Mind reading trick with paper explained (Tutorial included)

This is an amazing mind-reading trick that you can learn even as an absolute beginner. Right here, you’ll find a complete tutorial on how the trick works – all you need are three pieces of paper or a few playing cards.

How does this mind-reading trick with paper work?

A spectator chooses one of three papers with different symbols on them and can even mix them up. Once he is done, you still know which symbol the volunteer has chosen.

This trick doesn’t require any preparation and works with any pieces of paper, so you can perform it literally anytime.

Let’s get started.

All you need for this mind reading trick is paper

Before I’ll explain the trick, I will first describe how the trick looks for the audience.

All you need for this trick are three pieces of paper and a pencil to mark them. You can use playing cards or business cards as well.

Now, place these cards face up in front of the spectator and ask him to choose one card. You can turn around in the meantime. Once the volunteer has made his choice, he can turn all the cards over so that the backs are facing up. Then he has to swap the two cards he didn’t choose (his chosen card stays, the other two are swapped).

Finally, you can turn around again and the volunteer can swap all the cards as he likes.

Nevertheless, in the end, you know which card the spectator was thinking of.

Let’s get started with the explanation.

How this mind reading trick works

The secret behind this trick is quite simple: you just need to remember the card in the middle at the beginning. So, this mental trick can be performed without any preparation whatsoever!

Quick tip
The explanation seems very complicated at first glance, but it's not that difficult once you got it. Take some time and carefully read through the instructions.

In the end, I have described a concrete example explaining the trick, make sure to check it out (it really helps to understand the principle).

Just try it out a few times and you will learn the trick for sure!

What paper or cards you can use

Before I start with the explanation, one thing about the paper: you can use three pieces of paper, playing cards, etc.

The only important thing is that their back looks the same.

So, you can also ask a spectator for three business cards, or just use three pieces of paper of the same size. To distinguish them from each other, the volunteer can draw three different symbols on the business cards or the pieces of paper – this makes the trick a bit more personal.

If you are interested in another mind-reading trick that only uses a few playing cards, make sure to check my tutorial right here.

Step by step tutorial: How you can read someone’s mind using only paper

Here’s a step-by-step explanation that you can use if you want to perform the trick yourself.

The only thing you need to do:
You memorize the symbol/number of the card that is in the middle at the beginning of the trick!

I’ll explain how to find the spectator’s piece of paper or card at the end.

Step 1: The spectator selects a piece of paper / card

In the beginning, you put the three pieces of paper face up in front of the spectator and ask him to choose one of them (remember the symbol/number of the paper in the middle!).

It’s best if you turn around now so that the volunteer can make his choice in peace.
Otherwise, you may be accused of cheating by looking at his eyes to find out his card (or something similar).

If the magic trick is performed in front of an audience, the spectator can also briefly hold the chosen card in the air so that everyone can see it.

Step 2: The cards are swapped

As soon as he has made his choice, have the spectator swap the other two cards once (so his chosen card stays in place!). Then ask him to turn all the cards over so that the backs are facing up.

This way you can no longer distinguish the cards from each other. Only then turn back to the spectator.

Step 3: The volunteer may continue to mix up the cards

Once you have turned back around, don’t take your eyes off the card in the middle.

You might be unable to see the picture side because the cards are all turned over, but just keep track of the position of the middle card!

You can tell the spectator that he may now continue to slowly swap the cards. The only important thing is that you always know where your memorized card is (which was in the middle at the beginning).

As soon as the volunteer is done, all three cards are turned over so that the picture side is facing up.

Step 4: Find the spectator’s card

Now, you have three cards face up in front of you, and you’ve memorized two things:

  • The symbol/number of the middle card, at the very beginning.
  • The position of the card which was in the middle after the first swap of the spectator.

You only pay attention to the card you’ve been following the whole time!

There are several possibilities:

The paper you rememberedThe paper picked by the spectator
The paper you remembered still shows the same symbol.This means that the spectator has chosen this card.
On your remembered paper is not the symbol you memorized at the beginning.This means that the viewer has chosen neither the current symbol on the card nor your memorized symbol, but the third symbol.

Now, honestly, I know, this sounds really confusing at first. Don’t give up!

It took me some time to understand this trick as well. Let me show you an example, it will make a lot more sense, I promise!

Let me show you an actual example of this mind reading trick

Because the whole trick is a bit complicated, let me show you this example.

You use three pieces of paper with these symbols:

  • circle
  • star
  • square

You place these papers face up in front of the spectator, the paper with the circle is in the middle. So you memorize the circle symbol.

Now you turn around, the spectator chooses one paper and swaps the other two, then turns over all the papers.

Then you turn back around again and just pay attention to the paper that is now in the middle. That is “your paper” from now on. The volunteer may now swap the papers around a bit, you just have to remember where “your paper” is.

As soon as the papers are turned over, you will see which symbol “your paper” has. There are three possibilities:

Symbol of “your” paperThe spectator’s paper
The symbol on “your paper” is the circle.This means the spectator has chosen the paper with the circle.
The symbol on “your paper” is the star.This means the spectator has chosen the paper with the square.
The symbol on “your paper” is the square.This means the spectator has chosen the paper with the star.

This trick is a bit confusing and it may take you a while to understand it (it took me a while too, so take your time).

If you don’t quite get it yet, just try it out!

It will make a lot more sense once you’ve tried it one or two times. It’s a great mental trick with an awesome effect, and people go crazy about it – some might actually believe that you can read their minds.

My final tip: Make it look like you can read minds, don’t just do the trick

If you tried this method a few times, you will probably realize that it’s not that challenging to perform the trick. All you have to do is watch one piece of paper and remember the symbol.

But here’s the thing: Always keep in mind that you have to “sell” the trick!

If you just tell the spectator that you know which symbol he has chosen, well, he might be kind of impressed.

But you can do a lot more than that. Look deep into his eyes, ask him about his favorite color or which breakfast he ate this morning. Ask him to show you his hand, or to count from 1 – 10. Whatever!

Just make it look like it would make any difference for you (even though you already know which symbol he picked, obviously).

Other than that – have fun with this trick and good luck with “reading the minds” of other people!

By the way: I’ve written a few more tutorials on mind-reading tricks, so make sure to check them out:

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