Complete Guide to Sleight of Hand with Cards:

Here’s my complete guide to sleight of hand with playing cards, including a library of card sleights.

From A-Z, from easy, beginner sleight of hand, to advanced card technique, you’ll (eventually) find it all here!

Explore the sleights and articles below for explanations, tips, and video tutorials to help you learn the best card moves.



Looking to get started with card magic?

There’s a whole big world out there, full of thousands of sleights, dozens of gimmicks, and literally millions of individual tricks.

It can be a little overwhelming at first.

But you only really need to know a couple of card trick basics to get started performing.

If you could only learn a couple of moves and principles, I think the most important basic sleights for card tricks are the:

  1. Mechanic’s grip & basic card handling
  2. Pinky break
  3. Double undercut (or another card control)
  4. Double lift
  5. Card force
  6. False cut or shuffle
  7. The Marlo Tilt

Mechanic’s Grip & Basic Card Handling: The Mechanic’s Grip is a way of holding the deck that facilitates control and dexterity. It positions the deck for easy access to various sleights and tricks. Basic card handling involves skills like dealing, shuffling, and spreading the cards in a controlled and fluid manner. Together, these skills form the foundation for almost all card magic, providing the necessary groundwork for executing various techniques smoothly and effectively.


Pinky Break: A Pinky Break is a subtle way to mark a specific spot in the deck with your pinky finger, usually after a spectator has returned a card to the deck. It’s a preparatory move that sets you up for the next step of a trick, whether it’s a control, a cut, or a shuffle. This technique is crucial for maintaining a reference to a selected or significant card without drawing attention to it.


Double Undercut (or another card control): The Double Undercut is a method of controlling the position of a card or group of cards within the deck. By cutting the deck twice, you can move a card from the middle to the top or bottom, or vice versa. This control is essential for ensuring that you can move key cards to positions where they are needed for the trick, while appearing to simply cut the deck normally.


Double Lift: The Double Lift involves turning over two cards as if they were one, allowing you to show one card while hiding another behind it. This technique is foundational in card magic, used in countless tricks to create the illusion of a card changing, disappearing, or being elsewhere in the deck. It’s a powerful tool for creating surprising and impactful moments in your routine.


Card Force: Forcing a card is the art of making a spectator select a specific card while believing they had a free choice. Techniques like the classic force, riffle force, or cross-cut force are commonly used. Mastering a card force allows you to direct the outcome of a trick, setting up situations where the chosen card can be used to create a surprising reveal or conclusion.


False Cut or Shuffle: False cuts and shuffles are techniques that give the appearance of shuffling or cutting the deck, while actually maintaining the order of the cards. They are essential for tricks that require a specific order or set-up of cards in the deck. By learning these, you can convincingly display fairness and randomness while secretly controlling the deck’s order.


The Marlo Tilt: This technique creates the illusion of inserting a card into the middle of the deck while actually positioning it near the top. It’s an effective way to control the position of a card, setting it up for later reveals or maneuvers. The Marlo Tilt is particularly useful for tricks where a card needs to be controlled but the audience must believe it is lost in the deck.


What’s interesting is that The Daily Magician boys are of a similar opinion. They believe there are only FIVE key ‘ingredients’ that you need to master if you want to become a great card magician.

  1. Switches: The ability to secretly switch one card for another.
  2. Controls: The ability to track and manipulate the location of a card or group of cards in the deck.
  3. Forces: The ability to guarantee a spectator will choose the card you want them to.
  4. Palming: The ability to secretly remove card(s) from the deck and hold them concealed.
  5. False shuffles: The ability to apparently shuffle the deck while actually maintaining order.

That’s it. Once you’ve mastered these 5 techniques, you’ll be able to perform some of the strongest card magic ever invented. If you want to train your sleights, drill these to perfection! You can view there full guide on How To Become Scarily Good At Sleight of Hand HERE.

The BEST TWO RESOURCES for Learning Sleight of Hand…

Card College: Card College, especially card college one is a fantastic resource for learning sleight of had. It covers fundamental techniques such as, the Overhand Shuffle, the Riffle Shuffle, False Cuts, Transfer Cuts, Card Controls, Card Forces, the Glide, the Double Lift, the Hindu Shuffle, Flourishes, the Spread Cull, the Top Chang, the Key Card, and auxiliary sleights. View on Amazon HERE.

Foundations of Card Magic: Foundations of Card Magic is a course by 52kards that will get you up and running in no time. Master the material, and you’ll be way ahead of the game. This covers every basic sleight of hand technique you’ll need to do magic. View on 52kards HERE.

If you’re having trouble understand the specifics of the double lift or can’t quite perfect the Marlo Tilt, seeing it on video is an immense help, The Daily Magician put together a tidy Youtube playlist that covers all the most important sleight of hand techniques that you can view HERE.


Thank you for reading complete guide to sleight of hand. I hope you enjoyed it!