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This is a simple card trick that might impress your nine-year-old but definitely won't land you a TV gig as the next Criss Angel. But it's easy to remember and good for situations where you find yourself in need of a card trick, regardless of how lame.

This trick is also sometimes referred to as "The Three Amigos " card trick. Here's how it goes.

Yes, some prep is required. Don't be discouraged by this step. Many people think that any card trick that requires some stacking of the deck is lame, but they don't realise that plenty of amazing tricks require a stacked deck. And this bit of preparation is quite simple and could likely be done as you hem and haw, convertly scaning through the deck, saying things like "A card trick? Do I know any card tricks? Let me think here..."

1) Locate the 4 jacks and remove from the deck.

2) Without making it obvious to the audience, place 1 jack on the top of the stack of cards.

3) Hold the other 3 jacks separate from the deck.

The Trick
90% of magic is showmanship. Or maybe it's only 89%. Either way, if you want your trick to be good, you have to embellish it and get the audience interested and intrigued. For this trick, it means telling a bit of a story about the 3 jacks you separated from the deck. You can (and should) tailor this story for your audience, but here's the version I give to my kids and their 9-year-old peers:

1) Show the 3 jacks. Tell the audience that these are 3 brothers who can never be separated and no matter what, they'll always come back together.

2) Show the audience one of the jacks and place it on the top of the deck.

3) Show the audience another jack and place it on the bottom of the deck. The point here is to make sure they see that both jacks are separated by the entire deck.

4) Now you can ask for a volunteer to place the last jack somewhere in the middle of the deck, or just do it yourself.

5) Cut the deck or have someone cut it for you.

6) Tap your finger on the deck, say the magic words, and then flip the deck face-up and fan it out. You'll find 3 jacks together somewhere in the stack.

7) Look at the audience and say "SEE!", then gracefully accept applause.

How it works
I don't want to ruin the trick for you, so go get a deck of cards and try it yourself. If you can't figure it out, then no amount of explaining here will help you.

A Variation
There's a variation of the three jacks trick that's often called "The Three Burglars" or "The Jack Robbers" or any of a hundred other names of similar criminal connotation. The three jacks trick is basically a simplified version of this trick.

1) Remove the 4 jacks and 3 of the kings from the deck.

2) Place 2 kings and 1 jack on the bottom of the deck in the following order: king, jack, king.

The Trick
For this trick the story is a bit different than above. Make the 3 jacks and 1 king known to the audience. Explain that the 3 jacks are thieves and no matter where the try to hide in the deck, the king will find them.

1) Place one jack on the top of the deck.

2) Place one jack on the bottom of the deck.

3) Have someone place the last jack in the middle of the deck, or do it yourself.

4) Explain that the king is now going to find the thieves! Place the king on the bottom of the deck, hot on the trail of one of the jacks.

5) Cut the deck, or have someone do it for you.

6) Flip the cards face-up and fan them out. Somewhere in there you'll find a sequence of jack, king, jack, king, jack, king cards. The kings are next to each of the jacks, apprehending all the thieves.

Like I said, these tricks aren't going to get you on television or win you any awards. But everyone should know at least one decent joke, one card trick, and have one story about a drunken escapade that's funny yet not too disgusting or criminal to tell in a mixed-gender office setting. I've got my joke and my card trick. Still getting drunk and trying to remember a decent story though.

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