The Four Burglars Tutorial

By Tom Interval

The Four Burglars

Some card tricks are old. And some are really old. The Four Burglars is really, really old. Its origin dates back to 1591 in A Notable Discovery of Coosnage and continues through such classic magic texts as Hoffmann’s Modern Magic and many others.

What makes The Four Burglars a special trick, besides the fact that it’s amazing to anyone who doesn’t know its secret, is that it’s themed with a built-in story line, which is particularly useful for beginning magicians. Over time, that story has been told many different ways for one sole purpose: to entertain.

When you perform any given magic trick, it helps to add a story or some other interesting and/or funny patter. In magic vernacular, patter is, simply, words that accompany tricks. And if those words make up a story, then the trick is that much more entertaining since most people like a good story.

During The Four Burglars presentation, the magician shows four jacks, referring to them as burglars. But they need a house to break into: the deck. The magician pushes each of the jacks into four different positions in the deck (rooms in the house to rob): the cellar, the living room, the bedroom, and the rooftop.

With a snap of the deck, all four jacks assemble on top!

You can watch the preview video below, directly on YouTube, or at Rokfin.


About Tom Interval

San Diego Magician Tom Interval, owner of Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and nationally. A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), Society of American Magicians (SAM), and the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia. With a BA in professional writing and minors in communications and business administration, Interval writes magic-related e-books, magazine articles, and blogs and produces tutorials and related videos for his YouTube channel. Most recently, Interval earned The Linking Ring Award of Excellence for a cover story he wrote for the magicians' publication. To learn more, please visit
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