The magician lays four quarters down on a close-up pad. Four playing cards are shown and placed over the coins, completely obscuring them. One by one, the coins are first uncovered and then re-covered by a card, and when they are again uncovered they are gone, having “escaped the Matrix.” After three coins disappear, the final card is lifted and it is shown that all the coins have reentered the Matrix, but they now have super powers and can jump real high, dodge bullets, and do other cool stuff.
The gimmick to Matrix is in the close-up pad. Although it looks to be a solid foamy-type substance, the close-up pad is actually formed from a network of tubes (much like the Internet). All of the tubes run down hill from both ends, so by pushing a coin into the appropriate tube at any corner of the pad, the magician causes a coin to silently and invisibly slide down to a holding area beneath the corner of the pad the magician desires.
A Matrix close-up pad is a delicate piece of magical apparatus, often costing in the hundreds of dollars. Every one of the hidden tubes is lined with precision-made ball bearings to assure a smooth, speedy ride, and these bearings must be oiled and de-linted before every performance. So much as a loose hair can gum up the works and completely ruin the effect.
Note: For added effect (or to pad a show that runs short), some magicians perform Matrix in a super slow-motion style ironically referred to as “bullet time.”