The Effect: in three rounds of increasingly fair play, you keep beating the sucker in a simple game of poker.
The Setup: Start by grabbing 3 sets of 3 cards (in our example we used 3 jacks, 3 queens, and 3 eights). Then add one singular card to act as the "poison" card. It should be a high value card that would normally be desirable in a game of poker (we used the king of clubs). Lastly, mark the back of the "poison" card in a subtle way that only you will see (we used a red felt-tip pen to color in a dot on the back of the card).
The Secret: Each time you deal the cards, whoever gets the poison card will lose. Now, you'll never know in advance what the hands will be (could be three-of-a-kind beating two pair, or a full house beating three-of-a-kind), but just remember that whoever gets the poison card loses.
Phase #1: mix up the cards, making sure to keep the poison card at the bottom. Deal out two hands of cards, and make sure the last card is given to your sucker. Compare hands and show you win.
Phase #2: suggest that it might be more fair if you let him pick some of his own cards. Mix up the cards again, and this time, make sure the poison card is on top. Start showing him cards, one at a time, and have him decide either to keep the card for himself, or to give it to you. Make sure he sees the poison card first, and because it's such a high card, he'll want it for himself. Run through a few more cards, then have him choose the remainder face down. Again, compare hands, and you'll see that you win.
Phase #3: Explain that the fairest way of all to pick cards would be simply to mix them all up face down and have take turns pulling out your cards from the pile. Make sure you go first, and simply avoid taking the marked poison card. Once he has it, he's screwed.
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