In routines of this nature the performer has several participants each select apparently different cards, really forcing the same card on each of them. The participants are unaware of this and believe that they have all selected different cards. This allows for several methodological advantages, such as the need to control just one card instead of a few.
The basis for this dates back to an early plot in card magic, “The General Card.” There were several versions of it, but they all stuck to a similar idea: a single card was forced on four or five persons. Later, this card and several others were shown to each spectator in turn, and each verified that his card was among the group. Then the force card was removed from the fan and shown privately to each spectator. The card was snapped before it was shown to the next person, giving the audience the impression that the card was being magically changed into each person's selection. A version of this trick appeared in an unpublished manuscript known as Sloane 424, c. 1600s, p. 159 of the Pieper translation. The translation was printed in Gibecière, Vol. 5 No. 2, Summer 2010, pg. 141-172. The general idea of locating a number of cards may also be found in H. Dean's The whole art of legerdemain, or, hocus pocus in perfection, 1722, p. 54 of the sixth edition, titled “How to let twenty gentlemen draw twenty cards, and to make one card every man's card.”
Another related trick was briefly described between the end of the seventeenth century and first quarter of the eighteenth, in Nuova maniera d'imparare molte forti di giochi by un Giouine virtuoso (a virtuous Boy), an eight-page pamphlet published in Italy and discovered by Gianni Pasqua. See “Per fare il gioco delle sei carte” on the first page. A one-way forcing deck, with five indifferent cards is used to force the same card on six spectators, who are asked not to show their card to others around them. The five indifferent cards and one force card are taken from the pack, named and displayed, to conclude the effect.
In stage magic, this principle has been employed for the “Tossed Out Deck.”