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One of the simplest and most effective additions to your close-up magic game is to add a magicians mat to use for card and coin tricks. The mat is a great tool in the toolkit because it gives a visual focus for your audience to use and it also creates an easy surface for managing coins and cards consistently.
Close-Up magic table mats are not expensive and they are also not extremely difficult to reuse and tuck away with you magic kit. A standard size is around 17 by 12 inches or 23 by 15 inches, although you will find it a bit confusing (as I did) that every mat says it’s “standard size” and they are actually not the same between manufacturers. In magic, it seems, there is nothing standard.
Why Use a Close-Up Magic Table Mat?
The advantage to using a close-up magic table mat is that you have a very consistent and perfectly friction-friendly surface to spread out your cards and coins. Picking up the cards and coins is also easier because you can press into the material and easily get an edge whereas you don’t have that option on a smooth table surface.
Beyond the usability, it’s also about just creating a stunning visual effect. Using the mat to spread your cards, distribute coins, slide and pop up cards or coins, all done easily because of the felt surface. It means that you can practice and do live shows using exactly the same material and it also rolls up easily for tucking into your magic kit. Portable and highly usable. Double win!
What To Look For in a Close-Up Magic Mat
There are really three key things you’re going to look for in the close-up magic mat you want to use and those are:
- Color – this is meant to be a visual touch but can also be a distraction
- Pattern – also a visual addition but possibly distracting to the eye
- Material – all synthetic but will vary in styles a bit
Color is very interesting because you don’t want it to distract from the color of your card deck or any props you use in your close-up magic routine. The two top colors will be black and green.
Black is the simplest to create stunning visuals agains, but also quickly shows dust and crumbs. This is the trade-off to using a black mat, but this is probably the most popular just because it also doesn’t stain with use. Even the best green mat cannot be permanently safe against picking up natural skin oils and potentially spilled liquids.
Green is very popular as well because it the the classic color of a poker table. Green lets the color of the pips on the card show very clearly against the white background and does not pick up dust as easily. The really question will be what your personal preference is for color.
Blue, red, and other primary colors are also options. These tend to be a very personal choice and you have to be careful that it does not interfere or clash with the color of your card backs. If you’re on a red close-up magic mat with a classic red Bicycle card deck, I’ve got bad news for you.
Patterns can be very nice to look at. Remember that many card mats you look for are also for specific card games so they will be adorned with logos, designs, trim, and other colorful features to make the visually attractive. For close-up magic you want the mat to be in the background, not the centre of attention. Be careful how you use patterns. Custom mats with your own logo can be a nice addition for recording your own videos but you may have to try a few different ways to make sure the logo or pattern looks good among the cards and coins.
Close-up Magic Mat Materials
There is nothing particularly special about most close-up magic mats. Simple synthetic felt-like material on the top and a padded rubberized mat back. The thickness will vary and this is important if you plan to roll and unroll your mat a lot. Remember that the top felt is glued on to the rubberized backing so it may begin to bubble and lift a bit with repetitive rolling and folding.
Always roll and try to never fold your mat. The material will pick up the pattern of folding pretty quickly and this makes the mat look used and tattered. Not a high-end look for a close-up magic show which is part of the allure you want to bring to the audience experience.
Our Picks of Best Close-Up Magic Mats
These mats are both inexpensive and proven with many, many hours of use and are widely reviewed. This makes an easy pick as you look to get started.
Enjoyer Large Black Close-Up Performance Pad
This is a classic black mat which measures 23.6 x 15.7 inches in size. The material is smooth, soft, and makes picking up and spreading the cards very easy.
You’ll enjoy how nicely the mat rolls up for easy storage and travel. Having one of these in use for many hours, our team can stand by the quality and the price. There will be wear and tear over the course of time but so far this mat has stood up to the test!
Magic Makers Large Close-up Pad – Hunter Green
Green is the new black when it comes to a classically colorful close-up magic table mat. This very comfortable mat is 22.5 x 15.5 inches so it is a nice size and also rolls up for simple storage and carrying to your next close-up magic gig or party.
This also makes a great poker gaming surface for folks who are keen to have a poker party as well as for use as a perfect close-up magic table mat. The hunter green is actually a very good dark enough color that it is resistant to normal staining and you should get lots of use from it for your close-up magic coin and card enjoyment.
MMS VDF Close Up Pad with Printed Aces
This printed pattern close-up magic mat is a nice addition to the list with the bonus of being extremely comfortable and also having a visual border for a nice visual effect without distraction.
While we prefer the plain colors for most tricks and close-up magic, this design makes it easy to work with as you can anchor your cards and coins off the visual border and the open ended design towards the magician. The printed aces in the corner are a perfect touch for the card magic lover and card player in all of us
Enjoyer Professional Card Mat Poker Pad
While the Enjoyer Large Black Mat is an ideal close-up magic mat, this colorful variation is a great option to match your style. The Enjoyer professional card mat poker pad comes in blue, red, and black.
This particular mat has a slightly different surface style which some commenters have noted as “slippery” so it may give a different experience than the Enjoyer Large Black Mat. Your mileage may vary but this is definitely a more colorful version to amp up your close-up magic a bit.
Kingmagic Magicians Deluxe 16 x 12 inch Mat Pad
This is another great traditional black or colorful option with blue and red variants. The Kingmagic Magicians Deluxe features a more velvety surface which really gives a nice panache to the look and feel.
The interesting thing of the Kingmagic brand item is that it also comes in a larger and a smaller version as well. The small one is much more like a mousepad than a really solid close-up magic mat, however, you may find it’s handy for practicing with a similar surface in a tighter space like on your desk. Good way to keep busy when you are on a long phone call!
Ultra Pro Solid Green Play Mat Card Game
This is the outlier among the selection but definitely an option for those who like a wider surface and one that is not as “bouncy”. The Ultra Pro Solid Green Play Mat is designed more for card play than just close-up magic, but that won’t stop you from getting the best out of both worlds by using it for close-up card and coin fun as well as just a classic poker surface.
Note the stylistic difference is not just width but also thinness. The poker mat is a nice smooth surface but does not have the same level of give when doing coin lifts, card lifts, and on-the-mat manipulation.
One catch to this one is also the logo in the corner. It’s fairly subdued so it shouldn’t take away from your close-up magic act, but you may dislike that it takes away some of the symmetry.
Our Top Picks
All of these close-up card magic mats are functional, and visually appealing. They all pack up nicely for portability, and every one is in a very attractive price range. You will find that no matter what close-up card magic and coin magic mat you choose, there will be more than one in your career as every mat will eventually give in to normal wear and tear.
Of the selection we chose our top two based on usability + wow and the second because of just overall versatility and durability.
King Magic Deluxe – Best Surface
Not only does this give a highly usable surface to make close-up magic for cards and coins easier and smoother, but the King Magic Deluxe also showed up as the most vibrant and eye-catching for the close-up card magic mats we have tried.
Enjoyer Large Black Close-up Mat – Most Durable
The Enjoyer mat is a durable journeyman product that will give you a consistent surface, easy pack up and travel portability, and good durability. Give it a gentle wipe and hand wash as needed, and you can use a lint brush to clean up any dust and fragments that may build up.
All in all, this one is the one that will give you what you need from a close-up magic mat, when you need it. Plus, the price is right and you can put a few around the house for anytime access to practice the day away.
Enjoy your new close-up magic card and coin mat and don’t forget that practice is the key, but consistency is what makes it better, including your practice surface!