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8 Types of Magic Tricks

There are many magic tricks, but magicians' tricks fall into one of 8 types. There are also different performance styles, and magicians often specialize in just one.

Magic has been captivating audiences for centuries. It's one of the oldest forms of entertainment, stretching back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

Magicians perform eight magic tricks: appearance, levitation, penetration, prediction, restoration, transformation, and transposition. They all work in essentially the same way: by manipulating your perception. You see something happen on stage that seems impossible—like a person floating in midair or pulling a rabbit out of a hat—and it makes you question whether or not what you saw was real.

Learn about all eight types in more detail.

Types of Magic

While no type of magic is straightforward, some types are more common for beginning magicians, like card tricks or sleight of hand.

Most magicians know a core base of tricks and then develop their particular repertoire around a handful of their favourite pieces.

Magic is based on illusion and mystery. The magician's role is to create a sense of wonder in the audience. All types of magic tricks employ mystery. This is what is so alluring about magic! Secrecy is, of course, another central element of magic. Practicing magicians are very selective about who they share their secrets.

How and where magicians perform varies a great deal as well. Street magic, close-up magic, and stage magic offer impressive performances in different settings.

What exactly is sleight of hand?

Sleight of hand involves skilled hand movements and misdirection to make objects appear and disappear in the hands of the performer. Sleight of hand tricks can use a wide variety of things; most commonly used are cards, coins, balls, and other small objects. Some magicians have even used live animals.

One of the oldest sleights of hand tricks originated in Ancient Egypt, the famous cups and balls magic trick.

What types of tricks do magicians perform?

When you think about magic tricks, you might imagine a magician standing on a stage surrounded by mirrors and smoke. While this classic image creates a fantastic atmosphere, the real-life circumstances are very different.

Most magic takes place in a variety of settings. Most magic is performed closely with familiar objects, like cards and coins.

Have you ever wondered how many different types of magic tricks were used by magicians for centuries? There are also only eight basic types of magic tricks.

8 Types of Magic Tricks Performed by Magicians

  1. Appearance

  2. Levitation

  3. Penetration

  4. Prediction

  5. Restoration

  6. Transformation

  7. Transposition

  8. Vanish

These are the different types of magic tricks; let's now take a look at magician performance style types:

Types of Magic Performances

Stage Illusions

Stage Illusions are where seemingly impossible things happen with people, famous monuments, or impossible large objects. Some of the better-known illusion tricks include those where a woman is sawed in half and levitation tricks. Other illusions involve making people, animals, or objects reappear. David Copperfield has made such large objects as the Statue of Liberty, and a jet airplane disappear in front of live audiences.


Escape magic is just as it sounds. The most famous escape artist was Harry Houdini, who performed several daring escapes in front of large audiences in exotic locations. Suspended high in the air, Houdini would be handcuffed and placed inside locked or otherwise sealed containers and emerge moments later. Escape magic is intriguing not only because of the fantastic feat but also because of the danger involved.


Mentalists are another form of a magician who appears to read the minds of strangers. In front of live audiences, mentalists will recreate drawings done by audience members unseen to the magician. They will also read the minds of strangers and perform an array of amazing mental tricks. The mystery of the mentalist lies in the performance in front of a live audience. Some mentalists in modern times have even created tricks for television where they seem to read the minds of viewers!

Close-up magic

Close-up magic is performed indoors or out and often involves a card or coin tricks. It is presented just as it sounds--in close range. The audience is small, and the magician sits or stands in the middle, which adds to the allure--when people surround the magician, they have little room to "hide" anything. Additionally, when the audience is so close, one might assume the observers could easily see the magician's tricks--but this isn't the case!

Stage Magic

Finally, stage magic is just as it sounds--magic performed on stage. These magic tricks date back to the 1700s and are often elaborate performances. Stage magicians offer an extensive range of tricks, from sleight of hand to make large objects float or disappear. Often large animals are involved. Several famous stage magicians include Derren Brown, David Copperfield, and Penn & Teller.

Hopefully, this post was helpful to you. Magic is a vast and limitless field, but it's not without structure. Knowing these basics can help you learn and show more quickly if you're starting. And what magician doesn't want that?

I hope this list has helped you learn more about the different types of tricks. Enjoy practicing these tips and tricks as you become a great magician!

What is your favourite type of magic? Let us know in the comments.

Do you know a youngster who is interested in magic? Download our Magic Festival Activity Book for free.

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