From the budding street magician to that one roommate you had in college, everyone seems to know a magic trick. Of course, who doesn’t like watching a cool magic show, whether it’s large and fanciful or small and complex?
Card tricks are always a good skill to have up your sleeve. You can impress your friends, be the spotlight at a party, or maybe earn a few bucks at birthday events.
Luckily, it’s easy to learn how to do card tricks. If you’re a beginner magician, there are many simple techniques that are quick to adapt, so you can test drive your new talents right away.
What Are Card Tricks?
Card tricks can refer to any type of illusion that uses playing cards. There are many different techniques that can be used to achieve these illusions. Most techniques are combined and repurposed to create various new tricks that seem complex and puzzling to viewers.
Card magic is an old art form. It can be traced as far back as the 14th century when playing cards became popular.
Alongside other magic props, cards quickly became a favorite amongst magicians because they were cheap and versatile.
Many famous magicians have made a name for themselves with card magic. Even Houdini, now known for his daring escapes, was known to be the ‘King of Cards.’
For beginning magicians, rest assured – you are in excellent company.
What You Will Need
Card tricks remain as popular today because they’re easy to get into. All you need is a regular set of playing cards – or more specifically, a set of 52 cards with four suits.
Some tricks include joker cards, but most don’t. You don’t need to use an expensive deck since any complete deck will do.
Some tricks will require you to use a trick deck or a deck that has been altered to force an illusion. Most trick cards have been marked, either with a symbol or an alteration on the card itself. Other trick decks include cards with reversed colors or multiples of one card.
However, the techniques we’re going to discuss here will not require any trick decks. In fact, some of these tricks are simple enough that you won’t need all 52 cards!
How to Do Magic Tricks With Cards
There are many different ways to do magic tricks with cards. All of the following techniques are fairly easy card tricks – some perfect for beginners, while others are better suited to intermediate magicians.
Some can be learned in under one minute, while others may require a bit more practice. No matter the trick, they are sure to impress your audience!
Card Tricks for Beginners
If you’re looking for simple card tricks, this is the technique for you. Easy enough for kids, it requires no sleight of hand, no preparation, and can be taught in under a minute.
It’s so simple that even seven- or eight-year-olds can learn and perform it. Don’t worry that it’s unimpressive, though; the method is still mind-boggling for older crowds.
It gives the illusion that you can read your audience’s mind—with no more than a few cuts on your deck, and a magical flourish.
- To do this trick, have a deck of cards face down on the table.
- Cut the deck, and turn the other half over on the table, so they are facing you.
- Without making it obvious, remember the top card.
- After this, make a second, deeper cut of the deck.
- Turn this second cut face-up on top of the remaining cards.
- With this deck, remove the cards that are facing you, until you are left with a face-down card.
- Without looking, show this card to your audience.
- Tell the audience that you know what this card is; this will be the card that you have previously memorized.
You can do this trick without a complete 52-card deck, although a complete deck will support the illusion.
To make things more credible, have a volunteer do the cut of the deck, and even take the last card, to give the illusion that you are ‘reading’ their minds.
Count Out Loud
This is another card trick that doesn’t need any sleight of hand, preparation, or even an understanding of how the trick works.
As long as you follow the instructions, know basic arithmetic, and have a full deck of 52 cards, you will be able to do this trick.
- To start, deal the first card on top of the deck.
- Subtract the value of this card from thirteen.
- Then, deal that number of cards. For example, if you dealt a Queen, deal one more card. If you dealt a 10, deal three more cards.
- Then, create another deck.
- Deal the first card, subtract from thirteen, and deal that number of cards.
- Do this until you do not have enough cards to create another deck.
- Then, facing away from the table, ask a volunteer to flip three decks face down. Take the unflipped decks into your hands. Do not shuffle them!
- After this, flip the first card from one of the decks. Deal a number of cards equal to the value of this card. (For example, if this is an ace, deal one card.)
- Do the same for the other deck. Then, deal an additional ten cards from your discard pile.
- Count the number of cards left in your hand. The number of cards will be equal to the value of the remaining top card.
This may require keeping several numbers clear in your head, but your audience will be sure it’s magic.
This card trick doesn’t even need you to touch the cards. All the magic will lie in your volunteer, making the illusion even more impressive.
Since your volunteer is doing all the work, there is no sleight of hand or even any preparation needed. As long as you follow the steps, it will always work in your favor.
- Start with any nine cards, and make three piles of four.
- Have your volunteer pick one deck, and peek at the bottom card of that deck.
- Then, take the deck they chose, and have them put it on top of another pile.
- After this, take the last pile and put it on top of the deck as well.
- Next, have your volunteer silently spell the number or face of their card.
- Deal one card from the deck for each letter, face-down.
- Put the dealt cards back at the bottom of the pile.
- Then, have them spell the word “of,” dealing two cards, and put those two cards at the bottom of the pile.
- Then, spell the suit, also dealing cards equal to the number of letters in the suit, and put it back at the bottom of the pile.
- Have them spell a four or five-letter word, dealing a card for each letter. The fifth card they deal will be the card they chose.
This trick works because no matter what suit or number you spell it with, you will always end up with your chosen card in the middle of your deck.
All values, whether numerical or face values, will have three, four, or five letters.
With the additional two letters from “of,” a deck will always force your chosen card as the fifth one in the deck. Spelling any suit still retains your chosen card’s place.
Now, it’s just a matter of going through the first four cards in your deck to get to that chosen card.
Here’s a video showing another simple card trick.
How To Do Card Tricks For More Advanced Magicians
These tricks remain quite simple but are more complicated than the tricks we’ve previously discussed.
They call for greater preparation and involve multiple steps in the performance. Nonetheless, the trick lies mainly in the way a deck of cards behaves.
This trick comes from professional stage magician Helder Guimaraes. Despite its having a number of moving parts, this trick is rather straightforward.
It requires an audience member to memorize their cards, and have them predict where their card is located. Because it looks simple, this trick requires a bit of flair and sophistication to pull off – but with enough practice, you are sure to wow any audience.
This trick uses fifteen cards from a regular deck, without the jokers.
- Divide the cards into three equal piles face-down.
- Still face-down, shuffle one of the decks and put it in front of you. Then, shuffle another deck, and put it in your left hand.
- Take some of these cards with your right. Show the bottom card to your volunteer and have them memorize this card. Then, put the cards in your right hand on the pile in front of you.
- Shuffle the rest of the cards in your left hand, and also place it in the pile in front of you.
- Take the last unshuffled deck, and shuffle them face-down. Then, place it in the pile in front of you.
- Have your volunteer pick a number between one and nine. Deal this number of cards face-down. Then, place the remaining cards on top of this pile.
- Take the pile. Deal nine cards, face-down. Take the six remaining cards in your hand and show them to your volunteer. None of these cards will be the right card. Discard these cards.
- Take the deck in your hands and deal cards until you have reached your volunteer’s number. Then, when you reach that number, show that card to your volunteer. This will be their card.
Prediction Card Trick
With a bit of pre-planning and sleight of hand, this card trick can let you ‘predict’ the cards on your table.
This trick’s complication lies in the pre-planning of the deck, and it’s paramount that you don’t disturb these cards when you’re shuffling. The rest of it is simply letting the cards do their magic.
To set up this trick, follow these steps.
- Take out a five, three random cards, and four cards of the same number or value.
- Put them into a pile: the five at the bottom, the three random cards in the middle, and three of the same-numbered cards at the top.
- Put this pile on top of the rest of your deck. The last same-numbered card should go somewhere in the middle of the deck.
After that, the trick begins.
- Shuffle the cards any way you want, as long as you don’t disturb the top seven cards. You will need a bit of practice here, so as to ensure you’re not obviously leaving those seven cards undisturbed.
- Then, fan out the cards to search for the last same-numbered card you hid earlier. Do this in the guise that you are showing your volunteer that the cards are indeed shuffled; a bit of practice is needed here as well.
- Take out that same-numbered card, telling your volunteer that this is your ‘prediction.’
- Have your volunteer divide the deck into three equal piles as best as they can, and place them face-down.
- Deal the top cards from each pile, and show them face-up. The pile at the bottom should have the five as its first card.
- Then, starting from what was the top of your deck, deal cards from each pile. The number of cards you deal from each deck should equal the value of their corresponding up-turned card; aces are one, and all other cards with faces are a ten.
- After this, deal one card from the pile in your hand to each of the remaining piles. Put back the pile in your hand.
- Show your volunteer the card that you singled out earlier as your ‘prediction.’ The top cards on the remaining decks will have the same value.
Hopefully, this trick scores you a date or at least impresses some friends. Even without a volunteer, just practicing a new technique is a great experience.
This video shows another example of card tricks for beginners and advanced magicians.
Card tricks are an excellent way to add more magic in your everyday life, even if it’s just as simple as ‘predicting’ a card.
So, go out there and make some magic; you may be surprised at what you can do.
What are your favorite magic tricks with cards?