So once you've learnt your first couple of magic tricks and you've tried them on a few friends and practised them thoroughly, how do you go about introducing new tricks into your repertoire so that if someone asks you to perform at an event you have enough material to perform with?

So you could keep spending cash in your local magic shop on effects that you like and that is possibly the best way to start, assuming that the shop owner is tuned into your ability level and doesn't try to sell you things that are too difficult.

You could join your local magic club and seek help there or you could turn to the internet and browse through a huge selection of effects, a lot of which will come with video trailers showing you the effect.

Buying magic online for me is a bit like buying clothes online. I'm often disappointed with clothes that I buy online because the colour isn't quite what I expected, the fit isn't right or the material isn't of the quality I thought it would be.

You have to remember that the performance video that you see for a magic trick is aimed primarily at getting people to purchase a product, namely the effect being sold. There is often as much trickery involved in marketing a magic trick as there is in the trick itself. Videos will be shot from an optimal angle so you don't see the method in play. I remember being fooled into buying a coin vanish which looked really good in the demo video but in real life it only looks good from a very small set of angles straight in front of the performer so there's no way I could get away with it unless I was doing a stage show to a very compact audience. Sometimes there are different outcomes to an effect and the demo video that you see only shows the best outcome, not what happens in the worst case scenario. It's definitely a case of buyer beware when buying magic online especially new effects.

One useful resource for seeing what other people think of an effect before you buy is www.themagiccafe.com

Here you can see what other people think of an effect but again be smart. Some people rate an effect because they have some affiliation with the creator. Equally some people will criticise an effect for no particular valid reason. There is often a lot of discussion about whether an effect is a copy of someone else's effect without crediting the original creator. It's a tough old world sometimes but reading between the lines one can often get a view on

a) How hard an effect is to perform

b) Are there any bad angles that make it only suitable for certain situations

c) Does it get great reactions which at the end of the day is what you are looking for.

When buying effects you should also have an idea of how / when you are going to use them. You may be able to use a cabaret effect at a wedding but in my experience that would be unusual. You're more likely going to need effects that can be done strolling around or round a table.