Card Plot Chronologies: The Hot Card Trick

A chronological timeline of significant variations of The Hot Card Trick plot, more commonly known as Chicago Opener or Red Hot Mama.

Below, you'll find a chronological timeline of significant variations of The Hot Card Trick plot, more commonly known as Chicago Opener or Red Hot Mama. The original trick was invented by journalist and passionate amateur magician Al Leech. If you're wondering why the trick has two alternative names, I've written a blog post about this oddity called Obscure Origins: Chicago Opener or Red Hot Mama?

Al Leech holding two dolls for a news story on conjoined twins in 1954. Photo Credit: Sideshow World.

I'm creating these timelines to encourage beginners to take the time to study a single, classic plot of card magic. This kind of focussed study will help you become a better student of the deceptive arts. If you are unsure of where to start, I'd recommend you learn the classic handling from Daryl's Card Revelations (L&L Publishing, 2001) or Michael Ammar's Easy to Master Card Miracles Volume 1 (L&L Publishing, 1996). Both are now available on DVD or as video downloads. I would also recommend you read A Last Look at Leech by Anthony Brahams, which is available from as an inexpensive ebook. The book includes twelve tricks that cannot be found in Al Leech's other published works.

World's Greatest Magic: Chicago Opener DVD/Download. Image Credit: Murphy's Magic Supplies.

Another good starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the trick is the World's Greatest Magic: Chicago Opener DVD/download from L&L Publishing. This compilation includes video tutorials for seven of the tricks on the timeline (including the two mentioned above). The following tricks are included:
  • "Mind Reading Magician" by Bill Malone
  • "The Dumbest Casino in the World" by Michael Close
  • "Bluefield Debut" by Michael Ammar
  • "Bluefield Debut 2" by Michael Ammar
  • "Chicago Opener" by Daryl
  • "Momma in My Wallet" by Dan Fleshman
  • "Red Hot Mama" by Michael Ammar

This is the first of several "card plot chronologies" that I plan to create. I find them a handy way to explore a card plot, but they take an extraordinary amount of time to research and make. The next timeline will be on Dai Vernon's classic four-Ace trick, "Twisting the Aces".

The Hot Card Trick Timeline

Although I've embedded the timeline on this page, it is best viewed in full-screen mode (the link opens in a new tab/window).

View Timeline in Full Screen


Below is a list of all the tricks included in the timeline for convenience. If you have a trick to add the the list, please contact me.

  • 1950: "The Hot Card Trick" by Al Leech - Al Leech, Hot Card Trick No. 1., (The Ireland Magic Company, circa 1950).
  • 1956: "Red and Blue Fantasy" - Walter B. Gibson, What's New in Magic, (Hanover House, 1956).
  • 1964: "Color Quickie" by Harry Lorayne - Harry Lorayne, Personal Secrets, (D. Robbins & Co., Inc., 1964), 31.
  • 1972: "Chicago Opener" - Frank Garcia, Million Dollar Card Secrets, (Million Dollar Productions, 1972), 13.
  • 1973: "Chicago Style" - Frank Garcia, Super Subtle Card Miracles, (Million Dollar Productions, 1972), 15.
  • 1980: "Red Hot Mama" by Jim Ryan - Phil Willmarth, Jim Ryan Close-Up: Entertaining Card Quickies. (Self Published, 1980), 7.
  • 1980: "The Chicago Surprise" by Whit Haydn - Whit Haydn, The Chicago Surprise, (Self Published, 2000).
  • 1980: "The Hypnotist" by David Williamson - Richard Kaufman, Williamson's Wonders, (Kaufman & Greenberg, 1980), 69.
  • 1990: "Bluefield Debut" by Michael Ammar - Michael Ammar, The Magic of Michael Ammar. (L&L Publishing, 1990), 149.
  • 1990: "Forced Thought" by Gary Kurtz - Richard Kaufman, Unexplainable Acts, (Kaufman & Greenberg, 1990), 149.
  • 1993: "New York Transpo" by Peter Samelson - Daniel Rhod, Imagik #1, (Self Published, 1993).
  • 1996: "Red Hot Mama" by Jim Ryan - Michael Ammar, Easy to Master Card Miracles Volume 1. (L&L Publishing, 1996).
  • 1996: "Instant Replay" by Michael Skinner - Michael Skinner, Classic Sampler, (L&L Publishing, 1996), 63.
  • 1996: "Red Blue Mama Fooler" by Michael Close - Michael Close, Workers Number 5, (Self Published, 1996), 88.
  • 1996: "Memorized Mama Fooler" by Michael Close - Michael Close, Workers Number 5. (Self Published, 1996), 91.
  • 1997: "An Impulsive Premonition" by Jack Carpenter - Jack Carpenter, The Expert's Portfolio No.1, (Self Published, 1997), 38.
  • 1999: "The Joker Works Overtime" by David Regal - David Regal, Close-Up & Personal, (Hermetic Press, 1999).
  • 1999: "Red Hot Mama's Lips" by F. Scott Guinn - F. Scott Guinn, Great Scott! It's a Magic Lecture!, (Self Published, 1999).
  • 2001: "Rethinking the Chicago Opener" by R. Paul Wilson - R. Paul Wilson, Crash Course in Brain Surgery. (Self Published, 2001), 9.
  • 2001: "Chicago Opener" - Daryl Martinez/Easton, Daryl's Card Revelations, (L&L Publishing, 2001).
  • 2001: "Here There and Chicago Too!" by Paul Green - Paul Green, In the Trenches, (Magic Smith, 2001), VHS.
  • 2002: "Sticky Mama" by David Regal - David Regal, Constant Fooling 2, (Murphy's Magic Supplies, Inc, 2002).
  • 2003: "Red Hot Mamacita" by Oz Pearlman - Oz Pearlman, Red Hot Mamacita, (Penguin Magic, 2003), Video.
  • 2003: "SuperLative Lover" by Al Leech/Vanni Bossi/Tony Binarelli - Roberto Giobbi, 2003. Card College (Vol. 5), (Hermetic Press, 2003), 1344.
  • 2004: "A Hot Card Trick" by Al Leech - Anthony Brahams, A Last Look at Leech, (Self Published, 2004), 8.
  • 2004: "Mama in My Pocket" by Dan Fleshman - Dan Fleshman, The Restaurant Magic of Dan Fleshman Volume One: Appetizers, (L&L Publishing, 2004), DVD.
  • 2005: "Not This Card!" by Jay Sankey - Jay Sankey, Front Row Sankey, (Sankey Magic, 2005), DVD.
  • 2007: "X Marks the Spot" by Matthew Dowden - Matthew Dowden, Party Animal, (Alakazam Magic, 2007), DVD.
  • 2007: "The Mind Reading Magician" by Bill Malone - Bill Malone, Here I Go Again Volume 2, (L&L Publishing, 2007), DVD.
  • 2009: "Chicago Quadropener" by Mark James - Mark James, Supercharged Classics, (RSVP Magic, 2009), DVD.
  • 2010: "The Dumbest Casino in the World" by Michael Close - Michael Close, Devious Volume 1, (L&L Publishing, 2010), DVD.
  • 2010: Big Black Arrow by Rich Aviles - Rich Aviles, Above the Fold, (Vanishing Inc. Magic, 2010), 54.
  • 2011: "Chicago Opener" by Andy Gladwin - David Forrest, Full 52 TV, (Self Published, 2011), Video.
  • 2013: "Red Heat" by James Brown - James Brown, Hide and Seek, (RSVP Magic, 2013), DVD.
  • 2016: "Chicago Closer" by Michael O'Brien - Michael O'Brien, Chicago Closer, (theory11, 2016), Video.
  • 2016: "Yours Truly" by Edward Oschmann - Edward Oschmann, Card Corner, Linking Ring Magazine (April 2016), (IBM, 2016).