much! There is no way to predict what reasoning just one person will take let alone all voters! Very interested to see how this turns out. 7 Clubs for me

  7. JimC says:

    Four of Hearts – can I go for my tea and biscuits now?

  8. Denis says:

    Dunno if this is what was supposed to happen, but knowing Richard, it probably says something about my brain: When the video started, I glanced at the cards and (I thought randomly) picked the Ace. Soon as that card was mentioned by Richard, I thought it sounded too obvious and jumped to the 7 of Clubs, and Richard seemingly followed my train of thought. At this point, I just threw up my hands and decided that I clearly have a very easily suggestible mind and gave up trying to beat the master.

  9. Penny says:

    9 Diamonds for me.

  10. Clare says:

    9  for me! Chose it with the volume off.

  11. Berber Anna says:

    I picked the King, because it’s the only face card and that makes it jump out at me.

    • Berber Anna says:

      I mean, court card. Picture card. Gah, sometimes translating game-related terms sucks.

  12. Carl says:

    Well I used a random number generator, so my choice will certainly not be influenced by any psychological hocus-pocus.

  13. Julia says:

    I picked the 9 of Diamonds because of that whole symbols on the tube thing you posted a little while ago. Otherwise I would probably have picked the 4 of Hearts.

  14. Tsuyoiko says:

    I noticed the 7 of clubs first because it’s a different colour. But I chose the 4 of hearts because my birthday’s on the 4th, so I have a preference for that number.

  15. Georgia says:

    9 for me, I grew up playing cards & if I have to make a choice, I have an order of importance thing going on where Diamonds always come 1st, then hearts, spades & clubs, the Ace as said b4 is too obvious so it had to be the 9, (Diamonds & hearts are red & girly / black is evil & all that), have never voiced my weird reasoning b4, how embarrasing… 🙂

  16. Lazy T says:

    King for me, hope it helps.
    Did anyone notice that the presenter changed his trousers during the vid?

  17. spiderabc1 says:

    Straight for the Ace and stuck.

  18. Tom says:

    7 of clubs for me. I’m guessing it stood out more being the only black card.

  19. Gilad says:

    the -9, I guess I was trying to pick the “least likely” one, to “surprise the magician”. and I saw once that people don’t like to pick items at the edge, so I did pick one at the end, and surely not the King…

  20. Alex says:

    I was immediately drawn to the 4H which I suspected was the “right” answer, so I chose the Ace 🙂

    Just looking at the picture the 4H stands out the most. The hearts are all large and point towards the centre, plus it has a large amount of space framed by those points, whereas the others don’t. Might be overthinking it but it’s certainly where my eyes fell first.

  21. Luiz Borges says:

    By the pool results I guess Mr. Vernon would be disapointed with the how many times the 9 of diamond was selected. Anyway the 4 of hearts has a 1 in 3 chance of being selected, and that is better than 1 in 5.

  22. Sinead says:

    I picked the ace before he started talking… then still wanted to chose the ace so stuck with the ace =D

  23. SereneBlueSky7 says:

    I wasn’t listening to you very carefully. I just picked the one my eyes stayed on. Ace.

  24. Meara says:

    I immediately picked the 9 of diamonds at the very beginning of this video and didn’t change my mind.

  25. Rudi says:

    I chose 4 of hearts because I think most people would choose it. The reason is because it is the least significant card on the table. No one cares about it, making it well hidden. Surely, Richard would never guess I thought of that anonymous little card there?!

  26. Lainyjs says:

    I immediately picked the 9 of diamonds before you began talking.

  27. Matt says:

    You make a point to mention the center card… focusing everyone on the ace.. as for sound.. most people read from left to right, I find it very interesting that the 9 of diamonds was selected when the sound was lowered or muted. Seeing as it was the last card they probably looked at. I did listen to what you said and I picked the 4 of hearts. My reasoning is simple, after pointing out the ace I was drawn to the center and away from the edges. The ace trumps everything on the board, discounting the edges completely from my thought process. Then you mention the 7 of clubs, the only black card. Pointing anything out can make it less apealing, especially when it comes to decision making in a situation. This leaves only one card hidden!!!

  28. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    You mentioned the Ace and the Seven of Clubs. I chose the seven of clubs, figuring hell, why not? I’m really fascinated now 🙂

  29. Ed says:

    A lot of people picking without the sound or before hearing it.
    That’s not the instruction that was given.

  30. Daniel says:

    King of Hearts, because he’s fancier than the rest.
    I picked it before watching the video as well.

  31. Tom Baynton says:

    I didn’t have sound on when watching the video. Whoops. Too late because I’ve already voted.

  32. Tracey says:

    I chose the king of hearts, 🙂

  33. Mike Forsyth says:

    I chose the Ace almost immediately

  34. Paul says:

    Looks like there is a slight tendency towards avoiding the cards you mentioned.

    When are you going to give full details of the wine test?
    I mean, exactly which wines were used?
    And are you going to do a blog entry on this?

    • B Miller says:

      I too would like to see the full data. I’m also curious as to whether experts, or keen amateurs, with some training can make the distinction, and whether they can be distinguished chemically. I hope Prof. Wiseman or a reader may know of some papers in these areas.

      (Four of hearts.)

  35. Susan says:

    I picked the 4 before he started describing the cards. Still, I’m in the majority.

  36. Otm Shank says:

    Ace of Diamonds.
    I thought it was so obvious that nobody would chose it…

  37. Daniel says:

    So many levels.. head spin!!!… I mentally went level by level until it seemed to me the Kind Of Hearts was the unique one to go for. I think the results vary enormously because the participants’ suggestibility and intelligence varies also.

  38. Todd says:

    Ace. Picked it before the instructions started, and never heard anything to change my mind.

  39. Chris Bird says:

    Picked the right most card before listening. Stayed with it thereafter. Only when i made the screen bigger did I see what it was. All about where my eyes happened to be pointing I guess.

  40. Garett says:

    I use this all of the time in my magic and I’ve only had it fail once or twice. I often combine it with muscle reading if I want to avoid the possibility of failure. It makes for an excellent impromptu demonstration of psychology and the ideomotor response for close-up social situations.

    For those who are wondering, the famous magician who is responsible for this is Banachek and if you’re interested in magic you can read it from the source in his book Psychological Subtleties, available from most magic stores.

    • Garett says:

      I should add that the most common response is the 4 of Hearts. The reason for that is because the Ace is central and too obvious. The King is a court card and the 7 of clubs is the only black card. That leaves the 9 of Diamonds (the second most common choice) and the 4 of hearts. Since people are suspecting you of trying to influence their choice they will tend towards the 4 of Hearts since it seems like the “least obvious.”

    • Luiz Borges says:

      HERETIC [grabing the pitchfork]!!! The man behind this trick is the one and only Dai Vernon… And the reasons for the 9D not being choose are told by him (althought that is more anedoctal than anything else)…

    • Garett says:

      If it is Vernon’s I was unaware. Banachek has it published in Psychological Subtleties. He might credit Vernon, I don’t remember.

  41. Marcus says:

    I did NOT pick the four of hearts, as I correctly assumed it would be the most likely choice.
    (picked the king)

  42. El Mystico says:

    You should listen to Vernon talk about this on the Revelations DVD; it seems the standard presentation, which you also use, is not what he intended. I’ve had a lot of success with the approach he suggests.

  43. Luiz Borges says:

    I don’t think this trick is reliable, it is funny when it works, but it more hit and miss than anything else. You have in the best cases at most 50% chance of being right.

    The Vernon discussion about 9D never being selected is pretty much bullsh*t (I chose the 9D the first time a magician showed this to me more than 10 years ago)…

    • Garett says:

      Psychological “forces” in magic need to be punctuated by sure-fire methods. I use psychological methods all the time, but I have them segue into extremely clean “outs” when they miss. The result is that in the cases where it hits you have a “bona fide miracle” on your hands – no compromises, nothing that can even hint towards the method. When you miss it doesn’t matter because you took the time to structure your routine in such a way that you segue into a sure-fire method in a way that looks completely natural and above suspicion. If you can get a 50/50 probability of a hit then there’s no reason not to go that route. But I’ve had WAY better than 50% with this particular force.

      However, I don’t use this one that often because in probability terms you’ve got a 1/5 chance of just guessing the card right. So the effect just isn’t that strong. But the principle of the method can be applied to much larger, grander, illusions. Think about it, if 50% of the time it looks like you gave someone a completely free choice of any item, and they just happened to go straight for the item predicted then half the time you do your routine you’ve got absolute perfection. And the other half you’ve got something that’s still very strong.

  44. Livedman says:

    I choose 4 of hearts after a few thinking moments.

  45. frchama says:

    Taking into account the law of unintended consequences… The fact that the mouse cursor must be placed over the play icon, depressed and could obfuscate certain cards (Ace) could be a factor worth considering.

  46. patrick says:

    the voting says –
    “this is a not very interesting test”
    – people avoiding the first 3 a little…
    not really a wow, Professor…

  47. Miggy says:

    I chose the King because I know we from Wiseman we usually ignore the ends…Although, now I wonder if the mentioning of ace then 7 were meant to lead our eyes toward the King….blast! You’re crafty bastard, you wise Wiseman man.

  48. Codifier says:

    I chose the ace because I’m a bastard who figured we were probably being steered away from it. I also felt the temptation to pick 4H and guessed this would be most popular. I love this sort of trick.

  49. Stu says:

    I figured the 4 to be the most chosen card, so I chose the King simply to be a contrarian.

  50. The Pick Man says:

    Four of hearts – I felt strangely drawn to it!


  51. Martha says:

    But doesn’t this only work with the kind of skeptical people who read this site? Derren Brown did something similar with the ESP cards – think it was circle, star, square, plus, wavy lines – and everyone picked ‘star’ precisely because it was so obvious (being the 2nd one and having the most lines, angles and things).

  52. Stu says:

    I picked king. Always go far left. Did it before pressing play though. Is that cheating?

  53. Peter McKay says:

    The links in your blogs never open. eg watch?v=nlVvWqm0Oq

    unless it is possible to search it on google.

  54. bletherskite says:

    4 of hearts for me. I think I chose it because it wasn’t an end card and it wasn’t the ace or the black card that were specifically mentioned. It seemed the most ‘anonymous’ card but as soon as I’d chosen it and voted it then seemed the most obvious one that people would pick most of the time. Interested to see if my reasoning matches the theory behind the trick

  55. erikthebassist says:

    I’m all in.

  56. poweroftoday says:

    Four of hearts.
    I think odds are not good for this specifc trick.

  57. seePyou says:

    I picked the Ace, because I thought it would be the least picked one, and I was right. I have done this kind of thing before, and I tend to be quite good at picking things that most people don’t.

  58. Mephistopheles says:

    well, first time i saw this i thought i’d be a clever bugger and, knowing who created this, i’d write something like ”you gotta love that dai vernon ehh?” however fake modesty (or whatever you call the previous statement that i didn’t write, well at least not as i intended) is not really my ‘thing’ so i’ve decided to be really smug and write ”you gotta love that David Frederck Wingfield Verner ehh?”. good

  59. […] Pick a card…. I have just announced the results of research carried out at the Edinburgh Science Festival showing that people cannot […] […]

  60. grimaud50 says:

    I picked the 7 of clubs – but I did it before you pointed out it was the only black card…

  61. There is something of Game Theory here, because we try not to choose the card you expect us to choose. But the result backfired – as it is supposed to be.

  62. John Hughes says:

    Perhaps what is most interesting is the number of people who take the time to comment but clearly don’t take the time to read the instructions properly “watch and listen to this video in full and then choose a card”. I chose the Four of Hearts. I think the reason I chose this card is due to the symmetry. (I want it to be a black card for colour symmetry). I accept there may have been different influences without me being aware.

  63. Cressida Ford says:

    I figured 4H would be most popular (hooray!) Isn’t it like the shapes on the tube in the Paranormality ad? You picked the star! It’s not on the end, it’s not in the middle, it’s in this nice unconfrontational position and hearts are a happy shape ^_^ I’m all about the happy.

    (Still, I picked the ace.)

  64. Daniel says:

    I think it’s all about levels of ‘challengers’ (people who challenge the magician in order to beat him). Similar to chess, the smarter your thought processes are, the further steps ahead you can think. ie double / treble bluffing.

    Step 1 challenger (Perhaps quite suggestible) will try and double bluff and go for the two key cards that stand out; The black one and the Ace.

    Step 2 challenger (thinks he’s smarter than he actually is) will know not to double bluff, and will therefore look at the remaining three options. The kind is a powerful card, so they think it’s too obvious and don’t choose it. And out of the 4hearts and 9diamonds the 4 of hearts is attractive on so many levels (warm, vivid, simple etc) but I think they have come out pretty much equal.

    Step3 challenger considers the above steps and therefore chooses the King

    And the next step is actually step one again. Was the whole mind game a bluff and the ace or black card was the card he was hoping you would choose?

    Comments welcome
    Note: I chose the King, and I watched & listened to the video first.

  65. Ronnie says:

    King of Hearts, after listening to the whole spiel. It’s a court card and first on the left. It’s too obvious a card to be the one you are trying to force.

  66. Cosmin Romania says:

    Seen this arrangement on Marco Frezza’s channel. What he said after I picked my card matched completely with my decision.

  67. Charlotte says:

    four is my lucky number so that’s why i chose it.

  68. Bonhomme says:

    Did not choose the 4 of hearts…too mainstream

  69. Jay says:

    I perform this occasionally as a mentalist routine and I only rarely get someone saying something besides the 4 of hearts – However the sample size may be low because I don’t perform it too often.

    Also, I avoid mentioning that any of the cards or their placement could influence them – I find people tend to already assume I am trying to influence them by putting the Ace in the middle, etc so they avoid those cards.

  70. Rachel says:


    There’s no way I’d pick the 4 of hearts! Little unassuming number card placed 4th out of 5- it screams “pick me!”.

    What are the results without a voiceover?

  71. Ythaca says:

    I chose the 4 of hearts because I for some reason avoided the ends and the middle and the 7 of clubs was too obvious

  72. Paradise7 says:

    I picked the 7 of clubs because 7 is my lucky number. I really didn’t think a card force would work in a video, anyway, especially with such a small fan. (Magic buffs will know what I mean.)

  73. La verdad que……

    Lo veo muy importante en este asunto….

  74. mike says:

    Yes i know the effect and i can say i beleive youre using a few wrong cards. arent you? and also you need to bet something here with a friend you need to lay a wager ! remember what dia vernon said ????? it only works with a bet!!! cuz once you bet the man you are trying to fool will say hmmm let me out smart him. well im not gana pick the king cuz its the only face card im never gana ipck the ace. nobody ever picks the corner cards. so it leaves them with the 4 of hearts! and yes this works. great effect i have tried it before and it worked

  75. mike says:

    See you would cut down all the peole saying they picked the 9 of hearts with a bet. so they can think about it more. this cant be done on the internet.lol trust me. people dont think .they just pick a silly card. they gotta think for a minute and risk money ..

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