Trick School: The “Changing Places”

The audience’s attention is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to magic tricks. You want to direct their gaze to where you want it, but someone watching closely enough might be able to recognize where the sleight of hand is coming in. That’s the risk magicians have to take, and try to compensate the best they can through misdirection and to command the attention of the audience.

The “Changing Places” trick is probably the best way to learn how you can use the audience’s attention to your advantage. In fact, it actively tries to involve the audience. I’d definitely categorize this trick as a great “stress test” for aspiring magicians based on this. If you can keep cool and keep control of the trick while the audience is looking that closely, then you’ve definitely got the right mindset for magic.

What You Need

The requirements are pretty simple. You need two currency notes, but they have to be different kinds of notes. A 10 and a 20, a 5 and a 50, it doesn’t matter. They just have to be identifiable as different notes.

The only other necessity is an audience. While you can definitely play this trick to crowds, it works best as a one on one performance, as it tries to involve them in making the trick happen. It’s maybe not the best trick to pull out at parties, but maybe you can impress a few dates over dinner with this one.

The Trick

The currency notes are laid down on a flat surface in a T shape, with one note laid over or under the other. Starting from the corner closest to you of the underside note, start rolling in the currency in a semi-tight fashion.

Keep rolling until the notes are tightly wound together, and the corner of the top note pointing at the audience remains. Get a willing participant to place their finger on the corner, and then the other corner, then roll back the notes to reveal they’ve changed places. Magic!

Wait, didn’t I say there was only one corner remaining? Well, that’s how the trick works. Read on.

How It Works

This trick works by using the audience’s attention against them. While rolling the notes back until that final corner is all that is left, the corner of the second note should have wrapped around the back of the roll. The audience shouldn’t be aware of this because you’ve stopped just short of the corner flipping back over.

What you do, is get the audience member to place their finger on the corner. While they’re doing that, quickly flip the other corner over and get the audience member to put their finger on that too. They likely won’t have noticed the notes have flipped while being rolled and will be wowed as you roll it all back and reveal they’ve changed places.

The audience’s attention was where you directed it, and as a result, they didn’t see that you were flipping the note right under their nose. It’s definitely one of the most satisfying easy magic tricks out there.


The major risk of this trick is coming across someone who knows how it works or is at least paying attention to your one hand on the corner, while the other secretly flips the other. Like I said earlier, this trick is usually done against one person. Too many eyes on this trick will invite the audience to pick it apart. Not all tricks are appropriate for all audiences. Remember that.

Try your best not to bungle the flipping of the second corner. If it springs up too soon, you could have blown the trick. It’s a good idea to practice (as always) this trick regularly to get a feel for how far you can roll the notes before the second corner flips around. Once you’ve got that down, you’ll be okay.