Cups and Balls Magic Trick- Full Routine

Here you will learn my professional routine for the Cups and Balls Magic Trick. I use only 2 cups and 2 balls. There are many amazing phases and 3 loads at the end. I give step by step instructions, with pictures, of exactly how to do it. You will learn-

  • INTRODUCING THE CUPS AND BALLS
  • VANISH SEQUENCE
  • SCOOP SEQUENCE
  • CHARLIE MILLER MOVE
  • WAND THROUGH CUP
  • BALL THROUGH CUP
  • LOADING SEQUENCE
  • HOW TO LOAD
  • PRODUCTIONS
YouTube Video of me performing the routine

THE PROPS

  • 2 cups
  • Magic wand
  • 3 balls
  • 3 loads (big balls)

At the end of this article I discuss the props I use and where to get them. Since you will be picking up and placing down the cups you need a soft surface. I use a magician’s close up pad. Here is a link for a good close up pad on Amazon.

SETUP

  • 3 loads in your front right pocket.
  • Cups nested with 1 ball in between and 2 balls in the top open cup.
  • Wand on the right side of the table.
sleight of hand

I am right handed. If you are left handed switch the hands.

FINGER PALM

fingerpalm 1

This is a very important move to know. Hold the ball at the base of your fingers, mostly on your 3rd finger, with it slightly overlapping your 2nd finger. Curl your fingers naturally and hold the ball gently in place with your 3rd finger against the base of your hand. That is it, simple! The finger palm is an easy, practical, and effective move.

  • Hold the ball lightly in place, there should be no tension in your hand.
  • Keep your fingers together at all times so there are no windows. 
  • Always relax your hand either at your side or on the table. 
  • You can rotate your hand palm up, the ball will remain hidden. 
  • You can hold objects with your thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers. 

HOW TO PRACTICE:  Keep a ball in finger palm throughout the day as you go about your normal activity until you get used to it. Forget about the ball and just do whatever you normally do. Learn to relax your hand naturally as if you have nothing in it. Do this for a week. Get comfortable. The big lesson you will learn is that nobody knows you are hiding anything in your hand.

Introducing the Cups and Balls

new flus

With your left hand lift the cups and dump the balls onto the table. Here you will show the inside of both cups empty.

Flash the opening of the nested cups toward your spectator’s eyes showing it is empty. Rotate the opening 180º toward you. With your palm up right hand take the bottom cup with the ball in it, turn it mouth down, and place it on the table on your right. Flash the cup empty in your left hand, rotate the opening back toward you, and again with your palm up right hand place it mouth down on the table on your left.  

display

Put a ball on top of each cup. Place the wand under your left arm pointing downward.  

Vanish Sequence

Pick up the ball on the right and do a roll vanish into your left hand.

ROLL VANISH

Hold the ball between your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd finger. Turn your right hand palm up and display the ball. Turn your right hand palm down and roll the ball onto your 2nd finger with your thumb as you apparently place the ball into your left hand. Close your left hand as if you have the ball and bring your focus there. Rub your left fingers and thumb as if there is a ball. Relax your right hand and move the ball into finger palm.

roll

Immediately pick up the wand with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd finger. Wave the wand over your closed palm up left hand. Make a wooshing sound and open your left hand showing the ball is gone. With your left hand lift the left cup and tip the ball onto the table. Place the wand down in the middle of the table.

vanish

Transfer the cup to your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers, and pick up the ball on the table with your left thumb and 1st finger. Place the cup back down on the table secretly loading the finger palmed ball under the cup. Vanish the ball on your palm up left hand with the Strike Vanish.

STRIKE VANISH

strike

Hold the wand firmly with your right thumb and 1st finger. Tap the tip of the wand on the ball. As you raise the wand to tap the ball again quickly bring your left hand up toward your right hand and toss the ball into your right hand. Catch the ball with your right 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Bring your left hand down and tap the tip of the wand on your empty hand where the ball was. Pause showing the ball is gone.

cups2

Flip the cups toward you with your left 1st finger showing the balls.

Scoop Sequence

scoop1

Place the wand down on the right side of the table. With your right palm toward you and the side of your hand against the table brush the ball on the right into the right cup loading in the finger palmed ball. Flip the cup mouth down with your left hand. Flash your right hand empty. Repeat with the left cup and steal the ball in right finger palm. Pick up the wand with your right hand and wave over the cups. 

scoop2

Lift the left cup with your left hand showing the ball is gone. Place the wand down to the right of the cups. Transfer the cup to your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers. Pick up the right cup with your left hand showing two balls. Place the cup in your left hand on the table to the left of the balls. Nest the cup you are holding on top loading the ball in between.  

Charlie Miller Move

Tap the top of the cups with the tip of your left 1st finger showing it is solid. Pick up the ball with your right hand and display it on top of your loosely closed right fist at the thumb opening.

charlie

Tilt the cups forward with your left hand and rest the pinky side of your right fist on top of the cups. Let the ball sink into your right hand as you lift the top cup showing the ball in between. Transfer the cup to your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers. Lift the cup on the table with your left hand and tip the ball onto the table. Cover that ball with the cup in your right hand loading in the finger palmed ball.  

Wand Through Cup

wand

The illusion is perfect here. Hold the cup in your palm up left hand with the mouth pointing to your right. Don’t move your left hand, your right hand does everything. Pick up the wand with your right hand and hold it with your 1st finger extended along the top. The tip of your finger should be about 5″ from the end of the wand.

With the back of your right hand toward the audience tap the tip of the wand against the bottom of the cup 2 times. Each time bring the wand out of the cup. On the third tap slide the wand behind the cup with your 1st finger still going inside the cup. Pause for half a second, and slide it back out.

Ball Through Cup

Place the wand to the right of the cups. Pick up the ball on the table and do a Roll Vanish onto the top of the tabled cup as you stack the cup in your left hand on top. Pick up the wand with your right hand and run it down the side of cups. 

fake

Lift the top cup with your left hand showing the ball is gone. Place the wand on the right side of the table. Transfer the cup to your right hand. Slide the tabled cup forward with your left hand and lift showing the 2 balls. Place the right cup down on the right side of the table loading the ball underneath and place the left cup next to it. Place a ball on top of each cup.

display 1

Load Sequence

“To make this easier to follow I’ll get rid of the wand. I’ll get rid of this ball, in fact, I’ll get rid of both balls.” 

brushed

Move the wand off to the side. Place the right ball into your right pocket. Keep the ball in finger palm and bring your hand out. Lift the left cup with your left hand and tip the ball onto the table. Transfer the cup to your right hand. Pick up the ball on the table with your left hand. Place the cup back down loading in the ball. Openly toss the ball into your right hand and put it into your pocket. Drop the ball and get your first load.

load

 “If I tap the cup, the ball comes back.”

Tap the left cup with your left 1st finger. Lift the cup with your left hand showing the ball has returned. Transfer the cup to your right hand and LOAD (see HOW TO LOAD below). Toss the cup to your left hand. Pick up the ball on the table with your right hand. Place the loaded cup back on the table.

loads

“If I get rid of this ball and tap this cup, this ball comes back too.”

Place the ball into your right pocket and get your second load. Tap the cup with your left 1st finger. Lift the cup with your left hand showing the ball. Transfer the cup to your right hand and LOAD. Toss the cup to your left hand. Pick up the ball on the table with your right hand. Place the loaded cup back on the table.

Productions

“Watch the ball go from this cup, to this cup.” 

fake take

Display the ball on your palm up right hand. Do a fake take with your left hand. With the back of your left hand toward the audience move your palm down left hand toward the left cup. Open your hand on top of the cup vanishing the ball. Produce the ball from the top of the right cup. To learn the Fake Take Vanish in detail check out How to Do Sleight of Hand Without Much Practice.

“I don’t need this ball, there’s another one under here, two more.”

finall

Place the ball into your right pocket and get your 3rd load. Lift the left cup with your left hand showing the big ball. Transfer the cup to your right hand and LOAD. Transfer the cup to your left hand. Pick up the big ball on the table with your right hand. Place the loaded cup back on the table. Place the big ball centered in front. Lift both cups and rotate them mouth outward. Place them next to the balls pointed inward for the final display.  

display 2

HOW TO LOAD

Lift the cup with your left hand revealing the ball. With your left 3rd finger kick the mouth of the cup to the right and move the cup back toward your right hand. Move your right hand out of your pocket with the load, back of your hand toward the audience, fingers and thumb together.

load 1

Take hold of the cup and load in the ball at the same time. Grip the cup with your right thumb behind, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in front. Your pinky pushes in the load and keeps it in there. Turn the cup mouth down and toss it into your left hand. Catch it in the same grip, thumb behind, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in front. Your pinky keeps the load in.

PRACTICE:  Spend some time getting used to taking hold of the cup and loading at the same time. Practice in front of the mirror so you can make sure you are doing it right. Then spend a couple hours practicing the move over and over while watching a movie. Your loading should be smooth. There are many tricks in magic that require loading. Put in the time to learn this technique, it will serve you well.

THOUGHTS ON LOADING

I have been loading cups for over 20 years in front of real paying audiences. It is imperative that the load is not seen or detected. You will know if you are fooling your audience, they will let you know if they catch something. Here is what I have found:

  • The moment has to be motivated and choreographed well. 
  • Attention should be focused elsewhere when you load.
  • Make sure you can easily get the load out of your pocket.
  • Load when your hand comes out of your pocket, do not wait.
  • Don’t lean in, it is a major tell.
  • The back of your hand should always remain toward your audience.
  • Tossing the loaded cup to your left hand is an important subtlety. 

I do a vanish phase at the end before I produce the big balls so there is a time delay between my loads and productions. This makes it harder for your spectators to backtrack.

MY PROPS

The cups I am using are the Brett Sherwood Heavy Silver Plate Cups. I love them. All of Brett’s cups are amazing, I highly recommend you check him out. The balls I use are the Leo Smetsers mini baseballs, and seem to be out of stock right now. The wand I am using is the Metal Wand by Joe Porper which has been discontinued. I like the wand because it isn’t too big and it unscrews in the middle which makes it more portable. Any wand will work.

THE ROUTINE

I originally learned this routine from David Williamson. David is an incredibly talented magician who I look up to and admire very much. Over the years I have made changes to David’s original routine to suit my performance style.

PRO TIPS

When doing a vanish, after you supposedly place a ball in your other hand, relax the hand holding the ball.

When you close your hand as if you are holding a ball leave room in your hand as if it were really there. This makes it much more believable.

The reason I only use 2 cups is because it is easier to follow and less to carry. These are important considerations for me. I carry everything in a bag so it is organized and ready to go.

Choreography is everything, not just in this routine, in all good sleight of hand magic. If your moves are motivated they will be much more deceptive.

I find it best to alternate hands when making moves. If you pick something up with your right hand, next put something down with your left hand, etc. This draws attention to where you want it.

Loading in the last ball is easy, your spectators will be so focused on the appearance of the big balls.

Go slow. This is my weak point. I tend to move quickly through routines. I constantly work on this. With experience and practice comes the confidence to slow down.

It is always good to mix up your magic. Check out this Free Video and learn my favorite 4 Ace Trick. It is easy to do and guaranteed to amaze. I perform it all the time at my paid events.

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Matt

Hi, I'm Matt Furman. I have been a full time professional magician for over 20 years, ever since I left medical school to pursue my passion of magic tricks. I have a ton of real world experience and I am constantly practicing and performing new mind blowing magic.