Card shuffling tricks are old-school crowd favorites; everyone loves to see card tricks, even if they know the art behind it.
Simply seeing someone shuffle cards like an absolute boss (while not even looking at them) is impressive. Most Vegas dealers can’t even do these card tricks.
We’re going to go down a list of 9 tricks to enhance your cardistry and trickery stockpile.
These tricks range from kid-friendly difficulty to more experienced maneuvers, but they’re all achievable with some time and dedication.
If you can’t master card tricks, then you’re going to leave a lot of potential audience members pretty disappointed. It’s important to get these practices down pat, which is why we’re here to help you out.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the card shuffling tricks, we got you covered:
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The One-Handed Cut
This is the most simplistic card shuffling trick you can do, and it counts as cardistry.
So you can include it in a cardistry routine. Hold the deck in your dominant hand.
From there, you want to position your hand in a way that the deck is close together, and it’s between your ring, pinky, and ring fingers.
Those will be holding it up. Use your thumb to cut the deck by sliding the top half of it off, and lock it into place between your index finger and thumb.
Notice how your middle finger is left idle?
You’re going to use it to grab onto a corner of the bottom half of the deck. Tilt it downward so that the other end moves up, and eclipses the top half of the deck.
Now, slide the top half of the deck down so that it’s now the bottom half, and reposition the cards together. It sounds complex, but once the cards are in your hand it will make much more sense.
The Dynamo Shuffle
Dynamo is a fantastic magician, and his shuffling technique has been truly awesome to learn.
You start with a full deck in your left hand, and you position your right finger to cut about ⅕ of the deck.
With the deck’s bottom resting on your right thumb, use your right index finger to pull apart ⅕ of the deck. It will look like your thumb is acting as a hinge between the decks.
Pull the whole deck back a little bit, and use your middle finger to grab another fifth of the remaining deck, splitting it further.
Now comes the hard part. Position that smaller central deck against the middle finger on your left hand, which has been mostly idle this whole time.
This allows you the option to maneuver that second fifth of the deck to move it up, and then you can position the first fifth of the deck you pulled out right behind it.
Simple Riffle Shuffle
I say simple, but we both know it’s going to have its ups and downs.
To start this out, you’re going to have to split the deck in half.
You don’t have to do anything fancy with it, you just want to halves of the same deck. From there, you’re going to put your thumb on top of the deck, and your middle finger will hold onto the bottom.
Bend your index fingers to curl around and press on the back of each deck half. It’s important to hold your thumbs tight and apply pressure with your index fingers until the cards start to bend.
This is tough card stock, so it can take it. You’re then going to slightly ease up on your thumb until the cards start popping out and laying flat.
The goal is to do this with both of your hands at the same time so you’re effectively laying down two cards, one from each stock, all at once.
This repeats until the card decks are shuffled together, alternating cards as you go for a flawless look. It’s something that you’ll see a lot of pro poker players do.
Keep in mind that over time, this will warp your deck, so if you see slight bowing in the back after a few dozen flourishes, retire them as playing cards only.
This is banking directly off of that last trick, so you can transition from that right into this one as you get better with card shuffling.
You’re going to take the cards once you’ve shuffled them through the ripple, and not push them back together into one deck.
Instead of that, you’re going to bend the heck out of these cards. You want both thumbs next to each other on top, and you want to bend the cards so that the bottom sections are vertical.
This makes a bridge (hence the name), and now there’s a ton of pressure on the cards. Once you release pressure on your fingers at the bottom, everything is going to fall into line.
That pressure sends the bottom of the cards together, but since they’re at odd intervals, only one card can fall at a time.
As one falls, it becomes a domino effect, sending all of the cards falling down like London Bridge. Then you just gently push them together, and you’re done.
This might be the easiest one of the lot.
You’re going to split your deck, and then place the two halves of the deck next to each other.
You want them both laying horizontally in your view, so long end to long end.
Put one thumb on the back end of each deck. Move the cards so that the corner closest to your on the left deck is protruding out, and the adjacent one of the other deck is doing the same.
This not only makes them a bit off-center, but it lines them up for a beautiful shuffle that everyone else at the table can see.
Remember where we placed those thumbs. You’re going to take each thumb and gently raise the deck so that some air goes in between the cards.
Those two protruding corners are going to touch, so as you drop the cards from each deck, they’ll layer together in odd intervals, just like with the ripple shuffle.
From here, you drop both decks, and gently push from either end, slowly merging them together. When you’re done pushing them together, just use your hands to grip and straighten out the single deck.
It’s shuffled, it’s simple, and it doesn’t risk a game of fifty-two pick-up.
This one is not only a ton of fun to do, but once you work up the speed, you’re going to look and feel like a Vegas blackjack dealer.
The key is in the speed because the actual motion of shuffling is so easy to do.
With the deck facing you horizontally, you’re going to grip both ends of the deck with each hand. Only use your middle finger and thumb on each of these.
From there, you’re going to pick up the pack with your right hand, while still keeping your left hand active on the deck.
Remote packets with your left hand after picking up the deck, and drop them into the spot where the deck just was on the table.
A packet of cards can be anywhere from two to about six, but you want to keep it between three and five as time goes on and you get better with this trick.
You pick up one packet of cards, then drop it on top of the previous packet, and keep going until the end of the deck is all that remains.
You then drop the top of that deck onto the top of the new deck, and you’re good to go.
Speed is going to be your friend here. I recommend working on two things: timing yourself, and grading how straight the packets are when you drop them.
They don’t have to be aligned with expert precision, but you don’t want the card stack falling over and misaligning to the point that you’re barely able to pick them up off the table.
Circle Spread and Wave
This might be my personal favorite for showmanship qualities only.
You’ve seen this trick done before, but now you’re going to get to actually perform it.
I would say that this takes about an hour to master the spread, and maybe thirty minutes to master the wave.
Beyond that, working on speed is going to give you the appearance of a Vegas blackjack dealer. Let’s begin.
The circle spread is when you use the deck of cards and fan it out, laying down the cards in a spread that extends like a semi-circle on the table.
The cards leave your hands, and leave this semi-circle behind in their wake with the cards facing down.
To do this, first make sure you have a good surface with some grip to it, like the felt on a blackjack table or something along those lines.
Hold the deck of cards with your right hand, and pay attention to finger placement. You want your thumb, middle, ring and pinky finger on the cards.
Your thumb is on top, pinky is on the bottom, and other fingers in the middle. However, your index finger is going to do all of the work.
Position your index finger on the side of the deck, and apply light pressure to it. Reaching over to your left side (since the deck is in your right hand), place it down flat and drag it out in a semi-circle shape.
The pressure from your index finger will pull out one card at a time to leave it in place.
After this point, with a semi-circle of cards lying face down, you can make it do a wave. Put your right hand back over to where you started on the left side, right to the first card.
While you’re laying the cards down in your initial movement, use your left hand to gently raise up the first card that was laid down. Just position it upright ever so slightly, at about a 45° angle.
This gives you a quick way to switch to the index finger of your right hand, hold onto the side of the first card, and begin sweeping it in the same motion you just did with the deck.
Each card will turn over as you go, making a wave as they all appear right-side up.
Double Thumb Fan
This one is going to take a bit of thumb muscles to do, but it’s going to be worth it.
It’s super simple, because you only need two thumbs and no actual fingers for this trick.
Split the deck in half, and then place half of each deck between your thumb and the heel of your palm, which is right underneath your thumb on either hand.
You really want this deck of cards to be nestled in here.
Next, you’re just going to apply pressure, like you’re squeezing the cards. You can do this with your hands about six inches off the table for some dramatic flair if you’d like.
The pressure sends the cards down one by one. You will see a good amount of bending, but that’s to be expected. Let them all fall where they may.
This simple one-handed cut can be achieved by holding your deck firmly in one hand, with all of your fingers on the edges of the deck.
Apply the most pressure with your thumb and pinky. Use your ring finger to push back some of the deck.
Let that packet or half of the deck fall into your other hand, then repeat this until there are only a few cards left, and drop them on top. It’s simple, but effective.
Everything You Should Know Before Performing These Tricks
Card shuffling is a form of cardistry, which is an art form that commands a mastery over playing cards.
It’s not something that can just be learned in a single day, or even a single month for that matter.
You can learn some basic shuffling tricks without too much practice, but once you get into more complicated movements, you need to put in the hours to really make something of it.
On top of that, you should know:
Hand Placement is Key
Each playing card has its own weight distribution.
It should be fairly even if you’re playing with a well-established deck like Bicycle or Elephant playing cards, which is all the more reason to keep your hands nice and balanced.
Your placement matters a whole lot. If you lose grip or control of the cards, any shuffling pattern could end in a rousing game of fifty-two pick-up.
New Decks Work the Best
Some tricks can only be performed with new decks because of how fresh and new they are, such as the anaconda duck shuffling trick (well, it’s used prior to shuffling a deck for showmanship).
If you’re going for a really difficult shuffling pattern, you’re going to want to start with a brand new deck to really pull your trick off with ease.
Concentration is Key
If it isn’t obvious already, you seriously need to be concentrated on what you’re doing to succeed with card shuffling.
That means keeping your eyes on the cards for the most part, and avoiding conversations with people while performing these tricks.
Because of the balance and dexterity that this takes, it’s extremely easy to mess it up if you aren’t careful.
Consider the Encyclopedia of Playing Card Flourishes
Jerry Cestkowski published a book in 2002 that outlines over two-hundred playing card flourishes, which gives the most comprehensive coverage on the subject all in one place.
Currently, it’s the biggest collection of flourishes all in the same binding.
Jerry does a good job of getting straight to the point, and talking about this on a scientific level without getting into any mumbo jumbo surrounding the topic.
Even when you’re done reading it, this regal-looking book can sit on your shelf, and become a talking piece for when you have friends or guests over.
While it’s not a cheap acquisition, Jerry’s expertise on the subject is beyond worth it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Card shuffling falls right into cardistry, so it’s advised that you get a hold of both of these skills before you continue in your magic career.
Manipulating decks or cards is one of the most versatile categories of magic; everyone always wants to know what card tricks you can do once they know you’re a magician.
People identify with cards because just about everybody uses them at one point or another; this is your chance to captivate an audience’s attention. Master these tricks to add to your illusionist’s stockade.