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Everyone likes a good illusion. Whether we’re looking at strange pictures that seem to move before our very eyes or watching a magician pull a rabbit out of a too-small hat, people love tricks that play with their perception. One of the most popular magic methods is mentalism, and one of the easiest mentalist tricks is the mentalism wallet.
A mentalism wallet lets you make objects disappear at will and read your audience’s mind, all without giving away its secrets. The best mentalism wallets have solid, simple construction that makes learning the tricks of the trade easier.
Read on to get a better understanding of this classic tool of the magician’s trade. You’ll also find a few tips and tricks for making your next performance stand out and impress.
A Crash Course in Mentalism Wallets
As with any other magician, mentalists have tools of the trade that they use to help perform their tricks. Alongside specialized card decks and infinite pads of paper, one of the most basic tools is the mentalism wallet.
The trick for a mentalism wallet is relatively simple.
- You tell your spectator that you can read their mind.
- You ask them to secretly write down a letter, number, or color on an ordinary business card.
- When they’ve done that, they place the card in your wallet.
- You close it, place it in your pocket, think for a moment, and respond with exactly what they wrote down!
It’s mechanically one of the easiest mentalism tricks in the book. A mentalist wallet is actually constructed with two compartments: the “show” compartment and the “tell” compartment. The “show” compartment is where your audience member puts their secretly written card. The “tell” compartment has a hole through which you can discreetly see what was written on the card.
The real selling point of this illusion is being able to look quickly enough while closing the wallet so that it appears nonchalant rather than deliberate.
The Best Mentalism Wallets
To perform a good trick, you need good tools. The best mentalism wallets need to have a few things.
- They need to be of a high-quality material. Anything too thin or fragile risks giving away the entire game.
- They need to be well constructed. Mentalism wallets need more pockets and compartments than regular wallets to function properly.
- They need to be affordable. Of course, you can only buy the tools that fit in your budget. If the wallet is too expensive, it might be inaccessible to most magicians.
It’s somewhat difficult to research a good mentalism wallet. Most models are sold exclusively through specialty shops, sometimes even exclusively in person. This makes it hard to compare and contrast them online.
Luckily, there are still quite a few good options on the market for you to consider. We’ve compiled a list of the best mentalism wallets for you to choose from.
The Deluxe Magicians Mentalism Wallet from Magic Tricks
The Deluxe Magicians Mentalism Wallet is available from Magic Tricks for $25. It’s labeled as a trick for ages 13 and up, with an Easy skill level.
This wallet is made of real black leather, and is of quality construction. It uses a turnaround method rather than the typical X-wallet configuration, which can be useful if you have an audience that’s somewhat familiar with the trick.
It’s also multi-purpose. You can use it for the traditional mind-reading trick and for item switching, as it has smooth switching. It comes with printed instructions and performance tips for the best show possible, all in your pocket.
The Hideout Wallet V2 from Vanishing Magic
This wallet is professional grade. The Hideout Wallet V2 is available from Vanishing Magic for the steep price of $115. For the price, though, you’re getting premium construction and utility. It’s made of high-grade Tony Curtis leather and can be used either for tricks or as an everyday wallet.
This wallet is useful for a wide variety of tricks. It’s got twenty pockets designed for peeking, indexing, switching, and multi-outs. It also works with both American and British currency, which makes it internationally viable for the travelling mentalist.
The wallet comes with an instructional DVD to show you how to use all of its functions while creatively misdirecting your audience. It’s a full lesson in one pocket-sized package.
The Leather Magician’s Mentalism Wallet from Magic Makers
The Leather Magician’s Mentalism Wallet is available from Magic Makers on Amazon for $25. It has a 4.5-star rating, and is the simplest wallet on the list. It’s got a clear window on one side and carefully hidden pockets on the other to enable different tricks, and is very light for easy slipping in and out of pockets.
It comes with an instructional guide for switching and mind reading. This is an excellent option for beginner magicians, as it means you’ll be able to work through the tricks at your own pace before trying out a performance.
Where to Find Mentalism Supplies
The wallets on this list are easily available online, but as mentioned above, some of the best places to find quality magic supplies is a local store. Not only will you get smaller companies making higher quality products, you can also talk to the people working at the store and other patrons to get ideas for more tricks and ways to improve your act.
If you don’t have access to a local magic store, there are lots of online retailers who provide quality magic supplies.
- One of the most popular for young magicians is Marvin’s Magic. This is more of a general magic brand, but their larger kits are good for learning card and mind-reading tricks.
- Murphy’s Magic focuses quite a lot on mental magic, including ESP cards and magic playing card sets. They’ve got a wide variety of tricks and books to help you expand your repertoire.
- Vanishing, the company who made the Hideout Wallet V2, is good for all kinds of tricks, from cards and coins to cups and flash paper for the true showmen.
You can also buy individual tricks and instructional books from general retailers like Walmart and Amazon. This is good if you’re looking for cheap or particularly specific tricks. Handmade specialty sites like Etsy will give you more options for customization and personalization of your items, though these tend to be pricier.
No matter where you go, make sure that you’re finding products that you appreciate, understand, and that are aesthetically pleasing to you. These are tools you’ll be using continuously, so you should be happy with them.
Varying Your Mentalist Tricks
There are lots of fun tricks you can try to impress your friends, even without a wallet to use. To keep your routine interested and entertaining, make sure you have a variety of tricks available to use as you go. This means that you’ll have something to impress everyone, even if one or two of them end up falling flat.
Here are a few tricks you can try, both with and without props.
- The Red Hammer. This trick requires nothing but a prewritten prediction and a solid question pace. You ask a series of questions (the list of which you can find here) that lead up to “Quick, think of a color and a tool!” Your volunteer answers “Red hammer!” and you pull up your prediction. Amazingly, that’s exactly what you’ve written down.
- The Attuned Accomplice. For this trick, you’ll need a friend! Before the show, take your friend aside and ask them to clench their teeth up to the number that an audience member tells them. During the show, make a show of touching your fingers to their temples and “reading” the number straight out of their brain!
- It’s Always Five. Many mentalist tricks are simple mathematics disguised by theatrics, and this trick is no exception. As someone to think of any number, add the next highest number to it (so if your number is 10, add 11, et cetera), add nine, divide by two, and subtract the original number. Their answer is always five!
- The Gray Elephant in Denmark. This one takes a little bit of setting up. Tell your audience to think of a number between one and ten. Have them multiply it by nine. If their new number is two digits, have them add the digits together. Tell them to subtract five from that number, and think of the letter of the alphabet associated with it (so A is one, B is two, so on).
Think of a country that starts with that letter and an animal that starts with the second letter of the country’s name, along with its color. Impress them by remarking that it’s odd to think of that since there are no gray elephants from Denmark.
Obviously, there’s a chance that any of these tricks can fail. If that’s the case, you can congratulate your audience on their unique thinking pattern. Maybe you even play it up; it’s been fun watching their thoughts move in such a new way.
A few mistakes like that keep you believable and more human in your performance. No one’s perfect all the time – that would look even less real.
Other Fun Mentalism Props
Mentalism props can make your tricks stand out and look amazing both up close and on a stage. They’re a great way to develop your skills and build a collection for a hobby you love at the same time. Here are some more interesting trick items you can add to your routine to spice it up.
- Pen and Paper. They’re not a magic item per se, but a pen and some papers are essential to almost all mentalism tricks. This can be as simple as keeping one-side-blank business cards on hand at all times – marketing and magic in one!
- Cards. A good set of playing cards is practically an essential for any brand of magician. While many tricks can be done with plain old decks, some magic companies make specially marked or trick cards for the more complicated setups.
- Locks and Keys. Being able to undo a seemingly impossible puzzle is sure to impress your audience! Locks that won’t unlock no matter the combination and seemingly floating keys are crowd-pleasers because they look so much like real magic. With just a bit of flair, it can look like you’re using nothing but the power of your mind to solve them. Many magic shops sell fun trinket puzzles you can use to bewilder and amaze a crowd.
- Impossible Envelopes. These are similar to mentalism wallets in that they’re built specifically for switching tricks. With a clear window on one side and mechanics for seamless transition, an impossible envelope can make it seem as if your volunteer’s card has completely disappeared, only to reappear when they least expect it.
Just like with the mentalism wallet, your other props should be aesthetically pleasing to you, on top of being functional. Most of the props are pocket-sized as well, so you can perform anywhere you want to. Consider having matching prop sets (at least in the same color family) to bring together the overall look of your act for a cleaner, more professional performance.
Tips for Being a Convincing Mentalist
Mentalism is fun to practice and to see. To help your audience have the best experience possible, and to make it more fun for yourself, try to remember these tips and tricks.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s an old adage, but it’s especially true of any performing art: practice makes perfect. Perfect is what you’re looking for with sleight of hand illusions; they make seamless transitions look as if there’s no transition happening at all. The ultimate goal is to make your audience wonder how you did it without giving them a chance to find out how.
Get familiar with your tools. Know where every pocket and flap of your mentalism wallet is and which way they reveal information. Practice tricks slowly, step by step, and ramp them up until you can do it in one movement. You should practice regularly and often, even when you’re not performing, to keep your skills sharp.
Break the Ice
Keeping up a report with your audience is the best way to make sure they’re enjoying the show. Talk to them before and between your tricks, build up stories around the different parts of your act, and try to incorporate your audience into it in a meaningful way.
This might mean asking a bit more about their background and making it part of your story. For instance, you might try saying that you learned a particular trick in their home city. You can also have your audience make predictions, which will make your predictions look even more impressive.
Keep Your Cool
You’re in charge of the show, so act like it! Take control of the stage – move around and use the entire space, talk loudly enough to fill the room, and take full advantage of your props. Even if you’re nervous, faking confidence will help you build real confidence over time.
Pay Attention to Everything
Mentalism is all about the powers of observation. That means knowing everything about everyone as fast as possible. Practice your cold reading and hot reading techniques often, and adjust them to match the situation. Make sure you have all the background information you can get before you go on.
When you get on stage, use your introduction time to take in everything you can about the room. Even the smallest of details can make for amazing surprise reveals during your act.
Even When You’re Wrong, You’re Right
If something goes wrong, own it. The showbusiness adage of “the show must go on” is essential to a mentalist. If your prediction turns out to be incorrect, laugh it off and try again. When it goes right, you can claim you knew the initial “fluke” would happen.
If it goes irredeemably wrong, just go with it! Let your audience know that your powers aren’t perfect, or say that the volunteer you’re working with must have powers of their own. It’s all part of the story; you just have to figure out how to weave it in.
Mentalism Wallets Are Fun for Everyone
Mentalism can be an extremely entertaining and fulfilling hobby. It’s a great way to grow your skills as a performer, and can make for a fun party trick to show off to your family and friends. Whether you’re investing in a bunch of tools or simply applying theatrical math, it’s a skill that can be practiced by anyone of any age.
If you’re new to magic or just looking to get into the world of mentalism, learning the basic wallet tricks is a great way to start. It keeps the tricks physical and easy to keep track of. Even with the most advanced illusions under your belt, having a quality tool and set of instructions to fall back on makes mentalism easy and fun for everyone.