When it comes to basic card control, a good false cut or two is often all you need.
But if you really want to step up your deception game you’ll need to learn a false shuffle.
My favorite (because it’s easy to learn, practical, and looks extremely natural) is the false overhand shuffle.
The false overhand looks like a simple overhand shuffle — which is how most laypeople shuffle cards — but allows you to control a card or packet of cards to almost any position in the deck.
Let’s take a look at how to do it and some of the applications of this card sleight.
What is the false overhand shuffle?
The false overhand is a card control technique designed to look like a fair and above-board overhand shuffle.
The overhand shuffle is a shuffling technique where you strip one or several cards off the top of the deck using your thumb into your non-dominant hand, repeatedly, until you’ve gone through the entire deck.
Normally, it mixes the cards somewhat thoroughly, especially after several rounds of shuffling.
The false overhand shuffle incorporates a small card jog or break to allow you to find a selected card and return it to a desired position in the deck.
False overhand shuffle tutorial & explanation
Here’s how to use the overhand shuffle to retain the top card of the deck:
Hold the deck in your dominant hand with your thumb at the back end and middle and ring fingers at the front.
Your pinky and index fingers should be free on either side of the deck.
Now, using your non-dominant thumb, strip off a chunk of cards from the pack — a little less than half.
Using that thumb again, pull one SINGLE card off of the pack, but injog it slightly — meaning, leave it sticking out noticeably toward your torso compared to the rest of the cards in your non-dominant hand.
Now continue running off cards from the pack into the shuffled pile, one or several at a time, on top of the in-jogged card, until you’ve run through all the cards.
(Pro tip: Shuffle these final cards messily to disguise the jog.)
In your non-dominant hand mechanic’s grip, you’ll have (from bottom to top):
- A pack of cards
- The chosen or selected card
- An in-jogged cards
- The rest of the deck shuffle messily on top
Now simply use your thumb to grab a break UNDER the in-jogged card as you square the deck and hold it in Biddle grip.
Perform a simple double undercut to bring the selected card back to the top.
In action, it looks like this.
You can also skip the double undercut and simply grab the initial packet (with chosen card on top) in your dominant hand while running more cards, holding a small thumb break at the selected card.
When you’ve shuffled off all the cards above the break, simply throw the rest on top.
If it sounds confusing to read, here’s an excellent tutorial on the overhand shuffle card control from my favorite, 52Kards:
Other uses for the false overhand shuffle
This is my favorite false shuffle because it’s so versatile.
The most obvious and basic way to use it is to bring one card to the top of the deck, or retain the top card while shuffling.
But you can also do some other cool stuff with it, like:
Retain a pack of cards at the top
If you have a small packet arranged at the top of the deck, it’s easy to retain it during a false overhand shuffle.
It’s superior to a false riffle shuffle for retaining more than a small handful of cards at the top.
Control a card to any position
You can use this shuffle to bring a card from the top to the bottom, bottom to top, or from the top to a specific position (like 3rd).
How? Alter the location of your in-jogged locator card.
Run 4 cards on top of the selected card, for example, THEN in-jogged card, then the rest of the deck.
Cut at the in-jogged card and now the selected card will be in the 5th position from the top.
Full deck false overhand shuffle
Yes, you can use an overhand shuffle to retain the entire order of the deck.
Let’s say you break open a fresh deck in new deck order. You can use a full-deck false overhand shuffle and leave the order of the cards undisturbed.
It’s quite convincing and not as hard as you might think.
Where to learn more
If you want to know more about card control, you’ll need an in-depth resource.
There are SO many variations and applications of the false overhand shuffle, this article only begins to scratch the surface. And when you pair the overhand with some false cuts and other sleights, you can do amazing card magic.